I almost hit one of those things.”

That’s a quote from an F18A fighter squadron member who was based out of Virginia Beach in 2014. The “things” in question were, according to the pilot, translucent objects that looked like a cube encased in a sphere. They were flying at 30,000 feet and dropping down to just above the surface of the ocean. They could hover in one spot and then suddenly take off faster than our hypersonic fighter jets could manage. But we had already heard some of these stories over the past couple of years.

Here’s what’s new. Pilots are now out there openly talking about these experiences with reporters on the record. And they have the permission of their superiors. This is a major shift because traditionally pilots who mentioned such things were quickly relieved of their piloting jobs.

In late 2014, Lieutenant Graves said he was back at base in Virginia Beach when he encountered a squadron mate just back from a mission “with a look of shock on his face.”

He said he was stunned to hear the pilot’s words. “I almost hit one of those things,” the pilot told Lieutenant Graves.

The pilot and his wingman were flying in tandem about 100 feet apart over the Atlantic east of Virginia Beach when something flew between them, right past the cockpit. It looked to the pilot, Lieutenant Graves said, like a sphere encasing a cube.

The incident so spooked the squadron that an aviation flight safety report was filed, Lieutenant Graves said.

The near miss, he and other pilots interviewed said, angered the squadron, and convinced them that the objects were not part of a classified drone program. Government officials would know fighter pilots were training in the area, they reasoned, and would not send drones to get in the way.

The one thing that nobody in the government or the military seems to be saying openly – at least so far – is The E Word. When asked if they thought it could be extraterrestrials, one senior astrophysicist told the Times that the chances of it being aliens are “so unlikely that it competes with many other low-probability but more mundane explanations.”

Fair enough. That’s pretty much what I’ve been saying all along. We can’t say it’s aliens because that would imply that we know what it actually is. And we don’t. Some of the pilots they interviewed still suspect that it’s some sort of very deep secret drone program. Ours or the Russians? Nobody can say. There’s certainly nobody from the Pentagon confirming that the objects have a Made in America logo on them somewhere.

But how far advanced are our secret programs compared to our conventional understanding of physics? The pilots interviewed for this article are very specific about what they’ve seen, even providing flight logs to back up their recollections. As one pilot described it, we have technology that allows our aircraft to do many of the same things. We have planes that can fly very fast. (Though these things are apparently faster and can accelerate at insane rates and stop on a dime.) We have helicopters and a couple of jump jets that can hover in place. But we can see how they do it.

These unidentified objects, on the other hand, have:

No propellers.
No wings.
No exhaust ports.
No identifiable heat signature as you would expect to see from a jet.

So the $64,000 question is… how do they stay up in the air? If we’ve figured out how to do that, then there is some technology our government seriously needs to be sharing with the private sector because that would be a game changer. And if we don’t know how to do that, we seriously need to be working on figuring out who does know how to do it. Yes, the idea of highly advanced extraterrestrial lifeforms buzzing around our planet seems to be unlikely in the extreme. But to quote Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”