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2012/MAY/28 (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. It is supported by a material archive with images in several formats and a large archive of documentation, organized in individual folders.

• Case Number
FOTOCAT presently records 11,003 events. We continue collecting reports from all countries dated up to year-end 2005, yet currently we are concentrating on acquiring cases for Belgium, United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland), Switzerland, and Chile. For these nations and for year 1947 we are preparing special studies. Cooperation is welcome.

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

Paper Revised
The paper “Spheres in Airborne UAP Imagery”, by V.J. Ballester Olmos and Martin Shough has been enlarged to cope with a pair of incoming photographs allegedly taken during a flight from Cyprus to the UK.
Read the updated paper in: http://www.webcitation.org/6mx5Youbh

August 2002. Flight from Cyprus to England. © Susan Clarke.
Article Online
Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos, “El hombre del M.O.A.” (The man from MOA), an article on my friend General Ángel Bastida, recently deceased, he who when chief of the Intelligence Section of the Air Operative Command (MOA in its Spanish acronym) in the early 1990s, was fundamental in the start of the declassification of the Spanish Air Force UFO archives.  This article includes a number of never-seen-before documents and letters. It is available online in the following link: https://www.academia.edu/31131375/EL_HOMBRE_DEL_M.O.A
This section gives acknowledgments and thanks for cooperation and assistance received from new collaborators.

October 2011, Mark Pilkington and V.J. Ballester Olmos meet. Mark is the one with the black beard. (Picture taken by J.P. González.)
Meeting Mark Pilkington
Londoner Mark Pilkington is a writer, producer, curator and musician. As ufologist, he has authored the book Mirage Men, one that I commented on recently, and he is the editor of Strange Attractors Journal.  Mark has been in Valencia –my home town- invited to deliver a speech at Spectra, the 4th worldwide symposium on Conspiracy Theories, October 26-28, 2011. I met him in the last day of the congress and we then shared a dinner and a few drinks together with other colleagues and friends under the auspices of the Octubre CCC organization (thanks to Emili Payà and Mike Ibáñez). We exchanged papers and had a very nice conversation, establishing links sure to last.

Books Received
A Desconstrução de um Mito is a 479-page book penned by the distinguished Brazilian researchers and thinkers Carlos Reis and Ubirajara Rodrigues. It exactly covers what the title offers, the deconstruction of the myth of UFOs.   Released by LivroPronto Editora (São Paulo, 2009): livropronto@livropronto.com.br
A complement to the above volume is a short book by Carlos Reis entitled Reflexões sobre uma Mitopoética (Reflections on a Mythopoeia), that, as the definition goes, sees UFO history as the act of creating a mythology. It is published by LivroPronto Editora (São Paulo, 2011.)

Thanks are due to Carlos Reis for providing copies.

Cover of book De Outros Mundos.
De Outros Mundos. Portugueses e Extraterrestres no século XX. “From Other Worlds. Portuguese and Extraterrestrials in the XX Century” is a collective book under the direction of Joaquim Fernandes, one of the most reputed UFO researchers in Portugal, doctor in History and professor in the Fernando Pessoa University. Published in 2009 by Planeta Editora (Lisboa), this is an “anthology of accounts and representations of the Portuguese population on the UFO and ET concepts”. It sums up 19 essays by 21 authors, a distinguished sample of UFO students from Portugal who dissect the extraterrestrial imaginary as it is perceived in the Portuguese contemporary culture, viewed under cognitive, sociological and anthropological perspectives.

Although it is a volume with no waste and all of its chapters are the result of a painstaking field and cabinet work, in my personal opinion there are several specially valuable, those on the quantitative and iconographic evaluation of the Portuguese UFO reporting between 1908 and 2000 (629 cases) by A. Durval, J. Fernandes, J.C. Martins & M. Neves (pp 12-27), the photographic analysis of unusual aerial objects (R. Berenguel, pp 28-43), the UFO imaginary and science fiction, by J. Fernandes (pp 44-55), the graphic representation of sightings by children (M. Neves, pp 56-74), the observations of humanoid entities, by C.J. Monteiro (pp 161-176), the secondary side-effects from UFOs (A. Alves, pp 348-371), and UFOs and their relationship to geophysics (a posthumous article by J.F. Monteiro, pp 372-383). The excellent book we are dealing with also reviews the vision of this subject under other keys and approaches and it contains well-documented essays on the ethnography of the contactee-ism in Portugal (P. Castro, pp 75-99), the semiotics of the communication with alien beings (P. Barbosa, pp 100-151), and the problem of abductions (M. Simões & M. Resende, pp 152-168 and C.J. Monteiro, pp 169-284).

In summary, it is an essential book to know in depth the UFO phenomenology in Portugal, a scholarly volume of wide thematic spectrum, one of these rare books that add true value to the knowledge we have on the UFO mystery. As the editor of the book writes: “investigators from the main Portuguese universities met -through a collective effort- to dignify the treatment of a subject which has evident repercussions in the areas of the development of beliefs and their social and individual impacts.” Evidently, they have achieved their purpose.

We greatly appreciate the copy sent by Dr. Joaquim Fernandes.

Oscar Galíndez, lawyer and ufologist, one of the most outstanding names in the history of Latin-American ufology.
Cooperation from Oscar Galíndez
In the last months we have renewed our old contact with the Argentinean student Oscar Galíndez, who is very actively collaborating with some current projects of FOTOCAT and supplying very valuable information. We are doubly pleased because we have always admired this investigator, remarkable jurist, and lawyer of note with a large curriculum as a professional, university professor, researcher and writer. Our good friend Galíndez has been a true pioneer in scientific-oriented UFO research in Latin America since 1960. Co-founder of CADIU (Córdoba, 1966) and owner of one of the most important UFO libraries of South America, he has published in the most relevant UFO journals in the world and he is the author of two books, one of them, Los Ovnis ante la Ciencia (1971), considered to be compulsory reading. Oscar Galíndez is emeritus professor in the department of Private Law in the Faculty of Economic Sciences of the National University of Jujuy and he has been chairman of the Ethics and Discipline Tribunal of the College of Lawyers of the Province of Jujuy, where he resides today. We are proud to have the able assistance of Señor Galíndez in our investigation program.

A Major Contribution from BUFORA
A very important documentary contribution to the FOTOCAT project has materialized thanks to the kind support offered by Matt Lyons, Chairman of the British UFO Research Association (BUFORA), which is the largest and oldest UFO society in the United Kingdom. BUFORA has an outstanding history of publishing good quality UFO material and Mr. Lyons has generously shared it with us by providing a DVD with the full BUFORA archives from 1959 to 2006. It comprises     -amongst several policy and internal documents- complete sets of LUFORO Bulletin (1959-1963), BUFOA Journal (1963), BUFORA Journal (1964-1981), various bulletins and newsletters (1964-2002), proceedings of BUFORA conferences (1976-1997), Journal of Transient Aerial Phenomena (1979-1989), BUFORA Bulletin (1981-1989, 1998-2001), New BUFORA Bulletin (2002-2005), UFO Times (1989-1997), BUFORA News Files (1993-2000), BUFORA Ireland Branch Journal (1993), Wessex UFO Record (1973-1975), as well as many research books, papers and studies released by BUFORA over the years.
This material represents an extraordinary legacy of this organization and, specifically for us, an archive of paramount value from which we are sure we will be able to find many new reports to feed UK FOTOCAT, a special project currently under development, already with 460 entries for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

* French ufologist Franck Boitte has produced a neat catalogue of UFO sightings in Belgium covering 73 UFO sightings with photographic and camcorder support, during the wave of 1989-1993. It has added 43 new entries to FOTOCAT.

* Víctor Martínez is a 27-year-old Spanish geologist very much interested in the UFO study. He wrote FOTOCAT project to report the launch of his own, quite informative web page: http://www.informeovni.net
Victor is kindly supporting our projects in a new cooperation that is already proving fruitful.

* British lawyer -and massive compiler of UFO records- Isaac Koi has kindly provided us with a CD containing Dr. J. Allen Hynek’s photographic files held by Dr. Willy Smith until his recent death. This will be soon incorporated to the FOTOCAT digital archives.

* Also from England, Eric Rush has sent us a copy of a DVD commercially-produced by UFO Magazine in 2003 containing reproductions of the contents of a folder of almost 200 pages of UFO clippings from the British press for the period 1950-1953, originally owned by a L.B. Cooper, found in a second-hand bookshop. Our UK FOTOCAT will benefit from this pile of press cuttings of the early fifties.

* Through the good offices of the Italian researcher and close friend Edoardo Russo, we have added to the FOTOCAT project’s collection a rare work: "A Catalogue of Pictures of Alleged UFO Pictures in Japan 1974-1976", by Yusuke J. Matsumura and Kizo Mikami, a 96-page report containing 126 photographic cases between 1974 and 1976. This is a hard-to-find document and a valuable acquisition. The report, very well illustrated and documented, is singular because it focuses only on explained events, excluding any pictures of those real UFOs. And it is doubly rare to have been published by CBA International CBA (Cosmic Brotherhood Association), a group of contactee inspiration whose director Y.J. Matsumura was known for frequently taking UFO photographs, often from airplanes. Whatever their status, the work has added quite a few cases to our coverage of the Japanese casuistry.

I’d like to summarize the final findings of the study of this sample of 149 UFO cases with pictures:

Fakes and hoaxes: 35%
Reflections and development flaws: 16.5%
Aircraft navigation lights: 12%
Astronomical explanations: 9.4%
Miscellaneous (birds, balloons, clouds, airplanes, etc.): 8%
Artificial satellites: 0.7%
Other: 3%
Total explained: 84.6% (126)
Authentic UFOs: 15.4% (23)

May 12, 1974, airborne photo over Mount Aso (Japan). A fake. © Munefumi Hisayama.

February 26, 1974, Fuji (Japan). Reflection of interior lights. © Kazutoshi Sato.
* Our gratitude to Clas Svahn from Archives for UFO Research (AFU) from Sweden, who has mailed us four books authored by Arthur Shuttlewood, in order to better document the series of UFO events in Warminster, England, in the sixties. Our appreciation goes to AFU for other submissions as well.

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

• Conisborough Revisited
Ufology has its classics. Stories that got instant fame when they were reported and that crystallized over time. These are sensational reports or amazing pictures, for instance. You can find them in any UFO encyclopedia and they seem to pass the filter of time. But you suddenly discover that, in spite of decades having past, the original events were not properly re-appraised, I mean, professionally, critically. One example of this is a lone photograph of several UFOs taken by a British teenager, 15-year-old Stephen C. Pratt, of Conisborough, South Yorkshire, England, on March 28, 1966, around 20:15 hours. Several researchers, both from Great Britain and abroad, have expressed doubts about its authenticity. Others played a gullible role in this scene.

March 28, 1966, Conisborough, UK. © Stephen C. Pratt. Courtesy of John Hanson.
I plan to do a special study of the photographic cases occurring in the UK. Still in the collection phase, I decided to send digital copies of various negatives and prints kindly received by ufologist and author John Hanson, plus background information submitted by Dr. David Clarke, to a most qualified analyst in the United States, John R. English, NARCAP’s Research Assistance. His competent, independent analysis is to be found online in the following link: http://tinyurl.com/review-conisborough-1966

The conclusion is quite definitive: it is a highly probable hoaxed photo.

• The Latest Photograph of a Ball Lightning?
FOTOCAT’s computer inventory closes, with some exceptions, by December 31, 2005. One such exception is regarding alleged instances of ball lightning phenomena, because one of the several projects in progress has to do with this type of natural events.  The latest photograph that has circulated internationally of a potential globular lightning is a suggestive image made in an unknown location in Hungary on January 6, 2011 at 17:20:09 hours, according to the picture’s EXIF data.

January 6, 2011, Hungary. © Idokep, 2011.
We learned of this photograph thanks to Professor Alexander Keul, Salzburg University (Austria). The image originally reached the digital bureau of an organization devoted to meteorology, with scant information and from the very beginning it was placed in the context of a possible ball lighting occurrence. The site that includes the picture has a long and interesting list of comments (unfortunately, in Hungarian, naturally) where a number of possibilities are reviewed as to the nature of this globe of light:

In another post of our blog we had already covered the apparition of the so called “orbs” through infrared cameras, images actually produced by insects:
We also saw experiments to create “orbs” at will:

Probably the most frequent modality of “orb” is the one produced by the reflection of a camera’s flash-firing over environmental particles, dust mainly. When the camera flash illuminates dust in suspension it produces an unfocused, parasitic image that some stubborn ufologists continue ignoring as the obvious cause. When the virtual, reflected image is translucent it is due to a very tiny solid reflecting surface, like a speck of dust, or similar. For example, the following photograph obtained in Norway.

July 24, 2002, Salsvann (Norway). © A.J. (Norway in UFO Photographs: The First Catalogue, V.J. Ballester Olmos y Ole Johnny Braenne, http://www.upiar.com/index.cfm?language=en&artID=174&st=1)
It looks different, however, when the flash bulb light reflects on a denser object like a snowflake, like in the following picture, then we see a white halo with a dense and intense bright core.

Surely the reader is realizing now in which direction we are pointing. I prefer that Andrés Duarte, our regular consultant in image analysis, speaks for himself:
The photo was taken with a flash. It seems to be an unfocused particle reflecting light from the flash. It is not the typical orb formed by fine particles, but with a larger particle. The orbs produced from coarse particles have three characteristics that distinguish them from the orbs of fine particles: these are very bright, they have blurred edges sometimes surrounded by a halo, and they have a round shape but these are not perfectly circular. In the same site there are examples of this bright type of reflection from large particles [see previous picture].
The Dutch researcher Wim van Utrecht has informed us of several similar photographs: http://www.flickr.com/photos/primum_mobile/2170051836/
The lack of data about the Hungarian photograph and the circumstances where it was taken meant that other alternatives were also considered, like a picture really taken through a window showing a reflection of an inner light source. In this regard, Duarte has indicated the following:
I do not think that is a reflection in a window because the flash would cause many reflections in the glass, especially in any dirt existing on it. Also, the text says that the photo was not taken behind any glass.
A few seconds after this photo was obtained, another one was made:
It does not show the object and allows us to discard that it was something resting in the place, like a garden lamp, for instance.

Although this photograph came into FOTOCAT as a possible ball lightning event, this possibility is now fully discarded.

Let me finish by recommending a web site were you will find abundant information about real “orbs”: http://www.assap.ac.uk/newsite/htmlfiles/Orbs%20centre.html
• Introducing “Originals”, a Series of Forthcoming Articles
Over the years, well before I started the FOTOCAT project, I was often collecting UFO pictures. Through contacts here and there I procured first-generation (original) color prints or slides of UFO snapshots, fascinating-looking objects and associated entities. I am glad to announce the commencement of a series of entries in the forthcoming blog updates where several classic, well-known or simply impact-driven photographs are reviewed. For this I count with the concourse of Andrés Duarte, a skilled photo-analyst from Chile, a chemist by trade and a regular technical adviser of ours, without ruling out the participation of other professionals and scientists in this expertise task.

• Originals (1): The Little Blue Humanoid
The issue of Flying Saucer Review of January-February 1969 (pages 15 to 16) contained an article by John Keel entitled “The ‘Little Man’ of North Carolina”, revolving about an incredible photograph of a small figure holding a dark object and standing in front of a white sphere placed on the ground.  It had been attached to a letter that a 14-year-old boy named Ronnie Hill had mailed to the magazine Flying Saucers-UFO Reports, which had ceased publication by then and the editor decided to send it to Keel. According to the boy’s covering letter, he took the picture on July 21, 1967 in a small town of Pamlico County, North Carolina. It all started when he noticed a strange odor in the air, like a gas that made his eyes water, before he realized there was a complete silence in the environment. 15 minutes later, Ronnie heard a buzzing sound and saw an object flying near. He ran to his house (but said nothing to its occupants), grabbed a Kodak Sabie 620 camera and by the time he was out again a white ball about 9 feet in diameter had landed nearby. Five seconds later a loud noise was heard. “I was breathless –Ronnie writes-, because a little man about 3½ to 4 feet tall came from behind the ball-shaped object, carrying with him a funnel-shaped black object in his right hand.” The being was 15 feet from the boy.

The picture as published in FSR, an enlargement from a black & white negative made from the original print. © Ronnie Hill.
John Keel showed the photograph to “several professional photographers in New York City” and “studied it minutely” to conclude that “(it) does not seem to be a doll or other hoax”, findings that were confirmed by the editors and art directors of SAGA magazine.

Regarding the original picture –the only one that came out-, Keel wrote: “(it) is bluish and marred by fogging on both edges.” Keel embraced the veracity of the document, in fact he found many details in the boy’s story reminiscent of true UFO sightings and photographs, like the smell, the sounds, the fogging and even the humanoid’s suit. Amazingly, in order to avoid that the photograph was published and the photographer did not receive a penny, Keel reported that “(it) has been copyrighted in Ronnie’s name.” It is a curious decision, to say the least.

Nothing else was known about this photograph until the issue of November-December of FSR was released. A small inset in page 11 reported “doubts about ‘little man’ photograph”, and specified that “John Keel, and correspondents of his, have kept a watch on this case and now report that developments have cast doubts on the authenticity of the photograph.”

It was the end of it in the literature for years. In the summer of 1969 I obtained a color copy of the print from Roger Perrinjaquet, a Swiss ufologist, president of the GEOS group and an active collector of UFO photographs. The picture I received is a cropped enlargement, obviously from a second-generation negative. The copy is obliquely traversed by a number of white dots of unknown origin.

From the files of V.J. Ballester Olmos.
In 1980, a reproduction of the Hill photograph was published in a book by Margaret Sachs, The UFO Encyclopedia (Perigee Books, New York), page 230. It was less cropped than my print and presented a larger view of the actual surroundings but it also had the white dots in. It nevertheless contributed new information. The brief caption mentioned that “the little ‘alien’ has been identified as a model with an egg in the background”, quoting the ICUFON (a New York-based UFO organization under the leadership of megalomaniac Colman Von Keviczky.)

Surprisingly, not many sources have subsequently published the picture. The first time it was printed in color was in UFO Encounters – Sightings, Visitations, and Investigation, a book jointly written by Jerome Clark and Marcello Truzzi (Publications International, Lincolnwood, 1992), page 121. Photographic credit also went to the ICUFON. Bob Rickard wrote an article for Fortean Times (#80, April-May 1995, page 24) discussing it briefly. Also, James Lewis mentioned it in his book UFOs and Popular Culture (ABC-Clio, Santa Barbara, California, 2000, pages 153-154). Both quoted from Margaret Sachs as far as the solution is concerned. Mexican researcher Luis Ruiz Nóguez made a skeptical review of the case in his (Mina, 1996) book 100 Fotos de Extraterrestres (100 photos of extraterrestrials), where he theorized it could be a little model and a fake made by “the typical precocious US teenager.”

British researcher Isaac Koi found a webpage that carried this picture, under the caveat “100% sure they show fake ETs”. It added some more detail to it: “In reality, the ‘alien’ was a doll wrapped in aluminum foil.” The link is: http://thebiggestsecretpict.online.fr/ufo_et.htm

All prints known to date were centered in the figure of the humanoid and we missed seeing the full photograph. To this purpose I addressed a request to the person managing the files of John Keel (who died in July 2009), Doug Skinner, who runs a web site devoted to the memory of Keel and his assets: http://www.johnkeel.com/ Doug has been kind enough to provide me a scan of the original Kodak print created by the young boy. As it becomes obvious, the original picture does not contain the white dots observed in the second generation color prints available until now.

The original photograph taken by Ronnie Hill. Courtesy of Doug Skinner.
Doug also submitted scans of the letter submitted to Dell Publishing Company by Ronnie Hill, with lots of interesting details and two pages of drawings. Now we know, for example, that the photograph was taken in the North Carolina town of Oriental. Time was “2:00 AM” (sic) “on a hot sunny day” and Hill states he was in the presence of the humanoid “for about 30 minutes”, the landed object size is “compared (sic) with an orange at arms’ length”, it disappeared over the tree tops and it moved “like it was controlled by remote controlled” (sic). The typewritten letter, with manuscript corrections and additions on it, said the UFO was “about 9 yards, 2 feet away from me”, and the “alien was about 3 or 3½ feet tall.” The entity displayed a dark brown color in his face with greenish reflections and he wore a “shiney (sic) silver suit.”  According to the letter written by the youngster, the alien came from behind the “ship”, stopped and looked around, moved to stop again after looking at the UFO, then he “took out black funnel and stuck it in ground. Then pulled it back up.” Finally, the entity “hurried back behind the ship.”

I have placed online the full document written by Ronnie Hill so that it can be read by interested students. See: http://tinyurl.com/fotocat-hill001

We know that John Keel exchanged extensive correspondence with the photographer during 1968, but this has not been found as of November 2011, when I requested it was searched for. Nor it was any other documentation found proving the falsehood of the incident.  Not strange because, as Doug reports: “John didn’t keep orderly files. His apartment was a horrifying mess, and his friends poured a lot of time into trying to help clean it up, usually in vain. After his death, we salvaged what we could. I don’t have access to everything now, some is still in storage awaiting further organization.”

A view of John Keel’s apartment from 1987. Courtesy of Doug Skinner.
Our consultant Andres Duarte has examined the existing information, as well as the original photo, and he has found several inconsistencies both in the reported data and the image. Firstly, the picture received from Skinner is 90x90 mm, but Keel said he received a contact copy, and a contact print of a 620 film is 56 mm high, this conveys doubts about whether the submitted photograph is really the original or not. Secondly, the picture received shows an illumination equivalent to a light source located at 25° of elevation, while according to the testimony of the boy the picture was taken at 2 pm, when the Sun was about 75° high. This discrepancy in the angle of illumination is important. But, in addition, Duarte explains the following:
If the height of the being is 3.5' and its distance is 15' then its angular height should be: atan (3.5'/15') = 13°, but the photo shows a height of 0.22, expressed as a fraction compared to the top dimension of the picture, then multiplying by the visual field (*) we obtain the angular height in the photo = 0.22*30° = 6.6 ° at the most (**). Therefore there is a major error in the height-to-distance ratio.
The UFO in the photo appears with a diameter of 0.086, expressed as a fraction compared to the top dimension of the picture, then multiplying by the visual field we obtain the object’s angular diameter in the picture = 0.086*30° = 2.6° at the most (**). The linear diameter of an object of this angular diameter at the arm’s length, assuming an arm of 50cm, is 50cm*tan (2.6°) = 2.3 cm at the most. This is very different from the size of an orange (photographer’s estimate.)
The height-to-distance ratio indicated for the humanoid is 3.5'/15' = 0.23 and for the UFO is 9'/29' = 0.31. Then the apparent relative size of humanoid to UFO should be 0.23/0.31 = 0.74, but the photo shows that this ratio is 0.22/0.086 = 2.6. This inconsistency is too glaring; according to the reported data the being should appear smaller than the UFO despite being closer, but in the picture the being is much bigger than the UFO.
Assuming that Ronnie took the picture standing up and had a stature of 1.65m (this is the current average height of an American of 14 years), the camera would be at a height of about 1.5m and the top of the UFO would be higher, equal to its diameter of 2.74m, then it would be seen with an elevation angle of: atan [(2.74m-1.5m)/8.84m] = 8° above the horizon. That is, it would be seen on the horizon for more than 1/4 of the visual field, it would be a very noticeable elevation, however in the UFO picture is seen below the horizon.
There are several very remarkable inconsistencies. In spite of this, the FSR article says: "The measurements verify Ronnie's estimates of size and distance."
For the sake of completeness, Duarte has made two graphical representations showing how the scene should look like in reality. Firstly, the scene viewed from the side, a lateral view:

Side view reconstruction.
And now the image the witness should have had before their eyes, if the distances and dimensions provided were correct:

Actual view if reported data were right.
Clearly, the CGI (computer generated image) reconstruction that we are presenting here shows a large difference in terms of sizes and proportions between what has been reported and the virtual reality. This convincingly supports the fake diagnosis for this photograph.
A. Duarte Notes
(*) The Kodak Sabie 620 camera indicated in the FSR article does not seem to exist; yet assuming it was a camera with a 620 film with a 100 mm lens- typical for this type of camera- then the vertical visual field is 31°. If it were not a 620 film, however, the most common vertical field for that time was anyway around 30°.
(**) I say at the most because the image that we have might be only a portion of the whole original picture.
• Curious 1954 Pictures from Down Under
After an extensive compilation effort, my paper “The Year 1954 in Photos (Expanded)” (FOTOCAT Report #1), reviewed all photographic UFO reports reported during this key year, as known by publication date of April 2008:
Recently, we were informed of an interesting tip to one of the events cited in this catalogue, for which no image was available, Mount Gillen, Alice Springs, Northern Territory (Australia), January 15, 1954. Chris Aubeck copied me a message from the Magonia forum list where one of its members, Kay Massinghill, had shared a copy of the relevant page of the Centralia Advocate, a newspaper published in Alice Springs, where an unnamed reader had submitted a UFO photograph and its story, released in the edition of February 5, 1954. Probably a fake, however, the added value here is the possibility to view an image neglected for nearly 60 years.

An alleged 1954 UFO picture. The source is anonymous, nevertheless. Courtesy of Kay Massinghill.
Soon after receiving this image, Kay has submitted yet another, one that seems to be a hitherto unknown photographic case in the annals of the Australian ufology. Published in The Argus of Melbourne, Victoria, of June 24, 1954, under the peculiar heading of “Oh, we’re so sorry!”, the newspaper prints a photograph (for which no date is offered) taken by 4 workers of the Gas and Fuel Corporation of Fitzroy by the names of D.A. Birshop, G. Canavan, R. Mongan and G. King, on a bright sunny day with clear visibility. According to their testimony, the UFO flew over treetops “only yards away”. In fact, they recorded that the object was about 6 inches in diameter (~15cm), was flying at a height of 6 feet (~2m) with a speed of about 6 miles per hour (~11km/h). It looks like a joke, doesn’t it? With this brief information the story can hardly be evaluated, however the actual street addresses of the witnesses are available. Should any Australian colleague wish to check back this event, I will gladly provide the details privately.

Another 1954 UFO picture from Australia. Courtesy of Kay Massinghill.
Complementarily, one of the best Australian UFO researchers, Keith Basterfield, has provided us with additional information on three photographic episodes of the year 1954 as well. From documents resting at the National Archives of Australia, some new details have been disclosed on the November 2, 1954 fake event at Mena Murtee Station, near Wilcannia, New South Wales. Also, Keith has recently devoted two entries in his blog to deal with the sightings at Mount Gillen (see above), one that he characterizes as of “little value”, and that of Easter Sunday 1954 at Eucla, Western Australia, with detail problems in the information which “leave doubts in my mind, as to the veracity of the informant, and hence the event as described”, Basterfield notes. These are his two articles:
This section will provide basic statistics produced from the FOTOCAT database.

• Reports by Time of the Day: 2000 to 2005
In our last update, we reviewed the FOTOCAT database reports from 1947 to 1999 where the hour is known: http://fotocat.blogspot.com/2011_10_01_archive.html

Generally, FOTOCAT databank closes by December 31, 2005. The basic reason was the realization that most incoming (and large in number) contemporary photographic cases were merely rubbish. Keeping a watch on a daily basis was a wasted investment. By establishing a frozen line, I decided to mainly concentrate on UFO sightings of the past century, with 6 years worth of report from the first decade of the XXI century to serve as a witness sample for comparison purposes. For the term previously analyzed (1947-1999), the time of the day is computer-registered in 38% of the total, while the reports for the lapse 2000-2005 with time listed (1,374) represent 48% of its total. These still low percentages are a measure of the pending work we have ahead to pour data into the system.

We now divide the most recent cases with time recorded in the listing, between “positive” and “false positives” (that is, reports unexplained and reports with mundane explanations), as follows:

Positive False+ Total 2000-2005 (Full total: 2,873)
Number 816 558 1,374

This is the plot of both types of cases during the 24 hours of the day:

The correlation coefficient between the two series is quite high, 0.8186 to be exact. Both curves behave similarly, yet with differences. In both, the period of 6 hours that runs between 18:00 and 00:00 collects almost half of the reports (obviously, lighted objects are better seen in the nighttime!), however the visible decline that follows is abrupt in the false positives while it is progressive in the positive events. Also the maximum peaks are at 21:00 (for positive) and 23:00 (for false positive). This game of numbers is not definitive. We need to complete the data acquisition process in our catalogue before the mass of reports is large enough for significant statistics. But it gives a flavor of what it is going on.

In our following update, we will collate the periods 1947-1999 and 2000-2005 to look for constants or departures.

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. 

• The Obama Administration Speaks Out on Alien Life
For years, many groups of citizens, quite oriented to the belief that alien life has contacted our planet (mainly through the UFO phenomenon) have requested the government of the United States to disclose supposed existing evidence that aliens have contacted earthlings.

Two independent but converging petitions, signed by a total of 17,500 persons, requested: (1) Immediately disclose the government's knowledge of and communications with extraterrestrial beings, and (2) Formally acknowledge an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race.

The lore about formal contact with alien beings is as abundant as ill-proved. In my view, this is the most extremist and unfounded variety of ufology, one that self-discredits any serious effort that has been done or its under way to provide credibility to the subject of the UFO study.

The White House has spoken loud and clear in a historic communiqué dated November 6, 2011, released through its web site, signed by Phil Larson, from the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, under the candid heading of “Searching for ET, But No Evidence Yet”, to be found herewith:

A prominent statement formally declares that:
The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race. In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public's eye.
The wording of this note is especially unambiguous, and the closing line is of the he-who-have-ears-to-hear-let-him-hear kind:
The fact is we have no credible evidence of extraterrestrial presence here on Earth.
In the last few years, some people have been expecting some news from the US government concerning aliens and UFO disclosure. Here you have it. But, will a crystal clear declaration like this satisfy radical believers? I am afraid, not. Nothing except a response that fits their tergiversating minds will ever suffice. Not only that. Following a predictable behaviour akin to cognitive dissonance,  this will reinforce yet more campaigns aimed to promote further petitions on the same topic.

• On the Likelihood of Non-Terrestrial Artifacts in the Solar System 
Under this title, a paper by two researchers from the Pennsylvania State University, Jacob Haqq-Misra and Ravi Kumar Kopparapu, has been released as a preprint accepted for publication by the Acta Astronautica journal, November 7, 2011.

Extraterrestrial technology may exist in the Solar System without our knowledge. This is because the vastness of space, combined with our limited searches to date, implies that any remote unpiloted exploratory probes of extraterrestrial origin would likely remain unnoticed. Here we develop a probabilistic approach to quantify our certainty (or uncertainty) of the existence of such technology in the Solar System. We discuss some possible strategies for improving this uncertainty that include analysis of moon- and Mars-orbiting satellite data as well as continued exploration of the Solar System.

The full text can be read in the following link:
(Thanks to Philippe Ailleris and EuroUFO.)

• Crying over my Beer Pretzels
The narrow world of journals specializing in a serious, documented and rigorous ufology, has suffered a double whammy with the disappearance, almost in unison, of two of its best publications. Indeed, publishers have announced the end of the excellent revues The International UFO Reporter (published by the J.A. Hynek Center for UFO Studies) and Cuadernos de Ufología (published by the Ikaros Foundation, before named Anomaly Foundation.) It is the sign of the times and it clearly announces the future of the subject of UFOs, it will continue being the basis for entertainment (TV programs and commercial books), mostly dissociated from the real world, and sporadically will generate serious work, even academic, by some scholars able to unravel the roots of phenomenon.

The official announcement of Mark Rodeghier, scientific director of CUFOS, can be read here: http://www.nicap.org/docs/2012March_CUFOS.jpg
For his part, Alejandro Agostinelli has reviewed the termination of CdU in this article: http://goo.gl/RbQGy
• Instructive Ufology
We always learn from the blog of the Spanish UFO analyst Juan Carlos Victorio Uranga, “Mysteries of the Air”. Two recent posts are especially instructive. One covers an alleged secret and spectacular UFO landing that supposedly occurred within the perimeter of the Spanish Air Force base of Morón de la Frontera (Seville):
Another recent piece treats the UFO encounter experienced by a military pilot of the Chilean Air Force: 

• Others

V.J. Ballester Olmos on TV.
On occasion, I participate in a TV program with an interview. Not my cup of tea (they have you a few hours doing this and that and later on you are presented in a segment so short that your discourse lacks proper context.) Anyway, recently I was interviewed in a choral, multiple-participant program devoted to UFOs made by the news services of TVE, the main public channel of Spanish TV, released through “24 Horas” and “La 2” channels. The journalists were well-intentioned, they wanted to include many opinions (hopefully with the wish the audience could make a judgment from as many sources as possible) but the result is an unblended mix. Science or truth is not democratic, it is what it is, and one voice may be surrounded by ten holding opposite views and the lonely one might be the sole truth. But TV editing is another ball of game, you know it beforehand and you take it or leave it. I took it this time.
The program “Crónicas” (Chronicles) dealt with “Expediente OVNI” (The UFO File) on October 30, 2011 and can be watched here:
A commentary by Ricardo Campo was posted here:
 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 Spain
  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.