Are sightings of mysterious objects in the skies over America and other parts of the world on the rise?
That’s what many people are saying, according to one of the leading websites covering military-related news and interests.
“There has been a spike in UFO sightings across the nation,” read a recent article at Military.com, which asked, “are there just more people looking up in the sky or is it something else?
According to figures cited in the brief article, there were close to 7,200 UFO sightings logged in 2020, up more than 1,000 from the previous year. The article did not provide details on the source for these figures, although it appears they draw from data collected by the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC), according to figures cited by other outlets.
Founded in 1999, Military.com has been owned by employment powerhouse Monster Worldwide since 2004, and in addition to news related to the military, it also provides information on veteran employment, education, and other related services through its many blogs and newsletters.
Asking whether the release of a widely anticipated report to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence earlier this year might have played a role in the apparent surge in UFO reports, the article points to such recent military activity as part of what has brought UFOs “back into the mainstream media.”
But are there really more UFO sightings taking place, or is all of the interest in the topic causing more people to look up?
Several factors might help to account for recent surges in UFO sightings, especially during 2020. As the coronavirus began to spread throughout world populations after its emergence near Wuhan, China in late 2019, quarantines and shelter-in-place orders in many countries grounded people around the world, who instead of heading out and enjoying their normal nightly routines were likely stuck at home. Not surprisingly, early figures from around mid-2020 noted that sightings of UFOs appeared to coincide with more people staying at home during the pandemic.
Also in the months leading up to the pandemic, SpaceX began its ambitious effort to place its Starlink satellite arrays into orbit, which also managed to produce a few UFO reports as observers watched the peculiar-looking “trains” of satellites moving through the air in sequence. But can the effects of more people stuck at home, and more objects placed in orbit, account for all sightings of UFOs logged in recent months?
According to recent NUFORC data, several recent sightings do appear to describe unusual objects in our airspace, for which things like satellites do not offer any kind of likely explanation.
In an incident that occurred in July over Hawaii, an 11-year-old boy reported seeing a triangular aircraft fly over his home at around 6 PM local time, which appeared to resemble now-classic descriptions of large, triangular aircraft of unknown provenance that have been logged by NUFORC and other organizations that follow UFO reports for decades. Two months later, a pilot flying as a passenger on a commercial aircraft reported seeing three objects that he could not identify, in a striking observation of unidentified aircraft that he called aerodynamically "impossible."
There are, in other words, what appear to be “good” UFO reports being logged by organizations like NUFORC, whose operations have been tirelessly maintained by researcher Peter Davenport now for several decades. However, despite the many quality reports that NUFORC receives, its phone hotline also receives occasional hoax calls as well.
“We have made this appeal regarding ‘prank’ calls before,” wrote Davenport in a post on April 1, 2021, “but we feel compelled to make it again.
“Our Hotline is being deluged with overtly hoaxed calls, usually dozens per day, and those calls are impairing our ability to offer what we believe is a very important service to the world.
“If you have been encouraged by some childish website, or by a misdirected social-media site, to place a foolish prank call to our Hotline, we would request that you refrain from placing such a call.”
Even despite the number of prank calls that NUFORC receives, it has held its position as a leading resource for information on UFO observations now for decades, and provides valuable metrics about what people are seeing, and how often they are seen.
While questions about the recent "spike" in sightings remains up for debate, one thing does seem clear: UFO sightings are still frequently reported, despite the numerous challenges that researchers and organizations like NUFORC obviously face. Even with the recent surge in public UFO interest, the steady stream of sightings of unusual objects in our airspace logged by NUFORC over the years suggests that their presence has endured, regardless of how much media attention UFOs may or may not receive at any given time.