Summary: When a President Says He’s Seen a UFO, You Really Have to Wonder if the Truth Is Out There. President Carter filed two formal reports when he was governor of Georgia describing his observation of an unidentified flying object to organizations that collect and promote UFO sightings as unexplained phenomena.
Jan. 22 — It was just another fun night at the Lion’s Club for Jimmy Carter — when suddenly from the sky a UFO “as bright as the moon” flashed before his eyes. While leaving a Lion's Club in Leary, Ga., then-Gov. Jimmy Carter noticed an object in the sky.
A red and green glowing orb radiated as it hurtled across the southwestern Georgia skies that January 1969 evening. Ten minutes later, it vanished.
That was Jimmy Carter’s story — and he’s sticking to it. Carter, then Georgia’s governor, became the first major politician to risk achieving “crackpot” status by claiming he had had a close encounter.
“I don’t laugh at people any more when they say they’ve seen UFOs,” Carter said at a Southern Governors Conference a few years later. “I’ve seen one myself.”
Meet the Fox Mulder of Silicon Valley
Though an insignificant news tidbit back then, Carter’s sighting may have encouraged other people to step forward. You could hardly say he started a trend, but he set a precedent. And recently, several prominent people, including two astronauts and a renowned CEO, have said they, too, are believers.
Two weeks ago, Silicon Valley legend Joe Firmage quit his job as the CEO of USWeb/CKS, a $2 billion company that employs nearly 2,000 people. The reason: He’s had contact with extraterrestrials and wants to expose the government conspiracy to conceal a 1947 space crash in Roswell, N.M.
“I’m not praying for a spacecraft to come pick me up,” says Firmage, who calls himself the “Fox Mulder of Silicon Valley.”
“I’m just saying there is good, rational, left-brain evidence of things out there.”
Firmage said his priorities shifted 15 months ago, after an encounter at his Los Gatos, Calif., home with a “remarkable being” clothed in brilliant white light.
“I don’t call them aliens,” he says. “I call them teachers.”
He says it’s necessary to quit his high-paying job because of the “public relations complications” it might cause his company. He plans to write a book and is posting his findings on his Web site.
Astronauts Say Truth Is Out There
The CIA closed the Colorado Project, the last comprehensive government UFO probe, in the late 1960s, after a government panel concluded “further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced.”
But astronauts Edgar Mitchell and Gordon Cooper say that new investigations are warranted in UFOs: 50 Years of Denial?, a documentary set to air March 3 on The Learning Channel.
“The evidence points to the fact that Roswell was a real incident and that indeed an alien craft did crash and that material was recovered from that crash site,” says Mitchell, who became the sixth man on the moon in the Apollo 14 mission.
Mitchell doesn’t say he’s seen a UFO. But he says he’s met with high-ranking military officers who admitted involvement with alien technology and hardware.
Cooper told a U.N. committee recently, “Every day in the U.S.A., our radar instruments capture objects of form and composition unknown to us.” In the documentary, Cooper speculates that public skepticism toward UFOs will shift dramatically.
Pictures of flying saucers strike a dramatic image. But documentary filmmaker James Fox says it will take the testimony of credible witnesses like these to change public opinion and force the government’s hand.
“As a rule, I steer clear of pictures and video footage of UFOs,” he says. “If it’s too good, people think it’s a fake, and if it’s not good people think it’s a fake.”
Mom, Dad, I’ve Seen a UFO
Coming out of the closet — at least in the UFO sense — is no easy task.
“Most people who claim to see UFOs lead sad lives. They get laughed at by colleagues and family. They become outcasts,” says Nick Pope, who was the British Ministry of Defense’s investigator in charge of UFO sightings from 1991 to 1994.
“I’ve seen a lot of marriages end in divorce because one partner is embarrassed that the other tells everyone he’s seen a UFO.”
Pope has interviewed thousands of people who claim to have had paranormal experiences. “I can’t say I have proof these people really saw what they claim to have seen. But I believe a lot of them were telling the truth. Many of them are credible. And some of them have bizarre scars on their body that no doctor can explain.”
Pope notes a phenomenon that many of the people he’s interviewed have developed spontaneous skills in music, painting, and poetry. “It can be a life-transforming event. Whatever happened to these people,” he says, “it somehow comes out.”
It’s hard to say how Carter was affected by his close encounter. In recent years, Carter has become a prolific writer and peace activist. But the former president has never really spoken of the impact of those mysterious red and green lights all those years ago.
Yet while he was on the campaign trail, he tried to use it to his advantage. “A light appeared and disappeared in the sky,” he told a Washington Post reporter in 1975. “It got brighter and brighter … I have no idea what it was … I think it was a light beckoning me to run in the California primary.”