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2009/10/21 (EN)

English language editing: Martin Shough
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, FOTOCAT databank comprises 9,652 entries. In the last quarter or so, progress in case acquisition has not been large because of time investment in articles and research papers. However, much invisible progress has been made in the area of adding details in data columns for reports already recorded.
Papers, articles and research reports by Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos, just published or reedited.
The Sóller Photograph
An updated version of my article (in Spanish) “La foto de Sóller: Un ejemplo de la sinrazón” (The Photograph of Sóller: An Example of Unreason) has been placed online here: http://www.webcitation.org/6mx57wR9R

Sóller (Majorca), November 12, 1979. Is this image in the picture a UFO? The two above-mentioned articles deconstruct the developments that culminated in the taking of this photograph. © José Climent Pérez.
This false sighting was an attempt to capitalise on the fame of the airborne UFO observation of November 11, 1979 over the Mediterranean Sea, when the crew of a commercial airplane sighted apparently strange lights during a flight from Majorca to the Canary Islands, which finished in an emergency landing at Valencia airport. The Sóller event was reported to have occurred the day after in a small village of Majorca. It was, I hasten to say, completely unrelated to the cause of the pilot sighting.
The above article duly complements a previous paper by me (also in Spanish), entitled “Un avistamiento anunciado” (An Announced Sighting), available in the following link: http://www.webcitation.org/6mtzAoeDy
Considering that the 30th anniversary of this pair of episodes is coming soon, it seems pertinent to revisit them.

La Eliana (Valencia), July 2009. Compare one of the main lens flares to the transparent globe in the 1979 Sóller picture, you just need a look to close a case. © Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos.
Appendix for this Blog: Just when this text was being prepared, I happened to take a photograph from my country house’s front yard. I have made many interesting meteorological photos from my summer vacation residence, and on this occasion I wanted to picture a cloud very similar to another one which some idiots labelled as a UFO in 1981. I admit I wanted to include the sun as well as any resulting reflection produced. A nice set of lens flares appeared, just identical to the above Sóller so-called UFO. The case is terminated and it requires no more comments.
The Reentry of Shenzhou
Decays of orbital material typically produce impressive-looking meteors over large distances and over a few minutes, with the result of hundreds, or thousands of observers, depending of the time of occurrence. Needless to say, spacecraft reentries have been associated to UFO sightings for many years. Fortunately, lately we see the media more educated with better scientific advisors and accurate identification of such displays of unexpected lights in the sky happens immediately.
On the night of November 27, 1999 one such fiery reentry took place and it was seen from Portugal to Italy, generating lots of “UFO” reports by a large number of eyewitnesses. Matías Morey and I did some investigation and wrote a report entitled “27 Noviembre 1999: ¿La última reentrada del milenio?” (November 27, 1999: The Last Reentry of the Millennium?), which was published in the issue #2 of @nomalía, December 2000, pages 29-39. @nomalía is one of the journals edited by Fundación Anomalía in Spain.
This investigation report (in Spanish) is now available online as a .pdf at the following link: http://www.webcitation.org/6mx68649U
Appendix I for this Blog: Probably several video recordings were made elsewhere. We have copies of two and we are posting them here for the benefit of researchers and students. One was taken in the town of El Farge, in the province of Granada (south of Spain) and the other was obtained by a sailor navigating somewhere in the Mediterranean sea.

November 27, 1999, El Fargue (Granada, Spain). Credit: Antonio Salinas, SIB. © Gabriel Rodríguez.

November 27, 1999, Mediterranean Sea. Credit: Prof. Josep Mª Trigo, University of Valencia.
Appendix II for this Blog: By the time this decay event happened, the official disclosure process of the Spanish Air Force UFO archives (1992-1999) had just finished. Some information from military or civil aviation sources concerning this incident arrived at MACOM (acronym for Air Combat Command), in which intelligence section any UFO claims are coordinated for investigation and public release. There is a protocol for UFO inquiry –the IG-40-5 general instruction- that activates when there is a formal complaint made to the air authorities. There was no such complaint and therefore no formal file was created, no classification occurred so no declassification went on. When time permits, I plan to request that all complete documents collected regarding this reentry are released, following the standards set up for the declassification process.

Fax submitted by MACOM to the author, dated March 14, 2000, containing a summary of the information arrived to the Air Force intelligence about the reentry case of November 27, 1999.
This sheet shows the basic information collected by MACOM on the event of November 27, 1999.
In the meantime, I will now disclose a few documents that I received during my communications with MACOM back in year 2000. Thanks to my good relationship with MACOM's intelligence officers, I requested the highlights of the documentation they had received and I was provided the following two papers:
By year 2000 I terminated my working project devoted to achieving the release of UFO cases officially reported to the Spanish Air Force, and I embarked on the launching of Project FOTOCAT. Nevertheless, I did not lose contact with some of my military sources, mainly with –just promoted- General Angel Bastida, then suitably appointed head of GRUCEMAC, the Central Group of Command and Control, the unit at Torrejón AFB which coordinates radar air defense for all Spain’s airspace.

Air Defense log book with annotations from 21:33 to 22:30 of November 27, 1999.
In this capacity, my close friend Bastida (who died prematurely in September 2007) had direct access to the record log books, wherein any airspace-related incidents were annotated. Over several years, I requested from him copies from the pages of the books –classified Secret- for dates and times where my files registered UFO sightings with military intervention alleged. One of the cases was precisely 27 November 1999. On one hot day of July 2001, General Bastida and I met at the Air Force Headquarters in Madrid in one of our regular encounters. Before we went out to a nearby bar to have a couple of beers, he provided to me Xerox copies of several log pages, and the following one, which is shown here for the first time, relates to the reentry of the Shenzhou Chinese rocket.

Imagination or Reality? The Landing at Turís
This blog’s last update in http://fotocat.blogspot.com/2009_04_13_archive.html announced the publication of an article on the UFO landing experience said to have been experienced by a farmer in Turís (Valencia) on July 25, 1979, a case investigated at the time and recently re-opened. An online version, profusely illustrated, has been produced for a general audience and it is available at: http://www.webcitation.org/6mx6wDd3k (language is Spanish).
This section gives acknowledgments and thanks for cooperation and assistance received from new collaborators.
Lots of photocopies of pages with news about UFO photographic cases from 40 issues of Saucers, Space & Science (1958-1972) and all the 35 issues of the Canadian UFO Report (1969-1979), both classic UFO journals from Canada, have been submitted by an old and faithful correspondent, the US ufologist Tom Benson. Thanks, Tom, it helps very much!
British author Philip Mantle has contributed several case reports plus a number of interesting UFO photographs.
UK researcher Joe McGonagle submitted a 1,500-line template of a collaborative team work on indexing the Ministry of Defense release of UFO documents (a first batch collecting mostly 1978-1987 docs), whereby 29 cells provided reference to photographic cases.

Jacques Scornaux (left) with Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos at Chalons-en-Champagne, October 2005.
A very important development has to do with French input. It is well known that Michel Monnerie was a prominent ufologist until he abandoned the subject, not before publishing two books Et si les ovnis n'existaient pas? (L.F. Editions, Paris, 1977) and Le naufrage des extra-terrestres (Nouvelles Editions Rationalistes, Paris, 1979) and after devoting many years to collecting and studying purported UFO photographs by coordinating the RESUFO project of the journal Lumières Dans La Nuit. After his retirement, and with the intention to preserve his valuable archives, the French organization SCEAU, devoted precisely to the preservation of UFO files, had them stored at the Centre d’Archives Contemporaines at Fontainebleau, south of Paris. I feel that FOTOCAT would not be complete without including all the cases collected by Monnerie. Thanks to the cooperation and the efforts of Jacques Scornaux, one of the persons in the elite of UFO research in France, Xerox copies of the entire files have been transmitted to the FOTOCAT project during the current month. A big merci to you, Jacques!
Thanks also to Alberto Cerezuela Rodríguez, BA in Humanities from Almería, who has been kind enough to send us his book La cara oculta de Almería (Cultiva imprint, 2008), which devotes one of its five chapters to a review of a number of local UFO reports from this province of south Spain.
This section will display a sample of UFO photographs or footage whose study is revealing, or educative at least.

The Al Khufrah Oasis, an agriculture project in the desert of Libya, as seen from the International Space Station.http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/EarthObservatory/Green_Circles_Al_Khufrah_Oasis_Libya.htm
Geographical Precision
In the last blog’s update I included a video on a structure videotaped from space, see: http://fotocat.blogspot.com/ 2009_04_13_archive.html
Initially, it was thought to be a construction on the Israel’s desert. But thanks to one of our readers, Italian researcher Michelle Porcheddu, we know now it was the area of Al Khufrah Oasis, Libya, and specifically these green circles in the desert indicate tracts of agriculture supported by center-pivot irrigation.
The Phenomenon of Reinosa
On October 1991, the Fundación Anomalía organized an international meeting in Santander (Cantabria). In addition to many Spanish UFO students, we had the presence of foreign experts like Richard Haines, Willy Smith, Hilary Evans, and Alejandro Agostinelli from England, US and Argentina. During one of our presentations to the media, I was approached by a local citizen who kindly handed me a video cassette of a recording he had made on March 15, 1990 in Reinosa (Cantabria). At 17, 30 hours and for 4 minutes, he had filmed a strange luminous phenomenon in the air that lasted 20 minutes. The voices could be heard of other witnesses who were seeing the aerial apparition.
This is a very nice example of what it is vulgarly called a sundog or mock sun, its scientific name being Parhelion, a colored patch of light that appears to the left or right of the sun, 22 (or more) degrees distant and at the same distance above the horizon as the sun. These are natural ice halos originated by sunlight refracted on the hexagonal ice crystals of cirrus clouds. Usually come in pairs, one on either side of the sun, and these are far from rare phenomena.
I have converted the video recording into digital form to post it here, for those interested.

March 15, 1990, Reinosa (Cantabria). Parhelion or “sundog”. © Francisco García Sáinz.
The scientific literature on this topic is immense. Let me mention two very interesting sources in particular:
Book: David K. Lynch and William Livingston, Color and Light in Nature, Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Online: Les Crowley’s web site on atmospheric optics: http://www.atoptics.co.uk/
This section will provide basic statistics produced from the FOTOCAT database.
During the advancement of the FOTOCAT case inventory, I have disclosed basic statistics by decade for the XX century. The following review pieces have been published formerly:
Decade of the 1950s: http://fotocat.blogspot.com/2007_07_14_archive.html
Decade of the 1960s: http://fotocat.blogspot.com/2007_01_29_archive.html
Decade of the 1970s: http://fotocat.blogspot.com/2008_08_07_archive.html
Decade of the 1980s: http://fotocat.blogspot.com/2009_04_13_archive.html
Now let us we face the last decade of past century.
Reviewing the Decade of the 1990s
The FOTOCAT database contains 1,916 reports from January 1, 1990 to December 31, 1999. The division by year and category (unexplained or explained) follows:
YEAR REPORTS # UFO (# and %) IFO (# and %)
1990 146 92 (63%) 54 (37%)
1991 156 92 (59%) 64 (41%)
1992 120 86 (72%) 34 (28%)
1993 166 116 (70%) 50 (30%)
1994 197 128 (65%) 69 (35%)
1995 192 134 (70%) 58 (30%)
1996 209 149 (71%) 60 (29%)
1997 199 139 (70%) 60 (30%)
1998 249 167 (67%) 82 (33%)
1999 282 182 (65%) 100 (35%)
______ ________ ________
Grand Total 1,916 1,285 (67%) 631 (33%)
In terms of number of reports, the maximum was reached in the year 1999 and the minimum in the year 1992. During the 10 years considered, the statistical trend was parallel for both sets of data, generally an ascending curve, i.e. the second half of the decade produced many more reports than the first half, in a 6 to 4 rate, both for UFOs (that increased by 50%) and IFOs (that grew by 33%).

June 7, 1993, Tepoztlán, state of Morelos (Mexico). It could be good art but it is a bogus UFO created by a known Mexican contactee. © Carlos Díaz.
In the total count, 67% of compiled events were listed as unexplained, while 33% were considered explained. For reference purposes, out of the 9,652 cases in the full catalogue, 59% are UFOs and 41% are IFOs. Except one, all years in the decade have similar percentages (plus/minus 10% deviation). The exception being year 1991, where IFOs raised to 41%, just due to an accumulation of explainable incidents of several types from several countries: Gulf Breeze’s balloon flares in the USA, planet Venus mistaken in Mexico, and lens flares in photographs of the Uritorco volcano in Argentina.
This is the case distribution by country for the 15 nations that contribute ≥ 1% of the total (19 entries or more):



Río Grande, San Salvador, province of Jujuy (Argentina), circa summer 1997, a weird and suspicious UFO photograph. © Hugo Batallanos.
Not surprisingly, the ranking opens with the United States. It is followed by Norway, where the Hessdalen activity is rich in the period. For three of the four countries next in the list (Argentina, Spain and Chile), the author is making a special data-collection effort with local colleagues and the results of this are visible in the statistics. Then, Mexico shows up as an important source for photographs and videos purporting to be anomalies. Another group of countries with a similar rate of photographic observations is Italy, Brazil, Great Britain and France, well known for their regular sighting input. The last set of countries in this tabulation of the top contributors is formed by Sweden, Poland, Russia, Canada and Belgium.
We now examine in more detail the annual distribution for the countries which have ≥ 4% of the total number of cases (over 77 entries):
1990 30 4 7 1 18 3 4
1991 34 8 24 22 4 2 5
1992 34 5 15 17 7 4 1
1993 48 10 7 19 4 3 13
1994 33 8 25 34 17 5 16
1995 28 10 22 9 22 13 16
1996 36 8 9 12 32 11 13
1997 52 8 22 9 16 23 4
1998 20 65 34 13 14 46 4
1999 16 104 25 14 15 29 6

___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ __
TOTAL 331 230 190 150 149 138 82
I have highlighted in blue the “wave” years. For the USA, year 1997 probably departs from a normal average due to 10 entries on a single day, March 13th (flares dropped over Phoenix test range) and by 4 entries from Brooklyn repeater Alex Cavalleri. In Norway, it is 1998-1999 due to the incidence of the Hessdalen Phenomena and especially because of the on-site operation of an automatic station for live-recording (1998-2002). As far as Argentina is concerned, in the third row, we see an irregular, typical “saw tooth” distribution, with a major peak in 1998, where one fourth of all reports proceed from 3 unique sources. Mexico doubled the mean value in 1994 (a partial culprit was repeater Arturo Romero who added 7 cases of his own). There was a clear increase in UFO reporting in Spain in 1996, stimulated by a wave occurring in the NW region of Galicia, half of it due to misinterpretation of planet Venus. In Chile, the flap year was 1998. Finally, Italy had a 4-year wave from 1993 to 1996.
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.
Richard Hall Dies
In the morning of July 17, 2009, Richard H. Hall died at 78. Three years before, on July 29, 2006, Dick Hall wrote this message to other colleagues and me: (yesterday) I have been diagnosed with a medical condition that requires immediate surgery. Although is categorized as ‘major surgery’ the procedure has become fairly routine, so I am optimistic about a favorable outcome. The “medical condition” was cancer and Dick lost his last battle with the illness after a brave fight.
I do not intend this short obituary to be a biography, I just wish to say a few words about a colleague I respected. If you do not know or value Richard (“Dick”) Hall, I simply don’t give a damn. On the contrary, for those who are well aware of his accomplishments in ufology, I will not repeat what they know well. Suffice it to remember that he managed Donald Keyhoe’s NICAP during its best years, he authored the seminal book The UFO Evidence in 1964 (with a follow-up Volume II in 2001), in addition to other UFO and history books over the years. Since 2004 he was the editor of The Journal of UFO History.
Above all he was a UFO historian; as professor Michael Swords once told him: “we are students of UFO history, but you are the UFO history”. During June 1987, I was one of the featured speakers in the MUFON annual congress, held in Washington, D.C., and I had the opportunity to briefly meet Richard Hall in a party at Bruce Maccabee’s house. On January 1994 I received a note from him through Richard Heiden, but it was not until 1996 that I started a semi-regular correspondence and email exchange with Hall. It was more intense in the last years and the ultimate message I received from him was in January 2009.
Richard Hall was also a believer in the extraterrestrial hypothesis as the origin of UFOs and he represented a school of ufology that has achieved a lot as far as case documentation, serious reporting and pushing for teamwork is concerned, and many a top UFO researchers in the United States walked in his foosteps. This way of doing things, however, when we are well into the 21st century and looking towards the future, probably requires a revamping in terms of methodology in case evaluation and critical analysis in facing how witnesses report their experiences. Yet people like Richard Hall did much to provide a wealth of rich data to work upon.

Dick Hall in front of his house of 4418 39th Street, at Brentwood (Maryland) in 2008. © Richard Thieme.
A couple of years ago, I was honored by having Dick ask me to participate in one of his “dialogues” in his UFO history journal. This was printed in the September-October 2007 issue, and can be read at the following link:
Basically, Hall was a giant in trying to assure that the study of UFOs was seriously handled so that it could be accepted by mainstream science and the academia. He did not achieve this goal in his lifetime. I wish to pay tribute to an honest person who did much to dignify the subject of UFO research.
Research in Progress on Ball Lightning
As reported in http://fotocat.blogspot.com/2007_03_26_archive.html, on March 2007 I started, with the cooperation of Heriberto Janosch and Alexander Keul, a research project dedicated to this elusive, natural, debated phenomenon called ball lightning. This program is not conceived as short-term but mid- or long-term, because –among other reasons- we plan to integrate all reports proceeding from this case call with other reports in our files or extracted from the literature, and this is truly a huge job. The common element here is that events must have been occurred in Spain.
Reports in the form of questionnaires and letters were collected between February 2007 to September 2009. My intention today is to present a brief summary of the information that has been obtained since the release of our initial communiqué.
To date, 48 replies have been received: 39 questionnaires, 1 press report and 8 electronic mails with preliminary information pending follow-up.
The 39 submitted questionnaires can be divided in this way:
Country of Origin
Unknown2 (Latin-America)
Dates of Events
The press release that originally announced the birth of the BL project was printed in several national newspapers and on at least in 13 web sites and blogs, in Spanish, Catalonian and French. We were especially pleased to see it reproduced in scientific or Meteo sites. 14 reports from Latin-America were received, most probably due to the readership of a number of magazines based in Spain that also sell in South America, for example Más Allá, Muy Interesante, Año Cero, Revista del Aficionado a la Meteorología and GEO.
As regard as the year of occurrence of reported events, most of them belong to the current century, followed by those from the decade of the 1990s. I wonder if a large amount of close-range sightings of anomalous luminous phenomena preceding this time resides among the multitude of UFO reports in the files of ufologists.

Cover of INVASORES, by A. Agostinelli.
New Argentinean Book
A key name in the study of things ufological in Argentina is Alejandro Agostinelli, a journalist by trade. In Invasores. Historias reales de extraterrestres en la Argentina (Invaders: Real Stories of Extraterrestrials in Argentina), the author has written a chronicle of eleven incredible stories about UFOs and UFO encounters, “all of them worth of a movie film”, he confesses. Through personal, moving interviews with the personages themselves he documents not only the lives of odd characters associated to singular experiences, but also the visions and beliefs from which are woven the tapestry of the cult of the extraterrestrials in Argentina.
The book was published in April 2009 by Editorial Sudamericana- Random House (Buenos Aires), and has 352 pages.
You can read more information and lots of comments at:
http://invasores-ellibro.com.ar/ and
http://inexplicata.blogspot.com/ 2009/06/argentina-invasores-invaders-alejandro.html
Book orders can be placed as follows:

Pictures of Aliens
Mexico is a country where lots of UFO trash exists in the form of UFO literature, UFO tales, UFO photographs and UFO videos. A good UFO book is a rarity, and this is an example of just such an exception: Extraterrestres ante las cámaras (Extraterrestrials on Camera), by Luís Ruiz Nóguez, a most experienced skeptical UFO researcher and a chemical engineer by profession. This is Volume 1 of a series of books where Mr. Ruiz will reveal the information he has accumulated over many years, as well as his own findings and thoughts and ideas, about supposed photographs of alien beings on Earth. Naturally, events are examined under a critical magnifying glass.
I was invited to contribute the foreword, and it can be read (in Spanish) here:
The book has been released March 2009 and it is available through:

Cover of Cuadernos de Ufología #33, 2008 yearbook.
2008 Cuadernos de Ufología Yearbook
Issue number 33 of Cuadernos de Ufología, the master publication of the Anomaly Foundation, has just been released It is a yearbook of 260 pages, largely illustrated, with plenty of interesting articles and papers by Mark Moravec on Min-Min lights, David Clarke & Andy Roberts on UK’s MoD Rendlesham file, Chris Aubeck on pre-Arnold events, Claude Maugé on a catalogue of abduction reports in France, Martí Flò on 50 years of C.E.I. in Barcelona, Kathryn Gow et al. on propensity to fantasy, this list not being exhaustive. The journal is in Spanish.

Your volunteer collaboration with the FOTOCAT Project is requested. Please write to: ballesterolmost@yahoo.es
We will supply you with state, regional, provincial or national catalogues for you to check and enlarge with your own data.
If you are willing to donate photographic materials, case files or literature to be preserved for posterity, feel free to use the above email address.