|Usual scientific explanations
lacking in Mexico UFO case, by George Knapp
Las Vegas Mercury, Thursday,
June 03, 2004
On March 5, a Mexican Air Force C26A, while on a drug interdiction and surveillance mission over the state of Campeche, encountered 11 unidentified flying objects. The UFOs were detected on both radar and a sophisticated thermal imaging sensor (known as FLIR) aboard the plane. The encounter occurred at 11,000 feet an hour before sunset and in clear weather. It lasted about 15 minutes and was recorded on the plane's cameras. At one point, eight of the objects formed a circle around the plane. Crew members were understandably shaken.
Mexican defense officials ordered a hush-hush study of the incident. They spent five weeks trying to figure out what had happened but couldn't come up with any explanation for what had been seen by radar, FLIR, cameras and eyewitnesses. The best they could do was to conclude the UFOs were solid objects of unknown origin and that they had flown along with the C26A under what appeared to be intelligent control. That's when they decided to go public. They took the highly unusual step of contacting prominent Mexican TV journalist and UFO investigator Jaime Maussan and then simply handed over everything they had on the case. Astonishing, to say the least. Governments do not cooperate with UFO investigators, as a rule, at least not the U.S. government.
That's when the debunking started. Mexican scientists seemed to take their cues from all the old excuses handed out by the U.S. Air Force in years gone by, dredging up a veritable hit parade of weak explanations.
The first explanation was that this must have been ball lightning, a rare atmospheric phenomenon that has been used many times by American debunkers to try to explain away UFO cases. A nuclear scientist named Dr. Julio Herrera of National Autonomous University was contacted by the Associated Press. Herrera theorized that the UFOs were electrical flashes, and AP went with the story, ignoring the fact that this incident occurred in a cloudless sky and that it lasted for more than 15 minutes. Las Vegas physicist Dr. Eric Davis spent six years studying ball lightning and wrote a paper about it for Air Force Materiel Command at Edwards Air Force Base, where Dr. Davis worked for a time. Simply put, there is no way that ball lightning could be responsible, Davis says. Ball lightning occurs during storms, not in cloudless skies. It generally lasts only a few seconds, sometimes up to a minute, but NEVER for 15 minutes. Besides, the Mexican Air Force had already looked at this explanation and found it wanting.
The inestimable Dr. Herrera wasn't deterred, though. A day or two later, he offered a new explanation that was dutifully reported by skeptical media. He theorized that the UFO flashes were caused by the ignition of natural gases in the atmosphere. (He didn't actually use the term "swamp gas," but damn that would have been ballsy if he had.) The Campeche coast is an oil-producing region, so there is natural gas in the area. But no one knows of natural gas pockets that rise to 11,000 feet. Besides, the sensors on the plane revealed the objects to be solid, with definable parameters.. Plus, the objects followed the plane for many miles and even formed a circle around it. Does gas do that?
Another scientist speculated that the UFOs were "almost certainly" space junk, pieces of satellite debris that had burned up in the atmosphere. Again, this explanation doesn't fit the described behavior of the objects. Debris doesn't surround a plane and fly along with it. In addition, the Mexican Air Force certainly would have known if the Campeche coast was being dive-bombed by a vast field of space debris.
Finally, another critic offered up the old chestnut that it must have been weather balloons that caused the sightings. As with the ball lightning explanation, this one would have been more credible had anyone bothered to contact Mexico's National Meteorological Service, which explained that there were no weather balloons anywhere near Campeche on that day. A spokesman also noted that no one had bothered to contact the NMS to find out if ball lightning would have been a possible explanation. It would not have been, the NMS concluded.
See also The Disclosure Project National Press Club Conference - May 9th 2001 here, and download the video from here (npcc.wmv, 233,308,091 bytes). Notice the testimony of Sgt. Clifford Stone, 1:38:44 -- 1:40:28.