To close the door on 2017, the strangest year I can remember, there's nothing more appropriate than the revelation in December from the U.S. government that it, indeed, had an office dedicated to the investigation of UFO-related phenomena. It's enough to make X-Files and conspiracy-theory fans rejoice. Tucked in the fifth floor of the Pentagon, in a remote area known as C Ring, since 2007 the military intelligence officer Luis Elizondo headed the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. Although details of the program remain enshrouded in military secrecy, some of its projects have been made public by Elizondo and his associates. Some $22 million was slated for the office, which officially closed its doors after funding ended in 2012 though, according to Elizondo, the effort continues. The funding was obtained at the request of Nevada's then-Sen. Harry Reid. Elizondo told The New York Times that he continued to meet with military and intelligence officers until his resignation this past October. Most of the funds went to billionaire entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, according to the Times report, who owns the Las Vegas-based aerospace company contracted by the Defense Department to analyze reports of sightings and even materials said to be of alien origin. Among the reports studied were sightings of high-speed flying objects that showed no signs of a propulsion mechanism or others that were able to hover, as if by magic. A striking one is the video shot in 2004 near San Diego by two Navy F/A-18F jets showing an oval-shaped flying object the size of a conventional aircraft. Reports of UFOs are not new, of course, starting with the famous Roswell incident of July 1947, where supposedly a "flying disk" crashed in the desert to much sensational news, including the capture of the dead (or living?) alien pilots that were then whisked to the equally mysterious Area 51, an Air Force base of shadowy reputation. You can watch a video of the whole incident from the Roswell Museum website. According to the official military version, though, it was simply a weather balloon.
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