2020: A year of UFO news almost too strange to believe

If 2019 was a big year for UFO coverage, 2020 may have been the best year ever. 

No one can say for certain whether life exists outside of this planet, but the public’s interest levels in the subject have likely never been higher.

FIRST QUARTER

In January, the U.S. Navy said the release of certain classified briefings and a classified video about a UFO incident held by the Department of Defense “would cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security” to the U.S., in response to a public records request from Vice.

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A couple of weeks later, the U.K. announced that reported UFO sightings by the British public will be published online for the first time. The Royal Air Force ran a UFO unit for 50 years but shut it down in 2009 after coming to the conclusion that none of the reports offered evidence of a real threat.

In mid-February, after the U.K.’s decision to publish reported UFO sightings online, 61{62e5fe9f4b4855304e62b1b1f979eb934371975c02efa19d18aad8ac34316928} of Americans surveyed said they want the U.S. government to declassify the country’s so-called “X-files.” Fifty-eight percent said they believe the U.S. government “actively investigates extraterrestrial life.”

SECOND QUARTER

April was a blockbuster month as the Pentagon finally released unclassified footage showing “unidentified aerial phenomena” captured by Navy aircraft that had circulated in the public for years.

That same week, Tom DeLonge, the former Blink-182 singer and the head of To the Stars Academy of Arts & Sciences, the group that originally obtained the videos, said “UFOs are real” in a since-deleted tweet.

The videos, known as “FLIR1,” “Gimbal” and “GoFast,” were originally released to the New York Times and to TTSA.

The first video of the unidentified object was taken on Nov. 14, 2004, and shot by the F-18’s gun camera. The second video was shot on Jan. 21, 2015, and shows another aerial vehicle with pilots commenting on how strange it is. The third video was also taken on Jan. 21, 2015, but it is unclear whether the third video was of the same object or a different one.

In June, the topic spurred national interest once again, after President Trump told his son, Donald Jr., that he had “interesting” details on Roswell, N.M.

“So many people ask me that question,” the president said in response to whether aliens exist. “There are millions and millions of people that want to go there, that want to see it. I won’t talk to you about what I know about it but it’s very interesting. But Roswell is a very interesting place with a lot of people that would like to know what’s going on.”

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When Trump Jr. further pressed his father on whether he would declassify details about Roswell, the president said, “I’ll have to think about that one.”

Later that month, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, asked the Pentagon for a detailed, unclassified report on unidentified aerial phenomena. Rubio cited concerns the issue has been given scant attention from the intelligence community while acknowledging the existence of an “Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force.”

THIRD QUARTER

Late July saw the explosive release of a report that mentioned a long-hidden UFO investigative unit within the Pentagon making its findings public, as well as “off-world vehicles not made on this Earth.”

In August, the Pentagon officially launched the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force, boosting an effort by the Office of Naval Intelligence, to investigate UFOs following several unexplained incidents that have been observed by the U.S. military. 

This announcement came with its own controversies, Nick Pope, a former employee and UFO investigator for Britain’s Ministry of Defense, told Fox News in August.

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FOURTH QUARTER

President Trump made news once again, this time telling Fox News in an October interview that he would take a “good, strong look” at whether there are UFOs.

In December, leaked reports from the Pentagon’s UFO task force discussed “non-human technology,” including an Oct. 2019 email exchange between high-ranking military officials.

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Fox News’ James Rogers, Christopher Carbone, Louis Casiano and Tyler Olson contributed to this story.