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In early 2007, this silent, black-and-white video
was uploaded by a user on a conspiracy- and UFO-centric forum called Above Top Secret.
The user claimed the video depicted a disc-shaped UFO outmaneuvering a fighter jet,
somewhere off the coast of Mexico in the mid-2000s.
They had supposedly gained access to the video while serving onboard a US aircraft carrier
and claimed to have smuggled the potentially classified material off the ship.
While some members of the forum choose to believe their story,
others were not so easily convinced.
For instance, the video was hosted on a website belonging to a group of German film students,
which led some to denounce the clip as an attempted hoax.
Even those who believed it could be genuine
still complained that it was a totally uninspiring video of a fuzzy dot.
Over a decade later, this long-forgotten video suddenly resurfaced
as part of an article by The New York Times.
The video was now linked to a secret government-funded program
and was even corroborated by a credible eyewitness.
What had initially been dismissed as a hoax
turned out to be real.
The video was said to depict a genuine encounter between US Navy fighter jets
and some sort of unidentified craft.
A second black-and-white video of a similar yet completely separate incident
was also featured at the beginning of the article.
Except, this one had sound.
These two videos, along with a third released a few months later,
spread across the internet like wildfire.
Comment sections and discussion threads were dominated by unrestrained speculation
about aliens and paranormal phenomena.
Skeptics, meanwhile, took it upon themselves to analyze every pixel in every frame
in the hopes of uncovering some neglected clue that could identify these fuzzy blobs.
Any lingering doubts about the videos' authenticity
vanished with the release of an official statement by the Department of Defense,
confirming that the videos depicted real events
involving unidentified aerial phenomena.
So, what exactly are we looking at?
The first video was recorded off the northwestern coast of Mexico in late 2004.
The story behind it has been recounted by more than a dozen naval officers,
and it goes like this.
In early November of 2004, a naval strike group, led by the aircraft carrier the USS Nimitz,
was conducting predeployment exercises about a hundred kilometers southwest of San Diego.
Starting around November 10, radar technicians aboard the guided-missile cruiser, the USS Princeton,
were puzzled by a series of unidentified radar tracks near San Clement Island.
The tracks did not resemble any known aircraft
and would sporadically appear in groups of 5-10 at a time.
Suspecting a malfunction of some sort,
the recently upgraded SPY-1 radar system was taken offline and recalibrated.
Once the system was brought back online, however, the tracks had only become sharper.
Among those onboard were Senior Chief Operations Specialist Kevin Day
who was an expert on the SPY-1 radar system
and had 18 years' worth of experience at the time of the incident.
Day observed firsthand how these unknown targets
alternated between slightly strange and physics-defying maneuvers.
Sometimes, a cluster of tracks would appear out of nowhere and slowly drift south.
They were flying too high to be birds, too slow to be conventional aircraft,
and did not follow any commercial airways.
Other times, they would seemingly descend from space
and drop all the way down to sea-level in mere seconds.
These phenomena continued for several days.
And every time they reappeared, the crew would run up to the bridge
and use a pair of heavily magnified binoculars
to see these tiny specks moving erratically in the distance.
On the morning of November 14, the crew on board the USS Nimitz
were gearing up for a scheduled air defense exercise.
They had not yet been informed of the unusual returns picked up by the Princeton.
It was a cloudless day, and the sea was calm, as pilots took to the skies.
One of them was Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Kurth,
who was flying a single-seat F/A-18 fighter jet when he was contacted by the Princeton.
He was instructed to investigate an unknown target approaching from the south.
The Princeton also wanted to know if he carried any weapons,
to which the answer was no.
Kurth made his way to the specified coordinates but did not pick up anything on sensors.
As he looked down towards the ocean, however,
his attention was immediately drawn towards a turbulent patch of water.
Kurth claims to have seen a roundish disturbance on the ocean,
which appeared as though something was submerged just below the surface.
It reminded him of a submarine or ship slowly sinking into the ocean.
The Nimitz strike group did include a nuclear-powered submarine named the USS Louisville.
The Louisville was in the vicinity when Kurth made his observations
so the churning may indeed have been caused by a submerging submarine.
If not, then, whatever was in the water,
managed to evade detection by the Louisville's extremely sensitive sonar.
Kurth was soon joined by a squadron of two tandem-seated F-18s.
The lead aircraft of which was piloted by Commander David Fravor.
Much like Kurth, Fravor claims to have seen a disturbance on the ocean,
which he described as having a vaguely cross-like shape.
He thought it resembled a downed airliner
and described its size as much larger than a submarine.
While Kurth eventually circled back for the Nimitz,
Fravor and his wingman decided to get a closer look.
As they began their descent, they noticed a white capsule-shaped craft
moving erratically above the disturbance.
At first, they thought it could be a helicopter, but there were no rotor blades.
In fact, it was perfectly smooth.
No markings, no exhaust, no protrusions of any kind.
The UFO appeared to maintain a consistent altitude
but made rapid lateral movements with no visible means of propulsion.
According to Fravor, it was a bit smaller than an F-18 and resembled a giant mint of Tic-Tac.
As Fravor continued to descend, his wingman decided to maintain altitude
and kept watching from above.
Flying in a spiraling downward motion, Fravor was getting closer and closer
until, suddenly, the UFO realigned its axis
and began to climb at an incredible rate of speed.
Both of them were now flying in a circle.
The UFO was coming up while the F-18 was going down.
In an effort to close the distance between them, Fravor made a final aggressive turn
before the UFO rapidly accelerated up to a hypersonic speed
and disappeared in a matter of seconds.
Asthey looked down towards the ocean, it was now perfectly calm.
Okay, but what about the video?
Well, so Fravor and his wingman made it back to the Nimitz.
They landed and ran into a different flight crew, preparing to head back out.
They told them what they had seen and to be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary.
Soon thereafter, another tandem-seated F-18 took the skies.
This time, it was outfitted with an
Advanced Targeting Forward-Looking Infrared camera system.
This ATFLIR pod is controlled by the Weapon Systems Operator seated behind the pilot,
and the back-seater of this flight was Lieutenant Chad Underwood.
A few minutes after departing the Nimitz, Underwood detected something on his radar.
The unknown target was directly ahead, a few tens of kilometers away.
The target's behavior was erratic and unpredictable.
Its altitude and airspeed were in constant flux.
According to Underwood, it simply did not abide by the known laws of physics.
At some point, Underwood managed to get a lock on the target with the ATFLIR camera
and this is when the much-publicized video was recorded.
At the beginning of the video, we see a UFO being tracked in infrared.
Underwood then switches to visible light,
revealing an out-of-focus, rounded mass in the distance.
He then switches back to infrared
and alternates between two different zoom levels on multiple occasions.
Not much happens until the very end of the video
when the UFO suddenly disappears off to the left-hand side of the screen.
As the target was too far away to be seen with the naked eye,
neither Underwood nor his pilot ever made visual contact.
The Princeton continued to detect anomalous radar tracks for at least two more days,
and, according to Senior Chief Day, they eventually disappeared
near the Mexican island of Guadalupe.
In complete isolation, utterly divorced from any and all surrounding context,
this video is extraordinarily...
...unremarkable.
It's a fuzzy blob against a featureless background.
It's only when you place it in the middle of these truly remarkable stories
that the video itself becomes remarkable.
When skeptics and debunkers claim that this is a distant airplane,
I understand why many are so opposed to that explanation.
Because the witness accounts say otherwise.
A distant airplane can't just zip around the sky as if gravity was nonexistent.
It doesn't make any sense.
Unfortunately, we don't see any of those physics-defying maneuvers in the video.
In fact, this fuzzy blob does not do much of anything until the very end
when it suddenly disappears off to the left-hand side of the screen.
Now, some claim this is due to a sudden acceleration by the UFO,
but it could also be something as simple as the camera losing its target lock.
It's difficult to tell.
Underwood himself is uncertain about what happens at the end
as he never made visual contact.
The witness accounts, meanwhile, are so extraordinary they are difficult to believe.
If any regular person claimed to have seen a Tic-Tac-shaped UFO
moving erratically in the sky, few would listen.
But when that same story is told by some of the most qualified observers on the planet,
it makes you wonder.
And it wasn't just one or two.
These UFOs were either seen or tracked
by dozens of experienced aviators and sailors for nearly a week.
They were seen from multiple vantage points
and tracked by one of the most sophisticated radar systems in the world.
To think that all of them are lying or all of them were deceived by some prosaic phenomena
seems absurd.
At the same time, there is no way to verify what they're saying.
We have no choice but to take them at their word.
We don't have the radar data, the radio communication logs,
nor any corroborating evidence.
Well, except for this pixel-deficient footage, I guess.
Some of the witnesses claim there was actually a much longer and much higher resolution video
than the one we see today.
They claim to have seen this video on board the Princeton,
and that the shape of the UFO was perfectly clear
as it violently maneuvered around the screen.
What's interesting about this claim is that, when the video was first leaked online back in 2007,
the anonymous leaker claimed they had four different versions of the video in their possession.
Two of them were said to be shorter, but the forth was said to be twice as long
and supposedly showed "more UFO movement".
Unfortunately, this extended version has never seen the light of day.
And, if some of the witnesses are to be believed, it likely never will.
You see, on the evening of November 14, all the footage and data from these events
were supposedly erased.
Witnesses claim that two men arrived via helicopter who then collected the relevant data
before having all the tapes and hard drives wiped clean.
Witnesses from both the Nimitz and Princeton recall such a visit
and insist that nothing like it had ever happened before.
This has understandably lead to speculations of some sort of cover-up.
That these sightings were that of top-secret military drones or aircraft.
While the US military is undoubtedly experimenting with all kinds of cutting-edge technology,
it is difficult to believe they possess gravity-defying, hypersonic, flying Tic-Tacs.
If so, they would possess technology so far beyond anything known to the public,
it would be akin to magic.
And this was back in 2004.
Don't get me wrong, 2004 was a magical time compared to
[CURRENT YEAR]
but it was still aggressively 2004.
*2004-ness intensifies*
I really don't know what to make of this story.
After reading, watching, and listening to so many interviews with the people who were there,
I'm left with the distinct impression that they're telling the truth.
The video, on the other hand, does little to support their claims.
Sure, this fuzzy blob may be unidentified, but it's not unexplainable.
The second and third videos
were recorded off the southeastern coast of the United States in early 2015.
While those who recorded the footage have yet to come forward,
some of their crewmates and fellow pilots have.
And according to them, the story goes like this.
In the summer of 2014, a naval strike group, led by the aircraft carrier the USS Theodore Roosevelt,
was conducting predeployment exercises somewhere off the coast of Virginia.
Much like with the Nimitz encounters,
the first sign of trouble came in the form of anomalous radar tracks.
Following a fleet-wide upgrade of aircraft radar systems,
pilots had begun to pick up unidentified targets while conducting routine training missions.
The tracks were initially dismissed as false-positives,
but their behavior was unlike anything they had seen before.
Gravity-defying maneuvers, hypersonic velocities, and other mystifying shenanigans.
Attempts to intercept these UFOs were initially unsuccessful.
Lieutenant Danny Aucoin claims that, on two separate occasions,
he tried but failed to make visual contact.
Then, one day, a squadron is said to have narrowly avoided a midair collision
with one of these UFOs.
The two jets had been flying in tandem, no more than a few tens of meters apart,
when something flew right in between them.
That something was oddly described as a cube encased by a translucent sphere.
Lieutenant Ryan Graves, who spoke to one of the pilots once they landed,
claims the experience had visibly spooked them.
So much so, the squadron filed an official safety report.
According to Graves, this was far from an isolated incident.
These UFOs were allegedly seen by dozens of pilots for several months
and could remain airborne for up to twelve hours at a time.
Yet, despite growing concerns among the Roosevelt crew,
training missions continued as if nothing was amiss.
By early 2015, the Roosevelt strike group had made its way down to the coast of Florida,
which is when the two, now famous, videos were recorded.
Both of which are said to be short clips taken from much longer and higher resolution footage.
We don't know much about the circumstances as the officers involved have chosen to remain silent,
but let's take a look at the first one.
So there are a few things to unpack in this one.
If we ignore the audio for a moment and focus solely on the visuals,
the thing that immediately stands out is the apparent rotation of the UFO.
I use the word "apparent" because some debunkers claim that this rotation is an optical illusion.
You see, the ATFLIR pod is equipped with something known as a derotation mechanism.
It's meant to counteract the rotation of the camera
so that the orientation of the image stays the same.
Also know as image stabilization.
What may not be stabilized, however, are certain artifacts produced by the lens of the camera.
You can even try this yourself.
Aim a camera towards a light source,
rotate the camera, stabilize the footage,
and there you go.
The orientation of the image is preserved
while these spokes of light rotate along with the camera.
So, much like how the light from this light bulb is producing a lens flare,
the infrared radiation from this UFO is said to be producing a lens glare.
In other words, debunkers claim it is the camera, and thereby the glare, which is rotating.
Not the UFO itself.
While this explanation seems perfectly reasonable to my untrained eyes,
things get a bit more confusing once we bring back the audio.
If this rotation is merely the result of image stabilization,
why would the two pilots fail to recognize it as such?
Surely, they, if anyone, would know what that looks like?
And they're not alone.
Both Lieutenant Graves and Aucoin believe it is the UFO which is rotating.
Furthermore, an expert on the ATFLIR system has very plainly stated
that this is not an optical illusion.
But this is not the only puzzling comment made by the two pilots.
So the radar is supposedly detecting "a whole fleet" of UFOs,
which are all traveling crosswind.
I mean, if what we're looking at is something prosaic,
like the blooming exhaust of a jet engine,
these comments don't make a whole lot of sense.
I would love to hear what these two pilots have to say if they ever decide to come forward.
Until then, all we can do is speculate.
This video may seem very striking at first, but it is arguably the least interesting of the three.
Once again, let's ignore the audio for a moment and focus solely on the visuals.
Unlike the previous two, the UFO in this one is colder than its surroundings.
So, the ocean below is radiating more heat than whatever this is.
It may look as though the UFO is traveling at high speed, but this is likely the result of parallax.
In short, aircraft go fast.
Camera fixed on not-so-fast UFO.
UFO appear to go fast.
Some say the UFO is near sea-level, and therefore the parallax explanation doesn't work.
But we can actually derive its altitude using the numbers onscreen
and find that that is not true.
Everything seen in this video is consistent with a balloon
or some sort of debris floating in the wind.
The commentary by the pilots, however, does, once again, introduce a bit of confusion.
I mean, it seems odd for the pilots to be so excited over something so mundane,
but without hearing from the pilots themselves, we can do nothing but speculate.
The person responsible for making these videos available to the public
is a man named Luis Elizondo.
Beginning in 2008, Elizondo was the head of a secret government-funded effort
to investigate UFO sightings known as the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.
By late 2017, however, Elizondo had grown so disillusioned
with the government's lack of interest in the program's efforts
that he decided to resign.
In his resignation letter, Elizondo writes that certain individuals within the government
are staunchly opposed to UFO research.
That inflexible mindsets and political contention essentially prevented him from doing his job.
He portrays the government as virtually unconcerned about an issue which he believes
could pose a threat to national security.
So much so that he felt it necessary to resign in protest.
This seemingly uncaring attitude
was also noted by witnesses of both the Nimitz- and Roosevelt encounters.
For instance, Lieutenant Ryan Graves recalled how the commander of the Roosevelt strike group
seemed completely unfazed by this video.
On the day when it was captured, he supposedly looked at it for five seconds,
then walked away without saying a word.
Some of the senior officers on board the Nimitz and Princeton
are said to have had an equally muted response.
These are very bizarre reactions to potential air space incursions.
You'd think they'd want to make sure these UFOs are not some kind of threat.
The near midair collision reported by one of the squadrons from the Roosevelt
seems especially concerning.
To account for this apparent disinterest, many point to the severe stigma
surrounding the topic of UFOs.
Regardless of how inaccurate it may be, the term UFO has, for many,
become synonymous with aliens and space ships.
So much so, the government now favors the term UAP,
specifically to avoid this unwanted association.
Whether sightings go unreported or uninvestigated,
the argument is that people choose to look the other way
because they're concerned about their reputation.
No one wants to be seen as a nutcase and potentially lose out on a promotion.
Others believe there could be something a bit more conniving at play.
That no serious action is taken because a highly advanced and top secret drone program
is responsible for the sightings.
Even some of the witnesses have entertained that possibility.
For instance, Sean Cahill, who was the Chief Master-at-Arms on board the Princeton,
perceived the inaction of senior staff as a clear sign that the UFOs were known military assets.
But, as previously mentioned, it is difficult to believe such radical innovation
could have taken place in absolute secrecy.
Were talking about such advanced technology,
it would barely make sense in a science fiction novel.
Vehicles that can exceed the speed of sound without producing any sonic booms.
Vehicles that can drop or climb to virtually any altitude in a matter of seconds.
Vehicles that can violently change direction of travel as if inertia was a mere suggestion.
None of that should be possible, yet dozens of trained observers
claim they witnessed the impossible.
The least uncomfortable solution, therefore, is to simply not believe them.
Sure, the witnesses are credible, but they're not incontrovertible.
Everything from optical illusions to faulty equipment
could be used to cast doubt on their extraordinary tales.
And without any corroborating evidence, except for this nebulous footage,
that is not a difficult task.
As such, many government officials may not seem concerned
because they genuinely believe there is nothing to be concerned about.
Personally, I'm left feeling very conflicted.
On the one hand, I find the witness accounts quite compelling.
On the other, I find this grainy trilogy of dots-in-the-sky somewhat underwhelming.
Sure, the videos are fascinating.
But they're also far too ambiguous to provide any decisive answers.
I highly recommend that you seek out and listen to some of the witness accounts
so that you can judge for yourself.
This is very much a developing situation.
By the time you watch this video, chances are, more information will have been released.
According to Elizondo, the Nimitz- and Roosevelt encounters are just the tip of the iceberg.
Sightings by military personnel are said to be commonplace,
it's just that we rarely hear about them.
I can only hope that more evidence is released in the near future
and that, at least, one video depict something inexplicable.
Something that is unidentified because it defies explanation,
not because it is too distant, too small, or otherwise too obscure.
No, but something truly extraordinary.
That's what I want to see.