Feb 8, 2024 - Culture

UFO sightings in the Pacific Northwest leads nation

👽 Reported UFO sightings per 100k residents
Data: National UFO Reporting Center, U.S. Census; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

It's no surprise the Pacific Northwest is home to many of the country's UFO sightings, thanks to our pitch-black skies and curious minds.

By the numbers: The Portland metro area had 69.7 UFO sightings per 100,000 residents between 2000 and 2023, per National UFO Reporting Center data.

  • That's nearly 1,750 unusual occurrences spotted in the last two decades.
  • The only metro with more sightings was Seattle, which had 86.5 sightings per 100,000 residents since the beginning of the millennium.

Why it matters: Discussion and reports of UFOs — or the more modern term, UAPs (unidentified anomalous phenomenon) — have become more mainstream in recent years amid a push for answers from lawmakers and other experts.

  • 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.)
  • Commercial and military pilots have also been increasingly public about their inexplicable sightings.

Zoom in: Some of the most famous UFO photos were taken in 1950 by Paul and Evelyn Trent, just outside of McMinnville.

  • The city honors its historic extraterrestrial connection annually by hosting Oregon's premier UFO Fest.

The bottom line: There's still no proof we're being visited by extraterrestrials despite rising public acceptance of the possibility.

  • Many of the sightings are likely military activity (especially those near Area 51, which has a storied history of classified aircraft tests), scientific phenomena, etc.
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