The Different Types of UFO You Should know About
Is it a bird? A plane? A nuclear surveillance weather balloon? The UFO phenomenon has come a long way since the days of plain old “flying saucers”... with more and more unusual somethings appearing on the horizon.
So, this is Unveiled, and today we’re taking a closer look at some of the different types of UFO you should know about.
The classic UFOs are by now well known. The crashed and littered debris of Roswell. The shining, blinding lights of the Hill Abduction. The weaponized, rotating discs of countless science fiction movies. These ever-mysterious objects are burned into our collective consciousness. In more recent times, though, there has been a major shift turning UFOs from a one-time kooky pseudoscience into a legitimately recognized, official line of enquiry. Particularly since the “Preliminary Assessment” UAP Report released by the US government in June 2021, the conversation has taken a new shape. So now it pays to know exactly what you might (maybe even will) one day encounter.
The classic flying saucer may be lesser seen these days, but the more general floating orb is still everywhere. As in, all across the world map there have been sightings made. And science still isn’t wholly sure what they are. Floating (or sometimes darting) orbs usually appear across remote and rural landscapes, where there’s generally less artificial light from the ground. Sometimes they are single entities, but more often they come in clusters; groups of suspended lights that even appear to move in formation, in some cases.
They’re particularly widely reported across Australia, some parts of South America, and across the plains of North America. As they’ve before been linked to distracting drivers into accidents, or leading people into getting lost… the orbs often have a reputation in local folklore for being harbingers of doom. In some places, they’re also known as will-o’-the-wisps, or ghost lights. There have been reported sightings in Antarctica, too, the remotest place on the planet. However, the most famous example probably comes from Earth’s other extreme, the Arctic Circle. In Norway, and across Scandinavia, the Lights of Hessdalen - an occasional rush of glowing, orb-like lights in the sky - are famous and have been seen many times over.
Next, and another shape regularly (and bizarrely) witnessed in the sky above is the pyramid. Triangular or pyramidal UFOs are again seen all over the world, while some of the most infamous examples come from within the US military. For instance, in April 2021, just a couple months before the release of the UAP report, the Pentagon reportedly confirmed that a clip recently published by ufologist Jeremy Corbell and journalist George Knapp - showing a hazy greenish triangle racing across the sky - was the real deal. The clip had been originally captured, though, by members of the US Navy who also were unable to provide an explanation.
More broadly, there’s the “black triangle” UFO category… referring to the countless UFO claims that involve a dark triangle (or triangles) hanging in the sky, and usually with pulsating lights. In history, the Phoenix Lights Incident in 1997 is one of the most well-known “black triangle” cases. There have been others, though, including a series of black triangle sightings reported in Belgium between late-1989 and mid-1990… plus the so-called Dudley Dorito, another triangular UFO spotted multiple times - this time in the UK - between the years 2007 and 2010. Of all UFO types, the triangular ones are perhaps those where it’s most often suggested that they could be military aircraft, unknown but Earth-made flying machines… although there remain many cases where that explanation still doesn’t fully hold up.
But, from triangles and pyramids to squares and cubes. And really, cube-shaped UFOs are always prominent, despite the seemingly non-aerodynamic nature of most cube designs. Often, sightings involve witnessing small, squarish shapes, zipping across the sky… although again, with the advent of drones and cubesats, these are sometimes linked back to regular, terrestrial technology seen out of context. However, one of the more unusual cube cases occurred in (and around) Kansas City, Missouri, in 2011.
In October of that year, there were reportedly multiple sightings over just a few hours of a giant cube passing through the area. It’s claimed that it brought with it a low, all-consuming hum, and that because of its size it cast everything beneath it into darkness. According to descriptions, it seemed metallic and shiny, although the sightings did come at night. There were no ill effects from the Missouri encounters, though, and the apparent UFO was seemingly content to just observe Earth, rather than engage with it. But, what’s perhaps especially strange is that another cube-shaped UFO was then spotted, again in Missouri, this time in Springfield, almost exactly ten years later… in October 2021. On this occasion, a passer-by captured footage of a rotating cube in daylight, although it’s positioned much further away from the ground than the 2011 cube is said to have approached.
Finally, and of course not every UFO sighting fits so conveniently into shape-sorted boxes. There are those that appear more abstract and misshapen to our eyes, with sightings again coming from a range of sources - including the military, NASA and other space agencies, and the general public. One example hit the press in December 2020, with a leaked image from the US Air Force seemingly showing an isolated, jagged object hovering above the clouds. The image was reportedly taken from the cockpit of an F/A-18 fighter jet, somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. Hidden, as it was, by cloud cover and by being suspended many miles away from land, this UFO might never have been spotted were it not for the chance encounter.
Elsewhere, there’s the infamous “Black Knight” satellite, captured by cameras on board the International Space Station. This takes the UFO action beyond even Earth’s atmosphere and out into space, although the debate continues as to whether the Black Knight is really a watching alien ship… or rather a lost thermo-blanket from a previous ISS mission. More recently, and much closer to the ground, we’ve seen the “cosmics” and “phantoms” widely reported across Ukraine. We took a closer look at these in another recent video, with “cosmics” generally referring to UFOs that light up the sky… and “phantoms” being those that are almost cloaked from view, operating under darkness. And, of course, there’s also the “poster UFO” of modern times in America, the tic-tac shaped something spotted flying at impossible speeds, around 100 miles off of the California coast, in 2004. Otherwise known as the USS Nimitz Encounter, it has become one of the most iconic cases in a new era of UFO study.
So, what’s your verdict on the current UFO state-of-play? Which UFO types do you find most compelling? Most unnerving? Or perhaps most unconvincing? Could there be another explanation for some of these sightings, or even for all of them? Or is the growing variety of images, films and testimony proof enough that the tide on UFOs is now turning?
According to reports, there is an official effort - at least in the United States - to de-stigmatise UFOs today. Whereas, in the past, UFO claimants might’ve feared ridicule, there’s work being done to remove any harmful or discouraging stereotypes. Under the mounting pressure of increasing case studies and apparent evidence, and perhaps especially in the years since the introduction of the internet and the easy sharing of information, it seems as though unidentified aerial phenomena will be taken more seriously in the future. For now, while 2021’s “Preliminary Assessment” UAP report was met with disappointment in some corners - given how little it revealed in just its nine pages of write-up - America is waiting for more such reports going forward. And, seeing as that report concluded that 143 of the 144 UFO cases it focussed on remained unexplained… there is clearly still a lot of work to be done.
As we commit more resources and deeper analysis to the field, then, the mysteries might soon begin to be solved. The unidentified might soon be identified… and that could bring about a major breakthrough, perhaps even a fundamental shift, in the story of humankind, life, and the universe. It’s an issue that’s fast moving from science fiction into science fact, and so those are some of the different types of UFO that you should know about.