The Chilean government has released the results of a study that has declared two sightings of aerial phenomena as "genuine unidentified flying objects."

The study, which has been conducted by the CEFAA (Committee for the Studies of Anomalous Aerial Phenomena), has analyzed two high-quality photographs of UFOS seen flying over the Collahuasi copper mine, situated high up on the Andean plateau in the far north of Chile.

Prior to the study, the sightings were thoroughly investigated to rule out any conventional explanations and the CEFAA deemed them to be worthy of further examination. The CEFAA is a part of the Ministerial Department of Civil Aeronautics (DGAC), the equivalent of our FAA, and operates under the jurisdiction of the Chilean Air Force. One of its roles is to analyze UFO reports that originate in Chilean airspace, usually submitted by aircraft pilots and other aviation personnel.

The latest photos were taken by ground observers, however, in the form of four electrical technicians who were working at the mine in April 2013. The eye-witnesses observed a disc-shaped object that flew over them in a leisurely fashion and was visible for over an hour, moving around to various positions and hovering periodically at a height of around 2000 feet. The area of the sighting was desolate and uninhabited, and the weather was clear with no other traffic or aircraft in view, so the witnesses were able to say categorically that the object made no sound at all.

This was one of the factors that led the CEFAA to determine that the sighting was genuine. Every possible prosaic explanation has been assessed in order to try and explain what was seen, including the possibility that the object was a drone used by local businesses, but the silent nature of the object appeared to rule this out:

"People in that zone know about drones," said Jose Lay, international affairs director for the CEFAA. "Fishing companies use drones and they make a lot of noise. This was definitely not a drone."

The clear, cloudless skies have also ruled out any meteorological phenomena that could account for the strange occurrence, but Chile’s meteorological office at the DGAC confirmed that there was no possibility of lenticular clouds. All other reasons, including experimental aircraft, planes and weather balloons were all discounted, rendering the photos, which were taken by one of the witnesses with his Kenox Samsung S860 camera, as worthy of official investigation.

The results of the study that followed were released on July 3rd and are posted on the CEFAA website.

It states that the phenomenon was described as "a flattened disc, of brilliant color, with a diameter of 5 to 10 meters [16 to 32 feet]. It performed ascending, descending and horizontal movements in short lengths, about 600 meters above the ground." More interestingly, the report describes testimony from the witnesses that the object appeared to be under intelligent control. Analysis of the photos also suggest that rays of light were emitted from an "extremely luminous half sphere" which could not have come from solar reflection, as it was noon and these were seen reflecting off the top of the object. Therefore the analyst deduced that the object "emitted its own energy that does not coincide with the natural sunlight which is also reflected off the object."

The study concludes that "It is an object or phenomenon of great interest, and it can be qualified as a UFO."

There are limitations surrounding the investigation, however, as the witnesses have been reluctant to corroborate what they saw for fear of ridicule. The photographs only came to light when they were shown casually to the chief engineer at the mine some months later, who subsequently sent them on to the CEFAA in February. He provided the government department with all of the information surrounding the incident as reported to him by the witnesses, but now he too has requested to remain anonymous.

"The witnesses were not willing to cooperate," Jose Lay told me. "We tried to contact them, and we got no reply. So we treated the material just as we have treated several others of the same or similar nature: we file them for future reference or comparison purposes. That’s all we can do in this case."

Retired General Ricardo Bermudez, director of the CEFAA, says "We recognize that this is the determination of only one CEFFA analyst among several. So we still must be cautious."

In order to try and add further weight to the investigation, Bermudez has called a meeting of a group of eminent CEFAA specialists for their expert opinions on the case.

The photographs have attracted attention worldwide. In the US, retired Navy physicist and well-known photo analyst, Bruce Maccabee, commented: "In the second image there appears to be a very bright hemispherical shape, convex downward… possibly a UFO enveloped in a cloud of vapor." He notes that additional data is needed to determine more, but that it is clear that the object moved "a considerable distance" between the two photos.

"This is clearly not a normal thing seen in the sky (bird, plane, cloud, etc.)," added Dr. Maccabee in an email. "That makes it either the real thing – UFO – or a hoax, and it doesn’t appear to be a hoax, although the inability to question witnesses does reduce the credibility. Certainly this case is worthy of further study."

Whatever the outcome of the study, it is encouraging that the governments in South America take such cases seriously and give them the priority that they deserve.

Back in October, Unknown Country reported that Peruvian Air Force (Fuerza Aérea del Perú, or FAP) has taken the decision to resurrect its Department of Investigation of Anomalous Aerial Phenomena (DIFAA) due to the increasing number of UFO reports occurring in the country. Peru joined Uruguay, Brazil, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina, who have continued to run departments devoted to the investigation of UFO sightings due to the high level of sightings that occur over South America.

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