Date: March 5th, 2004
Location: Campeche, Mexico
Mexico's standing as the premiere UFO location has received a substantial boost. The country is known for its countless fleets of spherical UFOs that hang over cities, attracting the eye of many a videographers. Some stunning footage has resulted, in particular various films shot in the early to mid '90s over Mexico City. To this, can now be added official radar and infra-red imagery taken by military personnel aboard a reconnaissance plane on March 5th, 2004 operating at 11,000'.
The incident occurred over Ciudad del Carmen located in the eastern coastal state of Campeche. It involved a Mexican Air Force Merlin C26A sweeping the local airspace for drug smugglers. Its on-board infra-red and radar instruments picked up a single trace initially, which was promptly investigated to confirm whether it belonged to an aircraft that might be carrying narcotics. The Merlin is a reconnaissance plane, and not an interceptor, so it would have needed to have called in Mexican Air Force interceptor support if the trace proved to be suspicious.
However, the crew could not make a visual confirmation of the object clearly shown on their instruments. The object seemed real enough, and promptly evaded the Merlin at high speed. To their surprise, it returned, but was now accompanied by 2nd object. The crew started to get stressed by this unusual situation, and were in constant contact with their ground control during the incident, resulting in some interesting quotes on the subsequent official audio recording:
We are not alone! yelled one over the howl of the aircrafts engines. This is so weird.
Despite their efforts to get closer to the objects, the crew simply couldn’t see them. They seemed to be invisible, but detectable on both radar and infra-red (which precludes the possibility that this incident could be put down to a faulty instrument, or operator error).
As the crew of the Merlin maneuvered their plane to bring the 2 objects into clear visual contact, their instruments suddenly showed another nine objects, bringing the total to 11. None of these objects could be seen, and it was unclear as to where they had come from. This was an unprecedented situation for the crew, and a perhaps equally dangerous. The captain asked his base flight controllers for orders, by now the Merlin was literally surrounded in a circle by the 11 invisible objects, which were approximately 2 miles distant at this point. Was the hunter about to become the hunted? The captain, Mayor Magdaleno Jasso, turned off the aircraft’s lights and the crew sat tight awaiting whatever turn of events might occur next.
Major Magdaleno Castanon said:
There was a moment when the screens showed they were behind us, to the left and in front of us. It was at that point that I felt a bit tense.
In the meantime, they continued to detect the objects, and record the data from their instruments, despite not being able to see get a visual. The 11 UFOs then disappeared from their instruments, much to the relief of the crew of the Merlin. They returned to base and filed a report, complete with a full record of their instrument data and flight recordings. The Mexican Air Force subsequently launched an investigation, which came to the attention of the Mexican Secretary of Defense, General Clemente Vega Garcia. He has since personally confirmed the accuracy of the report.
And there one would normally expect such as UFO report to finish up, collecting dust in a military intelligence archive after cursory examination by a disinterested office-bound bureaucrat. However, the Secretary of Defense was so puzzled by this report from his men, that he took the unprecedented step of contacting Mexico’s premier UFO investigators & broadcasters, Jaime Maussan. Such official involvement with a researcher known for his sensitivity for the extra-terrestrial hypothesis is almost as remarkable as the actual incident. The public release of the complete story on May 9th, along with the uncensored testimonial and instrumental records of this event, is in marked contrast to the utter disregard usually given out by officials towards unsolved UFO cases, even those involving trained observers in the military.
One wonders what political motivation lies behind such a move, but nevertheless it certainly allowed the story to break into the mainstream news media, and that must have been an intended outcome of involving such a well established broadcaster.
Reuters quickly picked up the story of the news release and produced a small article outlining the bare bones of the case. They scattered the news item with potentially discrediting commentary about Maussan, (a long time believer in flying saucers) & Mexico’s long history of incredible UFO sightings. This is standard debunking fare, clearly aimed at appealing to the readers dogged skepticism. The very same phrases then appeared in newspaper reports, which were evidently based upon the Reuters item, as well as news features broadcast on Mexican television.
Of course, this is how the Media deals with the UFO subject. No need to check out the story directly when Reuters have already produced a perfectly adequate, generally skeptical abstract for general consumption among bored tabloid hacks. UFOs don’t exist, tabloid journalists undoubtedly scrutinize, except in the cheap pages of populist tabloid copy. So there would be no point looking into it any further, would there?
This is unfortunate, because this case offers many fascinating elements for investigation. The UFOs were recorded on 2 separate instruments, the event involved multiple qualified military observers who should have been able to make visual sightings of the UFOs, and inexplicably couldn’t, here is an audio recording of the event, and testimonials from the captain & crew. And, most remarkably, the Mexican government allowed all of this to be released into the public domain, managed by, of all people, an established Ufologist.
One might expect more than the odd raised eyebrow at The Independent, perhaps. No matter. What's important is that the Campeche Incident is on record and is self evidently mysterious. To be fair, this sense of genuine mystery was portrayed by Tim Utton, the Science Reporter for the Daily Mail, but his open mindedness seems the exception to the rule. However, the incident is not likely to convince actual scientists of the existence of UFOs, one suspects. In fact, it has already attracted some of the most distasteful attempts at debunking UFOs since the notorious swamp gas theories:
Julio Herrera, a nuclear science researcher at the National Autonomous University, said the bright blurs could have been caused by electrical flashes emitted spontaneously by the atmosphere. They are very strange phenomenon and there is little information about them, He said of the atmospheric flashes in a phone interview. That's what's so interesting.