In today’s world, there’s often no shortage of interesting lights flickering in the dark skies above us at night.  Commercial airlines, military aircraft, and private pilots criss-cross the sky at all hours of the day and night.  High above them, satellites, spacecraft and even the International Space Station can occasionally be seen by the naked eye, not to mention the same celestial bodies that have drawn the attention of mankind since the days we first looked up and wondered what lies out there beyond our physical and cognitive reach.

But even with so many ordinary explanations for the strange lights we might spot overhead, every once in a while, we see something that defies those simple explanations.  Such was the case over the weekend, when reports began popping up all over the country, from Missouri to Utah, of what was either a single massive craft flying westward over the United States, or one hell of a formation.



In some ways, the lights spotted flying west over the U.S. seemed reminiscent of another massive UFO sighting over Phoenix, Arizona back in 1997.  Multiple eyewitnesses produced pictures and video of what appeared to be either a single massive craft hovering over the city, or multiple smaller ones flying in formation.  In the minds of some, then, this weekend’s sightings may be none other than another outing from our extra-terrestrial visitors, akin to their last high-profile event in America’s Southwest.

Utah image courtesy of Twitter. Phoenix image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Of course, as is so often the case, these most recent sightings soon proved not to be the first signs of an alien invasion – but that doesn’t mean the true story is any less than extraordinary.  While not an alien mothership or a fleet of smaller flying saucers, the lights spotted flying west over the United States this weekend were actually massive formations of America’s largest military aircraft.

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(DoD Photo)

The Twitter account @AircraftSpots soon got to the bottom of the UFO mystery, confirming that the lights weren’t coming from aliens, but rather from as many as 30 C-17s and 20 C-130s making their way to Nevada where they’ll likely be participating in a Joint Forceable Entry Exercise (JFEX).

These massive training events, which serve as a form of culmination for USAF Weapons School classes, lean heavily on America’s fleet of massive cargo carriers and are intended to prepare U.S. forces for scenarios that include gaining a foothold in enemy territory and providing consistent supply lines for the fight via C-17 and C-130 flights.

(Air Force Photo)

It would seem, then, that just such a large-scale exercise is kicking off at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.  This isn’t quite as dramatic as the idea of an alien fly-by, but as far as disappointments go, spotting some 50 of the biggest military aircraft in the world flying across the United States still makes for a pretty good story.

Watch footage of these massive aircraft preparing for just such an event in the video below:


Feature image compiled via Twitter