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Are UFOs Real?

Debopriya Bose
Alien abduction stories and numerous UFO sightings make us ponder about the question "are UFOs real?" However, lack of concrete proof leaves us in the lurch about the existence of life in outer space.
UFO stands for any "unidentified flying object". However, this term generates utmost interest when it is used in reference to the spaceships, which are believed to come from outer space.
There have been numerous reports of unexplained huge saucer-shaped or triangular objects, which are flying in the air. Most say that these vehicles travel at incredible speeds, and some people have even reported to have been abducted by these spaceships.

The Sightings

The belief that extraterrestrials exist, has been around since antiquity. People from Mars, tall men with green skin arriving in huge spaceships, ugly and short creatures with large eyes, etc., are some of the beliefs that have been mentioned in most of the ancient civilizations and cultures.
What triggered such beliefs? Just imagination? Or was it because of some common occurrences, which led people across different cultures that varied in space and time, with no technology to communicate with each other, to create such stories? This raises the basic and most fundamental question: "Do aliens actually exist or not"?
The early probable UFO sightings reported date back to 1504-1450 B.C. This evidence comes from the inscriptions on an Egyptian papyrus, which depicted a chain of flying saucers in the sky. Variably termed as "rings of fire" or "fire spewing giants", there are mentions of few such mysterious phenomenon that date back to the earliest civilizations.
Another early mentioning of such objects comes from the account of a Roman writer, Julius Obsequens, in 100 B.C. He is believed to have seen "things like ships" in the sky over Italy. Some believe that the Book of Ezekiel, which chronicles the period from 593 to 573 B.C., also has mentions similar UFO sightings.
Throughout the history of mankind, there have been literary references and depictions in paintings, which tell us about the formation of moving bright lights in the sky. For many of the recent occurrences, photographs have been provided as proofs.
While some have been found to be phony, for some others, there is no such evidence to discredit their authenticity. Here are two convincing and the most controversial incidents of UFO sightings in recent years:

Rendlesham Forest Sightings

During the month of December 1980, a number of unexplained lights and UFO sightings had been reported from the Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, England. There also was a reported landing of an extraterrestrial spacecraft. To the north and south of the forest were American bases of Bentwaters and Woodbridge.
Radar screens at Bentwaters and RAF Walton in Norfolk, showed an unidentified flying object in the area. Investigation of this incident indicated the landing of an alien spacecraft. Three servicemen who went to investigate the spot, found a brightly lit triangular object hovering a little above the ground.
One of them is even said to have touched the object and copied the markings from the "object's" body. It was said that various colored lights were glowing from the object. As per the report of these men, it flew back into the air after their brief encounter.
When the three returned to the same location on the next day, they found triangular markings on the spot where they had seen the object, the previous night. The police however dismissed them as having been created by some animals.
Many of the primary witnesses, and those who were working with the government, claim that they were sworn to secrecy and were made to sign documents stating that what they saw wasn't any alien craft.
These incidents got credibility from the memorandum known as the Halt's Memo made by Lieutenant Colonel Charles I. Halt, who was the deputy base commander of the Bentwaters base.

Roswell Incident

Around July 8, 1947, an unidentified flying object was reported to have crashed in a ranch close to Roswell, New Mexico, USA. The incident lost interest with public and media.
However, in an interview conducted almost 30 years later, Major Jesse Marcel who was personally involved in the recovery of debris from the crash site, said that he was sure that the military hushed up the crashing of an alien spacecraft in Roswell, on that particular night.
With the revival of the subject, more witnesses started talking about alive and dead aliens being recovered, and autopsies being carried out on some alien corpses at the Roswell base.
Although, later reports by the government stated that the debris collected belonged to high altitude air balloons, which were a part of a secret government program called Project Mogul, the nature of sightings and testimonials of other witnesses, make this claim seem improbable.

People Who Believe They are Real

Some dismiss sightings of UFOs as the work of imagination of a few simpletons, in awe at the prospect of life out in the space. For such people, here is a list of some very credible individuals who believe that we are not alone:

Jimmy Carter

He promised that if he was elected, he would disclose in public, the government files on UFOs. He claimed that even he had seen such an object.

Ronald Reagan

President Reagan himself is said to have seen strange lights in the sky, while being on a flight, and he ordered his pilot to follow them. After following for several minutes up to Bakersfield, he said in his own words: "it rose straight up into the heavens".

Richard Nixon

In an interview, President Nixon conceded that he was not at liberty to discuss UFOs, and that he was still being briefed about the subject.

J Edgar Hoover

Hoover, who headed the FBI from 1935 to 1972, once spoke of an incident when flying saucers flying over Los Angeles were allegedly shot at. But he claims that the military confiscated all the disks that were recovered, and did not let the FBI to carry out even a cursory examination of the recovered objects.

Monsignor Corrado Balducci

Balducci, a Vatican theologian was quoted as saying that through its embassies in various countries, the Vatican was getting evidence of contact between human beings and the extraterrestrials.
Other than the sightings and testimonials, there have been many cases of human beings who were kidnapped by aliens from their spaceships.
Although, most of the victims consciously can't recall anything that happened during their abduction, through hypnosis, accounts have been gathered from different sources belonging to different places and time. These accounts are intriguingly similar to each other!

Do UFOs Really Exist?

If we all see something, or if there is hard evidence of some entity, then it is real. By this parameter, existence of UFOs becomes questionable. Role of the government in covering up such incidents does make it probable that what people witness as they are indeed part of secret projects.
But, what about the testimonials of those who have been part of the teams that have investigated incidents of UFO landings, or have held responsible posts within the government itself? If they really did exist, why are they reported only over and close to developed nations?
Also, these sightings were at an all time high in 1996, the year when Agent Mulder and Scully appeared in X files with their famous line The truth is out there! A similar spurt in sightings of UFOs was reported to the MoD in the year 1978, when Close Encounters of the Third Kind was released.
Some attribute such a trend to the awareness in public about UFOs, while others discredit these incidents as being sparked off by people's hyperactive imaginations. But is there life on other planets? We still do not have any conclusive answer to this question!
UFOs being real or fake is a debate that has evoked awe and fear in public. Some very reliable sources claim that the government has proof of alien-human contacts, and that they are also collaborating with aliens. However, till such reports are disclosed in public, or some conclusive proof is available, the question "are UFOs real" will remain unanswered!