Despite many seeing the very concept of UFO sightings as laughable, the past few months have ushered in a plethora of new reports of strange objects in the sky, often offered up by reputable, competent individuals with little to gain for their candor. Indeed, as a recent report released by Senator Harry Reid showed, U.S. Navy fighter pilots that were scrambled to intercept one of these strange occurrences were met upon their return by crew members prepared to debrief them while wearing tin foil hats — not unlike the response many journalists get from their audience when covering such stories.

The realization that the U.S. Defense Department had been spending millions of dollars to investigate these reports when made by military professionals prompted all the same factions of the UFO and defense communities to batten down the hatches, retreating into well-worn arguments about fraudulent payments to defense contractors (Bigelow) and complete dismissals of the topic on one side, and the frustrated chants of “the truth is out there” on the other — but increasingly, there’s been a new category of people finding an interest in the topic: those who may not buy the concept of flying saucers — but aren’t sure what the hell is going on out there.

This new category’s numbers have been bolstered by reports not only provided by first-hand accounts, but through official records released by government agencies — like this audio recording released by the FAA (and since edited to include only the UFO sighting) that captures communications between the pilot of a Piper PA-32R Saratoga flying over Long Island at the end of May.

“I have an object in front of me, I don’t know what it is,” the pilot says over the radio. The air traffic controller responds by asking if what he sees is a drone, “I don’t know if it’s a drone … It’s bigger than a drone.”

The pilot and controller go back and forth, with the controller repeatedly suggesting that what the pilot has come across must be some sort of drone, but the pilot, who seems calm, doesn’t seem to agree, requesting a slight change to his flight path to avoid it.

“Ok, I mean, we’ll have to assume that it was a drone, that’s the only, I mean I don’t know if that’s the shape assumption or not but I guess that’s what we will go by.” The controller responds.

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“Actually, it looked, uh, like it had lights on it …” The pilot replies.

“That’s uh, really interesting, uh again, I show nothing on radar so I don’t know what to say,” responds the tower.

Eventually, the controller asks the pilot to call one of his managers once he’s on the ground to discuss the report, though the details of that discussion have yet to be revealed. Tyler Rogoway at The Warzone submitted a Freedom of Information Act request regarding the incident, and received formal confirmation that the recording is legitimate, this time suggesting the pilot himself called the craft “drone like.”

FAA STATEMENT
The pilot of a Piper PA32 reported to the FAA that he saw a “drone-like object” approximately 14 miles northeast of John F. Kennedy International Airport on May 26, 2018 at 12:59 p.m. The FAA will investigate.

Without a description of what the craft looked like, it can be difficult to assess the likelihood that the craft spotted by the pilot in question was indeed a drone or some other type of difficult to identify but no less conventional aircraft. The pilot has not publicly come forward, indicating that he likely didn’t make the call as part of an effort for publicity, suggesting that this sighting is either a case of misidentification, or… something that defies identification at all.

As SOFREP has previously covered, the vast majority of UFO sightings inside the United States can usually be attributed to misidentified military aircraft, experimental drones, and in rare occurrences, next generation military aircraft that remain classified. A pie chart of UFO sightings would likely show those three slices (from biggest to smallest), along with a fourth slice one might call “the reports of crazy people,” and finally, a tiny slice — so small it may be more appropriate to call it a sliver, labeled with a question mark. It’s that tiny sliver, that question mark that drives the modern UFO (or UAP for Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) interest — and it’s that same sliver of sightings that makes men like Luis Elizondo, the former head of the Pentagon’s Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, demand that the nation’s defense apparatus take note.

Elizondo, and others, may believe these sightings are aliens, but they’d argue that you don’t have to — all you need to believe is that there could be craft operating in U.S. airspace that we don’t heave the means to track or intercept. From that perspective, it doesn’t matter if they’re from the other side of the galaxy or the other side of the ocean, what matters, they would contest, is that they seem to be here regardless of one’s belief.

Image courtesy of Flickr