On September 19, 1976, Tehran, the capital of Iran, became the location for an extraordinary event that has since become one of the most well-documented and compelling UFO sightings in history. Initially brought to public attention by the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) in November 1976, the incident has continued to fascinate ufologists and skeptics alike. This article aims to dissect the mysterious events of that night through eyewitness accounts, military reports, and subsequent investigations.


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Rendition of the UFO seen in 1976

The Initial Sightings

The event took place in the early hours of September 19, 1976. Hossein Pirouzi, an experienced air traffic controller at Mehrabad International Airport, was interrupted during a training session by several frantic telephone calls. Residents from the Shemiran area reported seeing an unusual, brightly lit object in the sky, with descriptions ranging from a birdlike entity to a helicopter with lights, despite no helicopters being airborne at that time.

With all of the calls, his curiosity peaked and Pirouzi observed the sky himself and spotted a luminous, cylindrical object about 6000 feet high, exhibiting an erratic seesaw motion. It was adorned with glowing blue ends and a red light orbiting its center, constantly morphing into different shapes, including a drooping star with a green body and a red core.

Hossein Pirouzi

The Scramble of Jets

Recognizing the seriousness of the situation, Pirouzi contacted the Imperial Iranian Air Force (IIAF), leading to the immediate deployment of an F-4 Phantom II jet from Shahroki Air Base. The pilot, Yadi Nazeri, was tasked with a visual inspection of the unidentified object. Despite being over 100 kilometers away, Nazeri described the UFO as an intensely bright entity, radiating violet, orange, and white light, positioned about 12,000 feet off the ground.

As Nazeri attempted to close in, the object evasively moved further away, maintaining a distance even as the jet reached speeds of Mach 2 (1522 mph) . When he turned back towards Tehran, Nazeri encountered another smaller object that darted past him, racing back to the city. This cat-and-mouse chase continued, with Nazeri experiencing a total loss of radio and navigational aids whenever he approached the UFO, only to regain them when he veered away.

Imperial Iranian Air Force

A Second Jet and Startling Discoveries

At 01:40 am, a second F-4 was launched, with the backseater acquiring a radar lock on the object. Despite their efforts, the UFO maintained a distance, displaying movements and speeds visibly recorded on the radar scope. The radar return suggested a size comparable to a Boeing 707 tanker, yet its actual size remained elusive due to the object’s intense brilliance.

Major Parviz Jafari, the squadron commander of the second jet, reported a smaller object emerging from the primary UFO and heading straight towards him at high speed. As he prepared to engage, his weapons control panel and all instruments failed, leaving him in a state of disbelief and vulnerability. Instructions from air traffic control soon directed Jafari to return, marking the end of a harrowing encounter.

Major Parviz Jafari


International Regulations and Anomalies

In the aftermath, researchers scrutinized international aviation regulations to understand the peculiarities of the sighting. The primary object’s alternating blue, green, red, and orange lights were of particular interest. According to FAA Federal Aviation Regulation 43 (91.1) and the International Civil Aviation Organization, blue lights are not authorized or legal on U.S. planes, suggesting that the object’s lighting configuration did not conform to known aviation standards.


The Second Phantom's Ordeal 

Following the initial bewildering events, Lieutenant Parviz Jafari piloted a second F-4 Phantom jet into the night sky at 1:40 a.m. Jafari and his radar operator detected the UFO, likened in size to a 707 Tanker, but couldn’t maintain proximity as the object eluded them by abruptly shifting position. Jafari described the UFO as having four strobe lights of different colors and a central red light with a yellow glow. A smaller light detached from the main object and aggressively approached the jet, causing Jafari to lose all weapon control and communications as he tried to engage it with a missile.

Both Jafari, his radar operator, and air traffic controller Hossein Pirouzi, along with his trainees, observed the smaller light land gently on the ground, illuminating the area intensely. Despite orders to shoot down the UFO, Jafari faced repeated equipment failures. As he and another commercial flight experienced navigation and communication issues, they spotted another cylindrical object with flashing lights coming out of the big ship. The UFO and its associated phenomena persisted until around 4:00 a.m., after which it ascended and vanished.

Close Encounters and Post-Event Investigations

The F-4 crew regained communications and watched as the object approached the ground, anticipating a large explosion. Instead, this object appeared to come to rest gently on the earth and cast a very bright light over an area of about 2–3 kilometers. Lieutenant. General Azarbarzin, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Operations of the Imperial Iranian Air Force, later confirmed the strong electromagnetic effect experienced by the two F-4s, describing an unprecedented form of jamming technology that disrupted various frequencies simultaneously, rendering the jets’ missiles inoperative.

Lieutenant General Azarbarzin

The Aftermath and Conflicting Reports

The morning after the encounter, the second jet pilot and his operator were dispatched in a helicopter to the lake bed where the object was believed to have landed. Although no physical evidence was found, several witnesses reported hearing a high-pitched “beeper” signal concentrated over a farmhouse to the west, where residents reported a loud noise and bright light early that morning.

The Tehran Journal ran a story on the UFO event, followed by a series of articles in various newspapers, some confirming while others denied the events of that night. The police were rumored to be involved, but no official investigation record exists.



International Attention and Military Communications

The Iranian Air Force interviewed the two pilots the day after the encounter. Lieutenant Colonel Olin Mooy of the U.S. Military Assistance and Advisory Group (MAAG) attended Jafari’s testimony. Mooy prepared a teletype message summarizing the interview results, which was sent to various U.S. government offices and intelligence agencies. Colonel Frank McKenzie of the U.S. Defense Attaché Office in Tehran sent a similar message to the Pentagon. However, responses were evasive or dismissive, with Henry Kissinger citing the 1969 Condon report as justification for disregarding UFOs.


In 1978, Captain Henry Shields published a short summary of the case, by which time the US Air Force had closed Project Blue Book and claimed to have concluded investigations into UFOs. Despite this, the Tehran UFO incident remains a compelling case in the study of aerial anomalies, marked by its high reliability and the credible military personnel involved. The events of that night continue to intrigue and mystify, leaving more questions than answers in the ongoing exploration of the unknown.



▶️ Watch the Tehran UFO Incident Video Here

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