One of the more interesting UFO encounters to have occurred in South America over the years took place around São Paulo, Brazil, in 1986. As one of the most alarming and wide-scale UFO invasions of the time, it was given significant media coverage and to this day remains a fascinating tale of unexplained flying objects.
On the evening of May 19th 1986, a number of UFOs (believed to be as many as 20) were monitored on radar throughout several states in southeast Brazil. Airports in both São Paulo and Brasilia picked up the objects on their respective radars. Five jets, two F5-Es and three Mirage jet fighters, were scrambled from both Santa Cruz Air Force Base and Anápolis Air Force Base in response to the overwhelming number of unidentified objects that had been tracked.
Colonel Ozires Silva, president of the oil company Petrobrás in Brazil, was the first to witness the UFOs while mid-way through a flight, along with his pilot. It is believed that they pursued some of the unidentified objects for approximately 25 minutes that same evening.
A sighting of two strange lights from the control tower at São José dos Campos airport in São Paulo State was recorded shortly thereafter at 6:30pm. The lights were described as “intense, aligned with the runway axis at 330 degrees azimuth and approximately 10 miles from the tower”.
What makes this case particularly interesting is the transparency surrounding it as even high ranking government officials were forthcoming in their discussion of the events that took place. The Minister of Aeronautics, Brigadier General Otávio Moreira Lima, confirmed the highly unusual incident. He gave the following statement: “Between 20:00 (5/19) and 01:00 (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.”
“We 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.”
It is unclear whether (or how many) witnesses observed the UFOs from the ground, but we surmise that there would have been at least several, in addition to the operators at the control tower in São Paulo State. Air Force pilots were said to have observed them in the air, but a detailed description of how the objects visually presented themselves has been lacking.
Despite the initial transparency surrounding the investigation, any information pertaining to the case was classified shortly after the events took place. Information regarding it was only recently de-classified again, making it available for public analysis.
Given all of the above, it is fairly safe to assume that a mysterious event of some magnitude occurred on that fateful day in 1986. After all, the incident made the rounds through almost all Brazilian media, including popular television shows at the time.
As to what the objects themselves were, no one truly knows. One possible theory comes to us from Geoffrey Perry, a British space researcher. He reasoned that the objects were part of debris that was ejected by Soviet space station Salyut-7 as it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere at the time. While the space station did indeed return to Earth around this time, the explanation seems unlikely considering the UFOs appeared capable of sustaining altitude and seemed to be under some type of intelligent control. That being the case, it is fairly easy to rule out falling debris, that would more than likely descend in a downwards or diagonal fashion leaving little room for ambiguity as to their identity or trajectory.