For the record, this is the ninth such release of UFO files, the first coming in 2009.
Before this, often inconclusive photos of UFOs and eyewitness accounts were the best evidence that researches had to go on. Now, researchers have the government take from Great Britain.
Before getting too excited, it is important to realize that many of the UFO reports can be easily explained in a down to Earth manner. Misidentified aircraft can account for a large number of the night sightings. Other common explanations for UFO sightings include meteors, satellites, and planets. However, according to the BBC report, 5-10% of the sightings remain unexplained. In another report, this one coming from space.com, even pranks can be blamed for some of the sightings.
Great Britain is not alone. Last month, the Russian navy released records of UFO encounters.
As for the United States, things are not so clear. In the 2008 presidential campaign, then candidate Barak Obama promised a new era of open government should he be elected. Well, candidate Obama is now President Obama. Unfortunately, the promise for open government has yet to be fulfilled in the most mundane of matters, let alone UFOs. Jimmy Cater failed to keep his UFO promise over 30 years ago. A complicating factor in the goal of releasing UFO files to the public is that many may have been transferred away from the military and to private corporations in order to take the information out of the public domain and into the realm of corporate secrecy where Freedom of Information Act requests cannot touch them. Sound crazy? Consider this: this theory does explain why so many document requests under FOIA come back with the government saying that the files do not exist in their records. Either the government is lying or the records have indeed been moved out of government posession.
While some hail the release of the documents as hopefully the beginning of a new era of government openness, others see it only as a few tantalizing tidbits to keep the public occupied. Names and addresses of the reporters have been omitted to protect identities, which leaves legitimate researchers at a dead end. Besides this, the tendency of governments all over the world to downplay, not investigate, and even ridicule the idea of UFOs and alien contact lends more fuel to the conspiracy fire. If UFOs/aliens are not real, why are governments so secretive about the topic?
Still, though, for many, this is still a baby step in the right direction.