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Have You Experienced a UFO Sighting in Westchester County?

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Writer Phil Reisman dives into the surge of unidentified flying object sightings in the county during the pandemic.

“Woke up this morning
with light in my eyes
And then realized
it was still dark outside
It was a light
coming down from the sky
I don’t know who or why”

—“Mr. Spaceman” by The Byrds

A funny thing happened on the way to the pandemic: In April of 2020, when the Great American Lockdown was firmly in place, the National UFO Reporting Center received an all-time high of 1,045 reports of unidentified flying objects — a 265% increase from the previous April. Twenty-two of these reported sightings were in New York, including an April 22 report from Dobbs Ferry, where a mysterious blinking object floated through the night sky at an altitude of 30,000 feet.

What was it? No one knows. Remember, the “U” in UFO stands for “unidentified.”

Alien

Elements from Adobe Stock

In March, a black triangular object was seen gliding overhead for about 30 seconds in Yorktown Heights. “The whole thing was over before I could think what it could be or if it really happened,” an anonymous local said. “Weirdest thing I ever saw in my 56 years.”

On the night of May 8, a Hastings man was outside smoking a cigarette and gazing at Orion’s Belt when he thought he saw one of the stars suddenly move and then “shoot off into the distance.”

“I’ve lived in the same place for years and debunked a lot of things,” he said. “But I know what I saw.”

More than ever, people are seeing stuff they can’t explain: cigar-shaped objects, huge fireballs, giant rectangular banks of light, orbs, darting boomerangs, gravity-defying spheres, rotating disks, and yes, occasionally the proverbial flying saucer.

One explanation for the UFO reporting spike is that the coronavirus chased a lot of cooped-up urbanites into the country, where there wasn’t much to do at night except look toward the heavens, like that guy in Hastings. Look up and you might see something — and because everybody has a smartphone, the things they’re seeing are also being captured on video. Another possibility is that the act of reporting UFOs has become somewhat destigmatized, in part because the federal government is finally admitting that not everything up there can be easily dismissed as man-made space junk, blimps, balloons, or drones. Earlier this year, the Pentagon declassified compelling video of UFOs recorded by naval personnel and jet pilots. More material was to be released this summer.

This presents a sweet I-told-you-so moment for inveterate UFO aficionados, like Paul Greco of Yonkers, who believes the government has lied for years and is only now beginning to reveal the things it has kept top secret.

author

Photo by Stefan Radtke

“We were told by the scientists and the media that we’re the only life in space,” he says. “Now, they’re saying, ‘Well, the universe is so big; there must be some other life.’ They’re taking a big step.”

Greco has seen UFOs only twice in the span of two decades. On June 21, 2001, he saw a large orange disc flying above the FDR in New York City. And last November, he reported seeing as many as a dozen orbs floating in the night sky over the Hudson River in Yonkers. They weren’t Chinese lanterns: “I was completely flabbergasted,” he says.

When I first met him, a few years back, Greco was moderating a UFO roundtable that consisted of a group of believers who met periodically to swap stories, exchange information, and lend support to one another. They had heard all the slights from skeptics.

“Terrible, the worst,” Greco fumes when I bring up one notable skep-tic, Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

More than ever, people are seeing stuff they can’t explain: cigar-shaped objects, huge fireballs, giant rectangular banks of light, orbs, darting boomerangs, gravity-defying spheres, rotating disks, and yes, occasionally the proverbial flying saucer.

The astronomer has said that the evidence was too thin to take these things seriously. “Call me when you have a dinner invite from an alien,” he joked.

Well, Copernicus had it about right: We’re not at the center of all that exists in space and time. Earth is a mere dust mite in a galaxy of specks swimming in a universe that is ever expanding. Who can say with certainty that we are all alone and that there is no other life out there?

To Greco and many others, this is a serious issue. “This has to do with everything,” he says, meaning that if extraterrestrials do exist, then everything will change — our history, our science, our medicine, and our technology.

“They could give us free energy,” he adds.

Think of that. If there are little green men, it would give new meaning to the Green New Deal and mark the end of Con Edison.

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