Physically, FOTOCAT is an Excel spreadsheet of UFO and IFO cases in which a photographic image has been obtained on film, video or digital media. It contains 26 data columns to register the date, time, location, province and country, explanation (if one exists), photographer's name, special photographic features, references, etc. When completed, the full catalogue will be posted on the internet, for free access to the worldwide UFO community.
• Case Number
To date, the FOTOCAT spreadsheet stores 9,534 entries. Generally, the catalogue cut-off date is December 31, 2005, with a couple of exceptions: reports for Argentina are contained up to December 31, 2006 and reports for Spain are continued up to December 31, 2008, when the compilation is definitely finished. This is the present case distribution:
|Cases up to 1946:||110|
|Cases 2006 (ARG/ESP):||160|
|Cases 2007-2008 (ESP):||37|
Creating a catalogue with so many data columns, some of which have been added when the compilation was already quite advanced, presents a number of complexities of practical nature. Our time is invested in three major activities: (1) entering data in columns for known reports; (2) reviewing the 60-year-long literature and extracting cases for the databank (although I am fortunate to have the assistance of some noted international collaborators, this is a slow process); and (3) doing research on the cases on record for papers underway (a painstaking effort and an even slower process.)
What has this to do with our plans to release the full catalogue? As a painter hates to show his portrait before it is finished, I am not willing to show an incomplete piece of work. Therefore, I plan to do a first full release when the catalogue has reached 12,000 entries for the period 1947-2005, which might occur at the end of year 2011, the aim being to improve the utility of the database.
In the meantime, as I have constantly repeated since the start of FOTOCAT Project, all students of UFO phenomena should be aware that specific regional case lists are available upon request, because the work on FOTOCAT is basically a service to the UFO community at large.
This section gives acknowledgments and thanks for cooperation and assistance received from new collaborators.
I thank US writer Richard Dolan for having provided us with xeroxcopies of the entire collection of NICAP's UFO Investigator journal (1957-1980), as well as the published issues of The APRO Bulletin from 1974 to 1985. Documentary support received from American researcher Jean Waskiewicz is also most appreciated.
Our thanks also to this new friend who recently submitted information to our program: Ángel Rivero López, from Sevilla, Spain.
AFU from Sweden (Archives for UFO Research), a remarkable organization which probably owns the most impressive collection of UFO materials in Europe, has donated to FOTOCAT Project 69 issues of Fate magazine from the historical period 1967 to 1982. We thank our colleagues of AFU, especially to Anders Liljegren, and we hope that this is the first of several succesive donations. It will certainly allow us to find interesting items to enter into our database.
Since the end of the eighties, Denis Breysse, professor of civil engineering at Bordeaux University, has been managing the Becassine project, a database for CE3 cases worldwide. He has sorted out his catalogue for incidents where photos of objects or creatures have been obtained to check with FOTOCAT.
GALLERY OF PHENOMENA
This section will display a sample of UFO photographs or footage which study is revealing, or educative at least.
One of the spheres recovered in Spain on December 1965 as pictured in the Battelle report.
• The Battelle T67 94769 Secret Report
At 20:55 hours of December 6, 1965, several reputed witnesses observed a formation of seven lights moving during 1.5 minutes in a NW-SE direction from Arroyomolinos de León, a village in the Huelva province, close to the border of the Badajoz province and not far from Sevilla province, in the South of Spain. This sighting was not reported to the press but it was known by Spanish ufologist Ignacio Darnaude, who in turn informed his colleagues. At 21:00 hours, a series of explosions were heard by a shepherd near Montemolín and he saw a burning object that fell from the sky one kilometer from his position with a noise “like a train arriving to a station”.The following days several spheres and other metallic objects were found at three different locations, Fuente de Cantos and Montemolin (in the Badajoz province) and Lora del Río (Sevilla province), three villages separated by 100 km and perfectly aligned in a NW-SE track. The discovered debris was retrieved and submitted to the Air Force staff and inspected -initially- by technicians from the Talavera La Real AFB and then by scientists from the Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA), the National Institute of Aerospace Technics. These news were published in the Spanish press, even with photographs of the recovered spheres.
Photograph of the backfire rocket found, included in the INTA report.
From the very beginning, military investigators suspected that it was the result of the decay of a Russian space vessel. As early as January 1966 Colonel Kenneth L. Lueke, air attaché of the US Embassy in Madrid, requested access to the preliminary analysis findings, and later on (October 1966) made an official request to the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs that these materials be loaned to the United States for its own scientific appraisal. When a green light was given by General Franco, the Spanish Government agreed late in January 1967 to ship several of the recovered pieces to the United States.
Several conditions were established in a secret pro-forma memory: one Spanish scientist would participate in the examinations, the loan time would not exceed five weeks (after which the materials were to be returned to Spain), the resulting studies would be handed to Spain, and -this is interesting- “the United States will commit to maintain secret its participation in these works.”
The five loaned parts (three spheres of 38 cm in diameter, one sphere of 25 cm in diameter and one rocket engine of 36x19 cm) were analyzed by the Battelle Memorial Institute, under contract with the USAF or the US Department of Defense, and were returned to Spain early in May 1967. Dated June 15, 1967, Battelle produced a thick report #T67 94769 with the title Investigation of Five Metallic Bodies Recovered After Space Flight, sealed “SECRET No Foreign Dissem Except Spain.”
On the report cover page, two stamps explicitly warned that the document was excluded from declassification and that it contained information affecting the National Defense of the United States and was within the meaning of the espionage laws.
In the decade of the nineteen nineties I was assisting the Intelligence Section of the Spanish Air Force's Mando Operativo Aéreo (MOA), or Air Operative Command, in the development of the declassification process of the UFO archives of the Spanish Ministry of Defense (references 1 to 5). One of the various objectives I achieved during this period (1991-1999) was to convince the Air Staff, first, and the MOA later, to release orders and take actions to ensure that all the UFO-related documentation dispersed among several air regions and bases was centralized. This was made three times. Because of this, the number of files was increased from 55 to 84, covering 1962 to 1995. Every single page was declassified.
During 1994, an old file found in the Intelligence Division of the Air Force Staff Headquarters was sent to the MOA (based at Torrejón AFB, Madrid). It was filled with examples of objects found on the ground that had to do with aeronautical or astronautical events. In spite of this not being directly related to UFO sightings, it was thought that this was better remitted to the MOA for their information. This package contained everything related to the December 1965 spheres and other metallic parts from the space probe retrieved in South Spain, 43 years ago now.
Initially, the MOA Intelligence Officer proceeded to handle this information following the by-laws of the declassification procedure. But, finally, as the information in this particular case did not include any reference to UFOs at all, relating only to the discovery and analysis of spacecraft parts, it was not included in the inventory of actual UFO reports on file, and it was never declassified (in reality it was not classified in the first place, at least in Spain.)
In the course of one of my numerous telephone contacts with the MOA Intelligence Section during this term I was informed that all the documentation pertaining to this event had found its way to the MOA. I have always been very much interested in the phenomenon of space reentries, and this 1965 decay case had specially intrigued me since it occurred, therefore I rapidly requested authorization to consult the file and I was granted permission. Not only that, I was invited to review all the documents on site, where I was also provided with a full set of photocopies of some 400 pages of official correspondence, memoranda and reports, both from Spain and US sources.
Our own investigation has resolved that the alignment of the debris on the Spanish surface and the specific date (December 6, 1965) matches the last orbit of the decay of a SL-6 platform booster. It was a unannounced Russian launch conducted on December 3, 1965 with the probable mission of achieving the soft landing of Lunik 8 on the Moon. However, the retrofire was late and the spacecraft impacted on the lunar surface in the Sea of Storms.
The main Battelle report conclusions -using more sophisticated analytical tools- confirmed what the Spanish technicians had found. There were four spherical bottles and a cylindrical rocket motor case, all manufactured with titanium alloys, with steel and molybdenum also identified. The three larger spheres were gas-pressure storage bottles, the small sphere was possibly a component in a hydrogen reservoir system with remote valve control. The rocket motor case was to provide propulsion. It was deduced that the temperature attained during high-velocity reentry rose above the melting point of titatium (3,000º F) for only a fairly short period, after which friction was reduced allowing the vessels to cool nearly to ambient temperature (certainly below 500º F) by the time of earth impact. Impact velocities were probably in the range of 100 to 200 mph.
On February 3, 2009 I have formally submitted a request to the Commander in Chief of Mando Aéreo de Combate (MACOM), or Combat Air Command (renamed for past MOA) that the whole set of documents be declassified because of its relationship to a known civilian UFO sighting.
Time permitting, my intention is to release the entire documentation through the internet for a full and free disclosure. In the meantime, I provided some basic details to journalist Javier Cavanilles who published an article on this in the Sunday, January 18, 2009 edition of EL MUNDO, on page 11 of the supplement Crónica. This article was also posted in the cover page of the digital edition of the the newspaper and can be read in:
V.J. Ballester Olmos reviews the documents in his cabinet. © J. Cuéllar/EL MUNDO.
(1) Ballester Olmos, Vicente-Juan, “Spanish Air Force UFO Files: The Secret´s End”, in MUFON 1993 International UFO Symposium Proceedings, Walter H. Andrus, Jr. and Irena Scott (eds), MUFON (Seguin, Texas), July 1993, pages 127 to 168.
(2) Ballester Olmos, Vicente-Juan, Expedientes Insólitos, Temas de Hoy (Madrid), May 1995. http://www.ikaros.org.es/g009.htm
(3) Ballester Olmos, Vicente-Juan, “UFO Declassification in Spain (Military UFO Files Available to the Public: A Balance)”, in UFOs: Examining the Evidence, Mike Wooten (ed) , BUFORA (UK), August 1995, pages 51 to 56.
(4) Ballester Olmos, Vicente-Juan, “Declassification! (Military UFO Records Released: The Spanish Experience)”, in UFO 1947-1997. Fifty Years of Flying Saucers, Hilary Evans and Dennis Stacy (eds), John Brown Publishing Ltd. (London), May 1997, pages 177 to 184. And in The UFO Mystery, Hilary Evans and Dennis Stacy (eds), John Brown Publishing Ltd. (London), April 1998, pages 259 to 270.
(5) Ballester Olmos, Vicente-Juan, “Monitoring Air Force Intelligence (Spain's 1992-1997 UFO Declassification Process)”, in MUFON 1997 International UFO Symposium Proceedings, Walter H. Andrus, Jr. and Irena Scott (eds), MUFON (Seguin, Texas), July 1997, pages 139 to 178.
• The Validity of IFO Reports
UFO research enjoys few certainties and, unfortunately, most of these relate to resolved incidents. Only when you can demonstrate that a given sighting was due to Venus, a fireball, an aircraft, a balloon or other conventional object, do you apprehend the real nature of the event. In the remainder of cases, under the umbrella label of “unidentified flying objects”, we find a conglomerate of diverse incidents having a wide spectrum of reliability, strangeness and information quality. Sometimes these are not objects, not flying and probably capable of being identified if more information existed. As for the best cases, these are always on hold inasmuch as further research or more data is expected. Therefore, because IFOs are part of the problem and because they provide certainties, I find it practical to provide examples of such certainties, i.e. solved mysteries, for education. I consider that the more false unknowns are reported, the more time the research community will be able to concentrate on key, anomalistic cases.
It is based on this philosophy, the added value of the learning process and the usefulness of having explained reports as random samples for statistical testing, that this blog usually contains accounts of “UFOs that never were”. Two examples follow immediately below.
• Luminous Display over the Canary Islands on November 1997
On November 21, 1997, a British tourist filmed the displacement in the sky of a fiery light at 01,30 hours from the Puerto Rico beach in the South of Gran Canarias, one of the Canary islands (Spain territory in the Atlantic Ocean, off the Africa coast.) It was preceded and followed by meteoric activity.
It turned out to be the reentry of a Soyuz rocket booster, used to place into Earth orbit the Resurs F-1M satellite for geophysical research. In its decay it presented a radar cross section of 26.5 m2 according to NORAD.
A full report (in Spanish) by Ricardo Campo Pérez and V.J. Ballester Olmos, with an attachment authored by David Clarke, David Sankey, Gary Anthony and Bill Rose, can be located in the following link:
As an informative tip, we have included here the video clip originally obtained.
VIDEO 1. Luminous display sighted and filmed from the island of Gran Canaria on November 21, 1997. © Gary Chapman.
• A Flying Structure Over the Earth?
The internet never ceases to amaze me. Especially, YouTube. Recently discussed on the network was a curious video clip that was described as a “huge alien structure on Earth”. Footage taken aboard the MIR space station, and allegedly “banned by NASA” to add some spicy mystery to the storytelling, shows this:
In the “Equipe UFO” forum of November 13, 2008 (a list made up with consultants to Brazilian Revista UFO magazine), ufologist Roberto Pintucci explained this to be a plantation in the desert, probably Israel. He states he had observed the same field structures through Google Earth. Why am I not surprised?
This section will provide basic statistics produced from the FOTOCAT database.
• Reviewing the Decade of the 1980s
In previous posts the decades of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s have been statistically reviewed, based on the cases contained in FOTOCAT, see:
Now we will comment upon the photographic records compiled for the period 1980 to 1989, a decade that produced 843 entries, the lowest figure since the decade of the 1950s. The ever-increasing trend of the sixties and seventies broke down in the eighties, to recover again in the nineties. This fact must have a cause, economic, sociological or political that calls for an explanation.
The decade total can be distributed by year and type as follows:
|YEAR||REPORTS#||UFO (# and %)||IFO (# and %)|
|1980||118||67 (57%)||51 (43%)|
|1981||79||48 (61%)||31 (39%)|
|1982||86||62 (72%)||24 (28%)|
|1983||70||39 (56%)||31 (44%)|
|1984||77||57 (74%)||20 (26%)|
|1985||91||41 (45%)||50 (55%)|
|1986||56||26 (46%)||30 (54%)|
|1987||47||19 (40%)||28 (60%)|
|1988||89||54 (61%)||35 (39%)|
|1989||130||87 (67%)||43 (33%)|
|Grand Total||843||500 (59%)||343 (41%)|
Illustration of a typical “flying saucer” picture in the 1980s. Charleston, South Carolina, April 4, 1980. © William J. Hermann. Credit: Wendelle Stevens & August Roberts, UFO Photographs Around the World Vol 3, UFO Photo Archives, 1993.
The UFO/IFO ratio is 59 to 41 in this decade. These percentages remain generally stable over the period, with three exceptions: 1982 and 1984 have UFO percentages of 72% and 74%, which is due to the high incidence of examples of the Hessdalen phenomena, and -sensu contrario- the year 1987 holds a 60% IFO rate, which is explained by the many Gulf Breeze fakes perpetrated by Ed Hanson aka Ed Walters.
The following table reflects the countries with 10 cases or more (over 1%):
The USA heads the list, as expected, by country size and population, enhanced by the subject's popularity. Then there follows Spain (author's homeland, where a major case search has been made), Norway (the combined effect of the emergence of Hessdalen phenomena and the Ballester-Brænne local study) and Argentina (resulting from a special project underway by Ballester and Ferguson). These are the major highlights to consider in the regional distribution of reports.
There are 10 countries which accounts for 3% of the cases (25 or more.) These are distributed by year in the next table:
Flying disk image of an unseen object, photographed in the Vancouver Island (Canada), October 8, 1981. © Hanna McRoberts. Credit: Dr. Richard F. Haines.
This section is devoted to delivering information on research, articles of note, books, symposia and other news from selected sources which are considered worthy of the attention of serious-minded UFO investigators.
• UFO Landing Case Revisited
On July 25, 1979, Mr. Federico Ibáñez Ibáñez, 54-years-old farmer from the town of Turís (Valencia, Spain) claimed to have witnessed a “half-egg” shaped object landed on a rural lane. Two strange-looking, short beings with long black “glasses” appeared from behind a nearby tree and ran to enter into the object, which rose rapidly and soon disappeared from sight in the heavens.
This was one of the best studied landing reports in Spain, investigated by two groups of researchers soon after the event. Firstly, by a large group of university students under the leadership of Juan-Antonio Fernández Peris. A detailed, 14-page report combining all the field work and findings was included in the book Los OVNIS y la Ciencia (UFOs and Science) by fellow field investigators Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos and Miguel Guasp, published by Plaza & Janés (Barcelona) in 1981 and 1989.
The interested reader can find this report (in Spanish) scanned in the following link: http://www.ikaros.org.es/turis.pdf
Thirty years later, on September 2008, I came back to visit the witness for a reinvestigation, in the company of Luís R. González. In the following November I returned to Turís with the photographer Rafael Márquez to stand by the landing spot once more with the percipient, as well as to talk to village folks.
84-year-old claimant of landing and occupant event (left) with V.J. Ballester Olmos in 2008. Mobile-phone picture by Luis R. González.
The bottom line for this writer is that it seems improbable (according to ordinary standards) that this is a bogus tale. It llooks like a solid story, stable in time, with no apparent weaknesses, told by a totally normal and healthy person, a quite wealthy local farmer with excellent reputation in the neighborhood. The more negative points are that we have a single observer with no supporting witness (an unfortunate pattern in most of such incidents) and reported beings of a humanoid appearance which is quite atypical in the literature. On the other hand, regular-shaped traces found by investigators in 1979 can be considered to be complementary (yet only circumstancial) evidence.
As J. Allen Hynek put it, credible persons are telling incredible stories. Therefore, we continue being confronted with the same situation that Jacques Vallee wisely summarized back in the nineteen sixties when he wrote that (landings) represent the UFO mystery in its most crucial form because they confront us with a clear choice between the reality of an unprecedented phenomenon and the hypothesis that all witnesses are absolute liars of the most extreme psychological type (as quoted by The UFO Investigator, Volume V, Number 1, September-October 1969.)
An article by me, describing both the original and the current findings, has just been published in the April 2009 issue of the Spanish magazine Más Allá.
• Taking Stereoscopic Views of UFOs
Recently, the application of 3-D photography to capture images of UFOs was the subject of a comment on the “UFO Updates” List. Started by a note published in the October 31, 2008 edition of The HeraldTribune.Com that you can see at http://tinyurl.com/6bwq5d, Carol Maltby, an expert in stereoscopic photographs, provided some resources for this type of technique, worth quoting here:
However, Carol has this suggestion for amateurs who want to implement this technique easily: If you're not sure if you want to get into stereo photography, but want to see if you can make a stereo image, the easiest way is to use your regular camera and take two photographs using the side-step method (also known as the astronaut shuffle because the astronauts used this method on the moon to make stereo images with a Hasselblad.) All you have to do is compose the image in your viewfinder, then shift your weight onto your left foot and make the first exposure, then shift your weight over to your right foot and make the second exposure.
(Thanks to Franck Boitte.)
Cover of the last book by Paolo Toselli.
We will comment very briefly on two commendable books that have just been published in Europe in languages other than English. Alessandria 1978. Allarme UFO (Alessandria 1978. UFO Alarm) is a slim Italian volume authored by Paolo Toselli, a veteran ufologist, one of the leading forces behind the CISU organization, and the author of several books. In 100 pages the prominent UFO wave that shook the Italian province of Alessandria from September to December 1978, leaving a track of close encounters, trace cases, LITS, photos, etc. is well evoked by an specialist in this period. The booklet -which incorporates a DVD with interviews and videos concerning the UFO wave- has been released by the best source of UFO literature in Italy, the Turin-based UPIAR publishers and can be purchased from http://www.upiar.com/index.cfm?artID=173
Collective books edited by a researcher with especial charisma or authority are usual in the scientific literature. In Ufology, some of the best books ever published belong to the same category, for example: Daniel S. Gillmor, Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects (Bantam, 1969), Carl Sagan and Thornton Page, UFO's-A Scientific Debate (Cornell University, 1972), Nancy Dornbos, Proceedings of the 1976 CUFOS Conference (Center for UFO Studies, 1976), Richard F. Haines, UFO Phenomena and the Behavioral Scientist (Scarecrow, 1979), Ronald D. Story, The Encyclopedia of UFOs (Doubleday, 1980), Hilary Evans & Robert Moore, UFOs 1947-1987 (Fortean Tomes, 1987), Thierry Pinvidic, OVNI. Vers une Anthropologie d'une Mythe Contemporain (Heimdal, 1993), or Hilary Evans & Dannis Stacy, UFOs 1947-1997 (John Brown, 1997.)
Cover photograph of the book edited by Ricardo Campo.
Another group book to add to this list of excellent volumes has just been published (in Spanish), under the capable editorship of Ricardo Campo, philosopher, journalist and writer. The title of the book, sponsored by the Anomaly Foundation, is Vida en el Universo. Del mito a la ciencia (Life in the Universe. From Myth to Science), and it has been published by Fundación Anomalía (2009): http://www.lulu.com/content/5268752
Fully multidisciplinary in scope, it is divided in two parts. The first part addresses the UFO phenomena especially from a psychosocial perspective, with the contribution of seven authors, most trained in social sciences (journalism, anthropology and law) but also in telecommunications engineering. The second part (six papers) is written by three astrophysicists, one theoretical physicist, one astronomer and a journalist, to attack the complex study of the life in the Universe. As reviewer Alfonso Ferrer has stated, it is a honest reflection on the state-of-the-art that must be confronted by anyone who is passionate about the study of UFOs. To this we add that high-caliber, well-documented skeptical views (as opposed to armchair speculation) help us to keep our research tools sharp in this extremelly complicated investigation.
• Personal Bibliography Upgraded
As every year, the research and writing bibliography of Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos has been updated and posted on the internet. It shows a complete list of papers, articles and books published from February 1965 to December 2008, or 44 years of personal dedication to the study of UFOs. You can find it here: http://www.ikaros.org.es/bibliog1.pdf
CALL FOR ASSISTANCE
Your volunteer collaboration with the FOTOCAT Project is requested. Please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
We will happily supply with state, regional, provincial or national catalogues to any active researcher for checking and expanding purposes.
If you are willing to donate photographic materials, files or literature to be preserved for posterity, feel free to use the following postal address:
Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos
Apartado de Correos 12140