Leroy Gordon Cooper, Jr., also noted as Gordo Cooper, (6 March 1927 – 4 October 2004) was an American astronaut. Cooper was one of the seven original astronauts in Project Mercury, the first manned-space effort by the United States.
Cooper claimed to have seen his first UFO while flying over West Germany in 1951, although he denied reports he had seen a UFO during his Mercury flight. In his memoirs Cooper wrote he had seen other unexplained aircraft several times during his career and also said hundreds of similar reports had been made, often by military jet pilots responding to radar or visual sightings from the ground. He further claimed these sightings had been ''swept under the rug'' by the US government. Throughout his later life Cooper was convinced he had seen extra-terrestrial crafts and described his recollections for the documentary Out of the Blue.