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What Is It?
Nancy Bryans
What Is It?

We have been hearing about unidentified flying objects (UFOs) in the skies above us for years.  Sightings of strange things racing against blue or starry skies, spotted by numerous people, fueled speculation of flying saucers. Were these alien space ships, foreign secret spy aircraft, or our military testing stealth airplanes?

Curious gadgets occasionally fell out of the sky during my youth. One afternoon, a white flying saucer drifted overhead above our yard. Several days later, another similar white saucer was seen at dusk floating closer to the ground before it landed on our lawn. My father and I carefully crept up to the mysterious apparition, inspecting it from a safe distance. We moved closer and closer.

The curiosity turned out to be apparatus from a weather balloon. We breathed a sigh of relief along with disappointment. We wanted to be the first family to confirm we were being invaded by space aliens!

One warm spring day in 2020, I sat on my back patio in Arizona observing birds at my feeders while I chatted with a friend. Something glittered in the sunlight against a clear big blue sky high above us. We noticed it was not an airplane, but it seemed to drift rather than fly. Its slow speed moved it in the opposite direction of the ground-level wind direction. The large, angular, slow-moving object remained visible, shifting slightly while the sun glinted off it at various angles, until it wobbled north and out of sight. We were surprised no news reports or social media commented on the strange glistening object visible for an hour to our naked eyes.

Over the years, ordinary people, aircraft pilots, and government officials have tried to find answers about sightings of presumed extraterrestrial spacecraft. Hundreds, if not thousands, of photographs and videos of strange spacecraft remain unidentified. News media investigations could not seem to find satisfactory answers. If the U.S. military knew the answer, they were not sharing it with outsiders. Even congressional oversight committees could not penetrate the military web of secrecy about these so-called UFOs.

Then in 2020, the Pentagon released Navy pilot videos that showed “speeding objects mysteriously disappear.” The three videos were taken during training flights in 2004 and 2015 and remain unexplained, except the Department of Defense noted the objects did not “impinge on any subsequent investigations of military airspace incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena.” The term “unidentified aerial phenomena” or UAP has replaced the traditional UFO designation previously used by the U.S. government.

In April 2021, an unidentified hovering triangular craft was videoed above Twentynine Palms Marine Base in California. In July 2022, a pilot reported a close encounter with a UAP in the sky while flying over the Midwest. On January 31, 2023, a suspected surveillance balloon was first reported in airspace above the United States.

On February 4, a second balloon was seen floating above Latin America. On February 5, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 recovered the surveillance balloon shot down off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. According to the commander of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command, the downed balloon measured “15 football fields by 15 football fields,” and was about 200 feet tall by 50 feet deep, with a payload the size of a “jet airliner.”

On February 10, 2023, an airborne object about the size of a small car was spotted floating above Alaska at about 40,000 feet. The Pentagon determined it posed a potential risk to civilian aircraft. The F-22 pilots tasked with shooting it down reported the floating object “interfered with their sensors” but it did not appear to have a propulsion system. On February 11, a similar object was spotted in Northern Canada and another in Central Montana.

A similar or the identical object was seen above Lake Huron on February 12. These objects were shot down for their “proximity to sensitive DOD sites” according to the Pentagon. It seems the Pentagon was aware that China operates global balloon surveillance collecting data on military bases, but the other high altitude car-sized object shot down was not confirmed as linked to any known source, Chinese or otherwise.

A 2021 report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said “in 18 incidents, described in 21 reports, observers reported unusual UAP movement patterns or flight characteristics. Some UAP appeared to remain stationary in winds aloft, move against the wind, maneuver abruptly, or move at considerable speed, without discernible means of propulsion. In a small number of cases, military aircraft systems processed radio frequency (RF) energy associated with UAP sightings.”

The 2022 Annual Report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence stated that 171 incidents “of these uncharacterized UAP appear to have demonstrated unusual flight characteristics or performance capabilities, and require further analysis.” In December 2022, the DOD established the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office to identify UAP found in space, air, land, or sea which might threaten our national security. As of May 2023, military pilots reported sightings of approximately 800 UAP.

In 2022, NASA organized a 16-member expert group to determine how the agency can help decipher reports of UAP by aircraft pilots. To date, NASA’s team has found no evidence that UAP are extraterrestrial but say they don’t know their origin.

Early one morning a short time ago, I found two peculiar circles on my North Carolina backyard lawn. As seen in the photo I snapped, the circles appear to consist of pine straw broken into tiny pieces arranged in two twin-sized circles abutting each other. A subsequent wind then rain storm did not disturb their configuration. What was disturbed were the birds and mammals, daily visitors prior to the circles’ appearance. Did a spaceship land and abscond with them, leaving circles behind?

At dinnertime a few days later, one intrepid bunny hopped into my yard, glanced at the circles with a bug-eyed look, and vamoosed! My backyard companions began to reappear after two grass cuttings and numerous wind and rain storms removed traces of the circles, but they continued to avoid the spot where the circles sat on my lawn. As I stare at the picture I took, questions remain: What frightened the critters, what or who made the twin-circle design, and what is it?

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About the Contributor
Nancy Bryans
Nancy Bryans, Writer, Teen Scene Editor, Production Assistant
Nancy graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Business Administration. She enjoyed a marketing and sales career in commercial and residential real estate. She used her management, PR and sales skills to design and write construction newsletters, media advertising and promotional brochures. Nancy served as board chair of numerous academic, civic, patriotic and charitable organizations. She resides in Brunswick Forest.

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    Chuck BinsJul 1, 2024 at 1:04 pm

    I appreciate your research on the often mysterious topic of UAPs. You may be interested to know that I found a similar curiosity in my backyard — a thin line of dead grass about 40 ft. long. Though your dead spots are circular, I suspect they are from the same source: herbicides. The circles would be where the worker set the sprayer down.