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The United States of UFOs: What’s that in the Sky?

Area 51. Roswell. Close Encounters. E.T. UFOs and aliens are all around us- from the movies to beloved video games and, as of late, official reports from the Pentagon. Who hasn’t looked up at the night sky and asked themselves, “Are we alone?”

But which states in the nation are having more close encounters with UFOs than others? We analyzed data from the National UFO Reporting Center Database (NUFORC) and surveyed over 1,000 Americans nationwide on UFOs, aliens, and their favorite extraterrestrial films. Here’s what we found: 

UFO Reports

United States of UFOs and Aliens

While some might assume Nevada, home to the so-called “Area 51,” might take home first prize for alien sightings, golden California takes the cake instead with nearly TWICE the amount of sightings of any other state at 15,401. According to the NUFORC, which has been reporting UFO sightings since 1974, the other top states include Florida, Washington, Texas, New York, and Pennsylvania. New Mexico, home to the UFO-famous Roswell, comes in 28th, while Nevada takes 27th. 

Those who wish to avoid UFOs altogether should move to the Dakotas- they have the least amount of UFO sightings in the nation! 

UFO Sightings in the Last 5 Years

United States of UFOs and Aliens

Recent years have shown a surge in UFO sightings, especially when you compare the number of reports to the state’s population. There’s a rise in sightings in the Pacific Northwest, Mountain West, and New England states, with Idaho sporting the highest amount of sightings in the last 5 years. Idaho is followed by New Hampshire, Montana, Vermont, and New Mexico. 

For the most part, it seems that aliens are avoiding going south of the Mason-Dixon- the three states with the least amount of sightings in the last five years are Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. 

Whatever the reason, whether it’s better internet access or increased attention to the sky, it’s clear UFOs (and aliens) frequent certain states!

Comparing the Last Five Years to All Time

Some states are really experiencing a renaissance of UFO sightings in the last 5 years. Formally quiet states like Idaho and Connecticut are showing that a third of their total sightings have happened just in the last five years. Other states, like Illinois, are in a UFO dry patch: the last five years only account for 16% of its sightings.

The U.S. Wants to Believe

It looks like Special Agent Fox Mulder from the X-Files isn’t in the minority anymore: 78% of Americans believe in UFOs! More than 1 in 10 claims to have seen a UFO firsthand- and a full third of Americans believe the government has captured an alien. However, there’s no love for Area 51- over half of Americans don’t think there are UFOs OR aliens at the legendary site, begging the question of whether there’s something ‘out there’ at all! 

What about the other side? Just how does E.T. feel about all of this? 64% of respondents believe that aliens know humans and Earth exist, and 56% believe aliens have been to Earth. 

Phoning Home

Have we established the first contact yet? 37% of Americans believe U.S. scientists or officials have made contact with aliens already, and 43% believe we are on the brink of breaking through to our extraterrestrial neighbors. There’s a lot of faith in how the government is handling our potential overlords, too, as 3 in 5 Americans say the government is taking UFOs and aliens just seriously enough. 

The people are crying out for more information, however, many Americans think the truth isn’t fully out there. 66% believe scientists know more about E.T. than what’s released to the public, and 73% think the government knows more than it says. It comes as no surprise, then, that 76% of Americans wish officials would release more data on aliens and UFOs. After all, more information might be the only way to even the tables: 72% believe aliens have more advanced technology than we do and 32% think that a human has been abducted by an alien. Maybe people just have vivid dreams about being abducted?

Are they Friendly?

If most believe that aliens are more advanced than us, what are we to make of our potential overlords? Americans are divided as to whether aliens are friendly or not- it’s a 50/50 split. What they do know, though, is that the prospect of alien invasion scares them: over 1 in 6 are scared of an invasion, 41% think aliens are dangerous, and 1 in 4 are scared by the idea of alien existence at all. 

It might also be overreacting, though: 69% believe Americans are mistaking drones for something more celestial. 

Then again, 88% of Americans believe that there is life outside our solar system. When will we find it? 1 in 4 think we already have found it, but 1 in 5 think it’ll take over 100 years. 1 in 10 think the next decade will showcase life outside of Earth… will you be ready?

Close Encounters of the Cinematic Kind

United States of UFOs and Aliens

One of the best ways to prepare for a variety of alien invasions is by settling down and watching a good movie. The most watched extraterrestrial movies are E.T., followed by Men in Black, Independence Day, Alien, and Space Jam- a spectrum of different types of life! 

Fan favorites include E.T., Men in Black, Independence Day, Alien, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. 

But are they accurate? More than 1 in 10 Americans think movie portrayals of aliens and UFOs are accurate. Top movies for accuracy of alien portrayal include Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Arrival, Men in Black, and Signs. Space Jam, alas, did not make the cut. 

While we wait for more definitive proof of alien contact, it’s probably best to keep your eyes on the sky and remember: the truth is out there. 


We analyzed the number of reported UFO sightings from the National UFO Reporting Center Database, both looking at each state’s overall number of reports and the reports from the last 5 years. We then looked at the number of reports from the last 5 years and compared it to each state’s population, per 100,000 residents. We also took a look at the number of recent reports compared to all UFO reports to understand what % of all reports have been within the last 5 years.

In September 2022, we surveyed 1,013 Americans to get their feedback on UFOs and aliens. Respondents were 48% female, 49% male and 3% non-binary, with an age range of 18 to 80 and an average age of 39 years old.

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Last Updated October 24, 2022

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