Within the greater mystery of the UFO phenomenon lies another as yet unsolved puzzle: why so many reports involve strange triangular-shaped craft – often described as dark in color, virtually silent, and the size of a football field or more? What exactly are they? And why are so many witnesses hovering or moving slowly and methodically, with no visible trails?
In the years after the US Air Force coined the term “unidentified flying object” in 1952, reports often referred to UFOs generically as flying saucers. But witnesses have then, and since, described a wide range of shapes: saucers (or two saucers together), eggs, hats, cigars, boomerangs, light bulbs, even Tic Tac candies.
Among the most commonly reported shapes were the V, arrowhead, or triangular shape. David Marler, UFO researcher and author of Triangular UFOs: an estimate of the situation, says he has reviewed more than 17,000 cases involving unidentified triangular craft, sometimes referred to as “black triangles.” Whether the sightings represent an advanced American spy device – as some speculate – or something of unknown origin, their purpose remains a mystery. Given their constant hovering behavior, Marler says, they might be engaged in “surveillance of some kind” or sweeping. Or analyze the topography. ”
“There have been many instances where these vehicles have been observed over bases operated by Strategic Air Command,” said Chris Mellon, former Assistant Deputy Secretary of Defense for Intelligence under the Clinton and George W. Bush, whose career has focused on unconventional threats to American security. Mellon is now an integral part of the investigative team featured on HISTORY’s “Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation”.
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An international phenomenon
In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, reports of triangular UFOs came from all over the United States and beyond. During the 1960s, at the height of the Cold War UFO fever, mysterious flying triangles were reported over Connecticut, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Texas, as well as London, Madrid and of Czechoslovakia. In 1969, two National Guard pilots followed a “triangular object, 50 feet in diameter” for 20 minutes over San Juan, Puerto Rico, until they ran out of fuel and had to return to their base. Many of these incidents are believed to be attributed by authorities to atmospheric conditions, weather balloons or other daily sources, but some have remained unexplained.
Between 1983 and 1986, a notable eruption of mass sightings occurred in the Hudson Valley in New York City, about 50 miles north of New York City. Witness Kevin Soravilla, a retired Yorktown Police Department lieutenant, described a huge silent craft, 100 yards from wing tip to wing tip, hovering low, which s ‘banked and made a 45 degree turn before taking off sharply. Soravilla said he called Stewart Air Force Base in nearby Newburgh to determine if any of his C-5 transport planes – then the world’s largest and heaviest plane – had been in the sky this night; none had. Later that year, a towering triangular UFO hovering over a stretch of New York’s Taconic Parkway caused a huge build-up of traffic as many motorists stopped to get a better view. Similar incidents continued in the region for several years.
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“ Has exceeded the limits of conventional aviation ”
Many witnesses describe the extraordinary abilities of the craft. One evening in late November 1989, two policemen on patrol in Eupen, Belgium, not far from the German border, spotted a strange triangular object above their heads. In the days that followed, hundreds of Belgians reported similar UFOs, described in reports as “a triangular object with a bright red central light” or as a “flying platform” with three huge searchlights.
In March 1990, the Belgian Air Force sent two F-16 fighter jets to take a closer look at a triangle that had been spotted on radar. Their on-board computers recorded the object’s remarkable maneuverability and ability to accelerate from 1,000 kilometers per hour (approximately 621 miles per hour) to 1,800 kilometers per hour (approximately 1,120 miles per hour) in a matter of seconds. “What the computers recorded went beyond the limits of conventional aviation,” a Belgian air force colonel told reporters.
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In March 1997, Phoenix, Arizona became a UFO hotspot when some 30,000 local residents saw something strange in the sky. Some reports said the mysterious object was V-shaped, but many described it as triangular. “It was shaped like a triangle and there were three lights. He was moving very slowly, ”said an 11-year-old Cub. A retired airline pilot described it as “the size of 25 airliners … and it didn’t sound like much”. Others have described it as the size of three football fields.
In 2000, police from neighboring southern Illinois municipalities were called in to investigate a truck driver’s report of a huge arrowhead-shaped craft hovering low in the sky, two stories high and as long as a football field. The expedition tapes reveal the shock and fear expressed by the various police teams, who were all in radio contact with each other.
Reports from all over the United States continue to arrive. The National UFO Reporting Center, which lists more than 8,100 triangle-shaped UFO sightings since the early 1960s, lists more than 200 for the first half of 2020 alone.
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The truth behind triangles
Many of these sightings have been investigated repeatedly by UFO detectives. Belgian triangles have been explained as stars, planets, balloons, or airships, with a bit of mass hallucination. The lights over Phoenix have been dismissed as fallen flares during an Air National Guard exercise, although this theory has many skeptics. Some say the New York sightings were a hoax by local stunt pilots flying in formation.
One explanation raises the possibility of the “airship effect”. This is the theory that people who see unrelated lights in the sky can trick themselves into believing that they are all part of the same object. Three lights? Must be a triangular spaceship. Three lights hundreds of meters apart? Must be a really big triangular spaceship.
Other speculation has focused on top-secret planes. Although the US government has remained largely silent on the matter, it is common knowledge that the Air Force has experimented with triangular and V-shaped aircraft for decades, including the B-2 stealth bomber. Spirit and the F-117 Nighthawk – and probably many more under wraps. Sightings near the clandestine spy plane test facility in Nevada Area 51 may indeed be linked to test flights of some of these devices.
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However, it seems unlikely that any of the Army’s experimental vessels could have been as large as what some UFO witnesses have described. And for Marler and others, the sheer volume of sightings and the consistency of the craft’s hover behavior, combined with their sudden, inexplicable accelerations, point a far cry from known military technology.
If it’s not homemade, then what? One theory suggests that these boats are engaged in the mapping of sensitive sites. Sightings of southern Illinois took place within one to two miles of Scott Air Force Base, home to the US Air Mobility Command, which coordinates all global transportation for US troops. The Hudson Valley sightings occurred near Stewart Air Force Base. And Mellon interviewed several Persian Gulf veterans who witnessed triangular missiles near sensitive military operations. “An adversary planning a future attack would want to know every square inch of the battlefield,” Mellon says. “Triangulation is a way of measuring things in extraordinary detail.”
Yet the mystery of the black triangle persists. “There’s a lot of data,” says Marler. “It does not equate to answers.”
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