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NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON'T!
Captain Henry S. Shields, HQ USAFE/INOMP
Sometime in his career, each pilot can expect to encounter
strange, unusual happenings which will never be adequately or
entirely explained by logic or subsequent investigation. The follow-
ing article recounts just such an episode as reported by two F-4
Phantom crews of the Imperial Iranian Air Force during late 1976.
No additional information or explanation of the strange events has
been forthcoming: the story will be filed away and probably for-
gotten, but it makes interesting, and possibly disturbing, reading.
* * * * *
Until 0030 on a clear autumn morning, it had been an
entirely routine night watch for the Imperial Iranian Air Force's
command post in the Tehran area. In quick succession, four calls
arrived from one of the city's suburbs reporting a series of strange
airborne objects. These Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) were
described as 'bird-like', or as brightly-lit helicopters (although
none were airborne at the time). Unable to convince the callers
that they were only seeing stars, a senior officer went outside to
see for himself. Observing an object to the north like a star, only
larger and brighter, he immediately scrambled an IIAF F-4 to
Approaching the city, the F-4 pilot reported that the
brilliant object was easily visible 70 miles away. When approxi-
mately 25 NM distant, the interceptor lost all instrumentation and
UFO/Intercom communication. Upon breaking off the intercept
and turning towards his home base, all systems returned to normal,
as if the strange object no longer regarded the aircraft as a threat.
A second F-4 was scrambled ten minutes after the first.
The backseater reported radar-lock on the UFO at 27 NM/12 o'clock
high position, and a rate of closure of 150 knots. Upon reaching the
25 NM point, the object began rapidly moving away to maintain
constant separation distance while still visible on the radar scope.
While the size of the radar return was comparable to that of a KC-
125, its intense brilliance made estimation of actual size impossible.
Visually, it resembled flashing strobe lights arranged in a rectangu-
lar pattern and alternating blue, green, red, and orange. Their
sequence was so fast that all colors could be seen at once.
As the F-4 continued pursuit south of Tehran, a second
brightly-lit object (about one-half to one-third the size of the moon)
detached from the original UFO and headed straight for the F-4 at a
high rate of speed. The pilot attempted to fire an AIM-9 missile at
the new object but was prevented by a sudden power loss in his
weapons control panel. UHF and internal communications were
simultaneously lost. The pilot promptly initiated a turn and negative-
G dive to escape, but the object fell in behind the F-4 at 3-4 NM
distance. Continuing the turn, the pilot observed the second object
turn inside of him and then away, subsequently returning to the pri-
mary UFO for a perfect rendezvous.
The two UFOs had hardly rejoined when a second object
detached and headed straight down toward the ground at high speed.
Having regained weapons and communications systems, the aircrew
watched the third object, anticipating a large explosion when it struck
the ground. However, it landed gently and cast a bright light over a
two-three kilometer area. The pilot flew as low over the area as
possible, fixing the object's exact location.
Upon return to home base, both crewmen had difficulty in
adjusting their night vision devices for landing. The landing was
further complicated by excessive interference on UHF and a further
complete loss of all communications when passing through a 150
degree magnetic bearing from the home base. The inertial naviga-
tion system simultaneously fluctuated from 30 to 50 degrees. A civil
airliner approaching the area also experienced a similar communica-
tions failure, but reported no unusual sightings.
While on a long final approach, the F-4 crew noted a further
UFO. This was described as a cylinder-shaped object (about the
size of a T-33 trainer) with bright steady lights on each end and a
flasher in the middle. It quickly approached and passed directly
over the F-4. In answer to the pilot's query, the control tower
reported no other air traffic in the area, although they subsequently
obtained a visual sighting of the object when specifically directed
where to look.
The following day, the F-4 crew was flown by helicopter
to the location where they believed the object had landed. This
turned out to be a dry lake bed, but nothing unusual was noticed.
As the helicopter circled off to the west, however, a very noticeable
beeper signal was received, and eventually traced to a nearby house.
They immediately landed and asked the inhabitants if anything strange
or unusual had occurred the previous night. Yes, they replied,
there had been loud noises and a very bright light, like lightning.
The helicopter returned to base and arrangements were made to
conduct various tests, such as radiation checks, in the vicinity of
the house. Unfortunately, the results of such tests have not been