You’re probably familiar with the disappearance of Frederick Valentich and his Cessna aircraft while being followed by a UFO over the Bass Straits between Australia and Tasmania, but have you ever heard of a similar incident that occurred near Puerto Rico?
One of the most intriguing cases of UFO-related disappearance is that of pilot Jose Pagan Santos, who vanished along with his friend Jose Maldonado Torres on June 28, 1980, while flying from Santo Domingo to Puerto Rico.
The last communication from Santos was a distress call in which he reported seeing a strange object in front of his plane that made him lose his course and his instruments.
According to the transcripts of his Mayday radio transmission, Santos described the object as “weird” and said it was at one o’clock from his position.
He also said he had to change his course three times to avoid it, but it kept appearing in front of him. He gave his heading as 070 degrees and his altitude as 1,600 feet. He said he was supposed to be 35 miles from the coast of Puerto Rico, but he was not sure of his location.
At 8:03 P.M. the Las Mesas site and several aircraft picked up radio transmissions from N3808H:
“Mayday, Mayday! Ercoup ocho cero, eight, zero, zero, Hotel. We can see a strange object in our course, we are lost, Mayday, Mayday!”
An Iberia Airlines Flight IB-976 en route from Santo Domingo to Spain responded to the Mayday and received a reply:
“Ah we are going from Santo Domingo ah San Juan International, but we found ah, a weird object in our course that made us change course about three different times, we got it right in front of us now at one o’clock, our heading is zero seven zero degrees… our altitude one thousand six hundred a zero seven zero degrees… our VORs got lost off frequency…”
Iberia Flight IB-976 then relayed a message asking from San Juan Center asking N3808H to turn on their transponder.
N3808H replied that the Ercoup was not equipped with a transponder. At 8:06 Iberia IB-976 asked for their call sign and estimated position and received this reply:
“Right now we are supposed to be at about thirty-five miles from the coast of Puerto Rico but we have something weird in front of us that make us lose course all the time I changed our course a second (unintelligible) our present heading right now is three hundred we are right again in the same stuff, sir.”
They were not heard from again.
The Atlantic Fleet Weapons Range verified the last radar position of N3808H as 35 miles west of Puerto Rico and a search was launched that included Santos’ father, who was an Aero Police Officer for Puerto Rico.
Having the advantage of a last radar position, the search for this aircraft was quick and thorough, concentrating in its last known area. However, nothing was ever found. No ELT signal was ever picked up by any station, and no explanation was ever given for the “weird object.”
The case has been investigated by several UFO researchers, such as Jorge Martin, who interviewed witnesses and obtained documents related to the incident.
Martin claims that there is evidence of a cover-up by the authorities and that the object that Santos encountered was an extraterrestrial craft that abducted him and his friend.
The case remains unsolved and raises many questions about the nature and origin of the object that Santos saw and what happened to him and his companion. It is one of the most compelling examples of a possible UFO abduction in aviation history.