Leer en español

2010/09/30 (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 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
As per today, the number of image-carrying UFO reports stored in the FOTOCAT databank is 10,135. Region listings, for checking and improvement purposes, are available on request.
Papers, articles and research reports by Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos, just published or reedited.
• FOTOCAT report #6 just released
AN APPROACH TO UFO PHOTOGRAPHS IN FRANCE Lo and behold the title of the latest theme paper published from the archives of FOTOCAT. This 38-page report is a preliminary accounting and basic analysis of 500 photographic events collected for France. The compilation of the FOTOCAT database is not an end in itself, this will certainly be a large working tool for researchers, but a major objective of this program is the build-up of subject, geography and year-oriented works which describe in some detail the worldwide panorama of UFO pictures, including data-reduction and study of specific case catalogues, both on unexplained and explained occurrences alike.

UFO close encounter picture by 16-year-old boy Christophe Fernandez at Uzès (France), November 19, 1974. Credit: Thierry Gaulin.

Between September 2008 and spring 2010, the announcement that a catalogue for France was being developed was published in the French journal UFOmania, along with 5 progress reports. Thanks to the on-going work on the database plus the assistance received from researchers, during all these months the FOTOCAT records increased from 350 to 500 cases. The final paper examining the findings so far, AN APPROACH TO UFO PHOTOGRAPHS IN FRANCE is a presentation of both the catalogue and a brief analysis of it. This report, number 6 in the series of FOTOCAT papers, is to be found in this link:
Alleged Experiences inside UFOs: An Analysis of Abduction Reports
This paper was published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, Volume 8, No. 1, 1994, pages 91-105. It was a crash study of the scarce abduction episodes found in the Spanish UFO bibliography up to then. It appears online in the following link:
When the base study was completed in 1988, there were just 6 abduction reports known to have originated in Spain, allegedly dated from 1947 to 1985. Research disclosed that all of them had been reported after 1978 and that conventional explanations could apply to all the cases. Additionally, 5 other reports of so-called “missing time” were also scanned, two of which were unexplained at the time (one was fully solved later and the other still lacks proper investigation). These are objective data. In our humble opinion, we are left with an unreal phenomenon created by the influence of US abduction stories when locally publicized.
The article was followed by a “Response to Ballester Olmos” by Dr. David M. Jacobs, also included in the pdf file above. I deliberately did not answer it in order not to enter into fruitless and potentially never-ending polemics. Frankly, I judged that the best reply would be provided by the course of time. I understand that subsequent research has mainly supported my point1-5 (abductions are non-physical experiences derived from psychological conditions, with lots of additive hoaxes) much more than the opposite (extraterrestrials abduct people)...
The research findings of the paper we brought here, to the attention of readers who may not know it, make it quite legitimate to question whether the abduction accounts that have been used elsewhere to form the basis of a new facet of the UFO enigma do really have an implicit merit. From today´s perspective: Was our analysis an unsophisticated approach, or were we right and are abductions just a new mythology for folklore scholars? Is then the opposite view to ours badly biased with credulity?
  1. The Abduction Enigma (The truth behind the mass alien abduction of the late twentieth century), Kevin D. Randle, Russ Estes & Dr. William P. Cone, New York: Forge Books (June 1999).
  2. Abducted (How people come to believe they were kidnapped by aliens), Dr. Susan A. Clancy, Cambridge: Harvard University Press (2005).
  3. They Know us Better Than We know Ourselves (The history and politics of alien abduction), Dr. Bridget Brown, New York: New York University Press (2007).
  4. Encounters at Indian Head (The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Abduction Revisited), Karl Pflock & Peter Brookesmith (editors), San Antonio: Anomalist Books (2007).
  5. Las abducciones, ¡vaya timo!, Luis R. González, Pamplona: Laetoli (2008).

• Were There Aliens in a Cuenca Village?
Thanks to an on-site investigation by this author and his co-worker Jaime Servera, the news of an encounter with aliens finally resolved into a malicious rumor intended to implicate a wealthy local family in a prank. After the field inquiry was finished, a short account was written and the story was originally published in 1998 under the title “El penúltimo encuentro cercano con OVNIS” (The Penultimate Close Encounter with UFOs), and it is online here (the article is in Spanish):
• Books Available
As a response to some readers' questions, copies of my books may still be purchased online through the second-hand market, in the following link:
    List of sold-out books:
  • A Catalogue of 200 Type-I UFO Events in Spain and Portugal (CUFOS, 1976)
  • OVNIS: El fenómeno aterrizaje (Plaza & Janés, 1978, 1979, 1984)
  • Los OVNIS y la Ciencia (with Miguel Guasp) (Plaza & Janés, 1981, 1989)
  • Investigación OVNI (Plaza & Janés, 1984)
  • Enciclopedia de los encuentros cercanos con OVNIS (with Juan Antonio Fernández) Plaza & Janés, 1987)
  • Expedientes insólitos (Temas de Hoy, 1995)
  • New book:
  • Norway in UFO Photographs: The First Catalogue (with Ole Jonny Brænne) (UPIAR, 2008).
Available through: http://www.upiar.com/index.cfm?language=en&artID=174&st=1
This section gives acknowledgments and thanks for cooperation and assistance received from new collaborators

José Antonio Cezón (on the right side) and V.J. Ballester Olmos, Valencia, May 2010.
• A Visit from J.A. Cezón
Unknown to the public because of his self-appointed low profile in mundane ufology, José Antonio Cezón Alonso is a long time UFO student. He was a founder of the Madrid branch of CEI back in 1968. Industrial technical engineer by profession and M.A. in Geography and History by vocation, Mr. Cezón has kept a live interest in UFO matters all these years, having cooperated with me and with other ufologists in different investigations in the last 40 years. In the last months, Mr. Cezón and I are developing a catalogue of UFO landing reports in Spain and Portugal known after 1985. Coincidental with a recent archeological-historical trip to Eastern Spain, we had the opportunity to arrange a meeting in Valencia in order to compare notes on the work we are doing together, during which we made the accompanying picture.
• Meeting S. Chernouss
Between 1977 and 1989, the Commission for the Investigation of Anomalous Phenomena in the Atmosphere was active in the old USRR, created within the Academy of Sciences and directed by academician V.V. Migulin. The representative from the north of the country in this committee was Dr. Sergey Chernouss, presently senior scientist at the Polar Geophysical Institute and a renowned expert in aurora borealis. Chernouss and his colleague, astrophysicist Dr. Yulii Platov have been cooperating for 35 years in the study of the UFO phenomenon in Russia.

Dr. Sergey Chernouss (right) and V.J. Ballester Olmos, Barcelona, August 21, 2010.
I already had the pleasure to meet the two Russian scientists in August 1995, when we participated as lecturers in a congress organized by BUFORA at the Sheffield Hallam University (UK). It was a congress not to be forgotten because it was there where for the first time exploded the infamous footage of the Roswell autopsy, a fraudulent film that we were able to watch in a first exclusive.
In the last month of August, Chernouss delivered a paper, co-authored with Platov and two other scientists, at the 37th European Congress on Atmospheric Studies by Optical Methods, held in Valladolid (Spain), August 25 to 27. At the last minute, unfortunately, Dr. Platov could not travel. As the flight of Dr. Chernouss arrived to Barcelona, we agreed to meet there, where I would travel from Valencia (350 km in the south). On August 21, I met Sergey Chernouss and we could devote several hours to talking about our common interests: ufology, the nature of UFO cases, Government UFO commissions and our role in them, basically on issues of UFO research, bibliography, etc.
The most pleasant meetings were held in different places, a pub near Paseo de Gracia, sight-seeing in the Barceloneta beach, in a restaurant during lunch time and in an open air coffee shop by the Plaza de Catalunya (consulting works through the laptop). It was very useful to exchange viewpoints, information and books, and to make plans for a future joint research in the area of project FOTOCAT.
• Honorary Distinction
In August 2010, the Online University has bestowed on FOTOCAT blog the award of “Top UFO Blog”. From an initial blogosphere of 4,900 nominations, judges evaluated the best 1% to 2% by applying criteria like content, affiliations relevant to the actual blog itself, posts and others, and 50 were honored with the top award, meaning that these blogs represent a relevant resource tool within the subject. As reported by Amy Wilkins, “FOTOCAT was determined to be an essential part of our resources.” The following badge represents this distinction:

• Various
○ Thanks are due to French professor of History of Geography Thierry Gaulin, for sending a few interesting photographs from the files of the defunct group VERONICA. Monsieur Gaulin is the author of a booklet on this UFO association: Les OVNI de V.E.R.O.N.I.C.A., published 2008 by Editions Lacour,
○ My appreciation also goes to Ruben Uriarte, of MUFON, for allowing free access to the organization's Case Management File, in order to gather information on UFO reports from their computerized system.
This section will display a sample of UFO photographs or footage whose study is revealing, or educative at least.

Madrid, September 5, 1968. © Agencia CIFRA and ABC.

Madrid, September 5, 1968. © Agence BELGA.
• New Image for a Classic Observation
From 19.30 hours onward on September 5, 1968, Madrid citizens saw a flying object that gave off light hovering over the capital for an ample period of time. It gathered a large crowd in the streets watching it with great curiosity. It was notorious for the photo that was published the following day on the very front cover of the distinguished ABC newspaper.
Among the documents that Belgium's SOBEPS donated to FOTOCAT Project recently (scroll down in http://fotocat.blogspot.com/2010_04_29_archive.html), we were surprised to find this unknown snapshot taken during of the same incident, obtained by a staff photographer for the press agency BELGA, which shows the object in even more detail. Finally it was found out that this object was a French CNES stratospheric balloon, which landed near the town of Elche (Alicante) five days later. I am quite pleased to share this image with my readers.
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
• Presenting the “Sphere Report”
The US-based organization National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP), dedicated to studying the potential interface between UAP reports and aviation safety, has just released a special report entitled Spherical UAP and Aviation Safety: A Critical Review, edited by Dr. Richard F. Haines, with contributions from Kiyoshi Amamiya, Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos, Rogerio Chola, Kim Efishoff, John English, Carlos Guzman, Dan Lee, Larry Lemke, Terry Osborn, Mario Rangel, Ted Roe, Alfonso Salazar, Martin Shough, Richard Spalding, Massimo Teodorani, and Dominique Weinstein.
This major report can be accessed at: http://www.narcap.org/Project_Sphere.html
The Table of Contents shows a wide coverage of issues within a general topic defined as the observation and recording of sphere-shaped aerial objects in relationship with air navigation, as follows:
1. Introduction: Are Spherical UAP a Threat to Aviation Safety? (Richard Haines)
2. Physical Characteristics and Hypotheses
2.1. Aerodynamics of Spheres (Larry Lemke)
2.2. An Electrical Hypothesis Regarding Spherical Luminosities at Aircraft
Altitudes (Richard Spalding)
2.3. Radar Detection of Spherical Targets (Martin Shough)
2.4. Spherical UAP: Scientific Observations and Physical Hypotheses, Danger Evaluation for Aviation and Future Observational Plans (Massimo Teodorani)
2.5. Geometric Relations of a Sphere (Richard Haines)
3. The Evidence
3.1. Pilot Sighting Reports
3.1.1. Brazil (Rogerio Chola)
3.1.2. Canada (Donald Ledger)
3.1.3. France (Dominique F. Weinstein)
3.1.4. Japan (Kiyoshi Amamiya)
3.1.5. Mexico (Carlos Guzman & Alphonse Salazar)
3.1.6. USA (Ted Roe)
3.2. Aerial Photos
3.2.1. Spheres in Airborne UAP Imagery (V.J. Ballester Olmos & M. Shough)
3.2.2. Additional In-Flight Photographs and Reports (Richard Haines)
3.3. Ground Witness Reports
3.3.1. Analysis of Ground Witness Sightings: Spherical UAP Approaching Airplanes and Airplanes Approaching Spherical UAP (Dan Lee)
3.3.2. Additional Ground Witness Photographs and Reports (Richard Haines)
4. Possible Explanations for Sighting Reports
4.1. Weather and Other Types of Balloons (Kim Efishoff)
4.2. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and Other Airborne Objects (Terry Osborn & Richard Haines)
4.3. Ball Lightning and Earthlights (Richard Haines)
5. Miscellaneous Subjects
5.1. Spheres: A View from Above? (John English)
5.2. Foundations for a Taxonomy of UAP Shapes (Richard Haines)
6. Some Challenging Questions, Conclusions, and Recommendations
This study faces the UAP problem scientifically and offers to the specialist an important amount of information on the features of this phenomena, results of technical investigation and prospects for the future.
• Article on EQL
Thanks to Dr. Richard Haines we have been aware of an interesting and well written article that contain useful information to anomaly students: D. Fidani, “The earthquake lights (EQL) of the 6 April 2009 Aquila earthquake in Central Italy”, Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, Vol. 10, 2010, pages 967-978.
The author developed and distributed a survey to local residents after the strong earthquake of 6 April 2009 and found about 1,000 phenomena were reported. 241 were luminous in nature. 99 of them occurred before the quake. "Globular lights, luminous clouds and diffused light were more frequent before the quakes," the author reports.
This journal is open access and the article can be found at this url:
• Books received
○ I am grateful to Dr. Peter A. Sturrock, emeritus professor of Applied Physics and emeritus director of the Center for Space Science and Astrophysics at Stanford University, for kindly sending me a copy of his brand new book, A Tale of Two Sciences: Memoirs of a Dissident Scientist, published November 2009 by EXO Science. See: http://www.exoscience.org/a-tale-of-two-sciences.html

Cover of the last book by Dr. Peter Sturrock.
Peter Sturrock is one of the few really eminent scientists who is committed to the study of UFOs (his interests also encompass parapsychology). Paraphrasing the book by Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities, it shows the life of a scientist who has divided it between a dedication to science and to non-conventional phenomena. Sturrock, English by birth, spent his formative years in the University of Cambridge (the sighting in Autumn 1947 of a round, white object in linear flight for 1 minute was his first encounter with the strange) until he left for the United States, where he married for the first time with an American enthusiast of “unorthodox phenomena”, through whom he discovered the 1950 book by Donald Keyhoe, Flying Saucers Are Real, for which “it made a good case”, he writes.
As director of the Institute for Plasma Research, in 1971 he contracted a young French astrophysicist expert in computer science, Jacques Vallee, whom he confesses has been a big influence in his life. After reading Vallee's books, the UFO issue intrigued Sturrock enough that he decided to study it by himself. After that, Sturrock's history in ufology shows a progressive deep interest in UFO investigation and the implementation of influential research activities.
I recognize it has much merit to hold counter-current ideas in academic environs. And in that respect, Dr. Sturrock has earned high regards for his courage. As he narrates in his book, his maverick ideas were tolerated by his peers, although it is true that in his championing of the UFO concept he has always been conservative, or -at least- discreet in form and substance1, 2, unlike other radical approaches such as Harvard psychiatrist Dr. John E. Mack, just to give an example.
In some of the chapters devoted to the “me, scientist”, Sturrock cites examples of anomalies or anomalous phenomena in the field of Astrophysics whose acceptance gave rise to the discovery of new facts to science. Applications of this corollary to UFO phenomena follow next. But I would like to add a personal reflection: one thing is a mystery or a hole in the tapestry of current knowledge whilst the other is a fact that contradicts or departs from accepted knowledge, a fact which is not based on repeated and controlled experiments.
For example, the “anomaly” of the finding of the emission of radiation in regular pulses from neutron stars (pulsars), is a new fact objectively acquired by new detection systems, in the absence of a proper theory. It substantially differs from stories describing UFO sightings, which besides lacking objective backing -these are only supported by human testimony-, are anomalies that have been proved wrong in other similar instances (i.e. misinterpretations). To complicate the issue even more, the incidence of hoaxes in the UFO milieu is large compared with that in the professional scientific environment.
For the layman the book is educative. For the scientist it is thought-provoking. For the ufologist it is supportive. It is an autobiography with a plus: it proves that the love for science is fully compatible with the scientific study of UFOs. I agree, of course, yet I validate the term “scientific” in the sentence. To date, most of the so-called UFO research has been pseudoscience, with exceptions. Peter Sturrock is one such exception. He is a true anomaly in mainstream ufology.
  1. Peter A. Sturrock, Report on a Survey of the Membership of the Astronomical Society Concerning the UFO Problem, Stanford University Institute for Plasma Research Report No. 681, January 1977.
  2. Peter A. Sturrock, The UFO Enigma: A New Review of the Physical Evidence, Warner Books (New York), 1999.

The UFO Files is a book just published by The National Archives of Great Britain. The author is Dr. David Clarke, from whom I have kindly received a copy. Clarke is a professor in the Sheffield Hallam University (UK) and the official consultant to the National Archives concerning the UFO documentation being massively declassified and released. The book has 160 pages and is profusely illustrated.

See content description in: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/news/364.htm

Cover of the last book by Dr. David Clarke.
In my opinion, this opus is absolutely essential to assess the process of transfering to society the files of UFO reports kept by the British Air Force and the Ministry of Defense, which, like many other nations, took the wise decision to make publicly available all their UFO archives. The UFO subject is outside the jurisdiction of the military administration because it is over-demonstrated that it poses no threat to national security. The elucidation of the UFO phenomenon must go through its scientific assessment in a transparent way, like any other scientific study. The release of secret files is a key step in the right direction.
This work can be purchased through the online bookshop in this link:
• Recommended Literature
A new version of Maurizio Verga's book When Saucers Came to Earth is now available through Amazon. With 264 pages, it contains fascinating visual documentation from UFO sightings of the 1950s, including a comprehensive survey of the wave of UFO landings in Italy in 1954. It is a must. For orders, please click here: http://tinyurl.com/italysaucers
• The First UFO Sighting by Kenneth Arnold
No one could forget that the contemporary history of flying saucers started on June 24, 1947 when businessman Kenneth Arnold saw several disc-shaped objects while flying over the state of Washington. Tons of ink has been expended on this story, yet probably the most comprehensive analysis of this sighting has just been produced by Martin Shough (FOTOCAT's English editor, a NARCAP associate and a long-time analyst of UFO phenomena). Mr. Shough is well known for authoring most accurate, precise and thorough reports and this is no exception. I advise this paper should not been missed by any UFO researcher: “The Singular Adventure of Mr. Kenneth Arnold”, July 2010:
Probably this will not be the last word about this pivotal UFO case, but this is the word for the time being, pronounced by a notably honest investigator and deep thinker. Have a good reading!
• Gerald, Michel, Jacques: The Fort-de-France (1965) Sightings in Perspective
The Christian names above refer to the Canadian engineer Gerald Bull, the French ufologist and witness Michel Figuet and the Gaul-American astrophysicist Dr. Jacques Vallee. This absorbing article by the pen of Spanish telecommunications engineer and UFO analyst Manuel Borraz Aymerich, provides a broad, realistic background for some UFO observations made on Fort-de-France (isle of Martinique) on September 20, 1965, described in the literature elsewhere. At the same time, some biographical notes on the protagonists add another dimension to the essay. This is not a technical report on a UFO case that can be fully explained. The author attempts to show the path of those who were related to this case, the “maker”, the “convert” and the “theorist” and their interaction (or lack of it) over the years.
It can be read (in Spanish) at: http://www.ikaros.org.es/fortdefrance.pdf
• Oberg on Kean
Jim Oberg's critique of journalist Leslie Kean's new book, UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go On the Record is available at:
• The Hammer of Astronaut Cernan
A UFO paraded the Moon during the extra-vehicular activity of the astronauts of Apollo XVII, according to the following example of bad (credulous) ufology:
However, when the same item is passed through investigative journalism of Spanish reporter Luis Alfonso Gámez, such *UFO* becomes a hammer thrown into the lunar vacuum by Eugene Cernan on December 13, 1972, as we can read in his blog Magonia:
Your volunteer collaboration with the FOTOCAT Project is requested. Please write to: ballesterolmos@yahoo.es
We will happily supply with state, region, province or nation-oriented catalogues to any active researcher for checking and expanding purposes.
If you are willing to donate photographic materials, case files or literature to be preserved for posterity, feel free to use the following postal address:
Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos
Apartado de Correos 12140
46080 Valencia