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Chilean officials can’t identify a strange IR signal seen by its Navy

It’s probably not aliens, but it is intriguing.

The Ars Files casts a skeptical eye on developments in the UFO community. Is the truth out there? Maybe. Maybe not. But we try to find it here.

Early on the afternoon of November 14, 2014, a Chilean Navy pilot and a technician were flying their helicopter along the coast when they saw something strange. They were going north at an altitude of 1.4km in a twin-engine Airbus Cougar when something appeared in the sky and matched their velocity of 130 knots.

As part of the flight, which took place west of Santiago, the helicopter’s technician was testing the thermal imaging properties of an infrared FLIR high-definition camera. Naturally, he turned the camera on the unidentified object. After several minutes the pilot and technician observed the object make two distinct discharges of some type of liquid, or gas, which produced a very hot signal captured by the infrared imager. The technician captured nearly 10 minutes of video, which shows both visible and infrared camera views.

After this sighting, the Navy turned the video over to the the Committee for the Study of Anomalous Aerial Phenomena, known as CEFAA. This is the Chilean government group that investigates UFO sightings, or Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon. On Friday, after a study by scientists, military officials, and even some photo analysis experts from France, the committee released its conclusion.

“The Committee for the Study of Anomalous Aerial Phenomena, comprised of leading scientists, analysts, and aviation technicians, after an extensive study of the case, determined that it was a UAP, or Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon,” the agency stated in a news release.

Full video from the Chilean helicopter

A US-based journalist who investigates UFOs, Leslie Kean, has interviewed some of the principals and had access to the case files. She provided more details about the incident in a report for the Huffington Post, which she characterized as a “groundbreaking UFO video.”

We’re not ready to go that far, but the infrared video is intriguing. According to Kean, the French analysts explained the sighting as a medium-haul aircraft on approach to the Santiago airport, with the heat signals due to waste water being dumped from the cabin. The Chilean committee dismissed this explanation, however, because the “plane” in question was not seen on primary radar. (As he observed the object, the Chilean pilot radioed an air traffic control along the coast and another at Santiago, both of which failed to observe a plane on radar. Nor was any aircraft in the vicinity cleared for a landing at Santiago.) Moreover, the plume of heated material does not fall as one would expect water or other material to do at an altitude of about 1km above the surface.

Other hypotheses included falling pieces of space debris, which might possibly release compressed gases at a lower atmosphere, as well as a bird, flying insect, drone, parachute, hang glider, or some kind of hoaxed video. Those hypotheses were ultimately dismissed.

The significance of this sighting is that it was made by credible Navy officers, lasted nearly 10 minutes, and involved observation in both the visible and infrared portions of the spectrum. While this falls far short of providing any evidence of aliens, it nonetheless is well documented and worthy of additional consideration, if only because the explanation might reveal some kind of new US military stealth technology.