By: Meghan Gunn ……
This June, for the first time in history, the U.S. government acknowledged the existence of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs), also known as UFOs. So far, nothing’s been attributed to extraterrestrial activity—but nothing’s been ruled out, either. One hundred forty three of the 144 UFOs reported by military planes remain unexplained. The last 75 years have been rife with similar reports from across the globe, some of which might get even the toughest cynics wondering what’s really out there. Here are some of the weirdest sightings, from U.S. fighter pilots engaging with a super-speed, giant Tic Tac-shaped aircraft in 2004 to an Italian stadium full of fans viewing an oval saucer raining metallic glitter a half century earlier.
The Original ‘UFO’ Sighting, June 24, 1947
Mount Rainier, Washington
Pilot Kenneth Arnold was flying his private plane when he saw a flash of light, then an object he described as looking “like a saucer.” It was moving at incomprehensible speed along the side of the mountain. Then he saw eight more. He reported them as “unidentified flying objects” and the description stuck.
The USS Nimitz Encounter, November 14, 2004
One hundred miles southwest of San Diego, fighter pilots engaged with a white aircraft, shaped like a massive Tic Tac and moving three times faster than the speed of sound. “I have no idea what I saw,” Commander David Fravor said of the encounter. “It had no plumes, wings or rotors and outran our F-18s.” He added that he wanted to fly one.
Desert Takeoff, April 24, 1964
Socorro, New Mexico
Police Sergeant Lonnie Zamora was driving down a dirt road when he saw the “egg-shaped craft” peeking out from an arroyo. First, he thought it was a car in need of help; however, he then saw a blue flame and heard a loud roar. The object began to rise. Five tourists later reported seeing the craft in flight.
Charlie Redstar Sightings, 1975
Southern Manitoba, Canada
Hundreds of people in the region reported seeing a glowing red-orange object soar through the sky every night for several months. Often described as “mischievous” and “playful,” the UFO was affectionately nicknamed Charlie Redstar. Charlie inspired a summer of UFO watch parties in fields across Manitoba.
Not Your Parents’ UFOs, 1989–1990
Over the span of five months, 13,500 people claimed to have witnessed silent, low-flying black triangles, each with three orange headlights—a type of UFO completely different from previous reports. Skeptics call the event a mass delusion, but believers point to military radar, which showed unusual activity during the sightings.
Greener Pastures? January 8, 1981
Renato Nicolaï was working on his farm when he heard an odd whistling sound. Then he saw a disc-shaped object take off and disappear above the treeline, leaving burn marks on the ground where it sat. An investigation was done by France’s special UFO-hunting team, GEIPAN, which claimed the ground had been heated to over 500°F.
Crowd Control, October 27, 1954
Play was put on pause at a soccer game at the Artemio Franchi Stadium as thousands of spectators went silent midgame. Several were pointing to a large oval in the sky that was emitting a strange material—one fan described it as raining silver glitter.
Dyatlov Pass Incident, February 1, 1959
Dead Mountain, Russia
Nine experienced hikers were mysteriously found dead, frozen in varying states of undress. Their tents had been slashed. Some were missing eyeballs or tongues, and one man’s body registered high levels of radiation. An investigation concluded the cause was a “compelling natural force,” leading some to theorize that the deaths were due to UFO activity.
Midair Chase, September 19, 1976
After multiple people reported a metallic object bounding through the sky, Lieutenant Yaddi Nazeri engaged it in a high-speed air chase in what is known as the “Tehran UFO Incident.” The UFO won this time. As Nazeri approached, his electronics, including communications devices, were all disabled. They only came back to life once he returned to ground.
Mysterious Disappearance, October 21, 1978
Bass Strait, Australia
“It is hovering and it is not an aircraft.” These were the last words 20-year-old pilot Frederick Valentich said before he and his plane disappeared forever. All he left behind was a radio dispatch in which he describes the mysterious flying vessel “playing a game” with him.