With the commemoration in October 2007 of the Sputnik launch, space exploration celebrated its 50th anniversary. Despite impressive technological and scientific achievements the fascination for space has weakened during the last decades. One contributing factor has been the gradual disappearance of mankind's hope of discovering extraterrestrial life within its close neighbourhood. In striking contrast and since the middle of the 20th century, a non-negligible proportion of the population have already concluded that intelligent beings from other worlds do exist and visit Earth through space vehicles popularly called Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs). In light of the continuous public interest for the UFO enigma symbolized by the recent widely diffused media announcements on the release of French and English governmental files; and considering the approach of broadening the strategies of the "Active SETI" approach and the existence of a rich multi-disciplinary UFO documentation of potential interest for SETI; this paper describes some past scientific attempts to demonstrate the physical reality of the phenomena and potentially the presence on Earth of probes of extraterrestrial origin. Details of the different instrumented field studies deployed by scientists and organizations during the period 1950-1990 in the USA, Canada and Europe are provided. In conclusion it will be argued that while continuing the current radio/optical SETI searches, there is the necessity to maintain sustaining attention to the topic of anomalous aerospace phenomena and to develop new rigorous research approaches.