The credibility of UFO studies has been severely undermined by proliferation of blatant hoaxes in the age of Internet and Photoshop. Those who seek to maintain objective scientific stands in UFO studies regularly lament the invasion and takeover of the field by the emergence in popular culture of New Age, paranormal, and Google/YouTube click-bait UFOlogy.
For those who yearn for a return to standards of scientific UFO investigations, a report on the analysis of two photos of a UFO sighted in Chile released last year by an official body charged with investigating anomalous aerial phenomena provided a benchmark for credible UFO studies.
In the intriguing case, the Chilean authorities concluded, after investigations and photo analysis, that the reported UFO was not “a known object made by man.”
The case was widely reported in the international media in July, 2014.
But according to some skeptics, close scrutiny of the case raises questions about the circumstances of the sighting that suggests the possibility of an elaborate, professional hoax with official backing.
According to the report released by the Committee for the Studies of Anomalous Aerial Phenomena CEFAA) under the Chilean Ministerial Department of Civil Aeronautics (DGAC), which plays the same role as the FAA in the U.S., the photos were obtained from four unidentified technicians working at the Collahuasi copper mine, located about 14,000 feet above sea level in the northern Andean plateau.
According to the Huffington Post’s Leslie Kean, in April, 2013, the technicians saw a silver disk-shaped object about 10 meters in diameter hovering over the mines, moving slowly but deliberately, apparently under intelligent control. The UFO hovered without audible engine sounds in the sky for more than an hour, apparently conducting surveillance of the area from about 2,000 feet.
One of the witnesses snapped two photos of the silent object before it disappeared, moving eastward.
The technicians kept mum about the incident, reportedly afraid to face ridicule for talking publicly about a UFO sighting. But a few months later, the one who snapped the photos showed them to his chief engineer who, deeply impressed, sent the images to CEFAA in February 2014.
And because the technicians refused to speak directly with the authorities, the chief engineer had to relay information he gathered from the men to the authorities.
Investigators at CEFAA ruled out the possibility that the object was a lenticular cloud formation after they confirmed from the meteorological office that the sighting occurred on a day in which the skies were absolutely clear.
Lenticular clouds have often been mistaken for flying saucers.
Investigators also ruled out drones, experimental aircraft, and other meteorological phenomena that could be confused with UFOs by amateur enthusiasts.
Jose Lay, a director for CEFAA, noted that “People in that zone know about drones. Fishing companies use drones and they make a lot of noise. This was definitely not a drone.”
A report on CEFAA’s analysis of the photo, released on its website on 3 July, 2014, described the UFO as “a flattened disc of brilliant color, with a diameter of 5 to 10 meters [16 to 32 feet]. It performed ascending, descending and horizontal movements in short lengths, about 600 meters above the ground.”
Photo analysis indicated it was a solid body with a reflective surface. Analysts also said that evidence of energy emission from the body suggested it had a high temperature, as expected of a powered machine.
According to analysts, the object appeared to be emitting “energy that does not coincide with the natural sunlight which is also reflected off the object.”
The analysts observed that the brightness around the UFO could not have been due to sunlight being reflected off its surface.
“It is an object or phenomenon of great interest and it can be qualified as a UFO.”
CEFAA’s international director Jose Lay told the Huffington Post’s Leslie Kean that CEFAA acknowledged some limitations of the investigation — the first of which was the unfortunate circumstance in which the original witnesses were unwilling to talk directly with investigators.
“The witnesses were not willing to cooperate. We tried to contact them, and we got no reply. So we treated the material just as we have treated several others of the same or similar nature: we file them for future reference or comparison purposes. That’s all we can do in this case.”
Ricardo Bermudez, CEFAA’s director, also pointed out that the results were the “determination of only one CEFAA analyst” and that it would require multiple independent analysts to confirm the results.
However, a retired U.S. Navy physicist and photo analyst Bruce Maccabee, agreed with the conclusions of the CEFFAA analyst, pointing out that one of the images released by CEFAA showed a “bright hemispherical and convex object enveloped in a cloud of vapor.”
“This is clearly not a normal thing seen in the sky (bird, plane, cloud, etc.). That makes it either the real thing – UFO – or a hoax, and it doesn’t appear to be a hoax, although the inability to question witnesses does reduce the credibility. Certainly this case is worthy of further study.”
It is interesting to speculate on why the original witnesses were unwilling to speak to the authorities. Their initial reasons based on fear of ridicule were justified. But they had no reason to fear speaking to officials who had taken up the matter and were willing to guarantee their privacy and anonymity.
To some skeptical observers, the apparent inability of the authorities to contact the original witnesses directly, raises suspicions about an elaborate hoax with insider connections.
Officials have been known to try to justify the continued existence of their agency and stave off allegations of redundancy that could lead to a decision to scrap the agency by inventing “work.” An agency, such as one charged with investigating “anomalous” aerial phenomenon, with no genuinely spectacular cases to show over the years to justify continued budgetary allocations and subventions could find its continued existence threatened, thus placing officials under pressure to invent “mysterious UFOs” as a way of making the agency look busy.
A secluded mining area in the remote Andes Mountain range, an extremely remote, desolate, and inhospitable location with low oxygen levels, 14,000 feet above sea level in the far north of the country is a suspiciously convenient location for staging a professional UFO sighting hoax.
It is relevant to note that the case has now joined CEFAA’s list of unsolved but tantalizingly mysterious UFO cases piling up unsolved in the agency’s website.
CEFAA appears to be fulfilling its official mandate effectively — investigating the unknowable.
But of course, the foregoing is only an extremely skeptical take on the incident. If we take the evidence of the sighting and the results of investigation at face value, what we have, inevitably, is an authentic case of UFO sighting and proof of the reality of UFO phenomena that members of the alien UFO community could always cite.
South America appears to have emerged a UFO sighting hotspot. Earlier this week, the Inquisitr reported a shape-shifting UFO caught on camera in Colombia by the director and editor of The City Paper, a highly respected English language newspaper.
As the saying goes, “the truth is out there.”