It’s a familiar and intriguing story: A strange craft appears in the sky, performs seemingly otherworldly aerobatics, baffles onlookers, and then is gone as quickly as it appeared, leaving us to question our eyesight and sanity.
But the reality is, many foreign things seen in the sky – also known as unidentified flying objects, or UFOs – are revealed to be anything but extra-terrestrial. Most of these sightings turn out to be experimental planes, atmospheric phenomena, or merely everyday objects that slip from our hands and head skyward.
By definition, UFOs are enigmatic, which is why people love to speculate about what strange sights in the sky could be. But just because an airborne object’s origin is mysterious does not mean that it comes from another planet. An airliner that doesn’t announce itself to a control tower qualifies as a UFO, for example.
Here are 10 “UFOs” that turned out to be very much from this world.
The Lockheed F-117 was created in secrecy.
The first operational aircraft built around stealth technology, the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk doesn’t look conventional, and for good reason. The F-117’s design is characterized by sharp angles and a low aspect ratio (small wings in relation to the plane’s body). This strange shape allowed the craft to deflect and absorb radar signals, essentially becoming invisible to the high-tech systems used to detect enemy aircraft.
Because the F-117 was meant to fly undetected, its development was cloaked in secrecy. So after one of the aircraft crashed in a remote, mountainous area outside of Bakersfield, California in 1986, the Air Force closed the crash site and surrounding airspace to the press and public. They deemed it a “national security area,” according to the Los Angeles Times.