May 19, 1986
many as twenty UFOs were seen and tracked by ground radar
and at least six airplanes. Unidentified radar returns
were tracked by airports in São Paulo and the Integrated
Air Defense & Air Traffic Control Center (CINDACTA)
in Brasilia. Two F-5E and three Mirage jet fighters were
scrambled from Santa Cruz AFB in Sao Paulo State, and
Anápolis AFB in Goias State.
Two F-5E fighter jets.
Don Berliner, UFO Briefing Document
many as twenty UFOs were seen and tracked by ground radar
and at least six airplanes during the night of May 19,
1986, over several states in southeastern Brazil. Unidentified
radar returns were tracked by airports in São Paulo
and the Integrated Air Defense and Air Traffic Control
Center (CINDACTA) in Brasilia. Two F-5E and three Mirage
jet fighters were scrambled from Santa Cruz AFB in Sao
Paulo State, and Anápolis AFB in Goias State.
case was discussed openly by high ranking government officials.
It was first reported by Colonel (Ret.) Ozires Silva,
president of the state-owned oil company Petrobrás,
who was flying on an executive Xingu jet, when he and
the pilot saw and pursued unidentified objects for about
25 minutes. The incident was covered widely in the Brazilian
media, leading to a press conference at the Ministry of
Aeronautics in Brasilia on May 23, with air traffic controllers
and air force pilots involved in the scramble mission.
Minister of Aeronautics, Brigadier General Otávio
Moreira Lima, was very outspoken:
20:00 hrs. (5/19) and 01:00 hrs. (5/20) 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 (mass) clouds. There were no clouds nor conventional
aircraft in the region. The sky was clear. Radar doesn't
have optical illusions."
can only give technical explanations and we don't have
them. It would be very difficult for us to talk about
the hypothesis of an electronic war. It's very remote
and it's not the case here in Brazil. It's fantastic.
The signals on the radar were quite clear."112
Minister also announced that a commission would study
the incident. Air Force Major Ney Cerqueira, in charge
of the Air Defense Operations Center (CODA), was equally
don't have technical operational conditions to explain
it. The appearance and disappearance of these objects
on the radar screens are unexplained. They are Unidentified
Aerial Movements... The technical instruments used for
the identification of the lights had problems in registering
them. CODA activated two F-5E and three Mirages to identify
the objects. One F-5E and one Mirage remained grounded
on alert. A similar case occurred four years ago [the
Commander Brito VASP airliner radar-visual incident in
1982]. The lights were moving at a speed ranging between
250 and 1,500 km./hr. [150 to 1,000 mph] The Air Force
has not closed the case."113
Commission report was not released. However, the accounts
of air force pilots and radar controllers were published
widely in the press and later studied by Brazilian researchers.
A comprehensive report was made by Basílio Baranoff,
an airline captain, member of the Aerospace Technical
Center, and consultant for the Brazilian UFO organization
CBPDV. Baranoff provided a chronology of events for the
night of May 19, 1986:
p.m. local time - First visual sightings by control tower
personnel at the São José dos Campos airport
in São Paulo State. Controllers notice two intense
lights aligned with the runway axis at 330 degrees azimuth
and approximately 15 km. [10 m.] distance from the tower."
p.m. - The control towers in São Paulo and Brazilia
confirm to São José that they have three
primary targets on their screens, and that there are no
scheduled aircraft in those areas."
p.m. - CINDACTA (Brasilia) detects up to eight targets
(echoes) on its screens."
p.m. - A new object is observed with binoculars at the
São José tower; it shows defined edges and
red-orange color; it approaches the tower and then retreats."
p.m. - The oil company Xingu executive jet with Col. Silva
requests landing conditions at São José.
Both Silva and Commander Alcir Pereira, the Xingu pilot,
confirm visually the luminous objects at 330 degrees azimuth.
The Xingu jet attempts to follow the UFOs for 10 minutes."
p.m. - The Xingu jet returns for landing when a new, large
luminous object heads toward the aircraft. The São
Paulo tower confirms two echoes: the Xingu and an unknown,
which disappears from the screen 15 minutes later."
p.m. - The Air Control Center in Brasilia (ACC-BR) informs
the Air Defense Command about the situation."
p.m. - The Xingu returns for a second landing attempt
when the São Paulo tower reports yet another object
at 180 degrees south, which is observed and followed by
p.m. - The Xingu returns for a third landing attempt when
ACC-BR reports the appearance of new objects. The Xingu,
now at 3,000 meters [10,000 ft.] of altitude, makes visual
contact with three luminous objects flying low over Petrobrás
refineries and heading towards Serra do Mar. The Xingu
finally lands in São José dos Campos."
p.m. - More visual sightings of a round object at 320
p.m. - A luminous yellow object surrounded by smaller
lights is observed at 110 degrees azimuth."
p.m. - The first F-5E jet fighter, piloted by Air Force
Lt. Kleber Caldas Marinho, is scrambled from Santa Cruz
AFB in Rio State."
p.m. - The second F-5E jet, piloted by Captain Brisola
Jordão, is scrambled from Santa Cruz. The first
Mirage F-103, armed with Sidewinder and Matra missiles,
is scrambled from Anápolis AFB in Goias State."
p.m. - Anápolis AFB detects the objects on radar.
The Mirage piloted by Captain Viriato does not make visual
contact with the UFO, but a target is detected on its
onboard radar... Captain Viriato later explained at the
press conference in Brasilia that he was chasing the UFO
'at 1,350 km./hr. [850 mph], approaching the object up
to a distance of 6 miles [9.5 km.]. The object was heading
up front and moving from one side to the other (zig-zagging)
on my radar scope. Suddenly, the blip disappeared from
my radar scope.'"
p.m - The second Mirage F-103 is scrambled from Anápolis."
p.m. - Lt. Kleber's F-5E makes visual contact with a ball
of light and chases the UFO at Mach 1.1 (1,320 km./hr.
or 850 mph)... Kleber later declared at the press conference:
'I had one visual contact and one contact with my aircraft
radar of something that looked like a luminous point,
which was 12 miles [19 km.] in front of me, a distance
confirmed by ground radar. The object was moving from
left to right and then began to climb... [it] was at 10
km [6 mi.] of altitude and flying over 1,000 km./hr. [600
mph]. I followed it up to 200 miles [320 km.] over the
Atlantic Ocean [limit of Brazil's territorial waters].
I wasn't afraid because I like the unknown.'"
p.m. - The third Mirage jet is scrambled from Anápolis
p.m. - Captain Jordão's F-5E establishes radar
contact... At the press conference a few days later, he
stated: 'Near to São José dos Campos, radar
detected several targets, 10 to 13 targets, at a distance
of 20 miles [32 km.]. The sky was clear but I didn't see
anything. Ground radar informed me that the objects were
closing in: 20 miles, 15, 10, 5, suddenly there were 13
objects behind my aircraft, 6 on one side and 7 on the
other, during several minutes. After I maneuvered the
aircraft, the objects had disappeared.' [Captain Jordão
flew for 1 hour 20 minutes.]"
p.m. - The third Mirage is scrambled from Anápolis
a.m. (May 20) - By this time, all jet fighters have returned
to their bases."114
are the basic known facts surrounding the multiple UFO
jet scramble incidents over southeastern Brazil on the
night of May 19-20, 1986. It is noteworthy that Captain
Baranoff added that "two nights after, ten to
eleven unidentified luminous objects returned for a new
round over São José dos Campos; they were
observed visually and detected by the São Paulo,
ACC-BR and by CINDACTA 1 radars." This time there
was no official confirmation from Air Force authorities.115
the final Ministry Commission report with all the pertinent
data, it is difficult to make a final conclusion about
this case. Many hypotheses were offered in the Brazilian
media by skeptical astronomers and scientists, ranging
from a meteor shower, a reflection of the full moon and
ball lightning, to radar malfunction, space debris and
spy planes. Most of these explanations seem quite insufficient
to explain the events of May 19. One of the more plausible
was offered by British space researcher Geoffrey Perry.
According to Perry, the Soviet space station Salyut-7
ejected several boxes of debris on that night, which re-entered
the earth's atmosphere around central-western Brazil.
The re-entry of NASA's Solarwind satellite was also discussed
in the Brazilian press.116
Brigadier José Cavalcanti from Brazil's Air Defense
Command, was not impressed with the Salyut-7 and Solarwind
explanations. He told the weekly magazine Veja:
could have been space debris, but it wasn't only that.
A metallic box with space debris can be detected by radar,
but it will always fall in the same direction and at constant
velocity. That was not the case of what was seen in Brazil,
where the objects detected by radar had speeds that varied
from very slow to extremely high."117
interesting view is the final comment in a short message
from the USDAO (U.S. Defense Attaché Office) in
Rio to DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) on the subject,
entitled "BAF [Brazilian Air Force] has a Close
Encounter of the First Kind":
[Censored] While RO [Reporting Officer] does not believe
in UFO's or all the hoopla that surrounds previous reporting,
there is too much here to be ignored. 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."118
Covo, Claudeir, "Maio de 86 - A Mobilizaçao
No Céu Brasileiro," o assunto é...
UFOLOGIA, No. 14, Editora Trés, Sao Paulo, 1986;
contains transcripts of all the statements by military
officers at the May 23, 1986 press conference.
Baranoff, Basílio, "Casuistica UFO - OVNIs
em Maio de 1986", PSI-UFO, No. 4, CBPDV, Campo
Grande, Jan./Feb. 1987. CBPDV stands for Centro Brasileiro
para Pesquisas de Discos Voadores.
Huneeus, Antonio, "UFO Alert in Brazil," UFO
Review, New York, 1986.
Veja, "Lixo espacial - Surgem novas explicações
para os OVNIs da FAB," September 10, 1986; English
translation in Huneeus, A., ibid.
Department of Defense JCS [Joint Chiefs of Staff] Message
Center, "Info Report" re "Subject:
BAF has a Close Encounter of the First Kind,"