In the world of UFO sightings, the Lake Cote photo holds a special place. Fifty years ago, a team from the Costa Rican government mapping department accidentally took a photo that still captures the imagination of those who believe in extraterrestrial life. The photo is strange, otherworldly, and totally convincing, but is it genuine? While there may be better authentic UFO photos out there, none have been released, declassified, or made available to the public. As such, the Lake Cote photo remains one of the most compelling pieces of evidence for the existence of UFOs.
The Legend of the Lake Cote Photo
The Lake Cote photo has been around for five decades, and its legend has only grown with time. In 1999, a group of French officials, pilots, and officers, most of whom were retired, put the photo on the cover of its COMETA report (Advanced Studies Committee). The report is widely regarded as one of the most open statements on the UFO subject ever made, and it concluded that the Extra Terrestrial Hypothesis was the most likely explanation for the objects in question.
Fast forward to 2021, the 50th anniversary of the photo, and it is back in the news. In the May 10 issue of The New Yorker, Leslie Kean, a New York Times reporter and early fan of the Cometa report, revealed that she owns a framed copy of the Lake Cote photo.
In the fall of 1971, the Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN) in Costa Rica was taking aerial photos as part of a preliminary study for future hydroelectric projects. The country’s Electricity Institute (ICE) was funding the project to determine where the water would come from for the acquisition of land to develop the Arenal dam project.
On September 4, 1971, at 8:25 a.m., experienced pilot Omar Arias was flying a twin-engine Canadian Aero-Commander F680 at a height of 10,000 feet above Lake Cote. The crew was cruising in northern Costa Rica, three miles north of the Arenal area and 25 miles south of the Nicaraguan border.
On board were photographer Sergio Loaiza, a specialist in aerial photography, geographer Juan Bravo, and topographer Francisco Reyes. Loaiza was using a R-M-K 15/23 camera, a special one-hundred-pound map-making beast, donated by the German government and rigged under the fuselage of the plane. The film used was black-and-white emulsion with an ASA speed of 80, expected to produce a high-resolution negative.
The intervalometer on the camera was set up to take one photo every 20 seconds, a costly and technical process considering the quality they were looking for and the fact that they were shooting on film. What is important to note is that the photographer intended to take a photo of an ordinary target, so the camera was set up to focus on infinity, and the exposure was automatically triggered. No one on the plane saw anything unusual while they were up in the air doing their jobs. But when Loaiza developed the film in the days ahead, he got the surprise of his life.
Every Picture Tells a Story
The developed negatives were printed on Kodak Safety aerial film, type 3665, and were of Grade A quality. No one immediately realized anything strange until Loaiza was reviewing the photos as part of the process. He enlarged the images and examined the negatives closely, realizing for the first time what they had managed to capture on film. In one of the frames (#300), the film image showed what seemed to be a huge metallic disc. The disc appeared to be hovering over the lake, and it was mind-blowingly clear thanks to the film stock and quality of the camera. This object did not show up on either the previous frame of film (#299) or on the one afterwards (#301).
What’s striking about the photo is the level of detail that it captures. The image covers an area that is roughly seven miles by seven miles, and it’s all in sharp focus. If you look closely in the original, high-quality version, you can see trees, roads, and some say they can even see farm animals.
The other notable thing about the photo is that it was taken while looking down, which automatically puts it in a different category from the typical photo taken looking up into the sky. Given that the altitude is fixed, it was also possible to estimate the size of the object.
Finally, the object is seen against a uniform surface, the black background of the lake, which is in contrast with the disc-shaped object itself. All of these factors make for one of the most compelling UFO photos ever taken.
Experts Weigh In
Despite the compelling nature of the photo, there are still skeptics out there who doubt its authenticity. Some have suggested that the disc is simply a reflection of the camera or that it’s a flaw in the film.
However, experts who have analyzed the photo over the years have generally come to the conclusion that it’s a genuine image of an unidentified flying object. French astrophysicist Claude Poher, who worked on the French government’s UFO program, examined the photo and concluded that the disc was a solid object.
Other experts have pointed to the lack of any clear explanation for what the object could be. The Costa Rican government has never been able to provide an explanation, and there are no known aircraft or other objects that would explain the image.
What Does the Lake Cote Photo Mean for the UFO Debate?
The Lake Cote photo is just one piece of evidence in the ongoing debate over the existence of UFOs. While there are skeptics who dismiss all UFO sightings as hoaxes or misidentifications of mundane objects, there are many people who believe that there is something unexplained going on.
For those who believe that the Lake Cote photo is genuine, it’s a compelling piece of evidence that supports the idea that there are other intelligent beings out there in the universe. It’s a reminder that we still have much to learn about the universe and our place in it.
Regardless of where you stand on the issue, the Lake Cote photo is a fascinating piece of history that continues to capture the imagination of people around the world. As Leslie Kean said in The New Yorker, it’s probably the best photograph of a UFO ever taken, and it’s entirely unexplained. It’s a reminder that there is still much we don’t know about the world around us, and that there are mysteries waiting to be uncovered.