A photograph of a screen shows infra-red video of taken from a Mexican Air Force patrol aircraft of 7 bright objects flying over the eastern coastal state of Campeche on March 25, 2004. REUTERS

Comité de Estudios de Fenómenos Aéreos Anómalos (CEFAA), a Chilean government agency within the civil aeronautics directorate (the DGAC, roughly equivalent to the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration) released a video taken by a Navy helicopter of a mysterious craft in 2014.

The remarkable footage was captured by two naval officers on a helicopter-mounted Wescam infrared camera, typically used in covert, aerial surveillance. If you’ve seen Predator drone footage, you’ve seen these cameras in action. Captured west of Santiago at an altitude of approximately 4,500 feet (far lower than commercial airliners), the Unexplained Aerial Phenomenon (UAP, the new preferred term for UFOs) was first observed with the naked eye from an estimated distance of 35 to 40 miles.

The helicopter crew — a Navy captain and camera technician — captured 10 minutes of some of the most baffling and well-sourced video ever taken of a UFO.

Described by the captain as a “flat, elongated structure” with “two thermal spotlights-like discharges that did not coincide with the axis of motion,” the UFO can be seen discharging a chemical plume at approximately eight minutes into the video. The darker color indicates high heat, as captured by the infrared lens.

A complete play-by-play of the video can be read at Huffington Post, where Leslie Kean, author of the indispensable "UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record," provides an in-depth analysis of the event.

In addition to the video itself, the pilots and subsequent investigation provide a number of additional reasons to view this as perhaps the most consequential UFO sighting of the past decade. During the encounter, the pilot contacted two separate radar stations who were unable to track the object (their on-board radar also failed to pick up the UFO) and confirmed that there was no other air traffic in the area. Multiple attempts to contact the craft received no reply.

A UFO flying away from a plume in this frame from the 2014 Chile helicopter video. CEFAA

For the past two years CEFAA has been sharing the video with experts, including a nuclear chemist, astrophysicist and video and image experts.

So far the only mundane explanation offered came from the French UFO organization GEIPAN, whose video analysts proposed the possibility of a “medium-haul aircraft” dumping cabin wastewater before landing. The Chilean researchers and witnesses pointed out a number of reasons this would be unlikely, including the lack of radar corroboration, the unlikelihood of an experienced pilot failing to recognize an airplane and the lack of any nearby flight path scheduled for a landing at either of the two nearby airports.

“This has been one of the most important cases in my career as director of CEFAA because our Committee was at its best,” General Ricardo Bermúdez, former CEFAA director, told Kean. “The CEFAA is well regarded partly because there is full participation from the scientists of the academic world, the armed forces through their representatives, and the aeronautic personnel from the DGAC, including its Director. I am extremely pleased as well with the conclusion reached which is logical and unpretentious… the great majority of committee members agreed to call the subject in question a UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon) due to the number of highly researched reasons that it was unanimously agreed could not explain it.”

The public release of the footage should bring new scrutiny to this fascinating 2014 sighting. After years of patently phony sightings, drone fakery and inadequate evidence, 2017 opens with a UFO sighting worthy of our attention.