The Merlin C-26A aircraft without the radar dome underneath the fuselage

The story breaks

by Tim Printy August 2004

Updated October 2004

March 5th, 2004: The story in a nutshell

The events of March 5th, 2004 are fairly well documented. A Merlin C-26A aircraft was on drug interdiction patrol in the state of Campeche, when it began to encounter a strange radar contact. Looking for the object, the crew found an object on the Forward Looking InfraRed (FLIR) camera that appeared to be the same object. Once this contact had disappeared the FLIR operator began to look for more contacts and, to the northwest, managed to identify two bright objects. However, they could not be seen visually. Continued monitoring showed many more infrared targets in the same direction. Meanwhile, the plane continued its trek to the ENE. About the same time, the radar operator reported several contacts in front of, and then, behind the plane. These contacts did not match the Infrared targets and the operators joked about being surrounded. Couple this with the objects seen by the FLIR, and the crew seemed somewhat perplexed and confused. Since they appeared to be in the air, all they could do was call them "UFOs". As the flight continued, the operators began to note other infrared heat sources but these "UFOs" eventually disappeared. Unable to explain the objects, the military gave the video to Jaimie Maussan, who then presented the case to the press via his television show.

March 5th, 2004: UFOlogists report it and respond

Shortly after presenting this video on television, Maussan was quoted as stating:

This is historic news...hundreds of videos (of UFOs) exist, but none had the backing of the armed forces of any country...the armed forces don't perpetuate frauds. (UFO Updates)

Of course, UFOlogists actually believe the military has been perpetuating frauds in many UFO cases but that is another issue. Maussan's statements appear to be made to sensationalize rather than inform. Like any good salesmen, Maussan knows how to generate the response from a group eager to listen.

The first report made by UFOlogists in the UFO Updates forum occurred on May 11, 2004. The following story was presented by the Mexican news media:

The routine flight took place between Copalar, Chiapas and the State of Campeche. The encounter took place near Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche. It was there that the aircraft, belonging to the 501st Air Squadron was performing its routine patrol when it suddenly detected the presence of an object on its radar at an elevation of 3500 meters, as well as through its infrared equipment (FLIR).. The airplane immedately pursued the object, which according to the video footage, lost itself in the clouds. Minutes later, the presence of other objects - for a total of 11 - was detected. They followed the aircraft and surrounded it. These UFOs were captured on radar and by the FLIR gear. However, they were never seen by the aircrew despite having been two miles distant from the aircraft at one point. (Corrales)

One of the first responses came from Dr. Bruce Maccabee, who immediately compared the infrared video with images shot by Ed Walters in Gulf Breeze using infrared film! Of course, Dr. Maccabee has been a long standing proponent of the Walters UFO case and seems interested in validating a case that some in the UFO community consider a hoax. This incident was another case where he could draw parallels to his pet cause.

Meanwhile, one UFO investigator, who appeared to be close to this case made it clear how important it was to him:

The case of the Mexican Air Force UFO incident has gone beyond all expectations in our Ufology. We ufologists here in Mexico see with excitement how positive has been the reactions of so many friends researchers and collagues from around the world to this breaking story and how we all have forgotten our diferences to join this mutual interest and impulse our efforts to continue our work promoting the UFO Phenomena study. However the attempts to descredit and minimize the potential of this case by the skeptics and debunkers are going to increase these days so we have to be alert to repel these naive theories and statements from those upseted persons that still can't accept the fact that the Secretary of Defense in Mexico has come forward opening this case to all the people giving the mexican UFO phenomena investigation the official recognizion and support and the ufologists the premise of this investigation....I had the privilege of knowing this investigation since it's birth back in April 2004, thanks to the confidence of Jaime Maussan. For us the mexican researchers Secretary of Defense General Clemente Vega is our champion, a true hero of democracy who opened the military UFO files to the mexican people establishing a direct communication and colaboration with the civil UFO research. That changed history indeed. We will continue supporting our Secretary of Defense as part as our compromise corresponding to his confidence as well as the armed forces in our country. Our communication is stronger than ever and the future is very promising. We will continue rejecting the ridicule claims of those common debunkers that offer nothing to the serious and dedicate investigation on this undeniable and irrefutable phenomena. (Yturria Mexico)

One has to be careful not to be so gullible that one's beliefs interferes with any investigation. Working closely with Maussan is not such a good thing based on his track record. However, Yturria seems somewhat gullible by the nature based on how he describes the 1991 solar eclipse UFOs and what transpired afterwards:

In Mexico the UFO phenomena research took a trascendental course after the July 11, 1991 solar eclipse incidents, a day that will be remembered here when the Mexican people went to the streets to observe the beginning of the Mexican UFO Wave, an event that also took the world by surprise. For 14 years we have been involved in unprecedented UFO activity and promoting this Mexican phenomena as a reality. This has been a long crusade and finally we got UFO disclosure by our military. This is our goal and history has been written. (Yturria Re: Oil)

Recall that the July 11, 1991 solar eclipse UFOs were essentially video tapes of the planet Venus as you can see from my article. It seems that Yturria is more a "willing believer" than a careful investigator.

Others on the list began to praise the Mexican Air Force for their openness in presenting this valuable evidence:

Bless the Mexican Airforce for their courage and openness. I wonder how many such videos are in the hands of other Airforces around the world. (Groff)

Mexico, actually less than "fanciful," has a long history of bravely reporting what they're seeing in the skies over their heads and remain gratifyingly unconcerned with the intellectually constipated and conflicted attitudes of their less brave neighbors to the North! (Lehmberg Re: Mexico)

General Vega is a military typw in short supply these days. He was wise enough to understand the significance of the information he had, and have it released to the world. Jaime is certainly a lucky UFO researcher to have such an opportunity. (Gevaerd)

The Mexican Department of Defense effort in collaborating with Maussan helps legitimate research into the UFO phenomenon and perhaps will encourage other countries to follow suit. The US is becoming increasingly isolated in its strict non-disclosure policy. (Filer)

Whatever his reasons for doing it... Long live General Ricardo Clemente Vega Garcia. I have a feeling his name will get into the history books for reasons other than his military accomplishments.(Velez)

Greg Boone went so far as to suggest these lights were something artificial and intelligent:

Reading the Mexican military report, whatever these objects are they dodged, fled, pursued exhibiting 'curiosity' - if one stretches. For my money, that's intelligence. (Boone)

Of course, this comment is based on the misleading stories given to the press by Maussan.

UFOlogists seem to have ignored Vega's remarks to the media concerning conclusions drawn by Maussan. He had cautioned, "This is Maussan's point of view, for that reason he was given (the video) so that he could draw his own conclusions...But that is his version" (Updates). One has to wonder why Vega bothered to give the tape to a sensationalist like Maussan. Apparently, Vega did not know who to turn to regarding these unidentified objects in the tape and Maussan was the only choice. It is unfortunate that he did not turn towards scientific organizations or researched the matter a little closer.

What is clear is that the intial reports were not very accurate. Some UFOlogists were under the impression that the radar contacts were matching the FLIR images and that the UFOs attempted to "surround" the airplane. It was the shoddy presentation of the video by Maussan that seems to have given these inaccurate reports.

There were some on the UFO Updates mailing list who managed to keep their wits about them and suggested there might be an explanation:

Frankly, the images look awfully fishy to me: the motion and "formation" is too rigid, the images too perfectly round, looking for all the world like some kind of reflections (or the infrared moral equivalent). We are all hungry for some solid, hardcore data but we must not "believe" simply because we would like to have it. If we are taken in by some false data we will end up with egg on our face. Science first. (Hall)

Before we run around promoting this footage as proof of UFO's, we need to examine this case and the surrounding sociopolitical variables carefully and objectively. (Hebert)

Despite this words of caution, many UFOlogists were eager to accept this as a classic case for UFOlogy.

When Alfred Lehmberg read this web page, he appeared somewhat upset that he had been quoted. He even went so far to suggest that I was being disrespectful towards the Mexican nation/people:

For my part, I'll be _damned_ if I'm to be damned for my appreciation of the intelligence and courage of the people of Mexico! Printy's puling is smoothly written bigotry, intellectual and otherwise, "...but that's just _my_ take on it..."(Lehmberg Re: Mexican)

Unfortunately, he seems to have missed the point. The overzealous response/credulity of the list towards a video clip of ambiguous lights is what is being damned. I leave it up to the reader to determine if there is any "bigotry" involved with this article.

Works Cited

Boone, Greg."Re: Mexico Air Force Video Creates UFO Stir" 12 May 2004.UFO Updates Mailing list. On line posting. Available WWW: http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2004/may/m13-008.shtml

Christopher, Kevin. "Mexican Air Force UFOs likely equipment artifacts". Skeptical Inquirer July/August 2004. 5

Corrales, Scott. "11 UFOs visible on Mexican military video" 11 May 2004.UFO Updates Mailing list. On line posting. Available WWW: http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2004/may/m11-009.shtml

Filer, George A. "Filer's Files #22 - 2004" 19 May 2004.UFO Updates Mailing list. On line posting. Available WWW: http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2004/may/m20-009.shtml

Gevaerd, A. J. "Re: Mexico UFO Footage Background Information" 12 May 2004.UFO Updates Mailing list. On line posting. Available WWW:http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2004/may/m12-035.shtml

Groff, Terry."Re: The March Mexico UFOs Footage" 11 May 2004.UFO Updates Mailing list. On line posting. Available WWW:http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2004/may/m12-005.shtml

Hall, Richard."Re: Dallas Fox News On Mexico UFOs" 14 May 2004.UFO Updates Mailing list. On line posting. Available WWW: http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2004/may/m14-033.shtml

Hebert, Amy. "Re: Mexico Air Force Video Creates UFO Stir" 13 May 2004.UFO Updates Mailing list. On line posting. Available WWW:http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2004/may/m15-002.shtml

Lehmberg, Alfred."Re: Mexico Air Force Video Creates UFO Stir" 12 May 2004.UFO Updates Mailing list. On line posting. Available WWW:http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2004/may/m12-010.shtml

-."Re: Mexican UFOs & Skeptical Inc." 31 August 2004.UFO Updates Mailing list. On line posting. Available WWW:http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2004/aug/m31-011.shtml

UFO Updates. "No conclusions by Mexican military". 13 May 2004. UFO Updates Mailing list. On line posting. Available WWW: http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2004/may/m13-004.shtml

Velez, John."The 'Twins' Giant UFOs?" 24 May 2004.UFO Updates Mailing list. On line posting. Available WWW: http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2004/may/m24-024.shtml

Yturria, Santiago. "Mexico UFO Case Statement" 14 May 2004.UFO Updates Mailing list. On line posting. Available WWW: http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2004/may/m15-003.shtml

-."Re: Oil well flames objectively investigated" 22 June 2004.UFO Updates Mailing list. On line posting. Available WWW: http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2004/jun/m23-001.shtml

 

NEXT: Investigations begin

Back to My skeptical opinion about UFOs