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.

UFO captured in Bogotá
This image of a UFO was captured over the eastern mountains in Bogota, Colombia. (Richard Emblin)

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.

UFO spotted above Bogotá
The UFO appeared to change shape and color while flying higher in the sky above Bogota. (Richard Emblin)

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.  



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  • Neila

    Why is it acceptable for people to report on unusual/mysterious terrestrial objects (for example like huge craters forming in Siberia), but when someone reports on an unidentified flying object, they are ridiculed? UFO stands for unidentified flying object. It does not mean alien life form, three-headed monsters, little green men etc. To people like Natalia, I say this: Richard Emblin has in no way risked anything, not even his reputation, by reporting on what he has seen and witnessed. He has made no conclusions. He is doing his job as a journalist and telling us about something newsworthy.If it wasn’t for people like him all over the world, who put up with your kind of ridicule, we would still think the sun revolved around our planet.

    If you think that the whole subject of UFOs is ridiculous, then that means only one thing. You are the gullible victim of a the US government’s very successful 60-year cover-up operation to shame people into not talking about things that they either cannot explain, or things they want to be kept secret. Wake up.

    • Richard Emblin

      Thank you Nella. To say that I agree with you is an understatement.

      • Natalia

        Cambridge Dictionary :
        UFOs : Abbreviation for unidentified flying object: an object seen in the sky that is thought to be a spacecraft from another planet.

        Oxford Dictionary:
        UFOs: A mysterious object seen in the sky for which it is claimed no orthodox scientific explanation can be found, often supposed to be a vehicle carrying extraterrestrials.

      • Richard Emblin

        Thank you Natalia for looking up the term in several dictionaries.

  • just a thought… I did see a couple of UFO’s myself, but what about SONY? maybe they are testing some kind of new Hologram tech… this would explain the nonsensical morphing, and statical apearance. Not moving like tipical crafts.

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    Buenos días señor RICHARD EMBLIN, tambien he visto el objeto en mención, me gustaria pordeme comunicar con usted, es absurdo pensar que estamos solos en el universo. gracias

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  • dror s
    • Jaggo

      My thoughts exactly…

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  • Thanks for your serious attention to this. The governments of Chile, France have official branches which study the phenomenon (CEFAA, GEIPAN arm of CNES respectively). In the case of Chile, both the civilian and military authorities investigate such occurrences in an integrated manner with a multidisciplinary team involving scientists, academics in relevant fields. Here are examples of material from CEFAA:

  • Looks like a Mylar balloon.

  • AcidRain

    Mr Emblin, someone above posted a link to another incident. It which seems to be most significant in that it looks like just like your observation, except with much better quality. Can you confirm that this is what you seen?

    • AcidRain

      If you look closely in the video the balloon eventually snaps at the weak seal point and transforms into the “UFO”. Interesting sight, but still just a balloon in my opinion.

  • Amit kumar

    I do believe in UFOs, but have often found them to be confused with several of the nature’s bizarre events. In this case, to me, it seems like a swarm of small insects hanging around. As it rained last night, it is more obvious for insects to enjoy sun rise.. My speculation is also based on the two facts, first, that this object is said to be shape shifting, which is quite a generous spectacular view often presented by swarms.. Second, despite of having professional grade camera and lenses the pictures are not so clear, with the given photographic skills it is probable the target itself is not so clear, as in case of swarms of insects. But yes, if the “thing” is moving around entire city’s horizon in a matter of seconds, surely I am wrong.

  • Oh, and also your UFO looks like a cheerio in your cereal bowl

  • james

    Amazing! Why would this man risk his reputation over a ufo article if he didn’t feel what he was seeing was real and worth reporting? I for one believe him.

    • Joe


  • Richard, Given your distinguished career in “mainstream” journalism, the only surprising thing about this article is your independence, integrity and bravery in covering the subject.

    You have many colleagues who are fully aware of the reality of the UFO phenomenon but who are too afraid of unwarranted ridicule to report on this supremely important topic.

    Please know that there were countless readers who respect, admire and support you for writing this. There is NO legitimate basis for anything less.

    Thank you.

  • You say this UFO can’t be a balloon because a balloon flying in this area is not permitted. But couldn’t it be an illegal balloon? But why mention balloons at all if the object zipped across the city in a matter of seconds as you say? I think we all agree no balloon can do that.

  • You might want to look at this video, your ufo looks like his ufo. Which freaks me out a bit.

  • When somebody is not able to accept the UFO´s presence in the world’s sky, most probably his / her mind is being closed to what we know exists, but can not verify because we have had the chance to see them only a very very few times. This a good article, and of course, the picture which looks very similar to others taken in other places.

  • REAL…I know what l saw, some years ago. I just don’t understand why they simply can’t set down on the White House lawn, and we’ll go from there…

  • Alex

    That would support Jacques Vallée’s theory about some UFOs. Good job capturing that. I know some people would be interested in getting their hands on the raw files. Wink Wink.

  • Joe Duke

    It appears to be the same shape in all of your photos.

    • Richard Emblin

      Yes it was. It moved very quickly. Too fast at times for my 500mm lens.It girated, shifted, slanted, stopped, rose, fell, stayed still.

      • Richard Emblin

        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 to any reader who may take offense at this subjective experience and point-of-view article. We will be contacting the authorities in the days ahead to see if they can give us any insight as to what was taking place over the skies of Bogotá early April 12th.

  • Natalia

    All those good credentials and you are writing about UFOs ? …. How good was the porro you were smoking.

    • Richard Emblin

      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 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 insight as to what was taking place over the skies of Bogotá early April 12th.

    • Natalia. Your comment reveals that you are either ignorant of the enormous amount of radar, photographic, eyewitness, and documentary evidence for the existence of anomalous aircraft over the past seventy years, or that you are simply an asshole.

      • Natalia

        An asshole, wow ! that´s a bit over the top, don´t you think Will ?… well my eyes are not closed as you might think, I have actually read about these called “phenomenons”… and the reallity is that there´s always a more mundane explanation to it.
        There are really interesting talks about these “super natural” topics on-line, check for lawrence krauss or Brian Cox, these guys have really interesting opions about it and as them I´m very passionated about the universe and to know what is in there. (Not as smart as them though) ….. the Porro reference I did, was just a joke…. So Will relax !! I´m not an asshole …. I´m actually a very nice and smart lady. 😉

    • Open your eyes, Natalia. They are obviously closed.

      • Natalia

        Nop John they are not…. actually very open. read my response above.