As the historic border town of Presidio, Texas, prepared for its first annual UFO festival (held October 19 & 20, 2012), inspired by a reported 1974 UFO crash about 40 miles northwest of town, two long-time area residents came forward with a remarkable tale of seeing a “glowing fireball” in the sky at the same time as the UFO incident. 82-year-old Johnnie Chambers, a legendary school teacher in Ruidosa and Candelaria, remembers seeing the strange fireball, “It was just a big explosion in the sky – mostly round. I can see it in my mind, but it’s hard to describe. I would say the width of it was about four or five miles and of course, it was up pretty high in the sky.”
Chambers’ son, John, who was ten years old at the time of the sighting, remembers that he and his mom were driving back to Ruidosa from Chinati Hot Springs when “all of a sudden a big old glow, fireball-looking thing, appeared over the mountain over there. We stopped and watched it for a while. It was quite a fireball.”
Their testimony is especially interesting to UFO researchers Noe Torres and Ruben Uriarte, whose 2007 book Mexico’s Roswell describes an alleged 1974 mid-air collision between an airplane and a UFO in precisely the same area where the Chambers saw the fireball. It is also claimed that on the day following the mid-air crash, a U.S. helicopter convoy arrived at the crash site and carried the UFO away, pausing briefly to set off a massive explosion that destroyed all remaining evidence at the scene. Afterward, the helicopters moved back across the border into Texas, crossing over just north of Candelaria. According to John Chambers, several Candelaria-area residents said they saw U. S. military helicopters flying back across the Rio Grande from Mexico a day or two after Chambers saw the glowing fireball.
The Chambers were driving west on Hot Springs Road, facing toward Mexico, when the strange blazing orb suddenly erupted in the sky over the Mexican mountain range that fronts the Rio Grande River. “It was just ‘boom,’ and it was there,” Mrs. Chambers remembers. She pulled her car over, and she and her son got out and watched the fireball. John Chambers recalls that their vantage point was ““about halfway from Chinati Hot Springs back to Ruidosa. About halfway back – it’d be about four miles from Ruidosa, approximately.”
Describing the object, he says, “It was fist-sized [from his viewpoint], like if you hold your fist out away from you – maybe even a little bigger. It was quite a fireball. It was darker in the middle and radiated out from there. It was between orange and reddish. It wasn’t really, really fire-red – blazing red – but it had a little orange in it, but right in the center, it was red. It seems like the center was a little brighter. It was bright red around the center and kind of orange around the edges. “
He adds that the object never moved as they watched it and didn’t seem to decrease in intensity. “It was stationary. I can’t remember how long it glowed. I don’t remember if we stayed and watched it until it stopped glowing or if we drove on to Ruidosa. It didn’t move up or down.”
“It stayed up there for a while,” he said. “We thought it was a fire. We had seen fires many times before on the other side of the mountain, and you’d see a glow at night – but not like that. It was different kind of glow. It was different from just a fire glow or anything like that. It was like the sun going down on the other side of the mountain is the way my mom and I remember it. It was kind of like the sun going down, but the sun had already gone down – so it was almost like the sun coming back up.”
Regarding how high up in the sky it was, John Chambers said, “There are high mountains over there. It was up above the mountains. Maybe at about 10 o’clock high. Of course, if we had been farther back toward Hot Springs, it wouldn’t have been as high – I mean we were dropping down in elevation as we were coming back to Ruidosa.”
“It seemed to be on the other side of the mountain, and it [the fire] came up over the top of the mountain,” Mrs. Chambers remembers. “We thought it might be a plane crash. We previously had a military plane crash up at the ranch [10 miles north of Candelaria]. A military plane crashed up there on the mountainside. I didn’t happen to see it, but we had some hunters out there at the time that did see it. That’s what it looked like to me – a huge explosion. I thought a plane had crashed into the mountain.”
John Chambers added, “We figured that it was a plane crash. But it would have to be a big plane to make that big of a fireball.”
To listen to this remarkable story, click on the YouTube link below:
The sighting began at around sundown and continued for perhaps up to half an hour. “It wasn’t quite dark yet. It was getting dark, but it wasn’t dark,” Mrs. Chambers said. After watching the fireball for several minutes from their stopped car, the Chambers continued driving down the mountain toward Ruidosa, but they drove slowly in order to continue watching the fascinating sight. Mrs. Chambers recalls, “We watched it all the way down the mountain – I imagine at least 5 or maybe 10 minutes more. We didn’t keep driving at regular speed. We slowed down and kept watching it.”
At some point, as they neared Ruidosa, the fireball suddenly disappeared. John Chambers said, “By the time we drove about four miles to the house, I don’t remember any more glow. Of course, were dropping way down, you know, down there by the river. Of course, with those steep roads, you wouldn’t be able to see it at all times, especially when you get down low and you’re heading away from it [as the road winds]. As I remember, when we got back to the house, we turned and looked back in that direction, and it was gone or it might have been a little glow.”
Mrs. Chambers also does not remember exactly when the object disappeared from their view. “It stayed for a few minutes and then just disappeared,” she said.
Although neither witness remembers the exact year or date of the sighting, Mrs. Chambers believes that it could have been 1974. “I taught in a one-room school house in Ruidosa from 1972 to 1975, and it seems that it happened a year or two before the school moved to Candelaria.”
“We’re not certain yet how what Mrs. Chambers and her son saw is related to the Mexico’s Roswell case, but we have a strong suspicion that it is related,” said Noe Torres, who co-authored the book Mexico’s Roswell. “We don’t know if the fireball they saw might have been the result of the initial mid-air collision between the airplane and the UFO. Or, it could have been the bomb that was reportedly detonated to hide the evidence at the UFO crash site.”
The Chambers had put the incident completely out of their minds until recently when Charles Angell, a friend of John Chambers, talked to him about the Mexico’s Roswell book in a chance meeting during which Angell told him about the UFO Festival in Presidio. As Angell briefly described the book to him, John Chambers suddenly exclaimed, “I remember seeing that!” He told Angell that, although he had never heard about the UFO part of the story, he did recall seeing a large fireball in the sky. Angell then arranged for Torres to interview both Chambers and his mom by phone, at which time they disclosed the facts of their sighting.
During the interview, John Chambers made another startling revelation to Torres – that within a day after he saw the strange glow in the sky, several area residents observed a group of military helicopters moving back into the U.S. from the Mexican side, including one large, twin-rotor helicopter. “It was several, maybe three or four,” he said. This observation also fits in with the “Mexico’s Roswell” scenario, in which military helicopters, after recovering the UFO in Mexico, brought it back across the Rio Grande River into Texas.
John Chambers adds, “People up at Candelaria said they saw them. In those days, there just wasn’t a whole lot of flying going on. It wasn’t like now with the B-1, military, and all that, you know, come through here. Back then, you didn’t see a while lot of that. They said they saw these helicopters – I don’t think they were real close to the town, because some of those people lived on ranches away from the town. They did see our military helicopters coming back out of Mexico. It was somewhere in that same time-frame [as the sighting of the fireball], like maybe the next day, or it could have been that same day.”
When asked if the helicopters might have been part of a routine military exercise, he replied, “They [the military] didn’t fly down here much until the late 70s or early 80s. That’s when they put this radar down here at Valentine. They put that in there and were trying to see if they could fly low enough to where they wouldn’t be picked up by the radar.”
Mrs. Chambers admits that her son probably heard a lot more from local residents about these mysterious events than she did, because he used to spend a lot of time visiting with friends in the small town of Ruidosa. She said, “John used to go around town after school and eat at different peoples’ homes and visit with them. He was the teacher’s son – so he was pretty much pampered. So he had a chance to talk to different people about what we saw. I didn’t have time to visit with the others about it.” That is why she doesn’t dispute her son’s remembrance that other Ruidosa residents also saw the glowing fireball and that they also saw the military helicopters coming back into Texas from across the border.
“The story about the helicopters is especially intriguing,” Torres said. “John Chambers says that they never saw any military helicopters in the area prior to this event – so this really stuck in the minds of the local people who saw them. Also, it was very strange that the helicopters would be coming back across the border from Mexico. Also unusual is the fact that the sighting of the helicopters occurred right after the strange fireball in the sky.”