(Lee Speigel AOL News)In recent years, there have been a lot of UFO sightings. We know that. But a question I've wondered about for a long time is this: What's up with all the triangle-shaped UFOs?

From the U.S. to Belgium, France, Australia and even a reported flying "Dorito" in the U.K., these aerial triangles seem to enjoy our friendly skies.

One of the most recent reports comes from the files of the Mutual UFO Network, where a witness described a huge triangular UFO that made a loud, hissing noise as it moved over his Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, neighborhood Tuesday morning.

If there really are aliens visiting Earth, have they come up with a new craft that fits their interplanetary travel needs more efficiently than the tried and true flying saucer?

Or are the mysterious flying, silent, hovering triangles the product of a top-secret military project reportedly called the Tactical Reconnaissance TR-3B aircraft, code-named Astra, as many people have speculated all over the Internet?

Whatever these things are, they've been seen, photographed and videotaped by lots of people around the world, so it doesn't seem likely that everybody's lying or confusing these crafts with the planet Venus or meteors streaking in the sky.

I called on retired Army Col. John Alexander to give some much-needed insight into all of this. For six decades, he's been involved in national security affairs, holding key positions in special operations, intelligence, and research and development.

"A few of these sightings can be attributed to development of secret aircraft, such as stealth vehicles, including Have Blue -- which was the prototype for the F-117 Nighthawk," Alexander told me.

"While there continue to be rumors of more modern experimental craft, they would certainly not display the characteristics reported by observers.

"Specifically, many of these UFOs are illuminated and appear in highly visible venues. Unlike any secret aircraft, they do not make any attempt to remain hidden," said Alexander, author of "UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies and Realities" (Thomas Dunne Books).

This illustration shows a triangular UFO seen
 over North Carolina in 1975, witnessed by
AOL News writer Lee Speigel and
 several law enforcement officers.
Whenever I either see a new picture or video or read a report about one of these triangular UFOs, it transports me back to 1975 when I had a close encounter with one of these objects. And it was the kind of experience that solidified my interest in this subject, because it was so personal.

I was producing a documentary record album, "UFOs: The Credibility Factor," for CBS Inc. when I got a call from my friend, astronomer J. Allen Hynek, the former scientific adviser on UFOs to the U.S. Air Force and the man who coined the expression "close encounters of the first, second and third kinds."

Hynek asked me to go to Lumberton, N.C., and investigate reports he'd received from several law enforcement agencies about a strange triangular-shaped craft that people had seen a few nights in a row.

Within hours of my arrival in the county sheriff's office, calls started coming in about the return of the UFO. A short time later, I, along with sheriff's deputies and police officers, converged at the side of a big field. It was a starry, moonless evening, and across the far side of the field, moving slowly above a line of trees from our left to right, was an object giving off a red-white appearance.

As we watched, the object stopped moving to the right and instead began to cross the field in our direction. When it got to the point where it was directly above us, we all noticed the same things (and not in any particular order of importance, since it all happened so fast):

  • It was about the size of two police cars.
  • It made absolutely no sound.
  • It was V-shaped or triangular-shaped.
  • It had a row of red lights up one side and white lights up the other side, with a larger, single white light at the apex. (See my illustration.)
At one point, the singular white light suddenly became very bright and shined down directly where we were all standing. It was so intense we had to cover our eyes and not look directly at it. After a few seconds of this, the light instantly turned off, the entire object turned a reddish color and, as it began pulsating in this red hue, it started slowly moving off in another direction away from us.

Staying in touch with one another on the car radios, we tracked the thing through a few counties, stopping along the way to talk to other law enforcement officers who told us of their own encounters with the object.

Subsequent calls to Pope Air Force Base in nearby Fayetteville yielded no explanation for what we had all experienced that night.

And ever since then, I've noticed an upswing in the number of worldwide reports of triangle UFOs.

"The dramatic increase in development of remotely piloted vehicles will undoubtedly bring about an increase in UFO sightings," Alexander said.

"In the early 1990s, while working on several NATO studies regarding nonlethal weapons, I was queried by European officers about the UFOs that were seen frequently over Belgium and France. I assured them they were not American military aircraft, and certainly did not behave in a manner consistent with military operations," he added.

It's not surprising that there are ongoing projects with the goal of improving upon our military capabilities. But as Alexander notes, in some triangular UFO reports, the speed of the object varies from very slow to instantaneous accelerations.

"These observations by multiple, competent witnesses are inconsistent with any known aircraft."

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