The story of pilot Jose Pagan Santos and his friend Jose Maldonado Torres is one that has captivated UFO enthusiasts for decades. On June 28, 1980, the two men were flying Flight N3808H from Santo Domingo to Puerto Rico when something strange and mysterious happened, causing them to vanish without a trace. To this day, the circumstances surrounding their disappearance remain shrouded in mystery, leaving many to wonder what really happened to them that fateful day.
In his last communication before vanishing without a trace, pilot Jose Pagan Santos described seeing something that left him feeling uneasy and disoriented.
The Disappearance of Flight N3808H
According to transcripts of his Mayday radio transmission, he reported an object in front of his plane that was unlike anything he had ever seen before. He struggled to find the right words to describe it, eventually settling on “weird.” He also noted that it was located at one o’clock from his position, suggesting that it was close and potentially dangerous.
Despite the best efforts of investigators, the true nature of the object and what ultimately happened to Santos and his friend remains a mystery to this day.
The events that unfolded on June 28, 1980, are the stuff of legends in the world of UFO enthusiasts. In his final communication, pilot Jose Pagan Santos described a harrowing encounter with an unidentified object that seemed to be toying with his aircraft.
Despite changing his course three times, the object continued to reappear in front of him, causing him to lose his bearings and feel disoriented. He even reported that he was unsure of his exact location, suggesting that the object had interfered with his instruments in some way.
At 8:03 PM that fateful evening, the world received its first hint that something was seriously wrong. The Las Mesas site and several other aircraft picked up Santos’ Mayday radio transmission, in which he frantically identified his plane as N3808H and pleaded for help.
The distress call was received by an Iberia Airlines Flight IB-976, which attempted to establish contact with Santos and Torres but was met with silence. The two men vanished without a trace, leaving behind a mystery that continues to baffle experts and enthusiasts alike.
The sense of panic and confusion in Santos’ Mayday radio transmission is palpable. He and Torres were on a routine flight from Santo Domingo to San Juan International when they encountered something that was anything but routine.
In a shaky voice, Santos attempted to describe the strange object that was causing them so much trouble. He referred to it as “weird,” suggesting that it was something completely unfamiliar to him. He then went on to describe how the object had forced them to change course three times, making it difficult for them to maintain their bearings.
He provided specific details about their location and altitude, giving those who would later investigate the incident valuable information to work with. However, it was clear that the situation was rapidly spiraling out of control, with their VORs going off frequency and the object still looming ominously in front of them.
“Ah we are going from Santo Domingo ah San Juan International, but we found ah, a weird object in our course that made us change course about three different times, we got it right in front of us now at one o’clock, our heading is zero seven zero degrees… our altitude one thousand six hundred a zero seven zero degrees… our VORs got lost off frequency…”
As Santos and Torres’ distress call went out over the airwaves, other pilots in the area quickly sprang into action, attempting to assist in any way they could. Iberia Flight IB-976 was one of the first to respond, relaying a message to San Juan Center on behalf of N3808H.
However, when they asked the distressed aircraft to turn on their transponder, they were met with a surprising response: the Ercoup was not equipped with one. This revelation only added to the confusion and sense of urgency surrounding the situation, as those trying to help were left scrambling to come up with alternative solutions.
Flight N3808H replied that the Ercoup was not equipped with a transponder. At 8:06 Iberia IB-976 asked for their call sign and estimated position and received this reply
“Right now we are supposed to be at about thirty-five miles from the coast of Puerto Rico but we have something weird in front of us that make us lose course all the time I changed our course a second (unintelligible) our present heading right now is three hundred we are right again in the same stuff, sir.”
Sadly, despite the best efforts of those who attempted to assist them, Santos and Torres were never heard from again.
The Atlantic Fleet Weapons Range was able to confirm the last radar position of N3808H as being 35 miles west of Puerto Rico, prompting a search and rescue operation that involved a variety of agencies and personnel.
Despite having the advantage of a last radar position, the search for N3808H proved to be both extensive and ultimately unsuccessful. Despite the best efforts of search and rescue teams, no trace of the aircraft or its occupants was ever found, and no explanation was ever provided for the strange object that Santos had reported seeing.
With its many strange and unexplained elements, the case of N3808H has continued to fascinate and intrigue UFO researchers, who have conducted their own investigations into the incident. Among them is Jorge Martin, who has uncovered documents and conducted interviews with witnesses in an effort to better understand what may have occurred on that fateful day.
Martin has gone on record as claiming that there is evidence of a cover-up by authorities and that the object Santos encountered was not of this world and was, in fact, responsible for abducting him and his friend. While the truth of these claims remains elusive, one thing is clear: the case of N3808H is one of the most compelling and mysterious examples of a possible UFO abduction in aviation history, and it continues to captivate the public’s imagination to this day.
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