The term “flap” is Air Force-speak for an outbreak of UFO sightings, with a connotation of controversy that stops just short of uproar. The Hudson Valley has had documented semi-close encounters with ETs since the late 1890s, but the peak of the flap was between 1983 and 1986, when there were over 5,000 such sightings reported.
When the Pentagon released some fairly unspectacular UFO videos in April, it didn’t seem to make a lot of waves, probably because the images had already been released by private company To The Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences. While the US government has a long and steadfast history of denying extraterrestrial activity, the powers that be seem to have realized that in 2020, there's no sense in denying that it's a weird, weird, weird world.
Whatever the reasoning, with the release of the images, the feds were merely acknowledging what many apparently reliable and qualified witnesses, as well as loads of ordinary folks, have been saying for decades: unexplained, unidentified flying objects are a fairly common experience, although seemingly less so now that everyone has a cell phone. (Clever aliens!) The plan to storm Area 51 may not have gained a ton of traction on the ground, but the truth, after all, is Out There—not confined to one particular mysterious area.
But if you’re looking for a particular area to go sky-gazing in hopes of spotting something otherworldly, you could do far worse than the night skies of the Hudson Valley—and most particularly in the area of Pine Bush, an otherwise sleepy little hamlet in the town of Crawford on the Orange/Ulster county line that has decent bragging rights as a world capital of sightings with history over a century long.
The town is contemplating a permanent museum of UFOlogy; there’s already a yearly celebration. This year’s festival, the 10th annual, has been reset for Labor Day due to COVID-19—but nothing says you can’t drop by over the summer and enjoy the town’s other draw: wineries (there are three!), and do some indie, socially-distanced sky-gazing afterward. Should you spot something, don’t forget to report in to MUFON, the all-volunteer international nonprofit tracking these matters.
And in case your appetite for otherworldly local lore hasn't been sated, there’s also the curious tale of horror author Whitley Streiber, whose first nonfiction effort, Communion, described a strange series of experiences he claims to have had at his cabin deep in the woods of Accord in the early '80s. We don’t recommend trying to replicate this experience, partly because the area is largely posted private property (as it was then; apparently aliens could care less) and partly because what Streiber went through doesn’t sound like very much fun at all (lost time, terrifying flashbacks, etc.). But it could make a fun movie night! Streiber's 1987 New York Times bestseller was later made into a film starting Christopher Walken as Streiber and Lindsay Crouse as his wife Anne.
So pause for a moment of your day, look upward, and whisper a greeting. In these times, the idea that there may be more to the universe than the human species can feel downright reassuring.