From the earliest days of recorded history, people have reported seeing strange sights in the sky. But with the advent of airplanes, the number of flying saucers and other unidentified flying objects—a term that was, itself, coined in 1953—has increased dramatically. Studies have been launched to learn the truth about UFOs, including Project Blue Book and a secret Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program carried out by the United States government between 2007 and 2012.
While there are plenty of true believers who say that UFOs are evidence of an alien presence in our history—and just as many skeptics ready with explanations of swamp gas, weather balloons, airplane flares, and hoaxes—the real facts about UFOs seem to remain elusive, even after millions of dollars of government research—unless, of course, you believe that the government knows the truth and is simply covering it up.
For all the reports of UFOs throughout the years, there have been comparatively few instances of clear photographic evidence, and even fewer quality UFO videos. But “few” doesn’t mean “none,” and especially as video recording equipment has become more and more ubiquitous, footage of strange lights and shapes in the sky has grown increasingly commonplace. Here are a few of the most famous and compelling UFO videos throughout history.
One of the earliest known UFO videos was recorded by a minor league baseball manager named Nick Mariana in August of 1950. He was inspecting the ballpark with his secretary when he noticed two bright spots moving across the sky against the wind. The footage, captured on a 16mm video camera, quickly became one of the most infamous “home movies” in the history of UFO videos, and was even featured in a 1956 film called Unidentified Flying Objects.
Between 7:30 and 10:30 on the night of March 13, 1997, thousands of people reported seeing strange lights in the sky, ranging across an area spanning roughly 300 miles from Nevada to Tucson and into Arizona. These became known as the “Phoenix Lights,” although there were actually two separate sets of phenomena; a V-shaped formation that was seen to pass over the area, and stationary lights that were spotted—and recorded!—over the city of Phoenix, Arizona.
In part because of the number of witnesses, the Phoenix Lights became one of the most well-known UFO sightings in history. The lights reappeared in February of 2007, when they were captured in footage that was broadcast on the local Fox News station. The lights then made another reappearance in 2008. This time, however, they were a little different—possibly because they were a hoax, perpetrated by an unidentified Phoenix resident who told local newspapers that he had created the 2008 lights by attaching flares to helium balloons and releasing them from his back yard.
On December 17, 2017, no less reputable a source than The New York Times ran an article exposing the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, a secret program within the Department of Defense designed to study “unidentified aerial phenomena.” Budgeted at $22 million, the program ran from 2007 until 2012, and while it didn’t produce any unclassified findings that necessarily point toward the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence, the article was accompanied by three videos featuring UFO footage that, while maybe not as jaw-dropping as some of the other stuff on this list, get an extra sheen of authenticity since they come direct from the Department of Defense.
The Paris UFO
This one was first uploaded to YouTube by the UFOlogist group SecureTeam 10, and went on from there to make the rounds of various tabloid newspapers. The video of the skies over Paris, taken in 2017, shows what appears to be a glowing saucer or disc firing down beams of light. It resembles other sightings that occurred in China in 2010 and Australia in 2014. UFOlogists have called this footage “too good to be true,” but comparatively little follow-up to the initial video means that the origins of the footage remain unknown.
Myrtle Beach Orbs
On August 5, 2018, a photographer who was taking a time-lapse photo of a thunderstorm over Myrtle Beach, South Carolina inadvertently captured a number of glowing orbs in the sky above the town. It wasn’t the first time that glowing orbs had visited Myrtle Beach. Another report, from April of 2017, was removed from the MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) website when the sighting was determined to be an “unknown other”—that’s UFOlogist jargon for “we don’t know what it is, but it’s not a space ship.”
International Space Station
If anyplace was going to spot UFOs, it probably ought to be the International Space Station, right? Well, according to UFOlogist Tyler Glockner and SecureTeam 10, it has! They uploaded a clip of video supposedly taken from the International Space Station. The clip shows a yellowish-white disc shape that hovers near the space station then darts away at “a very high rate of speed,” as Glockner says in the video, “oddly enough just as the camera switched to this angle,” as if it “knew that the camera was suddenly watching it.”
While “UFO fever” may have peaked in the 1950s, when it seemed that the sky was alive with flying saucers and the drive-ins were filled with movies about invaders from outer space, sightings of UFOs have actually increased in recent years. And those increased sightings, combined with the fact that just about everyone now owns a phone capable of recording video, mean more UFO videos leaking onto the internet every day. While many of them are hoaxes or simple misidentifications of common sights or phenomena, some others have proven more difficult to explain …