1976 Tehran UFO incident
The 1976 Tehran UFO Incident was a radar and visual sighting of an unidentified flying object (UFO) over Tehran, the capital of Iran, during the early morning hours of 19 September 1976. During the incident, two F-4 Phantom II jet interceptors reported losing instrumentation and communications as they approached, only to have them restored upon withdrawal; one of the aircraft also reported suffering temporary weapons systems failure, while preparing to open fire.
Explanation and analysis
UFOlogists claim that after residents reported a "bright light in the sky", Iranian pilots encountered a UFO that was supposedly able to disable their electronic navigation, communications and weapon systems. Journalist Philip J. Klass wrote that it was likely the witnesses initially saw an astronomical body, probably Jupiter, an explanation also cited by aerospace researcher James Oberg. Klass wrote that pilot incompetence and equipment malfunction likely accounted for the reported equipment failures.
According to Klass, the Westinghouse technician at Shahrokhi airbase stated that only the first F-4 reported failing equipment, and that this F-4 was known for equipment failures with a long history of electrical outages, having been repaired only a month before the incident. Klass cites a McDonnell Douglas repair supervisor's opinion that the F-4's radar could have been in "manual track" mode, causing a wrong interpretation of the radar lock.
Regarding pilot reports of "bright objects" falling to the ground and "leaving a bright trail", author Brian Dunning observes that September 19, the day of the incident, was the height of two annual meteorite showers, the Gamma Piscids and the Southern Piscids and the tail of the Eta Draconids shower, so observation of falling objects or odd lights would not have been unusual. At the site where the falling light supposedly crashed, a beeping transponder from a C-141 aircraft was found according to investigating Col. Mooy.
According to Dunning:
Once we look at all the story's elements without the presumption of an alien spaceship, the only thing unusual about the Tehran 1976 UFO case is that planes were chasing celestial objects and had equipment failures. There have been many cases where planes had equipment failures, and there have been many cases where planes misidentified celestial objects. Once in a while, both will happen on the same flight.
Dunning criticized UFOlogists and UFO-themed television programs like Sightings for describing all the events related to the incident "from the context of a presumption that the light was a hostile and intelligently guided alien spacecraft".
Reference to incident in the media
- The Sightings TV program covered the incident in 1994, interviewing many of the participants.
- The Telegraph's top 10 UFO sightings (#7).
- The Guardian's top 10 UFO sightings (#10).
- Philip J. Klass (1 January 1983). UFOs: The Public Deceived. Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-0-87975-322-1.
- Dunning, Brian (19 Jun 2012). "The Tehran 1976 UFO". Skeptoid Podcast. Skeptoid Media, Inc.,. Retrieved 21 June 2012.
- Otto, Sasjkia (17 August 2009). "UFO Files: top 10 UFO sightings". The Daily Telegraph. London.
- Michael Hogan. "Top 10 UFO sightings: from Roswell to a pub in Berkshire | World news". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
- The Tehran UFO incident report at UfoSightingsToday.org
- Defence Intelligence Agency Report with Routing and Transmittal Slip
- Defense Intelligence Agency Report
- Skeptoid.com article citing the various problems with the incident.
- NICAP.org: Iran F-4 Incident Archived 6 February 2006 at the Wayback Machine.