The UFO connection, of course, was what ensured that this piece was picked up by the mass media, re-tweeted, instagrammed, and googled to death by people passionately interested in such phenomena. But those who were perhaps hoping that this was the magic DISCLOSURE they've been anticipating as eagerly as the Pope anticipates the Second Coming, were disappointed yet again. Judging by the two videos that were embedded in the online version of the NYT article, the cases investigated were reports by military pilots of encounters with unknown aircraft, with nary a suggestion that such things were actually alien visitations. The first was an undated encounter between a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet and an unknown object.
The second was a 2004 encounter near San Diego between two Navy F/A-18F fighter jets and another unknown object.
The NYT piece included these two sentences:
"The shadowy program ... was largely funded at the request of Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader at the time and who has long had an interest in space phenomena. Most of the money went to an aerospace research company run by a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Mr. Reid’s, Robert Bigelow, who is currently working with NASA to produce expandable craft for humans to use in space."Misperception
James Oberg, co-founder of, and occasional contributor to, this blog comments:
"I understand the media frenzy, but as usual it seems irrational. Reid set up a 'hobby shop' to please a political donor's personal interests, which involved validating the donor's personal devotion to UFO theories. The DoD never seems to have shown the slightest interest or concern in the issue.
Per the original story: "The former staffer said that eventually, however, even Reid agreed it was not worth continuing. 'After a while the consensus was we really couldn’t find anything of substance,' he recalled. 'They produced reams of paperwork. After all of that there was really nothing there that we could find. It all pretty much dissolved from that reason alone—and the interest level was losing steam. We only did it a couple years.' ... 'There was really nothing there that we could justify using taxpayer money,' he added. 'We let it die a slow death. It was well-spent money in the beginning.' "
Also --'ufology' has sadly disappointed, never becoming a 'science' -- forty years ago I won a worldwide essay contest with that assessment, expressing hope it would change -- and so far, no signs of that."Oberg also points out that Leslie Kean, co-author of the NYT piece, is a committed UFO promoter and author of "UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go on the Record." In a 2010 critique, Oberg questioned Kean's assertion that pilots are the best observers of aerial phenomena. Today he wrote to me that Kean's inclusion is "a journalistic travesty of the first order, worth making a fuss over, considering her track record [especially the fiasco over her championing a 'true UFO' video from Chile not long ago that turned out to have been a scheduled commercial airliner]."
Oberg was interviewed by the Canadian CTV News Channel on Sunday night, and here's a partial transcript:
JO: "The report is on airborne threats, and threats come in all flavors. Whether it's equipment problems, or procedural errors, criminals, hackers or real enemies or even space aliens. So anything you see out there, whether it's in the air or in my experience in Mission Control, in space, you want to track it down."
CTV: "James, have you ever heard of this program in the past?"
JO: "I haven't , but I know there are people interested and there should be. In fact, there's another tremendously important reason to pay attention to the reports. You can't study UFOs because we don't have any. But you can sudy UFO reports, [and it] turns out that among the UFO reports ... one of the causes are misperception by startled viewers, especially in Russia and around the Russian border, of secret missile and space activities."
A CAD-CAM technician speaks out
As for Mike Bara, he seems to have achieved what for him is a minor miracle—being right twice in one year. First he was almost certainly right about the so-called Nazca mummy, and now he's probably correct in dismissing this story as over-hyped.
In a vlog on Sunday, he alleged that the true purpose of the Pentagon project was money-laundering by Harry Reid and enrichment of his pal Bigelow. He questions whether the voices heard on the video releases were really the voices of the pilots recorded live, and points out that when the first "UFO" zips out of frame, it's most likely because the gimbal camera moved.
As for the second "UFO," he identifies it as an X-47B attack drone.
He boasts that he actually worked on the X-47B as "an aerospace engineer for more than 25 years," which to my knowledge is an exaggeration. A CAD-CAM technician is not an engineer but just a draughtsman using a computer screen instead of a sharp pencil.
But I have to agree with him that these videos are nothing to get too excited about. Well done Mike—dare we hope that one day you'll correct the horrible technical errors in your non-fiction books? No, I thought not...
Richard Hoagland has a scheduled podcast on this topic next weekend, with guest Steve Bassett. THAT'S IF he can get his show on the air. Since he switched to blogtalkradio in October, SEVEN shows have been canceled for "technical reasons."
The Bassett show got on the air but Bassett was inaudible (see Comment #24 from anonymous.) On C2C december 29/30 Jimmy Church poured scorn on those who maintain that the object was a drone. "If it was, it was a drone that can fly sideways," he said—and then proceeded to tell the story of his UFO experience at Joshua Tree for the nth time.