As the Director and Editor-in-chief of Colombia’s English language newspaper, The City Paper, I take my journalistic ethics very seriously. I also worked as a photojournalist for the Black Star photo agency in New York for 10 years, covering conflict in Colombia and Angola, photo essays across Asia and South and Central America.
I have had the honor of having my work published in prestigious publications such as TIME, Der Spiegel, Stern, Marie Claire, The New York Times and many others. I do not manipulate my images.
On Sunday, April 12, I stepped out onto my balcony, which faces east and is located in the Rosales neighborhood of Bogotá. As is a bad habit, I enjoy a morning coffee with a cigarette. It was a grey, Sunday morning, the streets were empty, and washed with a light drizzle from the night, which had passed.
As I looked up and beyond the red walls of my barrio, I saw a black round object rise vertically into the sky, from behind a ridge of the Cerros Orientales. At a possible distance of 5 kms, the shape was rounded and appeared like a spot against the uniformity of grey, which was blanketing this capital of eight million.
As a frustrated commercial airline pilot, I know my planes. Up close and at great distances. I know how to distinguish the sound of an Airbus A 340 to a Boeing 777. I have studied flight maps, flight routes and flightaware. I understand these machines. I admire them. There was no fuselage, no winglets, no sound. This was no plane.
The black dot began to unravel itself. It stopped under the melancholic canopy of cloud and darted south, where it shifted on its side. I abandoned the cigarette for my connected iPhone. It said 7:55 am. I tried to look for the object in the sky. It was hovering West and moving between altitudes, over the Chapinero neighborhood of Bogotá and which sits at 2,600 meters above sea level.
The spot was not visible on the screen of my iPhone. I tried to look for it again with my eyes, but the black object had shifted in the sky above my building. I thought it might head towards the airport, so I grabbed my Nikon 300s and tried to remember where I keep a 500 mm lens, which I use only when there is a full moon. And not even.
I mounted the lens and went towards my kitchen which faces East, and with an uninspired view of the SENA tower. There it was, and now moving in a bizarre, erratic manner.
I tried to focus (had forgotten this vital skill with a 500 mm, fixed f.8) and pointed my lens towards the other side of Bogotá. The object was not one, but two it seemed.
As it stopped for a fleeting moment over the Campín area of town, an Avianca Airbus A320 had just taken off and was doing its mandatory right bank over the Calle 68. The plane was possibly heading to Cali. The pilots of the flight and Air Traffic Control Tower of El Dorado might have seen the object if I could from my kitchen.
It was very evident to me that this was an Unidentified Flying Object – UFO. No Drone. No Sunday morning balloon flight over a capital in which only official helicopters (Police and Army) can patrol. No small planes are allowed to cross the Colombian capital, expect with a very special permit handed down from the Aeronautica Civil (Civil Aviation Authority).
All small aircraft must depart from Guaymaral and circumnavigate Bogotá, allowing space for commercial jets to do their difficult take off procedure from the West to East, and at a high altitude, and with a mountain range facing the airport’s main, two runways, just 8 kms away.
My photography skills are rusty. I take few pictures these days: mostly portraits and stills for the pages of my newspaper. I could discern that the object shifted its shape. Could rise and fall quickly, and zip from one end of the city in a matter of seconds.
The rising Airbus as it headed to southern shores seemed heavy and lethargic by comparison. The black dot seemed to have rings. It then tilted, shifted to one side, and disappeared.
I left the kitchen and connected the Compact Flash card to my Mac. I opened Photoshop CS and zoomed in on my UFO. At times, it was black and rounded, then two rings were evident. With a closer look, the rings were golden.
The pictures are as they were captured, with shaky hands and guarded breath. I cropped several of them to examine the shape against the grey sky. Make your own conclusions. I am not here to convince you. That is not my objective. Just that this wet Sunday in Bogotá, something mysterious was seen over Bogotá and for which I have no answers.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We understand this is a difficult subject to present and we by no means are looking for any type of protagonism with this article. I apologize before hand to any reader who may take offense at this subjective matter and point-of-view article. We will be contacting the authorities in the days aheads to see if they can give us any insights as to what was taking place over the skies of Bogotá early April 12th.