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A Brief History of UFOs and American Presidents

Over the years, the American interest in UFOs has steadily grown. While many are unconcerned about the phenomenon of unidentified flying objects (also known by the modern abbreviation, UAP, or unidentified aerial phenomena), numerous US citizens are firm believers in the existence of UFOs. In fact, according to a 2012 poll by Kelton Research, close to 36% of the population believes! Included in that percentage is a few well-known U.S. Presidents.


Capturing the public interest in the 1940s after the infamous Roswell Incident, the conversation about aliens and UFOs took America by storm during Harry Truman’s presidency. Truman wasn’t known as a staunch believer, but he did joke about UFOs with the press in interviews after the Roswell Incident made national news. A transcript of a July 1947 interview tells of an exchange where a reporter asked Truman if he had seen any flying saucers, to which he replied, “Only in the newspapers,” and followed with, “did you ever hear of the moon hoax?”


Another president who was connected to the idea of UFOs was Jimmy Carter. He spoke openly about a 1969 UFO sighting in Georgia, before his presidency began, but did not attribute the strange, circular light in the sky to an alien encounter, explaining that he has “never thought and still don’t think it is possible for creature from Mars to visit us.” He also requested his science advisor, Frank Press, to ask NASA to look into UFOs in 1977, but NASA declined. Ronald Regan also saw a potential UFO in 1974, according to the book UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies, and Realities. Regan was flying with a group when they saw a light behind them before it sped up and flew off, and he later briefly addressed the sighting with a Wall Street Journal reporter.


In more recent years, President Bill Clinton shared his thoughts in a 2014 Jimmy Kimmel Live show, where he mentioned that he had revisited the Roswell papers in preparation for the crash’s anniversary, as well as sent people to check out Area 51 records to confirm what is really housed at the military site (top secret stealth technology, not aliens… so they say). He also confirmed his belief that the universe is quite large which “makes it increasingly less likely that we’re alone.” In 2015, President Barack Obama also joked about UFOs on the show with Jimmy Kimmel, before later getting more serious about the topic in a GQ interview.


Obama said, “People always ask me about Roswell and the aliens and UFOs, and it turns out the stuff going on that’s top secret isn’t nearly as exciting as you expect. This day and age, it’s not as top secret as you’d think.”


2020 has brought a new wave of UFO enthusiasts to the public eye with breaking news from the Pentagon showing “unidentified aerial phenomena” making headlines around the nation. President Trump addressed the news, exclaiming it was a “hell of a video” and wondering “if it’s real.” However, Trump is known to be skeptical of UFOs, so the public shouldn’t expect him to lead the push for more information about UFOs during his term. With the government’s prolonged study of the possibility of UFOs, there’s still hope that Americans will learn more about the origins of these unidentified flying crafts someday, with or without the added support of a UFO-believing president in office.

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