Ryan Graves is a former Navy pilot who has called on Congress to investigate unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), also known as UFOs, in the skies above the United States.
He spoke out on his first-hand experiences with UAPs in an interview with Fox News Digital.
Graves spent about 11 years in the Navy flying F-18s, an advanced fighter plane, and was also a flight instructor. However, throughout his career, he has yet to receive a definitive answer on a phenomenon that he and other members of his squadron have dealt with for years.
"While I was in the Navy, myself and others in my squadron had an experience that continues to this day and at first was something that we didn’t have a name for," Graves said.
At first, objects showed up as "contacts on our radar, contacts on our camera system" until eventually, Graves said, "we were seeing these with our eyeballs."
"Two aircraft from my squadron were flying side by side and one of these objects went right between their aircraft," he added.
Graves said that his squad member described the object as a "dark gray or black cube inside of a clear sphere."
Graves called on Americans with preconceived notions about UAPs to come at the issue from a "first principles" approach.
"I think they need to separate the idea of something that's unknown" from preconceived ideas like a "UFO or ET hypothesis."
"We need to be able to agnostically, as a media, accept that there is uncertainty and look at it from a first principles approach. Because if we wrap it into all that context about little green men, we’re going to be barking up the wrong tree," he said.
Graves, now an advocate and founder of the organization Americans for Safe Aerospace, emphasized that these objects were, at times, strangely stationary but did not behave like "tethered balloons."
That was because, Graves said, these objects could also move at extremely high speeds.
"Eventually we would see these objects proceeding about 0.6 to 0.8 Mach on average, which is about 250 to 350 knots at those altitudes. And they would be either in some type of holding pattern or seemingly just proceeding in a single direction."
Graves said that there were two basic explanations for what these objects could be.
"It's either going to be some type of adversarial platform, and it's a matter for national security, or we don't know what it is," he said. "And it's a matter for scientific inquiry and curiosity. We've been stymied to not have that scientific curiosity as of late, but that's the biggest thing that needs to change and is changing right now."
If it is a national security matter, Graves said, then the course of action is clear.
"For our military and our national security, our ability to know what's over our heads is of critical importance. And if we don't know what it is, we need to be curious about it. Because we may have national security issues fall out of that anomalous bucket," Graves said. "Once we start looking a little bit more closely into our airspace some things are going to pop out that [we] weren't expecting to see."
Graves said that the media coverage of UAP and UFO incidents — the existence of which Sen. Marco Rubio and others members of the government have acknowledged — still leaves a lot to be desired.
Rubio, R-Fla., has said that UAPs are a risk to national security.
"Advanced objects demonstrating advanced technology are routinely flying over our restricted or sensitive airspace posing a risk to both flight safety & national security," he tweeted in February.
However, the media still does not provide a safe environment for pilots and others to speak about their experiences with UAPs, Graves said.
"I’ve talked to a lot of pilots who have had some pretty powerful experiences that have really shaken them. They don’t want to go and share that on what you would loosely consider your talking head media set up. They just don’t feel safe still doing it," he said.
Graves called on government agencies to break down their separate silos and begin "sharing their information and offering it forward" for the good of the public.
Graves made waves in February after he wrote an article detailing his experiences with UAPs in the military.
"These were no mere balloons. The unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) accelerated at speeds up to Mach 1, the speed of sound. They could hold their position, appearing motionless, despite Category 4 hurricane-force winds of 120 knots. They did not have any visible means of lift, control surfaces or propulsion — in other words nothing that resembled normal aircraft with wings, flaps or engines."
"I am a formally trained engineer, but the technology they demonstrated defied my understanding," Graves wrote.