Ronald Reagan UFO Sighting

September 1974
Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev at the 1985 Geneva Summit.
Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev at the 1985 Geneva Summit.

Although official documentation and details are limited, it has been reported that Ronald Reagan witnessed a UFO while Governor of California, and had a lifelong interest in the subject.

In 1974, while flying in a Cessna Citation to Bakersfield, California, Reagan and three other passengers witnessed an unusual moving light at 35,000 feet.

The pilot, U.S. Air Force Colonel Bill Paynter, later recounted that "It appeared to be several hundred yards away. It was a fairly steady light until it began to accelerate. Then it appeared to elongate. Then the light took off. It went up at a 45-degree angle-at a high rate of speed. Everyone on the plane was surprised ... The UFO went from a normal cruise speed to a fantastic speed instantly. If you give an airplane power, it will accelerate-but not like a hot rod, and that's what this was like."[1]

Alien Reference to Gorbachev

Reagan's interest in UFOs and the possibility of the existence of aliens extended into his Presidency, and there has been much debate about how it motivated some of his actions and words. In 1985, during the Geneva Summit, Reagan and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev took a walk together with only their private interpreters. Gorbachev later recounted to Charlie Rose that Reagan asked him, "What would you do if the United States were suddenly attacked by someone from outer space? Would you help us?" Gorbachev replied, "No doubt about it." Reagan then responded, "We too."[2]

United Nations Address

On September 21, 1987, while addressing the United Nations assembly, Reagan famously said: "Perhaps we need some outside universal threat to make us recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world. And yet, I ask you, is not an alien force already among us? What could be more alien to the universal aspirations of our peoples than war and the threat of war?"[5]

It is interesting to note Reagan's interest in UFOs was not widely known or reported while he was President, due to the fact that his aides worked to keep this extracurricular interest from the media and public.


Official Explanation

No official record of this incident.

Counter Argument

Former President Reagan saw a UFO.


Multiple credible eyewitness accounts.

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