The first active duty military pilot to come before Congress about his experience with so-called unexplained aerial phenomena is starting a first-of-its-kind nonprofit group to support other pilots who see things they can’t explain, said.
Airline passengers are encouraged to report suspicious activity in the name of national security, but pilots of those same planes often face professional stigma and institutional obstacles in reporting unexplained aerial phenomena, or UAP, that could pose security threats. national in the age of drones and spy balloons, advocates say.
For example, the Federal Aviation Administration has no mechanism for pilots to report UAP, the term is preferred to UFOs, rather than directing them to groups of civilian UFOs that are often dismissed as the domain of kooks and conspiracy theorists.
Americans for Aerospace Safety, which will officially launch on Thursday as the first pilot-led advocacy organization dedicated to UAPs, seeks to change that. Co-founded and led by a former Navy fighter pilot ryan gravesthe group, which provided exclusive details to NBC News, aims to better support airmen who witness unexplained events.
The group wants to push for policy changes, such as better reporting mechanisms, serve as a hub for pilot whistleblowers, and advocate for greater disclosure by the military and other government agencies.
“Unidentified objects in our airspace present an urgent and critical national security and safety issue, but pilots are not getting the support they need or the respect they deserve,” Graves said. “When I served, my squad was meeting with UAP almost every day and nothing was done.”
Five other former military aviators, plus a commercial pilot and a flight instructor, have joined the group’s Aircrew Council, and its Advisory Council includes leading civilian researchers such as Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb; politicians like Susan McCue, longtime chief of staff to the late Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid; astronaut Terry Virts, former commander of the International Space Station; and a former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, retired Navy Rear Admiral Tim Gallaudet.
UAPs are often conflated with aliens in the popular imagination, but earthly mysteries may be more pressing, from the undeclared drone strikes on Moscow apartment buildings this week to the recent flight of a Chinese spy balloon over facilities. sensitive US military, which proponents say traditional US aerospace defenses are not calibrated to detect.
US warplanes shot down two other unidentified objects, which many people now suspect were amateur balloons, over North American airspace in the days after the US military shot down the Chinese balloon, but the confusion and Lack of information about what’s happening in the US is dangerous for pilots and passengers, Graves and others say.
“The establishment of Americans for Safe Aerospace is long overdue,” Gallaudet said in a statement. “As the chief meteorologist for the US Navy, I have dedicated my career to flight safety. I have seen firsthand how unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP) have put military pilots at risk, and we need to better understand them to reduce that risk.”
Washington has begun to take UAPs more seriously. The US Department of Defense and intelligence agencies have begun to release more information. And this week, NASA held the first public meeting of its new committee tasked with studying UAPs, which said the stigma around reporting strange sightings has contributed to a lack of good data.
“One of our goals for NASA to play a role is to remove the stigma and get high-quality data,” David Spergel, a leading Princeton University astrophysicist who chairs the NASA panel, said at Wednesday’s meeting.
Graves said most of the pilots he knows have either seen something they can’t explain or know someone who has, but until recently, most talked about it only quietly and in private settings for fear of being mocked. them or jeopardize the growth of his career.
Most of the sightings are likely innocuous, Graves said, citing analyzes that may have explained all but 2% to 5% of the anomalous sightings, but that still represents dozens of sightings of possible new threats from China, Russia or elsewhere. .
And the rapid proliferation of drones of all shapes and sizes has compounded the problem.
“As our airspace becomes more congested and more critical to our daily lives, we need to have a better understanding of what is in our skies for the safety of our pilots and the general public,” said David Radzanowski, former chief financial officer. and chief financial officer of NASA. chief of staff, who sits on the group’s advisory board.
Graves said he is already in talks with pilots interested in going public with potentially significant UAP sightings with multiple witnesses, saying there are likely more out there.
«It’s quite simple,» he said. «We should know what’s up there, over our heads.»