In 1989, Amber Flake and her siblings were at their house in Gonzales, La. when they saw a UFO hovering just above their roof.
According to Flake, the UFO was a dark, metallic color and was made up of several pieces with lights visible on the inside.
“It wasn’t like a UFO you see on TV,” Flake said.
One of Flake’s sisters corroborated her story but requested to not be in the article.
According to Flake and her mother, Donna McKinley, men in suits were at the house the next day to investigate the incident, but McKinley chose not to cooperate with them.
“I don’t know what I was thinking. I just looked at him and said, ‘Look man, it’s really none of your business,’” McKinley said.
UFO sightings like this one are not as uncommon as one might think.
People in the United States reported 4,850 sightings to the National UFO Reporting Center in 2019 alone.
Pat Linse — a co-founder of the Skeptics Society, a nonprofit dedicated to debunking unfounded beliefs — said most of these people reporting UFO sightings are being sincere, but their sightings are typically the result of hallucinations or optical illusions.
“If you don’t know what you’re looking at, you apply something that you actually know,” Linse said. “What you see depends on what you know and how you interpret it.”
With this in mind, it’s possible that Flake’s story is a result of an overactive imagination. McKinley said she’s had several experiences with UFOs, including an incident where she claimed she was abducted.
“I was walking, and then I don’t remember anything. And then the next thing I knew I was walking back to the house,” she said. “When I went inside the house, they told me I had been gone for hours, and they were getting worried and were getting ready to go look for me.”
She has made several airbrush paintings about her encounters with extraterrestrials over the years and has often told her children stories about her otherworldly encounters, so it’s possible Flake and her sister saw something they didn’t recognize and believed it to be a UFO due to their upbringing.
That being said, Reginald Buck, the former state director of the Louisiana chapter of the Mutual UFO Network, said people are often far too quick to dismiss UFO sightings due to military propaganda.
“People in the Air Force don’t want to spend that much money and that much time investigating something that they probably believe to be real but doesn’t seem like a threat,” Buck said. “So to stop that you just tell everybody, ‘Oh, it’s all nonsense.’”
Despite this, the Pentagon actually budgeted $22 million on UFO research in 2017, according to the New York Times. This was done in response to multiple military aircraft catching unknown, ovular objects on video during flights.
The United States put its fascination with UFOs on full display this June when, according to Vox, a 21-year-old college student named Matty Roberts created a Facebook event to organize a raid on Area 51, a top-secret military facility in Nevada that has spawned countless conspiracy theories about UFOs and extraterrestrials, as a joke.
But, the United States Military decided the joke wasn’t funny when 2 million people signed up to go, according to Forbes.
“[Area 51] is an open training range for the U.S. Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces,” Air Force spokeswoman Laura McAndrews said in an interview with the Washington Post. “The U.S. Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets.”
In response, Roberts closed the Facebook event. This didn’t stop 150 people from showing up at the scheduled time, but no raid took place.
Buck said while he doesn’t know for sure what’s going on at Area 51, he thinks it’s possible the military is researching extraterrestrials there.
“Is there a possibility that extraterrestrial life or extraterrestrial craft were brought (to Area 51)? Yes,” he said.
Linse, on the other hand, said she doesn’t believe any extraterrestrial activity is going on at Area 51.
“If they reverse-engineered these flying saucers they aren’t using it,” Linse said. “When it comes to the military, they will use it if they’ve got it.”