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A Very Brief History of UFO Sightings

Sign stating proceed with care: UFO landing site ahead
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The Pentagon admitted that they still have an active UFO program, keeping abreast of strange aerial phenomena and unidentified flying objects. But aliens or no, there are reports of UFOs dating back thousands of years.

The First UFO Sighting Around the World

The Ancient Egyptian Tulli Papyrus is believed to talk about fiery disks in the sky. The parchment is from pharaoh Thutmose III’ scribes, but some people think the Tulli Papyrus was a fake. While there is no way to verify the Ancient Egyptians saw UFOs, there were more sightings around the world before the first sightings in America.

From 218 BC to 196 AD, the Roman Republic experienced various sighting of flashing lights and flying discs in the sky. While many sightings are simply a flash in the sky or shiny spaceship looking object, in 1566, there was something even more phenomenal—over Basel in Switzerland, many UFOs were seen, and it’s believed they were battling one another.

The first known UFO sighting in America dates back to the 1600s. John Winthrop, who was the Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony at the time, wrote of unidentified flying objects in his journal more than once. More than one person saw lights in the sky when out boating.

Sightings picked up in the 20th century, though the 19th century boasted the sightings in Japan and Mexico. While the sighting in Mexico was of a UFO, the Japan sighting came complete with a possible alien sighting.

Famous UFO Sightings in the US

UFO sightings are pretty commonplace in the US, and you’ve probably heard about many of them—or at least seen them mentioned in movies and on TV.

Roswell, New Mexico

Was it just a weather balloon that crash-landed in the New Mexico desert, or did the military cover up a real alien spaceship crash? The Roswell crash is one of the best known UFO sightings in the US.

It happened during the summer of 1947. The crashed “flying saucer,” as was reported in newspapers, was discovered by William “Mac” Brazel. The farmer found the debris in one of his pastures.

Though the case has long been closed on the Roswell crash, conspiracy theorists still believe that aliens crashed in the pasture that day, while the government openly admitted that the weather balloon that crashed there was part of a top-secret project.

Lubbock Lights in Texas

Something strange happened in Lubbock, Texas on the night of August 25, 1951. A number of science professors from Texas Tech saw flying lights in the sky that formed semi-circle and moved very fast.

Following their sighting, more reports rolled in across the town of Lubbock about fast-flying objects in the sky. The Air Force investigated and concluded that it was just birds. They were “glowing” because of the reflection on their feathers from new streetlights in the town. Those who saw the lights argue that the lights were flying much too fast to be birds.

Abduction in Arizona

Immortalized in the film Fire in the Sky, the abduction story of Travis Walton is known by science fiction fans quite well. In 1975, Walton, a forestry worker, went missing for five days. He and his co-workers witnessed a sauce-shaped UFO in the sky, and Walton got out of the vehicle to investigate and was knocked out, or taken, with a bright light.

Walton’s co-workers sped away, afraid. And, for five days, people searched for Walton. When he appeared again, he told stories of his abduction.

The Pentagon UFO Videos

Tied in with some of the most recent UFO sightings, in 2014 and 2015, the Pentagon has been a bit evasive about several puported UFO videos. They’ve at turns admitted and denied the existence of these videos, which were taken from a couple of military jets, most recently admitting again that they have them and are still researching the aerial phenomena called UFOs.

The videos were taken from the cockpit displays from Navy fighter jets based aboard the aircraft carriers USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt. The three videos were shot in 2004, 2014, and 2015. There’s still speculation as to whether or not the things you’re seeing are alien crafts or not, but it’s still very interesting with all of the secrecy formerly behind the videos.

What’s Area 51?

No history of UFO sightings would be complete without talking about Area 51. Many UFO theories and conspiracies revolve around this US Air Force base located in southern Nevada. It’s the secrecy around what the airforce does in this location that makes it so intriguing and gives way to stories of alien autopsies and hidden UFOs.

It used to be that the government completely denied the existence of this base. However, in 2013 the CIA acknowledged its definitive existence; they haven’t admitted to harboring aliens there.


UFO sightings will not go away, and with the invention of things like drones. Whether or not extraterrestrials beings exist or not, people will still believe.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »