On 25 Aug 74, at 2207 hrs, US Air Defense radar detected an unknown object approaching US airspace from the Gulf of Mexico. Originally the object was tracked at 2,200 (2,530 mph) knots on a bearing of 325 degrees and at an altitude of 75,000 feet, a course that would intercept US territory about forty miles southwest of Corpus Christi, Texas.
After approximately sixty seconds of observation, at a position 155 miles southeast of Corpus Christi, the object decelerated to approximately 1700 (1,955 mph) knots, turned to a heading of 290 degrees, and began a slow descent.
It entered Mexican airspace approximately forty miles south of Brownsville, Texas. Radar tracked it approximately 500 miles to a point near the town of Coyame, in the state of Chihuahua, not far from the US border. There the object suddenly disappeared from the radar screens.
During the flight over Mexican airspace, the object leveled off at 45,000 feet, then descended to 20,000 feet. The descent was in level steps, not a smooth curve or straight line, and each level was maintained for approximately five minutes.
The object was tracked by two different military radar installations. It would have been within range of Brownsville civilian radar, but it is assumed that no civilian radar detected the object due to a lack of any such reports. The point of disappearance from the radar screens was over a barren and sparsely populated area of Northern Mexico. At first it was assumed that the object had descended below the radar’s horizon and a watch was kept for any re-emergence of the object. None occurred.
At first it was assumed that the object might be a meteor because of the high speed and descending flight path. But meteors normally travel at higher speeds, and descend in a smooth arc, not in «steps.» And meteors do not normally make a thirty-five degree change in course. Shortly after detection an air defense alert was called. However, before any form of interception could be scrambled, the object turned to a course that would not immediately take it over US territory. The alert was called off within twenty minutes after the object’s disappearance from the radar screen.
Fifty-two minutes after the disappearance, civilian radio traffic indicated that a civilian aircraft had gone down in that area. But it was clear that the missing aircraft had departed El Paso International with a destination of Mexico City, and could not, therefore, have been the object tracked over the Gulf of Mexico.
It was noted, however, that they both disappeared in the same area and at the same time.
With daylight the next day, Mexican authorities began a search for the missing plane. At Approximately 10:35 hours, there came a radio report that wreckage from the missing plane had been spotted from the air. Almost immediately came a report of a second plane on the ground a few miles from the first. A few minutes later an additional report stated that the second «plane» was circular shaped and apparently in one piece although damaged. A few minutes after that the Mexican military clamped a radio silence on all search efforts.
The radio interceptions were reported through channels to the CIA. Possibly as many as two additional government agencies also received reports, but such has not been confirmed as of this date. The CIA immediately began forming a recovery team. The speed with which this team and its equipment was assembled suggests that this was either a well-rehearsed exercise or one that had been performed prior to this event.In the meantime, requests were initiated at the highest levels between the United States and Mexican governments that the US recovery team be allowed onto Mexican territory to «assist.» These requests were met with professed ignorance and a flat refusal of any cooperation.
By 21:00 hrs, 26 Aug 1974, the recovery team had assembled and been staged at Fort Bliss. Several helicopters were flown in from some unknown source and assembled in a secured area. These helicopters were painted a neutral sand color and bore no markings. Eye witness indicates that there were three smaller craft, very probably UHl Hueys from the description. There was also a larger helicopter, possibly a Sea Stallion. Personnel from this team remained with their craft and had no contact with other Ft. Bliss personnel.
Satellite and aircraft overflight that day indicated that both the crashed disk and the civilian aircraft had been removed from the crash sites and loaded on flat bed trucks. Later flights confirmed that the convoy had departed the area heading south.
At that point the CIA had to make a choice; either to allow this unknown aircraft to stay in the hands of the Mexican government, or to launch the recovery team, supplemented by any required military support, to take the craft. There occurred, however, an event that took the choice out of their hands. High altitude overflights indicated that the convoy had stopped before reaching any inhabited areas or major roads. Recon showed no activity, and radio contact between the Mexican recovery team and its headquarters had ceased. A low altitude, high speed overflight was ordered.
The photos returned by that aircraft showed all trucks and jeeps stopped, some with open doors, and two human bodies laying on the ground beside two vehicles. The decision was immediately made to launch the recovery team, but the actual launching was held up for the arrival of additional equipment and two additional personnel. It was not until 14:38 hrs that the helicopters departed Ft. Bliss.
The four helicopters followed the border down towards Presidio then turned and entered Mexican airspace north of Candelaria. They were over the convoy site at 16:53 hrs. All convoy personnel were dead, most within the trucks. Some recovery team members, dressed in bioprotection suits, reconfigured the straps holding the object on the flatbed truck, then attached them to a cargo cable from the Sea Stallion.
By 17:14 hrs the recovered object was on its way to US territory. Before leaving the convoy site, members of the recovery team gathered together the Mexican vehicles and bodies, then destroyed all with high explosives. This included the pieces of the civilian light plane which had been involved in the mid-air collision. At 17:46 hrs the Hueys departed.
The Hueys caught up with the Sea Stallion as it reentered US airspace. The recovery team then proceeded to a point in the Davis Mountains, approximately twenty-five miles northeast of Valentine. There they landed and waited until 02:25 hrs the next morning. At that time they resumed the flight and rendezvoused with a small convoy on a road between Van Horn and Kent. The recovered disk was transferred to a truck large enough to handle it and capable of being sealed totally. Some of the personnel from the Huey’s transferred to the convoy.
All helicopters then returned to their original bases for decontamination procedures. The convoy continued non-stop, using back roads and smaller highways, and staying away from cities. The destination of the convoy reportedly was Altanta, Georgia.
Here the hard evidence thins out. One unconfirmed report says the disk was eventually transferred to Wright-Patterson AF Base. Another says that the disk was either transferred after that to another unnamed base, or was taken directly to this unknown base directly from Atlanta.
The best description of the disk was that it was sixteen feet, five inches in diameter, convex on both upper and lower surfaces to the same degree, possessing no visible doors or windows. The thickness was slightly less than five feet. The color was silver, much like polished steel. There were no visible lights nor any propulsion means.
There were no markings. There were two areas of the rim that showed damage, one showing an irregular hole approximately twelve inches in diameter with indented material around it. The other damage was described as a «dent» about two feet wide. The weight of the object was estimated as approximately one thousand, five hundred pounds, based on the effect of the weight on the carrying helicopter and those who transferred it to the truck.
There was no indication in the documentation available as to whether anything was visible in the «hole.»
It seems likely that the damage with the hole was caused by the collision with the civilian aircraft. That collision occurred while the object was traveling approximately 1700 knots (1,955 mph). Even ignoring the speed of the civilian aircraft, the impact would have been considerable at that speed.
This is in agreement with the description of the civilian aircraft as being «almost totally destroyed.» What was being taken from the crash site was pieces of the civilian aircraft.
The second damage may have resulted when the object impacted with the ground. The speed in that case should have been considerably less than that of the first impact.
No mention is made of the occupants of the civilian aircraft. It is not known if any body or bodies were recovered. Considering the destruction of the civilian light aircraft in mid-air, bodies may well not have come down near the larger pieces.
Unfortunately what caused the deaths of the Mexican recovery team is not known. Speculation ranges from a chemical released from the disk as a result of the damage, to a microbiological agent. There are no indications of death or illness by any of the recovery team.
It would not have been illogical for the recovery team to have taken one of the bodies back with them for analysis. But there is no indication of that having happened. Perhaps they did not have adequate means of transporting what might have been a biologically contaminated body.
Inquires to the FAA reveal no documents concerning the civilian aircraft crash, probably because it did not involve a US aircraft.