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UFO sightings: The U.S. states where they’re most often reported

UFOs (dreese/WikiCommons)

Since biblical times, people have debated if there is life in outer space.

In fact, the first known record of an unidentified flying object is described in the Bible’s Book of Ezekiel as a mysterious ship appearing from the sky in Chaldea (modern-day Kuwait), according to Data journalism website Stacker.

More strange sightings were reported around Rome in 218 B.C. And a wave of “mysterious apparitions” showed up in fourth-century China when a “moon boat” was recorded floating overhead once every 12 years, says Stacker.

And this debate as to whether life exists in outer space has continued through the centuries and will likely occur for years to come. In fact, modern day UFO sightings continue to be reported in every state in the country.

Earlier this year, Congress held its first congressional public hearing on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), also known as UFOs, and key lawmakers said they must be taken seriously.

Rep. Andre Carson of Indiana, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee’s Counterterrorism Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation subcommittee ,which convened a hearing in May, said UFOs are a “potential national security threat and they need to be treated that way.”


On March 15, 2022, one Staten Island resident claimed to have spotted a round-shaped object in the sky that had lights on it, and it left a long trail, according to the National UFO Reporting Center.

There were seven reported UFO sightings on Staten Island in 2021, according to the website.

In November, a resident reported seeing a triangular-shaped object in the sky.

“While driving home, I noticed three bright orbs, yellow-ish tint, in the sky. They were spread in a triangle formation and were stationary for several minutes. The orb to the top left then began slowly moving independently, with a green flicker. There were other aircrafts in the sky, but none that were in the immediate area of those orbs,” the report said.

In an effort to document the number of UFO sighting, Stacker compiled a ranking of the states with the most reported UFO sightings by analyzing data from NUFORC’s 24/7 hotline, which dates back to 1974. NUFORC’s dataset includes reports dating back to 1400.

For each state, Stacker included details of famous UFO sightings in that state.

Here’s what Stacker came up with:

#50. Texas — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 23

Several of Texas’ most famous recordings of UFO activity had multiple witnesses.

“Such was the case in January 2008, when dozens of residents in the tiny town of Stephenville, Texas, reported white lights floating over Highway 67 in a single arc that then moved silently into vertical, parallel lines. Although the Air Force claimed F-16s had been flying in that proximity at the time, eyewitnesses disputed those claims, saying the lights were far too advanced for such a simple explanation,” says Stacker.

#49. Louisiana — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 23

The Abita Mystery House in Abita Springs is a supernatural enthusiasts’ must-see, particularly for its UFO crash site. “Shreveport’s proximity to the Barksdale Air Force Base translates to plenty of UFO sightings, as military exercises and tests are commonly misconstrued by the civilian population,” says Stacker.

#48. Mississippi — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 25

Two fishermen on the Pascagoula River claimed to have been abducted by aliens in 1975. Back then, Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker’s story was met with cynicism, but three more witnesses came forward in 2019 to substantiate the claims.

“Parker, who died in 2011, at the time assumed the blue light on the water meant cops had shown up to kick the men off the property. Then, he said, he noticed the lights were coming from above. Three aliens without legs injected the men with a sedative, according to the story, abducted them, and performed physical examinations aboard the spacecraft before releasing the men back along the river,” says Stacker.

#47. Georgia — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 27

While serving as governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter in 1973 filed a report with Oklahoma’s UFO Bureau about a mysterious object he claimed to have seen in 1969. “During that decade, Georgia’s version of Area 51—a nuclear aircraft and radiation testing facility just north of Atlanta—was an area rich in tales and conspiracy theories about abductions, UFOs and animal mutilation,” says Stacker.

#46. Alabama — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 27

In 1989 a woman reported an unusual light in the sky in Fyffe, and area police claimed to see a large UFO flying in total silence overhead following her sighting. “The resulting excitement led more than 4,000 people to descend on the tiny town. No sightings were reported by the crowds, perhaps because of overcast skies and light rain,” says Stacker.

#45. New York — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 28

Are aliens afraid of the Empire State? When an electrical surge and explosion at a Con Ed substation in Queens lit up the sky in December of 2018, many claimed a blue haze was a sign of alien life. “Less debunked than that, however, is New York’s Hudson Valley UFO, a Dec. 31, 1982 sighting by hundreds of onlookers of a V-shaped collection of multicolored lights connected by a triangular fuselage moving deliberately and without a sound across the night sky,” says Stacker.

#44. Maryland — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 29

Stacker says Maryland’s most famous UFO sighting is likely that of Alvin Cohen and Phillip Small, who around midnight on Oct. 26, 1958, “claimed to see a giant, iridescent object floating over a bridge as they drove past the Loch Raven Reservoir in Towson, Maryland.”

#43. New Jersey — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 30

The Garden State narrowly beat out New York on its number of UFO sightings.

On July 14, 2001—50 years after lights in V formations were widely recorded in 1951 in Lubbock, Texas—UFOs in a huge flying V were spotted traveling along the New Jersey Turnpike for about 15 minutes by hundreds of motorists — including onlookers from Staten Island.

“Witnesses included a Carteret police lieutenant, who described the sight as a collection of orange and yellow lights over the Arthur Kill Waterway,” says Stacker.

#42. Virginia — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 32

Two UFO sightings were reported to the National UFO Reporting Center in Virginia on April 4, 2019. At 6:48 a.m., an eyewitness claimed to have seen a light blue circular craft in the Virginia Beach sky.

“Seven minutes later, an eyewitness at the Norfolk Naval Station 23 miles northwest claimed to see what resembled a shooting star with a green glow that never faded and a short tail. The object moved without noise quickly across the sky and disappeared in 10 seconds. There were 2,348 UFO sightings reported throughout the state between 2001 and 2015, roughly 27.9 sightings per 100,000 people,” says Stacker.

#41. Illinois — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 32

Twelve United Airlines employees and multiple witnesses inside Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport said they saw a dark gray aircraft floating around above gate C17 as Flight 446 prepped for departure just after 4 p.m. on Nov. 7, 2006, according to Stacker.

#40. Tennessee — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 34

Five separate witnesses from Knoxville, Cleveland, Kingston, Coalfield and Murfreesboro made a report on March 29, 2019, to the National UFO Reporting Center claiming “a fireball and various lights passed over the sky over the course of about 10 seconds,” according to Stacker.

#39. Michigan — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 34

While conducting an air defense intercept over Lake Superior near the Soo Locks in Michigan U.S. in 1953 Air Force Pilot and First Lt. Felix Eugene Moncla Jr. — and his plane — vanished.

In what is today known as the Kinross Incident (Moncla was on temporary assignment at Kinross Air Force Base), Air Defense Command radar found a UFO traveling 500 miles per hour in the airspace. “Moncla took off in an F-89C all-weather jet interceptor after the craft, but as his radar blip connected with the UFOs, communication went dark in what was assumed to be a crash,” says Stacker.

#38. Nebraska — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 36

One of Nebraska’s most well-known UFO stories was turned into a comic book in 2019 — “An Alien Encounter.” The book includes a 1967 eyewitness account from Nebraska State Patrolman Herbert Schirmer, who saw what he “assumed to be a tractor-trailer, but which turned out to be a UFO. Under hypnosis, Schirmer recalled being abducted and shown how the spacecraft worked,” says Stacker.

#37. Ohio — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 36

Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who founded The Center for UFO Studies, sought to determine wherever possible an astronomical explanation for UFOs.

Hynek served during the 1950s and 1960s as the astronomical consultant to the United States Air Force’s Project Blue Book, a project tasked with investigating and explaining UFO phenomena.

#36. North Carolina — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 37

Bret Jones was outside taking pictures of birds in Greensboro, when he saw a bright spark of light in the sky near a plane flying overhead on. Jan. 25, 2019. “Wondering if the mysterious shape was a balloon, he began recording the object until it disappeared after about 10 seconds,” says Stacker.

“The odds of seeing a UFO in the state are quite low, although you wouldn’t know it from the stories that stretch back to at least 1940 and have touched off a number of conspiracy theories about government cover-ups and experiments.”

#35. Pennsylvania — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 37

Pennsylvania’s version of the Roswell incident occurred in 1965 when a fireball that caused sonic booms — witnessed by thousands of onlookers across six states — crashed around Kecksburg.

“NASA ultimately in 2007 handed over the Kecksburg files, but multiple files the organization sent to the National Archives two years after the incident were allegedly marked as lost in 1987,” says Stacker.

#34. Kentucky — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 37

Each year, the Kelly Little Green Men Days Festival commemorates the Aug. 21, 1955 alleged alien invasion of the farm of Elmer Sutton. “That ambush allegedly involved a small group of alien creatures descending from their spacecraft outside of Sutton’s farmhouse to the horror of his family, including five adults and seven children,” says Stacker.

#33. Oklahoma — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 37

A video of UFOs overhead at the Oklahoma State Fair in 2017 caused talk of aliens, but the flying object turned out to be skydivers. “If you want to be sure of an encounter, stop in and see some alien yard art along Route 66 in Stroud,” suggests Stacker.

#32. Massachusetts — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 37

In January 1967, Betty Andreasson was at home with her family in South Ashburnham when she claimed gray aliens with “oval-shaped heads and enormous eyes” put her into a trance and abducted her.

“Aboard the craft, Andreasson said she was examined and then an alien disclosed to her the meaning of life and immediately erased her memory—all of which she recalled while under hypnosis. Her experiences were documented in Raymond Fowler’s book ‘The Andreasson Affair,'” says Stacker.

Two years later, on Sept. 1, 1969, 9-year-old Thom Reed claimed to have been abducted by aliens from the car he was driving in with his brother, mother and grandmother over the Old Covered Bridge in Sheffield, the data journalism website reports.

#31. North Dakota — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 37

Known as the “Gorman Dogfight,” Veteran World War II B-25 fighter pilot George F. Gorman had a 27-minute sky encounter with a white ball of light over Fargo, North Dakota, on Oct. 1, 1948. Stacker says Gorman saw what he described as “a flying disk with clear edges and many bright lights.”

“Gorman attempted to make contact with the craft, which dodged Gorman’s advances at speeds in excess of 600 miles per hour. His story was verified by two air traffic controllers and another pilot flying in Fargo that night,” says Stacker.

#30. Minnesota — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 37

Deputy Sheriff Val Johnson awoke 40 minutes after his squad car had been swallowed in “a ball of light” sometime around midnight on Aug. 27, 1979, says Stacker. “His wristwatch and car’s clock, both meticulously set, had stopped for a full 14 minutes and he was 1,000 feet from where the incident occurred.”

“One hundred feet of skid marks scarred the highway, and cracks throughout the vehicle’s windshield, according to an expert from Ford Motor Co., appeared to have been caused by simultaneous inward and outward forces. Johnson also suffered welder burns and had scorched retinas upon medical inspection,” says Stacker.

#29. Iowa — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 38

One of the most famous accounts of alien life in Iowa never actually happened, according to Stacker. “In the opening of Robert A. Heinlein’s 1951 novel ‘The Puppet Masters,’ government agents investigate an alien ship outside Grinnell, Iowa.”

#28. Kansas — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 39

In 1957, an Air Force RB-47 was followed for 700 miles by an unidentified craft over Kansas and on through Missouri and Texas. Six years later, the radar of another RB-47 captured a radar blip followed by a bright blue light that was corroborated by the pilot and crew members, according to Stacker.

#27. Indiana — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 40

On Oct. 9, 1973, first-responder switchboards were deluged by nearly 700 callers reporting UFO sightings. These included blinking lights near the ground, a UFO spotted on a telescope by astronomy students, and even radar operators at a Fort Wayne airfield having irregular activity show up on a screen,” Stacker reports.

#26. Florida — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 41

Many Florida residents have come forward with tales of holograms, abductions, odd spacecraft, lights in the sky, and everything in between over the years,” reports Stacker. However, many UFO sightings have been debunked, including two 2018 incidents of a butterfly mistaken for alien craft over a Floridian swamp, the website says.

#25. Wisconsin — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 41

Belleville holds an annual UFO Day to memorialize multiple January 1987 sightings of strange lights in the sky just outside town. “Three hours from that site in Poland, Wisconsin, Bob Tohak in 1994 constructed a self-described ‘U.F.O. Landing Port’ atop a 14-yard fuel tank standing vertically on the property of Tohak & Son Welding,” Stacker says.

#24. California — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 41

It’s no surprise that the state with the most UFO sightings is also home to the world’s “largest UFO conference.” This event usually features speakers, panel discussions, stargazing opportunities, and a host of believers ready to share their experiences, according to Stacker.

#23. Arkansas — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 42

Arkansas’ history with UFOs goes back at least to April 20, 1897 when a railroad conductor named James Hooton claimed to be hunting in Homan. He came upon an “otherworldly airship and chatted with its bespectacled pilot and crew,” says Stacker. Hooton described the craft “as cylindrical, with wheels and a horizontal blade above it that moved by compressed air.”

#22. Delaware — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 43

Delaware is home to two prefabricated, “UFO-shaped structures” created in the ‘1960s by a Finnish architect who thought the design “could provide a solution to the housing shortage on Earth,” Stacker says.

“Many UFO sightings in Delaware center on odd light formations and shapes in the sky and, in February 2019, a possible spacecraft with multicolored lights being pushed out of the airspace by five (presumably terrestrial) planes,” says Stacker.

#21. South Dakota — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 44

The night of Aug. 5 and 6 in 1953, nearly four dozen civilians in the Bismarck area and multiple Military Air Defense system personnel at the Ellsworth Air Force Base reported “a red, glowing light making sweeping movements across the sky,” according to Stacker. The light was further detected on radar by the Air Defense System, and similar sightings were reported earlier in western North and South Dakotas.

#20. Missouri — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 45

A local sheriff called the Rev. William Huffman in April 1941 to the scene of a plane crash between Cape Girardeau and Chaffee, Missouri, to deliver last rites.

“When he arrived, Huffman discovered it was not a terrestrial plane crash at all, but rather a damaged flying saucer that had caused a fire in a neighbor’s field. He also found two alien bodies, one of which was already dead and the other dying,” Stacker reports.

#19. South Carolina — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 46

While Bowman, S.C. hasn’t been home to any credible UFO sightings, it houses a home-crafted UFO constructed of garbage by Jody Pendarvis, which he calls the “UFO Welcome Center,” according to Stacker.

#18. West Virginia — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 47

The Green Bank Observatory in Green Bank, “is a premier location for scientists who make it their work to study extraterrestrial life (OK, and star-mapping, supernovas, and other, more generalized scientific research) by documenting energy waves from hundreds of lightyears away into computers via giant radio telescope,” according to Stacker.

#17. Hawaii — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 48

When thinking of the many sites to see in Hawaii, a UFO isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, two Harvard astronomers in 2017 released a draft paper about ‘Oumuamua (Hawaiian for “scout” or “messenger”), about a cigar-shaped UFO spotted with the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope at the Haleakala Observatory. “The paper suggests the spinning craft—roughly a quarter-mile long and with no detectable tail—may have been a sign of alien life from well outside our solar system,” says Stacker.

#16. Utah — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 52

There were multiple first-person accounts of alien abductions throughout Utah in the ‘1980s and ‘1990s. Then there are alleged 1967 images taken by the military of alien reproduction vehicles, or “reverse-engineered flying saucers.”

“Cases like these—along with the much-whispered-about “New Area 51″—continue to be turned over by groups like The Utah UFO Hunters, a group of people based in Salt Lake City devoted to discovering evidence of alien life, UFO activities, and paranormal occurrences,” says Stacker.

#15. Rhode Island — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 53

Two of the most iconic flying saucer photos of the 1960s were shot in 1967 in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. The first, on June 10, was taken by Harold A. Trudel, who pulled his car over in East Woonsocket in order to wait for a UFO sighting (several of which he claimed to have already experienced in the area). “The seven images he captured over the course of five minutes have long been disputed,” says Stacker.

“The other photo was captured on June 18 and bears striking similarities to the craft another man, George Adamski, claimed to have captured on film in 1952 (which one German scientist said was nothing more than a faked photo using a surgical lamp).”

#14. Connecticut — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 54

A series of 2012 reports in Connecticut described a still-unsolved incident of a “mysterious falling object that allegedly vanished into Bantam Lake.” Posts went viral via the Internet when almost 13,000 UFO documents—which included dozens of eyewitness accounts based in Connecticut stretching back to the 1940s—were released on The Black Vault website.

“These and other unexplained activities are covered each month at the Connecticut chapter of the Mutual UFO Network, an organization of alien enthusiasts striving to verify or debunk stories of strange sightings and otherworldly encounters,” says Stacker.

#13. Colorado — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 60

A watchtower in Hooper, Co. has been the site of multiple UFO sightings. In the same area two cattle were mysteriously mutilated in 2009.

“The attacks, reported by rancher Manuel Sanchez outside of San Luis, included precise removal of organs, no evidence of a struggle, and no pooling of blood. He found another calf in a similar state several weeks later, which led to Sanchez selling off the rest of his cattle before he lost any more,” says Stacker.

News reports tied together similarities between Sanchez’s accounts and a similar string of mutilations in 1967 on the King ranch several miles away outside Alamosa.

#12. Nevada — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 62

Today, your odds of seeing a UFO in Nevada are 1 in 69,600, according to Stacker. “But with the Cold War and McCarthyism at their height (and a smaller population to boot), odds of spying unexplained crafts in the 1950s—particularly in the proximity of the Nevada Test and Training Range and Area 51—were significantly higher,” the data website contends.

#11. Wyoming — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 72

Two triangular UFOs with three blue lights were spotted over Cheyenne’s countryside on March 4, 2019, just a few weeks after almost a dozen multicolored lights were recorded traveling north over Riverton at various altitudes, according to Stacker.

“Local residents’ tendencies to look skyward is perhaps best illustrated in Green River: When a comet crashed into Jupiter in 1994, Wyoming’s Green River city council turned its local airstrip into a refuge for potentially fleeing Jovians. The “Greater Green River Intergalactic Spaceport” has to date only shown evidence of terrestrial life,” says Stacker.

#10. Arizona — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 76

Some of the most famous UFO sightings in Arizona include a 1953 incident when three Prescott residents saw eight UFOs at Del Rio Springs Creek; and another on Nov. 5, 1975, when 22-year-old Arizona logger Travis Walton got zapped by a beam of light from a UFO in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests new Snowflake, Arizona, that threw him 20 feet in front of six of his terrified crew members, according to Stacker.

#9. New Mexico — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 79

This state is home to Roswell and thousands of statewide tales of alien contact and UFO sightings. In 1947, numerous eyewitnesses in Roswell claimed to have seen (or helped to cover up) a UFO crash site.

“The Roswell incident is the 1947 recovery of balloon debris from a ranch near Corona, New Mexico by United States Army Air Forces officers from Roswell Army Air Field, and the conspiracy theories, decades later, claiming that the debris involved a flying saucer and that the truth had been covered up by the United States government,” says Wikipedia.

#8. Idaho — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 81

Many of Idaho’s most-documented accounts of UFO encounters stem from police officer and southeast resident accounts.

“These include claims of alien crafts following on-duty officers, unusual sightings, and a particular stretch of Idaho State Highway 30-E so notorious for UFO sightings it’s been coined Idaho’s UFO Highway,” says Stacker. “Should you stop there, or anywhere else in the state for that matter, your odds of seeing a UFO is roughly estimated at 1 in 133,600.”

#7. Maine — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 85

One of Maine’s most famous alien encounters is the Allagash Abduction of 1976.

“Four men on a camping trip in the Allagash Wilderness Waterway on Aug. 20, 1976, claimed they were abducted by aliens. Years after the incident, all four men were put under hypnosis and interviewed about the abduction. All four stories matched identically,” says Stacker.

#6. New Hampshire — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 85

Betty and Barney Hill’s 1961 alien abduction along Route 3 in Lancaster is one of the most highly publicized stories of alien contact in the world.

“Under hypnosis, the couple independently recalled being kidnapped, medically examined, and released by bald-headed aliens with oblong eyes in a cigar-shaped, floating craft. Today, believers can visit a 50th-anniversary plaque commemorating the abduction along the roadside near Lincoln,” says Stacker.

#5. Oregon — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 87

McMinnville is home to an annual UFO Fest. This three-day event was inspired by the iconic 1950 photos of flying saucers shot by Evelyn and Paul Trent over their farm outside town. The pictures made it into Life Magazine and caused a national stir the town still celebrates today, according to Stacker.

#4. Vermont — UFO sightings per 100K residents : 90

Among Vermont’s most famous UFO tales is the Buff Ledge Abduction. On Aug. 7, 1968, four UFOs appeared over Lake Champlain and allegedly abducted two camp counselors in Vermont. The lights from that encounter were reported by multiple witnesses, according to Stacker.

#3. Alaska — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 90

Adonus Baugh on March 19, 2019 videotaped an unidentified, glowing object apparently falling from the Anchorage, Alaska, sky. Another Anchorage resident captured photos of the same flying object, which a spokeswoman from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson said didn’t resemble any aircraft from the base, says Stacker.

#2. Montana — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 95

Minor league baseball team manager Nick Mariana in 1950 captured two silver aircrafts spinning in mid-air over Great Falls, Montana, on a 16-mm camera. A governmental panel was gathered in 1953 to review his footage, other U.S. Air Force UFO data, and a second short film of a sighting in Utah.

The panel concluded Mariana’s images were the result of “sunlight reflecting off Air Force interceptors—and that the Utah footage showed light glinting off seagulls in flight,” says Stacker.

#1. Washington — UFO sightings per 100K residents: 100

This state to the site of the first filmed evidence of a UFO.

“Washington is no stranger to close encounters of the third kind. On June 21, 1947, Harold A. Dahl reported to authorities that his son had been injured and his dog killed by flying debris from four to six circular objects in what became known as the Maury Island Incident,” says Stacker.

“A witness was also apparently threatened by characters wearing all black, which became the inspiration for the popular ‘Men in Black’ movies decades later.”


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