As US government expands UFO investigations, new group forms for pilots who spot them

The first active-duty military pilot to present to Congress his experience with so-called unexplained aerial phenomena is launching a one-of-a-kind nonprofit group to support fellow pilots who see things they can’t explain, it said. -he declares.

Airline passengers are encouraged to report suspicious activity in the name of national security, but pilots of those same planes often face professional stigma and institutional barriers to reporting unexplained aerial phenomena, or UAPs, that could pose threats to national security in the age of spy drones and balloons, advocates say.

For example, the Federal Aviation Administration has no mechanism for pilots to report UAPs, the preferred term for UFOs, instead directing them to groups of civilian UFOs that are often dismissed as the domain of eccentrics and theorists of the conspiracy.

Americans for Safe Aerospace, which officially launches Thursday as the first pilot-led advocacy organization dedicated to UAPs, seeks to change that. Co-founded and led by former Navy fighter pilot Ryan Graves, the group, which provided exclusive details to NBC News, aims to better support Airmen who witness unexplained occurrences.

The group wants to push for policy changes, like better reporting mechanisms, serve as a hub for pilot whistleblowers, and advocate for greater disclosure by the military and other government agencies.

“Unidentified objects in our airspace present an urgent and critical safety and national security issue, yet pilots are not getting the support they need and the respect they deserve,” Graves said. “When I served, my squadron met with the UAP almost every day, and nothing was done.”

Five other former military aviators, in addition to a commercial pilot and a flight instructor, have joined the group’s Aircrew Council, and its advisory board includes prominent civilian researchers like Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb; politicians like Susan McCue, longtime chief of staff to the late Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid; astronaut Terry Virts, former commander of the International Space Station; and a former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, retired Navy Rear Admiral Tim Gallaudet.

UAPs are often mistaken for aliens in the popular imagination, but Earth mysteries may be more pressing – from unreported drone attacks on Moscow apartment buildings this week to the recent flight of a Chinese spy balloon over above sensitive US military installations, which defend the traditional United States. aerospace defenses are not calibrated to detect.

US fighter jets shot down two other unidentified objects, which many now suspect were amateur balloons, over North American airspace in the days after the Chinese balloon was knocked out by the U.S. military, but the confusion and lack of information about what’s going on in the United States is dangerous for pilots and passengers, Graves and others say.

“The creation of Americans for Safe Aerospace is long overdue,” Gallaudet said in a statement. “As the US Navy’s Chief Meteorologist, I have dedicated my career to flight safety. I’ve seen firsthand how Unidentified Abnormal Phenomena (UAPs) have put military pilots at risk, and we need to better understand them to reduce that risk.

Washington has begun to take the NAPs more seriously. The Department of Defense and US intelligence agencies have begun releasing more information. And this week, NASA held the first public meeting of its new committee to study UAPs, which said the stigma surrounding reporting strange sightings has contributed to the lack of good data.

“One of our goals in having NASA play a role is to remove the stigma and get high-quality data,” said David Spergel, a distinguished Princeton University astrophysicist who chairs the panel. NASA, during Wednesday’s meeting.

Graves said most of the pilots he knows have seen something they can’t explain or know someone who has, but until recently most only talked about it. in a low voice and in a private setting, for fear of being laughed at or jeopardizing their career development.

Most of the sightings are likely innocuous, Graves said, citing analyzes that may have explained all but 2-5% of the anomalous sightings, but that still accounts for dozens of sightings of potential new threats from China, Russia – or for that matter.

And the rapid proliferation of drones of all shapes and sizes has compounded the problem.

“As our airspace becomes more crowded and more critical to our daily lives, we need to have a better understanding of what is in our skies for the safety of our pilots and the general public,” said David Radzanowski, former director NASA financier and chief of staff, member of the group’s advisory board.

Graves said he was already in conversation with pilots interested in making potentially significant UAP sightings public with several witnesses, and he said there would likely be more.

“It’s pretty simple,” he said. “We should know what’s up there above our heads.”

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