Are we alone? Investigating the existence of aliens

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- The existence of aliens, once a taboo topic reserved for secret government meetings, conspiracy theorists, and Hollywood directors, is now a mainstream discussion.

Footage captured during a US navy training mission in 2015 is ultimately what led the U.S. Government to formally address the possibility that aliens may actually exist with the formation of the Unidentified Areal Phenomena Task Force. 

Navy Pilots: “There’s a whole fleet of them, look! My gosh, they’re going against the wind, the wind is 120 knots to the west. Look at that thing dude.”

In the video, you can see unidentified flying objects making maneuvers and flying at speeds that befuddled hardened Navy vets. Six years later, the video, declassified and now seen by millions of people, has prompted the government to start investigating unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAPs, more commonly known as UFOs.

“What we’re seeing outstrips pretty much anything in our arsenal by 100 to 1000 years. We’re dealing with advanced technology. The question is how much of it is ours, and how much of it is something else? In other words, do we have that much advanced technology here? Who’s is it? It doesn’t seem to be something from our department of defense," Sam Maranto said, the Illinois State Director of MUFON. “These things were up there, 80 thousand feet, dropping to right above the water in less than a second. We don’t have technology like that.”

Maranto has dedicated most of his life to the unknown. He investigates claims of UFO sightings for MUFON, a civilian non-profit organization that studies the existence of alien life.

Tiffany: “In your experience, considering your line of work, are aliens real?”

Maranto: “Yes. I mean are there people out there, other beings of intelligence? Yes. Are they here? Of course, that’s the question. Are we dealing with something that is of higher intelligence than us? Sure, of course, it is.” 

Maranto also investigates encounters with extraterrestrial life. Encounters like the one Terry Lovelace, a U.S. Air Force Veteran, says he had back in the 1970s.

“I’ve seen things in the sky. I’ve seen UFOs," Lovelace said.

Lovelace served in the Air Force from 1973 to 1979 as a trained medic and AMT. He later got his law degree at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Now, he's a retired lawyer and former assistant attorney general living with his wife in Dallas, Texas.

“1977 was when I was abducted. I feel like for whatever reason they chose me for their experiments,” Lovelace said. 

Lovelace was out camping in Devil's Den in Arkansas with a military buddy. He says they settled in at the park in an isolated, open area on high ground before things got weird. 

“It was clear it was headed in our direction. As quickly as it turned on, it turned itself off. And then immediately there came this laser. Lasers were relatively new in 1977. I’d seen them on television but never in real life," Lovelace said.

Decades of public denial of the existence of UFOs kept Lovelace, an honored military vet and respected attorney, silent for 40 years about his alleged encounter with aliens.

“This big triangular thing that was 3000 feet over our heads when we went to sleep, had descended. The second thing I saw was what I took to be a dozen or maybe 15 kids, all about three-foot-tall and I could see them silhouetted in the darkness. I asked Toby I said ‘Man, what are these kids doing out here in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night?’ He said ‘Terry, man, look at them, they’re not little kids, they’re not human beings.’ He said ‘don’t you remember? They took us and they hurt us.’ As soon as he said that, my fear level went from a 2 to a 10. And I actually had very short mental flashes of being inside that thing.”

It wasn’t until 4 decades later in 2012 when he believes he found proof, in an unexpected place, of that life-changing experience. A fall had landed him in the emergency room.

"The lady who took my Xrays, the technician, she took a set and then she came over and took a second set and then she asked me ‘Mr. Lovelace, do you have any metal in your body or have you ever suffered a shrapnel wound?’ And I’m like ‘no, I never left the state of Missouri. I’ve never been anywhere to get a shrapnel wound.’ And she’s like ‘well, you’ve got some anomalies on your x-ray above and below your knee.’”

Take a close look at the area above his left knee. Doctors in Dallas were left puzzled by the strange formation of scar tissue, with no apparent scar on Lovelace's knee. Lovelace says the radiologist who examined the x-rays insisted that the only way these objects could become embedded in his leg would have to have been through an incision.

“There’s a square structure about the size of a fingernail, above my knee with two wires attached to it. And he says, ‘that couldn’t have got under your skin and below your tissue without leaving a scar. That’s not possible.’ He insisted on looking at my left knee and he didn’t find a scar and he was visibly shaken by that.”

The Xrays are what eventually prompted Lovelace to tell his story, which he says he always wanted to keep a secret.

“If that came out, I would lose the respect of my peers in the legal community. If it came out while I was an assistant attorney general in two jurisdictions… had that come out, I had no doubt I would’ve lost my job.”

For the past 9 years, Lovelace has told his abduction story at conferences and events, turned it into a tell-all book, and created his own website causing some folks to question his motives and authenticity. But local paranormal enthusiast Jason Bland believes.

“I believe him. I believe his evidence, I believe his story. And if he’s being taken against his will or has been taken against his will then there definitely is a threat,” Bland said. 

Bland spends at least three hours every Sunday night broadcasting a podcast from his Michigan City Basement talking about all things paranormal.

"We have open lines, we let people call in and tell their experiences. And we do live paranormal experiments on the show," Bland said. "I believe it’s all connected. Beit ghosts, UFOs, bigfoot, I believe there’s some universal paranormal theory out there that binds it all together.”

The Sunday after the UAP government task force released their findings in June of 2021, Bland was on the air openly criticizing the federal report saying the information essentially amounted to nothing.

“I summed it up in about one sentence. We don’t know what they are, we’re looking into it, give us more money," Bland said on his podcast, Paranormal Soup.

In all, government officials looked into 144 reports of UAPs, or UFOs, between 2004 and 2021. The report is one of the first acknowledgments by the U.S. government that UAPs are a national security concern. 

Of those 144 reports, they could only explain, with high confidence, one of those sightings. In that case, it was a large, deflating balloon.

“This was only a nine-page summary. There’s a whole report that’s ten times bigger than that that then congress has seen with satellite imagery, that would blow people’s minds I’m sure. Maybe one day we’ll get our hands on that but it’s a start. It’s the start of a conversation,” Bland said. 

It's the start of a conversation that’s also jumpstarting additional studies involving national security and technology.

“I found one of the things most interesting is that they said that these UAPs can change their signature. They can basically hide stealth. That’s just technology that we don’t have,” Bland said.

Maranto thinks this is a technology that could pose a threat to human life.

“The other thing about this technology is it’s able to stay permanently or move about the sky for hours on end without depleting any sort of energy. Doesn’t have wings, doesn’t have rotors, propellers, anything. So, how is it moving around? How is it doing it?” Maranto said.

Despite the federal report creating more questions than answers, it seems like paranormal enthusiasts and the government can finally land on common ground. The UAP task force lifts the stigma that alien life is just a conspiracy.

“The biggest takeaway from this is that we have now the government admitting there’s something going on," Bland said.

“First of all we’re very happy that they did come out and say that that first of all, it is real. It is a genuine phenomenon, there is no if and's or butts’ UFOs exist, UAPs exist. What exactly they are and where exactly they’re from, and want exactly they want, that remains to be the question. But for us, the biggest hurdle is the ‘you’re crazy’ hurdle," Maranto said.

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