On March 5, 2004,
around 5:00 p.m., a Mexican Air Force Merlín C26A bimotor airplane,
equipped with high-tech advanced digital equipment, was flying a
routine mission searching for smugglers during an anti-narcotics
operation. The aircraft was under the command of Mayor Magdaleno
Jasso Núnez and was flying over Ciudad del Carmen in Campeche.
from the June 2004 Star Beacon
Power sensor detectors (a FLIR Star Zaphir II) and a RADAR
AN/PS 143 Bravo Victor 3 were being used by qualified personnel
aboard the airplane, with all operations being recorded both in
normal and infrared mode. The FLIR operator was Lt. Mario Adrián
Vázquez and the RADAR operator was Lt. German Ramirez, both members
of the 5012 Aerial Squadron.
Programmed only for surveillance and detection procedures, and
not for interception or combat activity, the airplane’s purpose was
to identify the flights of drug dealers and report them to the base.
The Merlín C26a was flying at 10,500 feet over Ciudad del Carmen
when it detected unknown traffic. Suspecting a drug dealer airplane,
Mayor Magdaleno Jasso attempted to approach the traffic at a certain
range to get a closer look and record the target. Simultaneously,
Mayor Jasso reported by radio to the base that a possible suspect
had been detected and requested interceptor planes to be alerted.
The RADAR AN/PS 143 Bravo Victor 3 was
picking up the unknown traffic and the FLILR Star Zapphir II was recording the
object in infrared. But as the airplane approached to make a visual
identification, the unknown made a sudden maneuver, flying away at tremendous
speed. Up to this point, nothing could be seen of the traffic except what was
being recorded by the digital equipment.
Moments later the unknown object returned
and began to follow the Merlín C26A. This was picked up by the RADAR and the
FLIR, although the airplane’s personnel still had not made visual contact.
Within seconds the equipment detected not only one but two objects following
them. The images in both RADAR and the FLIR were clear and unmistakable.
But both pilot and personnel still couldn’t
see what was following them.
As Mayor Magdaleno Jasso reported to the
base what was taking place, giving detail of all the information registered by
the equipment, the FLIR continued recording in frared every movement made by
the two unknown objects that seemed to be keeping their distance from the
C26A, but were still following it. Confused, the crew about the Merlín C26A
kept seeing the images on the FLIR and RADAR and were wondering what was going
Several minutes passed in which the crew
continued making maneuvers in an attempt to gain visual contact. Suddenly more
unknown objects arrived on the scene. The RADAR and FLIR detected nine new
objects which were the same size and had the same characteristics. These
unknown objects appeared to come out of nowhere. Sensing that the situation
had entered a high level of danger, Mayor Magdaleno Jasso radioed to base,
The 11 unknown objects then surrounded the
Mexican Air Force airplane in a circle at close range. The RADAR and FLIR
showed the formation, which still was invisible to the eyes of the crew. Mayor
Magdaleno Jasso called in a red alert. He then decided to turn out all the
airplane lights and wait to see what would happen next.
The crew of the C26A remained calm through
the silence and uncertainty of their situation, and after several stressful
minutes the 11 objects disappeared just like that. The Merlín C26A then
returned safely to the Air Force Base and Mayor Magdaleno Jasson prepared a
complete report of the incident along with his crew.
Mexico’s Secretary of Defense, Gerardo
Clemente Vega Garcia, began a full investigation of the incident, in which
statements by the crew were taken, as well as images, measurements and a
complete evaluation of the meteorological data. The incident was taken
seriously by the Department of Defense staff, and after several weeks they
decided to contact researcher and TV journalist Jaime Maussan, who is an
experienced investigator of the phenomenon.
On April 22, 2004 Gerardo Clemente Vega
turned over to Jaime Maussan a copy of all the tapes and data collected by the
Merlín C26A, for study, evaluation and analysis by Maussan’s research team.
Gerardo Clemente Vega Garcia and his staff were open to discuss the subject
and showed legitimate interest in conducting the investigation in order to
establish the truth of what had occurred. Vega also authorized the Merlín C26A
crew to give Maussan the interviews needed without any censorship.
On May 11, 2004, the video was made public of the 11 unidentified objects
captured on video by the Merlín C26A’s crew. In an exclusive interview with
the La Prensa newspaper, Jaime Maussan stated that the Mexican Secretary of
Defense had authorized the broadcast of this material to both domestic and
foreign news media.
However, the next day, Gerardo Clemente Vega
Garcia said in a phone interview, “I forbade any talk of UFOs or flying
saucers, since that gives rise to doubts and gossip.” In discussing the
incident, Garcia said, “I receive daily information on what happens with these
flights through the Republic. This (the photo evidence) was sent in for
analysis, has no explanation, and I would like to caution that we never spoke
of UFOs or saucers or anything, only the sighting of some very strange
contacts that were incomprehensible in this situation, given that there was
nothing at all flying in the air at the time, according to the Ciudad del
Carmen Airport. The devices record accurately a series of luminous contacts.”
Garcia further disclosed that he and his
staff reached the conclusion that there were two possibilities in dealing with
the problem: They could file it as a routine matter pending further analysis,
or they could give it to a person who knew about such things, named Jaime
“He came over, he was shown the video, he saw this and it was given to him for
use in his projects and to be broadcast as he saw fit, without alarming
anyone, since as you can see it is already being said that it’s a distraction
from current affairs. That is not my purpose, nor do I as a military man
engage in such activities,” Garcia added.
The interview was conducted by Carlos Loret
de Mola for Hoy por Hoy News/Grupo Radiopol (translated by Scott Corrales
of the Institute of Hispanic Ufology).
On May 13, skeptics came forward to suggest
the UFOs were weather balloons. The Sociedad Astronomica Urania of the state
of Morelos said the objects resembled a group of weather balloons, such as the
thousands launched daily from universities, research centers and airports.
They claimed this type of object is often mistaken by commercial or military
pilots with UFOs. Many scientific groups were apparently upset because the
Department of Defense had turned the evidence over to Jaime Mausson instead of
Then, on May 14, an article in La Cronica de
Hoy related that Mexican scientists were considering the possibility of
metereorite fragments for the alleged UFOs recorded over Campeche. One
astronomer, Jose de la Herrán, explained that when a meteor crashes into
Earth’s atmosphere, it shatters into pieces which look as though they are
static and aligned with one another as they emit an intense glow. “And of
course, people who do not know such phenomena occur interpret them in many
ways upon seeing them,” he said. “For example, they can say they were alien
spaceships by virtue of having seen them.”
Rafael Navarro of the Plasma Chemistry and
Planetary Study Laboratory of the UNAM Institute of Nuclear Science, said the
objects were almost certainly “space junk” resulting from hundreds of
satellites that burn up when reentering Earth’s atmosphere.
Another theory that came as a result of the March 5 incident was ball
lightning. Scientists at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM),
after seeing the footage on the objects over Campeche, contacted Secretary of
Defense Clemente Vega Garcia to request information on radar frequency, height
and velocity of the military aircraft and data on speed at which the luminous
spheres were moving.
Their interest centered around the idea that the phenomenon was ball
lightning, a little known phenomenon on which there is very little
documentation or proof. Ball lightning events recorded to date have occurred
at low altitudes and very brief periods: microseconds. In this case, they
lasted longer than usual. The scientists felt they could learn a lot by
studying the evidence.
Santiago Yturria came forth with a statement on May 18, 2004 from a top
Mexican meteorologist, Alberto Hernandez Unzon, who talked about lightning
conditions and explained why the March 5 sighting couldn’t be ball lightning.
Unzon is an engineer in Geophysics and submanager of the National
Meteorological Services. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee
of the National System for Civil Protection and of the Hurricane Committee of
the Worldwide Meteorological Association.
“According to satellite images,” Unzon said
in the interview by Yturria, “the conditions registered in the observatories
and the satellite RADAR images, there were stable conditions in the entire
Campeche zone. In the specific place of interest in this issue, there were
cloud formation and some stratus clouds that are stable conditions for this
He continued, “There were no rains
registered and the cloudiness type was very stable as we can see in (these)
satellite images and the Air Force video.”
When asked about
lightning conditions, Unzo replied, “A flash is a lightning of a short
duration and short intensity. That’s the basic definition. We all have
witnessed an electric storm sometime. Special conditions are required for an
electrical storm — big, vertical clouds and a completely unstable atmosphere,
ionization in the atmosphere and the meteorological systems that provoke that
type of cloudiness.”
Asked if the
scientists from the UNAM had approached the National Meteorological Services
to request conditions over Campeche in order to support their theory, Unzon
responded, “No, they have never approached us at any time.” He added, “There
were no weather balloons sent up in that area.”
Unzon was then
asked about the duration of a flash of lightning.
“A flash lasts
microseconds. We cannot talk even of one or two seconds because it’s just a
single discharge. To say that these lights on the video are ball lightning or
electrical sparks is nonsense. I repeat, that day there were no meteorological
conditions for flash or ball lightning in the entire Campeche area. The clouds
must have been at approximately 7 km high; therefore, what we see are stable
stratus cloud formations.
“If this is an optical phenomena, it cannot
be referred to meteorology. It is not a photo meteor, it is not a litho
meteor. They are not ice crystals nor a St. Elmo’s fire. Those are all
meteorological phenomenons. And this is not a mirage phenomenon.
“In conclusion, we do not have an
explanation to this phenomena.”
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