UFO Sightings 2016: You Saw A UFO, Here's What You Do Next

A photo from the CIA's recently declassified archive of UFO documents.
A photo from the CIA's recently declassified archive of UFO documents. CIA

In Clayton, California a parent and daughter saw “two circle objects... burning brightly” in the northern sky. “It sat there as bright as it had been and then quickly vanished,” the witness reported to the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON). “This was the first time I believed I’d seen something out of my realm of understanding.”

“I was in the backyard, waiting for my elderly dog to do his business. I usually stargaze, so this is what I was doing when I noticed a HUGE triangular craft just to the north of my neighborhood,” another sighting description— this one from Rio Rancho, New Mexico—begins. “It made absolutely no noise and had no lights of any kind on it. The craft was moving very slowly. Having been in the military for quite a while, I can gauge the size of craft pretty well, so I’d say this craft was easily 400-500 ft. long per side.”

“I’m still a bit afraid of being laughed at,” the Rio Rancho resident wrote.

These UFO sightings are just two of the hundreds already reported to MUFON and the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) in 2016.

Eyewitness UFO reports range from the unremarkable —“small white or reddish light lasting about five seconds,” one reads—to the staggering. Witnesses to the 1997 “Phoenix Lights” described a V-shaped object more than a mile long.

Your stance on UFOs—alien visitors, government experiments or the planet Venus—doesn’t change the fact that every day normal people see what the Mutual UFO Network’s Chase Kloetzke calls “things that aren’t supposed to exist.”

So what should you do if you have a UFO sighting in 2016?

Unfortunately, no one in the United States government currently wants to hear from you. Despite the evident national security and aerospace implications of unidentified objects cluttering our skies, there currently exists no official U.S. body tracking UFO sightings.

We began with the CIA in trying to find someone who would want to hear about your UFO sighting. Its Office of Public Affairs (703-482-0623) said, “We suggest you should get in touch with the Air Force.”

“That’s odd,” said Captain Trisha Guillebeau of the U.S. Air Force when we explained the CIA had given us her number. After pausing to consult with the rest of her office Guillebeau said, “The general consensus around here is that you would typically call the local base.” No luck there either.

North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) suggested we call local law enforcement with any UFO sightings.

Congresswoman Yvette Clarks office suggested we try New York’s non-emergency helpline, 311. Diane at 311 said, “You should enjoy that however you’d like,” but knew of no New York City agency that catalogued UFO sightings.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) pointed us to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which pointed us toward the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which transferred us to a terrorist tip line with this foreboding warning: “ any false information can subject the sender to fine, imprisonment, or both under Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 1001.”

Calls were made to the FBI, NASA, the White House and the Department of Defense, but no one was interested in archiving, classifying, or indexing UFO sightings.

Since private aerospace would have just as much interest in extraordinary UFO technology as our military, we also tried Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. None had a department interested in hearing about anomalous craft.

In a recent release of classified UFO documents, timed to the new X-Files miniseries, the CIA wrote, “most government officials and scientists now dismiss flying saucer reports as a quaint relic of the 1950s and 1960s.” The U.S. government claims to have no current interest in mysterious lights and objects that people continue to see in the sky.

Into that void have stepped MUFON and NUFORC. We spoke with Chase Kloetzke, MUFON’s Special Assignment Team Group Director, and NUFORC Director Peter Davenport about what you should do with your UFO sighting in 2016.

2016 UFO Sightings: Observe, Corroborate, Report

“Try to be as observant as possible,” Kloetzke said.

It sounds obvious, but UFO sightings can come at unexpected times and leave witnesses disoriented.

“Usually when you see these things the perception you may have or the desire to see them is one thing, but when you're faced with truly something bizarre and unknown it can be scary, it can be shocking,” Kloetzke said. “So people should grab as many details as they can. And of course, everyone's got a cell phone these days. Try to get photographs. Try to get the cleanest shot you can. That's my suggestion for anyone seeing these things: Observe, observe, observe.”

Davenport, who’s been director at NUFORC for 22 years, offers similar advice.

“Write it down and report it. Preserve the information. Get the photograph, find other witnesses. Do whatever you can to try and preserve the information,” he said.

If you see a UFO, both organizations advise you to act like an investigator instead of a passive witness. Corroborating your sighting with neighbors and family members adds credence to your report in the ongoing historical record.

“It’d be great if they could call a friend to look out a window or join them if that’s at all possible,” Kloetzke said. “Because when we’re investigating these types of reports we’re looking to meet admissibility and that comes from corroborating witnesses. That comes from any kind of photograph or video that we can vet and truly rule out standard things that we do. Not everyone who thinks they’ve seen a UFO have seen a UFO.”

Once you’ve collected all the information report your UFO sighting to:

MUFON UFO Sightings Report Page

NUFORC UFO Sightings Report Page

NUFORC Hotline: 206-722-3000

2016 UFO Sightings: MUFON Or NUFORC?

While both MUFON and NUFORC keep archives of sightings, and pursue the same comprehensive data collection agenda, the two organizations work differently. NUFORC is better for those who want to make a report and forget about it. MUFON, which has more resources, will conduct an investigation in addition to taking your report.

“Every single report in the MUFON database is looked at and supposed to be investigated,” Kloetzke said. “Every report is reviewed by an investigator. Every single one.”

Davenport describes NUFORC as more of a “conduit of information regarding the UFO phenomena” with an online form for UFO reports and a hotline for recent sightings. A report to NUFORC is about getting your sighting on the record, and less about continued inquiry.

NUFORC does not conduct investigations, but Davenport said, “we work in conjunction with other investigators,” MUFON included, on compelling sightings.

2016 UFO Sightings: What Is a MUFON Investigation Like?

Once your UFO sighting has been reported to MUFON you can expect a follow-up. The timeline depends upon your sightings’ “Vallee Classification.”

Jacques Vallee , a computer scientist who worked on the Internet predecessor ARPANET, became one of the primary voices arguing for the scientific legitimacy of UFO studies after he had a UFO sighting in 1955. Part of this effort was his paper “A System of Classification and Reliability Indicators for the Analysis of the Behavior of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena.” It laid out diagnostic tools for categorizing anomalies, fly-bys, maneuvers and close encounters (yeah, those close encounters) into five basic categories ranging from something in the sky to interacting with alien entities to permanent injury and death.

Jacques Vallee's classification system for unidentified phenomena.
Jacques Vallee's classification system for unidentified phenomena. Jacques Vallee

Kloetzke described MUFON’s variation on Vallee Classifications:

“MUFON will classify every report put into our CMS (Case Management System) as a Category 1, Category 2, or Category 3. Category 1 cases, we affectionately call them lights in the sky, basically an investigator has up to 72 hours to call a witness. If the report has indications of a little more to it, than that would be a category 2 and an investigator is supposed to call the witness within 48 hours,” she said. “If it's a Category 3 that means there's physical evidence, or contact, or an object on the ground—trace evidence. An investigator will call that witness within 24 hours and things are in motion. ”

Reluctance to delve further into their experience is common among UFO witnesses.

“I think people initially, when they go to a reporting site, aren’t really sure how far they want to go or how much information we do want,” Kloetzke said.

MUFON does its best to keep witnesses in control of their investigations, and their privacy, and can put them in touch with support groups.

“We make sure that the witness maintains full control over what happened to them,” Kloetzke said.

This can be particularly important should MUFON recommend moving beyond an interview into something more substantial, such as regression, a controversial hypnotherapy wherein a witness is hypnotized into recalling the original events, uncovering additional details or even repressed memories.

“If someone is coming to your house to do a regression they’re going to be certified, heavily-vetted, ID holding, we call it ‘searchable resume’, and it’s always up the witness.” Kloetzke said.

While the American Medical Association held in its 1958 report on hypnotherapy that it “has a recognized place in the medical armamentarium,” using regression hypnosis to recount additional details comes with its own pitfalls, including the possibility of creating false memories. The American Psychological Association maintains that more research will be required before hypnotically retrieved memories can be trusted without corroboration.

What If I’m The President/Active Military/A Man In Black?

Both NUFORC and MUFON keep all names and contact information related to their reports anonymous. “But a lot of times we have high security people like military or government officials, who are maybe uncomfortable with just putting that on the Internet. They’re not sure who’s going to see it,” Kloetzke said.

If you require confidentiality, it’s best to call and explain the nature of your work directly. You can find NUFORC’s hotline number above, MUFON can be reached at 949-47MUFON.

Finding The Truth About UFOs

While recording and investigating UFO sightings provides an evidentiary record for future researchers, MUFON or NUFORC are organizations with limited resources.They are more or less restricted to reacting to UFO phenomena and can’t conduct the kind of large-scale scientific investigations that could uncover hard truths about UFOs.

MUFON and NUFORC are among the best friends UFO witnesses have but frustrated witnesses may find themselves stuck between record-keeping organizations and government silence.

The “Phoenix Lights,” a 1997 mass sighting of hovering lights over Arizona, provides a perfect example of the limitations and frustrations at work.

Hundreds of Arizonans bore witness to the phenomenon. “I’ll never be the same,” truck driver Bill Greiner told USA Today, “Now I’ve got a whole new view. I may be just a dumb truck driver, but I’ve seen something that don’t belong here.”

That “dumb truck driver” was joined by former Arizona Governor Fife Symington, who downplayed the incident while in office, but has since said he did so to avoid a panic.

“It just felt otherworldly. In your gut, you could just tell it was otherworldly,” Symington would tell the Associated Press years after leaving office.

No known official investigation of the Phoenix Lights was mounted, but a partial explanation offered to the Arizona Republic four months later reported that A-10 Warthogs from nearby Luke Air Force Base had dropped LUU-2B/B illumination flares over the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range about 70 miles southwest from Phoenix.

The Air Force’s claim provides a reasonable explanation for much of the Phoenix Lights footage, fitting both the geographical positioning of the lights and their disappearance behind the Estrella mountain range.

But a rash of sightings reported to NUFORC in surrounding areas timed to before the lights appeared over Phoenix still have no answer. Nor was an answer given as to why it took four months for this reasonable explanation to emerge from an Air Force base.

The military explanation also defies testimony former Governor Symington gave to CNN. “I witnessed a massive delta-shaped, craft silently navigate over Squaw Peak, a mountain range in Phoenix, Arizona. It was truly breathtaking.” Squaw Peak, since renamed Piestewa Peak, is to to the northwest of Phoenix, the opposite direction from the bombing range at the center of the Air Force’s version of events.

“I was never happy with the Air Force's silly explanation,” Symington said to CNN. “There might very well have been military flares in the sky that evening, but what I and hundreds of others saw had nothing to do with that.”

Could there have been more to the Phoenix Lights than flares? Answering such a question would require a rigorous, transparent investigation that goes beyond the partial explanation given to deflect further inquiry.

While numerous government bodies claim to conduct no current research into UFOs, Kloetzke thinks interest likely continues within the military.

“What separates UFOs is that they are a national security issue. Done. If something is coming into the atmosphere—it doesn’t belong here and we don’t know what it is—it’s always going to be viewed that way. I’m sure that the government is looking,” Kloetzke said.

Even if the government has long since dismissed an extraterrestrial view of the UFO phenomena, Kloetzke provides an intriguing explanation for why government interest most likely continues.

“It’s a great way to vet for research and development,” she said. “When the stealth bomber was being tested, ‘well, what are we hearing from the people on the ground?’ Of course they’re going to look at UFO reports to see, ‘Can you hear them?’ ‘What do they see?’ ‘What are people reporting around our testing sites?’”

Government denials aside, your UFO sighting can still be taken seriously. Although the government may not care, and decades of UFO anecdotes won’t ever accrue to proof, reporting your UFO sighting still matters because something unexplained has happened.

“In my view, the questions of whether UFOs are visiting our planet is the most important scientific subject that has ever confronted mankind,” said Davenport. “It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life: trying to get Americans to report their UFO sightings.”

UFO Sighting To Do

  • Observe details
  • Stay calm
  • Take photos
  • Talk to other witnesses
  • Record every detail immediately, including subjective responses
  • Report to both MUFON and NUFORC
  • Preserve evidence
  • Consider investigation options with care and outside research
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