The “modern era” of unidentified flying objects — or unidentified aerial phenomenon, if you prefer the current official term — stretches back nearly 80 years. It’s a period punctuated with hoaxes and explainable incidents, but also many, many sightings that continue to perplex believers and skeptics alike. After decades of denial, the U.S. military now acknowledges there are things in the skies it can’t always explain. It won’t go so far as to suggest we’re being visited by beings from another world and it also won’t rule out the idea that UFOs are terrestrial technology from a foreign power.
With more than 7,200 sightings nationwide in 2020, according to data compiled by the National UFO Reporting Center, and military pilots appearing on “60 Minutes” to talk about their close encounters, the topic still may not be mainstream but it certainly isn’t in the realm of conspiracy theory any longer.