E.T. Air Traffic Control, the Logistics of UFO Abduction

©2006 by Craig R. Lang, MS CHt

Published in Issue 1 of the Journal of Abduction-Encounter Research



According to the Roper poll of Unusual Personal Experiences, the number of possible abductees appears to be somewhere between 0.2% and 1% of the population.  Other sources suggest that there are a large number of abductions over a lifetime.  What does this imply about the number of UFOs and E.T.s required to support such an endeavor?  Based upon estimates of the frequency of UFO abductions, I conclude that if UFO abduction is a nuts-and-bolts phenomenon there must be a tremendous number of UFO flights to and from Earth each 24-hour period.  This volume of traffic would require a large physical infrastructure.  Otherwise, one or more alternative theories of the abduction phenomenon must be true.



For as long as I have been involved in UFO research, the nature of UFO abduction has been a topic of vigorous debate.  Over the years I have noted that, excluding skeptics and debunkers, there are least two camps of belief on the topic.  One argues that UFO abduction is in some way non-physical or paraphysical in nature.  The other - which appears to me to have the largest number of adherents - claims that the entities responsible for UFO abduction are physical beings, coming to Earth in physical craft. 


Our means to explore scientifically a metaphysical or paranormal model of UFO abduction is very limited.  However, a physical "nuts and bolts" extraterrestrial hypothesis is something we can more objectively evaluate.  From UFO sighting reports and accounts related by abductees, we can estimate the magnitude of the alien effort.  How many UFO abductions are occurring?  How many UFO flights would be required to support such an endeavor?  What type of an infrastructure would be necessary to support such an effort?


How many experiencers are there?

According to the 1998 Roper poll of unexplained experiences,[i] the number of people who may be close encounter experiencers (people who answered "yes" to four of the five indicator questions) may constitute up to approximately one percent of the population.  If one takes a more rigorous criterion, requiring affirmative responses to all five indicator questions in the poll, then the number drops to about 0.2 percent. 


When speaking about UFO abduction at conferences, science fiction conventions and other venues, I often ask for a show of hands as to who has had an experience that they cannot explain.  Depending upon the venue, the number of hands is usually about 1 to 2 percent of the audience.  Thus, informally, this tends to concur with the one-percent number in the Roper poll. However, not all unexplained events are necessarily UFO abductions.  There are other things one could "experience" and some of those I have met during my talks have described events that are probably not UFO-related.  Thus, to be as rigorous as possible, let's require that all five of the indicators be present.  For the purposes of this article, I will take the most conservative Roper poll estimate of 0.2% experiencing all five indicators


How many abductions?

How many UFO abductions does an experiencer have within their lifetime?  Informally, I have heard one researcher claim that there may be up to 200 such events.  However, from what many experiencers have told me, I would informally estimate that during the abductee's young adult years (form puberty at age 13 to approximately age 43), there seem to be approximately two abductions per year.  In childhood and in later life, this rate appears to be less.  Thus, I would (very) informally estimate that around 75 abductions occur during the experiencer's lifetime - though this number is simply an order-of-magnitude estimate.  If we assume a typical human lifespan of approximately 75 years, this would result in an average rate of about one per year over a person's lifetime.


Regional Scope

In a major metropolitan area of approximately 3 million people (such as the Minneapolis, St. Paul metro area), an abductee percentage of 0.2% of the population implies that there are six thousand experiencers there.  Six thousand experiencers having an average of 1 event per year results in six thousand events per year.  Dividing this number by 365 yields approximately 16 abduction events per 24-hour period. 


Presumably, each event would involve a UFO flight.  Thus, on average, there should be up to 16 UFO flights occurring each night over a similarly sized metropolitan area.  Thus, on any given night, the skies over my own home city should be quite busy with UFOs.


Global Scope

If we assume that the abduction rate is approximately the same worldwide,[ii] then we end up with 6 Billion people * 0.2% = 12 Million abductees worldwide.  With an average rate of one abduction per year per experiencer, we find that there are roughly 12 million abduction events per year.  Further, if we divide 12 million by 365 days/year we get approximately 32 thousand abductions per 24-hour period.


As we indicated above, if abduction is a "nuts and bolts" phenomenon, than each must require a UFO flight to get the aliens to and from the site.  Thus, up to 32 thousand UFO flights per 24-hour period would be required to sustain this rate of abductions.  Let's imagine that multiple abductions could be accomplished per UFO flight - arbitrarily assuming 10 per sortie.  This would still require 3200 flights during any 24-hour period to sustain the rate of abductions. 


What the Numbers Tell Us

These numbers reveal what I refer to as the “Air Traffic Control Problem.”  In order to coordinate such a massive abduction program - even simply to prevent UFOs from running into each other - some sort of significant command and control structure would be required, an E.T. air-traffic-control system. 


In addition, a large number of physical craft in our skies would presumably be difficult to conceal.  Yet, it is not clear that the rate of UFO sightings is in accordance with such a large number of UFO flights.  The volume of UFO traffic suggests that the rate of UFO sightings should be higher than it is, unless the aliens have some very effective visual and radar evasion capability.


We can draw some further conclusions about a massive nuts-and-bolts abduction paradigm.  The first thing we note that it would be necessary to support this large volume of UFO traffic with a physical infrastructure to provide logistics, craft maintenance, consumables, etc.  To estimate just what kind of a support effort this would require, let's make the (very human) assumption that these UFOs would also need some sort of ground crew.  If we assume 10 E.T.s per UFO as "support staff," we end up with up to 30-thousand E.T.s.  This would require at least one large base or mother ship, which we can assume would be reasonably near Earth.  This would presumably be massive and difficult to conceal.  At least in principle, it might be detectable to us.


These numbers imply that unless such a vast E.T. infrastructure exists, one or more of the following must be true:


1)      Each abductee has far fewer experiences than we had originally estimated.


2)      The number of abductees is far less than the assumed 0.2 percent, the most conservative estimates from the Roper poll.


3)      A significant percentage of abductions are nonphysical, thus not requiring a UFO visit.  This would argue (at least in part) against a strictly nuts-and-bolts model for abduction, implying that it may be more metaphysical or paranormal in nature.  Many abduction researchers consider this a valid hypothesis.


If the nuts-and-bolts model is correct, and our original assumptions are valid, then the scale of the effort would appear to be comparable to that of a major global military campaign.  This would imply that the abduction program must be a vital endeavor and its successful completion of tremendous urgency to some cosmic society. 


In this article, we have discussed the apparent scope and infrastructure required for the number of UFO abductions.  If this massive effort is indeed under way, then we must ask why we are so important to them.  The answer must have profound implications for the future of humanity.  Alternatively, if a "nuts and bolts" scenario is not the case, then at least one of the alternatives must be true.  To me, any of these alternatives suggest that we know even less about the UFO and abduction phenomenon than we thought. 


[i] Unusual Personal Experiences: 1991 and 1998 - National Institute of Discovery Sciences


Discussion of the 1991 and 1998 Roper Poll of Unusual Personal Experiences


The poll asked detailed questions exploring incidents of indicator phenomena in a person's life.  Five phenomena were considered as key indicators.  These were as follows:

  1. Waking paralyzed and sensing a presence in the room
  2. Missing time
  3. Feeling of flying
  4. Seeing balls of light
  5. Anomalous scars

Notes: The stated criterion for being a possible abductee is experiencing four of five indicators more than once. The overall estimate of the 1998 poll is that 0.9% (approximately 1%) of the population fit this criterion.  Approximately 0.2% of the surveyed population reported experiencing all five indicators.


[ii] John Mack [Passport to the Cosmos] and others have argued that the UFO abduction phenomenon is most likely global in scope.  From this, we can arguably assume a similar percentage of abductees throughout the world.


Bio:   Craig R. Lang is a field investigator with Mutual UFO Network, and is a certified clinical hypnotherapist with the National Guild of Hypnotists.  He lives in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, and conducts UFO and close encounter research in the Twin Cities metro area of Minneapolis and Saint Paul and in surrounding areas within Minnesota and Wisconsin.  He can be reached by e-mail at craig@craigrlang.com.  The Minnesota MUFON website can be reached at www.mnmufon.org.