type="html">On this day in 1973, Jimmy Carter filed a report with unofficial investigators of aerial phenomena asserting that he had witnessed an unidentified flying object in 1969. Carter, who at the time was Georgia’s governor, went on in 1977 to become the nation’s 39th president.
Although it was an unexplained event, Carter consistently has said that his knowledge of physics — as an Annapolis graduate, he had been assigned to the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarine program — ruled out the possibility that he had witnessed an alien spacecraft.
The sighting was said to have occurred during his visit to the Lions Club in Leary, Ga., although the date remains in dispute.
In his report, Carter wrote that the object was self-luminous, about as bright as the full moon. He said it had been witnessed by some 10 persons and had been visible for about 10 minutes.
As he put it: “[We were ]standing outside of a little restaurant, I believe, a high school lunchroom, and a kind of green light appeared in the western sky. This was right after sundown. It got brighter and brighter. And then it eventually disappeared. It didn’t have any solid substance to it, it was just a very peculiar looking light. None of us could understand what it was.”
Some investigators thought Carter had seen Venus, which was then near its maximum brightness and rising in that part of the evening sky. But Carter countered that, as an amateur astronomer, he knew what Venus looked like.
During the 1976 presidential campaign, Carter pledged that, if elected, he would encourage the government to make public “every piece of information” about UFOs. Once in office, however, he said releasing some of this information could have adverse “defense implications” and pose a threat to national security.