In An Age Of Social Media, Will We Finally Make Contact?
Esquire Singapore|November 2021
Unidentified flying objects are becoming more ubiquitous in this day of cell phones and social media. So, will there be a wider acceptance of extraterrestrials or will these be dismissed entirely?
Josh Sims

An expletive uttered by a passenger captured the tenor of the moment: A Singapore Airlines flight was descending into Zurich one morning this past January when a mysterious white object, it’s alleged, zipped across the aircraft’s flight path. Other passengers are said to have panicked, and were calmed by the pilot, who steered the airliner to landing without hitch. Footage was subsequently shared on social media, too grainy to be conclusive. Predictably Singapore Airlines, approached for comment, remains silent on the issue. [As of publication, the footage titled, ‘singapore airlines collision with ufo’ uploaded by Mystery Nights channel on YouTube can still be seen; although the provenance of it has yet to be determined.]

That’s almost standard procedure. Back in 2017 an anonymous Singaporean fighter pilot claimed that he flew one of four F15s scrambled by air command after an anomaly kept appearing and disappearing on its radar. He claimed they intercepted an orb, before finally losing it in clouds. And that he was subsequently sworn to secrecy.

“Of course, we get a lot of junk reports, hoaxes and faked videos, and the development of drones doesn’t help,” says Robert Spearing, who covers the Singapore and Hong Kong region for MUFON, the non-profit Mutual UFO Network, with 400 field investigators and 4,000 members, the world’s largest UFO organisation, to which the fighter pilot submitted a report. “But for a long time pilots couldn’t talk about these things without risking their careers. But the climate is changing, and more pilots are coming forward now.”

And spectacularly so. Last year the Pentagon declassified sensational infrared camera footage, taken in 2004 and 2015, showing sphere and Tic Tac-shaped objects being tracked by US Navy aircraft—the latter object performed aerodynamically in ways no known aircraft can achieve, and then disappeared, only to reappear seconds later on the missile cruiser USS Princeton’s radar, slightly over 96km away. Other pilots— trained observers, it’s been noted—said they saw this kind of thing all the time.

But that’s not the only thing that has led fresh credence to a subject that has fascinated many, and made many others giggle, since the infamous Roswell incident of 1947 and, some argue, for millennia before. This year the Pentagon—which, it turns out, had run what it calls an Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Programme from 2007 to 2012—released a report on what are often now called UAP, or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. Its conclusion? There is something out there that it just can’t explain.

“To date governments and the media have treated anyone who has seen a UFO as part of the tin-foil hat lot,” Spearing says. “[But] Asia has always had a strong cultural interest in UFOs—they’re part of its mythology and folklore, with historic reports that, with retrospect, might be interpreted as UFOs. There were multiple sightings over the South China Sea during the Vietnam War. I don’t think we’ll ever get full disclosure from any government—there’s too much fearfulness about how the public would react. But now we do at least have the US government more or less confirming that something is going on.”

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