Let's start with a definition: UFO means "unidentified flying object." Nowhere in that acronym is there a suggestion of anything sinister or menacing. Still, it has been vital for the past half century to assure one and all that there is a lot of swamp gas, weather balloons, or low grade atmospheric disturbance that helps explain why we are definitely not being visited by large-headed beings from other planets. There is no need to panic. If there was a need to panic, your government would have told you about it.
Then we have this item: A group of United Airline employees swear they saw a mysterious, saucer-shaped craft hovering over O'Hare Airport last fall. Fair enough - there are at least twenty different, rational explanations for what they saw, and none of them include higher intelligence or death rays. Reports like this used to give me a serious case of the heebie-jeebies (a medical condition associated with being a hyper-sensitive twelve year old). Whenever I read these accounts, usually buried near the back of the front section of the paper, I started to imagine the first wave of attacks. I read "War of the Worlds" and I knew how these things began. Then I saw "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", and my view of the galaxy shifted. Maybe extraterrestrial contact would be a thrilling adventure, not a violent confrontation.
Which brings us back to O'Hare: There is a scene in "Close Encounters" in which a couple of pilots are tracking something they can't identify. After it accelerates past one of the planes and disappears, the air traffic controller on the ground asks they pilots if they want to report a UFO. Both pilots are shaken by what they saw, but neither one wants to report anything. The workers at O'Hare, some of them pilots, said the object they saw didn't have lights and hovered over an airport terminal before shooting up through the clouds, according to a report in Monday's Chicago Tribune. The Federal Aviation Administration said, "That night was a perfect atmospheric condition in terms of low (cloud) ceiling and a lot of airport lights. When the lights shine up into the clouds, sometimes you can see funny things."
Funny "ha-ha," or funny "we wouldn't tell you the truth even if we knew it"? O'Hare controller and union official Craig Burzych was amused: "To fly 7 million light years to O'Hare and then have to turn around and go home because your gate was occupied is simply unacceptable." Okay Craig, but if they've got disintegrator pistols, I'm getting my re-integrator ray ready, just in case.