FIGHTER jets chased mysterious bright objects - some of them 300ft wide and travelling at 11,500 mph - in Brazil's epic 'Night of the UFOs'.
Five bewildered pilots testified to seeing 21 objects appear and disappear, while hundreds of troops on the ground also witnessed them - and air force chiefs admitted “there is no explanation”.
What happened is set to form a part of a hearing taking place in the Brazilian Senate into UFOs this week.
The event comes after Congress held a hearing response to footage taken from US Navy fighter planes showing mysterious, unexplained objects darting in the sky – the now famous ‘Tic-Tac’ video.
But the story of what unfolded on a night in Brazil a decade before those videos were taken is every bit as mind boggling.
Over several hours, hundreds of witnesses, including the elite of the country’s military, saw strange objects that seemed to move at a terrifying speed.
Pilots found themselves looking at objects in front of them that didn’t appear on their aircraft radars – and sometimes the other way around - as the objects played "cat and mouse" with them.
The first signs of anything unusual were reported by Brazilian air force air traffic controller, Sergeant Sergio Mota da Silva, on the evening of May 19, 1986.
He spotted a light in the sky from the control tower of an airport near the city of Sao Paulo.
“It doesn't go up or down, it doesn't go to the left or to the right, it's just standing there”, he said
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Mota asked controllers at Sao Paolo’s international airport if any planes were heading to his air field, to which they replied there weren’t.
At one point he said he dimmed the lights on the airport's runway, making the objects come towards the control tower and then, when he turned up the brightness, they moved away.
"Whether they were trying to interact with me, I don't know. What I do know is that they behaved intelligently," he told the BBC.
Around 8pm around 2000 cadets and officers from an air force training school in the same area, reported spotted the lights.
Then an hour later, a plane piloted by the president of aircraft maker Embraer reported several objects in the sky as it landed at the same airport.
The lights in the sky were also seen from two passenger planes, including one travelling in the interior of Brazil.
The air force then swung into action and scrambled its fighters to intercept the objects – but it was not a simple task as the pilots found themselves disoriented by what was happening.
"Sometimes, the pilots had visual contact with the targets, but the radars did not register anything,” said Mota.
“Other times, the radars even picked up the presence of objects, but the pilots could not see them.”
Initially three planes were sent up, including a Mirage F-103, which took off at just before 11pm with Captain Armindo Sousa Viriato at the controls.
If there is a plane that can develop that speed, I don't know of itCaptain Armindo Sousa Viriato
Soon his high performance warplane hit 1,000mph but as he closed in on the UFO, it accelerated to a speed he calculated as 15 times the speed of sound, or 11,500mph.
"If there is a plane that can develop that speed, I don't know of it," he said in an interview a few years later.
Earlier, the first plane that had taken off, at around 10.30pm, was an F-5E piloted Lieutenant Kleber Caldas Marinho.
He described closing in on the target "which stopped moving towards me and started to climb".
"I kept following the contact until about 30,000 feet, when I lost radar contact and was left with just visual contact," he said.
'CAT AND MOUSE'
Brazilian UFO researcher Ademar José Gevaerd believes alien technology "immensely superior to ours" was on display that night.
"At no time did they try to attack us. They played 'cat and mouse' with us," he said.
Meanwhile, the incredible events taking place in the sky had not gone unnoticed on the ground.
Photographer Adenir Britto was working the night shift in the office of his newspaper when he got a tip off that there was a "flying saucer" over head.
Initially assuming to be a prank, he went outside with a reporter and to his amazement saw the objects and began shooting.
BRAZIL'S UFO HEARINGS
THE Brazilian Senate’s ground breaking hearing will see experts from across the world speak to politicians from a country that is a UFO hotspot.
For decades, the subject was on the margins until the Pentagon sensationally released a series of videos showing mysterious objects spotted by US Navy fighter aircraft.
The testimony of the pilots about what they saw in the now legendary ‘Tic-Tac' videos raised concerns for national security, moving UFOs into the sights of politicians.
In response, the US Congress held a ground breaking one day hearing into Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon – to give UFOs their official title.
Now Brazil is going a step further and inviting UFO experts from around the world to testify.
They include Luis Elizondo who headed up the Pentagon’s secretive Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP).
“The hearings in Brazil should be a wake-up call for other countries,” he told the Sun Online.
“Brazil has historically been one of the most open nations involving UAPs and has been considered a hot spot for many years.”
He said the fact that the Brazilian government “is taking this seriously, along with the US, is an indicator to the serious nature of this topic”.
Elizondo said he had the “privilege to address the Brazilian Congress and I applaud their sense of courage and tenacity involving the topic of UAPs”.
“Perhaps the United Nations and other international governing bodies will see what Brazil is doing and follow their lead,” he said.
“I am both encouraged and humbled by Brazil and her desire to elevate this topic to the level it deserves - a topic not of stigma and taboo, but a topic of scientific and academic pursuit.”
“It was a unique experience in my career. I never saw anything like it again," he said.
"Until then, I didn't care whether or not I believed in UFOs.
"But I came to have a different view of this mysterious world. There was no way I could not change my opinion, after all I had the privilege of being an eyewitness and photographic witness."
In a further twist, two air force officers accompanied by the American UFO researcher James J. Hurtak, turned up at the newspaper about a month later.
They demanded the editor showed them the negatives of the photos on the pretext they wanted them to be analysed by NASA. They have have never been seen since
The incredible events soon seeped out and began to receive extensive coverage in the media.
That prompted air force minister Brigadier Octávio Júlio Moreira Lima to hold an unprecedented press conference at which the pilots described what happened.
"I was warned by ground control there were several contacts ahead of me approximately thirty kilometers away," said one.
“I was also warned that contacts were approaching from behind and they came on until they were three kilometres behind me. I had to dive and as I did, the contacts started to climb.”
Ground controllers told another pilot that thirteen UFOs were pursuing him, six on one side of him and seven on the other, another said.
But Octávio Moreira Lima was forced to admit: "We have no explanation.”
A 2009 an air force report into the 'Night of the UFOs' concluded that its top brass “are of the opinion that the phenomena are solid and reflect, in a certain way, intelligence”.
This was due “to the ability to follow and maintain a distance from observers, as well as to fly in formation”.
FAMOUS UFO INCIDENTS
The ‘Night of the UFOs’ is among many famous unexplained encounters with strange objects in the sky that have happened down the years.
Perhaps the most striking was a video known as the 'Tic-Tac' – which showed an unidentified object being pursued by fighter planes.
While flying off the coast of California 2004, two pilots from the USS Nimitz on a routine training mission spotted an object "shaped like a 40ft Tic Tac sweet".
Then in 2005, a veteran pilot of an F/A - 18 fighter aircraft witnessed a raft of strange objects in the sky during a training exercise off the coast of Florida.
The two videos were sensationally released by the Pentagon in 2017.
Tragically the pursuit of UFOs has also claimed lives, notably that of US Air Force Captain Thomas Mantell.
He died after being sent to chase a mysterious object in his fighter aircraft in 1948.
Other encounters with the air force include a claim that UFOs disabled weapons at a nuclear base.
Captain Robert Salas said the bizarre incident unfolded in 1967 while he was the on-duty commander of a secret underground launch control facility at Montana’s Malmstrom Air Force Base.
US forces based in Britain also had an encounter with a strange glowing in the sky in Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk.
Two airmen, Staff Sgt Jim Penniston and Airman John Burroughs, claim they got so close to a triangular craft they actually touched it.
Earlier this year, US military documents were released showing how a warship was shadowed by two "ball of light" UFOs deepening the mystery around the case.
British UFO expert Gary Heseltine, who is Vice President of the International Coalition for Extraterrestrial Research, is due to give evidence to the hearing.
"Undoubtedly the inquiry will cover the Night of the UFOs," said Heseltine, a former police detective.
"What's impressive is that the whole incident lasted several hours from the first sightings and there were fighter jets scrambled from several airports.
"And these things just played cat and mouse. How often to you get a situation where you put jets effectively in dog fights with objects they can't even get near."
"When you have the testimony of multiple pilots, backed by audio, visual, radar you have to take it seriously.
"These people are trained to the highest degree. We trust them with our lives to fight in a war so why we not going to trust them when they say they've encountered these things."