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History of UFOs is the unusual aerial observations that have been reported throughout history. Some were undoubtedly astronomical in nature: comets, bright meteors, one or more of the five planets which can be seen with the naked eye, planetary conjunctions, or atmospheric optical phenomena such as parhelia and lenticular clouds. An example is Halley's Comet, which was recorded first by Chinese astronomers in 240 B.C. and possibly as early as 467 B.C.

Historical reportsEdit

Many historical reports seem to defy prosaic explanation, but assessing such accounts is difficult. Whatever their actual cause, such sightings throughout history were often treated as supernatural portents, angels, or other religious omens. Journalist Daniela Giordano says many Medieval-era depictions of unusual aerial objects are difficult to interpret, but claims some depicting airborne saucers and domed-saucer shapes are often strikingly similar to UFO reports from later centuries.[1]Art historians, however, explain those objects as religious symbols, often represented in many other paintings of Middle-Age and Renaissance.[2]

Shen Kuo (1031–1095), a Song Chinese government scholar-official and prolific polymath inventor and scholar, wrote a vivid passage in his Dream Pool Essays (1088) about an unidentified flying object. He recorded the testimony of eyewitnesses in 11th century Anhui and Jiangsu (especially in the city of Yangzhou), who stated that a flying object with opening doors would emit a blinding light from its interior (from an object shaped like a pearl) that would cast shadows from trees for ten miles in radius, and was able to take off at tremendous speeds.[3]

Modern reportsEdit

The modern UFO mythology has three traceable roots: the late 19th century "mystery airships" reported in the newspapers of western United States, "foo fighters" reported by Allied airmen during World War II, and the Kenneth Arnold "flying saucer" sighting near Mt. Rainier, Washington on June 24, 1947.[4] UFO reports between "The Great Airship Wave" and the Arnold sighting were limited in number compared to the post-war period: notable cases include reports of "ghost fliers" in Europe and North America during the 1930s and the numerous reports of "ghost rockets" in Scandinavia (mostly Sweden) from May to December 1946.[5] Media hype in the late 1940s and early 1950s following the Arnold sighting brought the concept of flying saucers to the public audience.[6]

As the public's preoccupation in UFOs grew, along with the number of reported sightings, the United States military began to take notice of the phenomenon. The UFO explosion of the early post-war era coincides with the escalation of the Cold War and the Korean War.[4] The U.S. military feared that secret aircraft of the Soviet Union, possibly developed from captured German technology, were behind the reported sightings.[7] If correct, the craft causing the sightings were thus of importance to national security[8] and in need of systematic investigation. By 1952, however, the official US government interest in UFOs began to fade as the USAF projects Sign and Grudge concluded, along with the CIA's Robertson Panel that UFO reports indicated no direct threat to national security.[9] The government's official research into UFOs ended with the publication of the Condon Committee report in 1969,[9] which concluded that the study of UFOs in the past 21 years had achieved little, if anything, and that further extensive study of UFO sightings was unwarranted.[9] It also recommended the termination of the USAF special unit Project Blue Book.[9]

As the U.S. government ceased officially studying UFO sightings, the same became true for most governments of the world. A notable exception is France, which still maintains the GEIPAN,[10] formerly known as GEPAN (1977–1988) and SEPRA (1988–2004), a unit under the French Space Agency CNES. During the Cold War, British,[11] Canadian,[12] Danish,[13] Italian,[14] and Swedish[15] governments have each collected reports of UFO sightings. Britain's Ministry of Defence ceased accepting any new reports as of 2010.[16]

  • January 25, 1878, The Denison Daily News wrote that local farmer John Martin had reported seeing a large, dark, circular flying object resembling a balloon flying "at wonderful speed."[17]
  • November 17, 1882, a UFO was observed by astronomer Edward Walter Maunder of the Greenwich Royal Observatory and some other European astronomers. Maunder in The Observatory reported "a strange celestial visitor" that was "disc-shaped", "torpedo-shaped", "spindle-shaped", or "just like a Zeppelin" dirigible (as he described it in 1916).
  • February 28, 1904, there was a sighting by three crew members on the USS Supply 300 miles west of San Francisco, reported by Lt. Frank Schofield, later to become Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Battle Fleet. Schofield wrote of three bright red egg-shaped and circular objects flying in echelon formation that approached beneath the cloud layer, then changed course and "soared" above the clouds, departing directly away from the earth after two to three minutes. The largest had an apparent size of about six suns.
  • 1916 and 1926: the three oldest known pilot UFO sightings, of 1305 catalogued by NARCAP. On January 31, 1916, a UK pilot near Rochford reported a row of lights, like lighted windows on a railway carriage, that rose and disappeared. In January 1926, a pilot reported six "flying manhole covers" between Wichita, Kansas and Colorado Springs, Colorado. In late September 1926, an airmail pilot over Nevada was forced to land by a huge, wingless cylindrical object.
  • August 5, 1926, while traveling in the Humboldt Mountains of Tibet's Kokonor region, Nicholas Roerich reported that members of his expedition saw "something big and shiny reflecting sun, like a huge oval moving at great speed".
  • In both the European and Japanese aerial theatres during World War II, "Foo-fighters" (balls of light and other shapes that followed aircraft) were reported by both Allied and Axis pilots.[18]
  • February 25, 1942, the U.S. Army detected unidentified aircraft both visually and on radar over the Los Angeles, California region. No readily-apparent explanation was offered. The incident later became known as the Battle of Los Angeles, or the West coast air raid.
  • In 1946, there were over 2000 reports of unidentified aircraft in the Scandinavian nations, along with isolated reports from France, Portugal, Italy and Greece, then referred to as "Russian hail", and later as "ghost rockets", because it was thought that these mysterious objects were Russian tests of captured German V1 or V2 rockets. Over 200 were tracked on radar and deemed to be "real physical objects" by the Swedish military.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Giordano, Daniela, "Do UFOs Exist in the History of Arts?" from American Chronicle, 2006-11-13; retrieved 2007-07-27
  2. cite web |url=http://www.skeptic.com/the_magazine/archives/vol11n01.html |title=The Art of Imagining UFOs |first=Diego |last=Cuoghi |work= in Skeptic Magazine Vol.11, No.1, 2004 |accessdate= }}
  3. Dong, Paul. (2000). China's Major Mysteries: Paranormal Phenomena and the Unexplained in the People's Republic. San Francisco: China Books and Periodicals, Inc. ISBN 0835126765. Pages 69–71.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Template:Cite journal
  5. Template:Cite book
  6. Denzler (2003), p. 9
  7. Template:Cite web
  8. Template:Cite web
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Template:Cite web
  10. GEIPAN stands for Groupe d'Études et d'Informations sur les Phénomènes Aérospatiaux Non-identifiés ("unidentified aerospace phenomenon research and information group")
  11. Template:Cite web
  12. Template:Cite web
  13. Template:Cite web
  14. [[Italian Air Force UFO site (in Italian)
  15. Template:Cite web
  16. Template:Cite news
  17. Before the Wright Brothers...There Were UFOs
  18. Foo-Fighter – TIME

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