A former fighter pilot who in 2004 saw one of the Tic Tac-shaped UFOs seen in videos released by the US Department of Defense, says others serving in the Navy stayed quiet in the past, fearing the stigma of being called kooky.
Now a mother of three, teaching at George Washington University and the US Naval Academy, Lt Cmdr Alex Dietrich told The Washington Post that she feels a “duty and obligation” to speak out about her experience.
Having appeared on the recent episode of 60 Minutes covering what the Pentagon refers to as “unexplained aerial phenomena” (UAPs), Ms Dietrich is now open about sharing the details of her close encounter.
“I was in a taxpayer-funded aircraft, doing my job as a military officer,” she said. “Citizens have questions. It’s not classified. If I can share or help give a reasonable response, I will.”
She added: “I don’t want to be someone who’s saying ‘no comment’.”
Video of Ms Dietrich’s experience was released in 2017 by the group To The Stars, founded by former Blink 182 frontman Tom DeLonge. It was verified by the Pentagon as authentic in April 2020.
The footage will be included in the highly anticipated report on UAPs to be released in June thanks to a stipulation built into the 2020 coronavirus relief bill ordering the director of national intelligence and the secretary of defence to publish everything the government knows about the phenomena.
Lt Cmdr Dietrich’s encounter occurred on 14 November 2004 on a training flight in a Super Hornet with the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group off the coast of San Diego.
A fast and erratically moving Tic-Tac-shaped object came into view, and her superior officer Cmdr Dave Fravor flew closer for a look while Lt Cmdr Dietrich observed.
The object mirrored Mr Fravor’s aircraft’s movement and then disappeared. They returned to the aircraft carrier and reported what they had seen, which had also been seen on the ship’s radar.
“We all collectively lost our minds,” she told the Post. “There was no denying it, everybody had heard us on the radio.”
They laughed off the jokes at their expense from their colleagues, including tin foil hats, cartoons of little green men, and Hollywood movies such as Independence Day looping on the ship’s onboard channels.
In reunions with her commander since, she says they agree that had they been flying solo they probably wouldn’t have said anything.
Knowing that other pilots have seen similar phenomena and kept quiet, afraid of the stigma of being labelled kooky, Ms Dietrich decided to be more open about what she saw.
Tweeting a clip of the 60 Minutes episode, Ms Dietrich wrote: “Couldn’t get anyone to listen in 2004. Now everyone wants to talk about it. What changed?”
By acknowledging that the phenomena deserve attention, the Pentagon has lifted some of the stigma associated with sightings and, championed by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Congress wants to know more.
Mr Rubio notes that whether the aerial phenomena are from a rival military power or another civilisation, they deserve attention and resources to identify what they are, where they are from, and if they pose a national security threat.
He told 60 Minutes: “I want us to take it seriously and have a process to take it seriously.”
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