2004, November: Strange Object filmed by Navy

It was an afternoon in November, 2004. Commander David Fravor and Lieutenant Commander Jim Slaight were between 60 and 100 miles off the coast between San Diego and Ensenada, Mexico, flying F/A-18F Super Hornets on a routine training mission when they received a radio call from the navy cruiser, the U.S.S. Princeton. The operations officer from the ship wanted to know if they were carrying weapons... and from there, the day got strange.

        The two airmen only had dummy missiles, as it was a training flight. The officer calling brushed this off, and told them he needed the airmen to investigate some objects that had been detected in the area they were flying. Apparently, for the past two weeks the Princeton had been tracking a series of unknown objects that would appear around 80,000 feet up, drop straight down to 20,000 feet and then hover. These objects would then either drop out of the radar's range or shoot straight back up.

        The Princeton officer guided the flyers to a location about 60 miles further west, tracking both the planes and the objects on the ship's radar until all were close enough that the radar only showed one blip... but neither of the pilots could actually see anything where they had been directed, and they had nothing showing on the radars in their planes.

       Then Fravor noticed that waves were breaking over something just below the surface of the ocean; something big. The sea was churning around and above it, producing frothy waves and foam... and hovering about 50 feet above this disturbance was some sort of whitish object about 40 feet long and oval in shape. The object was jumping around erratically; it stayed generally above the area of disturbance, but kept moving unpredictably in no specific direction.

        Fravor began a circular descent to get a better look at the object; and once he had gotten a little closer, the object began to climb towards him, as if to meet him halfway. Fravor decided to be more direct, and stopped circling to fly directly at the approaching object... when the object took off. As Fravor put it: "It accelerated like nothing I've ever seen," and left him feeling "pretty weirded out."

        Having lost track of the object both airmen turned back to investigate the disturbance in the water, but that was now gone also.

        The operations officer with the Princeton radioed the airmen and told them to meet at a CAP point - a "Combat Air Patrol" point -- about 60 miles from their current position. The implication is that the officer could once again track the unknown object on the Princeton's radar, and had estimated ahead to a point the fighters could catch up to the object... but there was a problem.

        As Fravor and Slaight were heading to the CAP point, the officer at the Princeton radioed them again. The unknown object had already reached the CAP point. The pilots had only flown about 20 miles of the 60; yet the object had reached the point in less than a minute, which suggested a rate of speed that should be impossible. Not surprisingly, the object was gone by the time the airmen reached the point. Fravor and Slaight flew back to their aircraft carrier, the USS Nitmitz, as a second crew was sent to investigate the new location of the object.

        It was this second crew that captured two short videos of the object that was eventually released to the public in August 2017 [thirteen years later... worried much, guys?].

Object
Stillframe from video of object. [Larger version here]
To view the videos, click here to go to the New York Times article.

It had been an exciting event, but it had a big letdown. Once back to the Nimitz, Fravor and Slaight found that their superiors didn't seem interested in the matter... and their crewmates saw it as a point to make fun of. Fravor went on to be deployed to the Persian Gulf during the Iraq war, and generally stopped discussing the matter. Later interviewed about the event in 2017, Fravor said "I don’t think I was a nutjob as an officer in the Navy. I wasn’t drunk, I don’t do drugs. I got a good night’s rest, it was a clear day. I think someone should have looked into it. Having talked to some of the other folks, it’s a big frustration that it’s coming out now and wasn’t discussed back in 2004.

        In 2009, Fravor was contacted by a government official who was doing "an unofficial investigation" on the event. Eventually, Fravor found himself in contact with Luis Elizondo, who ran a secretive program within the Department of Defense that was collecting stories regarding unidentified flying objects as reported by military personnel and pilots. Eventually, the details of Fravor's experience were released to news agencies in December 2017 after Elizondo quit his duties with the program (for more on that matter, follow the 'See Also' link below).

        When interviewed by reporters in December 2017, Fravor remembered a conversation he'd had with a crew member who asked him about the encounter that first night. When asked what he thought the object was, Fravor replied "I have no idea what I saw. It had no plumes, wings, or rotors, and outran our F-18s."

        Then he added "I want to fly one."