WASHINGTON - Is the U.S. government covering up what it knows about UFOs? That was the question at the center of Wednesday’s House Oversight Committee hearing.
A panel of former military pilots testified in front of Congress at the hearing, titled "Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena: Implications on National Security, Public Safety, and Government Transparency," saying more transparency is needed to force the Pentagon to come clean on what it knows about what they refer to as unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAPs).
While some people might laugh about a Congressional panel on flying saucers and aliens from outer space, lawmakers and witnesses were very serious in the hearing.
Both Republicans and Democrats stood united in saying getting to the bottom of UAPs as they're now called is an issue of national security whether you're talking about the Chinese spy balloon or flying saucers possibly from outer space.
"All four of us looked down and saw a small white 'tic tac' object with a longitude pointing north-south moving very abruptly over the water, like a ping pong ball," retired U.S. Navy Commander David Fravor told the committee.
The House Oversight Committee heard from former U.S. military pilots, one of whom told Congress he'd seen a UFO during a patrol near Virginia Beach. Others say they saw objects that seemed to have no wings but traveled in unexplainable ways.
"We've run into roadblocks from our members, the intelligence community, the Pentagon and I've proposed legislation to go into the FAA reauthorization," said Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn.
The number of these "close encounters" have taken off with 366 reports of UAPs over the last two years but witnesses estimate 95% of sightings go unreported over career-ending pilot fears of being labeled as "UFO believers."
"Pilots are reporting UAPs at altitudes above them at 40,000 [feet] and potentially lower in low Earth’s orbit or in a grey zone common line making unexplainable maneuvers," said Ryan Graves, a former U.S. Navy pilot.
But many D.C. residents told FOX 5 they feel there are more important issues that Congress should be looking at than flying saucers.