Updated: Nov 19, 2021
Birmingham UFO Group Case Report
Author: Dave Hodrien
Release Date: 10/11/2021
Last Updated: 19/11/2021
Devon farmer Adrian Johns initially got in touch with BUFOG on 25th September 2021 via our sightings reporting form on the website to report an incident which happened back in 1996 while he was working in Venezuela. It became apparent from the form details that Adrian had not only seemingly witnessed a UFO alongside others, he had also watched it crash land! Over numerous follow on phone calls and E-Mails the full details of this stunning incident, never before reported, came to light. This report goes over this fascinating and important case in depth.
Adrian has been a farmer for most of his working life. He currently lives in Bideford, Devon. However back in 1975 when he was 26 years old there was a farming crisis and a severe decline in revenue. At the time he rented a farm, but due to the crisis could not afford to pay the rent for it, and was unable to take a loan out either.
He came across an advert in Farmers Weekly in which Union International were offering a position for a cattle ranch assistant in Venezuela. At the time he was single so had very few ties to the UK. He decided to apply for the job. According to Adrian over 100 people applied for the position, but he was successful in securing it. And so, in September 1976, he moved across to Venezuela and began working on a ranch near to Valencia.
As the years went by, he worked at a number of different ranches, and gained a name for himself in the area. In 1996, the year the incident took place, he had rose to the position of Ranch Administrator, and worked at Corralito Ranch, Cojedes, North North East of El Baul. His two step-brothers Edgar and Tony also worked there.
Parts of the ranch were covered in thick jungle vegetation, which were home to some interesting, sometimes dangerous, wildlife. As an example here is a photograph of Adrian meeting an anaconda:
He was well known in the area, to the extent that he was even mentioned in a book called “Painting The Jungle” by famous historian and wildlife painter Jan Dungel. Here is the front cover of the book and a page which includes a passage about Adrian:
The author sent Adrian a copy of the book, even writing a personalized message for him inside the front cover:
It was between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day of 1996. Due to the time of year many of the employees of the ranch had gone home to see their families. Adrian, Edgar and Tony remained at the ranch, as well as a number of other cowboys.
It was around 6pm and due to the time of year the sun would soon be starting to set. Every evening Adrian would drive to the main gate of the ranch to lock it up and prevent unwanted visitors during the night. He set off from the ranch centre with Edgar, Tony and three cowboys named Bartolo, Uvenci and Pajarote in his white Ford 150 pickup truck. There was no real need for them all to come along, he just invited them along for the company.
It was a wonderful clear evening, very warm and dry, with no clouds in the sky. They drove along the gravel road which led past the landing strip and followed the central hills of the ranch. They reached the gate about 6.30pm. After locking it, they headed to the gate house to meet up with the guard who lived there with his family.
After a cup of black coffee and a chat with the guard, the men set off back to Corralito Ranch centre about 7pm. By now the light had almost gone from the sky. Adrian drove the truck, his step-brothers sat next to him, with the three cowboys on the back seat.
They reached the landing strip (which had been blocked off to prevent unauthorized landings) and continued along the road which ran alongside it. Suddenly Adrian, Edgar and Tony all spotted something in the sky at once. There ahead of them and off to their left to the East was a glowing object at very low altitude, around 50 feet off the ground. For a brief moment Adrian assumed it was the ranch owner arriving un-announced in a light aircraft, but then realised it was moving much too slowly for this to be the case, 20mph or even slower. Upon realising this he slammed the brakes of the truck on. Everyone leapt out of the truck to get a better look.
Adrian estimates that the UFO was about 100 feet away from their position. It appeared to be a brightly glowing cigar-shaped object. Half way along it, within the bright yellow light, he could see a round white window or porthole. He says that there may have been others hidden behind the glowing light emanating from the object. He estimates it was about 30 feet across, around the same size as a Cessna 414.
It was clear that from the height it was at it that it must have manoeuvred between the central hills of the ranch off to the East of their location without hitting them.
The object moved on a straight and level course heading in a South West West direction. It was completely silent despite its apparent closeness. As it glided across the road ahead of them it suddenly burst into flames. The orange flames flowed across its surface as it continued to travel on the same course and speed. There was no smoke or vapour trail.
The men watched the object in awe for a couple of minutes, talking to each other about it. They did not have a camera with them so taking a photograph or video of the object was not an option. As it moved away it slowly rose in altitude to match the topgraphy of the terrain (only by a short distance, perhaps another 50 feet). It passed over a low hill on the far side of the landing strip, and then over the boundary of the ranch.
Without warning the object suddenly broke up into numerous flaming pieces! There appeared three large segments and a few smaller pieces. They began to separate off in different directions and fall down to the ground. Adrian says the speed of this descent also felt slower than would have been expected. It took about 20 seconds for the pieces to fall out of sight into the trees in the distance.
It was hard to say exactly how far away it was when this took place as it was completely dark by now and hard to judge the distance. However it could not have reached the hills to the South West West as otherwise it would have either climbed greatly in altitude or crashed into them.
Unfortunately the men were unable to drive over to the location where the pieces seemed to have touched ground, as it was the wet season. The area of jungle outside of the boundary of the ranch was heavily flooded and marsh-like, making it extremely difficult to explore by vehicle or on foot. They continued to discuss what they had just witnessed as they got back into the truck and drove the rest of the way to the ranch centre.
The men were seemingly not the only witnesses to the object. The following day Adrian had the radio on when someone reported that a small Cessna aircraft to the South of Apure had to make an emergency landing at San Fernando de Apure the previous afternoon because of a close encounter with a brightly lit object which had crossed in front of him. The pilots reported that the object had been travelling to the North.
A family friend named Andrea lived on the ranch. They had family living in a village called Guardatinjajas to the North East East of the ranch. Andrea had gone to visit her family for the Christmas period. When she returned in early January and found out about the incident from Adrian, she informed him that an unusual glowing object was observed over the village by numerous people on the same afternoon. The object they saw was initially headed Northward, but suddenly made a sharp turn and began heading to the West.
It seems likely that the three incidents were related and were sightings of the same thing, due to the fact that they all occurred within hours of each other and all reported a glowing aerial object. As the pilots of the plane made an emergency landing at San Fernando they must have been in the vicinity. They reported the object as travelling North. San Fernando lies roughly South of Guardatinjajas, so it would have reached the village if it continued on the same course.
The villagers reported that the object had abruptly turned and headed off to the West. Corralito Ranch is roughly West of Guardatinjajas so again this would make sense if the object made no further significant changes to direction before reaching the landing strip where it was observed by Adrian and the other witnesses.
From the details provided it is possible to create a map showing the estimated route of the UFO on the afternoon of the incident.
Crash Site Inspection
Adrian says that by late February the dry season had begun, and the area where the pieces of the object had came down had dried out enough to be explored. One day he decided to head out to the location with several other farm hands. He did not tell his step-brothers or the cowboys who had witnessed the UFO, it was a spur of the moment thing.
He extensively searched the area with the farm hands for a period of hours, but sadly found nothing. However this does not mean that nothing came down. Adrian informed me that there was heavy vine growth in the area, so it is possible the pieces had sunken into the wet ground and then been grown over by vegetation, preventing them from being easily spotted. Reluctantly he returned to the ranch centre and soon afterwards told the other witnesses that he had found nothing.
This is a fascinating account of what appears to be the genuine crash landing of a highly unusual object. While it seems likely that the previous sightings in South Apure and Guardatinjajas were the same object there are not enough details to prove this conclusively. So let’s first analyse the sighting over the ranch on its own.
One of the issues with the apparent low altitude of the object is that there are hills both to the East and West of the air strip. However Adrian assumes that the object must have steered between the hills to the East (if it had indeed travelled West from Guardatinjajas), which would of course indiciate it was under control. And the route the object travelled on meant it avoided the taller hills to the West. This can be seen from the below topography map, which indicates the position of the witnesses and the estimated route of the object:
I asked Adrian whether the object could have been a light aircraft a higher altitude than it appeared to be, travelling at around 30 mph (the slowest speed a light aircraft could potentially fly at) and reflecting the setting sun, and thatperhaps tiredness due to the time of day could also have been a factor. He provided the following statement relating to this theory.
"We all could not understand why this object was in the air at such a slow speed. Hence it must have been well below 40 mph. In fact, it could well have been 20 or below as it seemed to take an age to cross the pista/landing strip.
I stand by the height. It did not reach the nearby hills as we definitely saw the pieces falling in the night sky to tree level before disappearing from sight. If it had reached the hills, then we would have seen the pieces ground-up high. At that time it was complete darkness.
All of us were very accustomed to seeing different small planes arriving at Hato Corralito at all times of the day. Exceptionally early when the sun had not shown itself to late in the evening when dusk was turning to night. Planes had flown in from over our hills coming from North to South and taking a large loop to land from the West. The night was almost on us. Deepening dusk turning to night. The object glowing was not from the sun. Definitely not.
The object when it disintegrated would have been higher than when passing over the pista. Due to the difference in topography, it could have been as much as 100 feet up as opposed to 50 feet which is what we collectively thought originally as it passed in front of us at the pista. The speed of descent seemed a long time as we watched. Again, probably to us, it seemed a long time but thinking about it, the time it took to fall must have been relatively short due to its height and one could take into consideration that the material employed in the construction of said object may have been lighter than normal metal.
One must remember that when I had contact with my boss he confirmed that there had been no reported plane crash and no missing pilot. He and his two brothers were experienced pilots even flying to Florida in their planes.
As for being tired, no way. As this was between Christmas and the New Year, the only work being carried out was the Caporal with his men moving cattle within their rotations, nothing more. Me, tidying up my office and taking time out.
In twenty-five years running the ranch, I must have witnessed certainly more than 1000 flights in and out with planes up to 20 seaters. At all times of the day. What we saw was definitely not a plane of any type or size. Neither was it illuminated by the sun, as that had dropped below the hills and the night was almost on us, light disappearing fast as it did in Venezuela."
Based on Adrian's statement I would say that it is clear the object was clearly not a normal aircraft or helicopter reflecting the fading sunlight, and that it was self-luminescent. At this distance it passed the witnesses it would have been easy to see the shape of the object, including any wings or tail if it had any. It would also have been possible to hear the sound of engines or rotor blades, yet Adrian says that the object was completely silent.
It seems very unlikely that it was a balloon or other drifting inflatable. You would first have to ask why someone would launch such a thing in the first place, given the fact that the sighting occurred in a very rural location many miles away from any urbanized areas.
As previously mentioned, the object seemed too bright to be reflection of sunlight, and the sun was near set, so if it was a balloon/inflatable this would have to have been lit from within. Chinese lanterns were not commercially available back in 1996. It appeared to be much too large to be a lantern, the wrong shape and the wrong colour too – lanterns are usually an amber orange colour. A lantern would not have had the round window/porthole which Adrian described seeing.
The object remained on a straight and level course for a number of minutes. While it is possible for a lantern to get caught in an air current, a small amount of drift would usually be noticeable. While a lantern could conceivably catch on fire and continue to drift for a period of time while burning, it would not break up into separate pieces as was observed.
While most LED balloons are quite small in size, larger ones are sometimes created for celebrations, and can even be flown via remote control. However these are a relatively modern thing and were not available in the 1990s. Also it is very unlikely that an LED balloon would catch fire or break up into separate pieces.
It is extremely unlikely to have been ball lightning. This is relatively small in size, rounded in shape (hence the name) and can only occur in stormy weather. It was a beautiful afternoon with a clear sky. An earth light is also highly improbable. Again these tend to small in size and occur close to the ground for short periods of time. Neither ball lightning or earth lights would have window(s)/porthole(s), and would not visibly catch fire. The fact that the object broke apart into various segments suggests it was solid rather than made up of glowing energy.
There are two explanations which at least have some similarities to what was reported. The first of these is a hydrogen-filled airship. Airships are quite large in size and tend to be white in colour, which could conceivably look like glowing yellow if reflecting sunlight. They are also a similar shape to what was described. As they are piloted they can travel on a straight course, and tend to do so at a slow speed.
However there are a number of significant issues with this explanation. Firstly there are no windows around the centre of an airship, they are on the cabin which hangs below the inflated balloon. Adrian does not recall seeing anything at the base of the object. Airships tend to have short tails and side fins, again notably absent. The propellers of an airship are quite loud and make a droning noise which the witnesses would surely have heard as it passed in front of them. Lastly if an airship caught fire and eventually exploded, the sound of this would definitely have been heard, even from a couple of kilometres away.
Here is a video of an airship slowly crashing for comparison. The noise of the propellors can clearly be heard:
The other explanation worth considering is a meteorite. These are extremely rapid in speed, but maybe the object was much higher than it appeared to be, which would make it seem to travel slower across the sky. Meteorites always burn up and can sometimes break apart as they descend.
But again there are all sorts of issues with this explanation. Firstly the object looked too structured in its shape to be a meteorite, which generally appear as a burning fireball. A meteorite would not have any windows/portholes visible. It would be constantly burning from the off as opposed to suddenly bursting into flames. Even at high altitude a meteorite still crosses the sky in seconds as opposed to minutes. And possibly most important of all, meteorites have a long trail behind them. There was no trail seen behind object at any point of the sighting.
Below is a montage of various pieces of footage of a meteorite which came down in Russia in 2013:
As you can see, this looks significantly different to what Adrian has drawn and reported. Therefore I feel there is strong enough evidence to propose that what was seen was not a meteorite.
With all these explanations adequately dismissed, I feel that there is a good chance that this was a genuine sighting of an advanced craft which got into some kind of trouble, burst into flames and then came down into the jungle, breaking apart as it did.
If it was an intelligently controlled craft then this would explain how it was able to perform the right angle turn over Guardatinjajas and then manouvre between the hills to the East of the ranch before finally reaching the air strip. Adrian says that at the altitude it was at it would have certainly crashed into one of the nearby hill tops before even reaching his location unless it had been intentionally steered between them. While this was not directly witnessed, this does not mean that this did not take place.
It is a shame that so many years have gone by since the incident took place. While it is conceivable that pieces of the object still exist today at the crash site, they will have long since been completely lost within the vegetation or sunken into the mud during the many wet seasons which have occurred since. Adrian could not find anything only months after it had happened, so the chances of finding anything now would be remote.
UFO crash cases, especially those from trusted sources, are quite rare in the world of Ufology. We currently have no physical proof of this incident, and at present only have Adrian’s word to go on. I am hoping to speak soon with one of his step-brothers soon to get a second witness testimony. Once I do, his testimony will also be added to this report.
However I fully trust that Adrian is telling the truth about what he witnessed back in 1996. He readily provided me with evidence of his position at the time, including a photograph of his ID card and the passage in the book. He was also able to give extremely specific details and answer all my questions without pause. Therefore this is a significant case, and it is great that Adrian has decided to get in touch and officially get it down on record. Perhaps one day independent witnesses from either the passenger plane or Guardatinjajas will come forward regarding this astounding incident.
Adrian had a previous unrelated UFO sighting while on another ranch in 1976 soon after moving out to Venezuela. Click here to go to the report.
Copyright Dave Hodrien 2021