Sorry, E.T.: Richard Branson Doesn't Believe in Aliens

The billionaire says that, despite a New York Times bombshell report about Navy pilots' recordings of strange objects flying at incredible speeds, "If people had really discovered a UFO, it would be everywhere. You can't keep things secret in this day and age."
Courtesy of Virgin Atlantic; Adobe Stock

Billionaire Richard Branson insists he's getting closer and closer to launching himself into the stratosphere aboard a Virgin Galactic rocket. ("My trip to space will be very soon," he teased in May.) But he's not expecting much traffic once he lifts off.

Despite a May 26 New York Times bombshell report on how multiple Navy pilots have reported (and recorded) strange objects flying through the skies at impossible speeds, Branson, 68, remains skeptical. “Sadly, when you look closely you'll find that there's another explanation for all of them in the same way that in the Bermuda Triangle there's another explanation for all the mysteries [there]. There's no question that there are millions of other civilizations out there, but none of them are within reach of Earth and therefore, my instinct is: extremely unlikely.”

Branson, who sat down with Rambling Reporter during a June 20 private party to celebrate Virgin Atlantic’s new LAX-Manchester, England route, had another answer as to why UFOs and the prospects of alien life continue to transfix humans.

“I can't understand why these UFO discussions are always behind closed doors and done in secrecy. It just creates even more suspicion. If people had really discovered a UFO, you can't keep things secret in this day and age, it would be everywhere. And so I don't think there's any credible sightings yet. It would be wonderful if it were true.”

Also true: Branson is prepping to take Virgin Galactic public as flights are being prepped for within a year

A version of this story first appeared in the July 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.