In a recent interview with former Navy pilot Alex Dietrich, she encouraged people (specifically civilian pilots) who saw a UFO to report it to the FAA, and referenced a section of the FAA's FAR/AIM set of regulations.
The page she is referring to is currently:
Part of why I agreed to talk to you [...] is to reduce the stigma, so that when folks see something strange, they will come out and report it up the appropriate channels. [...] So FAA, Federal Aviation Administration has a page in their FAR/AIM manual [...] for you know, what to do if you see a UFO [...], and there's a phone number to call. And I would say, you know, if you see something, no prank calls, but if you see something real, call,
Section 8. Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) Reports
Persons wanting to report UFO/unexplained phenomena activity should contact a UFO/ unexplained phenomena reporting data collection center, such as the National UFO Reporting Center, etc.
If concern is expressed that life or property might be endangered, report the activity to the local law enforcement department.
You'll notice that there is no phone number to call, just "contact a UFO/ unexplained phenomena reporting data collection center." One example is given, the National UFO Reporting Center, or NUFORC.
The phone number she is referring to actually appears in older versions of the manual, like back in 2014, paragraph a read:
Persons wanting to report UFO/unexplained phenomena activity should contact a UFO/unex-plained phenomena reporting data collection center,such as Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies(BAASS) (voice: 1−877−979−7444 or e−mail:Reporting@baass.org), the National UFO ReportingCenter, etc
Even older version have something else, "NIDS", in this version dating back to 2002
7-6-4. Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) Reports
a. Persons wanting to report UFO/Unexplained Phenomena activity should contact an UFO/Unexplained Phenomena Reporting Data Collection Center, such as the National Institute for Discovery Sciences (NIDS), the National UFO Reporting Center, etc.
The reason for this change was given by the FAA in Feb, 2010:
2. BACKGROUND: Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies (BAASS) is a new organization that is devoted to exploration of extremely advanced aerospace technology, including the so-called unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) or unidentified flying object (UFO) topics. In 2001, another of Mr. Bigelow's organizations, the National Institute for Discovery Sciences (NIDS), succeeded in becoming the “go-to” organization for the reporting by pilots and air traffic control of UFOs in the United States. NIDS is now defunct and has been replaced by the larger, more capable BAASS. Therefore, pilot and air traffic control reporting of UFOs in the United States should now go to BAASS, vice NIDS. So we are deleting the NIDS acronym and adding the BAASS acronym.
John Greenwald, of the Black Vault, FOIAed documents from the time regarding the change, which was regarded as largely administrative, a name change.
The oldest version includes contact info for NIDS
(removed the phone number, as it's now been re-assigned to a private individual)
An announcement on the NIDS website details some of how this happened.
Home > NIDS Research > FAA Announcement
NIDS Becomes Only Official Organization to Receive UFO Reports from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
NIDS is pleased to announce that the newly printed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) manuals indicate the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS) as the sole contact point in the United States to which the FAA reports UFOs.
The following four FAA Manuals contain the changes:
FAA Order 7110.65, Air Traffic Control
FAA Order 7210.3, Facility Operation and Administration
Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM)
Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP)
The FAA wording of the order mandating the changes is as follows: “In calendar year 1999, representatives from the National Institute for Discovery Sciences (NIDS) contacted the FAA Administrator to offer their research institution as the single point of contact recognized by the FAA in regard to UFO information. On April 14, 2000, after being referred by the FAA Administrator, NIDS representatives met with ATP-200 to finalize a course of action. This document change proposal is a result of that meeting and is official FAA recognition that NIDS is the single point of contact for UFO research.”
The official date for all FAA offices to receive the new manuals is July 12, 2001, but NIDS has confirmed that many FAA offices have already received the manuals.
Neither NIDS nor BAASS exist anymore. NIDS ran from 1995 to 2004. BAASS (Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies) was a division of Bigelow Aerospace, which laid off all its employees in March 2020, as they were unable to continue operating during the pandemic. It's unclear what became of the thousands of reports submitted.
This is interesting because it speaks to the pervasive influence Robert Bigelow has had over the UFO scene in the last 20 years. Particularly the "official" intersection. From 2002 to 2014 the official FAA recommendation for reporting a UFO was to call Bigelow. Bigelow was also awarded the contract for the AATIP program in 2008, ending in 2012. AATIP also included study of military incidents, like the 2004 USS NImitz case.
Was this a good idea? I don't think so. Bigelow's was already convinced that UFOs were some sort of alien entity. His NIDS program was not simply a UFO report collecting entity - they also studied unnatural cattle mutilations, life after death, and extrasensory perception. He bought a ranch (Skinwalker Ranch) specifically to study the local UFO and supernatural sightings.
So for a decade, the FAA was funneling UFO reports into an investigator of the supernatural. On the page of the UFO reporting form recommended by the FAA is a link to an "entities" report form. It was all pseudoscientific nonsense that has no place in government.
Except, of course, that we've been there before. The US Military has actually dabbled in the supernatural. From 1970 to 1995, US intelligence became concerned that the Soviet Union was researching psychic powers. So they began what should be known as a national embarrassment - a project that came to be known as "Stargate Project." Stargate involved people like Uri Geller, championed by Hal Puthoff, who went on to work with Robert Bigelow at AATIP, and then Tom DeLong at TTSA.
Context like this is lost on those who express surprise that the government is lending credence to UFOs by investigating them and producing a report. But they have done far stranger things in the past. I think this current flap might represent something of a last gasp for the old guard of Bigelow, Reid, and Puthoff. But it's unclear what's being going on, and what the immediate future will hold.