Opinion: New developments on the extraterrestrial front

Opinion: New developments on the extraterrestrial front

I want to believe…

Paul Rodgers

Last week I received a call from a reader, who asked to remain anonymous, that at exactly 7:08 p.m. on foggy December 9, while driving from Cranbrook to Kimberley, she and her 17-year-old daughter spotted a strange object in the sky.

She described this high-flying object as having blinking yellow lights that illuminated a dome-shaped top and obscured its bottom. From its lofty altitude the object was only in view for about four seconds before it disappeared over the river.

The caller asked to remain anonymous; she told some close friends and family about her experience, but, like many others, she feared talking broadly about it, worried it might draw the wrong kind of attention — basically she didn’t want people thinking she was a nutcase.

I try to keep an open mind about bizarre phenomena and life in general, and have personally had a similar experience, so I listened intently to her call, making sure to take notes and ask questions. My own experience with, I guess you’d call it a UFO, was in Fernie a few years ago.

A good friend of mine has told me for years that he had had multiple encounters with these things that can only be described as orbs. Singular, softly glowing balls of light that float around, sometimes appearing to follow him, or even observe him.

I didn’t necessarily believe him or not believe him, I just wasn’t sure what to make of it. Then, that night in Fernie following a wedding we were all there for, he and I, along with several other friends, saw another one. A small ball of light, gently shimmering between a soft spectrum of colours, moving in and out of the tree line. I couldn’t comprehend or explain it. But I saw it, and the experience was shared with several others.

So I didn’t just humour the caller, pretend to listen, hang up and then turn to laugh about it with my colleagues — I gave it the time of day. I do genuinely believe that there are some things in the world that science can’t explain. Then, just a couple of days after I received this intriguing phone call, I see headlines saying that the Pentagon has confirmed a $22 million program investigating UFOs.

This was accompanied by a video The Pentagon released that depicts an encounter between a US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet and an unidentified flying object. And much like the pilots heard in the video, many around the world are stunned and don’t quite know how to process what they are seeing.

This compelling information comes courtesy of The New York Times proving into official records. It illuminates that the Defense Department had a program referred to as the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program that was committed to investigating unidentified flying objects, that ended in 2012 after U.S. defense officials shifted attention and funding to higher priorities.

However, according to theTimes article, the program’s backers said that while, yes, funding was cut in 2012, the program is still active, continuing to investigate episodes.

The program was run by military intelligence official Luis Elizondo who was quoted saying, “my personal belief is that there is very compelling evidence that we may not be alone.” After his funding was cut, Elizondo reportedly continued working with officials from the Navy and the C.I.A. until October 2016 when he resigned as a protest of “excessive secrecy and internal opposition.”

This is all tantalizing information for sure, but the video and the existence of the program does not automatically validate the experience of the caller, myself or any other person who has seen something in the sky that they can’t explain.

The U.S. Air Force, between 1947 and 1969 conducted numerous studies on over 12,000 supposed UFOs and concluded that most were the result of stars, clouds, conventional aircraft or spy plans. But 701 remained unexplained. And that doesn’t take into account all the sightings and experiences of citizens and Army, Navy and Air Force personnel that go unreported for fear of embarrassment.

Elizondo, who has very interestingly since joined To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science — an organization formed by former Blink-182 singer Tom DeLonge to explore unexplained phenomena, said in his resignation letter that there was a need for more serious attention to those types of sightings of “unusual aerial systems interfering with military weapon platforms and displaying beyond-next-generation capabilities.”

Of course all this doesn’t officially confirm any hopeful individuals belief in alien life, but maybe the fact that this information has come to light will will encourage more people to report their unexplained sightings, if only to their local news reporter. Whether or not we are actually alone in the universe, you are not alone in your experience. According to Winnipeg-based Ufuology Research there were 1,131 sightings of unidentified objects across Canada in 2016 and one in three Americans believe that some of the unexplained phenomena are the result of extraterrestrial visitors. Observe. Report. Believe.