Report: UFO Sightings Coincide with Popular Sci-Fi Films, TV

The British Ministry of Defense released 4,000 pages of documents detailing hundreds of UFO sightings between 1981 and 1996. A summary of the documents by UFO expert David Clarke comes as no surprise to scientists and skeptics: many of the sightings coincide with the release of popular sci-fi movies or television shows.

609 UFO sightings in 1996, compared with 117 in 1995 correspond with the rise in popularity of the “X Files” television show and the release of the alien blockbuster film “Independence Day.” “Obviously, films and TV programs raise public awareness of UFOs and it’s fascinating to see how that appears to lead more people to report what they see to the authorities,” Clarke said.

The documents released include sightings reported by police officers and fighter pilots as well as young children, the Daily Mail reported Monday. 90% of the sightings could be explained by mundane objects such as bright stars and planets, meteors, artificial satellites and airship advertising.

The other 10% were listed as “unexplained,” mainly because of insufficient information.

For an excellent overview of what really happened in one of the most famous UFO stories of all, the 1947 Roswell, New Mexico alien spaceship crash, listen to Brian Dunning’s 365 Days of Astronomy podcast on the subject.

Source: Reuters, UPI

54 Replies to “Report: UFO Sightings Coincide with Popular Sci-Fi Films, TV”

  1. The answer is obvious: ETs come to Earth to watch our cool TV shows.

    Crystal clear, my friends, crystal clear…

  2. I saw one in 1989!

    At least I don’t know what it was so to me it was a UFO. It was the shape of a black triangle (ok no problem – maybe a stealth fighter – no problem there)

    It was hovering.. (I don’t know if the stealth fighters can do what the hawker harriers can do with VTOL – but I’m prepared to let that one go to.)

    It didn’t make any sound… err..?

    Anyway those were before the days when everyone had a camera on their phone so there’s no evidence and unless ‘aliens’ can travel faster than light – which I don’t believe can be done.

    So I’ve come to conclude that I’m mad – lol

  3. It would be awesome if there were alien spaceships visiting Earth. It would be awesome if there was a gigantic government conspiracy covering up said alien ships – conspiracies are just plain awesome. It would be amazing if all the other conspiracies relating to aliens and shadowy authority figures were true – like faces on Mars, and Electric Universe and various other things.

    You know what is more awesome though? Reality.

  4. Elroy — stop regurgitating trivial untruths. I quickly checked one of your claims — Buzz Aldrin saw aliens.

    Interviewed by the Science Channel, Aldrin mentioned seeing unidentified objects, and he claims his words were taken out of context; he asked the Science Channel to clarify to viewers he did not see alien spacecraft, but they refused

    And Scott Carpenter flatly denies he ever saw alien craft.

    Your list is a joke — on you.

  5. Hard evidence? I guess about all we have is interviews with the actual astronauts. I doubt that NASA has any documentation on it.

    Elroy, you quoted this list as evidence to back up this statement of yours, and that’s the second time on this thread that you’ve backed away from sources as soon as they are called into question. You were the one who put Carpenter on your list even though the source you lifted his name from basically confirmed that he never made the claim about aliens. Try at least reading your sources before you use them to argue whatever point you’re trying to make.

    Face it, there is no hard evidence for alien craft. Despite decades of investigations, research and “sightings” there isn’t a single shred of evidence that adds up to more than hearsay, mistaken identity, and conspiracy theories.

    I would love nothing more than for us to make contact with an alien civilization. It will probably be the most profound world event to have ever happened, and will change us in ways we can’t even begin to imagine.

    But if all you say is true, why is it that those whose job it is to stare through telescopes into the night sky, night after night, year after year — i.e. the astronomers — have never caught sight of a single instance of one of these craft? Not one.

  6. @ IVAN3MAN: How many times have you mistook the Moon for a UFO?!? So easy to get the two confused! 🙂

  7. Ironical that this just came out also:

    1300 pages of secret UFO documents surface in Brazil.

    An increase in UFO reports coinciding with sci-fi movies and TV does not disprove legitimate sightings.
    Across the globe, there are thousands of military pilots that have reported UFO’s.
    I’ve had discussions about UFO’s with a few air force fighter pilots who had their own encounters and were convinced that alien craft are visiting our little corner of the galaxy.

    Scientist and Astronaut Edgar Mitchell claims: “UFO’s are real and we are not alone”.

    The first transmission from Apollo 8 after orbiting the far side of the moon for the first time came from James Lovell:

    “Please be informed…there is a Santa Claus”

    Granted, it was Christmas, 1968.
    Santa Claus was the NASA code for UFO’s/alien craft, dating back to the Mercury program of the early sixties.
    From what I’ve read, when they used that code, they were serious.

    Civilian sightings may not be all that credible, but when military pilots and astronauts report sightings and claim UFO’s exist, we really ought to pay attention to them.

  8. ElroyJetson,

    I think you’re conflating UFO and aliens. If NASA used code words for UFO, did they mean aliens or simply some object they could not identify?

  9. ND
    Bogey is a unidentified craft, or object.

    A fighter pilot might say, “I have a bogey on my six”
    Meaning there is an unidentified craft following directly behind them, probably an enemy fighter.

    Santa Claus was used to specifically identify an alien craft, distinguishing it from the usual “bogey” because they had so many sightings during Gemini and Mercury.

    These are some of the most highly trained, skilled and disciplined people on the planet. They work with great precision every day. They are not about to be ambiguous when it comes to something as important as alien craft sightings. Thus the distinction between bogey and santa claus.

  10. ElroyJetson,

    Any hard evidence that santa claus meant aliens in NASA code speak?

    I doubt NASA would use the term bogey for the same reason they would not use UFO.

  11. Who do Voodoo like them aliens do?
    Why, the Air Farce do! That’s who!

    The closest thing to a UFO I ever saw was at a star party late one night. We called ourselves ‘The Wragg Canyon Star Gazers’ (Now defunct) and met at a site near the Southern end of Lake Berryessa in Napa Co. CA.

    It was way late, actually early in the morning – about 2 AM when I at first heard, then saw a VERY strange triangular shaped craft cut across my field of view in my 4″ Schmidt Cassegrain scope. I was able to track the interloper across 1/4 of the sky and got a pretty good look at whatever it was. It had ‘running lights’ like a conventional aircraft yet in no way was shaped like one. I am a fan of aerospace activities and know what the Stealth Fighter looks like, the B2 and other triangular shaped military aircraft. This ship was obviously not one of these. Whatever it was headed over the mountains toward Travis AFB. The sound that attracted my attention was a ‘thrumbing’ beat – oscillating reverberations, then silence. Its flight path took it from North to South over the least populated mountainous approach to Travis AFB.

    What do I think it was? Not a UFO, instead perhaps an Aurora space plane…? Which officially don’t exist. Yah shore….

  12. By the way… next day in the paper was a story about sonic booms heard all across Northern California. The story said that an Air Force SR-71 spy plane had made an unplanned traverse across the state… Cover story?

  13. Gee, ND, what else could Lovell have meant when he said there is a santa claus, after orbiting the moon? What besides an alien craft could he have seen? Note that he did not say bogey!

    Schirra was the first to use the santa claus code, I believe, when he encountered more than one craft following along with his Mercury module while in orbit.

    Hard evidence? I guess about all we have is interviews with the actual astronauts. I doubt that NASA has any documentation on it.

    The following astronauts have made reports and/or statements about alien craft.
    Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin
    Scott Carpenter
    Commander Eugene Cernan
    Maurice Chatelain
    Major Gordon Cooper
    John Glenn
    Dr. Jerry Linenberger
    James Lovell and Frank Borman
    Edgar Mitchell
    Walter Schirra
    Donald Slayton
    Joseph A. Walker
    Ed White and James McDivitt
    Major Robert White

  14. Which reminds me… Back in the mid 90’s a new weather satellite was being used for images available on the NWS (Nat’l Weather Service) webpage. This vehicle used a new type of imaging instrument which used that part of the spectrum between visable light and infra-red – could take images night or day. Funny thing about it is that I kept seeing contrails that would appear somewhere over or near Hawaii or thereabouts and then proceed to cross the Calif. coastline up above Santa Barbara CA, then would spiral in and end near the Edwards AFB area in the Mojave desert.

    I surmised that it might be some sort of vehicle re-entering the atmosphere above the Pacific then landing at Edwards. I wrote the NWS and related my findings. I mentioned that IF it were evidence of a top secret vehicle, then wouldn’t it be prudent to make that data less available to the GP? The images from that particular WX satellite disappeared the next day…

  15. In the middle ages UFO sitings were visions of angels or apparitions of the Virgin, and prior to that a visitation by the Hermes or Zeus. These things are a matter of inner space and not likely outer space.


  16. ND, no I don’t get my news from that site. Finding a link in english for the Brazillian UFO papers was my priority. I’ve never seen that site until just now, and will probably never visit it again.
    I was just letting people know that those documents have been released, that’s all.
    You’re right, that article you linked is pretty whack.

  17. Once the astronomers are convinced (i.e. not the odd crank that occurs in every profession) then I will begin to take UFO sighting seriously. Funny how UFO sighting are never made through the end of a sharp powerful telescope and always with a fuzzy, burry, shaky, camera…

  18. tacitus, chill out, sheesh. It’s not MY list. I didn’t create it.
    Here’s the source for that list, (which I forgot to include previously) with information about each astronauts stories:

    They include links to most of the sources they cite. They are honest about Scott Carpenter statements. Although there is no mention of Buzz Aldrin’s dealings with the Science Channel. What’s your source for your claim regarding Aldrin, btw?

  19. Aqua,

    How dark was the view or the background when you saw the triangle? The SR71 does have a triangular feature on it. You may have not seen the rest of the craft.

  20. “What besides an alien craft could he have seen? Note that he did not say bogey!”

    You’re assuming it’s an alien craft then stating as if a fact that astronauts reported an craft. You’re deceiving yourself dude.

    “What else could it have been” is very very faulty methodology!

  21. Aqua, what year was this sighting? Didn’t the SR71 make one last trip across the US within the past few years?

  22. Aqua, the date of your sighting would help determine if it might have been an SR71. They are shaped like an elongated triangle. I believe they were retired in 1990, but a few still flew until ’98 and the last flight was a NASA bird in October ’99, I believe.

    ND, that’s a legitimate question, considering Lovell used the code for UFO, specificially identifying whatever he saw from the usual “bogey”.
    What’s wrong with the methodology? He made a statement, using a code word, the code word has a history and specific intent, he was also one of the best of the best. If he saw something other than a UFO, why use the code for one? If he saw something else, what could it have been? AFAIK at the time, there were no maneuvers being performed that would have shed part of their vehicle to be mistaken for a UFO. If it was a piece of the vehicle, they would have had a problem and would have made that fact known. A misidentified small asteroid flying by reflecting sunlight perhaps? That’s possible.
    I’d agree that the methodology would be flawed if he had simply used the word “bogey” and I inferred that to mean UFO. He used a code word which was investigated and found to mean something. Analyzing their situation at the time greatly narrows the possibilities of what he saw. So the question still stands, if he didn’t see a UFO, which his use of the code indicates, what else could he have seen? I’ve mentioned an asteroid as one possibility, got any others?

    I’ve been saying for years that Santa needs running lights on his sleigh to avoid just that sort of incident. 😉

    Alright, time to bounce out into the world.

  23. one more for tacitus.

    I didn’t back away from any sources. The first “source” was just a link to information about the newly released documents in Brazil, that’s all. I never made any claims other than it’s existence.
    The list of astronauts statements is exactly what I said it is, a list of astronauts that have made reports or statements about alien craft. Although I could have said UFO instead, to be more general.

    The following astronauts have made reports and/or statements about alien craft.

    It’s up to people to draw their own conclusions. I’m just giving another perspective that not all UFO reports come from wide-eyed sci-fi fans. 😉

    Gotta pay the bills. Laters.

  24. Oh, tacitus, have you not researched your claims?

    May I direct your attention to this?

    Please note the hyperlink titled: Astronomers and other scientists

    Although it is sometimes contended that astronomers never report UFOs, the Air Force’s Project Blue Book files indicate that approximately 1% of all their reports came from amateur and professional astronomers or other users of telescopes (such as missile trackers or surveyors). In the 1970s, astrophysicist Peter A. Sturrock conducted two surveys of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and American Astronomical Society. About 5% of the members polled indicated that they had had UFO sightings. [6] [7] In 1980, a survey of 1800 members of various amateur astronomer associations by Gert Helb and astronomer J. Allen Hynek of the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) found that 24% responded “yes” to the question “Have you ever observed an object which resisted your most exhaustive efforts at identification?”[29]

    Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who admitted to 6 UFO sightings, including 3 green fireballs supported the Extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) for UFOs and stated he thought scientists who dismissed it without study were being “unscientific.”[30] Another astronomer was Dr. Lincoln La Paz, who had headed the Air Force’s investigation into the green fireballs and other UFO phenomena in New Mexico. La Paz reported 2 personal sightings, one of a green fireball, the other of an anomalous disc-like object. Even later UFO debunker Dr. Donald Menzel filed a UFO report in 1949.

    In the spirit of open dialogue and honesty:

    Various public scientific studies over the past half century have examined UFO reports in detail. None of these studies have officially concluded that any reports are caused by extraterrestrial spacecraft (e.g., Seeds 1995:A4). Some studies were neutral in their conclusions, but argued the inexplicable core cases called for continued scientific study. Examples are the Sturrock Panel study of 1998 and the 1970 AIAA review of the Condon Report. Other private or governmental studies, some secret, have concluded in favor of the ETH, or have had members who disagreed with the official conclusions.

    The point is that, yes…a number of astronomers have reported sightings which are unidentified. Yes, a number of astronomers disagree with the extraterrestrial origin of UFO’s

    Are the astronomers as a community convinced? Take a poll yourself and find out if the 24% figure quoted above is accurate.

    BTW, generally, sharp powerful telescopes are focused on objects in space, not in the atmosphere. Try tracking a moving object, say an airplane or satellite, with a telescope and keep it centered and steady…good luck!

  25. Is it such a stretch to consider, despite the arrogance and hubris that generally permeates the human race, that there might be more technologically advanced civilizations that have developed the means to get to Earth?

    In as short a time as a couple of hundred years from now, a veritable drop in the bucket compared to the age of humanity, much less the galaxy, alien civilizations might be having the same debate as we are after witnessing Earth based spacecraft exploring their home planet.

    Once we develop the technology to travel to other planetary systems, how will we respond if we discover intelligent life? Will we simply study them from a distance, or will we introduce ourselves immediately? I’d be studying from a distance to figure out what we’re getting into because if they would be as violent and aggressive as humanity has proven to be over the course of history, I wouldn’t be too quick to reveal myself.

    On the other hand, if they were a race that was peaceful and happy, I’d be jumping right in the middle of that action.

  26. Elroy

    As for objects seen by astronauts, how about the 3rd stage of Apollo when it pushed the LEM and command module out of earth orbit, after detachment it itself would be on it’s way to the moon, trailing the astronauts. You’re too quick to accept an alien origin to objects that have not been clearly identified. You need some scepticism dude.

  27. I am skeptical…dude, or dudette. Don’t know or care about your gender, but you seem to have assumed what mine is.
    I’m gonna leave you guessing…dude/dudette.

    I have never said at any point in this discussion that UFO’s are real or that astronauts or astronomers have actually seen them. I have merely provided some information regarding some of their comments and statements.

    If you think they are lying or otherwise confused, that’s your choice. My experience with aerospace professionals of that caliber is that they don’t frak around like that.

    Otherwise, I really don’t care either way what your opinion is of the idea of UFO’s or of me in general. You’re nothing to me…dude/dudette.

  28. Honestly, I think there is extreme arrogance to think that there are no species outside our solar system that have developed technology far exceeding anything the human race can muster.
    ND, you really think we are alone as a technologically adept species?
    I doubt that we are an anomaly in that regard.
    The question is, are there any species beyond our solar system capable of getting here?
    Can’t rule out an affirmative on that one, imo.

  29. ND: The shape of the craft was unlike the shape of an SR71… it was more, how shall I say, ‘scrimatar’ shaped? It did not have the outboard engine nacelles as on the Blackbird…

    The ‘Wragg Canyon Star Gazers’ used to meet at a VERY dark location located halfway between the Hwy and Lake Berryessa. The hills surrounding the ranch blocked the lights from the SF Bay area (50 miles distant), and the nearby cities of Fairfield and Vacaville. To the west was the ‘Blue Ridge Mountain’ range which blocked the light from the Sacremento Valley cities. I was able to determine the shape of the vehicle as it flew past background stars and by the illumination of its landing lights – which only lit up as it approached its landing pattern. Later I saw a plastic model of the Aurora Space Plane which looked very similar to what I saw..

  30. Oh yeah.. the timeline for my observation was sometime during the summer of 1994 or 1995…. I forget the exact date but our star party/pot luck’s were held during the warmer months between May and Oct.

  31. There is one thing I agree on in this discussion, there must be alien life somewhere in the Universe. We would be egoists to assume that life was formed only in our solar system.
    The question on whether these life forms actually come visit Earth is another question to which I’m highly skeptical.

  32. John Glenn thought he was being ‘tailed’ and reported seeing a ‘ ……… mass of small silvery particles swirling all around the capsule ……’
    It turned out to be his vented urine!

  33. Any possibility of these sightings (such as by Aqua) being Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs)? The Boeing X-45 (see wiki page with similar vehicles listed here: ), the McDonnell Douglas X-36, Lockheed Martin Polecat, Boeing Bird of Prey, etc. all have unusual shapes and some are/were quite large. Most were built to be stealthy and quiet to carry out their missions. Seems plausible that some of these may have been mistaken for ‘alien’ craft, FWIW.

  34. I think Quartz probably reflects what the majority of pro and amateur astronomers feel about this issue. ETL: yes. Visitations specifically to Earth: highly doubtful.

  35. We’ve all reviewed mass media info. concerning UFO’s as that subject will continue to create interest in this day and age. Several of the TV shows I’ve seen specifically mentioned the military’s perogative to perpetuate UFO fanatisim as a way to ‘cover up’ undercover ops.

    Q: Just how far have they actually gone with these activities?

    Q2: Why did the military stop using the Shuttle back in the early ’90s?

    Q3: Have you ever seen an overhead/zenithal ‘Iridium flash’?

  36. I’m a Sci Fi fan.. can you tell? Sooo, don’t get you ‘hackles’ up about my statements OR your ‘thermally ablative scales’… My sole intention is to perpetuate thought. Drop a pebble in the pond as it were…

  37. My earlier comments about seeing and hearing a strange craft ARE TRUE and not part of my tinkering.

  38. Isn’t it interesting that with the broadcast of televsion shows like Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate SG1, Independence Day, Twilight Zone, Outer LImits and that ilk, that today we have a nearly whirledwide population with an awareness of the possibility of interstellar travel, alien beings, time warps, laser canons etc., etc… AND as a result, might not panic too completely if those inventions were revealed as truth?

  39. ElroyJetson:

    BTW, generally, sharp powerful telescopes are focused on objects in space, not in the atmosphere. Try tracking a moving object, say an airplane or satellite, with a telescope and keep it centered and steady…good luck!

    Amateur astronomer Ralf Vandebergh makes a hobby of tracking and photographing the International Space Station (ISS): Click here.

    So there!


  40. IVAN3MAN,

    But the ISS is predictable.

    The fact that video and photography UFOs lack quality, is still an issue for those promoting alien visitations.

  41. ND,

    ElroyJetson stated: “Try tracking a moving object, say an airplane or satellite, with a telescope and keep it centered and steady…”; I proved him wrong.

  42. If ElroyJetson is still reading this thread, I tried to post it earlier and it appears to not have gone through. Spamm filtering? 3rd attempt. I’m leaving out the URLs which I’ll post if this goes through.

    Regarding ElroyJetson’s comments in the UFO thread:
    “Schirra was the first to use the santa claus code, I believe, when he encountered more than one craft following along with his Mercury module while in orbit.”

    So I looked googled for “Schirra santa claus” and came up with the following page:

    link 1.

    Basically Schirra was playing a practical joke! He very seriously reported to Houston that he was seeing a large command module with eight smaller ones to get people’s attention. Well here’s what was said:

    ” “We have an object, looks like a satellite going from north to south, probably in polar orbit…. Looks like he might be going to re-enter soon…. You just might let me pick up that thing…. I see a command module and eight smaller modules in front. The pilot of the command module is wearing a red suit.”

    Then ground controllers heard the strains, both familiar and otherworldly, of “Jingle Bells,” played on a harmonica backed byâwhat else?âminiature sleigh bells.”

    He was on Gemini 6 on an in orbit rendevouz mission with Gemini 7. Guess who was on Gemini 7? Jim Lovell!

    So what’s more plausible, Lovell referring back to the Gemini mission when he was on Apollo 8, or alien spacecraft?


    According to the following page, Schirra was quite the practical joker:

    link 2.

    Any thoughts on this ElroyJetson?

  43. Great sleuthing there, ND 🙂 . Some in the astronaut corps liked to play practical jokes to lighten the mood at some points in their missions, this being a good example. But over the years, it’s easy too see how this exchange could morph into something with an entirely new( and unintended ) interpretation. Hopefully, ElroyJetson might read your post to help put Schirra’s comments in perspective. Anyway, thanks for that interesting bit of trivia from the heady days of the Gemini program.

  44. There wasn’t much of sleuthing needed with google at one’s fingertips 🙂 I just wish EJ would google before taking anything she reads at face value.

    Just to reiterate here, verbal code words don’t make much sense when it’s technically possible to send encoded signals via the computer data stream.

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