Former Navy Pilot Testifies to Congress About Chilling UFO Encounter Off Virginia Coast

Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast
Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast
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A former Navy pilot has recounted a chilling encounter he had with an UFO in 2014 as he flew an F/A-18 Hornet off the coast of Virginia Beach, saying the unknown object was so jarring his flight commander called off the mission “immediately” and they “returned to base.”

Ryan Graves, the first witness to testify in Congress’ highly anticipated UFO hearings on Wednesday, recalled seeing “a dark gray or a black cube inside of a clear sphere” that got within 50 feet of his squadron’s lead aircraft.

Graves said the UAP—unidentified aerial phenomena, another term for UFOs—was between five to 15 feet in diameter. He said his commander filed a report but no official mention of the encounter ever surfaced.

“Our squadron submitted a safety report but there was no official acknowledgement of the incident and no further mechanism to report the sightings,” he said.

Other former pilots backed up Graves’ eerie account with similar stories of their own.

Retired Navy Commander David Fravor, who recorded the famous “Tic Tac” UFO video off the coast of San Diego in 2004, told the hearing that he believed UFOs were a threat to national security. He said their movements appeared to be doing things human technology isn’t yet capable of achieving.

In his own sighting, Fravor recalled seeing a “perfectly white” object that was “smooth” with “no windows” as it flew by. He said it moved in ways that a human could never move.

“The technology that we faced was far superior than anything that we had,” Fravor said. “I'm not a UFO fanatic. But what we saw with four sets of eyes—we have nothing close to it. It was incredible technology.”

While pilots were encouraged to remain quiet, Graves claimed, sightings of strange objects became a regular occurrence for his squadron. They were so common that Graves’ superiors began working the presence of UFOs into pre-mission flight briefings, he said.

Graves said the UFOs would make “inexplainable maneuvers,” like “right hand turns and retrograde orbits or J hooks.”

“These objects were staying completely stationary in Category Four hurricane winds,” Graves said. “The same objects would then accelerate to supersonic speeds, 1.1, 1.2 Mach, and they would do so in very erratic and quick behaviors that we don’t—I don’t have an explanation for.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said a flight crew previously told him about four UFOs that flew in a diamond over the Gulf of Mexico. When they approached the formation, Gaetz said, the flight crew’s radar went down and their infrared cameras malfunctioned. The crew was able to snap a picture manually that Gaetz said he’d since seen.

Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) called the government’s shielding of information about UFOs the “biggest cover-up in history.”

“We need to tell the folks at the Pentagon they work for us, we don’t work for them,” he said. “We’re going to uncover the cover-up.”

David Grusch, a former intelligence official who’s become a whistleblower on UFO sightings, has claimed the U.S. government actively intimidates soldiers who spot unknown objects, and has kept secret that it had captured some UFOs. He testified Wednesday that he’s feared for his safety after coming forward with what he’s seen.

“I just want everyone to note that he’s coming forward in fear of his life,” said Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL). “To put [it] in perspective, if they were really not scared about this information coming out, why would someone be intimidated like that?”

Ryan Graves, David Grusch, and David Fravor swear into a hearing regarding UFOs on Wednesday.

Ryan Graves, David Grusch, and David Fravor swearing into Wednesday’s hearing on UFOs.

Getty Images/Drew Angerer

Grusch claimed he knew of “multiple colleagues who have been injured.” When asked if they were injured by UFOs or the government, Grusch responded, “Both.” Later probed about possible killings that stemmed from speaking out about UFOs, Grusch said he couldn’t answer.

Grusch has been scrutinized in the past and has conceded himself that some of his most damning claims about UFOs are second-hand knowledge only—told to him by others in the intelligence community.

Grusch also said Wednesday that “non-human” biologics had been recovered at alleged crash sites of UFOs, but he didn’t elaborate. He said he was told about the biologics by those with “direct knowledge on the program” and didn’t see them personally.

He claimed that he knew the “exact locations” where captured UFOs were being housed by the government, citing more than 40 interviews with top-security officials. He said those locations had been provided to the Office of the Inspector General.

While multiple recollections of sightings were discussed at the hearing, no photos or videos or detailed evidence were displayed. The infamous “Tic Tac” video filmed over the Pacific Ocean was discussed, however, and a grainy recording of the incident is public.

Fravor said he witnessed the UFO in person after his aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz, and another warship, the USS Princeton, dispatched him to investigate an object that was captured moving in an inexplicable fashion by radar. Once in the air, Fravor said Wednesday, he spotted the object flying as fast as 60 miles per minute despite it having no visible rotors, rotor wash, or any flight control surfaces like wings.

“There’s no visible signs of pollution,” he said. “It’s just sitting in space at 20,000 feet.”

Fravor recalled watching the object move “abruptly, very determinant,” as if it was aware it had eyes on it.

“It knew exactly what it was doing,” Fravor said. “It was aware of our presence and it had acceleration rates. I mean, it went from zero to matching our speed in no time at all.”

Graves, the ex-Navy pilot, claimed the military has extensive data on similar UFOs that it has kept under wraps. He warned that the stigma surrounding UFOs means they’re “grossly underreported” by service members, commercial pilots and the general public.

Wednesday’s hearing was notably bipartisan, with Democrats, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Republicans like Gaetz, combining to press the trio of veterans for answers.

Representatives Jamie Raskin, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Maxwell Frost, sit during a hearing regarding UFOs on Wednesday.

Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Maxwell Frost (D-FL) attend Wednesday’s hearing on UFOs.

Getty Images/Tom Williams

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has recently pushed for UFO-related intelligence to be declassified as part of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act—an effort mirrored in the the Senate by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

If successful, the amendment would make records about UFO intelligence accessible to the public unless a review board deemed it necessary to be classified.

“This is by far the most bipartisan conversation and discussion that I've seen happen in Congress,” said Rep. Robert Garcia (D-CA).

Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) observed the same, saying, “It shouldn’t take the potential of non-human origin to bring us together.”

“For decades, many Americans have been fascinated by objects mysterious and unexplained,” he said. “And it’s long past time that they got some answers. The American public has a right to learn about technologies of unknown origins.”

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