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Huge, Silent and Hovering: The Mystery of ‘Black Triangle’ UFOs

Another unsolved puzzle within the larger mystery of the UFO phenomenon is: Why are there so many reports of strange, triangular-shaped craft that are often described as dark in color, virtually noiseless, and the size of a football field or larger? What are they, exactly? And why are so many seen hovering or moving slowly and methodically with no discernible contrails?

In the years following the United States Air Force’s coining of the term “unidentified flying object” in 1952, reports frequently referred to UFOs as “flying saucers.” However, witnesses at the time and since have described a wide range of shapes: saucers (or two saucers combined), eggs, hats, cigars, boomerangs, lightbulbs, and even Tic Tac candies.

V-shaped, arrowhead-like and triangular were among the most frequently reported shapes. UFO researcher David Marler, author of Triangular UFOs: An Estimate of the Situation, claims to have reviewed more than 17,000 case files involving unidentified triangular craft, also known as “black triangles.” Whether the sightings are of advanced US spycraft, as some speculate, or of unknown origin, their purpose remains unknown. Marler believes they are engaged in “surveillance of some kind—or scanning,” based on their consistent hovering behavior. Alternatively, topographic analysis.”

“These vehicles have been observed over Strategic Air Command bases on numerous occasions,” says Chris Mellon, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, whose career has focused on unconventional threats to American security. Mellon is now an important member of the investigative team featured in HISTORY’s “Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation.”

An International Phenomenon

Triangular UFO reports poured in from all over the country and beyond in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. During the height of Cold War UFOmania in the 1960s, mysterious flying triangles were reported over Connecticut, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Texas—as well as London, Madrid, and Czechoslovakia. Two National Guard pilots tailed a “triangular shaped object, 50 feet in diameter” over San Juan, Puerto Rico, for 20 minutes in 1969, until they ran out of fuel and had to return to their base. Many of these incidents were attributed to atmospheric conditions, weather balloons, or other commonplace causes by officials, but some remained unexplained.

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A notable rash of mass sightings occurred in New York’s Hudson Valley, about 50 miles north of New York City, between 1983 and 1986. Kevin Soravilla, a retired lieutenant with the Yorktown Police Department, described a huge, silent craft 100 yards from wingtip to wingtip, hovering low, that banked and made a 45-degree turn before speeding away. Soravilla said he called Stewart Air Force Base in nearby Newburgh to see if one of its C-5 transport planes, the world’s largest and heaviest aircraft at the time, had been in the skies that night; none had. Later that year, a hulking triangular UFO hovering over a stretch of New York’s Taconic Parkway caused a massive traffic jam as scores of drivers stopped to get a better look.

‘Exceeded the Limits of Conventional Aviation’

Many witnesses describe the crafts’ extraordinary abilities. Two police officers on patrol in Eupen, Belgium, near the German border, noticed an unusual triangular object overhead one evening in late November 1989. Hundreds of Belgians reported similar UFOs in the days that followed, which were described in news reports as “a triangular object with a bright red center light” or as a “flying platform” with three massive searchlights.

In March 1990, the Belgian air force dispatched two F-16 fighter jets to investigate a triangle that had been detected on radar. The object’s remarkable maneuverability and ability to accelerate from 1,000 kilometers per hour (about 621 miles per hour) to 1,800 kilometers per hour (about 1,120 miles per hour) in seconds were recorded by their onboard computers. “What the computers detected exceeded the limits of conventional aviation,” a colonel with the Belgian air force told reporters.

Phoenix, Arizona, became a UFO hotspot in March 1997, when 30,000 locals witnessed something strange in the skies. According to some reports, the mysterious object was V-shaped, but many others described it as triangular. “It was in the shape of a triangle and had three lights.” “It was moving at a snail’s pace,” an 11-year-old Cub Scout was quoted as saying. It was “the size of 25 airliners…and it didn’t make a sound,” according to a retired airline pilot. According to some, it is the size of three football fields.

In the year 2000, police officers from neighboring municipalities in southern Illinois were dispatched to investigate a trucker’s report of a massive arrowhead-shaped craft hovering low in the sky, two stories tall and the length of a football field. Dispatch tapes show the shock and awe expressed by the various law-enforcement teams, all of which were in radio contact with one another.

The National UFO Reporting Center, which has recorded over 8,100 sightings of triangle-shaped UFOs since the early 1960s, anticipates more than 200 sightings in the first half of 2020.

The Truth Behind the Triangles

Many of these sightings have been thoroughly investigated by UFO investigators. Belgian triangles have been explained as stars, planets, balloons, or blimps, with a dash of mass hallucination thrown in for good measure. The lights over Phoenix were dismissed as flares dropped during an Air National Guard exercise, despite widespread skepticism. Some believe the sightings in New York were a hoax perpetrated by local stunt pilots flying in formation.

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One explanation speculates on the “airship effect.” According to this theory, people who see unrelated lights in the sky can fool themselves into thinking they are all part of the same object. What are three lights? It’s got to be a triangular spaceship. Three lights separated by hundreds of yards? It must be a massive triangular spaceship.

Other theories have revolved around top-secret aircraft. Although the US government has largely remained silent on the subject, it is widely known that the Air Force has experimented with triangular and V-shaped aircraft for decades, including the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and the F-117 Nighthawk—as well as possibly other unnamed aircraft. Sightings near the secret spy plane testing facility at Area 51 in Nevada may be linked to test flights of some of these craft.

However, the extraordinary size described by many witnesses is perplexing. And, according to Marler and others, the number of sightings and consistency of the hovering behavior of the craft, combined with their unexplainable sudden accelerations, point away from known military technology.

What if it isn’t home-grown? According to one theory, these craft are mapping sensitive areas. The sightings in southern Illinois occurred within one to two miles of Scott Air Force Base, which is home to the United States Air Mobility Command, which coordinates all global transportation for American troops. The Hudson Valley sightings occurred close to Stewart Air Force Base. In addition, Mellon interviewed several Persian Gulf veterans who saw triangular craft near sensitive military operations. “An opponent planning a future attack would want to know every inch of the battlefield,” he says.

The mystery of the black triangle remains unsolved. “There’s a lot of data,” Marler says. “That does not imply an answer.”


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