Monday, January 26, 2015

The Shaitan Mazar UFO incident

"This incident can either be considered real or dismissed as a hoax."

Seems to me that could be said about a great many alleged UFO cases, but I'll  stick with it. I found a link to the story of the Shaitan Mazar incident on one of the many UFO pages I follow on Facebook. The source is called "Liplock" and I'm still making up my mind about it. Anyway, the case was a new one for me and I will readily admit to being sucked in by the accompanying graphic. It showed a saucer-shaped UFO stuck into deep snow atop a mountain. All kinds of tracked vehicles moved around it in a recovery effort, making me think of The Thing. But I digress...

The case occurred over what is now Turkmenistan in August of 1991, during the dying gasps of the Soviet Union. A UFO was detected on military radar late in the afternoon of the 28th. This incursion was especially sensitive due to its proximity to the aerodrome at Kapustin Yar (interestingly enough, location of yet another UFO case.) A total of four MiG-29s (a top-of-the-line fighter at that time) were sent airborne and intercepted the object over the Aral Sea.  The pilots, according to the story, were shocked with what they found.

It was a metallic, cylindrical object, shaped somewhat like a blimp but at an estimated length of 2,000 feet. The UFO did not respond to any of the pilots' request for identification. Military officials ordered the MiGs to fire warning shots at the UFO. That is when, similar to Tehran UFO incident of 1976, instrumentation in the fighter cockpits failed. The jets were forced to return to base. Red Air Force radar continued to track the object, watching it make spectacular zigzag maneuvers and accelerating to speeds of 4,200 mph (!). The UFO then disappeared. Later the following month, villagers in nearby Kyrgyzstan began talking that something had crashed in area of the Tien Shan mountains known as Shaitan Mazar. That phrase translates to "Devil's Graveyard."

Doesn't exactly do much for the story's credibility. After all, sort of sounds like an episode of G.I. Joe. But I digress...

An expedition went in search of this UFO crash (another one??) but was forced to turn back due to severe winter storm. The narrative furthers that the Soviet military attempted to hoist an object out of the mountain with a helicopter that November, but the result was a crash and the total loss of the crew. It may be speculated that the crash was due to similar instrumentation failure as to what the MiG 29s experienced.

But in June of 1992, a team of ufologists succeeded in reaching the mountaintop and finding wreckage of the downed UFO. The remains seemed to have both mechanical and physiological effects, preventing the team members from approaching the actual object (or what was left of it) and causing them to turn back once again. A few sketches were made by the team leader, including depictions of markings on the side of the craft. There were no bodies visible in the crash wreckage and it was conjectured that the Soviet military had removed them in their failed attempt to retrieve the UFO. It was not until 1998 that a return expedition reached the Shaitan Mazar location. By that time, the supposed UFO was gone.

Like I always ask, what to make of this?

Well, woulda been nice, huh? If the members of the expedition had been able to bring back just one scrap of material from the crash, we might finally have something tangible to go on. It's the grandaddy of all ufological prizes, right? Physical evidence of a UFO that cannot be refuted? Yes, woulda been nice, indeed. What we're left with instead, bereft of such evidence, is a set of stories and sketches on graph paper.

Might as well be fiddlesticks.

What evidence there is has little weight. There is one mitigating factor in this, however, and that is the political reality of those times. As this occurred within the Soviet Union, it's very difficult to corroborate things one way or the other. It was closed and secretive at that time and what accurate (not to mention public) record of the event there is would likely be sparse. Then there is the fact of the isolated geographic of the site.

I'm skeptical, but I cannot close the door on it completely.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

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