An NPR member station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

E. Washington Man Directs National UFO Center

Courtesy of Peter Davenport

If you've ever reported seeing something unusual in the sky, chances are the news eventually reached the national tracking center for unidentified flying objects. That center is located in eastern Washington.

The man who directs it, Peter Davenport, has had a lifelong interest in UFOs since first seeing one during a family outing at a drive-in theater in 1954.

Little did he know then, but 40 years later, he would take over as director of the National UFO Reporting Center and move it to his home near Davenport, about 30 miles west of Spokane. The center is housed in an unusual location, deep underground at the site of a former Atlas ICBM missile site.

“The reason I bought the missile site was I wanted a place to store my library, and there are some very big walls in the missile site,” he said.

Davenport says the center now has about 150,000 files of individual UFO sightings. He categorizes the reports. He says many are mysterious lights in the sky that can often be attributed to bright planets like Venus.

But many don't have such an easy explanation. 

“We now know or suspect that the majority of sightings are of triangular shape craft, not discs or spheres,” he said.

Davenport says some of the reports come from people in eastern Washington.

“One is a very dramatic sighting that several people saw over north Spokane in 2007. They say several yellow objects were traveling at a very fast pace," he said.

The local sightings are all documented on the reporting center's website, where they are categorized by state. Others from the Inland Northwest include a detailed report of a UFO over Beauty Bay on Lake Coeur d'Alene, and a woman and her children who were shocked to see a slow moving UFO over a wheat field near St. John, Washington while traveling home one night.

“The data I've collected over the last 26 years says to me, quite unambiguously, our planet is being visited by these objects that for 75 years now we have referred to as UFOs. Just the sheer volume of the work to say nothing of the quality of some of the people who have reported most unusual sightings to our center," Davenport said.

To view the database and even report your own UFO sighting, visit the National UFO Reporting Center website.


Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.