This week let us analyze Close Encounters of the First Kind, the most common as well as easily prone to misunderstanding type of UFO encounters. Since the 1940s millions of people all over the world have reported this kind of UFO encounter.
When a person says he saw an UFO then we can say he had a Close Encounter of the First Kind, provided the UFO sighting must have occurred within a distance of 500 feet, so that the individual could have a clear view of the target. If there are other eye witness from the same area and radar evidence, then this sighting becomes a very strong one.
Of all the sources of information about UFOs eye witness accounts is the largest. But we have to be very careful when dealing with it, because it is also one of the most misleading. As Friedman points out just because you saw something fly in the sky which you couldn’t identify, doesn’t mean it is a flying saucer from another world. All UFOs are not Flying Saucers, but some certainly are.
The great majority of UFOs sighted can be explained as IFOs- Identifiable Flying Objects- Astronomical phenomena like planets, meteors and comets. Atmospheric phenomena like Aurora Borealis, ball lightening, and reflections from fog and mist. Advertising blimps, balloons, clouds, contrails, magnesium flares, migrating birds, kites, insect swarms, fireworks, swamp gas, dust devils, elevated streetlights, lights from cars, beacons, unmanned Arial Vehicles, military test crafts, re-entering satellites and rocket launchings.
Even after considering all the above possibilities there is a significant percentage of sighting which cannot be explained. The fact that these sightings come from highly qualified military pilots and radar operators is what adds to their legitimacy. Since the 1940s hundreds of pilots both civilian and military have had this kind of encounters. 1952 UFO sightings over Washington, New York Hudson Valley UFO sightings in 1980, Belgium UFO sightings in 1989-90, Moscow sightings in 1990, Mexico sightings in 1991 and Stephenville Texas are some of the best authenticated incidents of Close Encounters of the First Kind.
One of the best instances of Close Encounters of the First Kind occurred in 1986 over the skies of several states in south-eastern Brazil. As many as twenty UFOs were seen and tracked by ground radar and at least six airplanes during the night of May 19. Two F-5E and three Mirage jet fighters were scrambled from Santa Cruz and Anápolis Air Force Bases. The case was discussed openly by high ranking government officials and reported widely in the Brazilian media, leading to a press conference at the Ministry of Aeronautics in Brasilia on May 23, where air traffic controllers and air force pilots involved in the chase gave testimony.
The Minister of Aeronautics, Brigadier General Otávio Moreira Lima, stated that on the night of 19th and early morning of 20th May, at least 20 objects were detected by Brazilian radars. They saturated the radars and interrupted traffic in the area. Each time that radar detected unidentified objects, fighters took off for intercept. Radar detects only solid metallic bodies and heavy clouds. There were no clouds or any other conventional aircraft in the region. The sky was clear. Radar doesn’t have optical illusions and the signals on the radar were quite clear. The accounts of air force pilots and radar controllers confirmed this.
The message from the American Defense Attaché Office in Rio to the Defense Intelligence Agency stated Brazilian Air Force had a Close Encounter of the First Kind. Three visual sightings and positive radar contact from three different types of radar systems, leads one to believe that something arrived over Brazil the night of 19 May. This something was not the product of human mind.
(The writer is the Director of INSETS: Indian Society for Extraterrestrial Studies and also the author of ‘Accidental Apocalypse’)