Navy pilots encountered strange object that was faster than an F/A-18 (Update: Video added)

Maybe you clicked on this story thinking this was going to be some goofy Star Wars parody or a video published by Art Bell as proof the greys are taking over the planet. But, no, this was published today in the NY Times which, one hopes, is not part of a viral marketing campaign for the new season of X-Files.

The story involves two Navy fighter pilots on a “routine training mission” off the coast of San Diego back in 2004. Cmdr. David Fravor and Lt. Cmdr. Jim Slaight were flying F/A-18F Super Hornets 100 miles off the coast when a radio operator on a Navy destroyer contacted them and asked them to check something out:

“Well, we’ve got a real-world vector for you,” the radio operator said, according to Commander Fravor. For two weeks, the operator said, the Princeton had been tracking mysterious aircraft. The objects appeared suddenly at 80,000 feet, and then hurtled toward the sea, eventually stopping at 20,000 feet and hovering. Then they either dropped out of radar range or shot straight back up.

The two fighter pilots were told to investigate. As they arrived at the area in question, they didn’t see anything at first and there was nothing showing on their radar. Then they noticed something odd happening at sea level:

It was calm that day, but the waves were breaking over something that was just below the surface. Whatever it was, it was big enough to cause the sea to churn.

Hovering 50 feet above the churn was an aircraft of some kind — whitish — that was around 40 feet long and oval in shape. The craft was jumping around erratically, staying over the wave disturbance but not moving in any specific direction, Commander Fravor said. The disturbance looked like frothy waves and foam, as if the water were boiling.

As the two pilots began circling downward to get a closer look, the aircraft accelerated toward them. At this point the two pilots gave up on subtlety and flew directly toward the object, but it took off in the opposite direction. “It accelerated like nothing I’ve ever seen,” Commander Fravor told the NY Times. The two jet pilots were told to head for a pre-determined rendezvous point called a “cap point” 60 miles from their current location. They began heading in that direction and when they were about 1/3 of the way there, they got another message on the radio:

“Sir, you won’t believe it,” the radio operator said, “but that thing is at your cap point.”

“We were at least 40 miles away, and in less than a minute this thing was already at our cap point,” Commander Fravor, who has since retired from the Navy, said in the interview.

The incident was never investigated but Commander Fravor told another pilot that night, “It had no plumes, wings or rotors and outran our F-18s.” The video released today shows the object in question and honestly, it doesn’t look like much.

All of this is a sort of sub-story to another piece published by the NY Times today about a program at the Pentagon investigating UFO reports. This apparently started as the pet project of Sen. Harry Reid but has continued even after his departure.

For years, the program investigated reports of unidentified flying objects, according to Defense Department officials, interviews with program participants and records obtained by The New York Times. It was run by a military intelligence official, Luis Elizondo, on the fifth floor of the Pentagon’s C Ring, deep within the building’s maze.

The Defense Department has never before acknowledged the existence of the program, which it says it shut down in 2012. But its backers say that, while the Pentagon ended funding for the effort at that time, the program remains in existence.

You’ll have to visit the NY Times site to view the clip of the encounter described above (it’s the second clip, the one without audio). The other clip is also worth a look. It shows something that appears to be moving and rotating in the sky. The pilots tracking it don’t seem to have any idea what it is.

It’s all interesting but far from conclusive. Personally, I tend to think it’s likely we’re very alone in this galaxy and that if we aren’t, the aliens would be eager to say hello to the neighbors they’d come so far to see. But of course, I’m no expert. I’ll give the pro-alien side the final word.

Update: Here’s one of the two clips. This is not the encounter described above. This is the other clip with the two pilots talking: