World UFO Day: 5 UFO sightings that grabbed headlines

The phenomenon of extra-terrestrial activity has captivated our imagination for decades. Notable sightings of UFOs or Unidentified Flying Objects have been reported worldwide and have become a part of popular culture spawning a surge in mass media like books, films, Tv shows, documentaries and much more. On World UFO Day today, we look back at a few notable sightings that led to widespread public interest and media frenzy from around the world.

World UFO Day
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Kenneth Arnold UFO sighting (1947): This is considered to be perhaps the most widely reported UFO sighting in history. American aviator and businessman Kenneth Arnold, claimed to have seen nine unusual objects flying in the skies on June 24, 1947. He was flying near Mt. Rainier in Washington State at the time and described them as, "flat like a pie pan", "shaped like a pie plate", "half-moon shaped, oval in front and convex in the rear", "something like a pie plate that was cut in half with a sort of a convex triangle in the rear", or simply "saucer-like" or "like a big flat disk". Arnold further described their erratic motion being "like a fish flipping in the sun" or a saucer skipped across water.  The press coined the now popular terms "flying saucer" and "flying disc" based on his statements.

Roswell UFO incident (1947): A major pop culture phenomenon in its own right this event has been the subject of numerous books, articles, television specials, and even a made-for-TV movie. After an initial spike of interest, the military reported that the crash was merely of a conventional weather balloon.[2] Interest subsequently waned until the late 1970s when ufologists began promulgating a variety of increasingly elaborate conspiracy theories claiming that one or more alien spacecraft had crash-landed and that the extraterrestrial occupants had been recovered by the military who then engaged in a cover-up. Nevertheless, it still remains a hotly debated and engaging topic between UFO proponents and skeptics even today due to many naysayers debunking it as a hoax due to questionable research data collected from first-person accounts, interviews, autobiographical books written by the military personnel who were involved in the investigation at the time among other things.

Kolkata UFO sighting (2007): A small dazzling UFO was claimed to have been sighted in the eastern sky in October 2007 between 3:30 am and 6:30 am by a senior executive of a private company who filmed it on video on his handycam and showed it to the M P Birla Planetarium Director D P Duari. According to reports, the viewer, who did not wish to be named, saw the object, a very bright one, changing shape from a triangle into a sphere and then a straight line while emitting various colours at 30 degrees on the eastern horizon.

Japan Air Lines flight 1628 incident (1986): Crew members of a Japanese Boeing 747 cargo aircraft en route from Paris to Narita, Tokyo witnessed two unidentified objects to their left. These abruptly rose from below and closed in to escort their aircraft. Each had two rectangular arrays of what appeared to be glowing nozzles or thrusters, though their bodies remained obscured by darkness. When closest, the aircraft's cabin was lit up and the captain could feel their heat in his face. These two craft departed before a third, much larger disk-shaped object started trailing them, causing the pilots to request a change of course. The sighting took place during the Reykjavík to Anchorage section of the flight, at 5:11 PM over eastern Alaska for about 50 minutes and ended in the vicinity of Mt. McKinley. Anchorage Air Traffic Control obliged and requested an oncoming United Airlines flight to confirm the unidentified traffic, but when it and a military craft sighted JAL 1628 at about 5:51 PM, no other craft could be distinguished.

Varginha UFO incident: A series of events involving the alleged sighting and capture by the military of an extraterrestrial being in Varginha, Brazil, in 1996. It all started when a creature was first sighted by three women ranging from 14 to 21 years old: sisters Liliane and Valquíria Fátima Silva, and their friend Kátia Andrade Xavier in the afternoon of January 20, 1996. The trio described it as biped about 5 ft long with a large head, and very thin body, with V-shaped feet, brown skin, and large red eyes. It seemed to be wobbly or unsteady, and the girls assumed it was injured or sick. The sisters rushed home and recounted what they encountered to their mother, who didn't believe them at first but then changed her mind after smelling a strong ammonia-like odor after going to the area of the alleged sighting. Following this incident, rumors of UFO sightings, capture of alien beings, began to spread throughout the city. The Brazilian government has officially denied any claims of being involved in the capture of alien beings but some theorists claim otherwise, accusing the government of a cover up.

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