On Jan. 2, the Chicago Tribune did something extraordinary for a major newspaper: It ran a UFO story on its front page. The newspaper reported that in the late afternoon of Nov. 7, 2006, a gray, egg-shaped object was observed hovering over Gate C17 at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.

The object was unusually low (below the 1,900-foot overcast ), remained visible for several minutes, and was observed by several mechanics and various United Airlines ground personnel. The object eventually disappeared straight up through the overcast by reportedly "punching a hole" through the clouds.

Observer descriptions of the object are remarkably consistent. It had no wings or lights. Its surface appeared metallic but with a soft luster that shone "like a pearl." Several witnesses reported a haze around the bottom of the object akin to heat waves off a hot road. One witness in an airport parking lot said that the object appeared to be spinning counter-clockwise. She also said that a small crowd of fellow observers were pointing up at the object and that several were taking pictures with digital cameras.

The Federal Aviation Administration first told the Chicago Tribune that it had no knowledge of the alleged incident but then quickly reversed its position after the newspaper filed a Freedom of Information Act request.

The agency now claims incredulously that the November sighting was some (unspecified) weather-related phenomenon. Sure.

Even more troubling, United Airlines continues to deny the incident entirely despite the fact that several of its employees maintain that they filed written reports on the sighting with their company, including drawings. United Airlines employees further state that they were instructed by their employer explicitly not to talk about the incident.

In defiance of the company gag order, however, one United mechanic told the Tribune: "It definitely was not an (Earth) aircraft."

UFOs are a 60-year-old mystery made even more mysterious by decades of absurd government denials that anything truly mysterious is going on. UFO proponents say we are seeing space ships from other worlds, while debunkers say eyewitness testimony is remarkably inaccurate and that almost all reports are misidentified natural phenomenon or man-made objects.

Who is right? Draw your own conclusions from just two of the earliest secret, official UFO government documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

On Sept. 23, 1947 Gen. Nathan Twining, commanding general of the Air Material Command, sent a then-secret memorandum to Brig. Gen. George Schulgen at the Pentagon, stating that "The reported phenomenon (the flying disc) is something real and not visionary or fictitious. There are objects the shape of a disc ... with operating characteristics such as extreme rates of climb, maneuverability ... and action which must be considered evasive when sighted or contacted by friendly aircraft or radar.."

One month later, on Oct. 28, 1947, Lt Col. George Garrett prepared a so-called Intelligence Collection Memorandum for Air Force Intelligence which listed some commonly reported features of flying discs: "The ability to group together very quickly in a tight formation when more than one aircraft are together; evasive action ability indicates the possibility of being manually operated, or possibly by electronics or remote control; and under certain conditions the craft seems to have the ability to CUT A CLEAR PATH THROUGH CLOUDS ..."

It is apparent that technical analyists for military intelligence had concluded as early as fall 1947 that some "flying discs" were real, intelligently controlled, unexplainable objects that could be evasive and even cut a clear path through clouds, precisely like the reported disc-shaped object over O'Hare International Airport.

Will the Chicago UFO incident currently unfolding be the beginning of the end of the 60-year government cover-up?

Armentano, a Vero Beach resident who has published several books on antitrust policy and has written commentary and reviews for newspapers, magazines and journals on various public policy issues, has been following the UFO controversy for 40 years.