What Is Up With Those Pentagon UFO Videos?

Here’s what happened. About a decade ago, the Department of Defense inaugurated a UFO program, budgeted at $22 million according to the Times. It went by AATIP, for Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, though the Times story refers to it as the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. Its purpose was to investigate flying foreign weapon threats—ones that exist now or could be developed in the next 40 years. The product of legislation cosponsored by senators Harry Reid of Nevada and Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, the program, according to Pentagon spokesperson Audricia Harris, was primarily executed through a contract with Bigelow Aerospace—a company owned by Reid’s constituent and donor Robert Bigelow. (The wealthy businessman, who is best known for his inflatable space habitats, still owns a company called Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies, which has also researched UFO reports.)

The Pentagon program was run by Luis Elizondo, who told WIRED he took the lead position in 2010. (WIRED was unable to verify that Elizondo worked on AATIP, but Harris does confirm that he worked for the Defense Department.) The AATIP team, Elizondo says, took strange-sighting reports from pilots, as well as associated data like camera footage and radar returns, and tried to match them with known international aircraft signatures. “What we found many times was the fact that the aircraft did not belong to anybody,” Elizondo says. Sometimes, he says, the craft displayed behavior the AATIP team couldn’t explain.

Elizondo has become a kind of celebrity—in the wider world, arguably, but definitely in the UFO community. This week, those UFO researchers and enthusiasts and skeptics gathered in Fort McDowell, Arizona, for their annual International UFO Congress. And Elizondo, who had brought them closer to the capital-D Disclosure[3] they’ve long sought, was supposed to be there. Instead, this evening at 6 pm Eastern, the Congress will show a prerecorded interview in which Elizondo will answer submitted questions from the community— “many of the questions that have gone unanswered,” according to a press release.

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