When I recently listened to former Texas County Sheriff Carl Watson describe his UFO encounter while on duty as a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper in 1976, I got chills and goose bumps.

His account of the sighting was that of a man who had undoubtedly seen something unexplainable, and who had experienced something that was forever engrained in his entire being. And while the moments Watson was talking about occurred close to 50 years ago, the detail of his description was so vivid and the delivery of his words was so seamless that it was as if he was referring to yesterday.

For as long as I can remember, I have been thoroughly fascinated by the subject of unidentified flying objects, and like several other people I know, I’ve had my own opportunity to see something airborne that didn’t stand to normal reason. In turn, I find it extremely interesting that the amount of information circulating about UFOs has ratcheted up over the past couple of years.

The actual objects in question have even received a fancy new label during the recent surge: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, or UAP.

As the process has unfolded, the U.S. government has even loosened its grip on UFO-related information, “declassifying” an abundance of documents, photos, video and other material, and promising to release more as soon as this week.

Speaking of the federal government’s viewpoint of the matter, in August 2020, the Department of Defense established a UAP Task Force (UAPTF) led by the Navy. The DOD said the UAPTF was dedicated to “improve its understanding of, and gain insight into, the nature and origins of UAPs.”

A recent episode of the long-running TV show “60 Minutes” was entirely dedicated to the UFO subject. It featured two Navy pilots who were part of an F-18 squadron based on carrier the USS Nimitz discussing an encounter with a “white Tic-Tac looking object” off of the coast of California in 2004. One was the squadron’s commander, Dave Fravor, who recalled how the object moved in unfathomable ways and even “mirrored” his aircraft, going down when he went down and up when he went up.

“I don’t know who’s building it, who’s got the technology, who’s got the brains,” Fravor said. “But there’s something out there that was better than our airplanes.” 

I don’t watch 60 Minutes, but thanks to the Internet, I saw Fravor and the other pilot (a woman) talking about the experience. I also don’t watch the “Late Late Show” on CBS, but host James Corden recently had former president Barack Obama as a guest and the two talked about the issue of UFOs.

Some of Obama’s comments were quite candid.

“There’s footage and records of objects in the skies that we don’t know exactly what they are (and) we can’t explain how they moved (in) their trajectory,” he said.

Obama also tells Corden, “when it comes to aliens, there’s some things I just can’t tell you on air.” 

Taken as spoken, if there is information that can’t be shared on air, that would seem to mean there is in fact information. That segment of the show is also available to see and hear online.

And of course, there was the famous Roswell Incident of July 8, 1947. To recap, Roswell Army Air Field issued a press release stating a crashed “flying disc” had been recovered from a ranch near the town in southeast New Mexico. The local newspaper – the Roswell Daily Record – published a detailed article about the story (headlined “RAAF Captures Flying Saucer On Ranch in Roswell Region”), but the Army quickly retracted the statement and replaced it with a claim that the crashed object was only a weather balloon.

Many people with knowledge of the incident – including more than one military official – have since admitted that the weather balloon story was a cover-up (along with subsequent stories designed to “debunk” the situation).

Anyway, we know there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe, each containing hundreds of billions of stars. We also know that there are countless planets outside our solar system (called “exoplanets”) that vary in size and composition just like Earth’s neighboring bunch.

With that in mind, I’d say the odds are pretty slim that life only exists on a small planet revolving around an average star in the outskirts of an average spiral galaxy. So slim that no good gambler would take that kind of bet and no Las Vegas bookie would offer it.

I’m reminded of a quote from a famous astronomer and author, the late Carl Sagan, that was repeated in the 1997 movie “Contact”: “The universe is a pretty big place. If it’s just us, seems like an awful waste of space.”

I’ve recently shared a theory with a few people about why there’s so much banter going on these days about UFOs, UAPs and the like: Before “full disclosure” is to take place, there likely has to be a phase of partial disclosure.

Maybe we’re in that phase.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Contact him by phone at 417-967-2000 or by email at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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