Leer en español

2011/07/21 (EN)

English language editing: Martin Shough
Administrator: Kentaro Mori

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 27 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
10,370 is the latest number of entries in FOTOCAT. After spending 10 year’s work in this project, collecting and processing 1,000 cases per year sounds like a good record. I guess there must have been some 25,000 UFO photographic events worldwide, so nearly 50% of them are presently included in our catalog. The production of work with local nationals is one of our objectives, as this facilitates the compilation of exhaustive censuses by country. Recently, thanks to the fine cooperation of expert researcher Bruno Mancusi, we did this exercise with Switzerland and today the coverage for this nation seems to be quite complete, our collection having been sensibly improved as a result.

Papers, articles and research reports by Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos, just published or reedited.

• Mirage III in Route to Valencia
Qualified professionals make mistakes in their jobs: policemen and judges, physicians, architects, engineers, etc. Pilots err too. Fortunately, rarely, but any tiny percentage of human fault as applied to a vast number of instances produces significant figures. In our field of research, there are many examples of pilot errors that have to do with misperception and misidentification of usually brief, unexpected observations of far away lights. Fireballs, astronomical bodies, spacecraft reentries, etc. sometimes have not been properly recognized and were considered as UFOs.

In Spain, there are several such airborne UFO encounters that can be categorized as IFOs, namely confused sightings of planet Venus. One such case occurred on September 26, 1973 over the Mediterranean Sea. A Mirage III aircraft and two military pilots were involved.

A paper signed by Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos, Manuel Borraz and Joan Plana has been placed online here:

The text is in Spanish, with a brief English abstract.

• Author`s Bibliography
For those interested, I have posted my personal, 45-year-long bibliography covering publications from 1965 to 2010, in the following link:

• Books from the Author. Second-hand Market
Copies of books by V.J. Ballester Olmos can be purchased online in the following bookshops:

This section gives acknowledgments and thanks for cooperation and assistance received from new collaborators.

• Books Received
Appreciation is due to Carl W. Feindt for having sent us a copy of his book UFOs and Water, released 2010 by Xlibris Corporation. Carl has been many years collecting information on UFO sightings associated to, entering, or leaving a mass of water (oceans, seas, lakes, rivers), and has compiled a large online catalogue at http.//www.waterufo.net This book is a summary of his work.

I also thank Francisco Renedo Carrandi for the present of his book Enigmas de Cantabria, published by Cantabria Tradicional, S.L., December 2008; this is devoted to mystery events report throughout history in the region of Cantabria, Spain.

Grazie go to author Antonio Chiumiento for having submitted a copy of his last book, Apri Gli Occhi (Editoriale Programma, December 2010), where 79 UFO sightings in Italy are documented in detail, some of them with photographic evidence that represent a useful input to our image catalogue.

Didier Gomez is the editor of the well-informed French journal UFOmania, and also a good friend who provided a copy of Pierre Beake’s Les Mystères du Col de Vence, a book on claims of UFO and paranormal phenomena said to regularly occur in a spot near Nice, many of which are documented with pictures (most fakes and digital camera flaws.)

Cover of Mirage Men
Mirage Men is the brand new book by Mark Pilkington, a British writer on anomalistics who was kind enough to have it sent to us. One book to recommend, its documented thesis being that US intelligence agencies have been actively involved in the flying saucer arena “almost since day one”, through deception operations. Probably, in my view, we should wait for some more decades to realize the true history between the interaction of UFOs and the intelligence community to see the interests behind it. As for UFOs, the author maintains an ambiguous, ambivalent position: “…they operate as much within the limitless domains of the imagination as they do in the skies above”, Pilkington affirms. But the author also makes clear that UFOs are a matter of belief more than any other thing.

The impact of intelligence operatives in the development of the UFO history still needs to be weighted and clarified. Probably it happened in some countries which saw fit to manipulate a myth based on events whose nature they ignored. If this was done on large or small scale, if it had the approval of high authority or not, if just out-of-control missions by overzealous agency employees or if widely-planned and supported intelligence actions, we do not know yet. But this book is a step in the direction of understanding. The UFO student should read it.

The book was published in 2010 by Constable & Robinson Ltd., 3 The Lanchesters, 162 Fulham Palace Road, London W6 9ER, England.

A scholarly, erudite, academic book on UFOs is Thomas E. Bullard’s The Myth and Mystery of UFOs, released 2010 by the University Press of Kansas. I wish to thank Eddie Bullard for his kindness in sending it to us for review, which we will be doing in the next blog’s update.

• Various
Standard procedure in the running of the FOTOCAT project is interacting with foreign researchers to check our records against local knowledge to ensure that our catalogue represents well the reported cases elsewhere. Thanks to Andyono Muharso, we have been able to do so with the tiny fraction of cases for Indonesia. Duplicates have been erased, new cases added and an accurate picture results.

Thanks are due to our Japanese colleague Kiyoshi Amamiya for having provided a CD with 10 different UFO video recordings from Taiwan and Japan between 1989 and 2005.

This section will display a sample of UFO photographs or footage whose study is revealing or educative at least.

• 1958 Trindade Island Pictures Claimed Faked
One of the most famous series of UFO photographs in the world have been claimed to be hoaxes by a close family member to the photographer, now deceased. Almiro Baraúna, a professional photographer, said he took 4 pictures of a Saturn-shaped flying saucer from the Almirante Saldanha ship of the Brazilian Navy on January 16, 1958 off Trindade Island (Brazil).

A most revealing article by the pen of Brazilian researcher Alexandre de Carvalho Borges has just disclosed how Baraúna allegedly told his nephew, Marcelo Ribeiro, the way he tricked the photos. According to Ribeiro, himself a photographer, at least 3 family members were aware of it (two wives and himself). I suggest readers to access to the original 4-part text posted in the portal of the UFO magazine (in Portuguese):


This is not unexpected news at all, on the contrary. The US Navy Intelligence declared this set of pictures false back in 1958. In the later years, several researchers from various countries have produced analytical work arguing that the photographs were inconsistent, showing technical reasons why they might be the result of a montage (a double exposure). Starting with the work by Martin Powell, published in 1999, further work on the claimed inconsistency of the images has been conducted by Kentaro Mori, Tim Printy, Manuel Borraz and others. All concurred that the evidence --from a claimed inversion of the image of the UFO to an inconsistency in the full cloud coverage-- pointed to the UFO being the result of photographic trickery. Martin Shough has published work that calls in question the image-inversion claim, and has explored the possibility that the apparent inconsistency in the clouds could be meteorologically plausible – with inconclusive results. Brad Sparks disagreed with the skeptical views, though he never published his analysis. Unpublished work by Victor Golubic also supports the hoax theory. In our opinion, only the full publication of the research work may settle the controversy once and for all.

Before the recent, very detailed report by Baraúna's nephew Marcelo Ribeiro, last year Emília Bittencourt, a family friend, disclosed in an interview that Baraúna told her that the pictures were faked.

The lesson to learn, again and again, is that when spectacular evidence collides with common sense, then there are grounds for suspicion. In our case, the initial US intelligence reports discounted the reality of the event. Additionally, the photographer had a public record of photograph trickery, first in 1954 with the aim to show how easily UFO photos can be done, and then later by selling false pictures of an inexistent treasure he claimed to have found on an island. With the Trindade snapshots, Baraúna obtained a large financial advantage and got a fame he loved.

It once more proves that you cannot trust –and less place faith– in alleged anomalies. At the end, it is the human being behind any claim who must be scrutinized. Anomalies are there to be studied, thoroughly and without preconceived ideas, both pro or con, the student being so open-minded as to admit any findings, we like them or not.

I have the fortune to own first-generation prints of the Trindade Island shots, and I am inserting them here, as well as brightness-enhanced blow-ups.

Photo #1 Original

Photo #2 Original

Photo #3 Original

Photo #4 Original

Photo #1 Close-up

Photo #2 Close-up

Photo #3 Close-up

Photo #4 Close-up

• Orbs as Bugs
In a post to the EuroUFO forum list, dated October 2, 2010, Spanish researcher Manuel Borraz commented about a number of images typically discovered in the tapes of infrared surveillance cameras both indoors and outdoors at times where no human presence was expected. These are small-sized moving bodies that imaginative editors call “aliens” and more conservative viewers “ball lightning.” It seems these images are simply produced by insects, mostly flying, bugs which are defocused by the camera and reflect light.

Borraz writes: “Other recent footages seem to show the same thing, just bugs close to security cameras that apply active infrared night vision. A couple of examples follow.

-A "mini UFO" is filmed in Mexico:
See video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LST311LxEFs
Also at: http://www.info7.com.mx/noticia.php?id=139556&secc=19&subsecc=0

-This example is recorded in China:

As Wikipedia informs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_vision): Active infrared night vision is now commonly found in commercial, residential and government security applications, where it enables effective night time imaging under low light conditions.

Active infrared night vision combines infrared illumination of spectral range 700nm to 1000nm –just below the visible spectrum of the human eye– with CCD cameras sensitive to this light. The resulting scene, which is apparently dark to a human observer, appears as a monochrome image on a normal display device.

Because active infrared night vision systems can incorporate illuminators that produce high levels of infrared light, the resulting images are typically higher resolution than other night vision technologies.

A bug in the dark reflecting the infrared light (not visible to the human eye) that comes from the illuminator coupled to the camera will appear as a "bright" object on the display. Note in the following example that the house owner does not see the "orb" when he goes out to check:

You can easily find many similar examples of so-called orbs, UFO orbs, ghost orbs... (it looks like an epidemic!) in the following links:

I've captured flying insects on this cam before and this one does not look like it. What can it be? reports the owner of an invaded house. Well, if it moves like a flying insect, it must be a flying insect...

There is even a supposed abduction by an orb! :

Somewhat different in aspect are the translucent nature "apparitions" shown here:
In these last two cases, my opinion is that they are just out-of-focus bugs close to a camera that works in the visible spectrum, not in the infrared.”

UFO-Venus at Bobadilla, Spain

• Venus, again
May 9, 2010, 22:30 hours, Air Barracks at Bobadilla (Málaga).
A newsstand magazine in Spain devoted to UFOs and other related mysteries published in January 2011 an article on a UFO sighting seen (and videotaped by an automatic camera) from a military facility. In spite of the alarmist and sensational-looking tone of the account, soon it was found out that the spatial location and crescent appearance of the planet Venus at that time would satisfy the initially-anomalous observation. The following links document the recorded sighting and the explanation provided by noted case analyst Juan Carlos Victorio Uranga:

This section will provide basic statistics produced from the FOTOCAT database.

• 1950-1999: Comparing 5 Decades of UFO Phenomena
From 2007 to 2009 I have reviewed here the contents of FOTOCAT by decade, and the periods of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s have been briefly examined, as per the following links:

In this article I will review the term from 1950 to 1999, and compare the updated data for the 5 decades involved.

The total number of collected reports on photographic cases (7,176) is split by decade as follows:

1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s
Entries 826 1,473 1,915 918 2,044

Table 1 shows the distribution of decade cases by countries contributing =1% of the total, some 90% of all reports.


From the perspective of UFO pictures and films, the UFO phenomenon was initially predominantly North American, but it really exploded globally after the decade of the 60s. Up to then, the US share was ~50% of total. In the decade of the 70s the US piece of cake decreased to 17%! And this rate has been maintained since.

Out of some 115 different countries contained in the FOTOCAT database, just 14 to 19 contributed over 1% each of the total, or 22 countries in the period under study, including the coverage for “Space” (sightings from astronauts.) These are listed above with their input in terms of number and percentage. These are: Argentina (ARG), Australia (AUS), Belgium (BEL), Brazil (BRA), Canada (CAN), Switzerland (CHE), Chile (CHL), Germany (DEU), Denmark (DNK), Spain (ESP), France (FRA), Great Britain (GBR), Italy (ITA), Japan (JPN), Mexico (MEX), New Zealand (NZL), Norway (NOR), Poland (POL), Russia (RUS), Space (SPACE), Sweden (SWE), and United States of America (USA).

In the future, the list of major contributors may change when special studies and surveys are performed on other countries and unknown cases are found there. By experience, we have found out that once regional researchers get involved in the development of FOTOCAT databank by submitting information on local events, scores increase up to 100%

Very visibly, there is an abrupt drop of reports in the decade of the 1980s, half the number recorded for the previous and following decades. This was the dull decade. Is there any explanation for that effect? We have 1,473 reports in the 60s, 1,915 reports in the 70s and 2,044 reports in the 90s. However, the 80s provided only 918 reports. It was a lull period. Why?

Almost 70% of the 997 cases lost from the seventies to the eighties are due to losses in 7 countries, as follows:

Country Decrease Justification
FRANCE -219 Unrepeated acute wave of 1974
SPAIN -200 Unrepeated acute waves of 1974 and 1979
JAPAN -74 Cease of activity of contactee Yusuke Matsumura
SWITZERLAND -55 Cease of activity of contactee Eduard “Billy” Meier
ITALY -47 Unrepeated acute wave of 1978
AUSTRALIA -44 Fewer general reports
CANADA -43 Fewer general report

In France, photographic sightings moved from 262 in the seventies to 43 in the eighties, a level that would be maintained later. In Spain, cases drop from 315 to 115, starting a downfall tendency followed in later years. In Japan, figures changed from 92 to 18, a decrease that persisted over time. Swiss reports diminished by 50% from 76 to 21, a decrease rate to follow. Italy lost cases from 77 to 30 but gained momentum a decade later. Two-thirds of the events in Australia (from 56 to 12) were lost in the eighties, to be augmented again in the nineties. In Canada entries fell from 52 to 9, a low level continued since.

The dull decade of the 80s seems to have suffered from a saturation of news, a state that took years to wind up to the 90s.

Good (reliable) UFO photographs, films or video do not abound. Mundane causes, flaws & failures and fakes amount to most of the imaging evidence, we want it or not. However, this is how cases are represented in FOTOCAT by decade, as far as unexplained vs. explained is concerned:



Number and Percent Number and Percent Total
1950s 380 (46.0%) 446 (54.0%) 826
1960s 752 (51.1%) 721 (48.9%) 1,473
1970s 1,024 (53.5%) 891 (46.5%) 1,915
1980s 536 (58.4%) [¹] 382 (41.6%) 918
1990s 1,324 (64.8%) [¹] 720 (35.2%) 2,044

[¹] Including Hessdalen Phenomena

A quite elementary reflection arises here: the passing of years does not improve the ability to prove cases wrong, on the contrary. In addition to the added effect of the Hessdalen occurrences (phenomena without identification which may not be UFOs), it seems that older, classic reports have been more analyzed and studied than more modern ones.

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.

• Clarke on Rendlesham
Dave Clarke is senior lecturer in Journalism at Sheffield Hallam University (UK), has a Ph.D. in Folklore, and since 2008 he is the consultant of The National Archives for the ongoing release of the UFO files created by Britain’s Ministry of Defense. His blog includes important information that he unearthed during his research on the alleged UFO landing at the Rendlesham Forest on December 1980. Because this incident is one of the best known UFO events in the world, I have thought that this fresh overview should be required reading for any serious student of the UFO phenomenon. The link to his paper follows:

Carlson on Malmstrom
There are two books that document that on March 16, 1967, the appearance of UFOs at the Echo-Flight nuclear missile facility in Montana’s Malmstrom Air Force Base, allegedly shut down the missile silo. These are Faded Giant, by Robert Salas and James Klotz (BookSurge, LLC, 2005), and Robert Hastings’ UFOs and Nukes (AuthorHouse, 2010). Most information comes from Salas, who claims he witnessed the event in its dramatic representation.

The other side of the coin is presented by James Carlson, the son of one of the officers involved in the Echo Flight incident, Capt. Eric D. Carlson. From information collected from his father, other participants, mainly Col. Walter Figel, and USAF documentation, he maintains that there were no UFOs involved at all. Carlson. Jr. has released two reports on this event that serve to balance the story. I hold the position that any evidence supporting the explanation of UFO cases should be given careful and unbiased consideration. His two links follow:

Cover of Anuario de Cuadernos de Ufología (2009)

• The Spanish UFO Journal by Excellence
Ufology is experiencing a time of intellectual impoverishment, with rare exceptions, both in Europe and America. The books, which abound, are credulous treatises, where the stories which are presented have not been verified and those from first-hand, have been investigated in a pedestrian manner or, even worse, in a largely biased manner, originating from an uncritical belief of the authors in the actual arrival of the aliens. As I say, with exceptions.

Therefore, when every year the last issue of the Anuario de Cuadernos de Ufología (Journal of Ufology’s Yearbook) comes to our mailbox, a volume of 250 pages, crammed with deep work by renowned experts, we are delighted to realize that the subject matter still generates worthwhile essays.

Last number of this publication is #34 (2009), and it is loaded with interesting literature and research contributions. Not a single page is to be missed, yet I will only mention here some of this issue’s contents: "Brief History of Ummo", by José Juan Montejo (27 pages), the fourth and final installment of the "Catalogue of UFO abductions in France", by Claude Mauge ( 25 pages), "They: Taxonomy and Phylogeny of the Visitors”, an extraordinary synthesis dossier by Luis R. González (59 pages), "Medieval Demons and Modern Aliens", an invaluable piece of comparative analysis of encounters with supernatural beings in the XV and XX centuries, written by Chris Aubeck (27 pages), just to name a few articles.

So, far from blushing, I am encouraging readers in the Spanish language interested in the UFO phenomenon, its history, its mythology and its investigation, not to miss subscribing. For Spaniards, local laws allow a deduction of 25% in the income tax statement over the amount of the donation (subscription) to the publishing house, Ikaros Foundation (correo@ikaros.org.es).
Go to: http://www.ikaros.org.es/b001.htm

Dr. Ricardo Campo Pérez

• Ph.D. Thesis of Ricardo Campo
The researcher and author from Canary Islands Ricardo Campo has just read his doctoral thesis, entitled "The New Age: Esoterism, Occultism and Alternative Thinking." His defense earned him the Cum Laude academic degree.

The New Age is a social and religious movement born in the sixties of the twentieth century, but which is, in fact, the contemporary manifestation of an alternative culture that stretches across the history of Western ideas from antiquity. In the last two decades, this movement became an individualistic subculture built into the spiritual consumer market. Change or evolution of consciousness, astral travel, homeopathy, acupuncture, karma, reincarnation, astrology, the influence of Eastern religions in the West, paranormal phenomena, relaxation techniques, ecology, mysticism, conspiracy, Nazi occultism: a whole alternative world progressively integrated in the normalized culture by the grace of media and occult market power.

This new thesis, that we expect to see published soon, is the first in Spain dedicated to a topic that tangentially addresses the social response to mysteries such as UFOs, and it is added to the long series of doctoral theses in the world covering these matters.

The brand new Doctor in Philosophy is investigator of the Department of Philosophy of the La Laguna University (Tenerife, Spain).

Italian ufologist Paolo Toselli

• A Major Compilation of UFO Doctoral Theses
Ufology, the visions of flying saucers, the mystery of UFOs has been addressed by the scientific community for many years, almost since its inception, and by the University and the academic world, too. And it has been done in the form that is common among researchers, through curricular work, i.e., in the form of doctoral theses and others of lower degree. After several previous attempts (by Dr. Ignacio Cabria or Barry Greenwood, to name two of the most thorough compilers), we have reached the most complete database of theses and dissertations done worldwide. Has been made by the notable Italian scholar Paolo Toselli and it is entitled "UFO University Theses & Dissertations, 1950-2010".

It is great news for both the ufological and intellectual world that this remarkable collection of 205 theses is released for the first time through this blog. We proudly announce that it is publicly available at the following link:

• Did Francisco Padrón Invent UFO Tales?
F. Padrón Hernández (deceased 2005) was a prolific article writer living in the Canary Islands (Spain). He was a contactee, an abductee and a believer of eccentric theories like the existence of an underwater base of UFOs in the Atlantic Ocean (mainly derived from the misinterpretation of distant missile launches as UFOs emerging from the sea.) He was known to have lied on occasion. For example, he claimed to own and keep in a safe a copy of The Necronomicon, which is known to be an unreal book, the product of the vivid imagination of H.P. Lovecraft.

The recent finding in his personal archives of information of a given UFO narrative in two different versions, with locations and dates differing, has put beyond reasonable doubt the possibility that Padrón invented UFO cases for publication. In fact, he published a number of cases (stories of landings or UFOs entering or leaving the sea) totally unconfirmed, undated, without location or witness names, etc. This is a falsifiable hypothesis and can be proved wrong provided the document chain is found to link witness data, inquiry reports, claimed evidence like pictures taken, etc. to final publication. (More details in the Spanish section of this blog.)

• Fray Benito J. Feijoo, the Spanish Scholar of the Illustration
I have decided to retrieve the information that Dr. Ignacio Cabria sent a few years ago to Anomalist, a list of Spanish-American UFO students, because I wish it to reach a wider audience. It is the work of Benito Jerónimo Feijoo, a scholar priest and Spanish theologian of the XVIII century.

Cabria spoke of the "great discovery by Martí Flò of a web site on Feijóo, which is a gem for those interested in the mysteries. Among the 163 "Erudite and Curious Letters", published between 1742 and 1760 in 5 volumes, we find a wide range of subjects, from popular science to natural phenomena. One of them, for example, explains certain ostensibly magical celestial phenomena as due to the Aurora Borealis. This also explains the showers of blood, saying there are not enough infants in the world to shed as much blood as it rains in the entire country. Therefore this phenomenon is revealed as caused by the rainfall mixed with red sand. There is another letter about elves ... observed by elite witnesses! (that is, military personnel.) It is a real advance to a forthcoming ufology.”

We recommend this link which will take you directly to the 5 volumes:

• Others
Interesting information on a few UFO photographs that can be plausibly solved can be found in the following note written by Anthony Bragalia:
http://ufocon.blogspot.com/2010/10/ufos-that-never-were-classic-photos-now.html (Thanks to Luis R. González for the lead.)

FOTOCAT is a very ambitious project: it attempts to bring together all photographic UFO cases generated in the world. Most published in the specialized literature, others in raw periodicals and on the internet. The number of sources to consult is incalculable in the form of books, journals, magazines, newspapers, web sites, blogs, and other internet media. UFO students and organizations hold files that need to be reviewed for completeness. Therefore, we are offering you the chance to help our project. Please find below a number of alternatives, and let us know which one is best suited to you.

  1. Donate photographic materials, case files or literature to be included in the FOTOCAT database and have it preserved for posterity. You can use the following postal address:

    Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos
    Apartado de Correos 12140
    46080 Valencia
  2. Collate and check your own (personal or organization) files of UFO photographic cases with FOTOCAT, to expand the catalogue. To this end, we will supply with state, region, province or nation-oriented listings to active researchers.
  3. Extract information about photographic cases from listed books
  4. Extract information about photographic cases from listed UFO journals
  5. Extract information about photographic cases from listed blogs, web sites
  6. Search and correspond with listed sources holding collections of UFO photographs
  7. Investigate missing data (date, location) for certain available UFO pictures or recordings
  8. Perform expert analysis of UFO photographs or footage

Please write to us at ballesterolmos@yahoo.es to establish the proper protocol for your collaboration.