English Version: Alberto Francisco do Carmo*
It appeared in Força Aérea magazine(Brazil),Year 11, Nb 43-Jun/Jul/ Aug.2006) a civilian magazine dedicated to military aviation affairs. The Brazilian Air Force has a modest official magazine entitled “Aerovisão”.
On the night of May 19, 1986, the radars that control the Brazilian skies over São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Anápolis, suddenly began to detect odd things. Even now the phenomena that took place during those few frantic hours have not been explained. Besides the radar operators of CINDACTA (namely Primeiro Centro Integrado de Defesa Aérea e Controle de Tráfego Aéreo- First Aerial Defense and Air Traffic Control Integrated Center), fighter pilots and also civilian pilots participated in attempts to identify those unexplained plots http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plot_(radar), and this included visual contacts, but up to now there are no concrete solutions that explain what happened.
The events started around 7:00 PM when Group Captain Ozires Silva,¹ who was commanding what could be one of his last flights as an Embraer staff member, was just leaving the presidency of the main Brazilian aerospace group to take over the presidency of Petrobras, the state owned oil company of Brazil. After almost two hours on board an Embraer EMB-121 “Xingu” twin-turboprop plane http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embraer_EMB_121_Xingu pronounced “Sheen-goo”) near Poços de Caldas, http://maps.google.com.br/maps?hl=pt-BR&source=hp&q=Po%C3%A7os%20de%20Caldas&rlz=1R2ADFA_pt-BRBR366&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl) and at about 22,000 ft altitude, Cel. Ozires Silva and his co-pilot Alcir Pereira da Silva were surprised when questioned by CINDACTA operators. The traffic controller asked about a possible visual contact with three non identified targets that were appearing on their radar screens. Ozires and his co-pilot didn’t see anything, but decided to go in that direction, thus approaching São José dos Campos http://maps.google.com.br/maps?hl=pt-BR&source=hp&q=Po%C3%A7os%20de%20Caldas&rlz=1R2ADFA_pt-BRBR366&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl following the indications of the traffic controller. In doing this, they sighted something looking like a celestial body, a very strong light and fixed in space. Its color was yellowish, tending to red. It was 10:00 pm (local time). The more they approached the object the more it seemed to vanish, till it completely disappeared. Then they decided to fly eastward, crossing the São José dos Campos Airport towards a second object, apparently spotted south of the town of Taubaté http://maps.google.com.br/maps?hl=pt-BR&source=hp&q=Po%C3%A7os%20de%20Caldas&rlz=1R2ADFA_pt-BRBR366&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl pronounced Tow-bah-teh).
Below their flight level, about 600m high (1,968.5 ft) the Xingu crew came across a new light, now looking like a fluorescent light. It was difficult to believe the controller had this object on his screen, for they were flying low and 250km (155.3 miles) from the Sorocaba’s town radar antenna. http://maps.google.com.br/maps?hl=pt-BR&source=hp&q=Po%C3%A7os%20de%20Caldas&rlz=1R2ADFA_pt-BRBR366&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl This event was just the beginning of a night full of mysteries, in which five Brazilian Air Force fighters had been scrambled in an attempt to identify such objects. What the controllers were seeing on their screens in that moment was neither air traffic nor clouds. Those points didn’t match the usual configurations of the Aerial Traffic Control with a usual radar plot, and the situation was immediately reported to CINDACTA I, in Brasília, which, by its turn, passed the information on to the Centro de Operações de Defesa Aerospacial –CODA, The Aerospace Defense Operations Center).
The time was 10:20 PM when the then CODA’s Chief Squadron Leader Ney Antunes Cerqueira, already informed about the events, arrived at the Centro de Operações Militares-COpM - Military Operations Center. His first preventive measure was to alert a plane at the Santa Cruz Air Base, in Rio de Janeiro, in order to initiate an intercepting mission at once. In Rio de Janeiro, the scheduled duty pilot for that night was Flying Officer Kleber Marinho, nowadays a retired 1st Lieutenant, whose experience was, by that time, 250 hours as a F-5 pilot and more than 900 hours in his Air Force career.
“As the scheduled duty pilot, for that day, I was contacted by the permanent officer, at the Officers’ Villa, where I lived. The information I got was that the duty pilot had been called, and so by a matter of doctrine and training, I quickly made my way to the plane, and only after the take-off I got the specific instructions for my mission. A duty pilot doesn’t need to fulfill the usual bureaucratic steps for a flight.”
With the engines roaring, the F-5 took off towards the night mantle. It was 10:20 PM. At the same time, another target was detected, northwest of Anápolis, in the State of Goiás, some 805-806 km from Rio de Janeiro. Now the Anápolis Air Force base duty pilots were called, this time using Mirages IIIE-BR (FAB Code F-103).The first to take off was piloted by Flight Lieutenant Rodolfo da Silva Souza. (Translator Note: this base has the best jet fighters in Brazil, for their main mission is to defend the country’s capital – Brasilia, located at about 160km North) It’s important to remark that radars, up to that time, were developed to detect targets about a minimum of two sq. meters wide, but were not able yet to determine the targets’ real dimensions.
At the Santa Cruz Base in Rio a second plane was scrambled. “It has been a tremendous coincidence”, says the then Flight Officer Márcio Brisola Jordão, the second F-5 pilot to take off in that night. “I was not scheduled as the duty pilot for that night. But I had to stay at the Santa Cruz base to study for a flight essay test. When the alert came, I thought it was just a training procedure, until a soldier came with the information that they needed an extra pilot to fly. He only said that some detection of unknown contacts was taking place and that even a tanker plane would be scrambled.”
“One has always an extra plane readied”, says Jordão, “but in that case the one who was not prepared was me, the pilot! But as I was there, at the Squadron facilities, there I went too. Kleber was the first one to take off. For people like us, it was just a normal training procedure, but as the situation evolved, another F-5 was scrambled.”
Before taking off, Flt Officer Jordão even called the Military Operations Center in Brasília to know what was going on. He was informed that radars were plotting several targets in different points of the Brazilian airspace. So, expecting to contact some of those targets, he took off around 11:15 PM.
The order given to the pilots was to intercept without any aggressive posture. In such cases, as a standard norm, they took off with armed cannons, but with no intention to use them. The other two planes (Translator note: also Mirages IIIE-BRs) piloted by Flt Officer Armindo de Souza Viriato and Flt Officer Júlio Cesar Rozenberg, would take off from Anápois, thus totaling five different interception attempts.
“The take-off was normal. I leveled off around an altitude of 20,000 ft heading to São José dos Campos. According to the aerial defense orientations I turned off all equipment onboard: radar, navigation lights…Just a radio on, for communication,” recalls Lt. Kleber. And he adds: “as the targets didn’t have any equipment transmitting any kind of electromagnetic wave, it wasn’t possible to know which altitude they were at, while in flight. All orientation I had was to look for visual contacts”.
“According to Brasília radars, I should look to my two hours and 11 hours, high and low. But I didn’t see anything.” When nearer to São José dos Campos, the radar radio controller started to give a more incisive instruction, that the pilot should look to his left.
“I was right above the Embraer facilities and hadn’t seen anything till then. Because of those clustered targets on my left side, the controller asked me to make a turn to the right and come back to Santa Cruz, let’s say 180° degrees, de-phased.”
As soon he started this turn, Lt.Kleber was instructed to look to his right, but nothing was seen again. As the controller had the targets on his radar screens, he ordered the pilot to turn to go towards them, heading towards the sea.
“I made the turn, stabilized the aircraft, heading to the recommended direction and started a visual scanning. In that very moment, I saw a very strong light enhancing itself as to the other lights along the littoral. It was a little lower than me. The clear impression I had, in that moment, was that it was moving from right to left.”
As the nocturnal vision is very critical, for it makes the pilot very vulnerable to a series of evaluation errors, and besides the F-5 has no automatic pilot, Lt. Kleber was very careful to stabilize the fighter in that moment: “I looked at that light. Its movement was quite evident to me. I asked the Aerial Defense people if there was any air traffic in that area at that moment, due to the proximity of the Rio de Janeiro/São Paulo “air bridge” airway. No, I was told. (Translator’snote: Ponte Aérea (Air Bridge) an air shuttle service by several Brazilian airlines, offering a flight every hour between the two cities) There was no aircraft in that place and time.”
“Then I informed them that I really was seeing the light shifting itself on my interception route, at the 2 hours position (to my right) a bit below my plane. And it was in that moment that I could figure out the altitude of the contact, something around 17,000 ft. Immediately, I received the instruction to head toward that target and continue the approach in order to identify it.”
Then Lt. Kleber lighted the F-5 post-combustion, thus breaking the sound barrier, zooming towards the light seen at the horizon.
“There was neither time to think about it, nor feeling afraid. It’s instant adrenaline (histamine as Americans would say). You have a plane to fly, you are on a nocturnal flight, supersonic, subjected to space disorientation….I confess that I have no precise memories on my feelings in that moment. The thing I knew is that I had to go after the target, and while things went on happening, and due to our training, our reactions tend to be a little automatic.
I started to descend, going straight to the target, but very carefully as to avoid a possible optical illusion due to the nocturnal vision. I could be seeing a light into the water, a big ship with a searchlight (spotlight). So I decided not to count simply on my visual orientation and I turned on my radar, even without any instruction to do it. And, really, a target appeared on the screen about 8 or 12 miles, thus confirming the presence of something solid ahead. That coincided with the direction of the light I had sighted. On the radar screens which equipped the fighters of that time, the plot size varied according the size of the contact. The radar displayed something 1 cm wide, what meant something with a wingspan of a Jumbo (Boeing 747). I came close to the target, staying some six miles away from it, which is still far for a precise checking, especially at night. The target stopped to shift towards my direction and started to ascend. I didn’t lose my radar contact and I proceeded to ascend with it. I continued to follow the contact until about 30,000ft, when I lost the radar contact and kept only the visual contact. But at that moment that strong light was already mixing together with the star lights.
My navigation radios tuned in to Santa Cruz, were already out of range. In a determined moment, the needles of my ADF recovered and indicated to the prow. My DME window, which was in the “flag” condition, indicated (something) 30 fixed miles, without any reason for that. The fuel was reaching its limits, due to the great consumption at supersonic speeds and I had to go back. Less than a minute later, I headed to Santa Cruz, again my ADF shut (no information) and my DME closed again.”
However, at the Anápolis Air Base, in the State of Goiás (about 100 miles from Brasília) a similar situation was about to happen. The scheduled duty pilot for that night (May 19, 1986) was the Flt Officer Rodolfo da Silva e Souza, who had approximately 500 hours as a Mirage-IIIE (F-103 FAB code) pilot. He was home when he was called.
His beeper emitted a call signal and an alert message, around 11:00 PM. The pilot should drive at once to the Air Base and that’s what he did.
“When I arrived, I went immediately to the hangars, with the other alert team members, where two Mirage IIIE (F-103) were readied. The overhauling team already had finished their jobs and we waited, beside the planes’ stairs, both aircrafts armed and ready to take off.
I completed the usual checks before the departure and contacted the Operational Permanent Officer (OPO) to inform them that I was ready. I was ordered to start the engine and then take off. My wing man (Note: mission leader companion) remained on the ground.”
As soon the taxiing maneuvers started, Flt Officer Rodolfo got in touch with the control tower. He got instructions to turn to the air field’s northwest. Soon after the take off he started a full-power ascent till reaching the level 200 (20,000 ft). “After that, I got in touch with Anápolis, which quickly passed me to the CopM frequency, that would control the interception mission,” he said. “The first information I got was that my target was 100 miles from the position I was. I would notice that the weather was fair, no clouds, no Moon. The sky was fully starry, making a beautiful counterpoint with the night darkness”. When informed that the target was already within his onboard radar range, Flt Officer Rodolfo started to attentively observe the screen, in order to find the plot that would indicate the target’s presence. But nothing appeared on the screen.
“As the distance decreased (translator’s note: reported by the land-based radars) and I didn’t get to have a radar plot onboard, I simultaneously started to visually search the airspace around my position, as informed by the CopM. But again nothing appeared.”
Since the situation was so that both plots (interceptor and UFO) became merged, in short, pilot (plane) and target were less than a mile from each other, Flt Officer Rodolfo received instructions to orbit the point, and continue the search: Flt Officer Rodolfo continues: “I still was –unsuccessfully- in this procedure, when I was informed by the ground radar controller that my target had changed its position and was now at another point, some 50 miles away. I was then instructed to attempt a new interception.”
“Once again, there wasn’t any contact either visual or by onboard radar. I was guided to descend the flight level even more, standing in orbit around the determined point, thus continuing the search. After some time in that search my flight autonomy had already reached the point where I just could return safely to the airbase, and I received instructions to come back.” Around 11:45 PM, thus a little time after Flt Officer Rodolfo’s Mirage take-off, another Mirage took off from the Anápolis Airbase, whose pilot was the then Flt Officer Armindo de Souza Viriato de Freitas. According to reports, his contact with the target was only gotten through the radar onboard, with no visual contact. What most surprised the pilot had been the target’s unbelievable speed and its sudden disappearance. So, without any visual sighting, in a few minutes, Capt. Rodolfo’s Mirage touched down at the Anápolis airbase strip.
“After the landing, I had a telephone contact with my controller for the routine debriefing. Only through this it came to my ears that other F-103s (Mirage IIIEBr) had also been scrambled. They took off after me, in order to check several radar contacts seen on the CINDACTA screens, in different points of Center-West Brazil.”
“Once I finished the usual post-flight procedures, I was cleared and authorized to return back home, where I arrived at around 1:30 AM. But one hour later, I was again awakened by a new beeper signal. It was another alert.”
“When I arrived at the base and got in touch with the OPO, this time the guidance was that the alert should be maintained and aircrafts readied for take-off. My wing man and I remained in this status for about 45 minutes. Close to 4:00 AM we received the information that the alert had been ceased, and we were released from the alert status.
Meanwhile, the second pilot to take off from Santa Cruz Airbase in Rio, Flt Officer Márcio Brisola Jordão (in an F-5E), also recalls his experience:
“One thing my attention was directed to that night was how clear the sky was. I had never seen such a clear night before. You know that kind of night, when you drive a car, lights off and see everything? It was possible to see the whole Paraiba River Valley, until the city of São Paulo. No nebulosity at all. It was possible to see the mountains’ contours on the ground. A visibility I experienced very few times, in flight.” “Going and heading to the city of São José dos Campos, I was instructed to check the armament. It was then that I was informed that there were about five contacts ahead, about 15 miles distance. I didn’t see anything, neither on the plane’s radar screen or (visually) around. But I was informed that they were coming closer and closer. Ten miles, five miles, three miles, and I thought it was not possible, on a night like that, being unable to see the quoted contact.”
The ground controller then informed the pilot:
“Now they are behind you, following you like they were forming an array with you,” but he still didn’t see anything.
“Then I had the instruction to make a 180° turn, and I still could not see anything. I flew to São José dos Campos, flying about 15,000 ft high, and I started to orbit. I called Kleber on the tactical frequency to know had he seen something. He said yes, but when he tried to pursue it the contact just vanished.” “When I was over São José dos Campos, I looked towards Ilha Bela ( Bela Island - São Paulo state coast) and for the first time I saw a static red light. To me, it was at the horizon’s level, but I was looking to the ocean, which made me believe I was seeing a boat far away, or some kind of light. It stood still, didn’t change its position, didn’t blink, didn’t move at all. I warned the ground control that I was seeing a light ahead 90° degrees in the ocean’s direction. As it was confirmed by the ground radar, I was instructed to go after it”.
“I started a supersonic acceleration, and the light didn’t move at all. I was informed that (on the contrary) it was moving at the same speed I was. I kept this navigation, until I reached my minimum fuel level, and had to return. For me, I had taken off with a given expectation from Brasília, and it became my whole life’s major frustration. The light I saw could be a boat on the ocean or, who knows, it could be some other thing. But it would be thoughtless to reach any conclusion.” Yet, in Anápolis a fifth pilot was scrambled for an interception mission: the then Flt Officer Julio Cezar Rozenberg, at that time with 1,900 hours of experience as a fighter pilot, 550 in Mirages. “It was a usual day on the 1st Aerial Defense Group, until the time that my beeper sounded in the small hours of the morning. An alert had been emitted. I was sleeping and got out of the bed, without even knowing what time it was. It’s part of the routine. I dressed up and on my way to the base I wondered if that was only a test.”
“I hoped I was going to fly, because there’s nothing like a big bore, just going to the alert hangar, getting fueled and then released. Every defense mission is real until being cancelled. So I wore my anti-g jumpsuit, my pilot’s jacket and the mechanic confirmed that the aircraft was ready. The armament and ammunition also were set in place. All of this ready after about 22 minutes since the alert was issued. I prepared myself to take off, just thinking to hell with what was happening.”
“Due to Brasilia’s proximity, I imagined I would be going after some commercial flight, but if that was the case, I would see the anti collision lights. I went on following the land controller instructions. The night was beautiful, unlimited vision. It was possible to see everything below, from cities to car beams.” “I was instructed to go higher. I checked once more the onboard radar and I lowered a little the antenna’s scanning. I proceeded to both following the onboard radar and searching visually for something. Our distance, according to the land controller was just three miles and I still was not seeing anything. I imagined that it could be some F-5s simulating an attack to the base, in short, another training mission.”
“I asked the controller’s permission to get closer and closer, until our images merged themselves, with me coming from behind. I thought that the contact would finally light its lights. After all, they could be listening to the interception instructions, through the Aerial Defense radio frequencies. The controller warned that it was just one mile ahead, but I had nothing, neither on the radar screen, nor visually. My flight lasted for 30 minutes, and after the search attempts, I returned to the base, without any kind of contact.”
After all these events and everything quieter in the country’s airbases, now around 3:00 AM, when – apparently-Brazilian skies were no more frequented by any odd thing, a Varig Airlines cargo flight, that had taken off from the Guarulhos Airport (Note: São Paulo’s most important airport) heading to Galeão Airport (now Rio de Janeiro’s Tom Jobim International Airport) got itself involved in the above quoted events. Varig’s Boeing 707(Cargo) commander, Geraldo Souza Pinto, the co-pilot Nivaldo Barbosa and the onboard engineer whose family name is Guntzel, and the then Flt Officer Oscar Machado Jr., at that time in a flight training mission (translator’s note: Varig was to sell some of its 707s to Brazilian Air Force for VIP transport or conversion into tankers) just had no idea about what was about to happen: “When crossing about 12,000 ft high, CINDACTA called us by the radio and asked us to confirm if we were seeing some traffic at the eleven hours position. Well, this is usual, but strangely, after we responded NO, the controller said : “For your information this concerns a UFO (unidentified flying object)”, as reported by the former cargo commander.
“We looked at each other, imagining that we hadn’t understood what just came in through the radio and asked the controller to repeat that information. The controller confirmed the information, and even said that since the latter 10:00 PM of that night, UFOs were being spotted by their radars. It was then that we knew that the Air Force had already been put into action. At this moment, I confess that I felt an unutterable emotion.” “We asked them if they had the contact on their radar screens, and the answer was positive. The controller then said that its position at that very moment was on the 11 hours, as to our airplane’s position, and asked us to try to sight it. And at this moment I saw it. A very strong light shined, like a white beam. The emotion I have up to nowadays mergers with the certitude that “it” was listening to our radio talks. In the same moment that we were asked if we were seeing it and I answered “no”, it blinked as if wishing to say; ‘I’m here!’”
“We had no notion about the traffic’s altitude, because the commercial planes’ radars are just meteorological, and different from fighters. They have many difficulties to spot another aircraft. They haven’t been made for such tasks. On his turn, the controller could not know the object’s altitude, due to, without transponder, everything he sees it’s the mere dimension on his radar, without a noticeable altitude.” “The object was near Santa Cruz (Note: Brazilian Air Force airbase near Rio) and our distance was about 90 miles. What I can say is that visually it was some 20° higher than we were. We attained our cruise altitude - 23,000 ft - and the controller kept in touch, informing us about the object’s distance: 60 miles, then 50 miles, always ahead.
The Boeing crew dimmed the cockpit lights, lit the external beams looking for a visual contact: “There we were three crew members, in the dark cockpit of a cargo plane, searching the skies, eager to find an explanation about that, getting our 707 closer and closer. Suddenly I looked to Nivaldo and noticed his face’s expression, as wishing to show me something. He said that something had shifted, leaving a luminous path, but it could be a meteorite, something that was very common.” “Then the controller warned us that the target had shifted in a high speed to our right, attaining in a fraction of seconds an unbelievable speed of something above Mach 5. A human being could not bear such an acceleration. He would die during such a displacement.” The object, at this moment, disappeared to the right but came back to the plane’s stem, but at a minor distance.
“Now, we were some 30 miles from it. We had the impression that he just continued to displace itself at a low speed, while we were approaching it.” “The approach continued. The land radar controller kept on warning our distances to it.15 miles, ten, five…Seen from the good side, we would enter History!” said the Capt. Souza Pinto, joking. “But I looked, and looked again for it, and couldn’t see anything. Then the controller said: ’three miles, two, one. Varig, both traffic images and yours are merging themselves.’ We looked up and down and we didn’t see anything! Then the controller informed that the target was passing to our back, but an interference began at the ground and the radar lost sight of it.”
FINAL CONCLUSIONS Two decades have passed since the “UFOs Night” without being possible to come to any scientific conclusion about that event. However, taking into consideration, the opinions of those who experienced it, they (opinions) are the best forms to come to one’s own conclusions. Whatever was flown over the Brazilian territory on that date probably will continue to be a mystery in the years to come. The Minister of Aeronautics at that time, Air Marshal Octávio Júlio Moreira Lima, says that, up to now, there’s not a way to come to a definitive conclusion. But the situation remains undefined. I only think it’s important to remark that radars don’t detect optical illusions,” says the former minister. “For the pilot, by his turn, the answer is yes, even more so during a night flight, when one may have fantastic optical illusions. For instance, flying above the water, you see the sky under, so you have to fly by instruments. There are cases of people who saw odd things, but most such stories are really fanciful. However, a Government authority has to be very cautious so as not to transform an alarming situation into panic.
“When one encounters such a thing, one informs the aerial traffic control, that (by its turn) reports it to the integrated centers of control, located in Curitiba (State of Paraná), Brasília (Federal District), Recife (State of Pernambuco) and in The Amazon region. Such centers are in permanent intercommunication, everything fully automatic. I was informed at once. When a situation like that occurs, the Air General Command, quickly warns the Minister. And from then on, the interception procedures are put into action.” “And so it happened. The fighters took off with instructions for a simple checking mission. At any moment one has to be ready to maintain an aggressive posture. How could we shoot something that we simply didn’t know what it was? The lights have been plotted by radars and we had to try to identify them. There’s not that worry about taking off with missiles, as one sees in the movies. They are kept ready every 24 hours, pilots at hand, ready to be put into action in minutes, but at first, with no shooting order.” Opinions about such facts vary from people to people. Even those who didn’t get to be in touch with those UFOs have their own ideas. It’s the case of Flt Officer Julio Cezar Rozenberg, now a retired Group Captain, that had to be satisfied with just listening to other people’s reports. “The day after, I saw the headlines on TV and radio announcing several UFO interceptions, the night before. And exactly me, a person so fond about this subject, I didn’t see anything! But I came close to it. I think that in an infinite Universe, as ours, with several possibilities, there’s no reason to think we are alone.” A similar reasoning has Air Marshal Moreira Lima: “Many times, people ask me if I believe or not in the presence of UFOs on that night,“ reveals the Air Marshal.
“I neither believe nor disbelieve it, because like the Universe, this is over our heads. One comes to a point in which some things do overcome our understanding and speculations start this way. I always say the following: we are products of the Universe. Chemical, physical, all sorts. Will this product only exists here on Earth? There are billions of stars and planets out there.”
Flt Lieutenant Kleber, now a retired officer and flying Varig as a commander (Note:2006), even after having his reports made, confesses that he comes to no conclusion at all:
“I had both visual and electronic contact. It was something solid. People say that in that place there are plenty of magnetic anomalies, but I don’t believe that. Magnetic anomalies have random and irregular movements. On my report, I asked to check whether one had an airplane-carrier near the coast, or some aircrafts that could be over our airspace performing electronic counter measures, which could generate a plot on the radars.”
“Anything that I presumed (in the beginning) was confirmed. From there to state that I believe in UFOs, this is another thing. Everyone will express his own opinion. I think that this Universe is too big for us to be alone in it. It would be selfish for ourselves, to believe that. That was my point-of-view by that time. I knew the plane I was flying. I prefer just to refer myself to the technical part.” For those who followed and participated “behind the scenes” of the story, in front of radar screens, like Squadron Leader Ney Antunes Cerqueira, now a retired Group Captain, there was something odd over Brazil that night:
“We only can’t state what it was. But due to the coincidence of different radars, and, simultaneously the detection by planes’ radars ( translator’s note: once, Lt. Kleber [F-5E] and another, by Flt. Capt.Armindo de Souza Viriato [Mirage IIIEBR] ) we just can’t deny the existence of something. It happens that we had no technical means to verify what those targets were, in spite of the visual contacts the pilots had.” “How, to explain for instance, the F-5 instruments on board, which have been annulled during the event? The radio, by its turn, was not shut off, the communication could be kept all the time.” “There were also the tapes with the conversations between controllers and pilots. They have been exhaustively analyzed. A report has been done, during that time, but I can’t state where those tapes are now. Probably, they don’t even exist anymore. When I left the position of CDA’s head, the investigations had already been over.”
“Analyzing as an Air Defense technician, because such was my position, I can say that we only deal with reality. Since all that happened, I have always confirmed the present of the targets. If we take conclusions from the radar tapes from Brasilia, Santa Cruz and Couto’s peak, in Petrópolis (State of Rio de Janeiro) it’s possible to verify that something odd really happened.” “For some time, the object stood still in space, then had speeds beyond Mach 3.The variations were sometimes instantaneous, other times gradual. The targets would orbit the aircrafts and changed their positions around them. Such movements didn’t allow major approximations. Everything that was sighted were lights with intense variations.”
“I could say that in some way, they wanted, yes, to be seen. So the incognito remains. That it happened, it did. What was it? I can’t say what it was. But there are events that mark the mind of people, for being very unusual. I surely will never forget that May 19th.” The Varig Boeing 707 Cargo Commander, Geraldo Souza Pinto, after having his report done, was never called for further information.
“The majority of people just don’t know that at 3:00 AM, one still had an object up there. As a matter of fact, many people even don’t like to talk about it, but it was a thing I saw. Sincerely, I think it’s a privilege!” he says.
He also confirms the fact that pilots may have many optical illusions: “I myself am tired of seeing Venus appearing in an odd way, and many people think it’s an UFO. The plane crosses different density air layers, and that causes refraction effects, things seem to be moving or even changing shape.”
“However, at that time there was confirmation by the radar system, which proves that it was not an illusion. Could it be a plane? In the beginning, I thought it was so. It could be a smuggler’s plane, a spy plane, I don’t know.”
“In that time, many interviews have been done, with people from various segments, every one trying to explain it, according to their area of expertise. Even so, that doesn’t convince me. And that acceleration: The precise position as to the prow? The radar contact? The “coincidence” of making itself visible at the initial radio contact? It doesn’t match with anything. It was really something beyond our knowledge. It could be from another planet, from the Earth itself. In short it only remains for me to conclude it was a UFO”, reports the commander.
For Air Marshal Moreira Lima, his own clear way to speak about the subject, after all, he was one of the first military authorities in the world to publicly acknowledge the presence of UFOs - has been one of the main motivations for the appearance of so many speculations: “I said I would have a press conference and I did it. I reported what I had known, what the event was, in fact, and that we can’t explain up to now. Who knows, some day…” “In the pre-historic times, a lightning was information from the gods. I think there is an information for everything, but I must assume that the displacement of those lights were really absurd. I must confess it, that under this aspect, I am a little skeptical. I don’t impress easily. If Physics doesn’t explain it today, it surely will explain it tomorrow.” And we terrestrials keep on waiting…
ILLUSTRATIONS AND PHOTOGRAPHIES’ LEGENDS.
Clear night, over the Paraiba River Valley. Vectored by the Air Traffic Control, an F-5E from the 1st Fighter Aviation Group, which had taken off from the Santa Cruz Air Base (Rio) ignites the afterburner, and pursues a red luminous point over the Atlantic Ocean. Under command of the then, Flt Officer Márcio Brisola Jordão, that F-5E has been one of the various put into action on that night that entered History. Art: Roberto Celegatti.
The first crew to see the UFOsin the sky was composed by the retired Group Captain Ozires Silva, Embraer’s president, that came back from Brasília to São José dos Campos, State of São Paulo, onboard a twin-turboprop Embraer EMB-121 “Xingu” (Embraer’s fleet) and his co-pilot, also Embraer’s test pilot, Mr.Alcir Pereira da Silva. Alerted by the Air Traffic Control, both started to search about, when they saw strange lights on the horizon. Photo: personal file.
Aeródromos = airports / airfields
The date of May19,1986 became famous worldwide. It was the first time that government authorities of a country calmly publicized the existence of UFOs over its airspace. During that night, the CINDACTA (Brazil’s Unified Aerial Traffic Control System) radars, in Brasília but whose range covers all Southeast region, besides the country’s capital, detected air plots http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plot_(radar) and with uncommon flight performances. In order to identify them the Brazilian Air Force put into action five interceptors, through alerts in Santa Cruz and Anápolis airbases. This illustration shows the area where contacts did occur, as well as the radar sites which detected both UFOs and their positions.
The first fighter to take off on May 19,1986 was an F-5E piloted by Flying Officer Kleber Caldas Marinho, who was the duty pilot of the 1st Fighter Aviation Group, for that night. His report confirms the presence of something solid in the sky, but just once, because his onboard radar confirmed a plot detected by CINDACTA radars, but just once. Nowadays (note:2006) he still flies as a Varig pilot.
What most impressed the Brazilian Air Force that night, was not the fact of detecting flying objects, not unable to be identified, not previewed in that area, but the considerable number of contacts and in different places. The speeds and behavior of those plots did not match with what used to be observed on its controllers’ screens. (Photo: Luiz Eduardo Perez)
At Santa Cruz Airbase, by chance, and studying for a test pilot evaluation, the then Flt Officer Márcio Brisola Jordão, was put into action to take off with a second F-5E.His flight was similar to the one of Lt. Kleber Marinho Caldas, resulting in a view of a light, but with no definitive conclusions. Based upon information now existing on military aviation literature, Jordan supposes that odd behavior of the radar system might be explained by an electronic war, in which one (or more) aircraft(s) with Intelligence on signals, could insert false air plots in a radar sector, but is quick to say that this thought is merely a conjecture, and not an explanation for what took place during that May 19 night.(Photo: personal file)
During the “UFOs Night”, as the May 19,1986 is known, two Northrop F-5Es were scrambled, taking off from Santa Cruz Airbase, around 10:00 PM. Because the plots didn’t display any hostile behavior, both aircrafts were readied like this, armed just with cannon ammunition and a ventral central extra fuel tank.
Besides the F-5Es, FAB also scrambled three Dassault-Mirage IIIEBr of the 1st Air Defense Group, from Anápolis, State of Goiás. Speedy and piloted by truly competent specialists about the aerial interception art, the Mirages came very close to the plots indicated by the ground controllers. However, only one of them had been able to have an onboard radar contact. So very, very close to Anápolis, they were unable to see anything with their own eyes.
The first pilot to take off with a Mirage, from the Anápolis Airbase was the then, Flt Officer Rodolfo da Silva e Souza. During his flight, the radar plots detected by CINDACTA’s ground radar seem to displace themselves, thus avoiding the Mirage. Very skillful, Rodolfo would command the 3d /10th GAV, Centauro Squadron, situated in Santa Maria, in the southern State of Rio Grande do Sul. Now he lives in Brasília-DF. (Foto:personal file)
Captain Júlio Cezar Rozenberg, now a retired Group Captain, was on duty at the 1st Air Defense Group, the night of May 19,1986. He took off soon after the Captains Rodolfo and Viriato. He flied for 30 minutes and got to reach a distance of just one mile of the target, but seen only by the ground controllers,yet equally didn’t see nothing neither visually, nor on his own onboard radar screen, on a very, very clear night. Before his retirement he commanded the 1st /4th GAV( Pacau Squadron). Photo: personal file.
Top right. Until the “UFOs Night” no national Air Force, nor any government, had admitted to operate in a search for UFOs. Brazil’s Minister of Aeronautics, was the Air Marshal Octávio Júlio Moreira Lima, who after informing the President of Brazil, José Sarney, about the event, communicated to the Nation what had taken place during the night of May 19. In a both professional and calm attitude, Air Marshal Moreira Lima, entered the world of Ufological History, with his true and sensationalism-free approach. Nowadays, after twenty years (Note:2006) Moreira Lima continues to make clear that that night didn’t make the Brazilian Air Force specialists come to (note: conventional) conclusions. But his open mind leaves a question in the air: “who knows, some day…?”Photo:Personal file. For further information (short text in Portuguese): http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oct%C3%A1vio_J%C3%BAlio_Moreira_Lima
The former Varig commander, who had taken off from Guarulhos Airport ( São Paulo’s International Airport) towards Galeão Airport (Rio), was piloting a Varig’s cargo Boeing 707, when around 3:00 AM (note: so already May 20) the ground control warned him that there was a UFO ahead his prow. Commander Souza Pinto’s report is impressive. Years after, Geraldo Souza Pinto would become the pilots’ head in Varig. All persons involved in the May 19, 1986 episodes, have one thing in common, a both high professional and good feelings level –what made their reports to be taken seriously by the former authorities of Brazil. Photo: personal file.