May 10, 2022 I Paul Seaburn

New Version of National Geographic UFO Photo Called “Best Ever” – Is It?

When you see a photo whose owner claims it is an image of a UFO or flying saucer, do you immediately believe them? How do you feel if the photograph is a clear image – not the usual blurry blob of light – of something that looks like a flying saucer? Would you be more likely to believe it’s something unearthly if the source of the photograph was the longtime leader in photography excellence – the National Geographic Society. Well, pull up an ergonomic chair and get your photo software ready because an image taken in 1971 by the National Geographic Institute of Costa Rica has risen like a flying saucer into our viewfinder with a high-resolution version of the original that is being called by some the best UFO photograph ever.

Better than this? (Not a real UFO photo)

Take a look at the image here.

“An unusual image was photographically recorded by an official mapping aircraft of the Costa Rican government at 08:25 am (EDT) on September 4, 1971 while flying at 10,000 feet altitude over a body of water known as Lago de Cote. None of the flight crew or photographers saw the object.”

In 1989, Costa Rican UFO researchers Dr Richard Haines and Dr Jacques Vallée obtained a second generation negative and positive black and white transparencies of the long-rumored photograph of an unidentified flying object taken by aerial photographer Sergio Loaiza while working for the National Geographic Institute of Costa Rica to map the area around the Arenal Volcano in the northern highlands to evaluate the potential impact of a proposed hydroelectric project. According to a recent report by UAP Media UK, Loaiza used a 100-pound map-making camera to snap black-and-white photos at 20 second intervals. None of the plane’s occupants noticed anything while in the air and no one saw any anomalies while initially reviewing the photos. However, a later examination under magnification found something.

“On frame number 300, with a timestamp of 8.25am, the image shows what appears to be a shiny metallic disc on the right of the photograph. Over the years, the object’s size has been estimated to be between 120-220 feet in diameter.”

UAP Media UK claims higher ups at the National Geographic Institute told the participants to keep the photo quiet. Apparently, they didn’t, and rumors floated throughout the UFO research community until 1989 when Haines and Vallée managed to review a copy of an original negative and a positive transparency (a reverse negative of a black-and-white photo). They noticed that the frames immediately before and after #300 showed nothing. However, their expert analysis confirmed the time-of-day based on sun angle and shadows (although no shadow of the object is seen). One discrepancy – the 1989 report estimates the object’s size at “210 meters (683 feet)”, not the 120-220 feet reported by UAP Media UK. They also noted that the “same body of water was the site of a visual observation of a partially submerged object on October 25, 1986.” An interesting aside: a recent tweet by UAP Costa Rica showing a colorized version of the original photo notes that “The heart-shaped Lake Cote was a very sacred place of pilgrimage for the shamans of the Maleku indigenous tribe in Costa Rica. A place of the Gods and Spirits.” Unfortunately, Haines and Vallée concluded “The various analyses failed to identify the image.” Another analysis in 1990 contains an enlarged photo of the disc. (See the report here.)

Why can't they look like this? (Not a real UFO photo)

The story might have ended there if not for the interest of organizations like UAP Media UK and New York Times UFO reporter Leslie Kean, who is said to have a copy of the image on her office wall. UAP Media UK is now reporting that Costa Rican Esteban Carranza gave it an 8x10 negative, a “contact” copy of the original negative that resides in the National Archives of Costa Rica, which he acquired this from his late uncle who he says obtained from the National Geographic Institute a decade after it was taken. Carranza claims he showed it to Sergio Loaiza, the technician in charge of the camera, who estimated the contact copy was made around 1975, which explains the scratches. Then Carranza sent the negative to Michael Strickland Photography in Kansas which used a Tango Drum Scanner to produce a very high-quality digital scan at an extremely high resolution. (See the result here.) That image was given to UAP Media UK, which distributed it to its investigative team. Here are some of their comments:

“It definitely looks a lot more convincing than a lot of other images I've seen over the years.”

Graeme Rendall - Author of UFOs Before Roswell and Flying Saucer Fever

“For me, the shape of the object recalls similar descriptions made - and drawn - by pupils who observed the infamous Westall High School flying disks in Melbourne, Australia in 1966. This correlation alone makes it worthy of further investigation."

Dave Partridge - Editor of Shadows Of Your Mind magazine

“The fact that after 50 years it still hasn’t been conclusively proven or debunked is very interesting.”

Vinnie Adams - Host of Disclosure Team Podcast

“During my time in AATIP, these incidents were surprisingly common.”

Luis Elizondo - Former director of AATIP

Take a look at the photos again here. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the investigators?

Why did the National Geographic Institute of Costa Rica hide it?    

Paul Seaburn
Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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