Pentagon’s Take: Rep. Gaetz’s UFO Sighting Likely a Balloon

Philip Yabut /
Philip Yabut /

Republican lawmakers are not backing down in their demand for more transparency regarding UFO sightings, despite a recent report from the Pentagon suggesting a mundane explanation for a mysterious object witnessed near Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) spoke at a congressional hearing in July 2023 about a UFO sighting from January 26, 2023, near Eglin Air Force Base. The Pentagon’s recent report suggests that what Rep. Gaetz described as a baffling object might have been nothing more than a “large form-factor balloon.”

This revelation comes amid ongoing debates about unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) and whether they have non-human origins. Just a month earlier, the Pentagon released a report challenging the notion that some UFOs defy explanation or are extraterrestrial, sparking criticism from lawmakers like Rep. Gaetz and Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.).

In his testimony, Rep. Gaetz emphasized the unique characteristics of the object, stating that it was unlike anything within human technological capabilities, including those of the United States or its adversaries. He and other Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.), have been pushing for access to evidence and data related to the sighting.

They raised concerns about military officials initially withholding access to flight data and the flight crew but eventually gaining permission to meet the pilot and examine radar signatures and photographs. During a test mission over the Gulf of Mexico, the pilot recounted encountering a group of four “craft” in a diamond formation. According to the pilot, one of these objects resembled a “large floating orb.”

As the pilot approached, his radar system malfunctioned, and his thermal vision system failed, leading him to capture the object using the jet’s electro-optical/infrared sensor. The Pentagon acknowledged issues with the aircraft’s recording equipment. Still, it disputed some details mentioned by the pilot, such as the alleged presence of a vertically oriented engine.

Despite these discrepancies, the pilot described the object as distinct, including a paneled surface, orange-red coloring at the center, and a three-dimensional cone shape reminiscent of an Apollo spacecraft. He also noted a heat signature and what appeared to be a vertically oriented engine.

While the Pentagon’s report suggests a conventional explanation, Republican lawmakers like Rep. Gaetz remain skeptical. They call for more transparency and access to information related to UFO sightings. Their efforts reflect a broader interest in understanding and addressing potential national security implications associated with unidentified aerial phenomena.

Rep. Burchett echoed concerns about transparency and the allocation of taxpayer money for UFO research over several decades. He emphasized the need for clarity and honesty in government disclosures regarding UFO phenomena.

In the initial report, the Pentagon attributed the radar malfunction during the UFO incident near Eglin Air Force Base to a tripped circuit breaker, a recurring issue experienced on multiple flights. Despite the inability to pinpoint the cause of the fault, the Pentagon insists it was coincidental and not influenced by the object in question.

The Pentagon’s conclusion, reached with moderate confidence, leans towards the object being a “lighter-than-air object,” such as various balloons commonly used for outdoor events, construction purposes, or film sets. They specifically mention giant commercial helium balloons as a likely match based on characteristics observed in magnified infrared images.

This explanation mirrors past incidents like the 1976 UFO sighting in Iran, where a similar radar malfunction occurred when an F-4 jet approached a UFO. However, unlike the Iranian pilot, who regained control upon turning away from the object, the pilot near Eglin Air Force Base remained without radar functionality for the rest of the flight.

Rep. Matt Gaetz has expressed dissatisfaction with the Pentagon’s assessment, labeling the report as incomplete and calling for releasing all incident data, including radar signatures omitted from the report. This sentiment echoes concerns raised by FOIA expert John Greenewald Jr., who questions the Pentagon’s historical analysis of UFOs, particularly regarding incidents like the 1976 Iran sighting and the infamous Roswell incident.

Greenewald highlights inconsistencies in the Pentagon’s narrative, pointing out discrepancies between their claims and historical evidence, such as the timing of the invention of test dummies and the Pentagon’s previous denials of ongoing UFO interest beyond 1969.

Rep. Tim Burchett shares these concerns, emphasizing the need for transparency regarding taxpayer-funded UFO research spanning decades. For him, it’s not just about alien theories but about accountability and clarity in government spending and disclosures.