“What do you think the phenomenon is?” I asked investigative journalist Leslie Kean. She has been investigating Unidentified Aerial Phenomena since fighting to publish her first article on the subject in 2000. After grinding on the taboo topic for 17 years she was invited to break the historic New York Times article, “Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious UFO Program.”

I had the exciting opportunity to interview the best-selling author on my YouTube channel two weeks ago. This is part 2, check out part 1 in the previous edition.

“Well, my position has always been that we don’t know what it is,” Leslie said, “and that’s still my position. But I’m willing to say that we can rule out that it was manufactured on Earth. I’m willing to say that. I mean the things it can do, the effects on humans…and the fact there are so many different types of objects. It just seems so incredibly complex to me. I’m not sure we will ever fully understand what it is and how it does what it does.”

Taboo topic

That is also the US government’s official position. According to the 25 June Preliminary Assessment on the topic, the unidentified objects that military pilots and other personnel are seeing on a near-daily basis “probably represent real objects” because they are tracked by multiple different systems. But, the report also said we still don’t know what they are. There was no mention of extraterrestrial life or UFOs specifically in the report. Instead, the authors chose to lump the taboo topic into a mysterious “other” category.

Leslie wrote in her excellent book “UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go On the Record” that the UFO stigma is a very powerful force. No journalist, politician, or scientist would touch the topic for fear of ridicule and isolation. The simple fact, so they believed, was UFOs do not exist, therefore they cannot exist. End of story. Why waste time and effort, and be ridiculed along the way, searching for something that doesn’t exist? Any deviation from this line of thinking resulted in damaged egos and ruined careers.

Fortunately that taboo is quickly lifting.

“They have actually written into some of these press releases the importance of overcoming the stigma,” Leslie said. “So they are recognising that there is a stigma and that we need to get beyond it.”

The 25 June Preliminary Assessment on UAPs included a large bold section titled “UAP Collection Challenges.” The report states that “sociocultural stigmas and sensor limitations remain obstacles to collecting data on UAPs.”

“Senator Rubio and Senator Gilligbrand both said the same thing [about removing the stigma],” Leslie said. “They reiterated that. It just takes the media off the hook and takes the witnesses off the hook. It invites everyone to care about it. I mean it may not be top priority for everybody, that’s for sure. But I don’t think there is going to be opposition to it.”

Check out the full hour and half interview here

Feeling comfortable

Determining what the phenomena is, how it works, and why it is here is one of the rare bi-partisan topics in Washington. Now that congress is engaged on the matter the topic is legitimate to investigate. Although there is still a stigma from decades of official denial and derision, with the recent admissions from congress and the DOD, many witnesses now feel comfortable talking about their experiences.

Although I didn’t see any UAPs while flying F-16s, I can’t say for certain I would have spoken up if I had seen one. Even if I believed my own eyes, how would I report it? What would my commanders think of me? Would they take me off flying status and order me to take a psychological evaluation?

Now, the US military will be required by congress to have a reporting process for these rare events. The jet tapes and radar records will be preserved for later analysis. The witnesses will be taken seriously and protected.

“There still will be a stigma,” Leslie said, “there are still fears of ridicule if you're active duty. But it has got to be better than it was. It’s got to be. I think people like David Fravor and Alex Dietrich have really been role models to try and encourage others to do what they’ve done.”

Tic-Tac craft

David Fravor and Alex Dietrich were both piloting F-18 fighters off the coast in 2004 when they intercepted and maneuvered with the now famous Tic-Tac craft. They are among a select few US aviators, Ryan Graves as well, to speak publicly about seeing a UFO.

According to Fravor and Dietrich in their 60-minutes interview, the object looked like a 40 foot long smooth white Tic-Tac candy. It had no wings, rotors, or any form of propulsion. Their backseat weapons systems officers also witnessed the Tic-Tac object accelerate from a near standstill to impossible speeds “like a bullet.”

Leslie seemed still in shock at the outcome,“To think back to where we were in 2017, to me it's just stunning how far we’ve come in the last 4 years. And we’ve ended up with this just incredible legislation. Who would have thought this would ever happen? It’s just amazing.”

Leslie is currently working on a UFO production with a major network. She is also investigating a link between UAPs and her study of consciousness after death. You can read her recent book on the topic “Surviving Death” or watch the Netflix Documentary with the same name.


Chris Lehto, ex-F-16 pilot, and YouTuber, combines aviation expertise and passion for the unexplained to investigate UAPs. He founded the UAP Society, funding decentralised research into alien existence using NFTs.

Chris Lehto