November 14, 1979: ‘Whatever the objects were, they were certainly interested in my piece of metal,’ the pilot said
A Spanish Caravelle jet aircraft on a charter flight from Salzburg to the Canary Islands was forced to make an emergency landing in Valencia because, the pilot claims, it was buzzed by UFOs.
This story was confirmed yesterday by the pilot of the plane, Captain Javier Lerdo Tejada, in Arrecife, the capital of the Canary Island of Lanzarote. “What I saw,” he said, “was an unidentified flying object.”
The aircraft, belonging to the Spanish charter company TAE, was flying 109 German and Austrian tourists to Tenerife, with a refuelling stop at Palma, Majorca, when Captain Tejada saw the object. The passengers were told that the emergency landing was due to a fault.
“I have never known such danger,” Captain Tejada said yesterday. “Whatever the objects were, they were certainly interested in my piece of metal. I saw two very strong red lights. I had never seen anything like it before. They moved very fast and kept together both vertically and horizontally and came closer. They were with my plane for 10 minutes or more.
“I first saw them when they were at 23,000ft. They appeared to be 15 miles away. At 28,000ft they were half a mile away and at 29,000ft they were on top of me on a collision course.
“Earlier, I had ordered passengers to fasten their seat belts and had turned on landing lights as a precaution. I radioed Barcelona control but they could see nothing on their scanner. Then I radioed the Air Force in Madrid, which is part of Spain’s early warning system and uses more sophisticated equipment. They picked up the objects when they were very close to me.
“I then took emergency procedure, turning sharply away from them. The objects were then clearly spotted by Madrid. The objects followed me down, 12,000ft in 30 seconds. I have never heard of a plane capable of doing that. When I was 30 miles outside Valencia they disappeared.
“A Mirage interceptor was sent up from the air base at Albacete. What the Mirage saw is a military secret but I spoke to the pilot later and he confirmed what I had seen.”
Captain Tejada is an experienced pilot. He served with the Spanish Air Force for six years, and has been a commercial pilot for the past nine years.