Today In History: Jimmy Carter Reports UFO Sighting

Today In History |

September 18, 1973


Today in 1973, Jimmy Carter officially went on record as a UFO believer. The future president filed a report with the International UFO Bureau in Oklahoma City, in which he claimed to have witnessed an unidentified flying object in October of 1969.

Two years prior to becoming governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter was booked to speak at the Lions Club in Leary, Georgia. Before his talk, he was standing outside the club at around 7:15 pm when someone remarked on something in the sky.

About thirty degrees above the skyline, Carter saw a white object, about as bright as the moon. It accelerated towards Carter and the other witnesses, then stopped just beyond some trees. It changed from white to blue to red, then back to white, and then retreated.

In total, the witnesses claim to have observed the object for around ten minutes, before it receded out of sight.

In a 1973 interview, Carter said, "There were about twenty of us standing outside of a little restaurant, I believe, a high school lunch room, and a kind of green light appeared in the western sky. This was right after sundown. It got brighter and brighter. And then it eventually disappeared. It didn't have any solid substance to it, it was just a very peculiar-looking light. None of us could understand what it was."

Carter never claimed the object was an alien spacecraft - indeed, he assumed that it was probably a military aircraft. His account is at variance with that of the only other eyewitness that could be found for comment, who says it was much less sensational.

Nevertheless, Carter pledged to never judge UFO eyewitnesses harshly again. During his presidential run, he also promised to release the government's files on UFO sightings to the public. He redacted his offer when he became president, though, citing security issues.

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Matt lives in Southern California. He is interested in politics, history, literature and the natural world.