2020: ‘The Year of UFO’ as Reports Doubled During the Pandemic

UFO sightings

UFO sightings in New York doubled last year, particularly in the Hudson Valley, long a hot spot for sightings. The National UFO Reporting Center recorded 300 sightings in New York in 2020, versus around 150 the previous year.

Meanwhile, over 7,200 UFO sightings were reported nationally, up 1,000 from 2019, reports the NY Times.

Sightings have been so frequent that UFO enthusiasts say they have turned away from local UFO meetups. Virginia “Cookie” Stringfellow, 75, shared her story about being abducted by aliens in Ontario, NY. Now she says out-of-towners are showing up in droves to join the meetings.

“I have to turn away people,” said Stringfellow, 75. 

More Eyes Watching the Skies

Ufologists suggest the dramatic increase is likely due to more eyeballs on the night skies, not an increase in UFOs. The rise in sightings coincided with March and April of last year when lockdowns were in full effect.

Since the coronavirus, New Yorkers have relocated to the Hudson Valley area, the Catskills, and the Adirondacks. There, with far less light pollution, they can see the sky and notice moving lights and objects.

Chris DePerno, assistant director of the New York State branch of the Mutual UFO Network, said that city transplants were reporting aircraft flying in acrobatic ways. DePerno is a retired police detective.

“They come up toward the Hudson Valley, it’s beautiful up there, you get clear skies and then all of a sudden you see this thing zipping through the sky, that stopped on a dime, goes straight up, takes off again, stops, comes back — we’re talking incredible speeds,” said Mr. DePerno.

With more people at home, there is more time to ponder what’s happening in the sky.

“With the Covid thing, more people are looking up,” he said.

Most UFOs are Identified 

Although there are more UFO sightings, the National UFO Reporting Center’s NUFORC director, Peter Davenport, says most of those can be attributed to ordinary things:

  • Drones
  • Birds
  • Bats
  • Satellites
  • Airplanes
  • Blimps

In a few cases, the UFO report remains unidentified. However, even though more reports are coming in, the proportion of unidentified objects remains the same, says Davenport.

2020: The Year of the UFO

A famed journalist who frequently reports on UFOs, George Knapp, reported, “The year of the pandemic was also the year of the UFO.”

Knapp pointed to the “most detailed analysis of American UFO sighting reports ever assembled” by UFO researcher and author Cheryl Costa. 

The UFO Sightings Desk Reference records a national spike in reports during the pandemic. Amazingly, the data covers UFO sightings broken down by city, county, state, shapes, types, sizes, time of day, and more.

As you might expect, in March and April of 2020, sightings were the highest at 1305 and 1603, respectively.

Costa detailed the US cities where sightings were the highest.

“Phoenix is the number one city. Okay, second year in a row. New York City is number two,” Costa said. “I never used to count New York City’s five boroughs. I attended the counties. Now we’re counting them as a full city. Las Vegas is number three for sightings. Los Angeles is number four. Number six is Portland. San Diego is number 10. Houston is number 11 in the country, Albuquerque 13. Sacramento number 21 in the country. 23 is San Francisco. Fresno was 43. And Lubbock is up to 75.”

Interestingly, Costa says she’s seen a drop in reports of Triangle UFOs, Cylinders, cigars, and fireballs. However, there has been a rise in “circles, spheres, changing UFOs, disk UFOs, tic tac UFOs, teardrop, and Saturn type UFOs.”

Strangely, she found a seasonal change in reports for the various UFO shapes, which she notes are not necessarily alien spacecraft.

You can see Knapp interview Costa about her incredibly in-depth data on unidentified flying object sightings across the country here.

TikTok UFO Videos

Along with the rise in UFO reports nationally, there has also been a trend for UFO videos on TikTok, a short-form video app. In September 2020, videos were particularly popular, reaching millions of views and showing up on users’ For You suggestions.

In one video, the user @withinthewild showed a group of people pointing and watching UFOs that sparkled in the sky.


See the sparkly diamonds? I cannot believe I’m seeing this with MY OWN eyes now…2020 man… #ufos #conspiracytok #aliens #ufo361 #2020 #foryou

♬ original sound – haley

In at least two TikTok videos, people saw multicolored UFOs near Boston.

In another video, user shanabran shared a video of UFOs which he claimed had “just landed next to my job” near Boston.

People More Likely to Report Sightings

Unlike in the past, more people are likely to come forward. Although people reporting UFOs have always been ridiculed, now, the subject is not as taboo. 

After the Pentagon declassified videos of unidentified aerial phenomena, UAPs seen by Navy pilots, UFOs have become mainstream news. 

Stringfellow says the news has encouraged people to talk about their sightings.

“Because of the Pentagon being outed, there is more news now, there is more reporting now,” said Stringfellow. “People aren’t so afraid to say, ‘Oh, jeez, I was in the woods now, or I was by the lake, and this thing came down.'”

Recently, the former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe appeared on Fox News to suggest UFOs have been observed breaking the sound barrier with no sonic boom. Furthermore, he made it clear that sightings are more common than previously disclosed. 

Meanwhile, a public UAP report is due, a joint effort from the current secretary of defense and national intelligence director. Details of the report should disclose a detailed analysis of unidentified phenomena data from the Central Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon, the FBI, and other spy agencies.

Overall, it seems the subject of UFOs has gained significant credibility, resulting in less social stigma for those who have experienced the phenomena. 

Davenport says he’s encouraged to see the change.

“It’s encouraging to many of us in the field of ufology that the government is willing to confirm that they are aware of these circumstances, that they are conceding that people are reporting these events,” said Davenport.

In the past, he says the government seemed to have believed “that people like me are just crazy — and we’re not.”

Most Americans Believe in Intelligent ETs

2020 Ipsos poll found that “just under half of Americans believe UFOs exist and have visited the Earth.” The results found that people are roughly split on whether aliens exist, regardless of age. 

In a related poll, Ipsos found that the majority (57%) of Americans think there are intelligent life and civilizations on other planets. However, only 45% believed in UFOs that visited the Earth.

Belief in UFOs and alien abduction is so prevalent that one Florida company, The St. Lawrence Agency, sold 6,000 “alien abduction insurance” policies by 2019. In the UK, a British company called Grip sold more than 37,000 alien-based policies by the year 2000.

Featured image: Hudson Valley by allexangry via PixabayPixabay License with UFO by Peter-Lomas via PixabayPixabay License

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