For some of you reading this, you probably think that UFOlogy is pseudoscience and intellectual tripe. For others, you may be a little more open-minded and remain skeptically intrigued by the idea. We’re also sure that some of you are so-called “believers” in the phenomenon.
We respect all of these views, although we’ll state for the record that we DON'T think aliens are here on Earth. At least, we're fairly certain that they're not interacting with the governments of the world or abducting hapless folks. This is less based on actual evidence (there is none really either way) and more just on logic: if the advanced technology implied by interstellar travel is used by aliens, they would have very little interest in interacting with us openly, or even covertly; no doubt they’d prefer to study us remotely with technology too advanced for us to notice them.They could gather any biological data they would need quite covertly, or in small, unnoticeable amounts - enough to be useful in their missions. We are not digressing here, merely pointing out how unlikely it is that the cause of worldwide UFO sightings is down to aliens. While we can’t disprove the possibility of alien origin for ALL cases, it should always be considered a remote one.
It was with this mindset that I and DoctorOfSpace, with some help by other folks over on the SpaceEngine Universe Simulator Discord server, approached solving a persistent mystery in the field of UFOlogy: what is the nature of the so-called giant “black triangles“?
Black Triangle Phenomenon Overview:
Whether you are a believer in the reality of UFOs (either of alien origin or not) or just have a casual familiarity with the subject - you will no doubt know what we are talking about. The so-called black triangles, which in this context also include craft shaped like boomerangs and wedges, are a (in)famous type of UFO phenomenon sighted world-wide starting in the 50s, but usually confined to sightings in North America and Europe - especially during the 80s and 90s. The most well known case, and in our eyes the most defensible as a sighting of one of these craft, is the “Phoenix Lights” of 1997.
(In case you believe that these were flares, perhaps checking out this video might shake your confidence in that assertion):
We are not explicitly saying that all of these cases (the most famous of which you can Google for yourself) are real sightings - after all, people lie even when what they are reporting actually happens elsewhere. However, the fact that many are *mass* sightings, wherein it would be hard to organize people to lie congruently and systematically, strengthens these cases in our eyes. We are only stating that, contrary to popular belief, the sightings of these craft that we believe are real (take the Phoenix Lights, for example) are in fact truthful reports of craft operated by humans (or are unmanned drones) whose methods of flight do not in fact violate any laws of physics - or indeed are not hard to conceive of!
Craft Design Overview:
It is a common theory that these black triangles are secret government technology being used for reconnaissance. Unfortunately there is no good census on the exact details of the matter. The theories in the UFOlogy communities are usually baseless and conspiratorial; claiming that the black triangles are made with reverse engineered alien technology; utilizing anti-gravity capabilities and “free energy” to fly. On the other hand, more conventional experts in physics and engineering dismiss the sightings of black triangles like the sightings of all UFOs: they are either misidentified aircraft, natural phenomenon or fantasy.
There is a middle ground here, and one my co-researchers and I are convinced is the real explanation, at least for most sightings. We believe that these craft are so-called ATO (Airship To Orbit) craft used by NATO military, utilizing ionic thrust for propulsion and a compact nuclear fission reactor to power them. Keep in mind though that it is not the purpose of this work to explain the nature of ALL UFOs, or even all of black triangle sightings. We only think that the following speculation and research represents a reasonable explanation for a sizable population of black triangle sightings.
I will not go into details regarding the mechanics of the JP Aerospace craft that inspired us to do this research. You can investigate it for yourself with the following links:
Needless to say, within the context of black triangle UFOs, the details of the ATO and Ascender craft discussed above present compelling evidence that these are viable aircraft, capable of seemingly gravity-defying feats due to their propulsion techniques and negligible overall weight. We also assume that the military has had this technology since the 60s, made for them by various companies, as this interview with the JP Aerospace Company founder tells us:
The above models seem to be civilian or corporate derivatives that are used for high-atmospheric research. It is implied here that the military models use different specs in order to fulfill longer and harsher usage, such as sustained high atmospheric recon missions that might go on for days, if not weeks. In order to fulfill these missions, the craft would need to attain impressive speeds and be invisible to ground and radar observations. All of this would require versatile and persistent engines and a very energy-dense power source with energy yields far greater than the solar-cells of the JP Aerospace ATO would be able to offer. Conceptually the design that these requirements demand is actually quite simple and in line with the observed behavior and appearance of such black triangles and boomerang craft.
The basic design of both the military and private ATOs seems to be that of a dirigible yet with a more unconventional shape. The “arms” of the boomerang vessels and the majority area of the triangles are taken up by dirigible balloons, most likely filled with helium. Another component to this shape is the ballast system, which will be explored more below. A cockpit is likely situated somewhere near the center top of the craft, with accompanying life support systems; although we think that most of these would be unmanned (especially near the end of the century, when computer systems were more advanced). Such an area in the unmanned models would no doubt contain the computer systems that control the craft. The frame to support the balloons, ballasts and other components would probably be made of aluminum, along with other metals for other purposes.
In JP Aerospace designs, the boomerang shape seems to be used to incorporate conventional chemical rockets for thrust all along the boomerang arms and to maximize efficiency for high-speed atmospheric ascent. Since rockets and their attributed sounds were never noticed by people who have seen these craft, we think that the military models have ionized air accelerating along the arms of the boomerang craft or along the edges of the triangles in order to provide ionic thrust. Thus, this is less of a blimp and more of a blimp and ionocraft in one.
In the center of the triangle, or nose of the boomerang, we have a megawatt reactor (see below), with a lightweight aluminum frame that supports the integrated computer systems around it. Around this reactor, we are led to believe, there is a dynamo generated by a donut of quickly-rotating, highly pressurized liquid metal. We cannot say whether or not it's hydrogen, only that it may be possible, but would require extreme pressures, while in turn reducing weight considerably. Whatever substance it is, it’s spun at high velocity to transform reactor output into the high voltage needed for the ion engines. To increase the quality and power of the containment magnetic field, this toroid could have a twisted structure a little like a stellarator.
Along each arm of the boomerangs, or edges of the triangles, there are landing or indicator lights that come on if the craft decreases in altitude (which in most public sightings, we think is caused by the reactor overheating; see below). High amounts of energy (the exact value is not known) are pumped through the outer frame for the ionocraft to build up the ionic charge needed to propel itself quickly and silently; hence a low buzzing was heard by some onlookers in the past. The central reactor may at times superheat the ceramics/glass/composite material that is built around the reactor if the coolant somehow fails or is misapplied and which is why the central light is seen to glow red. There is a ballast system filled with helium or hydrogen. As the reactor heats up, heat is pumped through the frame and into the gas system, which lowers density and maintains pressure. This allows for high atmospheric flight with same the input.
As we mentioned before, these craft may be unmanned by default, but could contain a small cockpit and accompanying maintenance shafts. Technically it could be possible for a crew to stay in the craft to do diagnostics and such, but for high altitude missions, these craft would stay near the top of the atmosphere for months at a time. Providing for life support systems during the latter missions is absurd and costly - although the smaller craft, which would be easier to make and field, might be able to support a human crew due to the shorter mission duration and the smaller reactor it would need.
EDIT: We should note here that while we believe that the boomerang and triangle craft belong in the same family and may have overlapping function, the boomerang vessels are the more larger and passive of the two, and probably based on an older design. It is unlikely that the smaller boomerangs have thermonuclear generators powering them, due to their general shape. Overall, the boomerangs seem to be slower in speed. The black triangles are generally smaller (although still massive in some cases compared to contemporary aircraft) and are observed as being much more maneuverable. Besides these differences affecting certain experimental or mission parameters, we think that their function remains quite similar.
Reactor & Ballast System:
As we noted above, based on ground-based observations, it would seem that the center light is a heat glow from an overheating reactor. Fission reactors (especially experimental ones!) generate huge amounts of heat and the heat has to be pumped out very quickly. So if the coolant system somehow failed, the heat would fluctuate very quickly, thus leading to the pulsating central light of the triangle and which can typically be seen if this craft is ever spotted at a lower altitude. This seems to be the only time when people get to see these: when the craft malfunctions and overheats. Such a malfunction would lead to less electrical gain from the reactor, less ionic propulsion and hence a decrease in altitude.
We suspect that during normal operations, there wouldn't be any glow whatsoever. Any glow in the center *has* to be a sign of failure, since that's the worst possible place for you to try to radiate heat on purpose.
To sum it up, our theory is that the reactor is a very stripped down fission reactor. We are thinking that it’s something along the lines of a successor to the Heat Transfer Reactor Experiment (HTRE) 1 through 3 series of reactors that were to be used in nuclear-powered aircraft back in the 50s and 60s. Basically there is no shielding and a very temperamental coolant system; probably using a high pressure cryogenic coolant like liquid helium (although liquid hydrogen could also make sense) that disperses heat to radiators near the outside of the craft. This sort of technology is fairly in line with what the military had been researching and using since the 1950s.
One might question all of the apparent weaknesses evident to this system, and you would be right to do so. But, if having a lightweight compact reactor with high energy output as your power supply is your end goal, it would make sense for them to skimp on shielding and heat management, and so the failure mode described above is exactly what we’d expect to see for such a craft. Additionally, given the number of sightings, it does seem to be a common failure mode. Whether or not this affects its field operation during a mission is unknown, as these things have been sighted worldwide. Presumably the reason why the public sees these craft more than foreign military forces is either because these are only tests operating within new experimental parameters, or because most locations they visit are so remote that a brief loss in altitude (most are only sighted for a few minutes) doesn’t matter as much unless ground observers are actively looking for them (which they probably weren't in the past because for most of the last century drone technology was not around).
So, you might ask, how we are so sure that ion engines are being used for propulsion? This is mainly based on observations of these craft by qualified observers or via mass-sightings. In all cases, these vessels operate completely silently, besides exhibiting a low humming or hissing. This seems to indicate that these are ion craft, as no other method of fast propulsion matches observations. For an ion engine to be efficient, you want to accelerate the air molecules at extremely high speeds. You’d accomplish this with a source of extremely high voltages (in this case, a nuclear fission reactor) and a long distance over which to pump kinetic energy into the air molecules. This length could be the “arms” of the boomerang, or the edges of the triangles. Ionized air molecules would be wrapped around and accelerated along the wings of the boomerang-shaped craft, or along the edges of the triangle-shaped craft to provide thrust. As this happens, there is a distinct hissing sound, along with a build-up of plasma accumulating on the craft. Both types of phenomenon *are* heard and seen, respectively, by observers in (some) of the sightings of these craft, at least from within a few hundred meters or so away. More convincingly, when such craft are seen close to the ground, arcs of lightning are supposedly seen. This is in line with the behavior of highly ionized materials grounding out when they near charged parts of the ground.
Altogether, this indicates that these are giant blimps (estimates suggest that the largest of these craft measure over a mile along one boomerang arm or triangle edge, although with most being smaller than the average blimp due to ionocraft propulsion) and appear to defy gravity because of the combination propulsion. Due to the fact that these craft are expected to travel *very* long distances, and for a lengthy time, ionic propulsion makes sense.
(This JP Aerospace company video gives a good sense of scale for these things):
The first question that anyone with any knowledge of aviation might ask is how the military had such advanced technology for its time. If what we have speculated on is true, then that would mean NATO military forces had access to advanced compact nuclear generators, functional liquid metal dynamos and highly advanced ion craft technology. This does seem a little too high-tech for the 1950s when these things were originally (we think) conceived and built. However, it is not a stretch to think that the military has a distinct advantage over the public as far as testing and using technology goes, especially as time went by and the science of these vessels was perfected and improved. Some technology is known to have been classified for years, even decades. That this craft has had a continued usage suggests that the military has good security reasons for keeping most of this tech classified.
You might also ask why the military would invest in such a craft for surveillance purposes when spy planes were being made during the time, and satellites were on a similar path? Well, one obvious explanation is that the military experiments with lots of craft are not necessarily practical. The reasoning of “lets experiment with these designs and see what sticks” is pretty much the only justification many top military spenders need to follow through with expensive research into technology. However, the fact that this design is still in use means they've found some purpose for it.
Another explanation becomes evident once you look into the capabilities of these craft. While they aren’t very war-worthy ships, they do seem to actually fulfill a reconnaissance role far more efficiently than spy planes or satellites. With its reactor, the boomerang and triangular craft can cruise in the high atmosphere for weeks, maybe even months. With its larger size, more useful and larger pieces of surveillance equipment might be stored on them than on satellites. Additionally, their height and any radar-deflecting alterations would make them completely invisible to any enemy observations. Also, these would be easy to house, as the majority of bulk is taken up by the balloons, which could be deflated and wrapped around the ultra-compact reactor.
The fact that we (the public) are still are not fully privy to their secrets and design means that they must be effective enough at this job to be still strategically viable. The design is not perfect, of course, but given the initial capabilities, such ships seem like a money pit that looks like it would eventually promise greater returns if you keep pushing it. The US seems to be particularly exemplary in regard to this style of military research.
To justify the importance of these craft, one can also look to the blank areas of the last 60 years of aerospace development and the empty spot of FOIA requests on nuclear engines in aircraft, the research into stealth blimps, the know-how of ion craft engineering and the energy required to lift an airplane with such technology. It is not at all a surprising conclusion to make that if all of this “dark” technology was crammed together, the "TR-3B" UFOs are the result people would see.
Why NOT share these designs sooner with the public, beyond the ones powered by chemicals rockets as with the JP Aerospace models? It is probably due to the ban on flying and/or testing nuclear technology in the atmosphere, plus the unpopularity of nuclear-powered aircraft as a concept. Nuclear powered aircraft were originally conceived of to be used as weapons delivery systems. However, as ICBMs were refined and perfected, and shorter range missiles could be delivered with submarines, their potential usage as weapons-delivery systems was neutered. Nowadays, we think that “dark” nuclear technology is mainly used by the military for surveillance and space-militarization.
What we have laid out here was essentially the “Stealth Blimp” theory. It is one that is less commonly known in UFOlogy communities and is more accepted within conventional academia. It is mainly objected to by both circles because it suggests that blimps are a viable technology for military purposes, when generally they are seen by engineers as not being ideal. However, we have it from a trusted, but undisclosed source, that this technology is being used. It would seem that this fusion of technology is dismissed by the military in order to distract onlookers from their black-budget activities. We might even go as far as to state that the military might allege that they have alien technology powering these craft for the sake of misdirection. At any rate it is purposefully dismissed by the military due to it’s strategic usage, and the fallout that may occur if the public realizes that their military was flying nuclear reactors above their heads. To speculate even further, it is entirely possible that certain usage of these vessels is to gauge the reaction of the public in response to sighting alien-seeming craft.
Of all the research done on this subject, only Robert Bigelow’s NIDs foundation ever took this route, and their finds have sadly been mostly forgotten. We believe that most so-called researchers are either biased in believing that what is being seen is just a hoax or misidentified objects, or are keen on keeping the “mystery” of it alive for the sake of profit. Even if our findings here are in error in some way, this is at the very least a step in the right direct, away from either total denial or whacky speculation.
Bear in mind that these findings are based on two days of Discord conversations (albeit, among very informed and educated individuals, several of whom hold university degrees, with extra input from others), so that is why we haven’t pulled up equations describing the energy requirements, mass-to-thrust ratios or similar, harder proofs to support our conclusion - which was drawn entirely from our shared studies of UFOlogy and physics in general.