The date was Saturday, December 1, 2018. The place was Mexico City’s Zocalo, one of the largest public squares in the world. The nation of Mexico was celebrating the inauguration of their 58th president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. After the swearing-in ceremony before the Mexican Congress, the new president appeared on a makeshift stage in the Zocalo to take part in a purification ceremony before addressing the crowd of tens of thousands of people. Spiritual leaders from various indigenous groups blessed the new president with brushes of herbs and through incantations over incense. This great square was no stranger to ceremony as it was once the civic-ceremonial center of the Aztec Empire. For hundreds of years the heart of Mexico City has been a special place of sacred rites and rituals involving great pomp and circumstance. On this Saturday afternoon, not all eyes and camera phones were fixed on the cultural spectacle on stage. Many attendees looked to the sky and were amazed at what they saw and what they were able to catch on camera. One eyewitness, Angeles Rincón, appeared on a local radio station describing the pomp and circumstance in the sky. Some forty orbs hovered over the ceremonies and moved across the sky in a linear fashion. The radio show host asked Angeles rapid-fire questions. Were they balloons from the inauguration ceremony? Were they drones? Were they reflections off of the clouds? The eyewitness answered “no” to each question. Others began calling in and relating what they had seen in the skies over the momentous event: small silver and white orbs hovered, flew in lines and quickly darted away. Several camera phones caught the action in the sky and soon amateur video popped up on the internet. No one could explain what was happening over the heart of Mexico City. As seasoned UFO researchers will tell you, what happened on Inauguration Day was nothing knew for this metropolis of over 25 million people.
Even before the Spanish arrived the Aztecs recorded seeing strange things in the sky over their own capital city which was located where Mexico City now sits. A glowing object streaking across the heavens even made it into the Aztec written records. It alarmed Emperor Montezuma to a great degree and many priests of the day considered it a bad omen. For more details on this celestial event please see Mexico Unexplained episode number 68 titled “The 8 Omens of Montezuma and the End of the Aztec Empire.”
In the modern day, UFO researchers consider Mexico City to be a “hotbed” of UFO activity. Is it because Mexico City has always been a special place or is it based on the sheer numbers of people? With so many people and so many recording devices available to chilangos, or Mexico City residents, it’s really no wonder why reports of UFO sightings over the capital city occur with such regularity. A mass sighting may involve tens of thousands of people or more. To note, one of the most witnessed UFO events in human history may have happened over the Mexican capital in a time before cell phone cameras. On July 11, 1991 Mexico City was preparing for what was called “The Eclipse of the Millennium,” a total eclipse of the sun lasting 6 minutes and 45 seconds which was to occur over the Mexican capital in early afternoon. With people looking to the sky numbering into the millions, according to some estimates, hundreds of thousands of people noticed a shiny metal object hovering in the near distance a few minutes into the eclipse. It was metallic, disc-shaped and rotated. Guillermo Arreguín, a cameraman for the Mexican television network Televisa, who was filming the eclipse, got footage of the object. It was broadcast on Mexican television later that night. After that broadcast 17 other people came forward with similar videocam footage recorded from various parts of the city. With so many people looking up to observe the eclipse, this July 11, 1991 sighting may have been the most observed UFO experience in human history.
The ”Eclipse of the Millennium” sighting happened some forty years after the very first mass sighting over Mexico City which occurred on March 28th 1950 over the international airport. The next day, the headlines of the newspaper La Prensa proclaimed “¡Plato volador en la capital!” in bold capital letters taking up more than half the front page. In English this translates to “Flying Saucer in the Capital!” The sighting happened in the morning, in the 7:00 hour, and lasted some two hours. Pilots, ground crews and airline passengers marveled at the gigantic disk that hovered over the airport. Mexican authorities contacted the US Embassy and the Americans sent members of their military attaché to the airport to observe, but like their Mexican counterparts, they had no explanation for what they were seeing. The Americans would have their own UFO “flap” over their own capital city two years later as a fleet of flying saucers would appear in the skies of Washington DC in the summer of 1952. As Mexican UFOlogists are proud to point out, Mexico was first.
Since that initial sighting in 1950, social media and video sharing sites on the internet like YouTube have become popular venues for disseminating amateur videos of UFOs. The massive adoption of camera phone technology in Mexico starting around the year 2010 has helped to bring this about. Quick online searches combining “Mexico City” with “UFO,” or the Spanish equivalent “OVNI,” yield a huge variety of UFO footage from the silly to the thought-provoking. As with UFO video clips coming from anywhere, it is up to the viewer to discern the deliberate fakes and hoaxes from the legitimate objects that are not identifiable. In many cases it is hard to tell what’s what. Because of the sheer numbers of people on the ground looking up, there is great diversity in the UFO sightings over Mexico City. UFOs can take strange shapes or can appear as the traditional saucers or orbs. Often, they are seen in groups, sometimes classified as flotas, or “fleets.”
One of the largest so-called fleet appeared over the site of the first mass sighting in Mexico City, at the international airport. On December 16, 2015, sometime in the mid-afternoon, a fleet of some 100 unidentified flying objects appeared in the airspace over the airport. Some of these objects darted about, but approximately thirty of them formed a “V” formation and moved slowly over Mexico City at around 3:00 pm. A few hours after that, the alleged fleet had dissipated and by 5:30 eyewitnesses reported a lone large white spherical object moving north to south over the airport gaining in altitude as it flew away. Some thought that this was some sort of mother ship. Later that day a 767 reported flying under this same large spherical object near the Gulf of Mexico.
In the great variety of UFO experiences in Mexico City there exists a tale of possible alien contact, one of the first in the nation of Mexico. It happened on the morning of August 19th 1965 a few years after the famous Betty and Barney Hill UFO abduction in the United States. The setting for the alleged Mexico City close encounter was a vacant lot outside the National Polytechnic Institute. Two brothers, Yayo and Payo Rodríguez, saw a saucer-shaped craft hover over the lot and then it landed after extending its tripodal landing gear. The two brothers claimed that a group of small humanoid beings wearing respirator gear exited the craft and approached them. A member of this extraterrestrial landing party then placed a small metal object at one of the brothers’ feet. Yayo and Payo took the metal object to the school’s laboratory for study and when news of the encounter spread, newspapers sent investigative teams to the landing site and took photographs of the visible burn marks on vegetation in the vacant lot and what appeared to be a strange liquid on the ground later characterized as fuel. The tests on the small metal object left behind were inconclusive. Some leading Mexican UFO investigators have dismissed the Rodríguez UFO encounter as a hoax.
The next month of the same year, seemingly in honor of Mexico’s 155th anniversary of independence from Spain, another UFO flap happened in the nation’s capital. Some 5,000 phone calls flooded police and aviation authorities on September 16, 1965 and people were reporting the same thing: 6 luminous objects hovering over the National Cathedral and the ancient Aztec Templo Mayor complex by the Zocalo. Traffic seized up along the Paseo de la Reforma as people got out of their cars to view the spectacle. The objects hovered over the heart of the city for about an hour and perhaps a hundred thousand people saw them. Eyewitnesses described what they were seeing in both extraterrestrial and spiritual terms. One of the luminous objects would return on September 25th and hover over the city center again before darting away at incredible speed. Two days later two of the same objects came back in the early evening hours and this time flew lower. Witnesses saw them buzz over the gilded dome of the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Alameda Park. Someone waiting for a bus described the objects as “enormous luminous bodies with intermittent sparkling lights.” The sightings of 1965 in and around Mexico City were so intriguing that newspapers from around the world carried stories about them, including such faraway publications as Kenya’s Mombasa Times.
Marta Susana, the bleached-blonde talk show host decided to take on the Mexico City UFO issue on July 11, 2000 on her popular television program. A series of incidents happened in February of that year involving members of Mexico City’s police force. On Valentine’s Day at 2:00 in the morning two police officers saw an object about ten meters wide hovering over a soccer field near a school. The object was disk-shaped and projected an array of multicolored lights as it hung suspended over the field. The flashing of the lights intensified and the object began making a whirring sound. One of the patrolmen called in for backup and soon a dozen or so other policemen bore witness to the strange craft. The UFO disappeared at around 2:20 am and curiously, the policemen’s wristwatches were frozen at that time and could not be made to work again. The object reappeared at 2:45 and again at 3:10 in different parts of Mexico City, all logged by police officials. Two different patrolmen tried taking photos of the object, but not a single photo developed properly. The same force operating on the police officer’s watches, apparently, was operating on the camera equipment. The Marta Susana talk show included some of the police officers from that night and air traffic controllers on one side and a group of skeptics on the other. Over the course of the hour the two sides hashed it out in “skeptics vs. believers” fashion and although they did not come to any conclusions, the show made for some good daytime drama for bored Mexico City housewives.
As one of the largest cities in the world, Mexico City has been for many years a hotbed of UFO activity. With many eyes toward the sky and the overabundance of camera equipment in the hands of common citizens, UFO skeptics and serious researchers alike can look forward to ample material to sift through in the foreseeable future.
Inexplicata – The Journal of Hispanic UFOlogy (online)