The Question in the Sky
Are UFOs Real?
Area 51 in Nevada officially exists. That was the headline this week: The Government has finally acknowledged the existence of the infamous UFO site near Groom Lake, Nevada. Well, let me clarify that a little, they didn’t actually mention any UFOs because as far as the United States Government is concerned, they are not real. The reason for that position they say is that pretty much all of the sightings have been discredited. As for the base itself, after sixty years of silence and stony faced denial that Area 51 was a secret Military and CIA base, they now say that it is. The motive for the denial apparently, was that the base was originally home to the U-2 spy plane and therefore it couldn’t be publicly acknowledged because the U-2 is still is service today. I’m sure that will come as a surprise to most people given how old the aircraft is but it turns out that the United States Air Force has several types of aircraft over fifty years old that are still flying. The U-2 was a famous plane in its Cold War heyday, primarily because one was shot down during a flight over the old Soviet Union and its pilot, Francis Gary Powers, was put on trial for espionage. He spent three years in prison before being traded back to the US in a prisoner swap. It was an embarrassing time for the Eisenhower administration by all accounts so one can see why they were not in any rush to declassify the site.
If the planes are still flying, then I can also see how that could be a reason why successive governments have been reluctant to discuss it publicly. With that said though, it seems amazing to me that it’s taken this long to officially recognize something that has been the subject of so many books, movies and documentaries over the past few decades. I mean, how do you deny something that has had so much publicity? If you’ve ever watched one of those cable documentaries that speak in convincing tones about the strange things that happen in Area 51, then you have probably seen the people who spend their vacations camped out in lawn chairs, watching the place with binoculars and telescope and waiting to see a flying saucer. The two things that seem to fascinate people the most: secrets and conspiracy, coming together out there in the desert. Stir it up a little with a few selected facts, throw in some mysterious lights in the sky and you have a recipe for great television. That’s why I find it astonishing that this is only happening now. As I said, it’s not like the place has been a secret in a very long time.
For the reasons above, when I saw the headline, I skimmed the article then moved onto news of more importance. As the day went on, something fired in my imagination and I found myself drifting back to the story. I thought about all the UFO stories over the years and the people who swear that they have seen “something.” President Jimmy Carter once famously said that he had seen something in the sky that he couldn’t explain. Police officers, military personnel, pilots and people with various types of training in observation, could they all be mistaken or untruthful? The question intrigued me and I started to analyze it with a logical mind. I narrowed it down: do UFO’s exist? And if they do, does that also mean that aliens exist?
It’s the first time that I’ve really given the subject much thought, at least in depth. Like probably every generation since man lived in a cave, I’ve looked up at the night sky and occasionally, barely even consciously wondered if we are alone. A few episodes of Star Trek have made me think and one or two good science fiction books but for the most part, the existence of extraterrestrial beings is not something that has ever dominated my thoughts. Today though, I sat down to give the subject some further thought and here’s what I came up with:
Firstly, conspiracies do happen, they happen all the time. People in government agencies, in private enterprise, in the Military and in the highest ranks of Presidential administrations have been known to conspire to protect something of common interest or that might possibly be harmful to their careers. History is full of examples and there are probably conspiracies taking place right now that will be tomorrows breaking news. Does that mean that there was or is some kind of conspiracy around alleged UFO sites like Area 51 or Roswell, New Mexico? Of course not, but it is possible because they do happen.
I then asked myself what does the recent announcement really mean. Does it explain anything? Not really. The Cold War history of the base and a spy plane still in service, does explain the reason for some of the secrecy but it doesn’t explain how pilots and other credible people have claimed to have seen things in the sky that are not a plane. I did some research before writing this article; the U-2’s fly at a high altitude to avoid radar and have some landing characteristics that distinguish it from something like a commercial airliner but it is still a plane and behaves in the sky like a plane. It doesn’t look like a saucer or a cigar, it doesn’t zigzag at what observers with flight training claim to be impossible angles and then disappear; it flies like a plane, just higher. Yes, plenty of people have probably seen a U-2 in the sky around Nevada and because of how far away it was or the way the light caught it that day or a dozen other reasons that only a scientist could explain, thought they saw something entirely different. It does explain a lot that’s for sure, but apart from the fact that planes flew out of there, just like they do out of any military base or airport, does it really explain anything? Perhaps a little, just a little, but I don’t think all.
Lastly, what about the bigger questions: The ultimate questions of do aliens exist and if so, have they visited us. I think they do and I think they have.
Logically, I believe this to be true and here’s why. Astronomers and Cosmologists look out into the universe with their powerful telescopes and tell us that there are billions of planets out there just in our galaxy alone. Beyond our galactic borders, there are many more galaxies each also containing billions and billions of planets. It is—it has to be—the height of arrogance to believe that we are the only living beings in the entire universe.
In recent years, here on our own planet, we have found life in the strangest and most hostile of places like the boiling hot springs of Yellowstone National Park. Life has been discovered in other places never once thought possible, extreme environments with things like high levels of sulfur or calcium carbonate, acidic water, or extremely alkaline. Our own species and so many others around us have survived on this planet despite numerous setbacks over the course of millions of years. If we’ve learned anything about the nature of life from our own backyard then it is this: Life is easy, it forms in such a wide variety, in such a huge diversity of environments that one can only assume that perhaps those beginnings are not as complicated as we originally thought.
The other thing that we have learned is that life is persistent. Once it forms, a life form hangs on and tries every possible genetic strategy until it adapts to its environment and begins to thrive. Survival is not enough, it must flourish or it becomes extinct. It stands to reason that if life is that way here then it would also be elsewhere. That may conflict with our notion of being special but if the chemical building blocks are the same throughout the universe and our studies of space tell us that they are, then why would the result not be too if given a similar environment and period of time?
If that’s the case, if life has developed in other parts of the universe then it stands to reason that some of that life may be also be intelligent just as we are. There may be animals and insects and trees but there may also be that one species that has adapted and flourished on their planet to a point where they have developed technology. If that has happened then it becomes possible that that species has ventured into space just as we have. If there are others like them, like us, that are beginning to leave our planets and explore space, then it is possible, entirely possible, that once, just once, at some point in our history, we were on somebody’s flight path.
And that is where logic took me. It doesn’t matter you see, it really doesn’t matter if a million UFO sightings are discredited. That’s the mistake in our collective thinking. Whether it’s the result of some grand conspiracy to cover up something in Area 51, or whether it’s just simply human nature and wanting to feel special, it really doesn’t matter, it just doesn’t matter. Why? Because out of those millions of sightings, all those kooks and crackpots and the fake YouTube clips, only one has to be real. Just one, be it today or fifty years ago. If there is that one single case with a question mark, at any point in history, the case that can’t be discredited by any means, then the case is proven. To quote the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes: Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. …only one has to be real.