(Credit: USAF)

UAP Incident Over the Gulf of Mexico Revealed by U.S. Congressman Confirmed in Newly Declassified Files and Images

New details involving a military pilot UAP incident over the Gulf of Mexico revealed by a U.S. Representative last summer have come to light, following the release of documents in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

The incident, first described by Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) last year during a widely viewed Congressional hearing on unidentified anomalous phenomena, reportedly occurred on January 26, 2023, during a test mission operated out of Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

Now, additional confirmation of the incident has been obtained by Abbas Michael Dharamsey through documents he obtained through a FOIA request, copies of which were subsequently made available by researcher John Greenewald at his website, The Black Vault.

Although most of the information in the documents is redacted, a declassified summary of the incident is provided, along with a sketch depicting the appearance of one of the UAPs the pilot encountered.

Sketch of “UAP-1” as described by the unnamed USAF pilot during the 2023 UAP incident over the Gulf of Mexico (Credit: USAF via FOIA/A.M. Dharamsey/The Black Vault).

According to the declassified summary, the United States Air Force pilot successfully obtained a radar lock on four unidentified objects and subsequently obtained a screen capture of one of the UAPs, the only one with which visual contact was made.

The declassified summary, as well as the sketch provided to Dharamsey in the FOIA release, both depict an object resembling a NASA Apollo-era space capsule, which possessed a rounded, reddish orange illuminated bottom portion, while the upper section was described as “a three-dimensional cone shape” which featured what resembled “gunmetal gray segmented panels.”

The object, referred to as “UAP-1” in the summary, was observed operating at an altitude of around 16,000 feet, while two of the other objects detected solely on radar were observed at 17,000 and 18,000 feet above ground level. The fourth object was reportedly lost from radar, making any estimates of its altitude impossible for the pilot to obtain.

Although the above data on altitude was obtained, the summary states that no airspeeds were noted for the unidentified objects, although they did not outpace the pilot, who was able to close to within 4,000 feet of UAP-1, at which time the aircraft’s radar began to malfunction and remained disabled.

“Post-mission investigation revealed that a circuit breaker had triggered,” the brief declassified summary concludes, “but that maintenance technicians were unable to conclusively diagnose the fault.”

Sometime after the events described in the summary, Gaetz was reportedly shown the image obtained by the pilot during a visit to Eglin Air Force Base.

“Several months ago, my office received a protected disclosure from Eglin Air Force Base indicating there was a UAP incident that required my attention,” Gaetz later wrote in a post on X. Gaetz said that after learning of the incident, he requested a briefing on the situation and traveled to Eglin, accompanied during the visit by Reps. Tim Burchett (R-TN) and Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL).

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz speaks during last July’s UAP hearing (Credit: Subcommittee on National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs).

“We were initially denied access to images, radar, and conversation with all members of the flight crew,” Gaetz said. However, Gaetz was eventually allowed to review the photograph obtained by the pilot involved in the UAP encounter.

Gaetz said that he was the only one who was shown the UAP image at the time and that he had an opportunity to speak with the pilot, who told him the objects were observed on radar “flying in a diamond formation.”

“The image was of a UAP that I am not able to attach to any human capability, from the United States or from any of our adversaries,” Gaetz said of the image he was shown.

Describing the incident during a hearing held by the Subcommittee on National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs last July, Gaetz also said he had observed a radar sequence obtained by personnel at Eglin during the incident that further corroborated the sighting.

Despite the object’s superficial resemblance to an “Apollo spacecraft,” the description of the incident provided in the newly released FOIA documents appears to describe four objects flying in formation, three of which were detected on radar and maintained altitudes close to 16,000, 17,000, and 18,000 feet respectively, and for a duration long enough that imagery of the nearest object, UAP-1, was obtained. Such circumstances would appear to rule out any conventional object resembling a known spacecraft during reentry, for which details would likely have been easily accessible.

In a posting on X, writer Mick West surmised that “it’s impossible to rule out that it was just a balloon (or four balloons).”

“It might also be an alien spaceship, but I’d put “balloon” at #1 with the current data,” West added.

Apart from balloons, reentry capsules, or alien spacecraft, another object that the pilot’s sketches of “UAP-1” bears a passing resemblance to was described by three witnesses decades ago during a harrowing encounter near Dayton, Texas in 1980.

On the evening of December 29 of that year, 51-year-old Betty Cash was driving home from dinner with her friend Vickie Landrum, 57, and Landrum’s seven-year-old grandson Colby when they observed a bright light in the distance. As the trio approached the stretch of the roadway where the light appeared to be hovering, what they initially mistook for a plane on approach for landing in Houston was revealed to be something else entirely.

A description of the object later offered by UFO chronicler Jerome Clark based on accounts provided by the witnesses described it as “intensely bright and a dull metallic silver … shaped like a huge upright diamond, about the size of the Dayton water tower,” with flames being emitted from the bottom of the object “flaring outward to create the effect of a large cone.”

Clark’s description certainly seems to bear some similarity to the “UAP-1” object recounted by the USAF pilot from the January 2023 incident. In particular, similarities arise from the “gun metal” and “gray” appearance of UAP-1 compared with the “intensely bright and dull metallic silver” description of the Cash-Landrum object.

Comparison between “UAP-1” sketched by USAF pilot during the January 2023 encounter over the Gulf of Mexico (left) and artist’s rendering of the object observed by Cash and Landrum during their December 1980 observation near Daton, Texas (right). (Credit: USAF via FOIA/The Black Vault/Kathy Schuessler/CC 4.0)

Additionally, the appearance of “blurry air” with “no smoke” observed near the base of UAP-1 during the 2023 incident, below an area where “orange reddish” light or coloration was noted by the observing pilot, does sound reminiscent of the apparent propulsion mechanism Cash and Landrum described seeing as the object they encountered bobbed up and down above the highway ahead of them.

Following their sighting, Cash and the Landrums all began to complain of health issues, the worst of which had been suffered by Cash, who had stepped outside her new Oldsmobile Cutlass for several minutes to observe the object until, according to the witnesses, it was accompanied by a small fleet of Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters that surrounded the object to “escort” it away from the scene.

Cash and Landrum later sued the U.S. federal government for $22 million with the aid of attorney Peter Gersten. However, after several years the case was dismissed because the witnesses were unable to provide any conclusive evidence that the U.S. military possessed such an aircraft or technology, nor could the 23 helicopters the witnesses observed be associated with any confirmed military activities on the night in question.

Along with the sketch of “UAP-1” released in response to Dharamsey’s FOIA request, a cover letter dated March 4, 2024, also describes a video of the object, which was denied as part of the documentation supplied.

“The responsive video you are requesting is not releasable to you in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552 Exemption (b)(1),” a portion of the document states, citing its exemption from disclosure due to containing information about “matters specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy” and deemed “properly classified pursuant to such Executive order.”

Dharamsey told Greenewald that he plans to appeal the request in an attempt to obtain the video associated with the January 23, 2023 incident.

Additional information about Dharamsey’s FOIA request, along with the complete series of documents he was provided, have been archived at The Black Vault and can be viewed here.

Micah Hanks is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of The Debrief. He can be reached by email at Follow his work at and on X: @MicahHanks.