New York Skies (Cheryl Costa)

How Many UFO Sightings Are There?

Columnist Cheryl Costa crunches some UFO sighting numbers.

Last week in this column I talked about how I had 14 casual UFO sightings recently. A reader commented, “I guess extraterrestrial crafts visiting Earth are nearly as common as mosquitoes.” This, in turn, caused a discussion with a number of UFO-oriented people I know and raised the fundamental question: How many UFO sightings are there?

Let’s limit our problem to United States sightings. In the U.S., we average about 8,000 reported UFO sightings a year. OK, I can hear the scoffers out there saying, “But they can’t all be the real thing!” I accept that notion that only a small percentage are of an exotic nature.

UFO field investigators typically tell me that using a standard analysis formula, 20 percent is considered a safe and reasonable number. So using that percentage against the 8,000 yearly national UFO sightings, the exotic stuff might be roughly 1,600. I’m a bit conservative about these things. I prefer to use a percentage number in the neighborhood of 3 percent to represent potential exotic crafts. If we apply the 3 percent number against 8,000 we get a more humble number for the exotic UFOs of 240. That’s 240 potential off-world visitors a year.

But here is the fly in the ointment: World-renowned Nuclear Physicist and UFO researcher Stanton Friedman has put forth the notion that only 1-10 people actually report what they see. Every time he gives a presentation at a college or convention, he always asks the audience, “How many have seen a UFO?” Then he asks, “How many bothered to report those UFO sightings?” Time after time, the audience keeps coming up with a value of about 10 percent.

So if we multiply our yearly reported UFO sightings of 8,000 by 10, we get 80,000 UFO sightings nationally; that’s a very different story. Twenty percent from the investigators standard formula suggests that 16,000 are of a highly exotic nature. Even if we use my conservative 3 percent, we’re talking about 2,400 exotic UFO sightings.

If you divide those yearly 2,400 exotic UFO sightings equally among the 50 states, we’re talking about 48 biblical level events. Where 48 highly amazing UFOs came down from the sky in every state of the union.

My national UFO magnitude study reported that we average about 8,000 UFO reports per year. We sampled our study over the 15 years between 2001 through 2015, totaling about 120,500 reported UFO sightings.

To quote singer Lou Reed, “Let’s take a walk on the wild side.” For fun let’s multiply 120,500 by 10. We get a number a little over 1.2 million. If we take those 2,400 potential exotic UFO sightings and multiple them by 10, we get a 3 percent potential exotic event number of about 24,000. Finally, if we divide 24,000 by 50 states, we get 480 amazing events per state over the past 15 years. I doubt my friends in the UFO experience and abductee community would argue with numbers like those.

If you are interested in joining a monthly UFO discussion group in the Onondaga County area, drop Cheryl an email [email protected]. If you have a UFO sighting to report, you can use either one of the two national database services: or Both services respect confidentiality.

Cheryl Costa would love to hear the when, where and what of your New York sighting. Email it to [email protected]. The names of witnesses will be omitted to protect their privacy.

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