Three and a half decades ago, fighter pilot Oscar Santa Maria Huerta had an Independence Day-like experience when he tried to shoot down a bizarre light-bulb craft. Until today, the incident is the only documented case of a military plane firing on an unidentified flying object (UFO).
On the early morning of April 11, 1980, the 23-year-old Lieutenant of the Peruvian Air Force was about to join around 1,800 military personnel and civilians for daily exercises at the La Joya Air Force Base, 1,000 km south of the Peruvian capital.
A pilot who had been flying combat missions since he was 19, Lt Huerta was ordered to take off in his Sukhoi-22 fighter to intercept the unknown silver object that had been observed hovering near the end of the runway.
The strange object was 5 km away, hovering around 600 metres off the ground, and was not responding to any communications. It was in restricted airspace without authorisation, posing a significantthreatto national sovereignty, according to the now-retired Colonel.
Colonel Huerta was among of several former military officers, researchers and others who provided evidence at a big event at the National Press Club in Washington in 2013, in hopes to give pressure to the U.S. government about opening its files on UFO encounters.
Colonel Huerta flew to 2,500 metres and shot a burst of 64 30mm shells when he reached the right distance. Even one of those shells would wipe out a car, but all of them had no effect on the object. It then shot rapidly skywards away from the base and Colonel Huerta activated the aircraft’s afterburner to chase it. As they reached 84 km from the base, in the city of Camana, the UFO came to a sudden stop, prompting him to veer to the side.
After turning up and to the right, Huerta tried to position for another shot. He locked on the target and ready to shoot, but the object made another fast climb that appeared to evade an attack. He tried the same thing two more times, but the object kept shooting upwards seconds before he could shoot.
When the object reached 14,000 metres above the ground, Colonel Huerta attempted to attack from above, but the UFO shadowed him all the way up to 19,200 metres, way beyond the specifications of his aircraft.
He realised he was running low on fuel, losing his capability to attack, so he decided just to flynear the object to get a better look. When he reached 100 metres away, he started to see an object that measured around 10 metres in diameter with ashinycream-colored dome on top, similar to a light bulb cut in half.
The bottom was a wide silver circular base that looked like a metal. It had no antennae, windows, exhausts, propulsion jets, wings, and other components of a typical aircraft. At that moment, the pilot realised it wasn’t a spying device but a UFO, something entirely unknown.
Having not enough fuel, he could not attack, manoeuvre his plane, or make a quick escape. He was afraid as he made his return, gliding part way and zigzagging to make his plane harder to hit. After he had landed, the object stayed in the place he left it for another two hours, visible to people on the base while it reflected in the sun.
In a June 1980 document from the United States Department of Defence titled “UFO Sighted in Peru,” it was revealed that the object remained of unknown origin.