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Some major news organizations reported the other day that our government has been actively investigating UFOs in an effort known as the "Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program."

One story, by reporter Eli Rosenberg of the Washington Post, said this previously under-the-radar program, which resurrected much of the mission behind the government's long-defunct Project Blue Book (that explored essentially the same reports of unexplained aerial phenomenon) was in full swing between 2007 and 2012. Some aspects of it continue.

A compelling story contained in the report kept under wraps by the Pentagon until this month details the experience of former U.S. Navy Cmdr. David Fravor, who during his time in service said he witnessed a UFO.

It was Nov. 14, 2004, when Fravor was leading a squadron of F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets in an exercise off the southern California coastline when he saw an object the size of his plane and shaped like a Tic-Tac.

"It was a real object, it exists and I saw it," he told the reporter, emphatically adding that it was "something not from the earth."

The story said he was ordered to head about 60 miles west of his squadron's location to investigate unidentified flying objects that were descending from 80,000 to 20,000 feet before disappearing. On scene, Fravor said they could see the object, flying around a frothy patch of whitewater in the ocean.

"A white Tic-Tac, about the same size as a Hornet, 40 feet long with no wings," Fravor described to Rosenberg. "Just hanging close to the water." The object created no impressions on the water. Pilots pursued the object.

"As I get closer, as my nose is starting to pull back up, it accelerates and it's gone," Fravor said. "Faster than I'd ever seen anything in my life. We turn around, say let's go see what's in the water and there's nothing. Just blue water."

Fravor said as his plane headed back to the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, a separate crew headed out to search. They were able to track it for about 90 seconds and shoot video. He said his superiors didn't seem that interested. So, in what's become normal fashion from those who don't share similar experiences firsthand, they took a ribbing from their colleagues. He didn't talk about it much afterwards, Fravor said.

Fravor retired in 2006 and later shared the story with family and some who asked about it. Then in 2009 a government official contacted him while doing "an unofficial investigation." Luis Elizondo, an intelligence officer who later contacted him, "ran the secretive program at the Department of Defense that was just disclosed," Rosenberg wrote.

Interestingly, Elizondo also has since left the government and works for the private To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science, which hopes to further promote UFO research. Elizondo is a large part of why the story is in the news; he was responsible for the release of three UFO videos from the Pentagon, including the video made on the same day and place as Fravor's experience.

Fravor said he realizes sharing his story has subjected him to some good-natured teasing but believes what he witnessed should be more closely studied.

"I don't think I was a nutjob as an officer in the Navy. I wasn't drunk, I don't do drugs. I got a good night's rest, it was a clear day," he told the reporter. "I think someone should have looked into it. Having talked to some of the other folks, it's a big frustration that it's coming out now and wasn't discussed back in 2004."

Fact is, Fravor's story especially resonates with me after my experience living at Fort Chaffee in 1957. I was 10 years old and had headed just before darkness fell with my 7-year-old brother, Grant, to ogle a firetruck that arrived with red lights flashing to extinguish a blaze three blocks down the street from our home.

We watched for 10 or 15 minutes until I looked up to see it had become fully dark. Knowing we'd be in trouble, I grabbed his hand and we began hurrying back to the house when we arrived beneath a streetlight intersection and something made me look up.

There, sitting silently a few hundred feet above us, was a large, glowing sphere that was pulsing light from bright to slightly dimmer. I asked my brother to look up and he immediately became frightened, asking what the massive thing was.

As surely as Fravor saw what he did in 2004, I knew what I was witnessing.

We watched for less than a minute as this brilliant mystery hovered. It seemed so odd for something this large not to be making a sound. Then it began to move slightly and in literally a flash, this glowing oval zipped over the horizon.

So when I read so many highly credible stories like Fravor's and realize there are untold numbers out there with similar untold accounts, I realize there is so much more about this impossibly complex universe comprised of energy frequencies we don't comprehend.

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Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.

Editorial on 12/26/2017

Print Headline: Still in headlines; UFOs are back

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