OK, let’s face it, nothing competes with dead space aliens when it comes to creating orgasmic worldwide hype. And when the pyrite that tried to pass for bullion dissolved into snake oil during last week’s “Roswell Slides” calamity in Mexico City, there were plenty of critics quick to point to the hogslop as the industry standard for evidence attending The Great Taboo. So now might be a good time to step back and revisit the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena website, which would probably do somersaults if it could get even a fraction of the attention provoked by the clumsy mummy farce.
On April 10, without any fanfare (no dead aliens/visuals = no buzz), NARCAP executive director Ted Roe issued a status report on the non-profit’s ongoing research, at home and abroad, since 1999. And just for reference, stunts like the “Roswell Slides” have so poisoned the well for inquisitive fence-sitters, NARCAP from its inception ditched the UFO acronym altogether for the more neutral unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAP. Either way, institutional American attitudes continue to stagnate despite NARCAP’s attempt to frame the mystery as a potential flight safety issue.
“Data regarding aviation related UAP observations and incidents flows away from the aviation system and is not examined for safety factors by US aviation authorities, the NTSB, etc.,” writes Roe. “In fact, the FAA refers pilots and air traffic controllers that want to make a UAP or ‘UFO’ report to contact civilian UFO research groups and private businesses. These organizations have not published a single study nor demonstrated the slightest concern for the matter of UAP and aviation safety.”
Led by retired NASA scientist Richard Haines, NARCAP’s multi-disciplinary, multi-national contributors labor thanklessly to educate (mostly) pilots on the potential hazards of close encounters, which have never gone away despite nearly a half century of wishful thinking from the University of Colorado and the U.S. Air Force. As technical work, this is forbidding stuff, dense with physics and geometry, largely inaccessible to general audiences and most assuredly not for the sound bites that pass for journalism these days.
Take a single report from 2010, Project Sphere, which attempted to get a better grip on those elusive white blips and metallic-looking orbs that have, for decades, been photographed and detected on radar. Fifteen contributors weighed in — from Spain, Canada, France, the U.K., Brazil and Japan, joining American scientists like NASA engineer Lawrence Lemke (his chapter: “Aerodynamics of Spheres”) and Richard Spalding from Sandia National Laboratories (“An Atmospheric Electrical Hypothesis for Spherical Luminosities Occurring at Aircraft Altitudes”).
Properly circumspect, NARCAP declined to hang a label on this puzzle, but felt secure enough in its data to make seven recommendations, including the integration of UAP characteristics into flight-simulator training, alongside more conventional variables like wind shear and bird collisions. If knowledge alone wasn’t a sufficient motivator, perhaps the threat of liability could make the case.
“If UAP are judged to be naturally occurring so-called acts of God …” wrote Haines in the report’s conclusion, “then airlines have less to fear in terms of litigation. If, on the other hand, UAP are discovered to be intelligently controlled or otherwise artificial, then a quite different legal judgement could be made, one whose outcome could only be guessed at. It makes good sense, then, that we should try to discover the core nature of UAP sooner than later if, for no other reason, (than) to obviate some of these problems that are associated with aviation accident litigation.”
Not even a shrug, of course, from U.S. authorities. But in his blogpost, Roe reminds us of how the rest of the world has made adjustments to The Great Taboo since Uncle Sam bailed in 1969, e.g., the rise of government studies sweeping South America, the expansion of NARCAP’s links into Chile, Germany and Mexico, even a concession from the British Ministry of Defence — which proclaims itself officially disinterested in these matters — “that UAP exist is indisputable… and they (UAP) are probably a threat to safe aviation.”
NARCAP’s work should be news. If only it could find some dead alien mummy pix. . . .