Apart from ghosts and other supernatural beings, do aliens from other worlds really exist or are they just a fascinating creation of the imagination? And what, if any, are the implications for us humans in the “visitors from outer space” theories, beliefs, evidence? In December last year, the Pentagon publicly acknowledged for the first time the existence of a recent secret program—The Advance Aerospace Threat Identification Program—dedicated to studying unidentified flying objects.

To add fuel to the debate, ex-Pentagon UFO Chief created quite a stir by stating categorically on CNN’s Erin Burnett Out Front, “We may not be alone”. According to CNN, “The man who ran the UFO unit at the Pentagon says the things he saw while at the helm of the recently disclosed operation have left him believing Earth might not be the only home of intelligent life in the universe. “My personal belief is that there is very compelling evidence that we may not be alone,” former military intelligence official Luis Elizondo said.

Two videos shot by F-18 pilots of objects that seemed to behave beyond the realms of known science circulated on social media recently following the secret program report. But Elizondo said the evidence goes beyond just those two videos. Elizondo said what his team found made it hard to believe the aircraft were piloted by anything human or that the craft should have had the ability to remain aloft. “We have identified some very, very interesting anomalous type of aircraft, let’s call them aircraft,” he said. “Things that don’t have any obvious flight surfaces, any obvious forms of propulsion and maneuvering in ways that include extreme maneuverability beyond, I would submit, the healthy G-forces of a human or anything biological. Hypersonic velocities, low observability, positive lift, again seemingly defying the laws of aerodynamics.” The testimony of fighter pilots, while compelling on its own, is backed up by electro-optical data and radar returns, he said

In India, amongst others Kamal Pant, a computer science lecturer at a private university in Dehradun, also claims to have CE-5 communication with ETs—that is, telepathic communication between himself and aliens. He also believes that the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is in possession of alien technology obtained from the controversial Roswell crash in which material from a crashed alien disc was supposed to have been found in Roswell, ( New Mexico, ) USA. Roswell incidentally, is home to the International UFO Museum and Research Center. However, not all “experts” are swayed. For instance, Roger Launius, who was the chief historian of NASA, is according to the Smithsonian magazine,  “more amused by the  decades of hysteria surrounding the ‘Roswell Incident’ than anything else”.  Launius is quoted as saying, “Well, all I really know is that UFOs are exactly that. They’re unidentified objects seen in the air. But that’s not extraterrestrials.”

Launius points out that movies such as Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and ET, plus dozens of books on the subject, brought aliens to the forefront of the public mindset and soon the alien hysteria had gotten even wackier. “By the early 1990s, with scant evidence to support it, a global UFO and extraterrestrial industry had come into existence. There were more movies. More books. More newspaper and magazine stories, more television news segments and shows focused on visitors from space.”

Astrophysicist and author Jayant Narlikar has hypothesised the theory of panspermia—that life exists throughout the universe and is distributed through asteroids, comets, and meteoroids. In short: life on earth may have come from external sources. Yet obviously there is a vast majority who differ from Launius and find flaws in Narlikar’s theory. And to counter Launius’s and similar views, there is testimony from witnesses of unimpeachable integrity. Interviewed by the Washington Post, former Navy pilot David Fravor, who was in 2004 the commanding officer of a US Navy strike fighter plane squadron, revealed he was told by the command that there were some unidentified flying objects descending from 80,000 feet to 20,000 feet and disappearing; officials told him they had been tracking a couple dozen of these objects for a few weeks. When they arrived closer to the point, they saw the object, flying around a patch of white water in the ocean below. “A white Tic Tac…40 feet long with no wings,” Fravor described. “Just hanging close to the water.” The object created no rotor wash—the visible air turbulence left by the blades of a helicopter—he said, and began to mirror the pilots as they pursued it, before it vanished. Fravor’s plane headed back but a separate crew that had taken off toward the object tracked it for about a minute and a half and shot a video.

Fravor said he knows sharing the incident has opened him up to ridicule but believes it should be more closely studied as there could be benefits from studying his experience. “I don’t think I was a nut-job as an officer in the Navy. I wasn’t drunk, I don’t do drugs. I got a good night’s rest, it was a clear day,” he said. “This is revolutionary technology to be able to accelerate, go up and down. Think about the advances that would bring to mankind,” he said. “What if it actually starts to get people to think outside the box.” Admittedly, actual verification is never easy. “Of every 100 cases, about 97 end up being fake-optical illusions, doctored images, or everyday objects mistakenly identified as otherwise.” But the verifiable ones would certainly open up exciting new exchange possibilities, new dimensions of links with beings from other worlds.

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