Mapped: Arkansas' UFO sightings
Northwest Arkansas had 35 UFO sightings per 100,000 residents between 2000 and 2023, Alex Fitzpatrick, Erin Davis and Alice Feng report from National UFO Reporting Center data.
- The national average is 34.3 sightings per 100,000 residents.
Why it matters: Discussion and reports of UFOs — or the more modern term, UAPs (unidentified anomalous phenomena) — have been going more mainstream in recent years as lawmakers and others have pushed for answers.
- Some view UAPs as a national security concern — what people are seeing out there could be experimental craft from Russia, China or other U.S. adversaries. (Those fears were accelerated by last year's dramatic Chinese spy balloon encounter.)
- Both civilian and military pilots have also been increasingly public about their inexplicable sightings. That's a sea change from decades past, when pilots who talked openly about such matters often were ostracized.
Zoom in: Nevada's Lincoln County — home to Area 51, a top-secret U.S. Air Force base — had the most reported UFO sightings among U.S. counties from 2000 to 2023, at 820.9 per 100,000 residents, according to the National UFO Reporting Center — a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization where people can file reports of unusual phenomena.
- It's followed by Arthur County, Nebraska (618.6 per 100,000 residents) and Alpine County, California (594.1).
💬 Alex Fitzpatrick's thought bubble: The accompanying national map roughly correlates to dark sky locations. That tracks, given that it's easier to see interesting stuff in the night sky when you're far from sources of light pollution.
Details: Anyone can submit a report to the UFO center, but volunteers there work to weed out what they consider obvious hoaxes or false filings.
The bottom line: Despite rising public acceptance of UFO/UAP chatter, there's still no proof that we're being visited by extraterrestrials.
- Many of these sightings are likely military activity — especially those near Area 51, which has a storied history of classified aircraft tests), satellites, scientific phenomena, etc.
- But the truth, as they say, is out there.
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