The latest edition of Issues in Science and Technology, published by the University of Texas at Dallas, has an interesting examination of the contemporary “UFO community” in the United States, largely focusing on those individuals and groups who argue for an extraterrestrial origin for unexplained aerial or atmospheric events. However, as most readers will no doubt suspect, the real origins for such “mysteries” lie far closer to home.
On the afternoon of November 14, 2004, two F/A-18 “Super Hornet” fighter jets were 30 minutes into a training drill off the coast of Southern California when they were redirected by a Naval radio operator to a “real world situation.” Earlier that day, the USS Nimitz nuclear aircraft carrier and the USS Princeton missile cruiser had detected more than a dozen unidentified objects on their radar screens—what the Navy then referred to as Anomalous Aircraft Vehicles.
The F/A-18s were told by the Princeton’s captain to intercept the closest anomalous vehicle, which was located about 150 miles southwest of the San Diego coastline. When the pilots reached their coordinates, they spotted from an altitude of 20,000 feet a disturbance at the ocean’s surface. One of the pilots, Commanding Officer Dave Fravor, reported that he saw a white oval or “Tic Tac”-shaped object about 50 to 60 feet in size moving just above the churning water.
Fravor headed down for a closer look. What happened next was “like nothing I’ve ever seen,” he recounted in 2018 in a video posted on the internet: the object accelerated so fast that it disappeared in a blink of an eye. A pilot in the other F/A-18 has described the episode similarly; he also says he watched as the object zipped around Fravor’s plane before it darted off in a flash.
Meanwhile, according to testimony from Petty Officer Gary Voorhis, who was stationed on the Princeton at the time of the episode: “At a certain point there ended up being multiple objects that we were tracking. That was towards the end of the encounter and they all generally zoomed around at ridiculous speeds, and angles, and trajectories and then eventually they all bugged out faster than our radars.”
The entire episode, which lasted between five and seven minutes, was monitored on the Princeton’s Command Information Center, according to an unpublished paper that analyzes the incident, authored by a group of longtime UFO researchers, several of whom have scientific backgrounds and careers in the semiconductor and aerospace industries.
The paper reveals that in the immediate aftermath of the incident, a video of the encounter was shared and viewed widely by members aboard the Princeton and Nimitz via an internal military email system. Then, according to three witnesses of the Tic Tac episode interviewed by the paper’s authors: “The communication logs, the radar data, and other associated electronic information was removed from the USS Princeton and a copy of the video from the USS Nimitz.”
According to the paper, here’s what happened: within 12 hours of the incident, a helicopter carrying nonuniformed personnel landed on the Princeton. They approached Petty Officer Voorhis, who was in charge of the ship’s Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) system, and requested that he turn over all the ship’s radar data, electronic information, data recordings. He asked for their identification, and when they refused, he told them that he needed permission from the ship’s captain before complying. Shortly after that, his captain gave him the order and Voorhis relinquished all the information, which was stored on magnetic tapes.
The tapes contained crucial data that would easily shed light on the mysterious Tic Tac-shaped object. Said Voorhis to the paper’s authors: “You could literally plot the entire course of the object, you could extract the densities, the speeds, the way it moved, the way it displaced the air, its radar cross-section, how much of the radar itself was reflected off its surface. I mean you could pretty much recreate the entire event with the CEC data.”
…Powell and his colleagues, despite their bias in favor of extraordinary explanations of what happened, also did their homework. They found a 2013 Facebook page for the Nimitz that contains a conversation about the 2004 incident among various shipmates who served together at the time. All those on duty that day recalled it vividly in their Facebook comments; many said they were still befuddled by what they saw and why the data mysteriously disappeared.
As military and private drone technology proliferates and the huge investment by corporations and governments in automated or semi-autonomous aerial vehicles begins to take effect, expect the phenomenon of UFOs to once again become a staple fodder of the tabloid news.