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Compendium of Horror, Fear, and the Grotesque

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Unidentified Flying Objects

UFO is an abbreviation for Unidentified Flying Object. Reports of UFOs go back to ancient times as argued, most notably, in Chariots of the Gods by Erich Von Däniken. In the 20th Century during World War II there were many sightings of UFOs by aircraft pilots and crews flying for the United States, other Allied countries, and Japan. The sightings of ghost lights and erratically flying objects at the time were thought to be advanced war technology belonging to the enemy. The term the Allied forces used for these sightings was "foo fighters." The war sightings began around 1946. In 1947 sightings became nationalized by two important incidents: Mt Ranier, Washington, and Roswell, New Mexico.

The sighting at Mt Ranier, Washington, was made by an American named Kenneth Arnold flying his private airplane and seeing several brilliantly lighted objects flying at super-sonic speed between Mt Ranier and Mt Adams. Arnold estimated the speed of the UFOs at around 1200 miles per hour. See "Kenneth Arnold" for more information. The incident at Roswell, New Mexico, was much more impressive. It was reported that the RAAF had captured a downed flying saucer on a ranch near Roswell. Debris was widespread and reported to consist of very strange and unearthly materials. See "The Roswell Crash" for more information.

Renewed interest in UFOs surged in the 20th century after the incident at Roswell, New Mexico. Over the decades, improvements in technology and communications aided increasing interest in the subject. More individuals had access to better film, video, and digital photographic machinery, so more sightings were documented and shared with the world. What exists of the visual evidence is considered controversial at least. Many of the photos and motion pictures of UFOs have proven to be hoaxes. But there are still believers and people who claim to have witnessed these phenomena first hand.

Interest in UFO phenomena in the United States was gaining so much popularity after Roswell, that the Air Force officially authorized a study to research and analyze UFO reports. The study was known as Project Blue Book. The study ran from 1947 to 1969 and was headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Of 12,618 sightings reported to Project Blue Book, 701 remain listed as "unidentified." Project Blue Book was officially closed in December of 1969 with the release of a document called the Condon Report. The report concluded that none of the UFO sightings reported were anomalous; they could either be explained as natural phenomena or were misrepresented by viewers. But some UFOlogists argue that the Air Force continued its research into UFO research clandestinely, and even contributed disinformation to raise public doubt about the existence of UFOs.

Other curious topics related to UFOs include abductions of human beings by extraterrestrial alien life forms. The strange and enormous carvings in the arid coastal plains of Nazca, Peru, provide some of the most interesting ancient objects alleged by some to be proof of extraterrestrial visitations to Earth. The carvings at Nazca are images of various animals on such a grand scale (some up to 900 feet long) that their entirety can only be appreciated from airplanes. Since the figures were carved between 200 AD and 700 BC, they represent either the vast imagination of early human beings without the ability to fly, or they are artifacts created by beings with the ability to hover. The Urantia Book is another curious artifact that was written by so called "superhuman" beings to disclose certain secrets of the universe to humanity.

The story of Barney and Betty Hill, a married couple allegedly abducted by aliens in New Hampshire in the 1960s, captured the public's imagination after their story was televised in 1975. The Work of John E. Mack on human abductions by extraterrestrials renewed interest in and criticism of the phenomenon in the 1990s. Sightings of UFOs continue to be captured on visual media and shared with the public. The famous American horror writer, Whitley Strieber, recounts his personal story of abduction by alien grays in his book Communion. Strieber is famous for two novels that were each the basis for motions pictures: The Wolfen and The Hunger.

In early January 2008 the town of Stephenville, Texas was the site of an enormous UFO sighting in the sky. Witnesses in the nearby town of Dublin, Texas, also reported seeing a UFO that appeared to be 1 mile in length and about 1/2 mile wide with red, blue, yellow, and white lights. The craft seemed to fly and then hover approximately 300 feet above ground. One witness claims to have seen the craft on 3 separate occasions and provided drawings of what he saw. On January 18, 2008, Larry King did a special show on the Stephenville UFO sightings. Earthfiles.com provides the complete story on this UFO sighting.

In the spring of 2008 the British government opened its files on UFO phenomena and made them public in the National Archives. The files are available at this URL: http://ufos.nationalarchives.gov.uk/.

On July 10, 2008, the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) released a report on radar evidence related to the Stephenville UFO sighting that had occurred on Jan. 8, 2008. On July 11, 2008 Larry King interviewed the MUFON report authors and several other related guests on "Larry King Live" CNN. For further details visit the Stephenville Lights.

Sites of Interest