It’s almost July. Most years, Roswell can begin — right about now — to feel like the center of the never-ending worldwide conversation about UFOs.
Focus on the phenomenon ebbs and flows, year to year and decade to decade, so depending on the time frame — once the UFO Festival gets underway — Roswell might feel like the only place on earth where people are discussing with such fervor UFOs and related topics.
This year, however, discussion of UFOs has been everywhere, and constant.
The Navy’s drafting of new procedures for their pilots to report unexplained aerial phenomena; the pilot reports — of vehicles so fast and maneuverable as to defy known physics — that came to light as those new guidelines were being publicly discussed; additional revelations that the objects, described as being shaped like “Tic Tacs,” have been active in the area of Navy carrier groups and that those incursions have been taking place, frequently, for years.
And then last week, word that a group of U.S. senators had received a classified briefing on the Navy’s encounters in recent years with unidentified and hard-to-explain aircraft.
Joseph Gradisher, spokesman for the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare, told CNN, “Navy officials did indeed meet with interested congressional members and staffers … to provide a classified brief on efforts to understand and identify these threats to the safety and security of our aviators.
“Follow-up discussions with other interested staffers are scheduled … Navy officials will continue to keep interested congressional members and staff informed. Given the classified nature of these discussions, we will not comment on the specific information provided …”
Reporting across a spectrum of media — Politico, the Washington Post and New York Times — began in April to shed light on reports by Navy pilots of craft that in many ways defied conventional explanation. No visible signs of propulsion, speeds and changes of direction that seemed impossible, with the sightings taking place in and around military airspace.
The Navy’s subsequent adoption of new reporting guidelines wasn’t an admission these were alien spacecraft, but signaled the sightings — whatever it is that’s being observed — have been too numerous and worrisome to brush off.
I don’t remember a year, in my lifetime, that witnessed a comparable level of discussion, in the mainstream press and among high level government and military officials, related to unidentified aerial objects.
For an area with a segment of its economy tied to what some travel professionals refer to as “extraterrestrial tourism,” the level of general interest that’s been generated by the recent reports can’t hurt.
As thousands of UFO enthusiasts prepare to descend on Roswell for the July 5-7 festival, the gathering’s unofficial slogan could be “We knew it all along.” It provides the requisite nod to the possibility that Agent Mulder’s truth is out there — that maybe that crash northwest of Roswell 72 years ago was a weather balloon, or just maybe … it was something altogether out of this world. This is a UFO festival after all.
But maybe a tip of the cap to something simpler as well: The fact that sightings of unidentified aerial objects, whatever their origin, have always been with us and always will be — and that after enough of them, provided they’re intriguing enough in nature, public interest that might have seemed on the wane will inevitably again turn skyward.
Or perhaps toward southeast New Mexico. Again, it can’t hurt.
John Dilmore is editor of the Roswell Daily Record. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this column are those of the author.