Pilot’s chilling UFO sighting: ‘dark mass’ from the depths
A former high-ranking fighter pilot who chased a "Tic Tac"-shaped UFO off the coast of San Diego in 2004 has shared a chilling story of another pilot's encounter with an enormous underwater object a decade earlier.
Retired US Navy pilot commander David Fravor first came forward in a bombshell New York Times article in December 2017, describing how his squadron witnessed a 747-sized object just under the surface of the water during training exercises in the Pacific Ocean, 160km off the coast of San Diego.
Hovering just over the surface of the water above the submerged object was a 12-metre-long "Tic Tac-looking object" moving erratically "forward, back, left, right". Cdr Fravor attempted to intercept the object, but it shot away at incredible speed.
On a subsequent flight, another member of his squadron managed to film one of the objects using the plane's infra-red targeting camera after its radar systems were jammed - which Cdr Fravor noted was "technically an act of war".
The now-famous footage was acquired by former Pentagon official Luis Elizondo and released along with two other videos by To The Stars Academy, a UFO research organisation founded by Blink-182 rocker Tom DeLonge.
The circumstances around the release of the footage has been the subject of intense controversy over the past two years, but the US Navy last month confirmed for the first time that it considered the "phenomena" depicted in the three videos "unidentified".
Appearing on the popular Joe Rogan Experience podcast on Saturday in his first major interview since the Navy's official acknowledgment of the videos, Cdr Fravor discussed his sighting and also revealed how other pilots had "come out of the woodwork" to tell him their own encounters.
"They don't feel alone," he said. "One of the guys was a Navy helicopter pilot. He was flying a CH-53, a big heavy-lifter the Marine Corps uses for certain things. Off the East Coast they do a lot of shooting, at the time it was off Puerto Rico."
Cdr Fravor said the helicopter pilot's job at the time of the incident in the "mid to late '90s" included retrieving BQM aerial target drones, which deploy a parachute and fall into the ocean, as well as submarine telemetry torpedoes that collect data before blowing ballast and floating to the surface.
"The helo drops a swimmer in the water, he hooks the whole thing up and they fly back. The first time they were out and they were going to pick up a BQM, he's sitting in the front - in the CH-53 you can see down by your feet - and as he's looking down, they're 50 feet (15 metres) above the water, he sees this kind of dark mass coming up from the depths," he said.
"As they hoist the BQM up, he's looking at this thing going, 'What the hell is that?' And then it just goes back down underwater. Once they pull the kid and the BQM out of the water, this object descends back into the depths."
The pilot thought the incident was "pretty weird", according to Cdr Fravor. Then a few months later, it happened again. "He's out picking up a torpedo, they hook the diver up on the winch, and as they're lowering him down, he sees this big mass," he said.
"He goes, 'It's not a submarine'. He's seen submarines before. Once you've seen a submarine you can't confuse it with something else. This big object, kind of circular, is coming up from the depths and he starts screaming through the intercom system to tell them to pull the diver up, and the diver's only a few feet from the water."
He continued, "They reverse the winch and the diver's thinking, 'What the hell is going on?' And all of a sudden he said the torpedo just got sucked down underwater, and the object just descended back down into the depths. They never recovered it."
Cdr Fravor said the helicopter pilot was adamant the torpedo "didn't sink" but "literally looked like it got sucked down". He said the pilot spoke to The New York Times about the incident ahead of the 2017 story but "they wanted something newer".
Cdr Fravor marvelled at the technology displayed by the objects, up to a dozen of which had been tracked by the USS Princeton's radar systems in the week prior to his squadron's sighting.
"They would come down from above 80,000 feet (24,380 metres), drop down to about 20,000 feet (6100 metres). They'd hang out then go straight back up after about three or four hours," he said.
"Just think of the physics - 80,000 feet is where you can start to see the curvature of the Earth. It's considered space, they're coming from above that. (Elon Musk's) SpaceX is really excited because they can launch a rocket, have a booster come back to Earth and actually land on a pad. It's a very impressive engineering feat. Next to this technology, that's like a Model T next to a Porsche."
Cdr Fravor said he was speculating but suspected the objects were somehow "manipulating the gravity field and just moving through a void". "You could in theory fly, go into the ocean, cruise around, pop back up, fly around, go to space. You remove the barriers of the normal propulsion we have today," he said.
Last week, Mr Elizondo claimed that TTSA had obtained physical evidence that could be from UFOs. "Our company over the last year and a half has actually obtained quite a bit of material," he told Fox News. "Some of that material - its providence is frankly hearsay, while other providence of some of this material has been substantiated."
Mr Elizondo said his group had enlisted experts to test the materials' physical, chemical and atomic properties, adding the research would go through the "scientific process" and be peer-reviewed. "Really, at that point we'll be able to make some sort of definitive conclusion," he said.
Critics argue the metals acquired by TTSA, as disclosed in Securities and Exchange Commission filings, are most likely "slag from an industrial process". "I'd say that the chances of it being important scientifically are extremely slim," Dr Chris Cogswell told Motherboard.
The first of the three TTSA videos, known as "FLIR1", was from Cdr Fravor's sighting, while the second and third, dubbed "Gimbal" and "GoFast", were both taken on January 21, 2015 off the East Coast of the US.
The New York Times reported that around 2014-15, pilots began detecting strange objects flying near Navy fighters on training missions after their 1980s-era radar systems were upgraded to state-of-the-art Active Electronically Scanned Array radars.
Lieutenant Ryan Graves told the paper how in late 2014, he encountered a squadron mate who had just come back from a mission "with a look of shock on his face", telling him, "I almost hit one of those things."
The pilot said he and his wingman were flying about 100 feet apart when an object that looked like a "sphere encasing a cube" flew between them. "It turned from a potentially classified drone program to a safety issue," Lieutenant Graves said. "It was going to be a matter of time before someone had a midair (collision)."
In April, the US Navy issued new classified guidelines on how to report such sightings "in response to unknown, advanced aircraft flying into or near Navy strike groups or other sensitive military facilities and formations".
US President Donald Trump said earlier this year he had been briefed on Navy pilots' reported sightings of unidentified flying objects, but remained sceptical. "I want them to think whatever they think," Mr Trump told ABC News. "I did have one very brief meeting on it. But people are saying they're seeing UFOs. Do I believe it? Not particularly."