UFOs? There's no need to worry, says Pentagon

Suppose there is someone out there
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The US Pentagon has finally put its own version of the truth out there: unidentified flying objects (UFOs) are not alien spacecraft, it is not hoarding any wrecked spacecraft, and overall it does not think that there are any aliens hiding in the dark skies, writes Charles Arthur.

The announcement yesterday by a Pentagon spokesman of the "Blue Book" project findings, which looked at 12,618 sightings of UFOs between 1949 and 1969, drew scorn from UFO-watchers, though, who insisted that it ignores the small but significant number of sightings which cannot be explained by any natural or manufactured phenomena.

But the Pentagon was insistent yesterday, after restating the findings of the "Blue Book" report. "There are no aliens out there that we are aware of," said a spokesman. He was answering questions about the 39 Americans in the "Heaven's Gate" cult who last week committed suicide, saying they were "going to join the spaceship following the [Hale-Bopp] comet". A number of Americans are convinced that an alien spacecraft is trailing the comet - an effect that astronomers say is caused by the apparent movement of a planet which is positioned near the comet's position in the sky when viewed from some parts of Earth.

However, Graham Birdsall, editor of UFO magazine, said yesterday: "22.4 per cent of the Blue Book observations were classed as "unknown". Since then there have been thousands of UFO observations by sober, professional people.

"I accept that 95 per cent can be explained by normal phenomena. But the US Air Force and the Ministry of Defence are still very interested in this, and I have yet to see anything which can explain the other 5 per cent of observations."