For Leslie Kean, the mystery surrounding UFOs only deepened over the last two decades as she investigated evidence from around the globe.
“The more you learn, the more you understand how real this is,” said Kean, a journalist whose reporting on unexplained aerial phenomena helped spur a major government review of military UFO sightings.
In a forthcoming report, government officials are expected to say what they know about unidentified objects encountered by the military.
Government officials told NBC News the report found no evidence of extraterrestrial activity, but the government has not ruled it out either as it investigates flying objects seen by U.S. military planes.
The objects could also be highly advanced aircraft developed by other nations, raising national security concerns.
Kean, who published her first article on the subject in The Boston Globe in 1999, said the fact the report was produced is a milestone, demonstrating a new interest from lawmakers, and a shift in the government’s openness to reveal what it knows.
“There have been decades and decades of the perspective that this was basically a joke,” she said. “It was a subject for science fiction.”
The report is expected to address military encounters with aerial phenomena, including newly declassified videos of mysterious objects seeming to dart through U.S. airspace at unbelievable speeds, pyramid-like objects captured on radar above a Navy destroyer, and spheres appearing to levitate before plunging into the ocean.
During an interview at her family home in Massachusetts, Kean told NBC10 incidents like these are on the rise, which raises questions about whether the objects are advanced technologies developed by U.S. adversaries, such as Russia or China.
“There's some kind of strange escalation going on,” Kean said. “This is a major intelligence issue that there are things flying around our skies that we can identify in restricted airspace.”
In Massachusetts, the number of UFO sightings has been trending higher since around 2010, according to records maintained by the National UFO Reporting Center.
The private organization, which runs a website and telephone hotline, has collected more than 1,800 reports from the Bay State, most within the last decade.
More on the Pentagon UFO Report
The scope of the Pentagon report is more limited, focusing on 120 more recent military UFO sightings, and not civilian encounters, according to The New York Times.
Kean says it’s important for the public to remember the report won’t have all the answers, or give us concrete proof there may be something else out there.
It’s expected that about 70 pages of the report will remain classified, so the public won’t get to see those details. But lawmakers who ordered the investigation will, and they’ll decide on next steps based on what they learn.
“The message is that there are unexplained objects, and we are inching closer to trying to discover what they are,” Kean said.