Four retired Army and Air Force colonels and a former British Ministry of Defense investigator join forces this weekend at the National Atomic Testing Museum to speak on a subject public officials rarely address -- UFOs.
The Smithsonian-affiliated museum's special lecture, "Military UFOs: Secrets Revealed" is open to the public and has been long anticipated by researchers of unexplained phenomena.
The exact nature of the secrets hasn't been revealed, but the participants form a historic who's who of UFO researchers spanning half a century.
At least one of the participants has strongly hinted he's going to reveal startling UFO-related information that hasn't yet seen the light of day.
"I'm going to explain what I think and what I believe, and this is after all these years thinking about it. I think I've got the answer and no one has ever mentioned it," said retired Air Force Col. William Coleman.
Coleman is a former Air Force bomber pilot, public affairs officer and chief spokesman for the Air Force's Project Blue Book between 1961 and 1963. Blue Book was the official 20-year study of UFOs, which ended in 1969, after reaching several negative conclusions about UFOs, including:
There has been no evidence submitted to or discovered by the Air Force that sightings categorized as "unidentified" represent technological developments or principles beyond the range of present-day scientific knowledge.
Coleman's career led him to serve as producer of NBC's two-season drama, "Project UFO," executive produced by Jack Webb, of "Dragnet" and based on thousands of reports from the Project Blue Book files.
Here's the opening of 1978's William Coleman-produced "Project UFO" TV series
Throughout the Blue Book investigation of UFOs, many reports seemed to contradict the official Air Force findings.
Coleman described his experience when, as a major, he piloted a B-25 bomber -- similar to the one pictured below -- with a four-man crew over Alabama on a clear afternoon in 1955.
"The co-pilot told me to look out at 2 o’clock high, so I turned around and pulled my seat back up and said it could be a little bright spot from sun reflection," Coleman told The Huffington Post.
"I took the airplane and started making a right turn and the object moved, meaning we were looking at an object at roughly 25,000 or 30,000 feet. It was a real bright dot, and suddenly, it started descending and it was coming across our flight path, and I sent my crew chief up into the bombardier’s section so he could look out through the glass nose of the bomber to get a different view than what we were seeing in the cockpit."
Coleman's pursuit of the UFO brought the bomber very near treetop level.
"We had a good view of it, because it was a cloudless day, it was out in the middle of nowhere and we didn’t see any cars or people, and I said, ‘Look at the shadow on the ground” -- it was circular. At that point, I was overtaking it and I said I was gonna make a hard turn to the right, I’m gonna stand the airplane up on its wing and I’m gonna turn back around, and we should be back alongside of it.'"
The bomber crew saw the object again as it flew over a freshly plowed field.
"As it was going across the field, there were two vortexes coming off the edge of it as it went across that field," Coleman recalled. "It was like a horizontal tornado."
The now-retired Air Force colonel, pictured below, said that, at their closest approach to the UFO, the bomber was about an eighth of a mile from it. And he got a good look at it.
"It was about 75 feet in diameter, 15-feet-thick at the center, no rivet lines, portholes, glass or windows. It was just metal -- what I call a run-of-the-mill flying saucer. It wasn’t reflective at all, except when it was at extreme altitude, it reflected sunlight, but as we got closer, all that disappeared."
Coleman tried to maneuver the bomber in order to "head him off at the pass," but by the time he was able to emerge from behind some trees, the UFO was gone, leaving the vortices of dust to settle on the ground.
Nearly 60 years after this close encounter, and 50 years since his involvement with Project Blue Book, Coleman has decided to make a definitive statement about UFOs.
"I think I've hit the nail on the head," he said, and plans to share this information on Saturday at the UFO lecture in Las Vegas.
Check out some UFO encounters here.