The American Institute of Aeronautics' first official UFO conference

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is a professional society for aerospace engineers founded 1963. It currently boasts around 30,000 members. Earlier this month, at the organization's annual conference, a six-member panel convened for a session titled "Advocating for Scientific Study of Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon – Technical Perspective with focus on Aviation Safety."

A series of technical presentations and panel discussion to inform the aerospace community, and to advocate for conducting technically professional studies that predict the objects identified as Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP). The discussion will focus on the technical characteristics of UAP, and its implications on flight safety, based on unclassified videos, radar observations, experiments, and firsthand pilot encounters. 

In this session, no speculations on the actors or fringe theories behind this phenomenon will be planned/permitted. 

The panelists included:

Ravi Kopparapu, Ph.D., Planetary Scientist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center:
Science of UAP – Past and Present 

Kevin Knuth, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Physics, University at Albany (SUNY) NY Editor-in-Chief, Entropy Journal: 
The Flight Characteristics and Physics of UAP 

Peter Reali, Board Director, Scientific Coalition of UAP Studies: 
Anomalous Aerodynamic Physics demonstrated by the 2004 USS Nimitz UAP Encounter 

Ryan Graves, U.S. Navy F/A-18F Pilot (Former), Principal Investigator within R&D in defense industry (Current): 
Eye Witness Account: Persistent Detection of Non-Participating Aircraft by USN Tactical Aircraft (2014 – present) 

Ted Roe, Director of Research, National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP): 
UAP and Civil Aviation: 20 Years of Research and Advocacy 

Philippe Ailleris, Project Controller, European Space Agency*, Board Member, UFODATA: Mitigating Flight Safety Hazards: Towards Better Detection and Characterization of UAP (* The presentation is undertaken as personal work; not endorsed as research activity by ESA) 

In other words: it was a bunch of aerospace scientists speaking practically and candidly about the world's recent openness about UAPs, and how that impacts the aerospace fields. Pretty interesting! The Debrief has a great rundown on the discussion, which includes some gems:

At one point, a particularly "seasoned" member, who had a highly distracting slide show of blimps and chemical formulas (among other random images) racing across the virtual wall behind him, jumped in to exclaim with glee that the whole subject is indeed a mystery and that the only thing we know for sure is, "it isn't little green men who traveled here on faster than light spaceships!" His comment was met with complete silence and more than a few frowns.

The Debrief's Christopher Plain also describes some of what he calls "a dry, shockingly mundane series of talks on the subject of aviation safety," which very seriously included moments like this:

Some lengthy and complex calculations performed by the Scientific Coalition of UAP Studies (SCU) and presented by electrical engineer Peter Reali showed the incredible amounts of energy needed to propel an object like the alleged 'Tic Tac' UFO (as well as numerous other geometric form factors) from 28,000 feet to just 50 feet in elevation in less than a second. This analysis also highlighted the devastating effects such a rapid acceleration and deceleration should have on the surrounding environment when said object sheds all of that energy to make its complete stop.

The SCU's conclusion?

"The point seven eight-second [calculation] of all projectiles was equivalent to 1.05 kilotons of TNT, or a tactical nuclear weapon," said Reali. Oddly, he noted, such effects were not witnessed in 2004.

So not the most thrilling episode of the X-Files, but a fascinating event nonetheless.

Back in June, the AIAA had also put out a call for more scientific inquiry into UAPs. Way back in 1967, organization's Technical Committee on Space and Atmospheric Science also infamously collected data on member opinions regarding the then-nascent UFO phenomenon.

Here is what you need to know about UFOs according to the AIAA Aviation Conference [Christopher Plain / The Debrief]

Image: Phroziac / Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 3.0)