While many in the UFO community go from forum to forum chasing the latest, hoaxed CGI UFO images, one of the clearest and most authenticated UFO photos ever taken is virtually unknown.
This image was captured on Sept. 4, 1971, by an airplane snapping aerial photos from 10,000 feet above Lake Cote for the Costa Rican National Geographic Institute (ICE). The study was a funded by ICE to measure water sources in the area for their newly planned hydroelectric project.
Photographer Sergio Loaiza traveled on a twin-engine Canadian F680 with a special 100 lb map-making camera donated by the German government rigged onto the floor of the plane snapping a photo about every 17 seconds.
Cropped Photo of UFO/USO
Cropped Photo of the UFO/USO
According to the Costa Rican Star:
“When the photographs were developed, one of the frames (with the time of 8:25 a.m.) showed what seemed to be a metallic disc about 160ft in diameter, which had just left, or was on the point of entering, the lake. It was giving off light and had made a sudden maneuver at the instant the photo was taken. The object showed up in neither the previous frame of the film nor the one afterward. Checks on the negative eliminated tricks of the light as an explanation.
What the geographers had seen was an extraordinary but little-known phenomenon – a USO. Unidentified Flying Objects, or UFOs, have been reported for centuries. What few people realize is that USOs – Unidentified Submersible Objects – have been reported for almost as long. Sometimes, as in the mysterious incident at Lake Cote, a UFO can be seen transforming itself into a USO, or vice versa.”
Photographer Loaiza stated that after the photographs were developed with the object appearing in that one frame, he and his colleagues were ordered to keep mum about what the scientists on the ICE-Lake Arenal project considered to be a UFO.
Finally Comes Out In 1979
Finally, in 1979, Ricardo Vilchez, one of the project team members, sent the photograph to Ground Saucer Watch (GSW), a now-defunct U.S. organization that analyzed such photos. GSW found the image to be real and not doctored or hoaxed. Soon after, the Costa Rican media ran with the photo.
NICAP Researchers Chime In
In addition to GSW, the then prominent and respected National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), a group that scientifically investigated UFO sightings from the 1950s to 1980s had its experts review the photo. They also proclaimed it the real thing:
Researcher Fran Ridge:
“This is a very interesting photo taken in Costa Rica of an object as it seems to enter or exit the water. A high-resolution camera was mounted on the plane pointing downwards and programmed to take photographs of the terrain below every 17 seconds. It shows in extraordinary detail all features of the landscape (water, shoreline, trees, etc.) and it was determined that the object (about 600+ ft. or 200 meters in diameter was coming into the water from right to left at an angle of approximately 30° about the surface of the water. The area covered is approximately 7 miles across. ”
Researchers Richard Haines and Jacques Valle:
“In summary, our analyses have suggested that an unidentified, opaque, aerial object was captured on film at a maximum distance of 10,000 feet. There are no visible means of lift or propulsion and no surface markings other than dark regions that appear to be nonrandom… There is no indication that the image is the product of a double exposure or a deliberate fabrication.”
Researcher Richard Hall:
“Very high reliability, unquestionably an authentic photograph. The lack of a visual sighting or any observed or recorded extraordinary performances reduces the “strangeness” level. Yet, the evidentiary data is strong and the investigation thorough, resulting in a well-documented and well-investigated anomaly.”
Researcher Richard Haines:
“In our image analysis, we looked carefully for any indications of waves or wavelets in the water surrounding the disc’s image and could find none. Since neither the preceding nor following photo frame of this same area of the lake did not show the disc’s image it must have moved within the 17-second inter-frame interval… but did not affect the water’s surface as far as we could determine. We did not say the disc was entering or leaving the water specifically but simply left the matter open.”
Here is an excellent video on the Incident where researchers dissect this amazing image, courtesy of UFO Section 51: