Saturday, May 25, 2013

Comandante Huertas Revisited

Since few here seem to understand research on their own and seem incapable of finding things on their own, and since they seem annoyed by the posting about the Peruvian pilot, Comandante Oscar Santa Maria Huertas (Ret), let me add additional information.

For those interested, I spoke to the man in front of the National Press Club in Washington, D. C. on the afternoon of May 1, 2013. He showed me a copy of the Department of Defense document that recounted, very briefly, the events of his chase of a UFO. That document has been scanned and added here for those who seem to have no Internet search skills.

On May 2, 2013, Huertas appeared in front of the former members of Congress and told his story of the intercept. He made an opening statement and then was questioned about it. That was the first two sessions of the day and no, he was not the only member of that particular panel. That session may be archived with the others on YouTube and would be first-hand testimony given that you can watch Huertas make his statement in front of the cameras.

Leslie Kean, in her book UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go on the Record, printed an account written by Huertas of his experiences on April 11, 1980. This would be first-hand testimony given that Huertas wrote it himself.

For those who seem to need other sources, though the above would seem to be enough, Timothy Good, in Above Top Secret printed a short account of the intercept and the document from the Department of Defense… oh, you can’t be bothered to look in the index? The account is on page 324 of the US Hardback edition and the document on pages 503 – 504 of the same edition.

Cliff Stone, in his self-published book UFO’s: Let the Evidence Speck for Itself, published a short account on pages 106 – 107 and the documents themselves on page 120 – 121.

My posting was based on my discussion with the pilot, with the statements he gave in Washington, D. C. and to Leslie Kean, and the Department of Defense document that shows something happened and that it was interesting enough to be put into a message to the DoD.

I will note that I neither endorsed the case nor debunked it. I provided an account that included statements that Huertas had made to me, made in one of two forums, and on what was said in the Department of Defense document. For those unable to figure out the various codes on that document, I will note that this was prepared by the Defense Attaché, who in other times and in other countries would have been called the Military Attaché or the Army Attaché.

I will further note, for those who have not had the pleasure of serving as a military pilot, that the capabilities of aircraft that are published are not necessarily the limitations of that aircraft. In military aircraft there are capabilities that allow it to exceed the printed information which might become useful in a combat environment (which is not to say that Huertas was engaged in combat with the UFO). Once you exceed those limitations, you could seriously damage the aircraft. I think of a MiG-25, that far exceeded what everyone thought it capable of, but when it landed and was inspected it was found the pilot had seriously damaged the engines. The point being, and given that Huertas was the pilot, I have no reason to doubt his estimates of speed and altitude.

In the end, I used first-hand testimony and quoted from some of it in preparing the posting. I used a government document and quoted a single line from it. I made reference to that document which I had in hand as I prepared the posting.

Now, all the information I have is out there and I can move on to other things (or rather, I can get back to finishing a book that is due in a couple of weeks… and for those interested, it is basically written. I’m doing the rewrites, cleaning up the manuscript and attempting to make sure that everything tracks).

I thought this an interesting little anecdote and because someone had asked for additional information, I thought I had supplied enough for that person to learn all he wanted. This was a case from Peru (where, BTW, FOIA doesn’t work) and the first-hand statements by the pilot could be accessed… so much better than the accounts in other books that might have been misleading.


Tim Hebert said...


Thanks much for the info. Having been only an underground (SAC) crew dog, the only flying that I did was that as "cargo" in an old Huey as we were sometimes ferried out to the sites.

Further appreciate the clarification of service ceiling vs absolute ceiling.

I felt that the 63,000 ft altitude was a dangling string that I couldn't resist pulling to see where it ended.


Lance said...

Hi Kevin,


Sorry that a request for citation is seen as improper.

Prior to this posting, I found and also linked up this third-hand US report in the comments of your last post.

That is all well and good.

But you said:

'We have [a] the first-hand account from the pilot, we have[b] the first-hand observation of the event from Peruvian officers on the ground. We have [c]a document prepared by the Defense Attache in Peru..."

I was looking for "b" (which you don't refer to above in this latest post.



KRandle said...

Lance -

The request was not improper... I was annoyed because they are all over the internet. Should have been simple to find.

Lance said...

Thanks Kevin,

As I get older, I the simple things get harder.

I am still not having any luck finding the first hand accounts you mention...I am happy to look them up myself but you seem to only be referring to the US documents above...



KRandle said...

Lance -

In Kean's book, the chapter about this event was written by the pilot himself. That would make it a first-hand account.

He provided testimony at the Citizen's Hearing, most of those proceedings are on line. Since you can seen him describing the events as he remembered them (and please note the qualifier)that testimony is first hand. The DoD document suggests that the information came from an officer who was on the airfield... his testimony, if we could access the Peruvian documents would be first hand. That it appears in the DoD document, makes it second hand.

Since we have the pilot talking about this apparently on YouTube, I fail to see your point. If I was on YouTube describing the event, then that would be second hand because I would be relating what he said to me. If I was there, talking about what I had read in Good's book or Stone's book, then that would be third hand, and we're really moving away from the point.

Still, since we do have a written statement from the pilot, he provided both written and oral testimony in Washington, then we have a robust first-hand account.

If you are searching for first-hand corroboration, I suggest it exists, but it would be in Spanish and filed in Peru.

Lance said...


I'm sorry I don't understand. I am not trying to make a point.

You said:

"we have the first-hand observation of the event from Peruvian officers on the ground"

Where is this item?

This could be me just misunderstanding you and if so I apologize.

Oh, and just wondering how Huerta's tale of his April 11th, 1980 experience is supported by the document you posted that describes a May 9th and 10th 1980 UFO sighting.



(and thanks Tim Printy!)

Anthony Mugan said...

Hi Lance
As you know I can be quite sceptical of claims on all sides of this debate at times but, sorry, I really must query the logic of your criticism of the documentary evidence in this case.
The report is either second or third hand depending on who the "source"
This is similar to many Blue Book etc files. In this case the report is very helpful in that in shows the primary source evidence was not made up years after the event but was under serious consideration at the time. As the event involved discharge of weapons in peacetime as well as an intrusion into sensitive airspace this concern is understandable...and very easy to have disproved at the time

Lance said...

Hi Anthony,

I haven't offered any criticism, I am just trying to look at the evidence.

It appears that Kevin is attempting to call the US report a first hand document. It isn't. And yes, that is an important point.

You might also want to reread my last sentence in the above post to see just why accepting the evidence without looking it, as you champion, is not a good idea.


Larry said...

Lance wrote:

“Oh, and just wondering how Huerta's tale of his April 11th, 1980 experience is supported by the document you posted that describes a May 9th and 10th 1980 UFO sighting.”

Well, as I understand it, the identification of the day in question that is attributed to Huerta appears in Leslie Kean’s book. The identification of the day in question that appears in the DOD telex is attributed to an informant inside the Peruvian Air Force who is reporting it to an attaché, who actually composed the telex. Both accounts appear only after being filtered through secondary sources (Kean, and the unnamed defense attaché). A common-sense interpretation to me is that this is an example of the well known phenomenon of signal-to-noise degradation that occurs, for example in the party game “telephone”.

Do you have an alternative explanation?

Anthony Mugan said...

Hi Lance
What a curious comment...
Perhaps you are referring to my lapse of memory in merging the "source" who the memo states was present with the 3rd party source about aspects of the interception...
I think, as there is an unfortunate tendency for the debate to drift away from the purely logical I shall refrain from further comment unless there is something of substance to to discuss on this interesting and evidential case.

Lance said...


No, I don't.

How do you feel about Kevin's statement:

"we have the first-hand observation of the event from Peruvian officers on the ground."?

Do you feel like that is somehow justifiable?



KRandle said...

Lance -

Ah, I see the light...

No, the DoD document is not first hand and if i gave you the impression that it was, then I apologize. My point was that the case had been documented, in a message created in 1980 which does not mean that it happened as described or the conclusions drawn were accurate, only that something happened.

The dating problem in the document obviously comes from either mistaken information on the part of the Peruvian officer who passed the information along or on the part of the military attache who gathered it. Obviously, again, the best source for the date would be the pilot.

The account in Leslie Kean's book, I would consider first hand because it was written by the pilot. And, the account he gave at the National Press Club, both his written statement and this oral statement would be first hand.

My error here, apparently, was to leave a single word out. I should have said potential first-hand witnesses on the ground. Two names are Carlos Vasquez Zegarre and Oscar Alegre Valdez. They were on the ground at the time and saw the object and interacted with Huertas.

There were other officers on the ground, there were people in the control tower, and there were enlisted soldiers who are potential first-hand witnesses, all who were on the airfield at the time.

I have been told that there are Peruvian Air Force documents about this event, though I have not seen them. They would, of course, be in Spanish. I have not attempted to locate them, nor I have I approached others about them. I do have contacts that might be able to do so, but at the moment, I am involved in other projects.

I thought this tale interesting mainly because I spoke to the pilot. Beyond that, I have no emotional attachment to it and have little ability to investigate it, other than mention it to friends in South America who might be able to learn some more.

Lance said...

Thanks Kevin,

That does clear it up.

Have a great rest of the holiday weekend and good luck on that book.

Perhaps we can discuss this further next week?


Larry said...

Anthony Mugan wrote (in a previous post):
“Regarding the deviation of some of the rounds etc. that is one of the more interesting features of the event....Hill (1995) may be relevant from a theoretical perspective if these things are using cyclic fields but that is speculative.”

Recall that the predominant effect in Paul Hill’s model is simply an axially-located, radially symmetric, repulsive acceleration field that increases in strength upon approach to the field source. The presence of such a field attached to the unconventional object that Huertas reported would very economically explain the behavior of the cannon rounds he fired.

Basically, I think Huertas was unknowlingly performing an impromptu scattering experiment, that produced more or less the same statistics as a Proton-Nucleus interaction.

KRandle said...

All -

As an old helicopter gunship pilot, let me tell you a secret about aviation ballistics. If the aircraft is flying out of trim, which means that the nose is right or left of the line of flight, it affects the rounds fired. They will curve around to a certain degree. Just thought I'd throw that in since everyone seems worried about the rounds deviating from the straight line.

cda said...

Straight line?
I learned decades ago at school that bullets, like any projectile, follow a curve under gravity - known as a parabola, but this is affected by air resistance of course.

KRandle said...


Not talking about gravity... the rounds curve as if shooting around a corner (an extreme example to make a point).

And for those worried about Huertas statement about the rounds deviating. He said, "Zeroing in on the balloon, I reached the necessary distance and shot a burst of sixty-four 30 mm shells, which created a cone-shaped 'wall of fire' that would normally obliterate anything in its part. Some of the projectiles deviated from the target, falling to the ground and others hit it with precision. I thought the balloon would be torn open and gases would start pouring out but nothing happened. It seemed as if the huge bullets were absorbed by the balloon, and it wasn't damaged at all."

This from Kean's book. I used it so that everyong here could read the quotes for himself or herself. The statement was written by the pilot.

Anthony Mugan said...

It could be interesting if Commandate Huertas was able to remember any pattern to the shells which were deflected...could help test theories

David Rudiak said...

cda wrote:
Straight line? I learned decades ago at school that bullets, like any projectile, follow a curve under gravity - known as a parabola, but this is affected by air resistance of course.

Gravity wouldn't deflect the bullets much. Assuming physics formula for distance fallen of 1/2*g*t^2 where g is gravitational acceleration (about 10 m/sec^2) and t is time, in 1 second the bullets would have fallen about 5m or 16ft. Assuming high speed bullets of about 600 m/s or 2000 ft/sec, this means a drop in one second of 5/600 radian or about 1/2 degree. (neglecting air resistance)

Not that I know anything about jet fighter computer targeting or jet cannons, but I would assume the targeting program would take this into account and have the pilot nose up slightly to compensate or maybe the cannons themselves can swivel upward a bit.

Kevin wrote:
If the aircraft is flying out of trim, which means that the nose is right or left of the line of flight, it affects the rounds fired. They will curve around to a certain degree.

If the nose is tilted slightly right, say, then the "straight ahead" shot will be to the right, or taking air friction along the leading edge of the plane into account, this should deflect the bullet a little more right, before the trajectory straightens out. Again, computer-driven swivel cannons should be able to compensate, if such a thing exists.

There can also be an illusory deflection because the plane is in motion. If the plane is moving fast, as a jet interceptor probably would be, the seeming deflection would be substantial. Thus, if the plane is trimmed slightly right when firing but moving "straight ahead" the rest of the time, the rounds will seem to deflect substantially to the right. The effect would be similar to the so-called Coriolis force when shooting cannons from the earth's surface north or south. The earth is rotating at different speeds north and south and the actually straight moving shell has the appearance of being on a curved trajectory relative to the earth's surface. From the point of view of the observer, the curved trajectory is real, but there is no actual force deflecting the shell.

In this case, if the pilot saw bullets deflecting left, right, up and/or down in one burst of fire, then something else is obviously going on.

Hope I got the physics right--jotted this off in a hurry.

Larry said...

Part 1
Kevin wrote:
“…If the aircraft is flying out of trim, which means that the nose is right or left of the line of flight, it affects the rounds fired. They will curve around to a certain degree.”

I believe the physical basis for what Kevin is describing is the Magnus effect. It’s the creation of aerodynamic lift that occurs whenever air flows over a spinning cylinder, in a direction transverse to the spin axis. When a projectile comes out of a modern cannon barrel, it is spinning like mad, to create gyroscopic or spin, stability. Spin stability will work well to keep the nose of the projectile pointing directly into the relative wind, as it flies out to the target—in the absence of crosswind. When the nose of the aircraft doing the firing is pointed off-axis from its flight velocity, the projectile picks up a crosswind component of the aircraft’s velocity that can induce the Magnus effect. Depending on exactly how the aircraft is out of trim, the lift on the projectile due to the Magnus effect could be up, down, left, or right. This effect is present (at least in theory) for stationary cannons firing from the ground, but because the magnitude of crosswind that is likely to occur under those conditions is perhaps an order of magnitude lower than what would be experienced from a flying aircraft platform, it is usually ignored.

To make matters worse, because the projectile is actually a little gyroscope, it turns out that aerodynamic lift applied in one direction (up, say) will produce a response in an orthogonal direction (left). The net result of all this is that instead of simply describing a ballistic trajectory when moving from point A to point B, the projectile is actually flying aerodynamically from point A to point B along a corkscrew path.

David speculated:

"Not that I know anything about jet fighter computer targeting or jet cannons, but I would assume the targeting program would take this into account and have the pilot nose up slightly to compensate or maybe the cannons themselves can swivel upward a bit. .."

No, I cannot think of any modern example where cannons are any thing other than rigidly mounted to the body of the aircraft. This is distinct from smaller caliber machine gun turrets which historically could be targeted independent of which way the aircraft was pointed. A cannon is so large and creates so much recoil, that it would be impractical to do anything other than point it straight ahead. Also, traditional radar gunsights take into account only the relative position and velocity of the interceptor and target (because that is all radar can measure) and the time of flight of the projectile (because that is known, before hand). Maybe Kevin has other information but traditionally, other compensations, such as for out-of-trim, non-steady-state flight, are made by the pilot’s eyeball and seat-of-pants.

Larry said...

Part 2
CDA wrote:

“…I learned decades ago at school that bullets, like any projectile, follow a curve under gravity - known as a parabola..”

That's all true, but the muzzle velocity of a 30 mm cannon is right in the vicinity of 1 km/sec. Given that Huertas was able to see some of the projectiles actually impacting the object I conjecture that he was within 1 km of the object. Fired nearly horizontally over a range of 1 km, the maximum vertical difference between a straight line and a parabolic arc that intercepts the same target point is only about 1.25 m, and that difference would occur midway in the trajectory, or 500 m away.

I will leave it to David for an opinion as to how well the human eye could tell the difference between a straight line and a shallow parabolic arc with those dimensions.

The important point is that both the Magnus effect and pure ballistics due to gravity and aerodynamic drag are all mathematically continuous functions. When any or all of those effects are present, the projectile may fly a trajectory that is noticeably different from a straight line, but it will not fly a trajectory that has mathematical discontinuities (“kinks”) in it unless it encounters some factor other than gravity and aerodynamics.

The scientifically important distinction is whether the trajectories that Huertas was describing were smooth, continuous arcs, or whether his use of the term “deviate” means that they were flying trajectories other than those that would be expected from aerodynamics and gravity. Interestingly enough, this question should be determinable, since Huertas is still around and available for follow up interviews.

Since Huertas was considered a qualified air interceptor pilot, I assume he must have flown the SU-22 before and fired its cannons, even if only for training and practice. It would be interesting to ask him if the trajectories of the cannon rounds he fired at the “balloon” were in any way different from what he had seen in training, and if so, how?

"'Tis better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness."

Lance said...

Just a few skeptical notes:

I suggest that, from the description of the pilot, he could have also been shooting at something much further away. Something being absorbed and something simply disappearing in the distance would look very similar.

Also, Kevin might know a better answer to this but are cannons (circa 1980) tied to computer targeting or are they more of a point and shoot weapon?

Huertas's accounts do not seem to describe radar locks on the target.

The DOD document describes the encounter specifically as 2 passes. Huertas's accounts describe several more passes.

In general Huertas's descriptions are quite reminiscent of the Gorman case.

A ton of this could be cleared up with more evidence that could possibly exist: camera footage from the plane, contemporaneous accounts of the incident, etc.



Steve Sawyer said...

@ Larry/David (and no, I don't refer here to the co-creator of the hit TV shows "Seinfeld" or "Curb Your Enthusiasm" -- Heh!):

A Spockian raise of the eyebrow and point of the ear for your useful elaborations, above.

I, for one, appreciate the level and quality of detail you both provided here regarding aircraft gun ballistics, etc.

Those are the kind of "nitty gritty" details that help us explore the finer elements of the Huerta incident I was initially asking about in comments on a prior blog post here about the Peruvian SU-22 pilot's variant descriptions of the cannon bullets' trajectories and impact vs. "absorption," and kudos also to Lance for raising the question of distance, plus Kevin's quotation of Huerta's description from Leslie Kean's book. All very pertinent, IMHO.

Anthony Mugan said...

Just for the sake of being specific prior to any actual data being available it would be interesting indeed if there was a systematic pattern to those shells that deviated ( e.g alternate or every third or fourth for example. This is ultra speculative but could conceivably be related to the pulse repetition frequency of a cyclic field if that idea is on the right track. If it was more general then the aerodynamic possibility would be a clear winner

KRandle said...

All -

You all have all the information that I have. I will say that I do not know what fire control systems were in the SU-22. I will assume that the guns (meaning the 30 mm cannons) were point and shoot just as any other machine guns on a fighter. I don't know why everyone assumes there are gun cameras on the aircraft or that any photographic evidence exists. Had such been the case, Huertas would have mentioned it.

Those who wish to pursue this should do so. As far as I know, Huertas is back in Peru.

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