Why are UFOs dangerous? U.S. News & World Report is tackling that question in a special Mysteries of Space magazine that recently hit newsstands.
Every year, thousands of UFO sightings from around the world are reported. And, as the magazine points out, about 95 percent of those reports are explained as ordinary things like military aircraft, balloons, misidentified astronomical objects -- such as planets or meteors -- and meteorological phenomena.
That leaves 5 percent of unexplained UFOs -- but with so many reported, even 5 percent is pretty large.
While the debate rages over whether some of the residual UFOs are interplanetary or interdimensional spacecraft, the magazine is exploring the potential danger of UFO encounters with commercial airline pilots.
"Our objectives are to make flying safer for the public, and we're convinced there's a potential threat posed by nearby unexplained aerial phenomena to commercial and private airplanes," former UFO skeptic and NASA research scientist Richard Haines told The Huffington Post.
Haines is currently the chief scientist of the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena, a private venue for pilots, crews and air traffic controllers who want to file UFO reports without fear of ridicule.
"One encounter is where the airplane is flying along, minding its own business, usually on autopilot, when the phenomenon or phenomena will come alongside, approach the airplane, pace it, sometimes do maneuvers around it and then fly away," Haines said.
"That's very important because it implies an intelligence behind the phenomena that is selecting the airplane as a focus of attention or interest," he added.
Haines said he is also concerned about another potential danger to airlines. "What I call cockpit confusion or distraction, where the presence of the phenomenon is seen by the flight crew up front and they're so taken by it that they aren't quite as responsible in flying their airplanes."
The Mysteries of Space edition of U.S. News & World Report exploring the danger of UFOs is on newsstands for the next three months.
Watch this video depicting commercial pilots reporting UFOs: