When we hear about UFOs, the first thing most of us imagine are tall tales of alien spacecrafts and flying saucers zipping around in the night sky. Yet it’s easy to explain any “unidentified flying object” with something more common—think meteorites, wayward space balloons, and the like.
Still, while it’s likely that flash of light in the dark sky is just an airplane or shooting star, it’s certainly within the realm of possibility that some sightings might be extraterrestrial in origin. After all, in the vast, infinite universe, who can definitively say that we’re alone?
When the Chilean government spotted something strange on their radar a few years ago, they were skeptical. Yet when they still couldn’t explain what it was that they captured on camera, it became clear that something else was, indeed, out there.
On November 11, 2014, a veteran pilot and a technician were aboard a Chilean Navy AS532 helicopter to test an MX-15 infrared camera to be used for surveillance missions.
Evogol / Wikimedia Commons
They were flying at an altitude of about 4,500 feet at 151 miles per hour north along the Chilean coast, west of Santiago. They were well below the cloud base, the temperature was a comfortable 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and they had unlimited visibility. So far, so good.
Yet something strange happened. It was around 1:52 p.m. when the technician picked up on an object, about 40 miles away, flying at about the same speed as the helicopter. The technician focused the infrared camera on the object.
BenFrantzDale / Flickr
The pilot made calls to two radar stations, but neither of them could identify the object. Oddly, no one else had the required permission to pass through the airspace. The pilot then attempted to make contact with the object, but there was no response.
For nearly 10 minutes, the technician managed to record the object with the infrared camera, which creates images with heat instead of light. The darkest objects in these images indicate something very… hot.
By the end of the helicopter’s flight, the object had escaped into the clouds… but not before the pilot and technician aboard the helicopter recorded a double hotspot.
While reviewing the footage, the technician spotted something unusual around the eight-minute mark. “In two instances it discharged some type of gas or liquid with a high thermal track or signal,” he said in an interview.
In keeping with local custom, the Navy footage was given to the Comité de Estudios de Fenómenos Aéreos Anómalos (CEFAA), or the Committee for the Study of Anomalous Air Phenomena, which was founded in 1997 to investigate and explain strange aerial sightings and events like this one.
Retired air force general and current CEFAA head, Ricardo Bermúdez, as well as CEFAA nuclear scientist Mario Avila, contacted the men aboard the helicopter right away. “I was very impressed by these witnesses,” said Avila. “They were highly trained professionals with many years’ experience, and they were absolutely certain that they could not explain what they saw.”
CEFAA authorities met at least eight times to investigate the footage, though they chose not to publicly release it. Still, nobody could uncover the truth. CEFAA official Jose Lay said that the general response was “what the hell is that?”
Not even a Chilean Air Force meteorologist, a digital image specialist for the Chilean National Museum of Aeronautics and Space, or an astrophysicist could determine the object’s identity. Still, there were a number of theories, including a medium-haul aircraft landing at the Santiago Airport.
The Chilean scientists, however, disproved this, saying that a commercial jet would have appeared on the radar. Besides, there was no record of a plane approaching the airport at the time, nor was there a response to radio contact.
Caribb / Flickr
They even debunked the theory that the strange plumes were formed by water and waste; there was no way that an ordinary airliner could have formed such long trails of exhaust.
The object couldn’t have been a water balloon, since there were none deployed at the time. Besides, the westerly wind would have blown the balloon towards the shore and not the coast. There were no records of drones in the area, either, nor were any military operations being conducted.
CEFAA’s committee suggested that it may have been space debris, but it would’ve disintegrated by the time the crew in the helicopter saw it. Then again, if it was space junk that was in the process of disintegrating, that would explain the plumes.
Lauren Ayres / Flickr
Yet there was one catch to that story: disintegrating space debris would have fallen straight down, not horizontally. There was no report of space debris in the area that day, either.
Birds, hangliders, bugs, and other flying objects were also out of the question. They also knew that the photos hadn’t been doctored. “It can be concluded that the object has all the characteristics to be classified as an unidentified aerial phenomenon,” wrote one scientist.
“The great majority of committee members agreed to call the subject in question a UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon), due to the number of highly researched reasons that it was unanimously agreed could not explain it,” the report read.
What do you think? Watch the footage in its entirety here…
Well, there you have a it: a real, honest-to-goodness UFO! Whether or not it’s an alien spacecraft, though, is another story. What do you think it could have been?
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