Earlier this month, the FBI created a new website, "The Vault," which offers the public an opportunity to view documents in an online "electronic reading room."
Some of the 2,000-plus documents are about UFOs, including several from 1947 -- right around the time of the famously reported UFO crash near Roswell, N.M.
Though the U.S. government has always maintained there was nothing about UFOs that warranted any serious investigation, the documents from the late 1940s show FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover's interest in UFOs.
In fact, many of the UFO files were either sent to or by Hoover himself.
One such file from The Vault, dated Aug. 12, 1947, was sent to Hoover by the Milwaukee, Wis., FBI special agent in charge. It concerned a small, 19-inch-diameter disc-shaped object found at a fairground.
The little UFO contained a photoelectric cell, electric motor and a propeller. While agents decided it was "made by some juvenile," they still felt it necessary to send it to the top of the ladder, tipping off Hoover.
A few weeks before agents discovered the small UFO in Wisconsin, a woman in Illinois reported to the FBI that she had found a circular electronic disc in her yard. And just like in Wisconsin, an Illinois FBI agent decided the tiny discovery was important enough to bring to Hoover's attention, stating it was "someone's idea of a prank."
And there's probably a very good reason why.
On July 30, 1947, according to its own website, the FBI issued this notice to all of its offices:
"Flying Discs -- The Bureau, at the request of the Army Air Forces Intelligence, has agreed to cooperate in the investigation of flying discs. ... You should investigate each instance which is brought to your attention of a sighting of a flying disc in order to ascertain whether or not it is a bona fide sighting, an imaginary one or a prank."
Let's fast-forward to April 12, where strange lights in the sky were reported over the town of Hawera in the Taranaki region of New Zealand.
Remote-controlled helicopters, kites with electric wires and Chinese lanterns are high on the list of explanations for these UFOs, the Taranaki Daily News reported.
Hawera resident Aaron Sellwood and his family described a flaming ball dancing and zigzagging in the night sky.
"I looked at it and could see a flamey-type object with a dark shadow on top which looked to be a pyramid shape with a round top," Sellwood said.
"It turned its flames off and it looked like it was cooling down," he added. "There was what looked like an element beneath it -- a big red ring."
Sellwood's description might seem out of this world, but Bob Burdoff of the Hawera Astronomical Society said the strange sighting was most likely a remote-controlled helicopter.
"I think that the clever money would be on someone just being a silly sod and flying one of those at night," he speculated.
Meanwhile, there's been a bit of debate among local remote-controlled helicopter enthusiasts about the identity of the mystery object.
So, whether it's 1947 or 2011, some mystery remains as to whether certain UFOs are man-made or made in a galaxy far, far away.
That is, if you don't ask Burdoff.
"Failing all else, the aliens are here -- which I don't really believe for a moment," Burdoff said.
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