The Five Observables: What Are They And What Might They Mean?

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
September 19, 2021
Last Updated
October 14, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
14 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Sightings

Whichever way we look at it 2021 has already been a remarkable year for the UFO subject, perhaps not least due to the highly anticipated Pentagon report. A report, remember, that didn’t state the intelligence behind these unknown vehicles was extraterrestrial, did not rule out the possibility either.

Still frame from USS Nimitz UFO footage

Are UFOs alien vehicles?

There is no doubt that the subject of UFOs has been elevated slightly to a more serious mindset. News reports on the subject, more often than not, are no longer tongue-in-cheek or of an outright mocking nature. And, should further disclosures happen this will only continue. Indeed, interest in the subject – both serious and passing – is arguably higher than it has been for decades.

From the release of information, as well as the intense study of UFO researchers and investigators for decades, is what is widely referred to as the five observables – five specific traits of these strange, mysterious, and unknown vehicles. What is interesting, although certainly not a surprise, is that these traits match descriptions from many UFO accounts that span decades.

What Are The Five Observables?

It is, then, best to start [1] with what the five observables are. What are these five specific traits of these mysterious vehicles that are seemingly shared by most and are unique to them?

It is also important to keep in mind that all of these details have been reported in UFO sightings for decades, which perhaps adds a little bit more credibility to both those reports and the five observables themselves.

Anti-Gravity Lift

The first observable is these objects’ ability to “overcome the earth’s gravity”, and they do so with no visible means of propulsion. Not only that but these apparent vehicles have no wings of any kind. In short, they should not, according to our understanding of aviation, be able to fly.

We might note immediately here that many, many reports of UFOs speak of this apparent anti-gravity technology. In numerous accounts, for example, many witnesses to these strange objects state there is no visible means of propulsion, no wings are anything similar, or even a vapor trail of some kind. We might assume that it is this technology that results in the perfect silence of the objects, also something often reported by witnesses.

What is perhaps also interesting is that many whistleblowers have stated similar things, perhaps most notably, Bob Lazar, who made some startling revelations in the late 1980s, including that he had worked for several years with “alien technology”. He would also offer insight into how UFOs traverse the planet, some of which very much suggests a manipulation of gravity.

He stated that these extraterrestrial crafts used “antimatter reactors” that created their own gravity field, adding that it was this technology that “makes manipulation of space and time possible”. He would elaborate that the alien vehicles he had worked with had three “gravity amplifiers” on their underside which would focus their energy to a specific destination which then, essentially, brought that destination to the vehicle.

A depiction of a glowing UFO

UFOs appear to use anti-gravity technology

He would explain that this literal bending of space-time was like having a “big stone” (which is the craft) sitting on a sheet of rubber (space or sky). The gravity field then “pulls the desired destination to it. When the gravity amplifiers are shut off, the destination returns to its former position but it now takes the craft with it.

Further revelations from Lazar regarding the propulsion methods of these highly advanced crafts are that while traveling through space with this technology is relatively easy, traveling through Earth’s atmosphere is much less so. Lazar would claim that both the strong gravitational pull of Earth, as well as the intense weather systems interfere with the technology. Indeed, if we assume this information is accurate, this might be why these highly advanced vehicles seemingly crash on occasion while traversing the planet.

Of course, whether these suggestions are accurate and are indeed how these strange crafts make their way around the planet – and possibly around the universe – remains to be seen. In light of the official suggestion that these unknown objects are using technology to “overcome the earth’s gravity,” though, they are perhaps worth keeping in mind.

Sudden And Instantaneous Acceleration

Another aspect that features in multiple UFO reports is that these objects can seemingly go from a standing still position to instant acceleration, and the second observable is exactly that – sudden and instantaneous acceleration. And not only that, but they have the ability to change direction instantly. Our understanding of physics is that should a human pilot be inside one of these objects they simply wouldn’t survive the g-forces and would ultimately be crushed to death.

Perhaps even more intriguing, these objects, according to radar operators who have tracked them, can descend from the sky at more than 30 times the speed of sound – again, unheard of for terrestrial aircraft.

We will examine the 2004 USS Nimitz case shortly, perhaps an important case in that it was one of the key releases of information that prompted this apparent new attitude toward what UFOs might be by American authorities. However, some of those involved have reported very specific details of these strange objects’ movements that have contributed heavily to the five observables we are examining here.

Depiction of a UFO over a cloud

UFOs reach unbvelievable speeds

One of the pilots who was sent to intercept the strange craft that day was squadron commander, David Fravor. In relation to what we are talking about here, he would state the movements of the object were similar to a ping-pong ball. Furthermore, just to demonstrate the blistering acceleration of these strange crafts, radar operators would note that it went from a standing position to 60 miles per hour before traveling at a pace of 3,600 miles per hour – almost three times the speed of the F/A 18 Super Hornet.

These kinds of descriptions can be found in multiple UFO reports. And these are not just reports from the ground. There are many reports from other pilots – commercial, private, and military – that have made very similar claims to Fravor. Again, this perhaps gives both “sides” – the official and the civilian reports – a nod of credibility.

Hypersonic Velocities Without Signatures

Following on from the above detail, when these crafts reach such speeds that they are traveling faster than the speed of sound, we might expect a sonic boom or at least some kind of vapor trail. However, it is most often the case that these objects reach these speeds without leaving any audible or visual evidence at all.

Again, we could point to numerous UFO cases where the objects in question have simply accelerated into the distance, disappearing within seconds, with no sound or vapor trail whatsoever – almost as if they were never there. And once more these reports come from both professional pilots and members of the public who have witnessed these strange objects from the ground.

Depiction of a UFO over a forest

Many UFOs go from standing still to vanishing into the distance in seconds

In fact, many of the close proximity sightings from the ground feature details of the ability to go from standing (or hovering at low altitude position) to becoming nothing but a dot in the sky overhead within seconds after ascending at breakneck speed. And this usually happens in complete silence.

Low Observability, Or Cloaking

Many skeptics of UFO sightings will throw out the “how come there has never been a clear photograph of a UFO” if they are real argument. Firstly, there have been several very interesting photographs that do appear to show strange aerial vehicles on record, but secondly, it would appear that some kind of “low visibility” or cloaking device is utilized by them. That is certainly the findings of those who have put together the five observables.

If we return to the notes and research of Bob Lazar for a moment, we might note what he said of why some people simply do not see these strange crafts, even though they are hovering overhead. He states it all depends on where that person is stood on the ground relative to where the object is in the sky. For example, a person could be stood at X location, look up and clearly see a strange object overhead, whereas a person stood at Y location only several feet away would not see it simply to its cloaking, or its low visibility.

Depiction of two UFOs over mountains

Many people have claimed UFOs use cloaking technology

In many of the reports from the previously mentioned USS Nimitz incident, it was stated that a strange haze appeared to be present around the craft that made it difficult to see it clearly. Was this a form of cloaking?

If these crafts do have the technical ability to not only hide from radar (which they often appear to do) but also to make themselves invisible to the human eye then not only does that suggest a highly advanced technology but means they could be moving around our skies a lot more than we might think.

Trans-Medium Travel

Perhaps the most intriguing of these observable points is that their trans-medium travel – that they have the ability to travel through the air, and perhaps even space, as well as on and under the water, and can do so (seemingly) instantly with no reshuffling of its structure (although we might note that there are several reports on record that state these strange objects have changed shape while in motion).

If we return our attention to the USS Nimitz incident of 2004, witnesses stated that the UFO was hovering over the water, seemingly causing a “disturbance” under the surface of the water over which it hovered while the rest of the water remained calm before it appeared to enter the water. Similarly, sonar operators would later report that they had an unidentified object moving under the water at a speed two times faster than that of most nuclear submarines.

Artist's impression of a UFO in water

Is there a connection between UFOs and water?

What is interesting about this detail is there has been a growing consensus for some time among UFO researchers that the depths of the planet’s waters might be an important key to unlocking the mystery of the UFO and alien question. Many reports of UFOs are on record near, over, or under the water. Again, the fact that this detail has been highlighted – that these futuristic vehicles can travel under the water as efficiently as they travel through the air – adds a certain amount of credibility to such reports.

What Does It All Mean?

So, while we don’t know what these objects are or where they come from, we do know from the details above that they far exceed the technology at our collective disposal (at least officially). And what’s more, these officially recognized sightings by military personnel mirror many encounters from the civilian population that has taken place for decades. That “something” strange is traversing the skies of our planet is surely without doubt.

Ultimately, the most important question would be why these objects are here in the first place and where do they come from? The release of information so far, however, and the potential of future releases are encouraging and important steps toward those questions being answered.

We will turn our attention next, though, to one of the cases that, ultimately, led to the disclosure efforts of the summer of 2021, an incident that occurred over a decade and a half earlier and that we have referred to several times already, the 2004 Nimitz incident.

The 2004 Nimitz Encounter

Arguably one of the most intriguing and examined UFO encounters of the twenty-first century is the 2004 incident involving the USS Nimitz. Indeed, this incident may prove to be particularly important in understanding the wider UFO picture.

On 14th November 2004, the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group was around 100 miles southwest off the coast of San Diego, California [2] conducting several drills and exercises before setting out for the Persian Gulf. Part of their group, incidentally, was the USS Princeton, which was a nuclear-powered carrier, which might account for the events that were about to unfold.

On the afternoon in question, two F/A 18 Super Hornet fighter jets were going through training exercises when they received orders from the USS Princeton. They were to immediately break off from their training and divert their attention to a “real-world” task – essentially, their new coordinates were no longer part of a drill but a real situation.

The USS Nimitz

The USS Nimitz

Unbeknown to the pilots, the USS Princeton had spent the last several days tracking several mysterious and unidentified objects. In fact, according to one witness, the senior radar operator onboard the USS Princeton, he had tracked “well over 100” of these objects in the course of seven days. He would elaborate that “watching them on the display was like watching snow fall from the sky”. He would continue that these mysterious aircraft often appeared at altitudes in excess of 80,000 feet, which was much higher than commercial or military jets would generally fly.

Initially, the crew performed maintenance checks of their equipment to ensure there wasn’t a malfunction or an error somewhere. However, no faults were found, and everything seemed to be working exactly as it should.  With this in mind, when the objects reappeared that afternoon, a decision was made to attempt to intercept them.

A “Tic-Tac” Shaped Object With Speed “Beyond Anything Seen!”

One of the pilots that day, as we mentioned above, was David Fravor. He would recall upon arriving at the location that there was no sign of any craft in the sky. He did, though, see a “disturbance” at a certain point in the water below. It looked as though there was an object just below the surface of the water, which was “churning with white waves” below.

Not long after this, though, they witnessed a strange object around 50 feet above the surface of the water. Fravor described the object as being approximately 40 feet long and “shaped like a Tic Tac”. He would further state it was white with no wings, no rotors, and no visible means of propulsion.

Even stranger to the pilot was the bizarre sharp movements of the object, movements he would describe as “similar to if you threw a ping-pong ball against the wall”.

Still frame from the 2004 Nimitz incident

Still frame from the 2004 Nimitz incident

Fravor brought his fighter jet around the craft, noticing that it was now ascending in his direction. He would state its acceleration was “beyond anything I’ve seen”. The craft “crossed his nose” before it disappeared into the distance.

The pilot serving as Fravor’s wingman, an anonymous female pilot, stated that the encounter was terrifying, describing the object as “unpredictable” with “high G, rapid velocity, (and) rapid acceleration”. Her description of the craft matched those of Fravor almost identically.

As the object disappeared other jets were being scrambled from the USS Princeton in an attempt to intercept it. It was one of these pilots, Chad Underwood, [3] who managed to capture the (now) famous video footage of the object using his onboard infrared camera.

It would be two more years following the release of the footage before Underwood spoke publicly about the incident, claiming that he didn’t want his name “attached to the ‘little green men’ crazies” as a result.

Into The Public Arena

The incident would eventually come to light in 2017 thanks to an article on the sighting by the New York Times, which was quickly followed by their releasing the leaked video of the incident.

It was also around this time that the existence of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) – a little-known program of the Defense Department. The New York Times would refer to this department as “shadowy” and claimed it was essentially a “pet project” of (then) Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, who had a personal interest in UFOs.

What was even more intriguing about this discreet project is that the Defense Department had informed the New York Times that AATIP had ceased operations in 2012. However, one of the former directors, Luis Elizonda, claimed publicly that it was very much still active, and that he had been a part of the program until he left in October 2017.

Whether coincidentally or not, following the leaking of the video and the attention drawn to it by the New York Times, the US government appeared to change direction in terms of UFOs – at least officially. In 2019 it was announced that the Navy would soon issue new guidelines for reporting sightings of unknown objects, stating that this was, in part, an attempt to encourage servicemen (and others) to come forward to report such sightings without fear of ridicule.

Furthermore, a spokesperson for the US Navy claimed that they were “investigating each and every report”, adding that there had been “a number of reports of unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled ranges and designated airspace in recent years”.

You can see that footage below.

Attempts At Suppression?

According to a news story toward the end of 2019, “unknown individuals” [4] made Navy officers erase video and radar evidence of the incident. One of those who made such claims was one-time Petty Officer 3rd Class Jason Turner, who wasn’t initially inside the USS Princeton’s Combat Information Center (CIC), although he was getting the distinct impression that something strange was afoot. When he was asked to deliver supplies to the vessel’s Signal Exploitation Space he would discover what was taking place.

As he entered the room, he immediately noticed footage playing on the console monitors. On the screens was the video footage that would become world-famous 13 years later. He would state in the documentary Nimitz Encounters that “this thing was going berserk” making bizarre unthinkable turns that would put significant G-forces on a human pilot. He would continue that the object was moving smoothly before it suddenly stopped and was “just gone…in an instant”.

He would ask a friend who worked in this particular part of the ship if this was part of the training exercise, to which they would respond, “No, this is real life”.

Another witness was Ryan Weigelt, who also happened to have been sent into the CIC as part of his duties as the incident unfolded. Much like Turner, he would state that footage of the incident was playing on the consoles all the while he was inside. Both servicemen would state that the video they witnessed on board the ship was much longer than the clip that found its way into the public arena.

Weigelt would later state that he was “in there for quite a while and it was on the screen the whole time”, adding it was “playing when I went into (the) combat (room) and it was playing when I left”.

You can check out an interview with Weigelt below.

Differing Information

Yet another witness on the USS Princeton, Gary Voorhis, also claimed that he witnessed the video footage and that it was at least “eight to 10 minutes long”. He would claim that he “got a good sense of how the pilot was having a difficult time trying to keep up with this thing”, adding that it was “making tight, right-angle turns” and it was not at all like a conventional aircraft.

However, it was the revelations of Petty Officer Patrick Hughes that is perhaps most remarkable. Hughes was onboard the USS Nimitz and was, at the time, unaware of the events that were taking place. It was one of Hughes’ duties to secure the hard drive data recorders from the airborne early-warning aircraft. Hughes would add that this data – called “bricks” by the military – records data of what the “aircrew see during their flight”. It was shortly after he secured the bricks for 14th November that Hughes had two mysterious visitors who came to see him with his commanding officer.

Hughes would remember that “they were not on the ship earlier” and that he “didn’t see them come on”, almost as if they appeared out of nowhere. He was then ordered by his commanding officer to hand over the recently secured data bricks he had secured. He did as he was ordered and then the two mysterious men left.

Perhaps amazingly, back on the USS Princeton, Voorhis had a very similar experience. He would recall how “two guys” arrived on the ship via helicopter. Around 20 minutes later, he was ordered to “turn over all the data recordings for the AEGIS system”. He was further told to erase anything that might have been recording that day. Voorhis would further state that the only other time he was ordered to hand over data in such a way was following an aircraft crash during a combat deployment.

One thing to note, however, is that the pilot, David Fravor claimed he believed the tapes had gone missing simply due to the fact that they had been accidentally recorded over. Of course, the fact that we have differing opinions on the incident might make us raise a cautious eyebrow or two.

You can check out more on this incident in the video below.

A Temporary Moment Of Vindication

Perhaps the one thing that most UFO investigators, researchers, and enthusiasts can take away from the release of information by the Pentagon is a certain amount of vindication. That many of the cases they investigated, researched, and, in some cases, reported, have suddenly been classified as “something” as opposed to simply being dismissed outright. And while this vindication is limited and may indeed only be temporary, it is an important shift in the collective mindset for several reasons.

We have already mentioned that many news reports in recent years – on mainstream, national news channels – are beginning to approach such reports with a little more seriousness. And while we are perhaps some time away from genuine, serious debate on such platforms, once more, it is an important shift.

What these shifts do, and will do, will make it less controversial for people to report such sightings. How many UFO sightings, for example, remain unreported each year because people simply fear being mocked? This is perhaps even more important for people such as pilots, police officers, and members of the military, who have even risked losing their jobs in previous years for making such reports.

This shift in mindset about UFOs will also encourage scientists and engineers to study the subject from the mainstream as opposed to having to conduct such research from the fringes. Once more, there is an argument that in previous years, such scientists and experts who would choose to examine UFOs and alien visitation risked losing their funding, or even their position. The late John Mack is perhaps a great example, who successfully fought back against such attempts to have him removed from his position.

We might also consider, though, however unlikely, that at least some of these revelations might be an exercise in disinformation. Essentially, a smokescreen. We need to note that we are not saying, in this instance, this is the case. However, we would, as a collective, be irresponsible to not even consider the possibility that at least some of these new revelations and releases of information might be skewered slightly, perhaps to fit into a predetermined narrative that some might wish the UFO subject to take on. We might recall the differing accounts – particularly in terms of the missing data tapes – of the USS Nimitz incident, for example.

Whatever the truth turns out to be and whatever direction the UFO subject takes, it is likely to remain very much in the public eye for the foreseeable.

The short video below examines the five observables a little further.


1 These 5 UFO Traits, Captured on Video by Navy Fighters, Defy Explanation, History, May 20th, 2019
2 When Top Gun Pilots Tangled with a Baffling Tic-Tac-Shaped UFO, Greg Daugherty, History, May 16th, 2019
3 Navy Pilot Who Filmed the ‘Tic Tac’ UFO Speaks: ‘It Wasn’t Behaving by the Normal Laws of Physics, Matthew Phelan, New York Intelligencer, December 19th, 2019
4 What, exactly, did the Navy encounter 15 years ago off the Southern California coast, when fighter pilots spotted a UFO? These men were there, too⁠—and it’s time they tell their side of the story, Tim McMillan, Popular Mechanics, November 12th 2019

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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