The celebrity world is rife with individuals who purport to have had encounters with UFOs. From Jimmy Hendrix to Sammy Hagar, the stories range from mysterious floating objects in the sky to middle of the night bedroom encounters with probe-happy extraterrestrials.

In poring over these stories, however, one cannot help but feel that the excess of celebrity lifestyle may have played a factor in these encounters. That under a certain ‘purple haze’, an individual might be slightly more prone to experiencing matters of the metaphysical.

But what about the more decidedly sober among us who have also come forward with their UFO stories? Individuals who play prominent roles in our politics and culture, who’s admissions could (and in many cases, do) carry very real repercussions in terms of public image and credibility. Can we not give their accounts more weight given what they risk by publicly disclosing them?

Let us now briefly consider several prominent public figures who’s eyes wandered heavenward at a very specific moment in time and who risked public ridicule to bring us their story.
Prominent figures that have seen UFOs
Dennis Kucinich - Ohio Congressman
The diminutive liberal lawmaker faced tough questions in his failed bid for the 2008 presidency after Shirley Maclaine revealed his encounter with a floating triangular craft at her home in Graham, Washington in 1982. Below the belt jabs from the opposition included general ridicule as well as accusations of mental instability.

Jimmy Carter - US President, 1977-1981
President Carter may have had lust in his heart, but he also had lights in his sky in 1969 when he and a group of people witnessed a mysterious green light that allegedly approached their location and changed colors several times before receding into the distance.

After divulging his story in 1976, then candidate Carter is said to have pledged a full release of any government UFO documentation if he were elected president. No such disclosure ever took place, however.

Buzz Aldrin - US Astronaut, second man on the moon, national hero
Although most comments made by the iconic astronaut have been taken out of context to increase dramatic effect, it has been clearly indicated by Aldrin that the crew of Apollo 11 witnessed some unidentified object from the window of their shuttle. To be clear, Aldrin has repeatedly stated his opinion that the object was most probably a floating panel released from the shuttle. Still, in other public appearances, Aldrin seems to at least entertain the notion of extraterrestrial life, as when he spoke on C-SPAN of a strange monolith on a Mars moon.

Ronald Reagan - US President, 1981–1989
President Reagan was a funny guy. After being shot in an assassination attempt, he told his wife upon her entrance to his hospital room, “Honey, I forgot to duck”. But it’s clear he wasn’t joking when, in 1974, he and a small cadre aboard a Cessna Citation witnessed a bright light a few hundred yards from their aircraft. Reagan later recounted the story to a reporter, “We followed it for several minutes. It was a bright white light. We followed it to Bakersfield, and all of a sudden to our utter amazement it went straight up into the heavens.”

So, do UFOs exist?
Is there anything to be gleaned from these accounts? Given the names mentioned heretofore, it's safe to say we are in pretty good company. Certainly, we can presume that, at the very least, these individuals can be taken at their word. They saw something. Whether or not any of these phenomena were extraterrestrial in nature is, of course, another question.