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Artist's concept of a typical black triangle object.

"Black triangles" are a class of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) with certain common features which have reportedly been observed from the 1940s (and possibly earlier) to the present. They have appeared most commonly over cities of the United Statesmarker and Britainmarker, but have been spotted worldwide, including a mass sighting over St. Petersburg, Russiamarker, on February 19, 1997.

Since that event, hundreds of observers have reported enormous, totally silent, black triangular craft hovering or slowly cruising at low altitudes over cities and highways, usually at night and making no attempt to evade detection. The craft are even described by many observers as having some sort of "running lights", either bright white lights or pulsing colored lights. These lights usually appear at each corner of the triangle. Sometimes a red pulsating light is seen at the center.

While no conclusive explanation has been found for black triangles, there is video footage available on video file sharing services. Yet, their origins remain shrouded in mystery.

Reported sightings

Unknown to many, triangular-shaped UFOs have been reported since the 1940s. Accounts of flying triangles, wedges, or boomerangs have increased dramatically since the 1990s. The sightings report clearly visible objects over densely populated areas and highways, mostly in the United States and Britain, but other parts of the world as well. A geographic distribution of U.S. sightings has been correlated by a currently inactive American-based investigative organization, the National Institute for Discovery Science, which led to a July 2002 report which suggested that the craft may belong to the U.S. Air Force; however, a subsequent report in August 2004 by the same organization (NIDS) found that the rash of sightings did not conform to previous deployment of black project aircraft and that the objects' origins and agendas were unknown .

Typical sightings

Most black triangle reports indicate that the craft are at least 200 ft (60 m) long and similar to the dimensions of a typical football field in width. They typically appear silently and seemingly "out of nowhere", drifting a few hundred feet or less above the ground. Black triangles are usually described as moving very slowly or hovering in one place for varying periods of time, sometimes even landing. The craft are also sometimes reported to be capable of sudden, rapid acceleration, as is often mentioned in descriptions of other types of UFOs.

Some triangular UFO reports are likely sightings of one or more black projects under development by the U.S. military and contractors. However, the facts that triangles are usually reported in and around populated areas and that they putatively make no effort to evade detection cast doubt on whether such sightings are of military craft. (Of course, large populations have more eyes with which to make sightings.) This in comparison to the F-117 Nighthawk and B-2 Spirit stealth aircraft, which were sighted only occasionally during testing over sparsely populated areas of the Southwest United States such as Groom Lakemarker (Area 51marker), usually at night and by dedicated civilian observers of military aircraft.

Rendlesham Forest incident

A pyramid-shaped craft was reported to have landed near an American air base at Rendlesham Forestmarker in Suffolk, Britain, on December 27, 1980. Military personnel reported having approached at least one landed craft in the forest and observed it in great detail before it once again took flight. Another craft was observed landing in an open field near the base and then taking off at incredible speed. Between 2002 and 2005, reporter Bryant Gumbel hosted a series of exclusive SciFi Channel documentaries, one of which, entitled UFO Invasion at Rendlesham, focused on this incident. Gumbel interviewed some of the men involved with the sighting, and the documentary toured some of the scenes, attempting to gather evidence that something landed in the forest. The History Channel also aired an episode of UFO Files on the incident, calling it "Britain's Roswell".

Moscow sightings

A major sighting occurred near Moscowmarker on March 12, 1990. Several groups of UFOs were seen, some of which were spheres and discs, and some of which appeared to be huge triangular craft . Many local people spent the night on their rooftops watching these silent objects dart through the sky . The CIA retained several accounts of this wave from the Soviet Russian media, although CIA reports themselves, assuming they exist, have yet to be released.

Belgian Air Force report

On March 30, 1990, citizens of the city of Brusselsmarker spotted a large black triangular craft hovering silently over the city for several minutes. Local police officials arrived on the scene and reported observing the object as it hovered over apartment buildings. One officer reported that the object released a red glowing disk of light from its center which flew down to the ground and darted around several buildings before disappearing. The larger craft eventually departed at high speed.

The Belgian Air Force scrambled F-16s to pursue the craft once it was spotted on ground radar systems. The fighter pilots and radar operators reported that the object would dart ahead at incredible speeds every time they finally had a radar lock on it. One pilot reported the object's speed at over 900 knots. After nine confirmed target locks the object finally vanished from their screens.

The Belgian Air Force has gone on record with the details of its black triangle pursuit. It released its radar video footage and its conclusions, ruling out the following origins of the object in question:

  • Balloons. Impossible due to the highly variable speeds (confirmed visually and by radar).
  • Ultralight (ULM). Same as for balloons.
  • UAV. Impossible due to the hovering characteristics.
  • Aircraft (including Stealth). Same as for UAV. No noise.
  • Laser projections or mirages. Unlikely due to lack of projection surface (no clouds). Light spots have been observed from different locations. Light spots moved over distance of more than 15 nautical miles (28 km). Form of unlighted part of spots has been observed with spectacles. Laser projections or mirages can not be detected by radar.

The report concludes that the Belgian Air Force was "unable to identify either the nature or the origin of the phenomenon." However, the description of the craft, the speeds, the maneuverability and the dates of observation are rumored — but, as with many black projects, not confirmed — to correspond with flight times of a TR-3B Astra, a USAF spyplane conjectured by ufologists. This craft is rumored to be related to the TR-3A Black Manta subsonic aircraft and has been suggested to unndergo testing over numerous parts of the world during the early 1990s. Nevertheless, to explain why the F-16s never managed to catch up with it, the alleged TR-3B should have been able to cruise at over Mach 2 - a speed that is not possible for a subsonic aircraft.

It should be noted that some subsequent studies present a much more cautious and skeptical view of the events discussed in the Belgian Air Force report, disputing both the accuracy of some of the statements made in that report and the interpretation of the events described.

"The Intruder" video

In a 1992 event, unreported until March 2007, a black triangle was spotted and filmed over the skies of Phoenix, Arizonamarker. Not much is known about the sighting, as only one video has surfaced, which was featured on Phoenix local news network 3TVmarker. The video was nicknamed "The Intruder."

Phoenix Lights incident

One of the more famous appearances of these craft was during the event known as the "Phoenix Lights", where multiple unidentified objects, many of them black triangles, were spotted by the residents of Phoenix, Arizonamarker and videotaped by both the local media and residents with camcorders across multiple evenings beginning on Thursday, March 13, 1997. Some lights drifted as low as 1000 feet and moved far too slowly and silently for conventional aircraft. If they were helicopters, they produced no sound. Some of the lights appeared to group up in a giant "V" formation that lingered above the city for several minutes. Many residents reported one triangle to be over a mile wide that drifted slowly over their houses blocking out the stars of the night sky. Other reports indicated the craft were spotted flying away from Phoenix as far away as Las Vegas, Nevadamarker and Los Angeles, Californiamarker.

An official report made by the Air Force about the incident concluded that the military had been testing flares launched from conventional aircraft during that time. Eyewitnesses confirmed military jets were scrambled from nearby Luke Air Force Basemarker, but instead of launching flares, they were seen chasing after some of the objects.

The next few nights, in an attempt to recreate the incident, local pilots flew prop-planes over the city in a "V" formation, but the sounds of their engines were easily heard. The original lights made no sound. Flares were also deployed above Phoenix. Comparison of the video taken of the lights (which appeared at night) against daytime images of the same scene show that the lights "disappear" at the exact moment they are shown to fall behind a mountain range. The mountains were invisible against the night sky. There were apparently no reported radar sightings of the objects which appears to be consistent with the flare theory.

Illinois police sighting incident

On January 5, 2000, beginning shortly after 4:00 am, five on-duty Illinoismarker police officers in separate locations sighted and reported a massive, unidentified triangular aircraft. Two of the five officers reported flight characteristics which do not conform to currently known civilian technologies, as the object appeared to move at incredible speeds without making any sound. Sightings in Highland, Illinoismarker, by a civilian who first reported to the local police department and subsequent sightings took place in Lebanonmarker, Summerfieldmarker, Shilohmarker, Millstadtmarker, Dupomarker, and O'Fallonmarker. Scott Air Force Basemarker public relations office denied any knowledge of the event. The incident was featured in Peter Jennings' final ABC special, "UFOs: Seeing is Believing". The event has been addressed by several U.S. cable television programs and one independent documentary.

This story was also featured in 2005 on a segment of the SciFi Channel paranormal investigation series Proof Positive (episode #108). To substantiate that the police officers did in fact witness the same unexplained aircraft, and that their reports correlated together, all five were given a lie detector test and asked various questions about the incident. All five officers passed the test and the show gave the story a "proof positive".

Common explanations

Black triangles are the subject of much speculation in the ufology community and various conspiracy theories, as well as more mundane, skeptical hypotheses. Common explanations include the following:

  • craft of extraterrestrial origin
  • top secret craft containing suppressed or reverse engineered anti-gravity technology
  • the Aurora, an alleged hypersonic spy plane
  • common misidentifications of one or more conventional aircraft
  • psychological phenomenon, such as the availability of previous reports influencing suggestible witnesses
  • B-2 Spirit stealth bomber or F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter
  • satellites passing overhead, whose points make what appear to be a black triangle in the sky

Because black triangles are, by definition, unidentified flying objects, the merits of these hypotheses are undemonstrated. Further, it is unknown how many of the sightings even have a common explanation. No government has claimed responsibility.

Black triangles in fiction

  • The event was featured as the basis of a song on Sufjan Stevens' 2005 concept album Illinois as the first track, which is titled "Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois."
  • Several triangle ships have been featured in television series The X-Files. In the first episode of the series (excluding the pilot), for example, many photographs, and an appearance, are shaped in the obvious form of a triangle.


  1. History Channel. see UFO Files for episode details

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