Unidentified flying objects, UFOs to most people, have been sighted for hundreds, if not thousands of years. How can this be? Surely, if aliens have been visiting Earth since the time of the dinosaurs, there would be some hard evidence by now, right? Well, yes, if all those UFOs had been alien ships. However, most, if not all, UFOs have origins which are far less science-fiction than they are hard scientific facts.

Break down the term

When most people hear the term “UFO” they immediately think of some sort of alien encounter. A giant disc hovering in the sky, stealing away people to be probed and cows for… who knows why they want cows. However, there is absolutely no reason for people to jump immediately to aliens! The term UFO simply means there was a flying object that we couldn’t identify. It’s right there in the term: unidentified flying object. Not unidentified alien craft, or mysteriously appearing spaceship or unknown technological transport. A simple unidentified flying object. This means that a UFO could be anything from a toaster launched into the atmosphere by a child genius’s science experiment to a mutant crow that is the size of an elephant. Anything that was flying and is unidentified is technically a UFO.

Sightings and possible explanations

In 2014 and 2015, Navy pilots doing flight training exercises reported seeing unidentified flying objects. These reports came from multiple sources, at differing times, but all in a similar geographic area. This meant that the Navy had to take the reports seriously and look into the cause. Of course, some people immediately feared an oncoming alien invasion, but Navy scientists and officials were quick to offer alternative explanations.

One possibility is that the pilots saw exactly what they reported: some unidentified object flying at supersonic speeds without any detectable exhaust fumes from a typical engine. However, this doesn’t require alien technology to pull off, such a craft could be built right here on Earth, an advanced propulsion system created by a different company and kept secret from the rest of the world. Such technology is not outside the realm of possibility right now and would be more likely than alien craft. After all, Navy officials pointed out, these sightings took place over a coastal region, exactly where you would expect another country to test out a highly advanced reconnaissance craft, rather than further inland, where chances of detection would be higher.

Another possible explanation for the sightings is even simpler: bugs. Not the creepy-crawly kind, but computer bugs. The Navy pilots only began reporting these sightings after their radar systems had received an upgrade. While such a change should have resulted in more accurate readings, not false ones, anyone who has ever worked with software of any kind knows that any system can have errors in it, especially a new, relatively untested update! Making this possibility even more likely is the fact that all the sightings reported by the Navy pilots were all instrument-based. No one reported seeing an alien spacecraft with their own eyes, they reported unidentified “blobs” or “blurs” on their radar screens.

Not discounting the possibility of aliens

While most UFOs are almost definitely not alien in origin, it is hard to discount the possibility completely. Technological advances in recent years have led to the discovery of many possibly habitable worlds in the Milky Way Galaxy, practically in our backyard on the cosmic scale! And while officials at the Navy are quick to offer alternative explanations for all UFO sightings, they do still encourage their people to report and investigate such things. Just recently, the Navy passed a new policy (classified, so we don’t have exact details, only a general idea of its contents) instructing pilots how to report “unexplained aerial phenomenon,” which is really just a fancy way of saying UFO.