On October 1, UFO researcher Tom King of Phoenix, Arizona announced over the internet that he had just viewed an extraordinary videotape shot in Mexico City on August 6. Hardly able to contain his enthusiasm, King called the daylight video of a classic flying saucer "mind-blowing."
"It's the piece of evidence Ufology has been waiting for since in the invention of the videocamera," he wrote.
Since October 1, several still frames from the video have been posted on various web sites (see, for example, the frame posted at http://www.cninews.com/CNI_New.html, or several frames posted at http://www.sightings.com)
The still frames were grabbed and posted to the internet by Fernando Camacho when the video was broadcast on Mexican television by noted newsman and UFO investigator Jaime Maussan on his show "Tercera Milenio" (Third Millenium).
Maussan says he was sent the tape on September 26, along with an explanatory letter, by the man who shot it in a wealthy downtown district of Mexico City. That man has so far insisted on anonymity, and Maussan apparently does not have the original tape.
So far, the video has not been publicly shown in the United States.
Maussan brought a copy to Village Labs in Tempe, Arizona for analysis. According to UFO investigator and filmmaker Lee Elders, copies of the video are also being analyzed at a university in Mexico and at an undisclosed facility in Nevada.
Though the anals of UFO research are replete with photo and video controversies, everyone who has seen this new tape seems to believe it ranks among the best ever shot.
CNI News editor Michael Lindemann spoke by phone with Lee Elders on October 15. Lee and his wife Britt Elders, working closely with Jaime Maussan, have created several excellent video documentaries (Messengers of Destiny, Masters of the Stars) on the Mexican UFO flap that started in 1991. Elders is closely involved with the analysis of the new videotape.
"The posting on the internet was not our decision, and I believe it was premature," Elders said. "There's no data to go with the images... We are moving forward to get as much science available on this piece of footage as we can before releasing it."
Elders said that everyone working on the film seems to agree on the following:
a) the saucer-like object is between 35 and 50 feet in diameter b) the object was located approximately 1200 yards from the camera when filmed c) the object is rotating in a counter-clockwise motion d) it seems to have some kind of "cylinders" attached to the flange (the center-line of the disk) that rotate with the flange in counter-clockwise motion. These do not appear to be portholes or lightsbut rather something that is attached.
Elders gave a detailed description of what the video shows:
"When [the UFO] is first picked up by the camera -- when the individual first sees it -- he is at long range, and then he zooms in at maximum zoom to the craft. When you first see it, it appears to be about 300 feet above the ground. We estimate that based on the fact that a high-rise apartment house standing in front of the ship to the right seems to be somewhere between 400 and 450 feet in height, based on number of floors.
"The ship is hovering below the [top of] the apartment house. Then it rises up over 100 feet behind the apartment complex and then flies over -- not exactly over, it's still behind the complex, maybe 100 meters. Then it dips down behind the apartment house, dips in behind the twin tower to the right of the first apartment complex, and then it disappears. It does not come out at that point.
"The entire footage lasts some 35 seconds, and the quality and clarity is quite good, with the exception that the skyline over Mexico City that day was very bad. There's a lot of haze and pollution. It was one of the worst pollution days of the year for Mexico City, on August 6, 1997. It was, I believe, a "red alert" day for pollution that day, and civil aviation was told not to fly in the area because of that difficulty... The yellowish type of sky is the only negative aspect to the footage itself. We would have loved to have had it in a crystal blue sky. The edges would have been more defined. You would probably see a little better what is on the craft.
"But what we have is still, in our opinion, probably the best footage shot in the last 50 years," Elders said.
CNI News asked Elders what was known about the person who shot the video. He replied:
"One of the most interesting things about the tape, as far as Jaime Maussan and his crew were concerned, is that you have two men talking (on the video soundtrack) as they're filming it. One man is filming, and I guess his friend is standing next to him. There's a running dialogue, all in Spanish, of course -- but it is so realistic, according to Jaime, that this is one of the reasons he thinks it's really real. The two individuals were having problems containing their excitement. There was a lot of swearing going on during the filming. The 'F' word was used quite a bit. To Jaime, it was a 'real' conversation.
"We're still trying to coax the individual to come forward," Elders said. "The individual is afraid of losing his job. [The video] was taken during working hours, from an office building where he works. He's concerned about his identity at this point."
CNI News asked Elders if any other witnesses had been identified yet, and what was being done to locate them. He replied:
"We have nine witnesses now, four teenagers and five adults, in addition to the cameraman and his friend -- eleven all together.
"For example, one of the witnesses is a beautiful young girl, 14 years old, quite animated. She makes her living selling tacos in the street. She was in the street that day when she saw it. It was so large that she became frightened and ran inside her home. She's an excellent witness. We found out that after she told her father, he told her she was crazy. He wouldn't believe her. We [Jaime Maussan's team] found her and interviewed her, and she stuck to her story. She had no idea there was a video. We took her into a room and showed her the video after she gave us her story. What she had seen matched the video almost entirely. She was very excited and said, 'Can I bring my father in? Now he won't think I'm crazy.' She was a very believable witness.
"We have a woman who was on the street looking straight up at it, almost directly overhead. I'm sure there are many more. This would be hard not to see.
"I might add that the apartment complex [in the video] is in a very wealthy sector of Mexico City," Elders said. "I've been in that area several times. It would be, I guess, in the southeast part of the city. We're still going house to house, because we're trying to locate someone in the apartment houses there. This thing flew right by them. If someone was standing near the window, it would be like someone standing 20 feet from a railroad track, watching a train go by. We haven't found a witness there yet. It's a difficult place to gain access to. It's heavily secured, a very wealthy neighborhood. To gain access, we have to go through channels and all that, and hope that somebody was home that day."
Elders said that Jaime Maussan and his TV news team were conducting the door to door search for witnesses, but that Lee and his wife Britt were planning to join Maussan in Mexico City shortly to assist in the investigation.
Meanwhile, analysis of the videotape continues. CNI News asked Elders what had been done so far. He replied:
"We've done some preliminary things -- we've blown up the saucer as much as we can. It's grainy, but you can see the 'cylinder' arrangements. We've looked at the film itself pretty closely. We do know that our master is a copy. But it seems like the master may have been shot on a digital camera. It was either transferred on a time-base corrector which gave it the digital signature on the film, or it was shot on a consumer-type digital camera, which we're hoping for. We do not have the original master yet.
"We've also done some high-contrast work on the film. We've taken all the color out, so it almost looks black and white, but we're getting much better definition. You can see the rotation much better. We're learning more from the high contrast than from the original copy.
"We know that the footage was taken in a northerly direction, between 4:00 and 5:00 pm on Wednesday, August 7. On the left side of the flying saucer, about 30% of the left side, you have a flare or glare from sunlight, and the other 70% on the right side there is no flare or glare, meaning the sun was to the left, or west, and they were shooting to the north.
"Also, the saucer was making a sound -- a high-pitched buzz," Elders added. "We have heard that there were animal disturbances during the sighting as well. I need more information on that before I can say more."
Elders told CNI News that he hopes some reputable scientists will become involved in evaluating the film. But he also wants to see it released to the public as soon as possible.
"We hope to have scientists vouch for this," he said. "The one thing we don't want to get into is some 'expert' sitting in a television studio and making a subjective opinion of what he's seeing. We're tired of that, and we think the public is tired of it too. They want to see some nuts and bolts -- what kind of computers and software were used, what kind of testing was done. I would love to have [NASA imaging expert] Michael Malin take a look at it. Something like that would be ideal, I think."
He hopes enough testing can be conducted in the next few weeks to permit public release.
"The next stage is going to be arranging for it to be shown nationally, meaning FOX or NBC or something like that," Elders said. "We're not going to wait for a [privately-produced] video. This is something that should be released as soon as possible."
Elders has seen a lot of videotape from Mexico. CNI News asked him how this latest tape compared with others he has seen. He said:
"Britt and I, working with Jaime and his crew, have been investigating the Mexico UFOs since 1991. We've looked at a lot of footage. There are over 5,000 videos now, just from the Mexico flap. We have probably looked at 15 or 16 hundred of them, and over 40 still photographs as well. We've been able to classify 15 different kinds of UFOs so far. But this one looks different from anything we've seen [in Mexico] before. This one looks almost like a Billy Meier beamship, a classic flying saucer."
The still frames posted on the internet do indeed show an object that closely resembles the "classic flying saucer" often associated with controversial Swiss UFO contactee Eduard "Billy" Meier. The image also resembles the famous "Sport Model" described by controversial "saucer mechanic" Robert Lazar and immortalized by the Testors Model Corporation.
In a statement recently circulated by email, Arizona-based UFO researcher Bill Hamilton made some additional observations about the new videotape after viewing it repeatedly. He wrote:
"The domed saucer is hovering, apparently rotating on its axis, and wobbling. When it starts to move to the right to pass behind a multi-story building, it tilts slightly back or away from its direction of motion. If this were a tethered object (and it would have to be large), one would expect it to tilt forward in the direction of motion as it was pulled forward. That does not seem to be the case... Under magnification and negative imaging no cable or tether can be seen."
Hamilton noted that the apparent size and behavior of the object, plus the statements of at least nine additional witnesses who viewed the object from various locations, seemed to require either an extremely elaborate hoax or a genuine craft in the air.
In an October 6 interview on "Sightings on the Radio" with Jeff Rense, expert video analyst Jim Dilettoso, owner of Village Labs in Tempe, Arizona, where the video is being examined, said his first impression on seeing the object was that it was a large prop tethered to a helicopter.
"It was a surprise to me that something like this would be so clear, and that I would have it right in front of me," he said. "So when I first saw it, I immediately thought, 'Oh, tethered to a helicopter.'"
But careful analysis convinced him that the object was not tethered from above, he said. The object did not behave in a manner consistent with something suspended in the air by a cable. Measurements of the object's wobble, and the steadiness of its lateral movement across the frame, suggested an object under its own power. "It's a matter of physics and geometry," Dilettoso said.
CNI News will continue to follow this developing story.