50 years ago, UFO sightings in the United States went bust
Excerpt from the June 26, 1971 issue of Science News
What happened to UFOs? — Science News, June 26, 1971
Since 1968 the number of UFO sightings has dropped off, along with public interest in them.… [The] scientific debunking of the UFO phenomena and the subsequent, though not necessarily connected, decline in sightings presents an interesting behavioral pattern…. UFO reports usually run in five-year cycles and 1972 should be the start of another cycle.
Reports of unidentified flying objects have had their ups and downs. In 2020, people in the United States made more than 7,200 reports of UFO sightings — about 1,000 more than in 2019 and nearly 4,000 more than in 2018, according to the National UFO Reporting Center in Davenport, Wash. A quarter of last year’s reports occurred in March and April, when much of the country was under lockdown due to the pandemic. Many of these UFOs turned out to be drones or satellites (SN: 3/28/20, p. 24). In late April, the Pentagon officially released naval footage of “unidentified aerial phenomena” that had been shared online, which may have primed some people to seek UFOs in their own backyards.