UFOs have captured the popular imagination for the past seven decades. For most of this time, the subject has been treated with casual derision by mainstream media—as the butt of a lighthearted story at the end of the nightly news, underscored by X-Files music and obligatory references to “little green men.”
The media’s dismissive attitude towards UFOs stands in stark contrast to the views of numerous, highly-respected individuals in the spheres of politics and science who have, over the years, stated either publicly or confidentially their firm belief that the UFO enigma is not only worthy of serious study, but that it may even be representative of non-human intelligences.
Here are 10 of the most shocking statements about UFOs by scientists and government officials…
10. General Nathan Twining
General Nathan Twining served as Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force between 1953 and 1957, and as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff between 1957 and 1960. A highly distinguished officer, Twining rose through the ranks from a lowly private to a four-star general answering directly to the Secretary of Defense and the President himself.
In a once secret letter to Air Force Headquarters dated 23 September 1947, General Twining, then head of Air Materiel Command, stated that flying saucers were “real and not visionary or fictitious,” that they had “metallic or light reflecting surface[s],” that they were “circular or elliptical in shape, flat on bottom and domed on top,” and were sometimes sighted in “well-kept formation flights varying from three to nine objects.”
Twining’s unambiguous comments in this then-secret letter about the physical reality of flying saucers were in direct contradiction to the USAF’s public position at the time that UFO reports were the product of mass hysteria or misidentifications of mundane phenomena.
9. Wilbert B. Smith
Between 1947 and 1969, the US Air Force operated UFO investigation projects under three different codenames: Sign, Grudge, and Blue Book. Less well known is that America’s Northern neighbour was also taking a keen interest in flying saucers during the Cold War. Between 1950 and 1954, the Canadian government officially operated its own UFO study project—Project Magnet—with the objective of collecting data about the phenomenon and applying it in the spheres of military engineering and technology. The project was headed by Wilbert Brockhouse Smith, a senior radio engineer for Transport Canada’s Broadcast and Measurements Section.
In a previously top secret Canadian government document dated 21 November, 1950, drawing from information he had obtained via the Canadian embassy in Washington D.C., Smith noted of UFOs that: “The matter is the most highly classified subject in the United States government, rating higher even than the H-bomb.”
8. Hermann Oberth
One of the boldest perspectives on UFOs during the 1950s came from Professor Hermann Oberth. A pioneer of rocketry and astronautics, and mentor to Werhner von Braun, Oberth was arguably one of the most influential engineers of the 20th Century. In an article for the American Weekly on 24 October, 1954, Oberth wrote:
“It is my thesis that flying saucers are real and that they are space ships from another solar system. I think that they possibly are manned by intelligent observers who are members of a race that may have been investigating our earth for centuries. I think that they have been sent out to conduct systematic, long-range investigations, first of men, animals and vegetation, and more recently of atomic centers, armaments and centers of armament production. They obviously have not come as invaders, but I believe their present mission may be one of scientific investigation.”
7. Roscoe Hillenkoetter
Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter became America’s first CIA Director in 1947 and, before that, was head of the Central Intelligence Group (CIG). He had previously been wounded during the attack on Pearl Harbor and commanded the USS Missouri in 1946. He retired from military service with the rank of Vice Admiral. In 1960, in a letter to Congress, Hillenkoetter famously wrote:
“Behind the scenes, high-ranking Air Force officers are soberly concerned about the UFOs. But through official secrecy and ridicule, many citizens are led to believe the unknown flying objects are nonsense. To hide the facts, the Air Force has silenced its personnel.”
Curiously, during his retirement years, Hillenkoetter joined the board of directors for the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP)—America’s leading civilian UFO investigations group. In their ground-breaking book, Clear Intent, authors Lawrence Fawcett and Barry Greenwood describe Hillenkoetter’s high-level involvement with NICAP as being a key move in the CIA’s successful infiltration and dismantling of NICAP. More men with CIA ties would join NICAP in the years to follow, and these individuals came to control the organization from within during the 1960s and 1970s as its founder, Donald Keyhoe, was pushing ever harder for government disclosure of UFO reality. Eventually, Keyhoe was ousted as NICAP Director by Joseph Bryan, former chief of the CIA’s psychological warfare staff. By 1980, NICAP was defunct.
6. Barry Goldwater
Barry Goldwater was best known as the five-term Senator from Arizona and as the Republican Party nominee for President of the United States in 1964. Goldwater was a significant force in American politics across four decades. In an official United States Senate letter dated 28 March, 1975, in response to an enquiry regarding his publicly stated interest in UFOs, Goldwater wrote:
“About ten or twelve years ago I made an effort to find out what was in the building at Wright Patterson Air Force Base where the [UFO] information is stored that has been collected by the Air Force, and I was understandably denied this request. It is still classified above Top Secret.”
In another Senate letter, dated 19 Oct. 1981, Goldwater further stated: “I have had one long string of denials from chief after chief, so I have given up… this thing [the UFO issue] has gotten so highly classified… it is just impossible to get anything on it.”
5. Victor Marchetti
Victor Marchetti served in the CIA from 1955 to 1969. Towards the end of his CIA career, Marchetti worked for several months as special assistant to CIA Deputy Director Rufus Taylor. Marchetti was also involved in establishing the Top Secret Pine Gap satellite ground station near Alice Springs in Central Australia—long rumoured by UFO conspiracy theorists to be Australia’s Area 51.
In an article for Second Look magazine in May, 1979, Marchetti raised eyebrows with the following statement:
“I do know that the CIA and the US government have been concerned over the UFO phenomenon for many years and that their attempts, both past and recent, to discount the significance of the phenomenon and to explain away the apparent lack of official interest in it have all the earmarks of a classic intelligence cover-up… My theory is that we have, indeed, been contacted – perhaps even visited – by extraterrestrial beings, and that the US government, in collusion with other national powers of the Earth, is determined to keep this information from the general public.”
4. Gordon Cooper
The late, great astronaut Colonel Gordon Cooper was legendary for his role in the first human space flight program, Project Mercury, and his exploits were chronicled in the classic 1983 movie The Right Stuff (which co-starred Dennis Quaid as Cooper). Cooper had a number of UFO sightings during his military career and maintained until his death in 2004 that the US government had long been engaged in a large-scale UFO cover-up.
In a letter to Ambassador Griffith, Mission of Grenada to the United Nations in New York, dated 9 September, 1978, Cooper wrote:
“For many years I have lived with a secret, in a secrecy imposed on all specialists and astronauts. I can now reveal that every day, in the USA, our radar instruments capture objects of form and composition unknown to us… I feel that we need to have a top-level, coordinated program to scientifically collect and analyze data from all over the Earth concerning any type of encounter, and to determine how best to interface with these visitors in a friendly fashion.”
3. Lord Hill Norton
One of the most high-ranking military officials (retired) ever to speak out on the UFO issue was the late five-star Admiral of the Fleet the Lord Hill Norton, who served as Britain’s Chief of Defence Staff and as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee. Lord Hill Norton maintained a longstanding interest in UFOs during his later years. In his foreword for Timothy Good’s bestselling expose of government UFO secrecy, Beyond Top Secret (1996), Lord Hill Norton wrote:
“The [UFO] evidence is now so consistent and so overwhelming that no reasonably intelligent person can deny that something unexplained is going on in our atmosphere… there is a cover-up: in the United States on a massive scale, in Great Britain, and in several other countries.”
2. Fife Symington
One of the most famous mass UFO sightings of the past 30 years has to be the Phoenix Lights incident, in which thousands of individuals reported seeing a series of stationary lights over the Arizonian capital on the night of March 13, 1997. A delta or triangular-shaped craft of immense proportions was also widely reported as travelling low and slow over Arizona more broadly on the same night. The US air force was quick to attribute the sightings to misidentifications of military flares, and the then-governor of Arizona, Fife Symington, joined the debunking bandwagon when he staged a comedic press conference in response to the concerns of his constituents, going so far as to parade a man in front of the cameras dressed a ridiculous rubber alien costume.
1. Luis Elizondo
In December 2017, the New York Times broke a dramatic story: the American government had been operating a secret UFO study program between 2008 and 2012 called the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP). The conclusions of the $22 million Pentagon project, which, according to the Times, continues quietly to this day, were that “aircraft” of apparently unearthly origin are routinely penetrating America’s airspace.
By ROBBIE GRAHAM