Believing anyone who claims to have seen an unidentified flying object is a tricky proposition. For most of us, seeing is believing, and unless we were the one who spotted it with our own eyes, it can be hard to take someone else’s word for it.

But what happens when the source claiming to have seen a strange object hovering in the sky is the President of the United States of America? That might make some believers out of us all, right? In 1969, a young Jimmy Carter—then just a Georgia politician—reported having seen a UFO, though people were largely skeptical of his claim.

Yet, that didn’t stop him from filing an official sighting report with the International UFO Bureau! Here’s what he saw…

For centuries, people have debated about the existence of extraterrestrial life. While it might seem outlandish—unlikely even—to some of us, others are firm believers. Yet, even if a person comes forward with what they believe is new evidence, there’s always someone else who can find a way to discredit it.

What happens, though, when the person who claims to have seen a UFO hovering in the night sky is supposed to be one of the most trusted and most upstanding citizens in the entire country? Do people start to believe? Because that’s exactly what happened with the 39th President of the United States of America, Jimmy Carter.

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The year was 1969, and Jimmy Carter was leaving a restaurant to give a speech at a Lions Club meeting in Leary, Georgia, when someone brought to his attention to a bizarre object in the sky above. Stunned by what he’d witnessed, he described the object as bright white—as bright as the moon.

Carter also mentioned that it seemed to approach the point where he stood, though it stopped and hovered above a series of pine trees in the distance. Then, the UFO suddenly began changing colors. First, it was blue, then red, then white… and then it ducked off into the sky.

Carter stated that the UFO hovered there for roughly 10 to 12 minutes and it was also witnessed by several other people. Even though he didn’t initially report the sighting, he was approached in 1973 and asked to come forward with a statement to the International UFO Bureau in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

“There were about 20 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,” Carter recalled in a 1973 interview. “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.”

While it was obviously difficult to prove that what Carter and the group of people had seen that night was, in fact, a UFO, the event nevertheless made quite a lasting impression on the man who would go on to become the leader of the free world.

It was rumored to have changed his overall perception of UFO sightings. When he ran for president in 1976, Carter told reporters that he would instate an open policy for people who came forward with extraterrestrial sightings.

“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 said.

So curious was Carter that he eventually asked the then-Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, George H. W. Bush, what the CIA knew about UFOs. Bush responded that the future president-elect had no reason to know the answer to that question.

Even though he’d gone to the trouble of filing the sighting report and claiming he’d take extraterrestrial claims seriously, Carter eventually went back on his word and began to distance himself from that statement. Still, you can tell he never completely forgot what he saw that night in Georgia. Just listen to the way he passionately talks about UFOs in this video below…

It’s frustrating that President Carter felt like he had to change his tune for the sake of politics. If there’s anyone who could push the trust of UFO believers forward, it’s the POTUS!

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