20 Strange Things You Never Knew About The UFO Jimmy Carter Witnessed In 1969
By Sarah Norman | November 11, 2023
The object was bright like the moon
On one evening in 1969, Carter was pumping himself up to give a speech at a local Lion's Club. Around 7:15 pm, Carter was alerted to an object in the sky just above the horizon to the west. According to Carter the object was bright white like the moon in the middle of the night. The object moved in towards Carter but stopped above a gore of pine trees before changing color from white to blue to red, then back to white before taking off into the night.
There was nothing else illuminating the craft
It's fair to assume that whatever Carter saw was a craft, bird, or something else that was hit by a beam of light. What else could explain the color change? Carter believes that whatever he saw was self-illuminated, which would make sense with all of the color changes.
In 1973, Carter said:
There were about twenty of us standing outside of a little restaurant, I believe, a high school lunch room, 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.
The Craft Had Moves
The President was unable to say exactly how close he was to the object, and even exactly what color it was, but the one thing that's clear from his story is that the craft (if that's what we can call it) was zipping around in full view of the Lion's Club for long enough for Carter to get some kind of idea of what he was looking at. He later explained:
[The object] seemed to move toward us from a distance, stopped-moved partially away-returned, then departed. Bluish at first, then reddish, luminous, not solid.
President Carter Isn't Someone Known For Tomfoolery
Carter, who was a naval officer and had been trained in identifying aircraft during his time in the military, was unable to explain what he had seen that night. Carter's sighting came at a time when UFO sightings were becoming increasingly common across the United States. The 1960s saw a surge of interest in the subject, with many people reporting strange objects in the sky. The government, however, had dismissed these sightings as mere hoaxes or misidentifications of natural phenomena. But Carter's account of his sighting, given his background and credibility, has added weight to the growing body of evidence suggesting that there may be something to the phenomenon.
Multiple people claim that they saw the mysterious light
It's important to remember that Carter didn't just see this thing on his lonesome. While speaking about the UFO in 2005 he kept to the same story he's been telling for nearly 40 years. Something interesting in this version of the story is that Carter notes that there were multiple people outside with him on the evening in question. Carter said:
All of a sudden, one of the men looked up and said, 'Look, over in the west!' And there was a bright light in the sky. We all saw it. And then the light, it got closer and closer to us. And then it stopped, I don't know how far away, but it stopped beyond the pine trees. And all of a sudden it changed color to blue, and then it changed to red, then back to white. And we were trying to figure out what in the world it could be, and then it receded into the distance.
Unfortunately only one member of Carter's crew has come forward to bolster the president's claims throwing this story into even more disarray.
Carter's never been clear about when he saw the UFO
The biggest question surrounding this event - aside from what exactly t was that Carte saw - is when it happened exactly. Carter didn't file a report with the International UFO Bureau until September 14, 1973, four years after the event in question.
Carter claims that he saw the UFO in October of '69, but the leaders at the Lions Club state that their records show Carter speaking at their location on January 6, 1969. It's most likely that the Lions Club is more accurate here because they have documentation but without getting eyes on the paperwork it's hard to know who's telling the truth.
Some people believe that Carter was alone
The misinformation surrounding Carter's alleged UFO sighting makes it hard to corroborate exactly what happened, but the most confounding part of the entire investigation is whether or not Carter is telling the truth about who witnessed the mysterious light that evening. Some members of the Lion's Club claim that Carter was on his own that night, but Fred Hart, a member of Carter's entourage claims that he saw the UFO as well, noting:
It seems like there was a little—like a blue light or something or other in the sky that night—like some kind of weather balloon they send out or something... it had been pretty far back in my mind.
Skeptics State That Carter Saw Something, But Not A UFO
The incident has drawn attention from both believers and skeptics of the UFO phenomenon. Some have pointed to Carter's account as evidence of the government's cover-up of UFO sightings, while others have dismissed it as a simple misidentification of a natural phenomenon. An argument against Carter's alleged sighting is the possibility that the President saw numerous phenomena including strange lights, a large bird, and deep shadows. When those things are put together they can feel like a UFO even though they're totally ordinary.
Maybe He Saw A Weather Balloon
While former President Jimmy Carter believes that he saw a UFO in the woods of Georgia in 1969, there are a number of more plausible explanations for what he may have witnessed that evening. One possibility is that he saw a weather balloon, which is a type of balloon that is designed to measure various atmospheric conditions. Another possibility is that he saw a military aircraft that was conducting a classified operation. Additionally, some skeptics have suggested that Carter may have simply seen a natural phenomenon, such as a meteor or an unusual cloud formation. Despite these alternative explanations, Carter remains convinced that what he saw that night was something that requires more explanation than he received.
Carter doesn't know if he saw an alien craft
As much as we'd love for President Carter to come out and say, "Hey I saw an alien," that's just not the case. The former leader of the free world has been open about the UFO, but he also admits that he doesn't he doesn't think he saw a ship piloted by an alien, simply a real deal unidentified flying object.
Carter's Story Has Never Changed
In 2005, Carter spoke with GQ and discussed the UFO sighting a bit more in depth. Rather than provide new details to a decades old story he essentially provided a little more context. He explained:
I saw an unidentified flying object. I've never believed that it came from Mars. I know enough physics to know that you can't have vehicles that are tangible in nature flying from Mars, looking around, and then flying back. But I saw an object one night when I was preparing to give a speech to a Lions Club. There were about twenty-five of us men standing around. It was almost time for the Lions Club supper to start, which I would eat and then I would give a speech. I was in charge of fifty-six Lions Clubs in southwest Georgia back in the late '60s. And all of a sudden, one of the men looked up and said, 'Look, over in the west!' And there was a bright light in the sky. We all saw it. And then the light, it got closer and closer to us. And then it stopped, I don't know how far away, but it stopped beyond the pine trees. And all of a sudden it changed color to blue, and then it changed to red, then back to white. And we were trying to figure out what in the world it could be, and then it receded into the distance.
Carter Used A Tape Recorder To Dictate What He Was Seeing
How does President Carter remember so much about his experience with the UFO? He had a tape recorder with him at the time and he was able to record his thoughts as they were happening. In 2005, he told GQ:
I had a tape recorder—because as I met with members of Lions Clubs, I would dictate their names on the tapes so I could remember them—and I dictated my observations. And when I got home, I wrote them down. So that's an accurate description of what I saw. It was a flying object that was unidentified. But I have never thought that it was from outer space.
Maybe it was Venus
If we go off of that Lion's Club record then we know exactly what was happening in the sky on the night of January 6, 1969. There were no clouds that evening and Venus was close to its maximum brightness in the west, the direction described by Carter. It's mostly likely that the color changing object that he saw was the second planet in the solar system, but Carter doesn't think so.
The former president has said that he's seen Venus multiple times and knows what it looks like. He assumes that as it was completely silent that he was looking at a military aircraft of some kind.
Carter has looked into alien life on Earth
Even though he doesn't believe that he saw an alien craft, this run-in with a UFO has inspired Carter to look into extra terrestrial life on our planet. He's said that when he made it into the White House he looked into any kind of government coverup of alien life on Earth and came up short. Not because he found zero proof, but because the CIA refused to give him any information on the subject. Sounds fishy.
The UFO sighting made an impact on the President
After witnessing the UFO outside of Leary, Georgia, President Carter was admirably open about what he saw. While on the campaign trail he told that press that following his election he would make sure to enact a policy of openness around UFOs and possible alien activity, stating:
One thing's for sure, I'll never make fun of people who say they've seen unidentified objects in the sky. If I become President, I'll make every piece of information this country has about UFO sightings available to the public and the scientists.
Carter's Official Report Helped Legitimize Thousands Of UFO Sightings
Although the report on UFOs released by the US government did not significantly alter day-to-day transportation, it did contribute to a broader awareness of the phenomenon. While reports of UFO sightings have existed for centuries, President Jimmy Carter's interest in the subject spurred the government to conduct a serious study of these unidentified crafts. In fact, by 1973, a Gallup poll showed that 95% of Americans had heard of UFOs, surpassing the number of people who were familiar with former President Gerald Ford.
President Carter Doesn't Think He Saw An Alien
Carter has never been totally clear about what he saw, but how many of us would be to accurately describe an alien vessel if we saw it? Many UFOlogists believe that the human mind is unable to comprehend extraterrestrial technology. With that in mind it makes sense that Carter's description of the craft is a little all over the place. Another important aspect to this story is that Carter doesn't believe that the UFO was from space, he's stated that it was simply a flying object that was unidentifed.
Carter Wasn't The Only President To Have An Experience With UFOs
During the 1976 Presidential Campaign, Carter was running against Gerald Ford - another high ranking member of the United States government who had experience with UFOs. In 1966, while serving as a Congressman from Michigan, Ford was addressing inquiries from his constituents regarding strange sightings in the sky and this to say about people who had witnessed otherwordly crafts:
Are we to assume that everyone who says he has seen UFOs is an unreliable witness? I think we owe it to the people to establish credibility regarding UFOs and to produce the greatest possible enlightenment on this subject.
Carter Walked Back That Whole UFO Promise
In 1976, while campaigning for the presidency, Jimmy Carter pledged that he would push for the release of all available information on UFOs to the public and scientific community if he were to win the election. However, after becoming president, Carter reneged on his promise, citing potential national security threats and "defense implications" that could arise from the release of certain information.