Author and researcher Chris Aubeck compiles reports of historic sightings of strange objects in the sky, and has written two books about the subject, one with famed and controversial researcher Jacques Vallée. He told host George Knapp that we now have the means (through the internet) to check many reports against records of people, places, geography, astronomy, and weather to determine how accurate they might be. When he started to look, Aubeck said, "it was kind of impressive how many cases there were." He has examined folklore about aerial anomalies going back 500 years, ending with the year 1879 because that was when people began to report airships with humans in them.
Aubeck says that the origin of the term "flying saucer" may not be exactly what we have been led to believe. Although many think that it came about as a result of the Kenneth Arnold sighting in 1947, Aubeck says the term originated in the late 19th century to refer to flying targets used for shooting practice, and was in common usage by 1912. "Because the term already existed, it helped perpetuate the idea" Aubeck said, even though the objects Arnold saw were not saucer-shaped.
One of the sources used in his research is the book Annus Mirabilus, which was an early compendium of strange occurrences, miracles, and sightings of signs and objects in the heavens. Although some have claimed the book is comprised of stories used for propaganda, Aubeck says that many of the stories check out factually. There were 146 reports of aerial sightings recounted in the old volume. One report that appears to be real occurred in Leeds, England in 1829, when a sphere appeared to come out of the sky and two humanoid figures emerged and floated near it for about an hour. Aubeck believes that UFO reports say "a lot more about us than the phenomena we perceive," in essence, that historical accounts need to be considered in the context from which they are reported.
In the first hour, former U.S. Navy research optical physicist Bruce Maccabee discussed his decades-long quest to force the release of government documents relating to the UFO subject. Many of the issues and events he originally uncovered were appropriated by the X-Files TV series as plot points. He began searching government archives for UFO documents in the mid-1970s and reported his findings in UFO journals at the time. He said that beginning in the early 1950s, even though the Air Force was privately considering an interplanetary explanation for UFOs, they pursued a public policy of denial, which continues to this day. This is supported by many documents that Maccabee uncovered, which he says show that at the time they were written by the military, FBI, and CIA, and "no one thought any of this would ever get out." In 1977, he received a call from the FBI in response to a letter and was told that there were 16000 pages of UFO material in the FBI files. He says it is more difficult to get historical documents released nowadays.