Freakin’ fantabulous, isn’t it?!
This is just like one of those much dreamt of “gun camera” shots that we who dig UFOs want so much to get our hands on. The difference here is that this one isn’t from a gun camera at all, rather it was exposed by one of the four Vinten reconnaissance cameras flying aboard the Aeritalia/Fiat G.91R jet fighter aircraft piloted by Italian Air Force Marshal Giancarlo Cecconi on the 18th of June, 1979.
I stumbled across this obscure case due to the “bump” of an old ATS thread that was started on 1/11/2010 by a former member known as Imagir. While it was known to internos, it wasn’t known to the late Justin Krog, so, obscure is a most accurate word. Which is unfortunate really since it is an excellent radar/visual case with many witnesses; and, well, I mean, just look at that gol dang picture!
Some great information was added to the discussion on 11/18/2010 by ATS member Mark_Frost when he found a 1996 investigative report by Marco Orlandi of the Centro Italiano Studi Ufologici (CISU) published at the Brazilian site INPU. It’s quite a thorough investigation, covering all that’s known and was originally published in the Brazilian UFO Magazine (Rivista di Informazione Ufology), issue number 17 in February 1996. You really should read that report. Do take the time.
“It was a tank of at least eight meters. Five hundred years from now, maybe someone will tell us why and how to stand there, suspended in the sky, thirteen thousand feet.” – IAF Marshal Giancarlo Cecconi
Clearly, Giancarlo was pretty much gob-smacked by the thing.
I noted with much interest that although Cecconi tried very hard to get a photo of a side view of this object… he could not… it constantly reoriented itself to this nearly head on aspect.
OK, here’s the incident description from the CISU report (translated from Portuguese by Google Translate with slight edits by this author for readability.):
18 JUNE 1979 – 11:30 HOURS
Marshal pilot Giancarlo Cecconi, 14 of the second group of the Hunting Bomber Regiment of recognition of Aeronautics, was approaching to land at Sant’ Angelo Treviso Airport in Treviso. He was returning to base after a reconnaissance photo of the Ligure mountains, on board a fighter G-91R. Unexpectedly, in the sky over Sant’ Angelo Treviso Airport, the presence of an unknown object was noticed. Getting confirmation that the pilot had sufficient autonomy to intercept the object, the center of the city of Istrana radar, which showed the presence of the intruder, Cecconi gives the information to the approach maneuver, i.e., the usual practice of the Air Force to intercept the object that flew in the airspace in a forbidden area. Having also available in film cameras, the pilot hit all four cameras, thus initiating the chase to the object by a distance of approximately 80 meters and a speed of 300 knots (450-500 km/h). Also land airport personnel following the scene with binoculars. Soon after, the Treviso control tower called Cecconi by radio with which he communicated with Istrana, warning that the object left a strange blue trail. Cecconi, having approached very same object could not see the trail. When the pilot begins to approach the object, that he was at a distance of 2,100 meters. Then it began to rise and fall, with displacements ranging from 300 to 3,900 feet away. Cecconi made eight flights over the object, always shooting the cameras, getting a total of 82 photos. The UFO was apparently stopped in relation to hunt G-91R. To the central radar Cecconi confirmed that this was moving with speed and route set. Several times, the pilot sought to position itself to photograph it aside, but failed because the object appeared to ”steer” in order to impose respect for him in the front position without ever exposing himself completely to one side. The appearance of the object resembled a ”tank” in black opaque. Its dimensions were approximately 8 meters long and up to 3 meters in diameter.
An interesting detail was noted by Cecconi, the presence of a sort of “mini” dome, white, not transparent, located at the top of the object, slightly wrinkled. While Cecconi was completing another lap to go back and make other pictures, Istrana called him, stating that at that moment, the object disappeared from radar. After a few seconds, the control tower of Treviso confirmed that those who were following the object with binoculars could no longer see the object. The object unexplainedly resolved within a few seconds. In effect, the pilot could not even see over the object. Soon after the game [Cecconi] landed at Treviso Airport. As usual the experts removed the film (negative) and took them to the laboratory to reveal the distribution.
Note that the above report says that 82 photos were taken. Other reports claim that 84 were taken. That’s a lot of photos and I’d surely bet that most of them are just as exciting as the lead photo here. Out of that total, however, only four have been released. Four! Now ain’t that a crying shame! Madonne!
In late 1979 an Italian ufologist named Antonio Chiumiento got involved and interviewed Cecconi, promising discretion which was later gone back on. Not so nice. What else is new, eh?
The cover-up activities that followed were pretty silly to my way of thinking, but, as usual, pretty effective in burying the whole affair.
It wasn’t until November 2, 1984 that the Ministry of Defense actually responded to the media circus. They said: “The subject matter alone was photographed with machinery on board a fighter and was identified as a rod-shaped flask, made with black plastic bags.” The newspapers immediately pounced on that one and took the same tack as ours do today in further treatment of this news.
The later “excuse” assigned to it by the authorities had morphed from the “privately made balloon” of the media to the commercially available UFO-Solar balloon, a plastic toy apparently quite popular back then that, when filled with air and heated nicely, was supposedly able to reach such heights. Calls of foul were aired as the toy balloon was only three meters long by one across, a tad smaller than the 8 meters by three meters of the object. Did that phase the newspapers? Nope. I laugh at their next move which was to assert that what was seen was really a top secret toy balloon of a much greater size being tested by the UFO-Solar’s top competitor. Hahahaha! Pull the other one! Seriously. Interesting, though, to note that the product was later banned from the market because it was deemed a danger to air traffic. Hmmm. Note, too, that such things can be bought today… here in the USA at least.
The reality, which had been reported and was known to many laid bare that entire load of official codswallop which was immediately rejected by those in possession of operational gray matter. After all the object had been circled eight times by Cecconi, sometimes quite closely, with folks watching all this on the ground with binoculars.
One pass was close enough that the jet exhaust would have melted a balloon into nothing and I dare say any of them would have simply blown a balloon some distance away. But the object stayed right where it was, constantly reorienting itself to the jet as mentioned above. Ultimately at the end of the five minute encounter the object took off to invisibility at high altitude at a calculated rate of about 590 miles per hour (950km/h). Pretty sporty balloon, that eh, what? The balloon hypotheses is therefore decimated… if you’re into reality.
In 1984 the case was officially closed by the Italian Defense Ministry. The official conclusion was, you guessed it, the ridiculous “it was a matter of a plastic balloon.”
In 1995 the Italian Ministry Of Defense issued a “final” final statement. The statement follows:
- No other information or photos are available.
- No relationship of the pilot or the radar recorders or the meteorological conditions of the day of the sighting is available.
- The Defense Ministry is at least interested to start a study on the single phenomenon in consideration of the impact on the national security.
And that was the extent of it. They’re good at dragging things out aren’t they? Damn. Sixteen years. I propose we start writing tons of letters demanding at least the unreleased photos… we know they exist… at one point they said they were going to… but didn’t… and what about that last statement in the list? Did they or didn’t they study that ‘single phenomenon’?
I’m out of time again… The entire affair is so long and convoluted with more to it than appears here as to the media attention, or non-attention, at times; more wackiness from the Ministry; there are also other people noted throughout like the fellow who claimed to be the builder of the “balloon” and other weird things, not to mention even UFO Magazine‘s take; as noted it spans over a decade and a half. I highly recommend reading the aforementioned CISU article at the INPU site to follow all the odd little twists and turns this journey into obfuscation takes. It’ll be worth it if you like UFOs.