"Unidentified flying objects" are definitely a thing, but do they have alien origins? I'm on the side of the skeptics, but there are plenty of true believers and UFO-curious folks eager for official information from the government.
Thanks to The Black Vault, an online archive of declassified government documents, you can now dig through a massive trove of information the CIA has collected on UFOs over the years.
The Black Vault's John Greenewald Jr. posted the contents of a CD full of 2,780 pages of documents last week, the result of Greenewald's many Freedom of Information Act requests.
The CIA has occasionally declassified UFO-related documents over the years and even made a reading collection available online covering information from the 1940s through the early 1990s. Last year, the US Navy declassified documents and video connected to a 2004 UFO encounter.
The Black Vault's collection should keep UFO fans busy for a while. Greenewald tweeted an example of the kind of documents you can expect to find when he shared a partially redacted memo from 1976 that mentions UFO research.
It seems public interest in UFOs hasn't waned. Greenewald tweeted on Wednesday that over 622,000 people generated more than 30.7 million hits on his servers and downloaded nearly 26 terabytes of data over the course of just 24 hours.
This could be a fun year for UFO enthusiasts. The COVID-19 relief bill signed by President Trump in late December 2020 included a requirement for the director of national intelligence to submit a report on "unidentified aerial phenomena" within 180 days to the congressional intelligence and armed services committees. The request is for an unclassified report, but it may include a classified supplement.
The search for definitive answers isn't over. "Although the CIA claims this is their 'entire' collection, there may be no way to entirely verify that," Greenewald wrote. "Research by The Black Vault will continue to see if there are additional documents still uncovered within the CIA's holdings."