The belief in alien encounters has long been a prominent feature of American life. A 1997 poll from CNN/Time on the 50th anniversary of the Roswell incident found that 80% of Americans think the government is hiding knowledge of the existence of extraterrestrial life forms.
But instead of funding a $22 million project to get to the bottom of the issue, the US military could have spent its time reading some of the many tales of UFO sightings, abductions and alien encounters with humans over the decades.
There are thousands and thousands of reported UFO sightings, but in light of the Pentagon’s extensive research into the possible existence of UFOs, here’s a look back at some of America’s closest encounters of the third kind.
Many of the best known alien claims come from Project Blue Book, the name for the US government program tasked with investigating reports of UFOs from 1948 to 1969.
In that time, Air Force personnel looked at 12,618 reported UFO sightings and said that 701 remain “unidentified.”
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