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2017/SEPTEMBER/01 (EN)

English language editing: Martin Shough
The FOTOCAT database continues to grow every day, and presently it records 12,200 entries. I remind readers working on any study for which statistics on regional or yearly UFO/IFO reports are required, feel free to request me any case listings or case tabulations (if a sample of photographic cases serves).
Comments to “The Nature of UFO Evidence: Two Views”
Last June, commemorating 70 years since the seminal case of Kenneth Arnold, June 24, 1947, I published the essay “The Nature of UFO Evidence: Two Views,” co-authored with Dr. Thomas Bullard:
Given the current polarized state of ufology in the world (skeptics and believers in various degrees), it was anticipated that this position statement article would provoke both whistles and applause from the readership. And so it has been. The blog’s audience (there have been 12,100+ visits in the interim, plus those uncounted from other sites where it has been reissued) may be interested to gossip over some of the opinions offered through personal correspondence. I am including next a selection of abridged e-mails praising or criticizing the article. In fact, it becomes a compendium of who believes what in ufology. In some cases, I am also adding my own reply to them.
This is definitely one of the most spot-on articles I read in years! …I would not exclude the possibility of their being some type of undocumented hallucination or vivid dream-like experience that creates very vivid and real-looking images even during daytime. Wim van Utrecht (Belgium)

I applaud it. Ole Henningsen (Denmark)

It was a very good reading and I recommend this article. I for one very much appreciated the first part authored by Ballester-Olmos. In essence, it was for me a "must-read", very good article. Gilles Fernandez (France)

Thank you for the considerable thought that you have put into this paper. It covers many aspects that I have had internal debates within myself, over the years. While it is true that many sightings have mundane causes, I find sufficient 'unknowns' remain, to keep up my interest in the subject. Keith Basterfield (Australia)

Reply: Yes, there is still fuel to feed our continuing research into the topic, as I plan to do myself, which is compatible with my asseveration that the weight of actual evidence for the ETT is non-existent after 70 years.

Needless to say, as you no doubt anticipate from our years of friendship and friendly discourse, I categorically reject each and every statement made by you and our colleague Eddie Bullard for factual and sometimes logical errors in virtually every paragraph…the problem with your thesis is that it is based on poor UFO data…and the absence of objective criteria for evaluating UFO data quality. You can appeal to authority, but no one has scientifically sifted ALL of the 130,000 pages of BB files. You have no idea what is in there and I am telling you it is shocking…I reject the assertions of a merely miscellaneous non-unitary UFO phenomenon. Brad Sparks (USA)

Reply: My thesis is simple: in 70 years there is no evidence that UFOs are alien (which is what most researchers believe) and if anything novel is within the reports it will probably have to do with perceptual issues, the psychology of observation, etc. I understand you feel you can dispute every single line of our article, this posture is anticipated, but there is no need to worry, it is just a question of time to realize who is right or wrong. Perhaps in 70 more years. For me, the most important conclusion is that work should continue and if real evidence is found it should be elevated over the ufologist’s level.

I began reading your article and I will make a few comments. You seem to have become very disenchanted with the UFO phenomenon and your article indicates that you are quite certain that there is no substance to the topic. I view the topic differently and find it personally challenging. I believe that the UFO phenomenon has a physical component and is intelligently controlled. Whether its source is ET or some other unknown answer can be debated. But if the controlling intelligence behind the phenomenon is significantly more advanced than us, it is not difficult to see why we are at a disadvantage in our study of the subject. A broad statement is made arguing that science-fiction and the media have contaminated all witnesses including elite observers such as scientists, pilots, etc. This statement needs support from a detailed study before such a claim can be made. I am not familiar with any such scientific study. I am surprised by the statement in your report, "…every instance is individualistic (unique and exclusive). There are not two occurrences equal, in the same way that there are no two UFO photographs perfectly equal.” That must be an exaggeration that you made for effect, as there are a number of different reports on disks that describe a similar length to height ratio. There are many reports on triangular craft that report the same light configuration.
Speaking of the Aguadilla three minute IR video, you dismissed that as a balloon. A full year of analysis was done on that video by myself with a background in chemistry and device physics, plus others with science backgrounds. You have taken at face value claims by others that the object is a balloon without having read any published report. Robert Powell (MUFON director of investigations)

Reply: Your views are those I have precisely pondered for decades and by doing so I have arrived to the conclusions I hold currently: UFOs do not have a unique origin and nature, UFOs have nothing to do with extraterrestrial life, and no solid evidence exists, while, on the contrary, scholars from many parts of the world concur in assessing the phenomenon as a social one, close to a folklore-in-the-making. A myth, in sum. Perhaps there is room left for a kind of conventional anomaly in perception psychology or atmospheric optics. 
Thinking that there is a phenomenon controlled by an intelligence is, in my humble opinion, a gross, factual error, connected with doing bad, wrong science. You mention Aguadilla, I reserve the time and place to deliver the information I have that explains it as a set of two simple fire balloons.
I'd propose those believing that there is evidence of alien UFOs, to formally present such evidence to the world of science. A Prize Nobel is there awaiting.

In 1988 V-J wrote that he thought UFOs represented a geophysical/psychological phenomena or ETH. Thirty years ago we ALL thought we knew just about everything except for having the proof. I submit that we have seen a lot of evidence since then, not the least of which has been a thorough going over of many Blue Book cases, with Brad Sparks finding that even the AF's 701 unknowns was off by a factor of 200% from the get-go and that there are probably at least 3000-5000 unknowns. Skeptics and debunkers have little to stand on now more than ever. Fran Ridge (USA)

Reply: Yes, Fran, this is called evolution in thinking, opposite to mental stagnation. ETT proof is zero, geophysical proof is poor and psycho-sociological is larger every day.  We cannot turn our backs on to the reality, i.e., "evidence" only exists for believers (in opposition to what you describe as skeptics and debunkers). If real evidence of true anomalies exist, it should be escalated to the proper level of scientific authority to avoid making a self-consumption of it.

After reading your 9 June exchange of views regarding the history of UFOs and UFO research on Vicente-Juan's UFO Fotocat Blog, I wanted to drop you both a quick line to say how impressed I was by the essays. The pieces are engagingly written and the tone eminently cordial, but most importantly, you offer a number of fascinating and productive insights. Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts with readers. Greg Eghigian, Professor of History, Pennsylvania State University

I’ve reviewed the section of this report which is of primary interest to me (files, records, government, etc.), and it is so generalized and so brief that one would think the author knows nothing about the topic. I’m sure the other stuff (i.e., about the state of ufology) is fine. V-J almost implies that further records, and the existing ones we have, are more than enough to form an accurate appraisal of what’s actually going on. I don’t have time to put together a proper list of what we KNOW exists in vaulted archives, much of it classified either SECRET or TOP SECRET, and with little chance that it can be released. Whatever the situation exactly, the number of classified records the US government maintains on this topic numbers in the 100,000s of pages. The reason for this, no doubt, is not to cover-up “aliens”, but the material is classified and vitally important nonetheless. Unbelievable. Paul Dean (Australia)

Reply: The bottom line of this argument is: the evidence and the proof rests in what the US government has been hiding for 70 years. This is what I logically dispute and this is what it is really unbelievable. Ike did not disclose, neither Reagan, Nixon nor Bush; neither Kennedy, Carter, Clinton nor Obama. Have to wait for Trump? Hope he acts quickly, before a well-deserved impeachment comes.

I did indeed find your article stimulating reading, although I remain more optimistic about the future of ufology than you appear to be. The comments in your article about ufology do not appear to be limited to the ETH…I consider VJ's article to be written to his usual high standard (although I'm more optimistic than he is about scope for improvement of the poor standards within ufology). Isaac Koi (England)

I have read your last text with great pleasure because there is a long time I arrived at the same conclusions. I lost so much time on these problems and each new publication do the same errors since 70 years. Roger Paquay (Belgium)

I have read V-J's statement with care, and that of Thomas Bullard (who still has a glimmer of hope if I have understood him correctly) as I have the replies on this list. I think the problem is that, since we do not know what UFOs are or even if there really is an independent anomalous phenomenon, we don't know to which science magazine or scientific publication or periodical we should send the 'irrefutable proof of the existence of the existence of the UFO-phenomenon to. Should it go to an astronomy magazine? Psychology? Or sociology? Quantum physics or meteorology? I have abandoned the idea that UFOs represent ET a quarter of a century ago. We simply don't know what UFOs are. Ufology…is prejudiced, terribly sloppy, amateurish and imprecise and - objectively speaking - a bewildering mess without structure, jargon, proper tools, quality controls, methods and protocols. In short, ufology in general is pseudoscience at best, at worst it's just another church. Will ufology eventually go the way of spiritualism? I suspect so. Perhaps we should make a clean break and make a distinction between ufology and ufo-research. Perhaps we should first try and establish if there is a ‘UFO phenomenon’. Do we find, in the thousands upon thousands of sightings, landings and CEIII reports, proof of the existence of what is generally termed 'the UFO-phenomenon? If the question was raised: "where's the proof that there even exists a UFO-phenomenon at all?" What solid and irrefutable case should I present? And if we have found proof that there is indeed an anomalous phenomenon that exists independently from human experiencers, should it even be called 'UFO-phenomenon', or is it in fact something else? And would that lead us to a new manner or way to study it? Theo Paijmans (The Netherlands)

Sounds reasonable, splendidly written, based on own experience as UFO researcher and another respected ufologist. I'm still reading your study. Times are changing and IMO you missed some things at least up to what I have read so far. But this is only a provisional estimation. Frank Boitte (France)

I very much enjoyed reading your and Dr. Bullard's articles. Investigating a UFO case objectively should result in more or less equal pleasure from a prosaic finding as an exotic (ETH/ETT) one. The pleasure is in researching, analyzing and solving the case, i.e. doing the science. It is great fun to be able to take a fresh look at a decades old case and discover that it was due to a missile launch, fuel dump or re-entry. The solutions of many different cases may yield insights into the UFO myth.
My impression from having read numerous online UFO discussions is that many of the ETT/ETH faithful have not taken the opportunity to learn from UFOs that is offered by the practice of science. Some are so obsessed with defending the ETT that they fail to appreciate or learn from the vast number prosaic solutions that have been found over decades. Ted Molczan (Canada)

I agree with you entirely, "UFOs" are sociological and cultural phenomena and not new physical ones and certainly not ETs!  The stories still have an interest as folklore which tells us a lot about ourselves though. Peter Rogerson (England)

What a great current summary.  It’s too bad that your folklorist colleague still is captivated by the myth. Bob Young (USA)

I was delighted with your work, it is an excellent analysis of the myth. Congratulations. Fernando J. Soto Roland, Professor of History, National University of Mar del Plata (Argentina)

Compliments for the great work. Giovanni Ascione (Italy)

I've just had the great pleasure of reading your joint proclamation that is clearly founded on many decades of serious study.  I must begin with my sincere congratulations on your efforts here.  I will also prophecy that your two articles may well raise both eyebrows and voices to agree (or disagree) or both at the same time.  You almost quoted me in your statement (V-J) that UAP pose no threat to flight safety which is statistically true (thank God) but you left out the most fascinating aspect for which firm data can be supplied, viz., that the reason they don't pose a physical mid-air collision threat is that they maneuver out of the way, sometimes at the very last moment.  Please believe me when I write that I have interviewed in great depth military, test, private, and commercial pilots who look me straight in the eye and describe their close-encounters of the aviation kind, quite often with first-officer co-witnesses. Skeptics can say what they like but I've not yet read a convincing argument from them for truly close, so-called near-miss events.
In my own 40+ years of study I've confronted a number of very challenging photographic cases (Lago de Cote, Costa Rica; Rudy Nagora-Alps; H. McRoberts-Vancouver Island, BC) and cannot come up with a rational explanation. Like Eddie I may be partly retired now but I'm still keeping my door ajar to what I call the "reality of UAP." Dick Haines (USA)

Reply: Richard, your comments are most appreciated, as everything coming from you. The bottom line of my side of the article is that there is no real evidence to prove that UFOs are extraterrestrial and that the reporting contains the features of a folklore-in-the-making. Time will confirm who is right and who is wrong, but 70 years of UFO reports should have been enough, if they are something unique, to have interested Governments and mainstream science. Both have dismissed it. On the other hand, academic studies in an increasing number, point to the psycho-social nature of the phenomenon. 
Regarding the fact that UFOs represent no hazard to aviation safety, some can assert it happens because UFOs vanish to another dimension, for example, before physically or electromagnetically interacting with aircraft. I am rather convinced it is merely because there are no unconventional material flying objects in the air.
You mention three photographic cases: the series of Rudy Nagora (1971, Austria) are single-witness and look like a disc thrown to the air, and the other two are no-witness at all, as the images just appeared after development. In particular, the single take of Hannah McRoberts (1981, Canada) is terribly identical to a Frisbee skipping into the air. Regarding the Lago Cote single picture (1971, Costa Rica), a study in progress has revealed it is not a bona-fide report. 

I'd like to bring up a couple of disagreements with assertions by Vicente: while most governments have *officially* dismissed it, I think that there's significant evidence that at least *some* governments *are* quite interested in it, but keep that interest secret. (Regarding) "UFOs being not a hazard to aviation safety,” the fact is that TO DATE, there have been no publicized events where UAPs damaged aircraft. However, Nathan Twining (son of the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) told me that his father told him of at least one interaction that resulted in the death of the pilot at Wright Patterson AFB. Given the large amount of noise in the field, both from enthusiasts and from deliberate governmental disinformation, I think any conclusions drawn about the safety of aviation with respect to UAP interactions is premature. Paul Kinzelman (USA)

Reply: This is what I call mere rumors. I’d expect much more after 70 years of so-called UFO activity.

Excellent and fantastic summary. A mature historical reflection and a valuable jewel in the subject matter. Antonio Bachi (Uruguay), Solar Section, Iberoamerican League of Astronomy

I liked it and certainly there can be no disagreement on the fact that ufology, defined as a quest for extraterrestrial proof, has failed.  I have felt that from the start of my Magonia writings.  Only psychosocial processes made sense as the driver and shaper of UFO beliefs.  I have long operated by the axiom it was a form of living myth.  Individual cases will elude solution, but not for reasons of extraterrestrial or mystical origins.  We can't always pinpoint the errors and deceptions that prevent making a convincing prosaic solution, but extraterrestrials never really work either once one asks for the unexplained events to be consistent and rationally motivated or even merely logical and common-sensical. Martin Kottmeyer (USA)

Some e-journals or blogs have released commentaries upon this paper, for example:
Recent comments by Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos has some in UFOlogy reflecting on the future of their “science”. His comments suggest that UFOs are approaching a mythological status and there appears to be little future in resolving the matter. There will always be unexplained events but it does not mean they are unexplainable. We will always have bad input data. It is an interesting observation and reflects my opinion about many of the “unsolved” UFO cases in the various databases. In my continuing articles have noticed that many of these “unknowns” can be explained or do have potential solutions. This does not mean that all of these cases can be explained. However, what does it say for the remaining “unknowns”? With a database populated with so many mistaken observations, can we really consider the remaining cases proof that UFOs are, as NICAP put it, “manifestations of extraterrestrial life”? UFOlogy seems to be on the ropes these days. UFOlogists have to ask themselves, “Have we learned anything significant since 1947?” My opinion is that, with the exception of issues regarding perception, the answer is “no”. Tim Printy (USA), SUNlite, Volume 9 Number 4 July-August 2017.
Robert Sheaffer at Bad UFOs:
I cannot follow-up how many sites and blogs have reprinted this article. I guess many. These are a few of those which asked permission for it:
Milton Hourcade (Uruguay), for UAPSG-GEAFI
Richard Vitello (USA), for the Amateur Radio UFO Net
Brian Allan (Scotland), for Phenomena Magazine
Tim Mendham (Australia), for Australian Skeptics
When someone, like me, has walked from the credulity of youth to the skepticism of maturity, it is plain to see that believers administer a quite simplistic logic, whose bottom line is that the “evidence” resides in what is hidden from us, or in catalogs that are statistically plagued by spurious data, or in incidents that can have an alternative reading. I refuse to believe that they apply the same logic to their household, financial, or business decisions.
Argentine Naval Intelligence UFO Report Forms Disclosed
For another paper in progress, I have organized and released online various Naval Intelligence UFO report forms from the Argentine UFO committee in force in the 1960s. These cover the famous 1963 landing case at Trancas and the Antarctic episodes of June-July 1965. Also, another official questionnaire made public recently by Dr. Roberto E. Banchs, a prominent, long-time UFO researcher from Argentina, concerning a close encounter case of 1962 at Necochea. I hope these documents will be of historical interest to some UFO students:
R.E. Banchs, “Formulario OVNI de la Armada Argentina, 1962,”
V.J. Ballester Olmos, “Formulario OVNI de la Armada Argentina, 1963,”
V.J. Ballester Olmos et al, “Formularios OVNI de la Armada Argentina, 1965,”
In every case, an abstract or presentation exists in English. The actual documents, scanned from originals, are naturally in Spanish.
Readers will quickly realize that UFO forms for the 1962 and 1965 cases were filled not by the witnesses themselves but by the field investigators: a high-rank Police Officer-Public Notary in 1962 and Lieutenant Daniel A. Perissé (Argentine Navy) in 1965. It is a rarity because it deviates from what is a common procedure in all other countries, as far as data collection from UFO sightings is concerned.
The Aguadilla Video: The Flight of a Pair of Chinese Lanterns
Unknown origin…object capable of traveling under water… [and] of splitting in two separate objects. This was the grandiose conclusion of a report signed by Robert Powell et al concerning the video taken 2013 in the Puerto Rican town of Aguadilla. Have they finally acquired real evidence of the existence of extraterrestrials visiting the Earth? Should they communicate the discovery to the National Science Foundation? Better, not.
Because it took just a few minutes viewing time for this acclaimed footage to be explained. Rubén Lianza is a military aviator with 3000+ hours flying time in 20 different kinds of aircraft, commodore of the Argentine Air Force and head of CEFAE, the official committee for the study of airspace phenomena in Argentina. While receiving last June some training on digital treatment of images at IPACO (France), Lianza was presented with the relevant video. Given his experience as an Experimental Test Pilot with many hours of airborne video making, chasing and recording different kinds of flying objects (from test prototypes to small drones, from airborne rocket launches to parachute delayed bombs), he quickly identified the objects in flight, yes, objects, because it was a couple of objects tied together (not one that divided in two). In the following hours he acquired probative elements to satisfy his hypothesis and later was able to confirm that the video merely shows a set of two Chinese lanterns (fire balloons) launched to celebrate a wedding in the area.
Lianza has produced a report with his findings: “Puerto Rico´s Aguadilla UFO captured by FLIR camera from U.S. Customs and Border Protection airplane,” and it can be read here: http://www.ipaco.fr/EN_IFO_B_heart_130425.pdf
Left to right: Rubén Lianza, François Louange and Jean-Paul Aguttes (director of GEIPAN) at CNES headquarters, Paris, June 2017. Photograph by Antoine Cousyn.
Robert Powell’s team called the “Scientific Coalition for Ufology” (SCU) has published a response to Rubén Lianza’s theory and has placed it online in the following link:
Commodore Lianza and his peer reviewers are not committed to a never-ending exchange of rebuttals and counter-rebuttals. The scientific audience (or just the audience with common sense) is supposed to have fair judgement enough to understand the pitfalls and flaws of any theory or its apparent rebuttals. However, I have requested Lianza to write a comment to SCU’s response. His article follows below these lines. With this I close the subject within the present blog, as I believe all the pertinent information to reach a final conclusion has been offered. For me, it is obvious that (a) the flying object video-recorded in Puerto Rico was a set of two Chinese lanterns and (b) the UFO proponents made a big evaluation mistake in estimating that the object(s) submerged into the ocean’s waters.
Comments on SCU’s Rebuttal
By Rubén Lianza (Commodore, Argentine Air Force)
V.J. Ballester Olmos has sent me Robert Powell´s reaction to my Aguadilla UFO report and asked me to write an opinion about it. I am sure his rebuttal deserves at least a comment, but I was reluctant to do so to keep my counter-rebuttal from becoming the beginning of a never ending ping-pong game.  I regret Powell´s ”surgical” type of rebuttal would force me into a similarly surgical type of counter-rebuttal, especially considering that my initial report (intentionally) has not abounded in technical explanations in order to make it easily understandable by a broad spectrum of readers.
The major flaw I see not only in Powell´s rebuttal but also in the initial SCU report, is that from the beginning to the end it is strongly influenced by a couple of wrong assumptions (most probably due to a regrettable optical misinterpretation) about the object´s ability to dive into the ocean and reproduce into two.  In this sense I would strongly recommend to the international UFO research community to exercise extreme caution when looking at an IR video, since not all of its frames (if you are lucky, maybe just a few ones) can be interpreted the same way you would interpret an optical video. A good example of infrared imagery’s misinterpretation was the one suffered by CEFAA from Chile: after two years of allegedly “thorough professional study” an IR video was released on its web as a true UFO craft, when it actually was a commercial airplane within the Terminal Control Area of Santiago de Chile. The Chilean UFO was first explained by the IPACO team as a medium haul twin jet airliner (http://www.ipaco.fr/ReportChileanNavyCEFAA.pdf) and later as the most probable cause being Iberia 6830 (https://www.metabunk.org/explained-chilean-navy-ufo-video-aerodynamic-contrails-flight-ib6830.t8306/)
Paradoxically, in order to refute my two-lantern hypothesis, Powell shows a link to another infrared video, showing two foil balloons tied together recorded by Chris Isbert (Black Hot LWIR [8-12μm] FLIR M-SERIES): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gl2EQhNB-So
Frankly, I see almost no difference between Isbert´s video images (top) and the Aguadilla images (bottom), especially where one of the balloons can be seen appearing behind the other in an almost 3D perception on both videos.
Isbert´s valuable video also shows that, on infrared imagery, two or more objects can sometimes appear just as a single one (remember that infrared signatures only exceptionally can show the exact shape of the entire object). The same applies to both infrared videos:
But most important of all, Chris Isbert´s video teaches all of us two important facts:
1) Two Chinese lanterns can, in fact, be released tied together
2) No matter how short or long the thread is, its gentle pull down is more than enough to bring botH balloons together most of the time. It is a simple physical principle!
If someone is having any doubt about the second point above, please go ahead and try it yourself. It works with any kind of lifting pair of objects, either hot air or helium balloons.
In his rebuttal, Powell (SCU) seems to completely ignore this simple physical principle. The unfortunate proof of this becomes apparent when he writes: “The second issue with a Chinese lantern relates to a question of why the IR camera didn’t pick up the separation of the lanterns earlier in the three minute video. With two distinct heat sources separated by a minimum of three feet (the width of a lantern) the MX-15 system would have detected the two heat sources for a majority of the video”. Actually the laws of physics are telling us exactly the opposite: the balloons will stick together as a rule, and will became separate, only as an exception.
Putting theories before the facts: Back to SCU’s major misinterpretation of the object(s) ditching into the ocean, I have no doubt in my mind that it was triggered as a direct outcome of his early misinterpretation of the object(s) flying behind trees. SCU clearly put theories before the facts subordinating mathematical calculations to a simple and wrong assumption:  “…we calculated (UFO) speed only at points in the video when the object either moved behind another object… or at the times when the object entered the water”. However, in any scientific work, measurements must be made based on physical parameters or at least on facts, not on theories.  By completely assuming that the object passed behind trees (simply not proven) shows us a noteworthy example of putting theory before facts!
Needless to say, a more reasonable way to accurately measure the object should be when it is showing its perfect shape and full size and NOT its degraded shape and minimum size. The latter would be applicable only to an optical video, when the object is enlarged by blurring, in which case a frame with a smaller object would indicate better focusing.  But just as I warned above, never judge every frame in an IR image with the same applied logic as with an optical one.
In its initial report, SCU committed the fatal mistake of generalizing the idea that the object faded as a direct result of being masked by foreground trees and then translated that to a water masking. In their rebuttal they wrote:  “…the only arguments as to why the disappearance of the object is an illusion have revolved around ‘could be’ and ‘could have’”.  It is evident that Powell et al did not study all the clues before jumping into their ill-fated conclusion. As you can notice in the following frame, the object´s image fades away within the IR sensor´s view even when NOT having any trees in front of it:
To realize how hasty a conclusion SCU made about the object fading due to flying behind trees, I’d urge the readers to review the Aguadilla video from frames 5990 through 6060 so you can judge by yourselves. I bet you will NOT find any trees in front of the object in those frames. The UFO is disappearing due to something else.   This should be proof enough to reconsider a complete reexamination of all the frames showing signature degradation before and after the above mentioned ones. The first lesson this “disappearance-without-trees” teaches us, is this: if the object fades with no trees in front of it, then it could simply indicate that the UFO never flew behind trees during the entire length of the video!
This rare “disappearance” also teaches us a second important lesson for future IR imagery analysis. When for any reason the Aguadilla UFO IR signature fades, it wouldn´t disappear completely to the eye of the camera, but it rather gets “ghostly” dim and white.  The same thing happens as from frame 6888 where the entire frame is filled up with background water.  The only difference is that in the case of the frames showing only water behind,  the ghostly white spot was already zoomed in,  which, in turn, made it appear blurred, larger and with a shade of grey almost matching that of the background water.
This optical effect (and nothing else) is what confused Powell et al, who, by the way, never explained how in the world a Thermal IR imager could continue tracking this object underwater, showing exactly the same IR “ghostly” trace as it yielded  when it was supposedly “behind” the trees.
Thinking reversal by simple comparison: As stated above, I have no doubt that the idea of a diving UFO was a direct outcome of assuming that the pre-diving “ghostly” image was due to masking by foreground trees. But, as was proved above, there are several frames where the “ghostly” image shows up even without trees on the foreground. Here I pasted side by side a couple of key frames showing no substantial difference between both “ghostly” traces of the UFO either on land or on the water. Can you now tell why it gets more confusing in the second frame? You guessed, some particularly spotty areas in the background water show an almost identical hue to that of the ghost signature than in the first case (background land). The additional problem on the second picture (right) is that now the whole frame has been zoomed-in and the ghost signature appears twice as large, more blurred and with less contrast against an already confusing background, even though both have an almost identical level of signal degradation.
As if all this weren´t enough, for well-established physical reasons current Thermal IR technology is simply not able to track objects under water. This was made very clear even by SCU on page 28 of its report: “Infrared radiation is easily blocked by water and about one millimeter of water absorbs virtually all of the IR generated by the object.” I couldn´t agree more with that and I am very happy the SCU team mentioned it, because in my paper I mentioned the possibility of the airplane skimming the belly of the cloud deck as a very realistic cause of the temporary fading of the UFO!  But then… in order to justify something as incredible as the UFO becoming “ghostly” because it is now diving into the ocean, the SCU was forced to move towards a bizarre “explanation”, by adding: “When a solid object moves underwater… some of the water it displaces moves towards the surface which then manifests as a moving hump along the surface. Northrop Grumman is aware of this phenomenon as one possible method to detect submarines.”  
For what we´ve learned from the two side-by-side pictures above, if in some different parts of the IR video (with completely different backgrounds) two or more frames show identical ghost signals, then it is far more logical to attribute the origin of the degradation to a common cause.  In fact, SCU used the “physical mask” single cause argument (trees in the first case and water in the second).  By reason, in frames not too distant in time, identical masking effects should be expected to be subject to similar causation.  But in this case, water and trees are erroneously considered an identical cause because with identical ghost images on completely different backgrounds, anyone could come up with the pointed questions: where is the “moving hump” of water in the picture where the ghost image is flying over a clearing in the forest? Or, why is the water masking identical to that of the trees? Or even more damaging:  why is the water masking identical to that which is attenuating the object´s image, when it flies with NO trees in the foreground?
About this particular detail Geoff Quick (IPACO) pointed out: “In the report in question a basic ignorance of IR imagery is manifest.  I have never seen an IR target tracked underwater, for good scientific reasons”.
Believe me, I am not only sorry to have to dig into this “surgical” exposé of the SCU rebuttal but also I feel sincerely sorry that people really knowledgeable in their field of technical competence, as Mr. Powell and his colleagues surely are,  spent (as they stated in the original SCU report) more than 1000 hours and a year and a half, to conclude that the Aguadilla object was a single extraordinary UFO craft with the ability to fade behind non-existent trees, dive into the ocean, take off back to the air from below the waves and reproduce itself (by ultra-fast cell mitosis perhaps?), when a far more prosaic explanation exists for them: two heart-shaped wedding lanterns carried by the wind and temporarily masked from the airplane flying at an altitude resulting in skimming the belly of the cloud base.
Such a long time analyzing this case might have resulted simply because of the unnecessary lengthy methodology used by SCU. In its rebuttal, SCU emphasizes more than once that “…the only way to do a proper analysis is by looking at the angular sizes of the object throughout the three minute video.” With such a statement, they seem to completely ignore the fact that for accurate measurements, not necessarily each and every frame is suitable. An IR image may only yield just a few frames positively interpretable (like the ones used by the IPACO team for angular size calculations, in my own report).  Smartly choosing the proper frames to exploit different features is a principle that I have learned after years of flight test data processing which involved video and high speed film interpretation.  Even in the best optical videos some frames come out motion blurred, out-of-focus blurred and some of them even show a combination of both (which is often the case for many UFO pictures). In an infrared video the non-exploitable frames are far more abundant than even in the case of the worst imaginable optical video! So what is the practical meaning of measuring angular sizes in all the frames?  Surely SCU would have done a much better job by spending some extra time looking for suspect frames where the theory of the IR signature fading due to foreground trees would show some weakness (even though if those frames were, in turn, not quite suitable for proper angular size measurements). Choosing this or that suitable frame for this or that purpose of exploitation is just a matter of good judgment and common sense!
It does not surprise me that Powell et al, after writing a 159 page report, including 12 Appendices and more than 140 illustrations (some of them with colorful 3D views), still could not come out with a clear-cut type of explanation.  I would suggest to the people of SCU to rethink their data exploitation method and even their writing philosophy, currently seemingly based on a philosophy of "the more pages, the better report."  Data overabundance and a long investigation time must never be imagined as an automatic synonym of quality. The proof of what I am saying is that after 1000 hours looking at the Aguadilla video, SCU completely missed what frames 5990 through 6060 are showing: a fading UFO flying over open fields, which completely disproves the ill-considered statement about the UFO´s IR signature degrading due to being blocked by foreground trees.
Weak argument using wind speed: On one paragraph of the SCU rebuttal, it writes:  “The first issue that prevents a Chinese lantern from being a possible explanation involves the speed of the lantern in the wind.” Their reaction to prima facie discard my heart-shaped lantern´s hypothesis is based on the manufacturer´s advertised operational limits of about 5 knots (for a safe launch) when that night the wind was blowing at just 7 knots! As stated above, when you cannot debunk a simple explanation using some simpler rationale, the only way to move is towards a more and more complicated and wilder hypothesis. I ask the reader just to think about it for a minute: had the wind speed been blowing at 5 knots that night, then SCU would have considered the two heart-shaped lantern theory more likely, but since the wind was blowing just 2 knots faster, now the object can by no means be a lantern, becoming an extraordinary one, intelligently maneuvered, which can dive into the ocean, travel underwater at the same angular velocity as when flying, and if all that weren´t enough, with such an incredible fast reproductive capacity to make chicken farmers become green with envy!
Therefore, only 2 knots of surface wind can make such a BIG difference. Powell et al simply cannot consider for a second that the lanterns might have been launched from a wind-sheltered place, such as: behind trees, behind a house or even in the patio of some of the many mansions which lease their facilities for wedding parties, where milder winds would have allowed for lantern lighting and releasing.
Another wrong statement in Powell´s rebuttal says: “…Chinese lanterns have difficulty remaining airborne in winds above 5 mph because the sides collapse,” clearly showing a certain level of ignorance of basic aerodynamics.  The relative speed of any free flying balloon to the airflow is, in the real world, nearly equal to zero. To learn this by analogy, all SCU should do… is to throw a cork into a fast flowing river.
In its rebuttal SCU urges the reader “…to look at Lianza´s report for themselves and make a determination if the two objects look like a heart.” I bet they´ll do, and in the next few weeks and months they will “see” (in those frames which are exploitable) that the objects look, indeed, like nothing else but hearts with blunt bottoms.
When the graphics play against you: Another couple of serious contradictions found in the SCU rebuttal come directly from the reading of its graphics. The first contradiction becomes apparent when SCU utilizes histograms showing the object and background pixel temperature distribution (Figures 2 and 3). With that, they intend to persuade the reader that my suggestion about the UFO fading due to the airplane skimming the belly of the cloud, is erroneous. Powell et al try to demonstrate that the fading of the UFO does not affect the background just because the median of background pixel distribution changes from 144 in the first histogram, to 146 in the second one.
But precisely on the second histogram they seem to completely ignore that all the peaks of the background actually fall down at the time the object disappears.  And, of course, they do not mention at all that there is, in fact, a background peak drop! To make things even more absurd, they write: “…the pixel distributions only affects the object and not the surrounding water,” leaving all of us wondering if the peak drops in the second histogram could actually be telling us what exactly Powell et al are desperately trying to deny:  that the cause that masked the UFO actually affected the overall background as well!
Since the background peak signal drop is so uniform, the untrained eye can only see the disappearance of the UFO but not the overall degradation in the background IR emission.  This overall masking of the IR sensors misinterpreted as “differential” masking may well be the crucial reason that lead SCU to (erroneously) conclude, right from the beginning, that the UFO faded but the surrounding water never did.
This being said, I would insist that the airplane flying skimming the “belly” of the clouds should not be discarded as the real cause of the Aguadilla UFO temporary disappearances.
A second “graphical” contradiction becomes apparent when SCU assumes that the object flies over the ocean. Actually, the two maps they added (Figures 4 and 5) show the object flying in an almost straight path right over land.  In a graphics on the initial SCU report (figure 11, page 22) they show more than one possible UFO ground track, all of which confirms my theory on how difficult it is to determine the position of a flying object being filmed from an orbiting airplane (ice skaters´ theory).  Being the UFO location backed up by accurate measurements using the IPACO software, it became obvious that in both graphics shown in its rebuttal (Figures 4 and 5); the object is in the same area where the IPACO calculations determined it should be on minute 01:24:44! It confirms that this ground track is, according to both authors, the correct one. But then, if the object was ultimately following this path parallel to the seashore, how is it possible to conceive it would all of the sudden leave the path and ditch in the water almost a mile away?
Last but not least, a pair of Chinese lanterns flying right above an Airport is not a good situation and, needless to say, by no means should it be permitted.  I would encourage the UFO research community to exercise intuition by reading even the most subtle clues about any UFO case. And the Aguadilla one shouldn´t be an exception. I bring this up because in his kind reply to me, Mr. Alan Tiphaine, General Manager of Villa Montana beach resort, made clear that the launch of wedding lanterns was banned since two years ago (2015). What was that due to? In the very first paragraph of the initial SCU report, it states that the object did not have communication with the tower:  “… to prevent a dangerous situation with departing and arriving aircraft.” Well, that is absolutely right, but the same situation should not only be applicable to inadvertent UFO crews who did not read the published VHF frequency, but could also become a scenario serious enough to directly ban the launches of wedding lanterns from Villa Montana!  With some intuition, even the more subtle pieces of the puzzle start to get together.
I have been asked by my friend V.J. Ballester Olmos to write an opinion about Powell´s rebuttal to my Aguadilla UFO case solving report. Even though his rebuttal was written with an apparent surgical accuracy and some good looking graphics (which, just as we saw, actually played against him), he and his SCU team don´t seem to ever be able to take out of their heads an UFO performing the same or even better than the Skydiver craft in the popular science fiction TV series UFO (Gerry Anderson 1970). I understand that SCU defends its ill-fated UAP hypothesis against all odds, this is why it came as no surprise that the only source which intended to debunk my two heart-shaped Chinese lantern hypothesis was Mr. Powell and his group of collaborators. On the contrary, more and more readers are writing to me confirming that a pair of heart-shaped objects can be seen in some of the IR video frames.  Of course, I wouldn´t mention their names to keep them from being denigrated such as Powell did with Duarte, Fernandez and to some degree, with Bixler as well, which does not look to me like an ethical scientific attitude.  Even though Powell has been described to me as “quite a nice man, full of good will,” who simply defines himself as "open minded," at least in his present rebuttal he unfortunately resorted to the usual response dismissing scientific rationale and using personal attacks.
This is my last input on this IFO event. Not only in my view but also, most importantly, in those of my peer reviewers, this case has been solved beyond any reasonable doubt. Now it is the mainstream scientific audience who has to assess what is an acceptable theory of those proposed: two heart-shaped wedding lanterns carried by the wind and temporarily disappearing to the IR eyes of the camera due to an airplane´s altitude skimming the belly of the clouds (Lianza) or an unidentified flying object with the ability to fade behind non-existent trees, dive into the ocean, take off back to the air from below the waves and duplicate itself (Powell et al).
Please Leave Cooper in Peace
Last April, a Discovery Channel video publicized extravagant claims by late US astronaut Gordon Cooper:
Space expert Jim Oberg’s clarifying reaction followed immediately:
Cooper got involved in all sorts of weird projects once he didn't get the moon flight he expected as his right, and was eased out of NASA - but still enjoyed TV gigs.  He became spokesman for a company selling magic engines that turned air into fuel [until it was shut down by the Federal Trade Commission]. He claimed he saved the shuttle program from a lethal design flaw by relaying a telepathic warning from space aliens. He naively flacked for several bogus aviation investment schemes that cost his friends and others who trusted him millions of dollars -- and lost his own savings in them, too. He described his capsule getting hammered by a meteor storm that nobody back on Earth found even a scratch from -- and he claimed to have taken photos from space on which you could read license plates. He packed a travel bag and his camera when he was promised a space ride on an alien craft, but then claimed it was cancelled because of an extraterrestrial political spat. Remember him and honor his glory days, don't exploit his human failings in his declining years -- as this show gives all indications it intends to do. Shameful.
The promo material contains apparently fictitious quotations attributed to Cooper, such as “Man, all I do is take pictures, pictures, pictures. I’m up to 5,245 now.” The actual quote is on https://www.jsc.nasa.gov/history/mission_trans/MA09_TEC.PDF, page 3-113 at clock time 25h 12m 22s. The phrase “I’m up to 5,245 now” does not appear. With the Hasselblad he was carrying, wouldn't 5,000 images have needed enough film canisters to fill so much of the spacecraft there'd be no room left for a crewman? The pictures he did take had pixel size in the 10s of meters, inadequate to see boats. Here's details on his 'secret military camera' on Gemini-5 that could barely resolve city blocks:
If the show claims that Cooper photographed the whole Caribbean area, it doesn't jibe with the actual flight path of the mission. Cooper only passed across the northern edge of the Caribbean on his 4th and 20th orbits and was busy with other stuff -- as shown on the transcripts -- both times.
As I wrote in the title of this section, I ask irresponsible media stop degrading the fame Gordon Cooper once had and let him rest in peace. Do not abuse his memory just to try to pile up pseudo evidence on the existence of aliens.
Postscript: Oberg has written another article on other stories told (and unfortunately believed) by Cooper, see “Loss of faith: Gordon Cooper’s post-NASA stories”, http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3228/1
They say old rockers never die. It seems to apply to certain UFO-related stories which eventually emerge from the vault. The UMMO affair (extraterrestrials communicating with earthlings via postal mail) has been subject of a long-term discussion since its inception in the 1960s. Sooner or later this will pop up again. In the meantime, I am pleased to report about the outcome of one of the Spanish researchers who has studied it more in depth, Luis R. González. His work is not very much known internationally and I believe a couple of his major references deserve mention. See, for example:
"UMMO: The Planet of the Anonymous Correspondents" (1993),
There is a 1994 extended version in Spanish here:
A book review of "El hombre que susurraba a los ummitas," (The Ummite Whisperer), 2008, http://www.webcitation.org/6n6BYVsU9
In this context, the article “Breve historia de Ummo” (Ummo: A Brief History) by José Juan Montejo, long-time specialist in this subject, requires to be cited as well:
A short paper authored by Bjørn Gitle Hauge, Anna-Lena Kjøniksen, and Erling Petter Strand reads as follows:
Transient luminous phenomena has been observed in the low atmosphere over Hessdalen valley for several decades, first report is claimed to be 200 years old. The area is scattered with old copper, zinc, sulphur and iron mines. The river Hesja divides the valley, running south to north. The river descends from 800 m altitude to 600m. In the middle of the valley, an old copper and sulphur mine feeds the river with its acidic sulphur pollution. Eyewitnesses have reported lights emerging from the river, but most reports are of lights suddenly emerging in low altitudes over the valley, 1000m – 2000m altitude. Common colours are white, yellow, orange and blue. Green is absent. The optical spectrum of the white lights has been obtained several times, indicating a continuous spectrum. The luminosity of the Hessdalen lights has been debated, some speculating that the phenomenon’s radiant power reaches up to 1MW. A more moderate calculation done by Teodorani in 2004 suggests 19KW. The cause of the huge difference is due to uncertainty in establishing correct distance to the phenomenon. Recent discoveries done by this team, indicates that the radiant power is usually much lower. For the first time in Hessdalen, pictures with optical spectrums was obtained at a distance not more than 500m. Two similar observations were done from the same position, indicating a possible birthplace. Atmospheric data and spectrum analysis was also coinciding. Data from this short distance observation will be presented.
Finding astroUFOs
The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa (California) of Sunday, February 19, 1961 printed on page 1 this photograph with the following caption: “The UFO sighted by three Lakeport residents Thursday night is shown in this unusual photograph taken by one of the trio ‒Victor Sneed. They described the object as bigger and brighter than a star and red, white and blue in color. Mr. Sneed and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Sneed, viewed the object for nearly half an hour from the top of Brewery Hill.”
February 16, 1961, Lakeport (California). ©. Victor Sneed. As published.
Additional data found in the January 1961 edition of The APRO Bulletin, page 5, mentions that the sighting started at 9 p.m. and that the light was hovering about 20 degrees above Gow Mountain to the west. The family said the light disappeared 25 minutes later. As it can be checked in the accompanying stellar chart, Venus was exactly located in the west (274º azimuth) at 7º of elevation with a very bright appearance (-4.43 magnitude). The planet set at 9:36 p.m., around the time the Sneeds finished seeing an object that they miscalculated to be “10 times as large and bright as the planet Venus”. The cropped newspaper picture, obviously, is a great magnification of the luminous trace left by the astronomical body during the exposure. Not only that, because the planet was located in the west, it was descending from left to right, so the picture was wrongly printed (inverted). Here we have both the sky map and the actual photograph.
February 16, 1961, Lakeport (California). © Victor Sneed. Actual appearance.
US Coast Guard UFO Records Online
Over the years, several American ufologists approached the US Coast Guard authorities through the Freedom of Information Act to request documentation of UFO sightings occurred on rivers, lakes, harbors, bays, etc. Robert Todd did it between 1975 and 1978 and Stan Gordon in 1988. But it was thanks to Barry Greenwood’s efforts between 1978 and 1990 that the whole UFO stuff archived by this agency was finally disclosed, cases reported from 1952 to 1989. Barry has taken the trouble to scan 160 pages of documents received and I have uploaded them into the Academia.edu portal for general availability.
We can read about the famous July 16, 1952 Salem, Mass. UFO photograph (just interior lights reflected on a window pane), the November 5, 1957 Sebago ship sighting at the Gulf of Mexico, the Pascagoula River humanoid encounter of November 6, 1973, and more recent ones like Lake Michigan, July 28, 1978, Atlantic City, January 12, 1982 or Eastlake, March 4, 1988. Check this link:
Formal Essay by Eddie Bullard
The CUFOS web site has just hosted a brilliant paper by Dr. Thomas E. Bullard, “Skeptical Successes and Ufological Failures: Opportunities in Uncomfortable Places.” It incorporates three appendices of great value where he reviews two major UFO cases that were enthusiastically backed-up by proponents, to finally receive forthright solutions, and certain aspects of “visual mythology” showing up in some cases. The paper ends with this clear statement: But the fact remains that ufology continues to strive for scientific respectability and to approach UFOs and associated anomalies from a scientific standpoint. And I add: if ufology has not done properly its homework after 70 years with a richest wealth of the strangest sightings ever fancied, including the supposed observations of landing of spacecraft with exploring occupants, what else is needed to do a good job and retrieve the evidence? Does someone compos mentis believe that this is going to repeat in the future?  Dr. Bullard also affirms: As things stand, too many conventional events masquerade as anomalies and pass undetected to clutter our databases and confuse our understanding. Deep pondering of such mysteries will lead nowhere unless we invest the time and effort to exclude the false mysteries from the start—garbage in, garbage out.
In my humble opinion, Bullard overlooks an important variable in the equation: motivation for most (or many) influential ufologists is their belief that UFOs are signs of extraterrestrial life and will continue assigning mysterious origins to mundane stimuli. It is a question of faith. And event catalogs will remain burying hardly one or two percent potentially intriguing reports in the mass of visual junk.
I whole-heartedly recommend this excellent work:
And the three case studies that escort the main text:
New Academic Paper
Recently, Keith Basterfield advised about an article by Brett Holman, entitled “Why I am not a UFO historian,” a blog entry dated June 24, 2017, obviously a timely anniversary day. I found out that the author is a Ph.D. Lecturer in History in the School of Humanities at the University of New England (Armidale, Australia). It is good to see fresh input by well-informed academics on the UFO issue, now that we have a 70-year range of experience to evaluate. May I select a paragraph from his interesting note: While I respect the work done by Project 1947 and similar groups, like Magonia Exchange, as well as some individual researchers who take a rational approach, ufology as a whole is a clown parade. Tagging along is a good way to lose your bearings. All the raking over of old cases does not seem likely to ever produce anything of lasting value. If there is ever a breakthrough in what all these sightings really are, it will come from outside ufology: from science, most likely. I doubt it's anything particularly extraordinary, if there is anything left after misperception and hoaxing. His writing is here to be read in full:
A Rare Crash Photo
The Texan newspaper The Odessa American published the following picture on its May 18, 1966 edition. The photograph caption wrote:
The crashed balloon, other pictures of which were confiscated by government officials, is said to have been launched from Levelland. Looking for additional information, I drew upon to the extraordinary STRATOCAT databank. It includes an entry for May 16, 1966 in Texas, and the given reference is a technical report by Arthur O. Korn:  “Failure Analysis, Balloon H67-41. Flight Date 27 May 1967,” Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories, Bedford, Massachussets, May 1967 (https://app.box.com/s/s9tckb55lqoobf2emlfa). There, page 13 lists a probably classified balloon launched on May 16, 1966 from the Levelland site (flight #H66-49) with a 10,300 pounds payload, and purpose Project Test Flight noted as successful. The remains in the ground would be the valuable measurement and recording payload of the research balloon, accidentally released prematurely.
May 16, 1966, INTEL balloon payload crash near Lesley (Texas). © UPI photo.
UFOs and Military, More Disinformation
The last example of malice and disinformation in Spain regarding alleged UFO-motivated scrambles by Air Force aircraft arose in August, when an internet source revealed several seemingly amazing military interventions said to have occurred in 2012. The so-called “information” was checked and proved blatantly false. See documented details in the Spanish section of this blog under the title: “OVNIS y militares, más desinformación”.
(1) The Hessdalen photograph of December 21, 2013 is under technical scrutiny:
(2) Ricardo Campo, Ph. D. in Philosophy, researcher of the UFO phenomenon and author, has just went through two contact stories in La Tejita Beach (Tenerife, Canary Islands) on June and October 1975 in these two well-documented articles (in Spanish):
(3)  False alarm at the Ontario Lake, May 2017:
(4) Fernando Jorge Soto Roland, history professor in the Humanities Faculty of the Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata (Buenos Aires, Argentina), has written a dissection paper on the “Mothman” story. The bottom line is unexpectedly simple: it was a gross lie, fed by pseudo-investigators, writers and media. This revealing essay (in Spanish) can be found here:  
(5) Issue number 4 of Cielo Insolito (Unusual Sky) is just published. It is a newsletter on the history of UFO phenomena with absorbing articles in Italian and English:
(6) Ball lightning in Spain in the 16th century:
(7) It is not common to find papers on UFO statistics lately. Without prejudging about merits of the author’s database, methodology or conclusions, I am pleased to relay this recent work by someone new to me, Adyson Wright: “Is UFO/UAP Sighting Frequency in Specific Locales Consistent with Global Trends? Evidence Against Traditional Models for Alaska in Two Databases,”
(8) An Adelaide (Australia) UFO researcher who wishes to remain anonymous has published an interesting piece of work: “The Sea Fury Radar Incident Revisited.” The paper is hosted at: http://www.project1947.com/kbcat/sea_fury_1954.htm
(9) By default, back-dated, spectacular-looking images are suspect. In 2015, French magazine Top Secret received anonymously (not a surprise) some alleged UFO photographs taken aboard a US Navy ship on March 1971 near the Jan Mayen Island, in the Atlantic Ocean, Norway territory. It has been recently ascertained that these are fakes, daughters of mother Photoshop. Gilles Fernandez and Wim van Utrecht took the canular to pieces, see here:
 (10) Foremost UFO veteran Jan Aldrich has uploaded “A few words about the late Dr. J. Allen Hynek” in the Project 1947 site, a worthwhile article with insights about the figure of this scientist and UFO researcher. This is the link:
(11) Analysis is welcome on the following reported ball lightning videos taken in Russia (2016) and Italy (2017): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4UOF_4EioI
(12) The first Master of Arts thesis based on UFOs, exactly on the press coverage to UFO sightings in the United States in 1947, was one of Journalism at the State University of Iowa in 1948. With 147 pages and entitled “The ‘Flying Saucers’ Episode,” it was accomplished by Emil E. Wennergren. We knew it from the excellent, 282-item database of university UFO theses and dissertations compiled in 2017 by the Italian researcher Paolo Toselli. Now we are aware it is free to download through this link: http://ir.uiowa.edu/etd/5373/
(13) What happens when a reporter mixes a 1973 UFO photo (a manipulated copy of the hoaxed Barra da Tijuca 1952 pictures) with a 1985 Local Police UFO sighting (probably due to a military aircraft night mission exercise)? That confident press readers are cheated. This is what J.C. Victorio Uranga explains in his last post (in Spanish):
Maccabee and the Arnold Sighting
“Three minutes in June” (subtitled “The UFO sighting that changed the world”), has been published May 2017 by Richard Dolan Press, a 138-page book devoted entirely to the study of the pristine observation by businessman Kenneth Arnold, at 3:00 p.m. of June 24, 1947 when he was flying a small private plane from Chehalis to Yakima, both in the state of Washington. “A final judgement,” is how the publisher characterizes the report written by Dr. Bruce Maccabee, an optical physicist who worked for the US Navy before retirement. Maccabee is one of those few scientists in the pro-UFO camp who have reportedly found unexplainable events in a number of picture-film-video cases he has investigated. Author of a book on the UFO records of the FBI (years before these were released online by the Bureau) and a novel on abductions, he is also an accomplished piano player. This text appears to be an extended and improved version of the paper Maccabee delivered to the 1987 MUFON Conference and I am grateful to Bruce for e-mailing me a pdf file with the book.
Bruce Maccabee at the piano, Grand Rapids (Michigan), July 1997. Photograph by V.J. Ballester Olmos.
Arnold’s plane position was near the town of Mineral, 22 miles WSW of Mount Rainier, 80 miles West from Yakima, and along a flight path that would take him about 12 miles South of Mount Rainier (pages 19-20). What did Arnold see? Nine flying objects seen initially in the direction of Mount Baker, about 120 miles North of Mount Rainier, flying at a tremendous speed. There were three major geographical references in sight‒Mounts Baker, Rainier and Adams‒and according to the witness the nine UFOs appeared “in the vicinity” of the first and approximately overflew the two others mountains in a general South course perpendicular to his flight line.
From Yakima, Arnold departed to Pendleton (Oregon) on a business trip. The book repeats the inaccurate legend that a number of journalists were waiting for him at the airport (page 42). Yet it was Arnold himself who decided to visit the office of the East Oregonian newspaper at Pendleton to report his observation, as was found out by Loren Gross in 1976. On page 48, Maccabee tells this story as well but does not set the historical record straight regarding the “airport journalists.”  
The basic problem with this case‒as with many others that seem unsolvable‒is that measurements of observing parameters are disputable in accuracy and subject to interpretation. Neither the data can be taken as exact ones, nor any subsequent calculations and estimates. For example, regarding distance, timing, speed, size, etc. Yet Maccabee takes Arnold claims verbatim: objects were sailing over a straight line formed by the three cited mountains (when he was about 20 miles of from Mount Rainier), deriving an actual object dimension of about 80 feet front to back (page 38). But what about if the objects were located much further away, if they were fireballs, for instance? Arnold had the presence of mind to measure the time while the objects covered the “distance” between Mount Rainier and Mount Adams, 102 seconds. An unpublished study would reduce this time to only 42 seconds, and this result would change the calculated speed and so the probable explicative hypotheses. But unless this investigation is in the open it cannot be taken as a serious argument.
Arnold explained that at the time, a DC-4 airplane was approaching Seattle (62 miles from Mineral) on a South-North course, roughly parallel to the flight of the nine objects, but in the opposite direction. There are no testimonies of a UFO sighting from the crew or passengers of the airplane. Probably if it was a distant and impressive enough phenomenon it should have been sighted by them as well, but not if it was really a closer phenomenon to the single airman.
One of the problems with this awesome episode is that the weight of the proof rests on a sole witness. A report by Ted Bloecher on the 1947 UFO wave published in 1967 mentions up to 19 other sightings in the states of Washington and Oregon that day. An itemized study should consider the reported times, dynamics or shapes, but the problem here is that they all were probably backdated and it is difficult to assess the impact of a copycat effect.
The first thinking Arnold had when he observed the objects was that they were geese, but at the end of it he changed his mind to a new prototype of jets in formation. Hardly one year later, the cover of the first issue of Fate magazine of spring 1948 (containing an article of Arnold himself on his sighting) carried a full-color sketch of‒now‒an unambiguous spacecraft. The incident has remained a mystery. In 1952, Arnold co-wrote “The Coming of the Saucers” with Ray Palmer. There, he concluded that “the real flying saucer…may be the most vitally important fact of our time!” It is not probably untrue to affirm he thought those objects were interplanetary. Probably under the influence of Palmer, the man who has been called the inventor of the flying saucers (Palmer was also the founder of Fate.)
Probably the most debated facet of this case has to do with the distant objects’ profile. It is well known that their celebrated appellation came from the description of their flight, not of their appearance: “they flew like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water,” (page 31) as Arnold described it to a journalist in Pendleton, he who named them “flying saucers”. The curious thing is that it generated millions of supposed sightings of circular-shaped, lens-shaped and saucer-shaped flying objects all over the world, while the “real” form of the objects, according to Arnold, looked something like “a pie plate that was cut in half with a sort of convex triangle in the rear” (page 110, see realistic drawings in pages 35 and 41). According to a school of thought, this transposition of flight pattern to imagery requires an analysis and explanation. However, things are more convoluted, as it is also true that Arnold used the expression “pie-plate” to note the objects’ shape in a KWRC radio interview on June 26, 1947. It seems Arnold used the word “saucer” to describe both the approximate shape and the behavior of the objects. I am afraid this question is still in the air, unsolved.
Several options have been suggested to explain the sighting, none in an impeachable, irrevocable manner. For Maccabee, UFOs are Alien Flying Craft, “devices not made by mankind but rather by Non-Human Intelligences” (page 2). This giant jump from case story to proposition is not sustained by evidence, in my view. The work by Martin Shough on this event, which is the deepest study published to date, goes only as far as concluding that there is an internal consistent scenario in the initial Arnold report but the actual existence of nine flying discoids remains unprovable.
Was Arnold a perfect witness? His past credentials were unpolluted but he became what we call a “repeater”, this is, when serial sights are reported by the same person.  He reported six more subsequent airborne and ground UFO observations from July 29, 1947 to July 9, 1966, claiming to have achieved footage of what would appear to be birds or balloons. He also developed freak ideas which he shared in articles and lectures. After his unique experience, Arnold did not have the best influences and was exposed to esoteric learnings he could not manage well, shifting to fringe beliefs. Probably too much pressure and new information pouring on him!
In the concluding chapter, Maccabee explains why he has bothered to examine the Arnold case. His reason why says a lot about what has happened between 1947 and 2017, UFO-wise: “…chasing the will-o’-the-wisp commonly known as flying saucers…for some 50 years, mostly by studying the better and more recent sightings, and not finding any real answers as to what the events represent (i.e., not getting anywhere!)” (page 103). For Maccabee, this case‒if fully understood, he asks‒contains all the evidence to prove his extraterrestrial conclusion. Nevertheless, I am afraid we cannot draw such conclusion from the data of the oldest case of all. For a real breakthrough, at least objective blueprints that can be scientifically analyzed must be available (either automated recordings or multiple-witnessed manifestations) after ruling out all conventional possibilities.
Maccabee (pages 15-16) writes that historians were persuaded to forget Arnold’s sighting by the negative conclusions of Project Grudge’s experts (predecessor to Project Blue Book). This idea is not shared by French social anthropologist Pierre Lagrange, and a long-time student of the Arnold case, who opines: “Like many other historical events related to popular culture, Arnold’s sighting has never been really taken into account by historians because there was never any historical studies that described precisely what happened during the summer of 1947 and how it was connected to other aspects of the current context: political, cultural, military, aeronautical, etc. Arnold’s sighting is like many other popular cultures’ stories (like the witches craze of the 16th and 17th centuries), it needs serious historical investigations to understand its true place in our intellectual and cultural history.” (Pierre Lagrange, e-mail to V.J. Ballester Olmos, June 13, 2017).
I trust the ultimate research on Kenneth Arnold and his sightings is yet unwritten. Otherwise, he may have taken to the tomb key secrets on several main aspects of the UFO observation that are still unclear. Because the Arnold air encounter popularly started the flying saucers myth (or the history of UFO phenomena), it is key to be studied because if a definitive solution was found, the whole subject would collapse. It is an incident that objectively deserves full attention by researchers: ideally, scientists or engineers who stand independent of the UFO circle. I encourage this fresh investigation. The documents are at hand to be consulted and probed.
The book is available here: Richard Dolan (Rochester, New York) at keyholepub@gmail.com  Paper or e-book/Kindle versions available at Amazon.com
(1) Personally at Loch Ness. Not precisely searching for the lake monster but on vacation with my wife, yours truly cruised by the famous Loch Ness last July during a week-long visit to Scotland. We did not see Nessie but enjoyed the country a lot. It is an unforgettable destination I do recommend you folks!
(2) For Ye Olde Times Sake. My UFO co-worker and long-time friend Jaime Servera has sent me a couple of pictures that portray meetings of the past. The first is a visit we rendered to the Manises Air Force Base (Valencia) in June 1992 and the meeting we held with its boss, Colonel Sacanell. Jaime took the photograph. The other is a group photo dated January 1990 made in my former house. It shows together (from left to right) Jaime, Juan Antonio Fernández Peris, myself and Javier Sierra. It is always nice reliving those nice memories.
To the following colleagues who have sourced material or analysis to the current edition of this blog: Kay Massingill, Jim Oberg, Dr. Gilles Fernandez, Ole Jonny Brænne, Juan Carlos Victorio Uranga, Dr. Ricardo Campo, Dr. Alexander Keul, Roberto Labanti, Adyson Wright, Jaime Servera, Keith Basterfield, Luis E. Pacheco, and Igor Kalytiuk.
A Catalogue of 200 Type-I UFO Events in Spain and Portugal
OVNIS: el fenómeno aterrizaje (UFOs: The Landing Phenomenon)
Los OVNIS y la Ciencia (with Miguel Guasp) (UFOs and Science)
Investigación OVNI (UFO Investigation)
Enciclopedia de los encuentros cercanos con OVNIS (with J.A. Fernández Peris) (Encyclopedia of UFO Close Encounters in Spain)
Expedientes insólitos (Weird Files)
These are available in the second-hand market, in the following search engines:
Norway in UFO Photographs: The First Catalogue (with O.J. Braenne)
UFOs and the Government (with M. Swords & R. Powell and C. Svahn, B. Chalker, B. Greenwood, R. Thieme, J. Aldrich, and S. Purcell)
Avistamientos OVNI en la Antártida en 1965 (with M. Borraz, H. Janosch & J.C. Victorio) http://www.upiar.com/index.cfm?artID=182
Several of my books as single author, main author, or contributing author are also on sale by Amazon.com. This is the relevant link: http://tinyurl.com/z8oooqn
There are several options you can follow:
    · Volunteer work, onsite or remotely
    · Deliver sighting reports, photographs, archives, bibliography, etc.
    · Donations to help defray research expenses
You can reach us directly through e-mail: ballesterolmos@yahoo.es

La base de datos FOTOCAT continúa creciendo día a día. En la actualidad ya registra 12.200 casos. Aprovecho para recordar a aquelIos lectores que estén realizando algún trabajo que requiera estadísticas regionales o anuales de observaciones ovni/ovi, que no duden en solicitarme listados o tabulaciones de informes, si una muestra de casos fotográficos les sirve.
Comentarios a “La naturaleza de la evidencia OVNI”
El pasado junio, conmemorando los 70 años del iniciático incidente ocurrido a Kenneth Arnold el 24 de junio de 1947, publiqué un ensayo que lleva por título “La naturaleza de la evidencia OVNI: Dos visiones”, escrito con el Dr. Thomas Bullard:
Dado el actual estado polarizado de la ufología en el mundo (con escépticos y creyentes de varios gradientes), ya anticipé que este artículo-declaración provocaría pitos y aplausos por parte de sus lectores. Y así ha sido. Y me complace afirmar que más de los segundos que de los primeros. La audiencia del blog (ha habido más de 12.100 visitas en dos meses y medio, más las incontables procedentes de otros sitios donde se ha reproducido) puede estar interesada  en cotillear acerca de algunas opiniones vertidas a través de correspondencia personal; por ello he preparado una pequeña selección de emails condensados que alaban o critican este ensayo. De hecho, es un compendio de “quien cree que” en la ufología internacional. En algunos mensajes, también he añadido mi respuesta. Dado que los mensajes están en inglés, remito al lector interesado a la correspondiente sección de este blog.
Cuando alguien, como yo, que ha transitado desde la credulidad de la juventud al escepticismo de la madurez, percibe que el creyente administra una lógica simplista: la evidencia está en lo que se nos oculta, o bien se basa en incidentes que pueden tener una lectura alternativa. Me resisto a creer que esa misma lógica la apliquen a sus inversiones financieras o decisiones domésticas o de negocios.
Formularios de la Inteligencia Naval argentina
Trabajando en otro proyecto, he tenido la oportunidad de reunir y publicar varios formularios ovni del comité que estaba en vigor por parte de la Armada argentina en los pasados años sesenta. Estos informes de la inteligencia naval se refieren al conocido caso de aterrizaje en Trancas de 1963 y a los episodios antárticos de junio-julio de 1965. Asimismo, otros cuestionarios oficiales hechos públicos recientemente por el Dr. Roberto E. Blanch, un destacado y veterano estudioso argentino; en esta ocasión, los documentos versan sobre un encuentro cercano que tuvo lugar en Necochea en 1962. Confío que esta documentación histórica militar sea de interés a los investigadores. Estos son los enlaces de acceso:
R.E. Banchs, “Formulario OVNI de la Armada Argentina, 1962”,
V.J. Ballester Olmos, “Formulario OVNI de la Armada Argentina, 1963”,
V.J. Ballester Olmos et al, “Formularios OVNI de la Armada Argentina, 1965”,
Los lectores se apercibirán inmediatamente que los formularios de 1962 y 1965 no fueron cumplimentados por los testigos, como es lo adecuado, sino por los investigadores de campo: por un oficial de policía de alto rango  y notario (1962) y por el teniente Daniel A. Perissé de la Armada argentina (1965). Esto supone una verdadera rareza ya que se desvía del procedimiento común en otros países, en cuanto concierne a la recopilación de datos de observaciones ovni.
Aguadilla: el vuelo de un par de linternas chinas
Origen desconocido, objeto capaz de sumergirse en el agua y de dividirse en dos cuerpos separados. Esta fue la grandiosa conclusión a la que llegó un informe firmado por Robert Powell et al relativo a la filmación hecha en 2013 en la ciudad portorriqueña de Aguadilla. ¿Se ha conseguido al fin evidencia auténtica de la existencia de extraterrestres que visitan la Tierra? ¿Deberían comunicarla a la National Science Foundation? Mejor que no.
Porque bastó unos minutos de visualización de este celebrado metraje para su resolución. Lo ha hecho Rubén Lianza, aviador militar con más de 3.000 horas de vuelo en veinte diferentes clases de aeronaves, comodoro de la fuerza aérea de Argentina y director del CEFAE, el comité oficial argentino para el estudio de fenómenos aeroespaciales. Mientras el pasado mes de junio recibía adiestramiento técnico sobre tratamiento digital de imágenes en IPACO (Francia), Lianza vio el video en cuestión. Dada su extensa experiencia como piloto de ensayo experimental realizando videos aéreos, persiguiendo y grabando diferentes tipos de objetos volantes (desde prototipos a pequeños drones, pasando por lanzamiento de misiles desde el aire o bombas lanzadas con paracaídas), le fue fácil identificar lo que tenía ante sus ojos. Sin lugar a dudas, lo identificó como dos objetos atados (y no uno que se dividiera en dos en un momento de la grabación). En las horas que siguieron recogió elementos probatorios para satisfacer su hipótesis y más adelante pudo confirmar que el video simplemente muestra un par de linternas chinas (globos impulsados por aire caliente) lanzados desde una playa cercana para celebrar una boda.  
Lianza ha escrito este informe con sus hallazgos: “Puerto Rico´s Aguadilla UFO captured by FLIR camera from U.S. Customs and Border Protection airplane”. Está redactado en inglés y se lee en este enlace:
De izquierda a derecha: Rubén Lianza, François Louange y Jean-Paul Aguttes (director del GEIPAN) en la sede del CNES, Paris, junio de  2017. Fotografía de Antoine Cousyn.
Los socios de Robert Powell se agrupan en la denominada “coalición científica para la ufología” (SCU) y han difundido una respuesta a la teoría de Rubén Lianza; se halla en línea aquí:
El comodoro Lianza y sus pares no están dispuestos a un interminable intercambio de refutaciones y contra-refutaciones. Al lector con formación científica (o sencillamente con sentido común) se le supone que tiene suficiente juicio para entender los fallos, errores o trampas de cualquier teoría o de su aparente refutación. Sin embargo, he solicitado a Lianza que me prepare un comentario a la crítica que le hizo la SCU. Ha escrito su réplica también en inglés, por lo que sólo se encuentra en dicha sección del presente blog. Con ese artículo cierro este tema en estas páginas, ya que creo que toda la información pertinente para alcanzar una conclusión se ha puesto ya sobre el tapete.  Para mí, resulta obvio que (a) el objeto volante video grabado en Puerto Rico es un conjunto de dos globos de aire caliente y (b) los proponentes de la interpretación ovni han cometido un grave error de evaluación estimando que los objetos llegaron a sumergirse en aguas del océano.
OVNIS y militares, más desinformación
Supongo que el ABC del periodismo enseña que las informaciones deben ser contrastadas y verificadas antes de publicarse. Y que la “información” anónima debe rechazarse, salvo en especialísimas circunstancias. El 30 de julio, un medio digital difundía un artículo del ufólogo sevillano José Manuel García Bautista con el contenido de una carta manuscrita remitida por un supuesto piloto del Ala 11 (Base Aérea de Morón de la Frontera), que, además de alabar sin recato el programa de radio del susodicho, relataba dos salidas en interceptación de aviones de esa base aérea: a las 03:40Z del 29 de enero y a las 02:20Z y 04:00Z del 8 de febrero de 2012. La carta daba pie a incluir una auto-entrevista del articulista (1).
Creía que en estos años, los “reporteros de lo insólito” habían aprendido algo. Pero no. Siguen con los sesgos y tics de siempre. Todo vale para colar un artículo. Si la información es falsa, ¡qué más da! Parece que no son conscientes de que, una vez escrita o en línea, ésta se reproduce aquí y allá y se asume como cierta. La bola se hace mayor y el mito pervive.
La noticia es harto sospechosa. He consultado a Joan Plana, especialista catalán en asuntos de Defensa, quien ha advertido varios gazapos (2). Sin ser exhaustivo, reseñaré que  algunos aspectos problemáticos del relato:
º El piloto dice haber tripulado Mirage F-III, Mirage F-1, F-18 Hornet y, en la actualidad, el EF-2000 Typhoon. Los pilotos de servicio de interceptación habitualmente son capitanes o tenientes, todos experimentados. Si el comunicante dice haber pilotado tantos modelos de aviones distintos (hablamos de un rango de 20 años), como mínimo debe tener la graduación de comandante, teniente coronel o incluso coronel. Es dudoso que fuera piloto de alerta con tan alta graduación.
º El caza Mirage III (sin la F que añade el redactor de la carta)  nunca estuvo basado en Gando, allí estuvo el Mirage F-1 entre 1982 y 1999, y desde ese año está el F-18.
º Se entiende del relato que los despegues de alerta fueron cada vez de dos aviones. Lo habitual es que de los dos cazas en servicio de scramble sólo salga uno, y en caso extremo, el segundo. Dos a la vez es rarísimo.
º En el segundo de los casos que cuenta el fantasmal piloto, primero habla de ecos en la zona de Canarias y lo enlaza con dos alertas en la zona de Sevilla. Bastante absurdo. Además, dice que el segundo piloto era un teniente novato. “Me extraña mucho que a un piloto casi recién salido de la academia le dejen pilotar directamente un EF-2000, lo más sofisticado y caro del EA”, consigna Plana, quien señala finalmente: “En resumidas cuentas, un piloto del ejército del aire no cometería esos errores tan básicos”.
El anonimato lo justifica el remitente porque “Soy militar y como usted sabe, el hermetismo en todo lo referente al tema OVNI es férreo”. Miente como un bellaco el autor de la carta. No solo los archivos ovni del Ejército del Aire fueron desclasificados en su totalidad durante la década de los noventa (3,4) sino que recientemente el Ministerio de Defensa los ha hecho accesibles en su página web (5). El EA español no sostiene ninguna postura de ocultación ni de censura en lo que a informes ovni se refiere; de hecho, hay habilitado un procedimiento para la investigación de aquellas observaciones ovni que se denuncien a las autoridades aéreas, la Instrucción General 40-5 (6).
Los datos que aparecen en la presunta carta los puede extraer cualquiera de Wikipedia, por ejemplo. La descripción de los supuestos avistamientos y la reacción militar es confusa. Y la falta de verificación del intermediario es culposa. La mencionada misiva se encuadra en la tradición de comunicar sucesos falsos a periodistas o ufólogos crédulos que los convierten en artículos para la prensa amarilla o diarios que carecen de los necesarios filtros para evitar informaciones no escrupulosas (7).
Nada más leer la noticia publicada, me dirigí a la jefatura del Sistema de Mando y Control (SMC), unidad de la defensa aérea española dependiente del Mando Aéreo de Combate, ubicada en la base aérea de Torrejón. Solicité las hojas correspondientes a dichas fechas de los libros de control de Pegaso, la sede central que coordina la vigilancia de nuestro espacio aéreo. Concretamente, solicité confirmación sobre pretendidos scrambles en las fechas citadas por el autonombrado piloto de Eurofighter.
A vuelta de correo electrónico, el general de brigada Rafael García Hernández, jefe del SMC, me responde (8):

Estimado Sr. Ballester:
Sólo he llegado a leer hasta la línea del artículo en la que habla de los aviones Mirage F III en Canarias en febrero de 2012.
Los aviones Mirage III, en sus versiones EE y DE que fueron las únicas del Ejército del Aire, fueron dados de baja el día 01 de octubre de 1992.
Creo que con ese argumento basta y sobra para refutar la opinión de un supuesto piloto o de un periodista que no se ha molestado en comprobar los datos básicos de una información.

Como contundente documentación complementaria, 48 horas después el general García Hernández tuvo la amabilidad de remitirme copia de los libros de control solicitados, en donde se recogen las anotaciones de la actividad aérea del Ejército del Aire, sobre todo las acciones de la Defensa Activa, como son las salidas en misión de interceptación de unidades de nuestra fuerza aérea. Aunque la calidad de la copia no es muy buena es la suficiente para comprobar que a las horas y días citados en el relato periodístico no hay anotado ningún scramble real.
Hojas de los libros de servicio del Grupo Central de Mando y Control (GRUCEMAC-Pegaso) correspondientes a las fechas de las supuestas alarmas.
Como se puede comprobar fehacientemente, las anotaciones de los oficiales de guardia no reflejan salidas de aviones militares a las horas citadas. Concretamente, el 29 de enero de 2012 no hubo nada reseñable durante toda la jornada y el 8 de febrero no hay ningún apunte hasta cuatro horas y media después de la presunta segunda alarma y éstos aluden a misiones de entrenamiento rutinarias.
Todo apunta a que se trata de una tomadura de pelo a García Bautista, un  engaño que ha servido para comprobar los estándares (o falta de ellos) del autor del artículo. Incluso creo adivinar la socarronería del autor del mensaje, citando poblaciones como Barbate, Aznalcóllar, Gerena o Las Pajanosas muy entroncadas en la mitología ufológica andaluza de las últimas décadas del siglo XX, “sucesos ovni” que fueron tan espectaculares como mendaces. Volviendo a estos casos militares, nada hay de cierto en la “información” publicada y es más que seguro que su fuente no sea un piloto militar ni nada por el estilo. Y el descuidado articulista es reo de propalar información falsa.
(2) Joan Plana Crivillén, email a V.J. Ballester Olmos, 9 de agosto de 2017.
(3) V.J. Ballester Olmos, “¡Desclasificación! Archivos OVNI militares al descubierto”, http://www.webcitation.org/6mmRSNxUm
(4) V.J. Ballester Olmos, “Documentos oficiales online (IV): Desclasificación OVNI en España: El Mando Operativo Aéreo busca casos perdidos”,
(Teclear “Expedientes OVNI” en “Búsqueda”)
(6) Qué curioso que sólo sean ufólogos y periodistas crédulos a quienes se dirigen los supuestos testigos de los avistamientos más asombrosos, los “encuentros cercanos”, cuando el Ejército del Aire dispone desde 1992 de un protocolo de actuación para la encuesta de casos ovni. Desde entonces, sólo se ha activado en tres ocasiones, dos en 1993 y una en 1995  y sólo en una de ellas la fuente inicial fue civil. La interpretación parece evidente, el que inventa historias o las exagera es reacio a fabular ante la autoridad. Y no ante oídos proclives a dar por bueno todo lo que les cuentan con tal de pergeñar un artículo para la revista de turno o un guion para el consabido programa de misterio en radio o televisión. A eso se le llama ufología de manutención. Y esto no tiene nada que ver con el periodismo serio y, menos, con la práctica científica.
(7) V.J. Ballester Olmos y Ricardo Campo, “OVNIS y militares, una fábrica de leyendas”,
(8) GJSMC Rafael García Hernández, email a V.J. Ballester Olmos, 9 de agosto de 2017.
Por favor, dejen a Gordon Cooper en paz
En la sección en inglés de este blog incluyo un artículo del experto en temas espaciales Jim Oberg, acerca de un programa difundido el pasado mes de abril por el canal de televisión Discovery con extravagantes declaraciones del ex-astronauta Gordon Cooper. El aprovechamiento vergonzoso de las debilidades seniles de este hombre, en pro del sensacionalismo barato, clama al cielo. Remito a los interesados al apartado correspondiente más arriba.
Dicen que los viejos rockeros nunca mueren. Parece que lo mismo sucede con ciertas historias del mundillo ovni que se desentierran periódicamente del baúl o del sepulcro. La leyenda UMMO (extraterrestres que se comunican con el género humano vía correo postal) ha sido materia de extenso debate desde que se inició a mediados de los años sesenta. A pesar de que el originario de dichos escritos confesó su naturaleza fraudulenta antes de morir, aún hay creyentes en la realidad del planeta del signo Ж y de las andanzas de sus naturales en nuestro mundo. Tarde o temprano la cuestión resurgirá –como el Guadiana– y entretanto me gustaría sugerir la lectura del trabajo de unos de los investigadores españoles que más en profundidad y con más sentido crítico ha estudiado el asunto, Luis R. González (también conocido literariamente como Reinaldo Manso). Creo que merece la pena recordar aquí algunos de sus trabajos al respecto:
"Ummo, el planeta de los corresponsales anónimos”, 1994,
Crítica al libro "El hombre que susurraba a los ummitas", 2008,
En este contexto, no puedo dejar de citar el magnífico trabajo de otro especialista en este tema, el estudioso madrileño José Juan Montejo: “Breve historia de Ummo”,
El Press Democrat de Santa Rosa (California) del domingo 19 de febrero de 1961 estampaba en su primera página la foto que sigue, con esta leyenda: “El ovni avistado por tres residentes de Lakeport la noche del martes aparece registrado en esta inusual fotografía lograda por uno del trio, Victor Sneed. El objeto fue descrito como mayor y más brillante que una estrella y despedía colores rojo, blanco y azul.  El señor Sneed y sus padres, Sr. y Sra. Robert Sneed, contemplaron el objeto durante casi media hora desde lo alto de la colina  Brewery”.
16/2/1961, Lakeport (California). © Victor Sneed. Según se publicó.
En la página 5 del número de enero de 1961 de The APRO Bulletin encontramos información suplementaria. Dice que la observación comenzó a las nueve de la noche y que la misteriosa luz se cernía a unos 20 grados sobre la montaña Gow, que se ubica en dirección oeste. La familia declara que la luz desapareció 25 minutos después. Si buscamos el mapa estelar correspondiente, vemos que Venus estaba colocado exactamente al oeste (274º de azimut), a 7º de elevación y mostraba una apariencia muy brillante (magnitud -4.43). El ocaso del planeta tuvo lugar a las 9:36 de la noche, coincidiendo con el momento en que los Sneed dejaron de ver al objeto que magnificaron como “10 veces más grande y luminoso que el planeta Venus”. La fotografía recortada que publicó el diario, obviamente, es una gran ampliación de la huella luminosa dejaba por el cuerpo astronómico durante la exposición fotográfica. No sólo eso, dado que el astro estaba al oeste, iba descendiendo de izquierda a derecha, con lo que descubrimos que la foto se publicó invertida. Vemos seguidamente el mapa estelar y la imagen real.
16/2/1961, Lakeport (California). © Victor Sneed. Apariencia real de Venus en el cielo de California.  
5/3/79, Canarias. Los mitos se resisten a morir
El pasado mes de julio, la edición digital del ABC publicó que un informe oficial ruso aseguraba que el avistamiento desde territorio canario del 5 de marzo de 1979 se debió a un objeto que surgió del mar. En efecto, así fue. Porque fue un misil de la marina estadounidense, como está ya archidemostrado. Ricardo Campo ha escrito dos precisos comentarios al respecto en uno de sus blogs, que vale la pena leer:
Contrariamente a lo manifestado en el diario, el mentado informe ni es oficial ni es reciente, es de 2008 y de dos militares y ufólogos rusos que recopilaron datos sobre avistamientos ovni en océanos, extrayendo casos de los viejos archivos de la Armada soviética. Pues bien, en un informe de 77 páginas, apenas hay cinco líneas dedicadas al caso Canario, concretamente éstas:
5 марта 1979 г. Атлантический океан, Канарские острова. Тысячи людей на острове Гран-Канария стали свидетелями необыкновенного явления. Из воды вылетел большой темный объект и устремился вверх. Через мгновение он ярко засветился и пропал из глаз, оставив за собой громадное светящееся облако.
Y la frase que ha dado origen a la “sensacional” noticia dice textualmente que “un gran objeto oscuro salió volando del agua velozmente hacia arriba”.
El pasado año, Campo ya tuvo que poner los puntos sobre las íes a otro artículo del mismo corresponsal canario del ABC, a raíz de una noticia manifiestamente mejorable dedicada esta vez al caso canario 22/6/76. Y yo me pregunto, ¿por qué será que cuando el periodismo toca el tema ovni suele ser para desbarrar?  ¿Pero qué les enseñan en la Facultad?
Nuevos ensayistas
Keith Basterfield nos ha puesto sobre aviso acerca de un artículo de Brett Holman, titulado “Why I am not a UFO historian” (¿Por qué no son un historiador de los ovnis?), una entrada de blog fechada el 24 de junio de 2017, obviamente una oportuna fecha aniversario. Averigüé que el autor está doctorado en Historia y es profesor de la School of Humanities de la universidad de New England, en  Armidale (Australia). Es refrescante ver como una renovada cantera de académicos bien informados se sumerge en la problemática de los ovnis, aportando opiniones remozadas, ahora que ya contamos con 70 años de experiencias que evaluar. Quisiera seleccionar un párrafo de tan acertado ensayo:
Si bien respeto el trabajo realizado por el Proyecto 1947 y grupos similares, como Magonia Exchange, así como algunos investigadores individuales que adoptan un enfoque racional, la ufología en su conjunto es un desfile de payasos. Seguirles de cerca es una buena forma de perder la orientación. No parece probable que todo el barrido de los viejos casos produzca nunca algo de valor duradero. Si alguna vez hay un avance en lo que realmente significan todos estos avistamientos, vendrá de fuera de la ufología: de la ciencia, muy probablemente. Dudo que exista algo particularmente extraordinario, si queda algo después de las percepciones erróneas y los engaños.
Su escrito puede –debe – leerse desde aquí:
Los archivos ovni del servicio de Guardacostas americano
Durante años, varios ufólogos estadounidenses usaron la legislación FOIA (libertad de información) para solicitar a las autoridades del US Coast Guard cualquier documentación relativa a observaciones ovni ocurrida en ríos, lagos, puertos, bahías, etc., la geografía de su competencia. Robert Todd lo hizo entre 1975 y 1978 y Stan Gordon en 1988. Pero fue gracias al compromiso y dedicación de Barry Greenwood entre 1978 y 1990 que se recuperó la totalidad de los archivos ovni de esta agencia. Son casos denunciados desde 1952 a 1989. Barry se ha tomado la molestia de escanear las 160 páginas de documentos recopilados y yo los he subido a internet en el portal Academia.edu para conocimiento general.
Así, podemos leer informaciones originales sobre el conocido caso fotográfico de Salem, Massachusetts, del 16 de julio de 1952 (luces interiores reflejadas en una ventana), el avistamiento del 5 de noviembre de 1957 desde el buque Sebago en el golfo de Méjico, el encuentro con humanoides en el rio Pascagoula del 6 de noviembre de 1973, así como sucesos más recientes como los del lago Michigan, 28 de julio de 1978, Atlantic City,12 de enero de 1982 o Eastlake, 4 de marzo de 1988. Acceda a esta información a través de este enlace:
Un soberbio trabajo de Eddie Bullard
La página web del CUFOS acoge un brillante estudio del Dr. Thomas E. Bullard, “Skeptical Successes and Ufological Failures: Opportunities in Uncomfortable Places” (Éxitos escépticos y fallos ufológicos: Oportunidades en lugares incómodos). El ensayo contiene tres apéndices de gran valor donde pasa revista a dos importantes avistamientos ovni que fueron apoyados entusiásticamente por los defensores a ultranza de los extraterrestres y que terminaron teniendo rotundas explicaciones, así como a ciertos aspectos de la “mitología visual” que aparece en algunos casos.  Este trabajo finaliza con esta afirmación: Pero es un hecho que la ufología continúa esforzándose para lograr respetabilidad científica y encarar la anomalía ovni y otras relacionadas desde una perspectiva científica. A lo que yo añadiría, empero: si la Ufología no ha hecho correctamente sus deberes en 70 años que han visto pasar una rica variedad de fenomenología como jamás se ha podido soñar, incluyendo supuestas observaciones del aterrizaje de naves espaciales con tripulantes exploradores, ¿qué más se necesita para hacer un buen trabajo y presentar una evidencia incontrovertible? ¿Cree alguien compos mentis que esto va a repetirse en el futuro? Bullard sentencia también: Tal como están las cosas, hay demasiados sucesos convencionales enmascarados como anomalías que pasan sin ser detectados y atestan desordenadamente nuestras bases de datos y confunden nuestra comprensión. Un profundo estudio de tales misterios no llevará a ninguna parte a menos que invirtamos tiempo y ahínco en excluir eso falsos misterios desde ya—garbage in, garbage out.
En mi humilde opinión, Bullard pasa por alto una importante variable en la ecuación: la motivación de la mayoría (o muchos) de los ufólogos más influyentes es su creencia de que los ovnis son señales de vida extraterrestre y continuarán asignando orígenes misteriosos a estímulos mundanos. Es cuestión de fe. Y los archivos de casos seguirán sepultando el uno o dos por ciento de informes potencialmente intrigantes dentro de una enorme masa de basura visual.
Recomiendo la lectura de esta excelente disertación:
Sin olvidar los tres estudios de casos que acompañan  al texto principal:
Una rara foto de estrellamiento
El diario tejano The Odessa American publicó la foto de abajo en su edición del 18 de mayo de 1966. Y la acompañaba esta leyenda:
El globo estrellado, otras de cuyas fotos fueron confiscadas por oficiales del gobierno, parece que se lanzó desde Levelland, Texas. Buscando información adicional, recurrí al extraordinario banco de datos de STRATOCAT. Allí hay una reseña para la fecha del 16 de mayo de 1966 en Texas. La referencia es un informe técnico firmado por Arthur O. Korn: “Failure Analysis, Balloon H67-41. Flight Date 27 May 1967” (el estudio del fallo de un globo de investigación lanzado el 27 de mayo de 1967), editado por los Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories, laboratorios científicos de la Fuerza Aérea americana ubicados en Bedford, Massachussets (https://app.box.com/s/s9tckb55lqoobf2emlfa). En la página 13 de ese informe hay un listado con el lanzamiento de un globo probablemente clasificado el 16 de mayo de 1966 desde el emplazamiento de Levelland (vuelo número #H66-49), con una carga útil de cerca de 5.000 kg. El propósito era un vuelo de pruebas y se consignó como exitoso. Los restos en tierra serían los de la valiosa carga con los equipos de medición y registro, que accidentalmente se soltaron prematuramente.
16/5/1966, carga de un globo de inteligencia de la USAF estrellada cerca de Lesley (Texas). © Foto UPI.
(1) La fotografía tomada en Hessdalen el 21 de diciembre de 2013 bajo la lupa del examen científico:
(2) Contactos en Playa La Tejita: Ricardo Campo, doctor en Filosofía, investigador del fenómeno ovni y escritor, ha estudiado en detalle dos conocidas historias de contactos y abducciones pretendidamente ocurridas en la playa de La Tejita, en la isla de Tenerife (Canarias) en junio y octubre de 1975, en estos dos bien documentados artículos:
(3) Falsa alarma en el Lago Ontario en mayo de 2017:
(4) Fernando Jorge Soto Roland, profesor de historia en la facultad de Humanidades de la Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata (Buenos Aires), ha publicado un interesante ensayo en el que disecciona la leyenda del “Mothman” (hombre polilla). El resumen resulta inesperadamente sencillo: se trató de una gran mentira, alentada por pseudo-investigadores, plumillas sensacionalistas y medios de comunicación. Este revelador trabajo puede leerse en el siguiente enlace:  
(5) Acaba de publicarse el número 4 de Cielo Insolito, un boletín electrónico dedicado a la historia del fenómeno ovni, con absorbentes artículos en italiano e inglés: http://www.ufo.it/ufo/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/cieloinsolito-4.pdf
(6) Rayo en bola en España en el siglo XVI:
(7) Ya no es habitual hallar trabajos estadísticos sobre el tema que nos interesa. Por ello, y sin valorar el mérito de la base de datos del autor, su metodología o conclusiones, quiero traer a colación este reciente estudio de alguien que me era desconocido, Adyson Wright: “Is UFO/UAP Sighting Frequency in Specific Locales Consistent with Global Trends? Evidence Against Traditional Models for Alaska in Two Databases” y que puede leer aquí:
(8) Un ufólogo australiano que desea pertenecer en el anonimato ha publicado este interesante artículo sobre un caso con intervención del radar desde un navío en 1954, “The Sea Fury Radar Incident Revisited”:
(9) Cualquier imagen espectacular, presuntamente anómala y presumiblemente antigua es sospechosa, por defecto. En 2015, la revista francesa Top Secret recibió anónimamente (¿a que no nos sorprende?) varias fotos supuestamente tomadas a bordo de un barco de la armada estadounidense en marzo de 1971 cerca de la isla de Jan Mayen, en aguas atlánticas noruegas.  Hace poco se ha puesto de manifiesto, sin la menor duda, que se trata de verdaderos fraudes, hechos con la ayuda de Photoshop. Gilles Fernandez y Wim van Utrecht han dado con la solución, véase:
 (10) El notable investigador y veterano ufólogo Jan Aldrich ha puesto a nuestra disposición en internet “unas pocas palabras sobre el difunto Dr. J. Allen Hynek (“A few words about the late Dr. J. Allen Hynek”) en la página web del Project 1947. Se trata de un valioso artículo que indaga en la figura de este científico e investigador ovni. Este es el link en cuestión:
(11) Se solicitan análisis de los dos siguientes videos de supuestos videos de rayos globulares conseguidos en Rusia (2016) y en Italia (2017): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4UOF_4EioI
(12) La primera tesis de postgraduado (M.A.) dedicada a los “platillos volantes”, concretamente a la cobertura de la prensa norteamericana de 1947, fue en Periodismo en la Universidad Estatal de Iowa en 1948. Con 147 páginas y titulada “The ‘Flying Saucers’ Episode”, la firmó Emil E. Wennergren. Sabíamos de su existencia a partir del extraordinario compendio de 282 tesinas y disertaciones doctorales publicada por el estudioso italiano Paolo Toselli este mismo año. Lo que ahora facilitamos es el enlace para descargarla online:
(13) ¿Qué ocurre cuando un reportero mezcla una foto ovni de 1973 (que no es otra cosa que una versión manipulada del famoso trucaje de Barra da Tijuca de 1952) con una observación ovni de 1985 por parte de la Policía Local (avistamiento debido probablemente a una misión nocturna de aviones militares)? Pues que los confiados lectores resultan engañados. A esto se refiere el estudioso vasco  Victorio Uranga en su último blog:
(14) Juan Carlos Victorio Uranga repasa el opúsculo titulado: OVNIs: Paradigma del absurdo, de David Cuevas. Un verdadero paradigma…de la impericia:
(15) El periodista argentino Enrique Garabetyan entrevista al comodoro Rubén Lianza para la sección de Ciencia del diario Perfil:
(16) El licenciado en Comunicación Social, periodista, investigador y autor chileno Diego Zúñiga enjuicia un libro colectivo español en el blog del estudioso mejicano Luis Ruiz Noguez:
(17) Se acaba de publicar este breve trabajo firmado por Gitle Hauge, Anna-Lena Kjøniksen  y Erling Strand: “Optical luminosity of the transient luminous phenomena in Hessdalen, Norway”,
Maccabee y el avistamiento de Arnold
“Three minutes in June” (Tres minutos de junio), subtitulado “La observación ovni que cambió al mundo, es un opúsculo que se ha publicado el pasado mes de mayo por la editorial de Richard Dolan Press. Con 138 páginas, se dedica por entero a un prístino suceso, el que aconteció a un comercial americano, Kenneth Arnold, quien a las tres de la tarde del 24 de junio de 1947 volaba en un pequeño avión privado de Chehalis a Yakima, en el estado de Washington. “Un juicio definitivo” es como el editor define al informe escrito por el Dr. Bruce Maccabee, físico óptico que trabajó para la Marina de los Estados Unidos y que está aliado sin complejos con la naturaleza extraterrestre de los ovnis.
La obra se vende en Amazon o a través del email del editor Richard Dolan (Rochester, New York): keyholepub@gmail.com
He redactado una breve reseña del libro ‒admito que el caso Arnold no es mi especialidad‒ en la sección en inglés del blog, así que allí remito al lector interesado en este volumen.
(1) En persona en Loch Ness. Y no particularmente a la búsqueda del monstruo del lago sino de vacaciones con mi esposa, su seguro servidor ha navegado por el famoso Lago Ness el mes pasado durante una visita de ocho días a Escocia. No vimos a Nessie pero disfrutamos mucho del país. Es un destino inolvidable que les recomiendo sin lugar a dudas.
(2) Por los viejos tiempos. Mi colaborador y amigo de muchos años Jaime Servera me ha enviado un par de fotos que escenifican algunas viejas reuniones que compartimos. La primera es una visita que hicimos juntos a la base aérea de Manises (Valencia) en junio de 1992 donde nos atendió el coronel Sacanell, jefe de la base. Jaime sacó la fotografía. La otra es una foto de grupo de enero de 1990 en mi antigua casa de la calle Guardia Civil. Allí aparecemos, de izquierda a derecha, Jaime, Juan Antonio Fernández Peris, yo mismo y Javier Sierra. Siempre es grato revivir recuerdos agradables.
Mi gratitud a los siguientes colegas que han aportado información a la presente edición del blog: Kay Massingill, Jim Oberg, Dr. Gilles Fernandez, Ole Jonny Brænne, Juan Carlos Victorio Uranga, Dr. Ricardo Campo, Dr. Alexander Keul, Roberto Labanti, Adyson Wright, Jaime Servera, Keith Basterfield, Luis E. Pacheco e Igor Kalytiuk.
A Catalogue of 200 Type-I UFO Events in Spain and Portugal
OVNIS: el fenómeno aterrizaje
Los OVNIS y la Ciencia (con Miguel Guasp)
Investigación OVNI
Enciclopedia de los encuentros cercanos con OVNIS (con J.A. Fernández Peris)
Expedientes insólitos
Hay ejemplares en el mercado de segunda mano en los buscadores Iberlibro y Uniliber, en estos enlaces directos:
Norway in UFO Photographs: The First Catalogue (con O.J. Braenne)
UFOs and the Government (con M. Swords & R. Powell y C. Svahn, B. Chalker, B. Greenwood, R. Thieme, J. Aldrich y S. Purcell)
Avistamientos OVNI en la Antártida en 1965 (con M. Borraz, H. Janosch y J.C. Victorio) http://www.upiar.com/index.cfm?artID=182
Algunos de mis libros están a la venta en Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/z8oooqn
Hay varias opciones de colaboración a su disposición, a saber:
Trabajo voluntario, presencial o a distancia
    · Entrega de información sobre casos, fotografías, archivos, bibliografía, etc.
    · Donaciones para ayudar a sufragar los gastos corrientes y de investigación
 · Puede dirigirse directamente a nosotros por correo electrónico: ballesterolmos@yahoo.es