A Steady Flow Of Something Is Called A N UFOs: Listen To The Pilots, Not The Pundits

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UFOs: Listen To The Pilots, Not The Pundits

Growing up in a family with a career Air Force officer as your dad can be tough. Most kids have to deal with moving from place to place, base housing and a hundred other things that would drive you crazy if you let them. I was lucky to be born late in my parents’ life. By the time I arrived, my father’s condition was stable and nearing retirement. We lived on Long Island and I didn’t have to face many of the challenges that other “military brats” faced. However, there was an elephant in the room that I couldn’t ignore…

After my dad retired from the Air Force, his outgoing personality immediately pushed him into another job. As vice president of a construction equipment company that sold and rented everything from fork lifts to massive tower cranes, he was busy as his company had contracts to supply equipment needed to build the New York World’s Fair and the World Trade Center in the early 1960s. Buildings a little later. Because his two most important jobs in life were not uncommon to see my parents dining with the Kennedy brothers or the Rockefeller heirs at the New York Athletic Club. Flying saucers were all over the news in the 1950s and 1960s, so my father sometimes faced questions about them from high-powered friends.

As a child I was fascinated by flying saucers. Every time I asked my dad about them, he just said that the government said they were mostly misidentified planes and nothing to worry about. This was his standard answer to those who questioned him on the subject. I would have been fine with that answer, but there was a problem. He was honest while presenting the government position. That doesn’t mean he didn’t disagree in private. We had former and still active Air Force pilots constantly coming over to the house for barbecues or to hang out with my dad. They did not support the official government position on unidentified flying objects (a term coined by the US government).

As an only child, I spent as much time with the adults as I did with the children. I quickly learned to be quiet and listen. When the pilot came to our house and brought up the subject of UFOs, they missed it. Almost every pilot had a UFO story. If they choose to share it, others in attendance grill them on the details. These were not casual conversations. It is very technical for pilots to prove or disprove a controversial problem that occurs during flight. It was easy to see that the pilots I listened to were not convinced by the government pundits who had an explanation for every scene. They were sure it wasn’t something built and blown up by the Russians.

Chuck Yeager, the military pilot who broke the sound barrier for the first time in 1947, shows what I experienced as a child from my father and his pilot friends. Yeager was asked if he had ever seen a UFO on Twitter. He said, “No. I don’t drink before flying.” I beg to differ and think that statement is an unnecessary insult to credible pilots who have decided to go on record with their own sightings and encounters. Twitter’s response is their public statement. However, I distinctly remember him saying something different in the 1960s.

When I was a kid my dad was invited to a base BBQ at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. I went with him. The keynote speaker was Yeager. After speaking briefly of his many adventures in the air, he recounted one more that caught the attention of all present. Several pilots asked Chuck what he thought of flying saucers. He then gave the many pilots and Air Force personnel in attendance a rare opportunity to hear something they would never share with the general public…

Yeager said there was a procedure Bell used during test flights of the jet to break the sound barrier. An onboard camera filmed each flight. Afterward, he and a debriefing panel made up of Air Force officials, civil engineers from General Electric that built engines for Bell, and medical doctors all watched the footage. Then, they will discuss the flight. On one occasion he said he saw a large, disc-shaped object on the starboard side of his jet. Then it moved almost instantly in front of his plane.

Bell was like a flying bullet. At that speed it was not very maneuverable. If this object slowed down or stopped, Yeager knew he would end up like a bug on the windshield. As this thought crossed his mind, the object suddenly disappeared. Later, when he went for the debriefing, things were very different from normal. No projectors, no screens, no air force officers, no civilian engineers and no doctors. It was just Yeager and some guy in a suit who tried to say it was a new, secret plane the military was testing.

Yeager knew all the other test pilots and was sure he had heard of nothing as advanced as what he had seen. After that, the man warned him not to talk about the encounter. I have a wonderful memory and I remember him telling that story yesterday. And there’s the rub… Publicly, government pundits were calling these objects swamp gas, misidentified aircraft, and illusions. Publicly, pilots and other members of the military agree with him or make no statements on the matter. Privately, it was clearly another story.

My father danced around this conflict of two truths until he told me that some things are classified for a good reason. He explained that adults are sometimes forced to lie to keep people safe. “Safe?” I thought from what Anyway, he told me that lying is a bad habit and advised me to stay away from it. I followed his advice. My classmates were interested in flying saucers because of all the headlines about them in the 1960s. I decided to choose that topic for a report. We all read our reports in class. I incorporated Yeager’s story into mine. When I finished you heard a pin drop across the room.

My teacher liked the report, but wondered if Yeager’s story was true. She called my dad. By the end of the day he was at school with the two boys in suits. My report disappeared, the teacher never asked me about it again, and my classmates only talked to me about flying saucers at lunch or recess. I told the truth, but it was not the truth accepted by the government. The good news was that my non-existent report earned me a 100% grade. I think telling the truth really pays.

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