A term originally coined by themilitary, an unidentified flyingobject (usually abbreviated toUFO or U.F.O.) is an unusualapparent anomaly in the sky thatis not readily identifiable to theobserver as any known object.While a small percentage remainunexplained, the majority of UFOsightings are often later identifiedas any number of various naturalphenomenon or man-madeobjects.
The term "UFO" was first suggested in 1952 by Cpt. Edward J. Ruppelt, who headedProject Blue Book, then the USAFs official investigation of UFOs. Ruppelt felt that"flying saucer" did not reflect the diversity of the sightings. He suggested that UFOshould be pronounced as a word – you-foe. However it is now usually pronounced byforming each letter: U.F.O. His term was quickly adopted by the United States AirForce, which also briefly used "UFOB". The Air Force initially defined UFOs as thoseobjects that remain unidentified after scrutiny by expert investigators , though todaythe term UFO is often used for any unexplained sighting regardless of whether it hasbeen investigated.Because the term UFO is ambiguous – referring either to any unidentified sighting, orin popular usage to alien spacecraft – and the public and media ridicule sometimesassociated with the topic, some investigators now prefer to use other terms such asunidentified aerial phenomenon (or UAP).
The post World War II UFO phase in the United States beganwith a famous sighting by American businessman KennethArnold on June 24, 1947 while flying his private plane nearMount Rainier, Washington. He reported seeing nine brilliantlybright objects flying across the face of Rainier.Arnold’s descriptions were widely reported and within a few daysgave rise to the terms flying saucer and flying disk.Arnold’ssighting was followed in the next few weeks by hundreds of otherreported sightings, mostly in the U.S., but in other countries aswell.
Project Sign in 1948 wrote a highly classified opinion (see Estimate of theSituation) that the best UFO reports probably had an extraterrestrialexplanation, as did the private but high-level French COMETA study of1999. A top secret Swedish military opinion given to the USAF in 1948stated that some of their analysts believed the 1946 ghost rockets andlater flying saucers had extraterrestrial origins. (see Ghost rockets fordocument). In 1954, German rocket scientist Hermann Oberth revealedan internal West German government investigation, which he headed,that arrived at an extraterrestrial conclusion, but this study was nevermade public.
Notable cases~The Battle of Los Angeles in 1942, where unidentified flyingobjects were sequent thought to be part of a Japanese airstrike.~The Roswell Incident (1947) involved New Mexico residents,local law enforcement officers, and the US military, the latter ofwhom allegedly collected physical evidence from the UFO crashsite.~The Mantell UFO Incident January 7, 1948~The Betty and Barney Hill abduction (1961) was the firstreported abduction incident.~In the Kecksburg Incident, Pennsylvania (1965), residentsreported seeing a bell shaped object crash in the area. Policeofficers, and possibly military personnel, were sent to investigate.~The Travis Walton abduction case (1975): The movie Fire in theSky was based on this event, but embellished greatly the originalaccount.~The "Phoenix Lights" March 13, 1997
Studies show that after careful investigation, the majority of UFOscan be identified as ordinary objects or phenomena (seeIdentification studies of UFOs). The most commonly foundidentified sources of UFO reports are:Astronomical objects (bright stars, planets, meteors, re-enteringman-made spacecraft, artificial satellites, and the moon)Aircraft (Aerial advertising and other aircraft, missile launches)Balloons (weather balloons, prank balloons, large researchballoons)Other atmospheric objects and phenomena (birds, unusualclouds, kites, flares)Light phenomena (mirages, Fata Morgana, moon dogs,searchlights and other ground lights, etc.)Hoaxes
George Adam ski (April 17, 1891 – April 23,1965) was a Polish-born American citizenwho became widely known in ufologycircles, and to some degree in popularculture, after he claimed to havephotographed ships from other planets, metwith friendly Nordic alien "Space Brothers",and to have taken flights with them. Thefirst of the so-called contactees of the 1950s,he styled himself to be a "philosopher,teacher, student and saucer researcher",though his claims were met withskepticism. Adam ski had previously written a science fiction book in 1949 with a space travel theme, Pioneers of Space: A Trip to the Moon, Mars and Venus, published by Leonard- Freefield Co of Los Angeles. In 1953 he took some of the fictional material from that book and presented it as fact within the best selling Flying Saucers Have Landed, co-written with Desmond Leslie
UFOs constitute a widespread international cultural phenomenon of thelast 60 years. Gallup polls rank UFOs near the top of lists for subjects ofwidespread recognition. In 1973, a survey found that 95 percent of thepublic reported having heard of UFOs, whereas only 92 percent hadheard of U.S. President Gerald Ford in a 1977 poll taken just nine monthsafter he left the White House. A 1996 Gallup poll reported that 71percent of the United States population believed that the governmentwas covering up information regarding UFOs. A 2002 Roper poll for theSci Fi Channel found similar results, but with more people believingthat UFOs are extraterrestrial craft. In that latest poll, 56 percentthought UFOs were real craft and 48 percent that aliens had visited theEarth. Again, about 70 percent felt the government was not sharingeverything it knew about UFOs or extraterrestrial life. Anothereffect of the flying saucer type of UFO sightings has been Earth-madeflying saucer craft in space fiction, for example the Earth spacecraftStarship C-57D in Forbidden Planet, the Jupiter Two in Lost in Space, andthe saucer section of the USS Enterprise in Star Trek, and many others.