Summer is officially here, which means UFO sightings are bound to spike until late September, as they have for roughly the last 65 years.
In honor of the summer ritual, Tech Insider dug through the mountain of CIA documents related to UFO sightings, which the agency declassified nearly 40 years ago. Many of the sighting reports date back to the early 1950s, at a time when political tensions were high and flying objects were seen as national security threats.
Here are some of the most interesting.
A memo on national security and the ‘vulnerability to air attack’ from flying saucers
On October 2, 1952, the Assistant Director in the Office of Scientific Intelligence sent a memo to the Director of the entire CIA with the subject “Flying Saucers.”
As the AD wrote, “‘Flying saucers’ pose two elements of danger which have national security implications. The first involves mass psychological considerations and the second concerns the vulnerability of the United States to air attack.”
The AD recommended more research be conducted to explore the “implications of the ‘flying saucer’ problem.”
(If you listen closely enough, you can almost hear them typing the word “drones” decades ahead of time.)
Uzbekistan’s mysterious light show
The late 1940s in the Uzbekistan capital city of Tashkent saw more unidentified light shows than it could count.
“From May to September 1947,” a CIA information report reads, “three light phenomena happening at intervals of about 15 minutes were seen almost every night between 9 and 10 p.m. local time.” At its highest point, the light seemed to be roughly a fifth the diameter of a full moon.
As the report details, the light always began as a bright red ball. Within seconds it would grow a fiery tail and then morph into a green, then white, mass.
“Smoke trails, noises, or detonations were not noticed.”
Fiery disks looming over Belgian uranium mines
A daily newspaper in Vienna, of all publications, reported on a peculiar sighting of “two fiery disks” hovering over uranium mines in mid-August, 1952.
As the report explains, the two objects supposedly tore through the airspace in a highly erratic fashion. At one point they would be soaring vertically away from the onlookers, and the next they’d be diving down “to within 20 meters of the tree tops.”
Commander Pierre of the local airfield took off in his own fighter plane to wrangle the unknown aircraft. However, “Pierre had to give up pursuit after 15 minutes since both disks, with a loud whistling sound which he heard despite the noise of his own plane, disappeared in a straight line toward Lake Tanganyika.”
Pierre later estimated the disks were traveling more than 900 miles per hour.
The CIA begins to have its doubts about UFOs
With all these reports coming in, it didn’t take long for the CIA to get suspicious. In August 1952 (keep in mind, still two months ahead of its memo on those two national security concerns), the Deputy Assistant Director of the Scientific Intelligence office released a memodiscounting the threat posed by UFOs.
“Of 1000 to 2000 such reports received by ATIC (Air Technical Intelligence Center), a large percentage are clearly ‘phoney,'” the report reads. In fact, many of the reported flights were easily explained as known missions using US equipment, the report went on.
Owing to the agency’s uncertainty, however, the Deputy AD recommended CIA surveillance continue on the mysterious “flying saucers” under the cover of darkness.
“It is strongly urged … that no indication of CIA interest or concern reach the press or public,” the report read, “in view of their probable alarmist tendencies to accept such interest as ‘confirmatory’ of the soundness of ‘unpublished facts’ in the hands of the U.S. government.”
Flying objects passing over Casablanca
In early September 1952, multiple sightings were reported of various UFOs over Casablanca, Morocco. Residents of the town, which was made famous by the 1942 film, saw two flying saucers that were “elongated in shape” and “followed by a trail of white light.”
On a separate occasion in July, two other people reported seeing a “blue-green, ball-shaped object” just before midnight “moving at a high rate of speed.” The mysterious object disappeared after only three or four seconds, however, “as though it had literally melted into the sky.”
The very next morning, another couple observed a mysterious object around 9 a.m. for roughly 30 seconds. Several more accounts, all with differing details, emerged that summer.
The East German flying saucers of 1952
The CIA published this internal document reporting on one German man’s fantastic account of a 45-foot-wide disk he spotted in a forest when his motorcycle broke down.
Accompanied by his 11-year-old daughter, the man approached the strange-looking object to find two men in “shiny metallic clothing” kneeling over the disk, which had a cone-shaped capsule on top.
Once the two men realized they were being watched, the man says, they hopped into the capsule and the disk began to leave the ground. Eventually, it rose high above the trees and took off.
“I had never heard of the term ‘flying saucer’ before I escaped from the Soviet Union into West Berlin,” the man later said. “When I saw this object, I immediately thought it was a new Soviet military machine.”
A year later, the unidentified aircraft is spotted in Morocco again…
On the night of September 2, 1953, residents of a small town southeast of Casablanca known as Oued Zem reported hearing a thunderous noise. The next morning, a pair of shepherds claimed to have seen a flying object that was “lighted in many colors and flying at great speed.”
The sightings followed two other incidents in July and August, one over Greece and another over Spain. Witnesses in Madrid described the UFO as “flying like a jet plane” but emitting a red reflection and creating no noise.
In Drama, Greece, residents said they saw a rocket-shaped object at low altitude, which stayed stationary for three to four minutes before disappearing into the night.
Europe can’t agree about what people are seeing in the sky
In the span of a month between April 15 and May 13, 1954, five separate reports from France and Sweden each described UFOs of a different size and shape.
The first, on April 15, involved an elongated, cone-shaped object with two red and green lights at its base. It flew at a high altitude.
The next, on April 26, was a “cigar-shaped object” observed by a group of people walking through France’s Sare region, near the Pyrenees border. The object was traveling at a high altitude — roughly 6,500 feet, the observers claimed — and heading toward Spain.
The final event took place the morning of May 13, in Sweden. Three people separately reported seeing a “brilliant, silver-colored sphere with a tail.”
Three Norwegian guys walk into a forest…
In mid-November 1952, three men working in a forest in Kirkenes, Norway spotted a flat, round object just hovering roughly 1,500 feet in the air.
“The object appeared to have a diameter of 15-20 meters (50-65 feet),” the CIA report stated. “After the workers had observed the object for a while, it suddenly flew away at great speed in a northwesternly direction.”
They were the only people who reported seeing the object, unfortunately for them. “They swear, however, that their report is true.”