Originally aired Dec. 21, 2017, on KLAS TV in Las Vegas.

Former Nevada Senator Harry Reid thinks it might be time to hold congressional hearings into the mystery surrounding UFOs.

In his only television interview, Reid told investigative reporter George Knapp about the pivotal role he played authorizing a secret Pentagon study of UFOs that ended five years ago.

The project was based in Nevada, carried out by Las Vegas businessman who is no stranger to paranormal investigations. In fact, Robert Bigelow’s mysterious Skinwalker ranch played a role in the Pentagon investigation.

A picturesque ranch in northeastern Utah, shunned by its Native American neighbors and long considered a hotbed of UFO sightings and other unexplained phenomena, played a pivotal role in the creation of the once-secret Pentagon study of unknown aerial objects.

In the mid ’90s, Las Vegas billionaire Robert Bigelow bought the property and sent in his research team, the National Institute for Discovery Science, or NIDS, to study the ranch and the larger Uinta Basin.

Over the next 10 years, NIDS scientists had dramatic encounters with the unknown, including daylight mutilations of livestock, mysterious aircraft, and discarnate entities.

“The ranch is not just UFOs. Performances of anomalies go back many years,” said Robert Bigelow.

Knapp’s 2007 conversation with Bigelow, his first on camera interview on any subject, never aired but he told us that his NIDS team experienced more than 100 baffling encounters, though they had no idea what was behind it.

“And that we don’t have to worry about aliens coming and taking us away. That’s for somebody else to talk about,” said former U.S. Senator Harry Reid.

When Senator Reid and colleagues authorized funding for a Pentagon study, they made a point of saying it was not a search for little green men. The primary aim was to identify, analyze, and eventually duplicate the other-worldly technology that had been demonstrated in multiple dramatic encounters involving the U.S. military.

“The phenomenon is real,” said Luis Elizondo, former Pentagon official.

The man who ran the Pentagon’s study, Luis Elizondo, resigned in October and has since said the technology of these craft is beyond anything known on earth, but he declines to guess where it originates. No one involved wants to mention space aliens, for obvious reasons.

“I’m not into that,” Reid said. “I’m interested in science, what’s going on in our world.”

Investigating the source of the UFOs is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Although Bigelow dissolved his NIDS team and ended the study of the Utah ranch, in 2007, a book written about the property caught the attention of the DIA and Senator Reid.

Bigelow’s previous experience in putting together a team to investigate weird phenomena was likely a factor in the decision to award him the contract to study UFOs. And sources familiar with the study say, Pentagon investigators returned to the Utah ranch several times during a three-year period.

When the New York Times broke its story, it reported that Bigelow built a special secure facility at his aerospace plant to store unknown materials supposedly obtained during the UFO study. 

“I don’t know. I don’t know anything about exotic materials, but a lot of talk about it,” Reid said.

What he does know is that the explosion of news coverage about the UFO issue has caught the attention of Congress. Reid’s phone started ringing immediately, he says, people from Congress and the business community who’ve always been interested in the subject but were afraid to admit it. Reid thinks the time may be right to re-launch a formal inquiry.

“Now that it’s out, why shouldn’t they do this?” Reid said. “You take an airplane, the cost of one military airplane. The cheapest one we have. Give that money to this research. It’s more important than one airplane. We have enough bombs and bullets to take care of us for a long time, but not enough to understand the future?”

In all, about $22 million was spent from 2007 through 2012 before the study formally ended.

Robert Bigelow no longer owns the Skinwalker Ranch. He sold it to another party last year.