December 31, 1982, the Hudson River Valley, 25 miles north of New York City. Hundreds of witnesses, including police officer Andy Sadoff, report sighting a V-shaped object in the sky. It is enormous—at least the width of a football-field—and moving very slowly and close to the ground. It is completely silent, and only gets noticed because of its very bright, strobing lights. A large wave of sightings occur again in March of 1983, with hundreds of eyewitness reports. For six years, until 1989, the “Hudson Valley Boomerang” is seen by more than 5,000 recorded witnesses, spanning the states of New York & Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and even Massachusetts. They include lawyers, engineers, housewives, mechanics, and even dozens of police officers—including the chief of the Danbury, Connecticut police department. Later, Dr J Allen Hynek, Philip J Imbrogno & Bob Pratt write a book on the phenomenon titled Night Siege: The Hudson Valley UFO Sightings, published in 1998 by Llewellyn Publications.

Then it happens again.

November 29, 1989—the Berlin Wall has just fallen. In the small European country of Belgium, an estimated 13,500 people are witness to an extraordinarily large, triangular-shaped craft moving overhead in the direction of Germany. It is flying very low, and would go unseen if not for its blinding lights. Written reports are filed by 2,600 individuals, and a photograph taken by one eyewitness is later computer-enhanced and verified to be genuine. Sightings continue until April 1990. The event is dubbed “The Belgian UFO Wave”.

And again.

May 25, 1995—over Taiban, New Mexico.  A craft 300 to 400 feet long, lit by bright, strobing lights is sighted at 30,000 feet by the crew of Las Vegas bound America West Flight 564. The sighting location was coincidentally, right between Cannon Air Force base and the NASA high altitude research facility in Fort Sumner.  The flight crew immediately contacts the Albuquerque FAA Air Route Traffic Control Center, and you can listen to a recording of their conversation by clicking the play button below.

and then the biggest sighting of them all.

March 13, 1997—Phoenix, Arizona. In an incident now called the “Phoenix Lights”, thousands of eyewitnesses report seeing a vast, triangular-shaped craft in the night sky. It is completely silent, and illuminated by several bright lights. Among the eyewitnesses is Fife Symington, the governor of Arizona. The craft moves slowly over the state, and is also seen in Nevada and the Mexican state of Sonora.

the sightings continue.

January 5, 2000— Illinois. Four unrelated police officers—Ed Barton in Lebanon, Dave Martin in Shiloh, Craig Stevens in Millstadt and Matt Jany in Dupo—all report a vast, black triangular craft moving on a hook-shaped flight pattern between their counties. Three civilians also offer identical accounts. The incident is later featured in a article, and you can read an extremely comprehensive writeup at the Riverfront Times.

February 16, 2000; August 21, 2004; October 31, 2004; October 1, 2005; and Sept 23, 2006multiple sightings of a triangular-shaped craft in the sky are reported at Rockford, Tinley Park, and Oak Park, Illinois.

The continuing reports from all over the country prompt the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS), funded by billionaire Robert Bigelow, to investigate. In 2001, they deliver a report on the flying triangles, dubbing them “Big Black Deltas” or BBDs. You can click here to download the report in PDF format.

In 2002, NIDS releases a second report concluding that there is good evidence that the Big Black Deltas seen throughout the United States are Department of Defense aircraft. Click here to download this report in PDF format.

January 8, 2008—Stephenville, Texas. Residents, including a constable, the chief of police, a pilot, and a former air-traffic controller, report seeing a large object hovering about 300 feet over the ground. Some eyewitnesses claim it to be a mile long and a half-mile wide; all maintain it is very large, very quiet, and equipped with a strobing light configuration which doesn’t match any conventional aircraft.

so what in the hell is this thing?

The military's secret romance with quiet sensor laden airships began long ago during the tumultuous Vietnam war. DARPA, The Defense Advanced Research Projects agency (then called ARPA) sponsored several design studies along with the Air Force's Cambridge research lab.

In 1964 a secret airship project named Silent Joe was designed for remote operations over the Ho Chi Mihn trail using infra red and acoustic sensors. It was quickly followed by Silent Joe II, POBOL, HASKV, and then POBOL-S, which was designed to watch targets below from an altitude of 70,000 feet for seven days. And this was in 1974!

In 1981 the Navy contracted Lockheed Martin to develop a lighter-than-air (LTA) high altitude surveillance platform called HI-SPOT—HI Surveillance Platform for Over-the-horizon Targeting. At around the same time, NASA launched a similar program called HAPP—the High Altitude Powered Platform, which was designed to be a flying radar surveillance station. Feasibility studies for both these programs were conducted by ILC Dover. You can download their Final Report on the Design Definition of the Lighter-Than-Air High Altitude Powered Platform, directly from NASA’s online archives. And you can download the report on Phase II of the study from the Corporation for National Research Initiatives. 

You might ask why the military kept pursuing airship technology when they have so many other options available.  Its because the airship is the only technology that can provide very long term, silent, surveillance,  the holy grail of military intelligence. This is the central reason behind my belief that these giant phantoms of the night belong to the department of defense. 

Now unfortunately all the publicly available historical data on airship programs ends there, but the story doesn't.  In 2009 the army decided they needed a giant surveillance airship for the battlefield and called the proposal the LEMV (long-endurance multi-intelligence vehicle). In 2010 Northrop Grumman announced the contract to build this vehicle with a first flight in 2011.  While this development isn't proof positive of a similar "classified" program, it goes a long way towards proving the critical need for such a platform exists.