The Mariana UFO Incident: Is This the First UFO to Have Been Captured on Video?

Still image of Mariana Incident UFO footage
Filmed on 15th August 1950, in Great Falls, Montana, this is believed to be the first UFO sighting captured on video.

The following video was filmed on 15th August 1950, in Great Falls, Montana. It is believed to be the first UFO sighting captured on video. Almost seventy years later, the footage still has experts divided.

Nick Mariana, the manager of minor-league baseball club, was surveying an empty ballpark with his secretary Virginia Raunig, when the pair noticed two peculiar objects in the sky. 1In a later documentary interview, Mariana described seeing “two silvery objects”, made of a “bright shiny metal”, moving “swiftly out of the northwest”. He noticed that the objects, “both of the same size”, were “about 10,000 feet in the air”. After a few moments, they suddenly stopped. Struck by the bizarre nature of what he and his secretary were witnessing, Mariana decided to film the incident using his 16mm colour video camera, which he had in the glove compartment of his car. 2

When he started filming, the two objects were moving once again, flying directly against strong wind speeds.3

Mariana continued filming the anomalies “until they disappeared into the blue sky” behind a nearby water tank. He maintained that he could “not see any exhaust, wings, or any kind of fuselage” and that the objects made “no sound”, except for a “whooshing” noise which he heard when he “first saw them”.4

“The discs appeared to be spinning like a top, and were about fifty feet across, and about 50 yards apart.” – Nick Mariana

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Mariana only shared the footage with friends and family. In time, however, the footage became one of the most heavily investigated pieces of UFO evidence in existence. 5

When a local newspaper covered the story, officials at an Air Force base in Ohio were notified. It was at this point that Mariana’s footage came to the attention of Project Grudge, an official USAF investigative body tasked with explaining unidentified aerial phenomena. Both Mariana and his secretary gave testimonies, with the original footage being sent away for analysis. When the film was returned, Mariana was given a straightforward response: the film showed nothing of note, the objects in question were simply reflections from fighter jets active in the area. Mariana was unconvinced. Not only that, he was adamant that he most important frames of the film were missing. These frames, he stated, showed the objects rotating as they flew across the sky. 6


Over the next twenty years, Mariana’s footage was subject to at least three more official investigations. In 1952, when the footage was studied for the purposes of Project Blue Book, the previous conclusion of fighter jet reflections was thrown out. Instead, the film was described as “an unknown”. 7

With each fresh analysis, a different conclusion was made. It soon became clear that no one could positively identify the objects in the footage. Even today, after dozens of experts from the US Government, Air Force and documentary film projects have studied Mariana’s film, a conclusive explanation is nowhere in sight. As such, Mariana’s film remains one of the most compelling pieces of footage of unidentified flying objects.


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About Laura Rowton 82 Articles
Laura Rowton is a filmmaker and paranormal researcher. In 2019, she released her debut feature documentary on life after death, "In Search of the Dead", which she co-produced with her husband, Erik. Follow her on Instagram for more.