A Loss Of Midair Control: The 1974 Lake Tequesquitengo UFO Encounter

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
November 28, 2023
Estimated Reading Time
7 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Close Encounters

In the spring of 1974, a young pilot returning to Mexico City suddenly found himself at the center of one of the strangest and most intriguing midair UFO encounters on record. Out of nowhere, the pilot would suddenly find his aircraft surrounded by three unknown and bizarrely-shaped aerial vehicles. Of more concern, not only were these three crafts in extremely close proximity to his plane, but they had seemingly taken control of it.

As well as the pilot’s witness testimony, the object was picked up by radar operators at Mexico City International Airport, with multiple staff hearing the events play out as they prepared for an emergency landing. Despite this, as we shall see, it appeared there were attempts made by the powers that be to distance themselves from the incident, even suggesting the entire episode was nothing more than some bizarre hallucination.

The account has appeared on many various websites over the years, but perhaps one of the most comprehensive accounts appeared in the August 1975 edition of the APRO Bulletin, from which, the details of the following encounter come from.

An Impending Collision With A Saucer-Shaped Object

On the morning of May 2nd, 1974, 23-year-old pilot, Carlos Antonio de los Santos Montiel, left the runway in Mexico City in his Piper Aztec 24 airplane. [1] His destination was Zihuatanejo in the state of Guerrero, where he arrived later that afternoon. He had originally planned to return to Mexico City that same day. However, by the time it was 8 pm, he made the decision to spend the night where he was and return the following day.

He would set off on his return journey at 10:30 am on May 3rd, a particularly cloudy and misty morning. After taking off, he quickly climbed to around 13,500 feet in order to escape the dreary conditions. However, with visibility still poor, he climbed higher, to around 14,500 feet where the sky was a clear blue and visibility was much better.

He remained at this altitude for much of the return journey, only beginning to drop lower when he was in the area of Tequesquitengo, and specifically, Lake Tequesquitengo, in order to use the water as a reference point in order to visually verify his position. However, despite being below the clouds, the weather conditions made it impossible for him to visually locate the lake. Then, things turned really strange.

A diagram showing the location of the UFOs

A diagram showing the location of the UFOs

As he turned his focus from the left side window to the front, something caught his attention to his right. When he turned fully in that direction, he was shocked to see a strange object in the sky with him – an object he would later describe as having the “appearance of two plates joined together at the rim with a cupola which had what seemed to be a little window ad antenna on top”.

He further recalled that the object was only around 20 centimeters above the tip of the right wing and only a matter of feet from the cockpit. To his utter amazement, when he glanced back at the left wing, another identical object hovered in the same position. He would later tell officials that he was “petrified”, especially when he witnessed a third object that appeared to be “about to collide head-on” with his aircraft.

Instead of colliding with him, however, this third object suddenly ducked and went underneath the plane. As it did so, though, Carlos could hear a strange sound from below, as if the mysterious craft had bumped or scraped his underside.

An Aircraft That Was “Out Of Control!”

At this point, Carlos noticed that his airspeed had dropped from 140 nautical miles per hour to around 120. Realizing he had to take action, he attempted to bank his aircraft to the left in an attempt to “bump” the curious craft away from him. When he did so, though, to his terror, he discovered that the controls were completely frozen and locked into place. Perplexed, he attempted to release the landing gear, thinking that might cause the object below him to leave. However, these two failed to engage.

Now, realizing he was in a potentially dangerous situation, Carlos radioed the control tower at Mexico City International Airport, informing them of the three objects and his loss of control. Recordings of those calls were later listened to by investigators. And it is clear, that while Carlos was completely in control both physically and mentally, he was certainly distressed at the events unfolding around him.

He would state that his “aircraft was out of control” and that he had “no control over it”. Furthermore, he would make it clear that he had “three unidentified objects flying around” him, adding that “one came under my aircraft and hit it”. He then repeated once more that he was no longer in control of the aircraft.

The control tower responded, asking for his position and reassuring him that they were looking into his report, to which he responded, rather urgently, that his aircraft was “out of control”.

Realizing that something truly out of the ordinary was unfolding, the authorities at Mexico City International Airport closed all the runways and prepared for an emergency landing.

An Otherworldly Control

As this was happening, the three objects maintained their position around Carolos’ plane, and of more concern, they still exerted complete control over it.

Meanwhile, the control tower had contacted Carlos’ uncle, Ignacio Silva la Mora, who happened to be an authority on aviation. He was eventually patched into Carlos via radio in order that he could speak to him directly and get a better understanding of the situation.

Carlos informed him that he was now at the Ajusco navigational fix and that the three aircraft had lifted his aircraft from 15,000 feet to just short of 16,000 feet. Then, things turned stranger still.

After maintaining their position for miles and keeping full control of his vehicle, the objects, one by one, suddenly left. First, the craft situated over the left wing pulled away and headed into the distance before being followed by the object on the right wing, followed by the third. He would report that he could see them heading in the direction of the Popocatepetl and Izraccihuatal volcanoes, both of which of more than their fair share of UFO sightings still to this day.

(From left to right) - Carlos' uncle, Ignacio la Mora, Carlos Montiel, and APRO Field Investigator F.I. Fernando Pareja.

(From left to right) – Carlos’ uncle, Ignacio la Mora, Carlos Montiel, and APRO Field Investigator F.I. Fernando Pareja.

With the objects gone, Carlos turned his attention to finally landing. However, the landing gear was still frozen in place. He would circle around the airport for almost 40 minutes, working on the landing gear with a screwdriver, eventually freeing it so that it dropped into place. He eventually landed on the runway at a little after 1:30 pm, with multiple emergency vehicles on both sides awaiting his arrival.

He was taken to the Airport Clinic after he vacated his plane, and following a full examination, was cleared as fit and healthy. It was also confirmed that he was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the flight. There would, however, be more mysterious events to come for the pilot.

Official Explanations Suggest An “Hallucination!”

Two days later on May 5th, it was determined by Captain Augusto Ramirez Altamirano that Carlos would be required to take a series of tests regarding the sighting, with particular attention paid to whether the lack of oxygen from flying at such a high altitude had caused him to hallucinate.

Julio Diaz (left), Carlos Montiel (right)

Julio Diaz (left), Carlos Montiel (right)

These tests would take place on May 7th, and involved neurological physical, and psychiatric examinations, administered by the Chief of the Aviation Department of Mexico City International Airport, Dr. Luis Amezuca. Ultimately, and perhaps quite unbelievably, it was determined b Amezuca that Carlos had likely hallucinated the three objects due to suffering from low blood sugar after having not eaten since 8 pm the previous evening.

As we might imagine, there were many who did not agree with these findings, perhaps not least Carlos himself. Several UFO investigators would examine the case, one of whom was APRO Field Investigator Telles, who spoke to several of those involved with the events, including Carlos himself.

Corroborating Radar Evidence

Essentially, he would determine that Carlos was a credible and reliable witness, with 370 hours of flying experience over a two-year period and holding both a private and commercial pilot’s license. He further found that Carlos did not drink, smoke, or take any illegal drugs, and had no interest in UFOs or even science fiction.

It was further determined by investigators that the theory that Carlos had hallucinated the entire episode due to low blood sugar was particularly unlikely, noting that he had not shown any of the symptoms of such problems, either before or after the encounter. Furthermore, it was clear, despite the surreal nature of the events, that Carlos was mentally sound and alert, even managing to free the landing gear while circling the airport and then landing the plane soundly.

Telles also spoke with the radar controller on duty that day at Mexico City International Airport, Julio Cesar Interian Diaz. He confirmed that the objects were picked up on radar, approximately 40 miles out from Mexico City International Airport. When the objects suddenly left Diaz recalled that the object performed a turn that was unlike a conventional aircraft. And what’s more, they did so at a speed of around 500 nautical miles per hour.

In short, despite the official suggestion that Carlos had suffered some kind of strange hallucination, it appears much more likely that he did, in fact, witness something truly strange that afternoon in the spring of 1974. Just what he did witness, though, remains a complete mystery half a century later.

Just What Happened? And Why?

Of course, this was not the first or the last time aircraft pilots have witnessed UFOs up close while in flight. However, what perhaps made Carlos’ encounter different from most was the complete control these strange objects appeared to have over his plane.

Indeed, we might ask, what was the purpose of this encounter? Was Carlos merely in the wrong place at the wrong time? Did these strange objects not expect his arrival, and so assessed his aircraft and any danger he might pose to them? And who, or what, exactly were they? Were these objects extraterrestrial vehicles from another world? Or might he have stumbled onto some kind of strange top-secret military crafts?

The incident took place only several months after a wave of sightings had surged across the North American continent in the second half of 1973, and only several years before similar waves would unfold in parts of Europe in the latter years of the 1970s. Whether this is of consequence or not remains open to debate. That Carlos saw something truly strange, however, surely doesn’t.

The case remains of interest to UFO enthusiasts and researchers still today, not least because of the apparent control this apparent otherworldly intelligence had over Carlos’ plane. What, for example, if a similar incident unfolded, only this one involved a commercial airliner with hundreds of people on board? Indeed, such possibilities mean we need to collectively get to the bottom of such cases sooner rather than later.

The short video below looks at this fascinating case a little further.


1 UFOs ‘escort’ Mexican Aircraft, UFO Evidence http://www.ufoevidence.org/cases/case311.htm

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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  • Albert S Rosales says:

    great article, should be May 1975 though

  • nelson mancilla says:

    consulte la pagina y estaban cobrando por la información, ya no me envíen mas avisos por favor

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