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The September 19, 1976, incident in Tehran, Iran, started much like many others, with phone calls from concerned citizens reporting a bright light in the sky.

An F-4 fighter jet was sent out to investigate, but as it neared the object, its instruments blacked out, forcing the pilot to return to base. A second F-4 took its place, and as it neared the unusual light, it achieved radar lock. But according to the pilot, the UFO released a glowing object—which the pilot assumed to be some sort of missile headed straight for him. As he prepared to fight back, the pilot experienced malfunctions with his instruments and he witnessed another bright object released from the UFO that headed straight toward the ground. He safely returned to base, despite the faulty equipment.

After the incident, Iran contacted the United States to aid them in an investigation. An unclassified memo by U.S. Air Force section chief Lieutenant Colonel Olin Mooy detailed the events of the night: There are explanations for nearly all of them.

First, the bright light seen by civilians (and possibly the pilots) might have been Jupiter, which was visible in the sky that night. Second, as author Brian Dunning notes in his podcast “Skeptiod,” the second F-4 jet had a long history of electrical problems, meaning the instrumentation might have failed regardless of possible UFO interference. It also could explain the radar lock—it might simply have been a malfunction. The first F-4, reports Dunning, was never turned in for maintenance following the incident, so there’s no official indication that its instrumentation failed. And finally, as for the “alien missiles,” there was a meteor shower that night, which could easily account for the sightings.

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