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2019/SEPTEMBER/20 (EN)

English language editing: Martin Shough
The number of case reports collected by FOTOCAT’s register and archive amounts to 12,525 as of today.
Lightning-Like Phenomenon on 1893 Photograph
Wim van Utrecht & Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos
At the end of the XIX century, interest in both photography and lightning were high on the scientific agenda. Journals published articles showing the effect of lightning on time-exposed plates in standing cameras. Naturalists and scientists were not only eager to analyze the nature of lightning discharges, they also developed a fascination for the enigmatic phenomenon of ball lightning (BL for short).
The present authors share this century-old passion for collecting and evaluating alleged BL episodes, especially when images in the form of pictures, movie footage, video recordings or digital media are presented. One of us holds a catalogue of 140 events of supposed ball lightning manifestations captured on film between 1891 and 2019.1
Recently, our US collaborator Kay Coggin, an efficient specialist in acquiring historical accounts of weird sky phenomena from press records, unearthed an 1893 article from the science magazine Knowledge. The item was entitled “Lightning Photographs or Photographic Defects” and focused on a curious letter dated October 14th of the same year written by Irish citizen Robert R. Levingston.2  Mr. Levingston reported that “at the latter part of August last, on a beautiful moonlight night,” while vacationing in Switzerland, he had placed his small hand camera on the window-sill of his bedroom and exposed the plate for one hour, from 10 to 11 p.m. “Soon after placing the negative in the developer, the peculiar marks showed up,” Levingston wrote, adding that “I can only attribute the zigzag marks to lightning.” He submitted the print together with a daytime snapshot he had taken the next morning of the same view and from the same spot to the science magazine thinking they would be interested in examining them. 
August 1893, somewhere in Switzerland. Left: weird luminous trace on a time exposure of one hour. Right: shot of the same view taken the next morning. Photos by R. L. Levingston.
The magazine asked their Irish correspondent about the camera’s focal length and inquired if there had been a storm during the night the picture was taken. Levingston’s reply was published in the same issue. The focal length turned out to have been 4.5 inches and the photographer emphasized that it had been “an extremely bright moonlight night”, with no electrical activity in the atmosphere (“not aware of any lightning or thunder”). Levingston had developed the pictures himself and was convinced that there were no marks on the plate negative before he had placed it into the developer.
In a lengthy comment3, the magazine’s editor, A. C. Ranyard, remarked that, in the case those tracks would have been produced by one or more lightning strikes, these would have occurred “very close to the hotel window” and “would probably have been accompanied by a clap of thunder which the visitors at the hotel could hardly fail to have heard.” Ranyard dismissed the lightning hypothesis for this and a number of other reasons, and proposed an alternative solution: “it is not improbable that Mr. Levingston, after having made his moonlight exposure, took his little camera up from the window-sill, and, forgetting that the direct light of the moon would make a trace upon the plate, turned the camera upwards while he looked about for the cap with which to cover the lens, or while he passed the camera from one hand to the other and closed the shutter over the dry plate. The block [photograph above left] is about the same size as the original negative, and the white band upon it is about the twentieth of an inch, which corresponds to the diameter of the moon as photographed by a camera of 4½ focus.”
In a consecutive issue of the magazine, the photographer expressed his sentiments that the shutter was closed before the camera was removed from its position. With regard to Ranyard’s statement, he underlined that “the plate received no such irregular exposure as you imagine.”4 “But,” Mr. Levingston continued, “it has been suggested to me that the lightning-like marks may be due to some phosphorescent insect having crawled over the lens or plate.”  In a new comment, Ranyard dismissed the firefly concept on the basis of the sharp edges of the luminous traces, and the fact that it does not extend to the edge of the plate, but stops at the line which marks the edge of the dark side (suggesting that the line was traced while the plate was exposed in the dark slide). The idea of a firefly flying in front of the camera was also rejected because its image would have been out of focus and soft at the edges in a camera which gave sharp images of a distant mountain.4
There is little to add to Ranyard’s comments, but modern tools enabled us to verify if the moon hypothesis is at least feasible. An intensive search by one of the authors using Google Earth and Google Earth’s Street View to compare mountain skylines around Swiss lakes with the landscape features in Levingston’s pictures was rewarded with the finding of the actual location of the event: the city of Thun on the northern shore of Thunersee, an Alpine lake in Bernese Oberland. The prominent mountain in the problem photograph turned out to be Mt. Niesen. It is at an azimuth of about 186º when viewed from Thun, i.e. in the SSE. The distance from Thun to the mountain is 11.6km, the height of Mt. Niesen is 2,363m, so the angle subtended by the mountain on the picture should be close to 11º, this implies that the vertical picture size covers an angle of about 37° and that the upper edge of the image coincides with an elevation of about 19°.5 The horizontal angle covered by the lens was found to be approximately 46°.
The actual location: Lake Thun, canton of Bern, Switzerland. (Swiss landscape photo borrowed from:
Full moon was on August 27, 1893. Viewed from Thun city, the lunar disc was in the SE sky, traveling from an elevation of 19º (azimuth 132º) at 10 p.m. to 26º (azimuth 146º) at 11 p.m. At the end of Mr. Levingston’s time exposure, the moon would have been only about 7° to the left of the left edge of the picture and another 7° above the photo’s upper edge (i.e. less than the portion of the sky that can be covered with a fist at arm’s length). Under these conditions, any accidental movement of the camera upward and to the left would have captured it and would have created a linear trace the width of the lunar disc on the negative. So Ranyard’s hypothesis can be considered a reasonable explanation. It is certainly not as far-fetched as it may seem at first sight. Similar cases abound, also in recent time exposures that are purported to show unidentified lights, like in the much publicized Popocatépetl photograph from 2001.6
Google Earth image of the area with indication of the suspected location of the camera, the horizontal picture angle (blue lines), the location of Mts. Niesen, Fromberghorn and Drunengalm, and the position of the moon at 11 p.m. (yellow line)
Analyzing an ambiguous image captured on a photographic plate 126 years ago, with no initial data about date or location is risky, but we believe the moon offers a reasonable solution to the images. Of course, this geographical/ astronomical model becomes redundant if a firefly had passed in front of the lens that Summer night in 1893.
(1) FOTOCAT is a database that currently contains over 12,500 reports of imaged unidentified aerial phenomena having occurred up to December 31, 2005 (up to present time for ball lightning events). http://fotocat.blogspot.com/ is the online newsletter that informs about progress under way.
(2) Knowledge. An Illustrated Magazine of Science, edited by A. Cowper Ranyard (London), Volume XVI, December 1, 1893, page 234,
(3) Ibidem, pages 234-235.
(4) Knowledge, Volume XVI, January 1, 1894, page 18,
(5) Obviously, calculations are approximate (the camera may have been closer to or further away from the center of Mt. Niesen, and a “beautiful moonlight night” does not necessarily mean it was full moon).
(6) Salim Sigales, “Informe de resolución del caso Alfonso Reyes,”
The present article is formally sourced in the Academia.edu portal as:
The Landing at Turís, 1979
During my 50+ years as UFO investigator, I have been unable to explain or solve a few UFO reports. Probably the thorniest puzzle is the close encounter of the third kind that allegedly occurred at Turís (Valencia), on July 25, 1979. A suggestive idea, however, has been propounded by Spanish researcher and author Luís R. González. A fully-illustrated article I wrote on the event, revamped with a renewed field inquiry we jointly made in 2008, has just been uploaded in Academia.edu, and this is the proper link to read it:
Probably the reason‒not to dodge the issue‒is that the cause of the phenomenon is psychological, and only a specialist in the field can endorse it with certainty. This is why when recently I found that French colleagues Raoul Robé and Jean-Michel Abrassart did study an analogous case (landing, entities, one sole witness) proposing hallucination or false recall based on a TV movie on Martians, I felt it would underwrite the possible solution to the Spanish event.
For years, I have been suggesting that many UFO CE episodes are the territory of psychologists and psychiatrists, who would find new modalities of virtual apparitions and experiences charged with symbolism and specific extraterrestrial imagery.
The essay by Robé & Abrassart was published on pages 4 to 6 of Tim Printy’s SUNlite bulletin, November-December 2017: “Case study of a Close Encounter of the Third Kind (Nancy, France, 1969): Hallucination or false memory?”,
In the same vein, another paper by Jean-Michel Abrassart (Ph.D. in psychology from the Catholic University of Louvain) is to be considered in the context:
An F-18 in Pursuit of a UFO?
On the night of September 20, 2018, from Los Santos de la Humosa, in the province of Madrid, the guard of a scrapyard saw a point of light moving at high speed in the sky for a few seconds. The observation was followed by the appearance of an F-18 fighter. Was it a UFO? Was there any relationship with the military plane? The Spanish section of the current blog edition contains the article “¿Persiguió un caza español F-18 a un OVNI?”. This can be also reached here:
A Personal Essay
Summertime in Spain‒even overheated‒and vacation in the countryside is a good time to read. My readings mean diversity, novel, history, biography, science fiction, ufology, etc. The good thing about reading is that it stimulates reflection, somehow inter-neuronal exchanges combine data, access to recall is easier and you feel an impulse to writing. The small text below is the result of that. I hope you enjoy (not necessarily agree!)
The Alien Reports We Have
Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos
Song saw the man she called father on the back porch every night, talking into his collar and charting the paths of stars with a correcting-fluid pen on the back of a star map, looking for UFOs. Most people’s obsessions, Song reasoned, came up with a price. Of the many things she knew him to preoccupy his days with, this seemed most harmless.1
UFO researchers (debunkers, skeptics or believers, alike) are fully aware of one particular aspect of this riddle: with a few exceptions, most of the small fraction of (usually dated) unsolved sightings are ephemeral, ambiguously recorded or poorly documented. This is a fact. And this stands as the basic reason for the unreliability of the “evidence” and the distrust in its value by the powers that be. Yet the true core of apparently impressive, unsolvable events that only alien presence can account for are the “close encounters.” Tales of landings of other-worldly spacecraft on Earthly soil, with companion humanoids on board.
As for the qualifications of observers‒pilot, military person, scientist, clergyman, law enforcement officer, politician, or judge‒none of it really matters in the final analysis. These are ordinary people claiming to have experienced the First Contact. There is no point in discussing if an airborne observer sighted a flying object or a fireball meteor. Or if a blob in pixeled Navy footage is a balloon, a bird or a drone. If the flying discs of the fifties do represent a pivotal turning-point type of incident in the century, then humankind should concentrate major investigative resources on the thousands of testimonies of this space-age-coming, collected by UFO organizations down the years, especially during the sixties and seventies, although not restricted to that time frame.
Why are the hardcore defendants of the UFO/ET reality not highlighting examples of this supposed alien intervention in our planet as the basis for their belief? Why don’t they propose these incidents to the United Nations, national governments, the Academy of Sciences, or scientific journals? This should be their top priority and target, instead of discussing minute details about angular size or distance of the observation of a light in the sky back in the late forties.
These are meant to be the best cases. The ultimate proof. No doubt. Nonetheless, they are not flagged as important or decisive. Not so fundamental as to demonstrate that we have been visited by travelers from other parts of the universe. Does no one find it strange?
I have a theory. Call it a guess or a suspicion. A reason for this. Even for the most fervent believer, the story of the brief landing of a spaceship with its walking occupants is difficult to swallow. Not only because in the mass of reports there are no matches between them. Basically, because they are one-witness cases. Extraordinary occurrences lived by single onlookers, or by two, with luck. On occasion, certain atmospheric UFOs (IFOs) are viewed by hundreds at a time, but why do these august episodes of interaction with extraterrestrial races only happen to isolated, solitary souls?
Therefore, it is legitimate to ask: were these real experiences? No nuts and bolts are ever left behind. No paper, formulae, holography, or digital message left. Not a gift. Never, ever. Miserable LGM. Just to scare a pacific peasant, farmer or driver. What about if those were only imagined apparitions? Considering the absence of proof in the form of exotic materials or anything more solid than circumstantial ground traces, we have the right to raise the probability that the narrations of the arrival of super spacecraft are merely stories that did not actually occur.
Facing this type of scenario, we have only two options: it was true or it wasn´t. Patently, it was not true. The implications of aliens landing in our backyard after a trip of light years for a few minutes’ appearance, only to rapidly escape, are preposterous and insane. Thus, the rational alternative is that this did not happen. And the debate is open: either it is a fabrication and a fable, or it is a hallucination and a creation of the mind. Or a mix.
In the first plot, the claimant relates a subterfuge, a lie that went out of control, a conscious falsehood that they repeat time after time and color and exaggerate in front of TV journalists. In this instance, pushed by one of a myriad possible causes, the communicator simply made up a tale. It is the experienced investigator who would ascertain the clues to the fraud.
In the second plot, the subject is under a short-term, non-traumatic psychological ecstasy. In this scenario, something was imagined, probably under stress, without a mental aftermath other than a memory of the alleged experience. Who is to decide when this option applies? Indeed, the work is left for psychologists, therapists and psychiatrists.
This class of “close encounter” is a borderline experience. Borderline in the sense that they exist within the interface between the fantastic and the veritable. Not rhetorical. As the reported events did not happen in the real world, it is a mental issue, it’s all in the mind. I call it the inner world. Our job is to recognize when someone either spins a tale, invents a story and consciously makes it up, or is involved in a self-delusion, a bogey vision.
In the first case, the person simply behaves like the usual liar. We do not need to elaborate. The second cause is a short-lived, extreme but recoverable psychological state engendering ghostly sightings based on recalls, dreams, readings, or movies. And not just any kind of weird visions: the contact with spacemen, specifically. If we have a reason to defend the sincerity of the single narrator (more robust than ideological naïveté), what else remains?
Fake reports may have many motivations, triggers and excuses. It is our failure to expose them that leaves reports of this type unresolved. I would like now to concentrate on asking whether the cognitive process producing a false experience has a unique psychological signature. Or many? The bottom-line experience is when someone thinks he or she underwent an encounter with beings from another planet. Certainly, a personality disorder limited in time and strength. But which one? If fully awake, a standard visual hallucination? Temporary dissociation? Temporal lobe epilepsy?  A false memory? If sleep-related, a hypnopompic/hypnagogic trance? Sleep paralysis? Lucid dreaming?   Specialists are in demand to explore this category of alleged observations.
I just doubt that there exists a false memory of a false vision that exclusively encompasses the notion of the extraterrestrial visitation, i.e., when an apparently normal individual (yet psychologically untested) claims to have observed over an extended lapse of time (in the absence of corroborating eyewitnesses) a typical scene of a close encounter with an spacecraft. It connects indissolubly to the flying saucer mythology, which developed during a given time of history within a given cultural and social environment. But if it exists, finding and modelling this “alien hallucination” will certainly be a serious contribution from UFO stories to Psychiatry.
I personally support a very subtle form of falsehood or deception, rather than an awake-sleep-type episode that centers on the coming of beings from another planet. I tend to favor a deceit over a subjective vision. Unless psychologists create a distinct model for an "alien hallucination," I am inclined to favor the most economical hypothesis‒i.e., a soft form of fib, for a majority of events of this nature.
This brief exposé delineates two alternatives for those lone individual experiences: percipient-wise, accounts can be either true (but psychological in nature) or not true (this is, prevarications). I back up the untrue position, based on 50 years of my own field work, interviews of many people, and processing the on-site inquiries made by international colleagues. However, a third alternative has been suggested: alien encounter narratives would be the contemporary revelation of the historical transcendent experience of the sacred and the holy. In the long tradition of experiencing closeness to the supernatural, in a technological society gods would become spacemen.
In my view, it does not hold water. Firstly, we still view and collect such religious experiences in the form of reported miracles, virgin apparitions, or cures by saints. So, it does not appear like an evolution of one myth into another. Above all, there is a major difference in the phenomenology. How physical has a transcendent experience been across history? In the alien encounter we find a 3D machine perfectly described, distance, time, duration and other parameters and measurements clearly defined, beings with faces, expressions and clothes portrayed without a doubt, spacecraft crewmembers’ behavior properly explained, landing and launch maneuvers depicted in detail. It is a well-defined narrative lacking ambiguity.
I cannot agree with this third “alternative” because this seems to be more a theoretical speculation from folklore or religion study scholars, abstract enough to be refuted. There are UFO authors who are masters in this writing technique as well. This looks like an armchair hypothesis that pretends to link the UFO landing story to the field of one’s expertise. Merging a concise problem into a more generic, vague category does not help to solve it but to hide it forever behind incomprehension.
My sentiment is that in studying these cases we place ourselves at the limit of our own competence (how to professionally assess people’s weird testimonies?) and ideology (can we accommodate in our liberal mind that normal people can fool and cheat us for nothing?).
The tales of encounters with extraplanetary humanoids make us wonder about the significance and nature of those imaginary worlds. It is now time to rationalize in psychological terms those immaterial, groundless accounts which belong to the realm of Psychology.
I still stick to the true/untrue dichotomy, certainly supporting the untrue one, basically because evidence is nil after 70 years. This has great significance,  indeed. See how much hardware astronauts left on the Moon and space probes left on the surface of Mars, just in a handful of landings. Our UFO landing records amount to thousands and not a single piece of a “Martian” gadget has been retrieved!
As an aside, obviously related to this theme, the most elementary and shabby form of systematic counterfeit of the encounter with spacepersons scenario is the contactee. On the other hand, the most convoluted type of mental disorder associated with extraterrestrial contact seems to be the abduction phenomenon.
For many, witnesses of CE phenomena are non-witnesses, as these are non-events. Others feel they are bona fide viewers of an illusion that is the product of multiple factors, ranging from the purely personal‒“psychological”‒to the diverse cultural contexts in which the phenomenon has occurred.  For the legion of “believers,” CE events truly represent alien visits. This informal writing does not purport to convince one way or the other, but to give some food for thought and open new avenues for research.
(1) Rusty Barnes, Song & Jimmy: Four Scenes, in Mostly Redneck Stories, Sunny Outside (Buffalo), 2011, page 121.
I am grateful for valuable comments received from Dr. Greg Eghigian, professor of History in the Pennsylvania State University, and Fernando J. Soto Roland, professor of History, Universidad Nacional de Mar de Plata, Buenos Aires.
Fakes at the Baskatong Lake
Canadian press (Citizen, and Montreal Star of March 13, 1978) reported that on March 11, Jacques Lavoie (30) and Richard Huôt (36), both of Île Perrôt, near Montreal, shot four photographs of a nearby brightly glowing UFO hovering over the Baskatong Lake, while they were camping in the hills of La Vérendrye Park, a wildlife reserve located about 225 kilometers north of Ottawa.
At around 6:30pm, they had started a small fire and were setting their sleeping bags when they saw a comet-like object falling from the sky “at an incredible speed, it seemed to leave a fiery trail behind it, blue bright like the fire of a welder’s torch,” the pair of weekend campers described. The vision of the UFO was lost behind the trees, but they ran through the bushes toward the lake to find it was hovering it at an altitude between 500-1000 feet.  During the next 20 seconds, Lavoie took snapshots with his 35mm camera. The UFO was “wobbling.” In five seconds, “the object began to rise up fast, like a white streak of light into the night sky.” The Montreal Star wrote that “considerably shaken after the incident, both men gathered their belongings and returned home.”
J. Lavoie (right) and Richard Huôt hold pictures. © CP photo, published by Citizen.
According to the UFO Canada bulletin of March 1978, page 4, both its editors and Wido Hoville (of UFO Quebec) had trouble locating the witnesses. Finally, Hoville managed to discuss the sighting and the photos with the witnesses. “I think the photographs are genuine,” the Quebecois ufologist affirmed. The bulletin wrote that witnesses “are being misguided by a friend who insists that they should hold out to the highest bidder,” therefore the pictures were not available for study. Mainstream UFO journals like the International UFO Reporter also covered the story in the April 1978 issue (page 2) with a brief note with credit to Associated Press.
Canadian writer Yurko Bondarchuk dedicated several pages of his book “UFO Sightings, Landings and Abductions” (Methuen, Toronto, 1979) to this case, with much more detail than that we find in the local newspapers. He confirmed that Mr. Lavoie realized “the potentially lucrative commodity he now possessed, held out for higher stakes.” Four months later, during a visit to Canada, Hoville introduced Lavoie to Dr. J. Allen Hynek and showed him the prints. “If the analysis of the negatives proved to be positive, then it would probably constitute the best photographic case in the last thirty years,” Hynek said. Once the negatives were secured, with the assistance of Don Donderi, a psychologist in the McGill University, these were examined by a photo technician of the same institution called Lamarche, who revealed them to be “absolutely authentic since they showed no sign of falsification or artificial manipulation.” 
UFO over Baskatong Lake, March 11, 1978. © Jacques Lavoie. Borrowed from https://tinyurl.com/yyq4fgk7
No mass circulation outlet ever printed the photographs. Probably if they had to pay a large sum of money, their own photo technicians would be much stricter in the analysis.
The case past to sleep the sleep of the just. Until now. Last July, Canadian researcher Marc Leduc, who holds CASUFO, a databank of UFO sightings in Canada, emailed to me to inform that another colleague, Christian Page, found out that the lead witness’s son (Lavoie) admitted that his father was taking a photography class and had fun making false UFO photos. A model was placed near the lens and then photographed while illuminating it with a flashlight.
At the view of the shot, today, who of you would dare to proclaim the above was a real UFO picture? Naivety, belief and bad science are wrong tools to confront potential hoaxes.
U.S. April 1, 1967
If you want to ascertain both the popular impact of the flying saucer concept in the United States, and the extent of the imagination and inventiveness of newspaper editors and the public, you just have to look at newspapers on the magic date of April 1st Fool’s Day. Specially in the 1950s-1980s. A real harvest of photographic stories of flying saucers. I’d like to show one example of many such annual celebrations, commemorated with practical jokes and hoaxes. That of the year 1967.
The News-Messenger, published in Fremont, Ohio, released this photo: UFO over the courthouse? The caption indicated that the picture shows three viewers of the flying saucer, Charles Gavitt, Frank Miller, pointing, and son Ralph. “The UFO is actually a picture of a small egg incubator used in schools and standing only six inches high.” The staff photographer superimposed it on a photo of the building. “In case you have forgotten, this is April Fool’s Day,” the newspaper recalled.
Gerry Levin was the photographer of The Capital Journal of Salem, Oregon. Page 9 of the edition of that day was totally covered with five different types of flying saucer snapshots: “ashtaucer”, “falsaucer”, “pussaucer”, “spinisaucer” and “garbagsaucer”. Titled “backyard bonanza,” the newspaper editor wrote that a rash of flying saucer reports did not surprise their photographer. “He sees them all the time. Properly encouraged, he took a few pictures of the saucers he saw flying over his backyard. Appropriately he had the pictures here available for use today, April 1.”   
Another simplistic double exposure picture showing a fleet of flying saucers over the otherwise pacific Homer City, Pennsylvania, appeared in The Indiana Gazette of Indiana, PA, on the same date. The photo legend timely and humorously blended a local fire incident and UFOs as follows: “Flying saucer invasion repelled. Firemen from Homer City are shown using water streams on a group of flying saucer craft in an attempt to ‘short out’ electrical equipment in the strange outer spaceships. One ship, (foreground) was felled and another at left is shown a split second before it hit the street, narrowly missing the pedestrian at left. Federal and state investigators together with armed troops and police surrounded the down craft within minutes as radar scopes pinpointed the Homer City attack. Authorities are attempting to find an opening into the felled ships to determine what creatures are contained inside. No one was injured in the fires touched off by the space crafts’ deadly laser beam rays. Fire damage was confined to the roofs of several Main St. buildings. Since today is April 1, everyone should realize the photo above is the yearly Gazette ‘you-know-what-day-it-is-again’ picture. Kudos to the writer of this science fiction short tale.
It was the day a flying saucer invaded Anniston, according to the photo by Mac McElroy, printed in The Anniston Star of Alabama. The caption read: “This curious object soared over the city early this morning, terrifying residents. It was believed to have been lost on a return flight to Mars. Actually, it is a bit of Tomfoolery created especially for April Fool’s Day by Steve Johnson of 625 Highland Ave. Johnson father Franklin is information officer at the Anniston Army Depot.”
But not everything was made in good faith with a sense of humor. The hoax perpetrated by two New Orleans (Louisiana) teenagers, Jerry Egan, 16 (3040 Deers) and Leonard Evans, 15 (2752 Bay) was first introduced in The Times-Picayune of April 9, 1967. They vow that regardless of the date, the produced photograph of a flying saucer over Lake Pontchartrain was not an April Fool’s prank. On Saturday April 8, Egan reported to the newspaper that they were near the lakefront in the vicinity of Franklin Ave., at about 4:30 p.m. April 1 taking pictures with Evan’s new camera “when the gray, saucer-shaped object approached in the north from the north...the object made no audible sound and was visible for a short time. After Evans hurriedly snapped three pictures, the ‘saucer’ rose rapidly into the air and departed back toward the north, they added.”
The kids claim it was an authentic sighting and shots, to the extent they reported it to the US Air Force. The AF spokesman told them that investigators would visit them on April 10 to look into their claim. No one else was in the vicinity when they saw the object. A flight controller in the New Orleans International Airport said he had been working the radar watch at the time of the reported sighting, “but nothing appeared on the radar screen,” the journal reported.
April 1, 1967, New Orleans. © Leonard Evans. Archives of Project Blue Book. Courtesy of Rob Mercer.
Only one crude photograph was ever published. Larry Robinson, a low-profile but keen UFO analyst (and accomplished QQ technician by trade1), has noted there is a visible problem in the focus, the object is close to the camera and therefore it is a thrown model, probable a simple dinner plate. The USAF Blue Book Project examined the case. The summary index card in their files indicates:
The observers sighted and photographed a dark disc shaped object that made a low humming sound and had a gold gleam to it when reflecting sun light.
And the BB conclusion was: Sighting: HOAX. Photos: Small man-made object (There are several discrepancies between the Form 164 and the newspaper accounts. Photo analysis determined the object to be 6-9 inches [~20cm] in diameter.
This picture found its way in many UFO books and magazines, including The TRUE Report on Flying Saucers (#2, 1967), Paris Flammonde’s UFO Exist! (G.P. Putnam’s, 1976), David C. Knight’s UFOs. A Pictorial History from Antiquity to the Present (McGraw-Hill, 1979), or Milt Machlin & Tim Beckley’s UFO (Quick Fox), 1981.
The Blue Book archives contain many pages of correspondence and questionnaires concerning this case.2
The summary for this April 1, 1967 day, is: 4 journalistic fakes and 1 intentional fake. That is, good humor 4, bad intentions 1.
Cloud or UFO? Cloud, Definitely!
Sometimes I ask myself why I am devoting so much time and energy to the specialism of UFO images: 20 years developing what it is currently considered the largest database of UFO reports supported with photography, still or film. Probably‒I said this already elsewhere‒it is my attraction to the aesthetic side of the matter. There are no two flying saucer pictures equal. UFO photos run unaltered in magazines, books, or documentaries despite their absolute solution. Why not use an intriguing-looking image if it is beautiful? Who cares about its real nature?
This short introduction may apply to hundreds of UFO photographs. Now I am applying it to a snapshot taken on November 23, 1966, near the touristic village of Benidorm, province of Alicante (Spain), by a Mr. Gunther Fensky Wildemann. It was first published in the cover and page 39 of (none less than) Ray Palmer’s Flying Saucers (“Mysteries of the Space Age”) magazine, issue number 68, March 1970.  The photo’s legend already anticipated it was either a “cloud or UFO”. Yet many of the countless reproductions of the picture did not mention the cloud possibility and emphasized the disk-like shape of the object in the air. The German visitor who spotted and photographed it is said to claim that it was a spinning, stationary object in sight for 15 minutes until it took off at a great speed at 5:30 pm. But, as other colleagues already warned, it is just a lenticular cloud, typical of the Spanish eastern coast.  It is nice, but please don’t be deceived.
By coincidence, the day before, a Ph.D. biochemist took a UFO picture that for several years was considered as the ultimate proof of the existence of the flying saucers. November 22, 1966, Willamette Pass, Oregon. It was, certainly, for brainy astrophysicist and ufologist Dr. Pierre Guerin, whose physics could explain how a material, domed, disc-shaped craft appeared three-fold in the picture. During a lunch in France with Aimé Michel, Claude Poher and others, he tried to undo me with his calculations and reasonings, I being his table companion. He missed an insignificant detail: the sighting tale was an invention and the chance picture of the background just unexpectedly caught a road sign that the motion of the car distorted in the UFO-looking image. The case was solved in a superb analysis work performed by Dr. Irwin Wieder in The Journal of Scientific Experience:
Flying Object “Too Bright” to be Star
The Cincinnati Enquirer of March 22, 1956 published a full-page, detailed news item on a UFO sighting (in fact a series) at North Bend, a village along the Ohio River. In addition to one column by William Collins (“Saucer” Object Seen in Western Sky; Viewed by Many Down River Residents) and three more demi-columns by Mike Maloney & Joe Green (Flying Object “Too Bright” to Be Star, Seems to Hover, Many Observers), it incorporated a mosaic of four pictures of a light against the black, night sky taken by staff photographer Kain, made with different time exposures: top left, 30 seconds, top right, one minute; bottom left, three minutes; and bottom right, snapped seconds before it disappeared. “The pictures were made with a 36-inch lens which gave approximately six times magnifications on four-by-four-inch film. In each case, the object moved during the exposure,” the photo caption said.
North Bend, Ohio, March 21, 1956. © The Cincinnati Enquirer (Kain).
The newspaper’s accounts related that “an unidentified object burned like a bright beacon for at least 45 minutes high in the western sky last night.” After checking the several reports received by the press, the total estimated viewing time was over one hour and a half. The description of the strange-looking light to the naked eye was “an extraordinarily intense bluish-white light, suspended at about 30-degree angle above the horizon.” The printed information also indicated that “the object moved almost imperceptibly away to the northwest, growing smaller and dimmer until, at 9:45 p.m., it disappeared.” Area residents reported it was the third consecutive night “the thing” appeared. On two previous nights, the light disappeared at 10:22 p. m., according to some witnesses. From other observers, we gather that a repeated light was sighted for more than one hour and a half.
We have enough data to verify the most probable hypothesis: astronomical.  The celestial chart we find through the Stellarium software shows a very bright Venus (-4.3 magnitude) in the west-northwest (azimuth of 279º) and at ~20º of altitude at 9 p.m. on March 21, 1956, moving downward toward the twilight in the northwestern horizon.
Sky chart for the night of March 21, 1956 from Ohio. Courtesy of J.C. Victorio Uranga.
The actual track of the planet was going down from left to right, therefore the photos were printed‒once more‒inverted.  The image below shows how the visible planet time-exposure would really look like.
It was after I had written this account that I consulted other sources treating this case at that time. These references confirmed our finding. Saucer News, April-May 1956, page 13, said that “a leading saucer researcher suggested that the object in question was only the planet Venus.” L.H. Stringfield’s CRIFO Orbit of April 6, 1956 devoted space to these sightings of March 20-23. It concluded: “As it turned out, the mysterious object in Cincinnati’s west was the celebrated ‘whipping girl’, Venus.” In an article written by Alex Mebane in the CSI Newsletter of May 6, 1956, he reviewed the several area sightings and clearly stated: “there is no reasonable doubt that all observers were looking at the planet Venus.” As a sort of Post Scriptum, regarding the observed colors of the planet, these are not much different to what we have seen from Venus in other examples of similar misidentifications, like the following image, a frame from a video filmed in Valencia, October 10, 1999 by local Canal 9 TV channel.1
(1) Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos, “Venus, ¡otra vez tú!” (Venus, you again!), http://www.webcitation.org/6mx5o4kaa
UFO Sightings by US Navy Pilots
The thinker behind the penname of “Parabunk” has just written a delicious, insightful, sensible and fair piece combining and unifying data spread out for this issue, one that, as Tim Printy has summarized, is nothing but a mere publicity campaign: “In late May, there was an orchestrated media blitz to promote the “To the Stars Academy” (TTSA) and their upcoming television program”.1
I refer to a July 7, 2019 post under the title “AATIP, Tic-Tacs and more - A reality check,” an indispensable reading that you will find here:
For the author,2 this text is a review and update of the primary events and his thoughts so far. “It's really about the history (and History) repeating itself, with the help of people who can't handle the truth, or worse, couldn't care less about it,” he declares. But for me, it is much more: it is a most welcome synthesis of a plethora of profoundly biased information. The chapter “The UFO (or not) program (or not) that Elizondo led (or didn't)” is quite to the point, stating what many of us had in mind at the sight of the poor, disorganized outcome: “The picture that has emerged is far from an official serious scientific study, but rather of a network of UFO/paranormal enthusiasts and friends helping friends and arranging financing for their interests.” Plain as the nose on your face.
Regarding the three videos highly publicized as evidence of real UAPs, “Parabunk” comments: “The only reason those were supposed to be evidence of something extraordinary is because they weren't supposed to be just unidentified, but unexplainable, and that's not what they are. The mystery and need for extraordinary explanations are gone, and hence they can't really function as evidence of anything like that.”
The conclusion of this synthesis of what’s going on to date is, in the words of the author, as follows:
So, where does that leave us? None of the videos show anything that would defy conventional explanations, and the claims TTSA has made about them hold no water…If those videos are evidence of anything, they are evidence of how easily pilots, UFO investigators, and so-called experts are misled. There's of course nothing new in that.
Collating the various analyses performed, for the time being, the no-nonsense, non-credulous evaluation of the videos suggests these explanations:
November 14, 2004, 16:20 (“Tic-Tac”), ~110 nautical miles SSW off San Diego, California. FLIR footage taken by Chad Underwood, US Navy pilot (USS Nimitz Carrier): Possible aircraft3
January 20, 2015, (“GIMBAL”), Jacksonville, Florida. FLIR footage taken by unknown US Navy pilot (USS Roosevelt Carrier Group), during COMPTUEX exercises, Jan 8-Feb 8, 2015: Possible aircraft 4
Early February 2015 (a few weeks after GIMBAL), (“Go Fast”), off coast of Florida, FLIR footage taken by unknown US Navy pilot (USS Roosevelt Carrier Group), during COMPTUEX exercises, Jan 8-Feb 8, 2015: Possible bird
Regularly news slots flow on the subject, for example:
This one is commented on by Tim Printy in SUNlite1: “In part of the TTSA publicity campaign, Chris Mellon wrote an article which asked congress to investigate UFOs. Where have we heard this before? A few senators did have time for a closed door briefing by the Pentagon in June. This seemed to be more of a response by the Pentagon to explain to the Senators the background behind the stories told to the media in late May. They seemed to be concerned about unidentified aircraft entering military airspace and not chasing after alien spaceships. If Congress is not concerned about a serious threat of something like climate change, why would they be interested in investing money to investigate UFOs?”
Described as “tangential to the subject”, Martin Shough has provided this entry:
Hardcore UFO believers practically salivate when hearing that a top official denounces the military for concealing alleged UFO information. A Washington congressman has requested additional information from the US Navy on the UAP sightings recently disclosed and is frustrated by the lack of detailed response:
Cannot this politician imagine that if documents on these 2005 and 2014 events survived, the key (obviously classified) information they will contain is about operational issues, more than research on anodyne images that say nothing of significance about dangers to homeland security? If the Navy, the Air Force, or another agency in North America had the slightest suspicion that foreign aircraft are spying on their tactical maneuvers, wouldn’t they have dragged hundreds of millions to alleviate this risk, in a budget they couldn’t hide? You never know if certain politicians are dumb, populists or simply publicity seekers. 
Breaking News: media information is currently dominated by sensationalism. Specially, if related to UFOs. And more, if it has to do with a military origin. In the last days, the worldwide press circulated headlines on the authenticity of the three well-known US Navy UAP videos.5  Do not panic, please! Basically, it says that they are not fake videos. Nothing new, that was assumed all along. The footage presented shows nothing new either. Finally, the Navy spokesperson stated: "The 'Unidentified Aerial Phenomena' terminology is used because it provides the basic descriptor for the sightings / observations of unauthorised / unidentified aircraft / objects that have been observed entering / operating in the airspace of various military-controlled training ranges." It is evident that the pro-alien association behind all this is attempting to draw statements from the US Navy for publicity purposes. 
(1) SUNlite, July-August 2019, editorial, page 1,
(2) “Parabunk” is a skeptical researcher, but not in the sense of one who systematically debunks UFO sightings into prosaic observations to prove that there are no “genuine” UFOs. That is certainly not true in his case. He is an honest searcher of any genuine UFOs, which obviously entails not accepting what is normal. As for qualifications, he holds an academic degree and does research and engineering work on a routine basis.
(3) Speaking of that blob, Mick West has made a nice illustration how the blob can be a plane,
In fact, “Parabunk” proposed that could have been just another participant of the same exercise:
(4)  Mick West he has also found a bit better quality version of the Gimbal footage, which proves the rotation was just a camera artifact. It was already pretty evident, but now there's no question about it anymore: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jr1cfpos6vo
So, it's also almost certainly just another plane.
“Parabunk” says: “Now that the dust has settled, the visual part of the Nimitz encounter really is pretty much the only interesting and still unexplained part of this whole AATIP/AAWSAP/TTSA saga.” And I add: because core information is still missing.
(5) https://www.sciencealert.com/us-navy-finally-confirms-ufo-footage-is-real-says-we-were-never-meant-to-see-it
Sergey Chernous Dies
I had a bad feeling when last July, the message I had sent to Dr. Sergey Chernous reporting my blog’s update came returned. A repeated, now personal one had the same fate. Imagining the worst, I emailed his scientific partner and close friend Dr. Yulii Platov, who informed me of the sad news: Sergey died March 1, 2019 of a heart attack at 75, after a few years fighting the disease. He leaves a widow, and a daughter who lives in Norway. For many years, Dr. Chernous had been working in the Polar Geophysical Institute of the Kola Science Center, an institution belonging to the Russian Academy of Sciences. A specialist in aurora borealis, he authored over 150 professional papers1 and three technical books.2
Sergey Alexandrovich Chernous (1944-2019), graduated from Leningrad State University (Department of atmospheric physics), 1966. Got a Ph. D. in 1972. Measurements of geomagnetic pulsations in the Arctic revealed a new type of pulsation (PiP) associated with the sub-storm development. Also, he participated in rocket experiments of an applied nature. In the Polar Geophysical Institute since 1969, he rose from junior researcher, to senior researcher, to head of the laboratory of optical methods, then to director of the Institute from 1992. For 12 years he took part in Arctic expeditions. Under his leadership, a photometric network was created in the Arctic and Antarctic, two generations of highly sensitive optical television equipment for observing polar lights and low-luminous objects were developed. Author of fundamental and applied works on the study of plasma-forming, plasma-quenching and neutral mixtures injected from missiles in active experiments at various missile ranges and in joint work with astronauts. Work supported by major institutions. Work In the laboratory of the Arctic atmosphere covered the interaction of combustion products of rocket and space technology with the atmosphere; short-period fluctuations in the total ozone content on a planetary scale; and the study of the impact of geo-cosmic agents on the human body. Academician and full member of international academies and scientific societies.
Dr. Chernous was also a dedicated researcher of the UAP subject, being an active member of the Commission of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences on anomalous atmospheric phenomena.
June 2012, Barcelona (Spain), S. Chernouss (left) and V.J. Ballester Olmos.
Dr. Yulii Platov (IZMIRAN, Moscow) was his close colleague in UFO research for many years, and I had the privilege of meeting both during the 1995 BUFORA Congress held at Sheffield University, UK. I keep very pleasant memories of our working reunions, the three of us, checking photographs of weird luminous effects of missile launches and other space anomalies that had been improperly considered as UFOs, whilst at the same time we took some vodka and caviar!  I wrote an article on that conference for the excellent Spanish journal Cuadernos de Ufología, now defunct but available online through AFU.3
July 1995, Sheffield University, UK. Photo by V.J. Ballester Olmos.
Over the years we continued to be in touch eventually by email, and Sergey and I arranged to meet two more times, both at Barcelona (Spain), in August 2010 and June 2012. I echoed these fruitful encounters in my blog:
Ufology has lost one of the few real scientists doing real UFO investigation, I will miss him.
A recent photograph of Sergey A. Chernous. Courtesy of Dr. Yulii Platov.
(2) Experimental studies of the space-time structure of pulsating auroras and geomagnetic pulsations, 1977; Coordinated observations of auroral phenomena on the Kola Peninsula and in Finland, 1979 (co-author); On the dependence of heart rate on geomagnetic disturbances, 1996 (co-author).
(3) V.J. Ballester Olmos, “8º Congreso Internacional de BUFORA (Diario de un Ponente),” Cuadernos de Ufología, 1995, pages 58-65, https://tinyurl.com/y9qvyzd9
An Indian Dream
N. Scott Nomaday is a native American writer, poet, teacher, painter and storyteller. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1969 for his novel House Made of Dawn, Harper Perennial Modern Classics (New York), 2010. A touching, enjoyable reading, I’d like to share this curious segment of chapter 1, pages 21-23, “The Longhair. Walatowa, Cañón de San Diego, 1945”:
There was one sharp fragment of recall, recurrent and distinct:
He awoke on the side of a wooden hill…He didn’t know where he was, and he was alone. No, there were men about, the bodies of men; he could barely see them strewn among the pits, their limbs sprawling away into the litter of leaves, and leaves were falling in the shafts of light, hundreds of leaves, rocking and spiraling down without a sound. But there was a sound: something low and incessant, almost distant, full of slow, steady motion and approach. It was above and behind him, across the spine of the hill, coming…The mortar fire had stopped; there someone, some human force far away and out of sight, was making way for the machine that was coming…His vision cleared and he saw the countless leaves dip and sail across the splinters of light. The machine concentrated calm, strange and terrific, and it was coming…The sound of the machine brimmed at the ridge, held, and ran over, not intricate now, but whole and deafening…
Then, through the falling leaves, he saw the machine, It rose up behind the hill, black and massive, looming there in front of the sun. He saw it swell, deepen, and take shape on the skyline, as if it were some upheaval of the earth, the eruption of stone and eclipse, and all about it the glare, the cold perimeter of light, throbbing with leaves…Then it came crashing down to the grade, slow as a waterfall, thunderous, surpassing impact, nestling almost  into the splash and boil of debris. He was shaking violently, and the machine bore down upon him, came close, and passed him by. A wind rose and ran along the slope, scattering the leaves.
Additional Items You Will Find in the Spanish Section of This Blog
Please note that the English and Spanish sections of this blog are not clones. There are articles specific for the Anglo Saxon or Hispanic readership, respectively, in every blog’s instalment that are not translated. You can miss them. In addition to the F-18 case of 2018 I already informed above, I am listing what is different and new to be found if you scroll down to the Spanish chapter:
“El caso Hausmann: Una aproximación desde Ibiza” (The Hausmann Case: An Approach from Ibiza), an invited article authored by Matías Morey Ripoll.
“Sobre casos inexplicados” (On Unexplained Cases), a short entry.
(1) The second part of Martin Kottmeyer’s work on Roman UFOs (“Revisions for the Classical period”) has appeared in Tim Printy’s online journal SUNlite, see pages 24-35, http://www.astronomyufo.com/UFO/SUNlite11_4.pdf
(2) Paolo Toselli’s UFO Theses and Dissertations Database has been updated to 352 items, covering the period 1948 to 2018, having affixed 69 new works, 14 for the last two years. The database provides the following information for every thesis: author, title, year, university, pages, discipline, language, and academic level. For 315 where the exact degree tier is known, the tally shows 67 for Bachelor, 141 for Master and 117 for Ph.D. In the grand total, 136 theses proceed from the United States. You may like to read this:
(3) In 2012, Alexander C. T. Geppert, New York University Faculty Member published a very inquisitive and intelligent paper in History and Technology (September 2012, pages 335-362), entitled “Extraterrestrial Encounters: UFOs, Science and the Quest for Transcendence, 1947–1972.” The abstract reads:
Beginning in 1947, with the first waves of UFO sightings, and continuing in the subsequent decades, debates on the existence and gestalt of extraterrestrial life gained unprecedented prominence. Initially an American phenomenon, flying saucer reports quickly became global in scope. Contemporaneous with efforts to legitimize the possibility of spaceflight in the years before Sputnik, the UFO phenomenon generated as much sensation in Europe as in the USA. In the public imagination, UFOs were frequently conflated with technoscientific approaches to space exploration. As innumerable reports of sightings led to a transnational movement driven by both proponents and critics, controversial protagonists such as ‘contactee’ George Adamski became prominent media celebrities. Incipient space experts including Willy Ley, Arthur C. Clarke, and Wernher von Braun sought to debunk what they considered a great swindle, or, following C.G. Jung, a modern myth evolving in real-time. Yet they failed to develop a response to the epistemic-ontological challenge posed by one wave of UFO sightings after another. Studying a phenomenon whose very existence has been non-consensual since its genesis presents a particular challenge for historians. Posing complex questions of fact and fiction, knowing and believing, and science and religion, this article analyzes the postwar UFO phenomenon as part of a broader astroculture and identifies transcendental and occult traditions within imagined encounters with extraterrestrial beings.
The paper finishes with a demolishing sentence: “A modern myth, triggered by and deeply inscribed into the Space Age, the UFO is a phenomenon that historians have hardly begun to understand.” This conclusion is becoming a mantra for historians and other scholars who approach the UFO phenomenon with a 70-year perspective. Believers, please awake!
(4) On the meta-materials of “To the Stars”:
(5) The Pentagon UFO Study. Luis Elizondo and AATIP, yes or no? See the latest news by John Greenewald, Jr.:
(6) University of the West (California) folklorist Dr. Peter M. Rojcewicz writes about the “Men in Black" experience and tradition:
(7) I have just found some interesting papers by Ryan Cook in the literature’s gold mine of Academia.edu. Cook defines himself as a cultural anthropologist (University of Chicago) who has studied new religious movements and heterodox sciences in high-stakes situations, attending to the varied uses of claims to (non)expertise and (non)knowledge. Two papers from him seem especially pertinent: “Gods Descending in Clouds (Flying Saucers)” and “Why UFOs are ideal for new religions, and why they fail”. They can be accessed from these links:
(8) Article of note by LA journalist Hadley Meares: “That Time ‘UFOs’ Took Over Los Angeles,”
(9) Rightly we complain usually of the lack of good investigations on UFO reports. Veteran UFO researcher Tom Tulien has informed me of a web site devoted to the study of UFO events in the Minot AFB. Intro starts as follows: In the early morning hours of 24 Oct. 1968, United States Air Force (USAF) maintenance and security personnel stationed within the Minuteman, Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) complex surrounding Minot AFB, North Dakota, observed one—and at times—two UFOs. The Minot Base Operations dispatcher initiated radio communications with personnel reporting in the field, Minot, Radar Approach Control (RAPCON), and the crew of a returning B-52H aircraft. You are advised to continue reading the rest of the well-documented investigation here: 
(10) On British “X-Files”, by Dr. David Clarke:
(11) A paper by Mare Kõiva, from the Department of Folkloristics of the Estonian Literary Museum, with the title “Some Aspects of UFO-lore” is to be downloaded from this link: https://www.academia.edu/6414616/Some_Aspects_of_UFO-lore
(12) As Gándaras (Lugo, Spain), facilities of a powder magazine belonging to the Spanish Army, November 28, 1995. A long-duration, strange-looking light is recorded by the surveillance cameras. J.C. Victorio Uranga reviews the case in his blog:
(13) Argentine journalist, investigator and author Alejandro Agostinelli writes about the myths of the first landing on the Moon, with a surprising local event:
(14) Sometimes, it is appreciated to read a synthesis of convoluted issues on which a lot of ink has been spilled. For example, Roswell. Subject devilishly convoluted, but aptly summed up by journalist Alfonso Galán, of Esquire, here:
(15) A “Holmesian” set novel has just been published by Spanish researcher Luis R. González (under the pen name of Reinaldo Manso): “Las variaciones Malaka” (Malaka Variations), an anthology of five stories, 160 pages, format of 21x15 cm. The book can be purchased emailing to reinaldomanso2015@gmail.com
(16) The respected Mexican ufologist Luis Ruiz Noguez has reedited and improved  his book “La autopsia extraterrestre. Un mito dentro de un mito” (Extraterrestrial Autopsy. A Myth Within a Myth), reviewing the 1995 hoax footage which achieved a remarkable media coverage. More information here:
Father’s Pride
My older daughter, Laura, is a Ph.D. in Quantitative Finance and professor at the Faculty of Economics, University of Valencia. She has just received the Award for Teaching Excellence in the 2019 edition. The University website says: "The prizes for Teaching Excellence are part of the University Awards, which this year are celebrating its XXIII edition, and aims to highlight the professionalism of professors linked to the University of Valencia". Congratulations!
From left to right: Dr. J. Suso, Director, Financial and Actuarial Economy Department; Dr. Laura Ballester, professor, Faculty of Economy;  Ximo Puig, President of the Valencian Community; and Dr. J.M. Pastor, Dean of Faculty of Economy, University of Valencia.
For almost 50 years, U.S. ufologist Richard W. Heiden has provided a big service to the UFO community by translating from Spanish and Portuguese UFO incidents and articles that would have otherwise gone unnoticed by English-speaking researchers. Rich, as his friends call him, has also published numerous articles, letters to the editor, and book reviews of his own, in journals including Flying Saucer Review, International UFO Reporter, Journal of UFO Studies, Stendek, Fortean Times, and Wisconsin Law Enforcement Journal. He also cooperated on the worldwide catalog of UFO landings, edited by Peter Rogerson and serialized in Magonia magazine. Rich is very interested in the life and claims of notorious contactee George Adamski, and has collaborated with Marc Hallet of Belgium on his magnum opus George Adamski/ The Man Who Spoke to the Space Brothers.
Rich joined APRO in 1970, CUFOS in 1974, and MUFON in 1975, and investigated a number of cases for all three organizations (mostly in the 1980’s). Starting in 1978, and until the end of APRO nine years later, he was assistant editor of The APRO Bulletin.
Rich hails from Milwaukee. After a first career in engineering (he spent his junior year of college at the Tec in Monterrey, Mexico), he obtained another degree in accounting and is an accountant by profession. He is also an inveterate book collector; his personal library comprises several thousand books on UFOs and lots of UFO magazines. For decades, I have had the privilege to count on him as my main translator and text reviewer. Both then and now, a number of my papers saw the light in English-speaking journals thanks to his meticulous translations.  We met in person only once, in 1987, on the occasion of the annual MUFON conference, that year held in Washington, D.C., where I presented a paper. Pity we do not have a picture to mark that encounter. Let this brief note serve to express my gratitude and recognition for his valuable and loyal help during so many years.
Thanks to the following colleagues who have sourced material or analysis to the current edition of this blog: Kay Coggin, Juan Carlos Victorio Uranga, Terry W. Colvin, Marc Leduc, Dr. Yulii Platov, Wim van Utrecht, Richard W. Heiden, Matías Morey Ripoll, and Enrique Márquez.
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 (Unusual Files)
These books are available in the second-hand market, for example:
Norway in UFO Photographs: The First Catalogue (with O.J. Braenne)
UFOs and 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)
Belgium in UFO Photographs. Volume 1 (1950-1988) (with Wim van Utrecht)
See the following spreadsheet list of books for sale or swap.
There are several options you can follow:
· Volunteer work, onsite or remote
· Deliver sighting reports, photographs, archives, bibliography, etc.
· Donations to help defray research expenses
You can reach us directly through this e-mail: ballesterolmos@yahoo.es

El número de casos registrados en el catálogo fotográfico y archivo material alcanza ya 12.525, una cifra nada despreciable.
V.J. Ballester Olmos
Hacía algún tiempo que no escuchábamos batallitas de ovnis y reactores militares sobre espacio aéreo español. Las últimas ya quedaron bien desacreditadas.1 Es evidente que el binomio ovni-militar parece exaltar el nivel de adrenalina de ciertos ufólogos, aunque las historias que se cuentan naufragan miserablemente.2-7 Y eso que España es uno de tantos países que ya decidió hace años desclasificar la totalidad de los archivos históricos de informes ovni que tenía bajo custodia del Ejército del Aire.8-11
Lo cierto es que recientemente, el investigador vasco Juan Carlos Victorio llamó mi atención sobre un audio que hablaba de la visión de un ovni asociado directamente con la aparición de un avión militar.12 Era una entrevista en un programa radiofónico dedicado a los misterios, tan en boga en los últimos años. El hecho es que los medios de comunicación han advertido la existencia de un nicho de audiencia sobre estos temas y lo explotan, importándoles un comino que su nivel de rigor sea cercano a cero.
La presentación del “incidente” por parte de los locutores acercó la fecha del suceso a la de emisión. Supongo porque eso aumenta el valor de la noticia. La entrevista fue, primero, a quien dio la pista de la novedad y que estaba conversando por teléfono con el testigo. Justamente durante la charla ocurrió la observación. De repente, el diálogo se interrumpe “durante 5 o 6 segundos” y el observador le dice: “se me acaba de helar la sangre, acabo de ver un ovni pasar a gran velocidad”. Seguidamente, se escucha el ruido de un caza (o dos, según la persona al teléfono) que durante 10-12 segundos se supone que persigue a una bola blanca que iba a una velocidad “100 veces mayor” que la de los presuntos aviones perseguidores, de acuerdo con el testimonio de segunda mano.
El programa añade una serie de especulaciones vacuas pero lo primordial es la entrevista a Rafael Extremera, el testigo ocular. He preferido recabar los datos del avistamiento de primera mano y le he planteado una docena de cuestiones básicas para conocer las circunstancias exactas de lo sucedido. A continuación, describo los hechos en base a las respuestas recibidas directamente en varios e-mails del testigo, de 43 años y vigilante en un desguace de la localidad madrileña de Los Santos de la Humosa.
A las 21:15 horas del jueves 20 de septiembre de 2018 (“la noche empezaba a ser oscura”), estando en su lugar de trabajo, observó una “pelotita blanca pasear por el cielo a gran velocidad” que creyó se trataba de algún satélite de comunicaciones. “Mi sorpresa fue como si esa cosa me pudiera leer el pensamiento…y se detuvo. Se me heló la sangre por unos segundos. Acto seguido, cogió una velocidad de la leche (sic) y se perdió en el cielo”, continúa el testigo con dramatismo. 15 o 20 segundos después se escuchó el “impresionante ruido del que solo puede ser un F-18 (con luces azules de combate, según tengo entendido), seguía el mismo recorrido que la pelotita, no creo que la alcanzara de ninguna manera”. La luz, que se desplazaba “de suroeste a noreste”, ya había desaparecido cuando el supuesto caza apareció y lo tuvo a la vista durante unos 30 segundos en la misma dirección (“en un reloj analógico formando una línea de las 8 de la tarde a las 2 y 10 de la mañana”), esto es, SW→NE.
El brillo de la luz lo describe como “un poco menos brillante que Venus”. Acerca de la altura angular a la que se encontraba la luz, dato que ayudaría en el proceso de su identificación, Extremera se disculpa por ser incapaz de calcular su altitud en grados y señala: “diría que a la altura en la que orbita cualquier satélite”.
Preguntado específicamente por la duración total del avistamiento de la luz, desde que empezó a verla hasta que desapareció de su vista, Extremera afirma que fue “unos 50 segundos” (incluida la parada, que estima fue de 2-3 segundos).
El caza, en opinión del testigo, vendría de la base aérea de Torrejón (situada a 19 km al WSW), porque procedía de esa dirección y porque cree saber que allí se encuentra ese tipo de avión (en efecto, además de en las bases aéreas de Zaragoza y de Canarias).
Con independencia del juicio que asignemos a la pretendida lectura del pensamiento del observador por parte de la luz, en el mismo instante que imaginó era un ovni, debemos recordar que estaba en ese momento enfrascado en una profusa charla telefónica sobre música y cine, que duraría 45 minutos, con su amigo Mimi Sanemeterio.
No tenemos noticia de ningún otro avistamiento ovni ese día a esa hora. Tampoco nadie llamó ni escribió a los conductores del programa Cantabria Oculta, lo que demuestra que lo observado debió de ser algo extremadamente nimio y de interpretación muy personal. En el municipio de Los Santos de la Humosa, situado a una altitud de 900 m sobre el nivel del mar, residen alrededor de 1.300 habitantes.
En la entrevista radiofónica, Extremera dice haber visto en el F-18 las “luces azules de combate”. Revisadas las luces estroboscópicas de navegación y las de anticolisión (beacon) de esta aeronave, no se aprecia ninguna de color azul, y menos que se active en modo de combate. O dosis de imaginación o ignorancia.
Diríamos que lo que más se asemeja a lo observado sería un meteoro de corta duración que sorprendió al testigo mientras estaba inmerso en su charla telefónica. Evidentemente, el meteoroide visto debió ser de magnitud más que modesta, ya que no hay registro de observación de bólidos en España en esa franja horaria aquel día. Los bólidos más cercanos en el tiempo avistados en España, registrados  fotográficamente, tuvieron lugar los días 6, 14 y 17 de septiembre y su origen fue esporádico (no relacionados con radiantes conocidas). No hay nada acreditado para el 20 de septiembre.13 
Luego debió de tratarse de una estrella fugaz común, para las que, por su nula trascendencia, no hay catálogos astronómicos. Quizás la coincidencia casual de la aparición de un breve meteoro con el paso de un avión militar (a un minuto escaso a velocidad de crucero de la base aérea de Torrejón) hizo que se unieran ambos hechos subjetivamente y se imaginara que el caza “perseguía” a la luz.
La no identificación de un simple meteoro como este no es extraña en los anales de la ufología, todo depende del grado de emoción del testigo, de su predisposición y del nivel de sorpresa que le ocasionó. Por ejemplo, en la muestra de 1.307 informes estudiados por Allan Hendry14 , el 9,3% de los casos resueltos eran meteoros (naturales y artificiales) y en la base de datos belga del COBEPS (824 casos recogidos desde 2010), el 6,2% de los fenómenos explicados fueron meteoros15. Consultado el GEIPAN francés, los 2.126 informes registrados principalmente entre 2008 y 2018 que contienen un campo informático para ese dato, consignan que el 6,4% quedaron explicados como meteoros16. Finalmente, la mayor muestra conocida, la de los 12.257 casos identificados del Proyecto Blue Book, incluye el 9.5% de meteoros, dentro de la clase genérica de explicaciones astronómicas17-18.
La presunta detención de la luz en el espacio es una ilusión habitual denominada autostasis
19 (de la familia de la autocinesis), debida a la falta de un marco de referencia. El conocido autor de ciencia ficción Arthur C. Clarke relató que el director de cine Stanley Kubrick le contó que, en cierta ocasión, viendo el paso del satélite artificial Echo desde Manhattan, éste pareció pararse justo cuando estaba en su cénit.20
El dato de la altura presenta un problema serio. Si la luz se movía a la altura de los satélites (500-800 km los de baja cota) o si se trató, como creo, de un meteoro que se desintegra en la termosfera (80-120 km de altura), no tiene sentido que un avión de combate con un techo de 15 km se lance en persecución de una luz situada a ese superior nivel de altura. En el gráfico siguiente he expresado los rangos de altura de los distintos elementos que podríamos contemplar, para mostrar lo poco racional del escenario de la “persecución”.
Hay otra incongruencia en el relato del suceso. En opinión del testigo, la totalidad del avistamiento, descontando el tiempo de pausa, fue de ~47 segundos, en los que la luz se movía a una velocidad de “grande” a “la leche” (o sea, altísima, o “de otro mundo”, como confesó el testigo). Aunque la luz fuera de lado a lado del horizonte, o no iba a tal velocidad o, más que probablemente, si tuvo esa impresión de celeridad, la duración fue muchísimo menor. El lector puede hacer una comprobación por sí mismo.
¿Cuánto menor? Tal como yo lo veo, la clave es cuando el amigo que estaba al teléfono relata que la conversación se cortó durante “5 o 6 segundos” tras de lo cual Extremera le dice que ha visto un ovni. Una docena de segundos más tarde (ya desaparecido el “ovni”) aparece el caza. Si el fenómeno hubiera durado cerca de un minuto, como creo que afirma equivocadamente el testigo, la conversación durante esos largos segundos hubiera girado en torno a la contemplación de la “pelotita blanca” voladora. No fue así. Todo ocurrió en apenas seis segundos. Esa duración es del todo compatible con la observación de una estrella fugaz. He solicitado al testigo repetidamente que recalculase la pervivencia del fenómeno para que casen los parámetros. Pero no ha encontrado tiempo para hacerlo.
El siguiente gráfico esquematiza lo que, a mi juicio, representa el cronometraje real e imaginado del avistamiento. El que los testigos de sucesos inesperados y breves sobreestimen la duración de dichos eventos (hecho también comprobado en la observación de bólidos) es algo bien conocido en la literatura científica21-23, así que no es nada de extrañar.
El caso no da para más.  Pero ¿de verdad un reactor de la fuerza aérea española fue puesto en alerta para rastrear a un objeto volante no identificado? Ello implicaría, primeramente, una detección por radar por parte de los sistemas de Defensa y, posteriormente, la preparación de los informes internos correspondientes a la misión, la cual quedaría debidamente registrada en los libros de control. Dentro de la institución que se ocupa de nuestro espacio aéreo, el Ejército del Aire, es el Grupo Central de Mando y Control (GRUCEMAC), perteneciente al Mando Aéreo de Combate (MACOM), el encargado de los sistemas de vigilancia radar y de las operaciones aéreas subsiguientes. Está ubicado en la base aérea de Torrejón (Madrid). Por ello, el paso inmediato era consultar con el coronel jefe del GRUCEMAC: ¿Hubo alguna salida en scramble (interceptación) el 20 de septiembre de 2018 alrededor de las 21 horas? Lamentablemente, no hubo respuesta directa. Tras insistir, la recibí de la Oficina de Comunicación del Ejército del Aire. Por desgracia, carecía de información que pudiéramos usar.
Lamento comunicarle que debido a la escasez de personal que sufre actualmente el Ejército del Aire no disponemos de personal para atender temas que no estén estrictamente relacionados con las misiones operativas que debemos cumplir las 24 horas del día, 365 días al año. Esperamos que a la mayor brevedad poder dedicar recursos humanos a estas otras funciones, como se hizo en el pasado.24
Una fuente de confianza, el especialista catalán en asuntos de Defensa Joan Plana, consultó un registro de la OTAN que contiene resúmenes de movimientos aéreos militares a escala europea, en los que aparecen también las interceptaciones del sistema Quick Reaction Alert (QRA). Para el día que nos ocupa no consta ninguna anotación para la península Ibérica (el documento, sin embargo, registra para esa mañana scrambles de cazas Typhoon británicos para interceptar aviones Tupolev Tu-160 rusos en el Mar del Norte).25 Ello indicaría que el reactor visto al poco de aparecer la luz nocturna en la provincia de Madrid sería, en el mejor de los casos, un vuelo ordinario, de entrenamiento nocturno, por ejemplo, sin las implicaciones de una salida en interceptación. Indudablemente, la aparición de un caza militar en la zona sería una concurrencia casual y nada especialmente raro dada la cercanía del lugar de observación a la base aérea española.
Para finalizar, este relato me ha recordado un incidente ocurrido el 6 de junio de 2018 en Italia y que recibió bastante publicidad. A las once de la noche, muchos vecinos de Corio y otras poblaciones del valle del Malone, en la provincia de Turín, se alarmaron al escuchar un gran estruendo que hizo temblar los cristales de las ventanas, al tiempo que observaban dos aviones militares que presuntamente perseguían a una luz blanca que se desplazaba velozmente en el cielo. Según algunos testimonios, la luz se movía inicialmente a velocidad lenta, y se inmovilizó para seguir luego a gran velocidad. La Fuerza Aérea italiana no estuvo muy transparente en esta ocasión, pero admitió finalmente que un caza del tipo Tornado había sobrevolado la zona en un ejercicio de entrenamiento nocturno.26-28  La luz no fue identificada: ¿fue acaso parte del ejercicio aéreo, u otra cosa? Los astrónomos no registraron ningún bólido esa noche.  Salvando las distancias (fundamentalmente el gran número de testigos del suceso italiano), ¿sirvió la divulgación de este suceso de elemento inspirador de alguno de los ingredientes del episodio español?
A Ignacio Cabria, Antonio Gutiérrez-Rivas (Cantabria Oculta), Juan Carlos Victorio Uranga, Joan Plana Crivillén, Mercedes Pullman (INCEA), Edoardo Russo (CISU), Jean-Marc Wattecamps (COBEPS), Wim van Utrecht (Caelestia), Roberto Labanti (CISU), Julio Plaza del Olmo, Michael Vaillant (GEIPAN) y Rafael Extremera.
(1) Ballester Olmos, V.J., “OVNIS y militares, más desinformación”, https://www.academia.edu/34400045/OVNIS_Y_MILITARES_MAS_DESINFORMACION
(2) Ballester Olmos, V.J. y Ricardo Campo, “OVNIS y militares, una fábrica de leyendas”, https://www.academia.edu/10363926/OVNIS_y_militares_una_fabrica_de_leyendas
(3) Ballester Olmos, V.J., “Documentos oficiales online (III): La monografía OVNI del Capitán González de Boado”
(4) Ballester Olmos, V.J., “Morón, sensacionalismo y respuestas oficiales”, http://www.webcitation.org/6mmRSNxXQ
(5) Ballester Olmos, V.J., Manuel Borraz y Joan Plana. “Mirage III rumbo a Valencia”, https://www.academia.edu/36897206/MIRAGE_III_RUMBO_A_VALENCIA
(6) Ballester Olmos, V.J. y Julio Plaza del Olmo, “Expediente militar 660402, Carreira (A Coruña)”, https://www.academia.edu/37772999/EXPEDIENTE_MILITAR_660402_CARREIRA
(7) Plaza del Olmo, J., V.J. Ballester Olmos y Mercedes Pullman, “El OVNI de La Graña”,  https://www.academia.edu/37908857/El_ovni_de_La_Grana
(8) Bastida Freijedo, A., “Los OVNIS y el Ejército del Aire”, https://www.academia.edu/29862891/LOS_OVNIS_Y_EL_EJERCITO_DEL_AIRE
(9) Ballester Olmos, V.J. “El hombre del MOA”,
(10) Ballester Olmos, V.J., “Documentos oficiales online (IV): Desclasificación OVNI en España: El Mando Operativo Aéreo busca casos perdidos”, 
(11) Ballester Olmos, V.J., “Los expedientes OVNI desclasificados–Online”, https://www.academia.edu/35429868/Los_expedientes_OVNI_desclasificados_-Online
(14) Hendry, Allan, The UFO Handbook, Doubleday & Company (Garden City, New York), 1979.
(15) Wattecamps, Jean-Marc, e-mail al autor, 16/12/2018.
(16) Vaillant, Michael, e-mail al autor, 15/1/2019.
(17) Hynek, J. Allen, “The Air Force Numbers Game”, en The Hynek UFO Report, Dell (New York), 1977, p. 259.
(18) Otro importante catálogo de casos, FOTOCAT, reúne (en agosto de 2019) un total de 12.500 casos fotográficos conocidos hasta 2005, de los cuales 6.236 están explicados. De ellos, el 2.7% corresponde a bólidos, meteros y reentradas. Esa cifra, sin embargo, no es comparable con las anteriores por la especial característica de la muestra, que consiste en observaciones en las que se ha tomado fotografía, película o video.
(19) Wertheimer, Michael, “A case of “autostasis” or reverse autokinesis”, Perceptual and Motor Skills, Vol. 26, 1968, pp. 417-418.
(20) Hendry, Allan, op. cit., pp. 44-45.
(21) Fraisse, Paul, “Perception and estimation of time”, Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 35, 1984, pp. 1-36.
(22) Loftus, Elizabeth F. et al, “Time Went by so Slowly: Overestimation of Event Duration by Males and Females”, Applied Cognitive Psychology, Vol. 1, 1987, pp. 3-13. Resumen: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/acp.2350010103
(23) Tatum, Jeremy B., “Tracking a Fireball from Eyewitness Accounts-II”, Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 99, octubre de 2005, pp. 177-182, http://adsbit.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-iarticle_query?2005JRASC..99..177T&defaultprint=YES&filetype=.pdf
(24) Teniente Ángel Vegas, e-mail al autor, 30/7/2019.
(25) Joan Plana Crivillén, e-mail al autor 12/12/2018.
A efectos de cita bibliográfica, el enlace formal a este artículo es como sigue:
Análisis de una fotografía de 1893
“Lightning-Like Phenomenon on 1893 Photograph”, escrito por Wim van Utrecht y V.J. Ballester Olmos, éste artículo aparece completo en la sección en inglés del presente blog. También se puede acceder al mismo con este enlace formal:
Turís, 1979
Como creo que, a estas alturas, todo el mundo que sigue mi trabajo sabe que mi espinita es el caso Turís, un encuentro cercano del tercer tipo que no he logrado resolver del todo, excepto con una sugestiva idea de Luis R. González, avalada por mi colaborador Carlos González. El informe del incidente está aquí:
Probablemente la razón ‒y no es por echar balones fuera‒ es que la causa del fenómeno es psicológica, y solo un especialista en la materia puede avalarla con certidumbre. Por ello, al encontrar que dos colegas franceses, Raoul Robé y Jean-Michel Abrassart, han estudiado un caso parecido (aterrizaje, humanoides, una sola testigo) y han propuesto como explicación una alucinación o falso recuerdo basado en una película de televisión sobre marcianos, siento que ello respalda la solución del caso español, que posiblemente tuviera un origen semejante. Vengo diciendo hace muchos años que la casuística ufológica tiene centenares de episodios para psicólogos y psiquiatras, quienes hallarían nuevas modalidades de apariciones y experiencias virtuales cargadas de simbolismo e imaginería extraterrestre. El trabajo de Robé-Abrassart se publicó en las páginas 4-6 de SUNlite, el boletín editado por Tim Printy, de noviembre-diciembre de 2017: “Case study of a Close Encounter of the Third Kind (Nancy, France, 1969): Hallucination or false memory?”,
Otro trabajo de Jean-Michel Abrassart (doctorado en Psicología por la Universidad Católica de Lovaina), también abunda en el interfaz alucinaciones y visiones ufológicas extremas y podemos considerarlo relevante en este contexto:
Artículo invitado
Matías Morey Ripoll
El primer caso fotográfico español fue el registrado a finales de marzo (la concreta fecha no puede determinarse con certeza, todo lo más entre el 25 y 29 de ese mes) de 1950 en la localidad mallorquina de Montuïri, donde un fotógrafo alemán residente en la isla, Enrique Hausmann, captó la imagen de un cuerpo luminoso con cinco brazos que parecía girar como si se tratara de una diminuta galaxia en espiral.
Hemos analizado extensamente este incidente, que en realidad está poco documentado pese a su carácter pionero, en otro artículo, al que necesariamente hemos de remitir al lector que quiera conocer más detalles sobre el suceso y sus circunstancias1. En resumidas cuentas, la hipótesis más plausible es que se trató de un fraude con finalidades comerciales, ya que de esta manera se hizo publicidad indirecta de la tienda de material de fotografía que Hausmann regentaba en Palma; práctica que no fue entonces poco habitual, ya que Ignacio Cabria menciona un montaje fotográfico con idéntica finalidad en Gijón por esa misma época2.
Ahora bien, pese a lo añejo del asunto, recientemente el investigador Luis R. González ha localizado un ejemplar de 9 de abril de 1950 del Diario de Ibiza (el único rotativo balear que se encuentra digitalizado y permite su consulta en internet) que proporciona una singular perspectiva del incidente mallorquín desde la vecina isla3. En efecto, el avistamiento de Hausmann fue recogido en el periódico pitiuso el 31 de marzo de ese año, en un artículo de portada que resumía el reportaje publicado en el diario Baleares de 30 de marzo, durante un periodo prolífico en noticias de observaciones de supuestos platillos volantes en todo el mundo. Suponemos que, debido a la secular rivalidad entre las islas del archipiélago, la redacción del Diario de Ibiza, no queriendo ser menos que los mallorquines, perpetró un deliberado fraude periodístico a modo de sátira del caso Hausmann (otra indicación de la escasa credibilidad de dicho incidente, ya percibida en aquel entonces). Con esa intención, el mencionado 9 de abril la portada del rotativo incluía un recorte con el título “El platillo con bombo”, ilustrado con una fotografía de un objeto con cinco brazos en espiral (“de semejantes características al publicado en la prensa palmesana, pero evolucionando en sentido inverso”), que anunciaba en el interior una extensa información del suceso.
En la segunda página, al completo, se publicaba efectivamente el artículo “Mirando al mar, vi un platillo volante” de un tal Claudio Rabassó Clavell. No hemos podido determinar de quién se trataba, y todo apunta a que sea un pseudónimo, pues ese nombre no tiene precedentes en el periódico ni hemos encontrado ninguna referencia posterior al mismo; a excepción de dos relatos de corte humorístico (atribuidos a “Mr. Cocktail”), de fechas 5 de abril y 8 de agosto de 1975, en que el señor Rabassó aparece como cómico protagonista de los mismos. Se trataría, por tanto, de un personaje ficticio que se utilizaría por los periodistas en contextos jocosos.
El incidente al que se refiere el artículo puede resumirse así: Claudio Rabassó se traslada a la Cova de Can Marçà (Port de Sant Miquel, en el municipio de Sant Joan de Labritja, al norte de la isla) donde encuentra a un antiguo marinero, que le refiere de forma muy pintoresca como cuatro grandes faroles han efectuado diversos vuelos por la zona. En la cuarta ocasión que los vio, a las cuatro de la tarde, una especie de cacerola se situó sobre él y empezó a absorber plantas y piedras, de tal manera que destrozó el huerto del testigo. Éste, además, quedó fosforescente, cosa que le causa el rechazo social y una sensibilidad eléctrica a los platillos, que le obliga a “colaborar en las maniobras de esos artefactos diabólicos”. El periodista decide sacar todo el partido posible, y tras cenar con el anónimo marinero, se apostan esa noche a esperar el regreso de los faros. Antes del alba, tienen suerte y captan la imagen de la portada. Poco después, habiendo ya amanecido, vuelve a presentarse el platillo, que esta vez toma tierra cerca de ellos. Del mismo surgen
[…] tres pequeñajos tripulantes, orondos, redondos y relucientes, que al unísono olfatearon el suelo y precipitadamente cargaron sus bolsillos de arena y piedrecitas blancas, cazaron cinco moscas y robaron un membrillo verde de la tanca de Catoi4. Antes de regresar a su carlinga, perseguidos con precaución por mi fiel “Arístides” [el perro del reportero], entonaron a coro “La Cumparsita” y “La Salvaora”, ocasión que fue aprovechada para obtener la fotografía que ilustra, sin música, estas líneas.
Minutos después, el platillo reanudó su vuelo en dirección a Pollença (Mallorca). El texto se acompaña de una presunta fotografía del aparato y sus ocupantes, aunque la mala calidad de la misma no permite distinguirlos demasiado bien.
En la página cuatro del referido ejemplar del Diario de Ibiza, se nos desvela (bajo el epígrafe “La verdad del truco”) todo el engaño: el corresponsal no existe, y el platillo es una cacerola con ventanillas dibujadas. Los marcianos son tres sonajeros comprados en un bazar, y el perro de la foto es de trapo. En cuanto a la imagen de la portada (con el supuesto ovni de cinco brazos en vuelo), se trata de “un papel blanco sobre fondo negro y desenfocada la máquina”. El importe total de la farsa asciende a 40 céntimos. La nota acaba diciendo:
Frente a esa tremenda preocupación de los “platillos volantes” nuestra reacción es la de tomarlos sin mucha seriedad.
Dios quiera que al final de ese período, podamos decir que todo no ha sido más que pura fantasía.
Desde luego, el diagnóstico no era equivocado, pero la conclusión no llegaría a extraerse después de esa primera oleada de 1950, sino décadas después. Sea como fuere, este fraude nos ilustra, primeramente, sobre el contexto en que se produjeron una serie de sucesos que, en cambio, tuvieron siempre pretensiones de realidad. Y, en segundo lugar, nos previene sobre el temprano desarrollo que el mito platillista tenía ya incluso en aquellos primeros momentos, pues en la broma pitiusa están presentes ya elementos que serán después habituales en la casuística: luces lejanas, efectos sobre el terreno, efectos sobre las personas, contactismo, aterrizajes, visiones de ocupantes, pruebas fotográficas, etcétera. Ni siquiera en la Ibiza preturística, por más alejada que entonces pudiera estar del mundanal ruido, se era ajeno a determinadas influencias; y ello debería hacernos reflexionar sobre la abusiva apelación a la ingenuidad de los protagonistas con que a menudo se han querido salvar sus inverosímiles testimonios, la cual, puesta frente a casos como éste (fabulados en una época tan prístina), no parece ni mucho menos justificada.
(1) Morey, Maties.” El cas Hausmann” en Nous Papers d’Ovnis, núm.2, 2016, pp. 2-30.
(2) Cabria García, Ignacio. “Ya tenemos platillos volantes” en Cuadernos de Ufología, núm. 1, 3ª época, 1997, p. 22, https://tinyurl.com/yxhcgb85
(3) Se puede consultar en la web del Arxiu Històric d’Eivissa, sección de hemeroteca:
(4) En el texto, como es habitual en la prensa balear, se introducen expresiones en lengua catalana intercaladas en el texto en castellano. Ésta haría referencia al cercado (tanca) de Catoi (antropónimo, no infrecuente en las Islas Baleares, que parecer ser un hipocorístico, masculinizado, de Caterina).
Sobre casos inexplicados
La razón por la que algunas observaciones ovni quedan sin explicación (aparte del hecho fundamental que no son evaluadas por profesionales cualificados e independientes), no es porque lo visualizado tenga una naturaleza diferente a lo conocido, sino por un par de factores primordiales:
1) El testigo deforma (consciente o inconscientemente) los datos y parámetros de su avistamiento. Esta alteración (hora, duración, dirección, velocidad, forma, etc.) hará imposible su identificación.
2) El encuestador afronta la vivencia como un suceso anómalo. De partida, considera que la narración a investigar hay que tomarla al pie de la letra, sin contar con las alteraciones añadidas por el observador. Además, no profundiza lo suficiente en el testigo (motivaciones, situación psicológica, familiar o laboral, influencias, etc.) ni en las circunstancias del suceso a través de un enfoque realista que incluya todas las posibles causas de confusión.
A mi juicio, en la tarea de analizar los casos ovni, se debería tener muy en cuenta estas consideraciones, que podríamos resumir de esta forma, aunque no guste a algunos: no podemos tomar como ciertas o exactas las aseveraciones de los testigos. Este es un axioma vital en ufología.
Ese proceso de estudiar presuntos ovnis extraterrestres y llegar a resolverlos es tan de sentido común que podemos encontrarlo expuesto en antiguos textos, relativos a otros asuntos que parecen enigmáticos a unos, pero normales a los más instruidos. Déjenme citarles una frase leída hace poco:
Concluiré con una observacion: los tres dias de julio se parecieron á un brillante meteoro que deslumbra y encanta á los pueblos que no conocen ni la causa que lo produce, ni su esencia. Al verle forman mil congeturas que se cuentan progresivamente abultadas por las imaginaciones exaltadas…mas luego que á aquellos hombres arrobados se acerca un varon sabio y les analiza y aclara lo que es, desvanécese el prestigio, redúcense los juicios á la exactitud, y miran como natural y comun lo que antes juzgaban milagroso y raro. (sic)
¿Les suena la disquisición? Tiene cerca de 200 años, pero sigue siendo tan certera como cuando se escribió.1Es el valor necesario de la investigación real a prevalecer sobre el rumor y la ignorancia. En términos ufológicos, la resolución de avistamientos contra la confusión y el error. Pero ese proceso se ve confundido por la charlatanería ufológica, que es inmensa en internet y en reportajes y programas de televisión. Uso el término de manera idéntica a la que Singh & Ernst definen la charlatanería médica, que abarca las pseudociencias de la acupuntura, la homeopatía, el shiatsu, la reflexología y otras tantas memeces.
Y es que vivimos una involución cultural de la mano de lo que se ha venido a llamar “misterios” que aparentemente nos rodean a diario (bueno, a unos más que a otros, por lo que parece). Y es tal área de lo mistérico que vemos sobreexplotada por los mercenarios de lo oculto, lo paranormal y lo pseudocientífico, parapetados en revistas de quiosco, programas de televisión y canales pretendidamente divulgativos. No trato de hacer campaña, pero ya es hora de decir ¡basta!
(1) Ildefonso Mompié, El Cometa de 1832, o Estado y Esperanzas de la Europa, Valencia, 1832.
(2) Simon Singh y Edzard Ernst, ¿Truco o tratamiento?, Capitán Swing, Madrid, 2018.
¿Nube u ovni? ¡Nube, definitivamente!
A veces me pregunto por qué dedicar tanto tiempo y energía recogiendo y estudiando imágenes de ovnis: 20 años desarrollando lo que actualmente se considera la mayor base de datos de informes de “ovnis fotografiados”. Probablemente ‒ya he dicho esto antes‒ es mi atracción por el lado estético del asunto. No hay dos imágenes de platillos volantes iguales. La condición o esencia de las fotos de ovnis se copian inalterables de revista a revista, de libro a libro, a pesar de que se conoce su solución. Pero ¿por qué no usar una imagen de aspecto intrigante si es bella? ¿A quién le importa su naturaleza real?
Esta breve introducción puede aplicarse a cientos de fotografías de ovnis. Por ejemplo, a la instantánea tomada el 23 de noviembre de 1966, cerca de la turística ciudad de Benidorm, en provincia de Alicante, por un tal Gunther Fensky Wildemann. Fue publicado por primera vez en la portada y en la página 39 de (nada menos que) la revista de Ray Palmer, Flying Saucers, número 68, de marzo de 1970. La leyenda de la foto ya anticipaba que era “una nube o un ovni". Sin embargo, muchas de las innumerables reproducciones de la imagen no mencionaron la obvia posibilidad de una nube e incidieron en la forma de disco del objeto aéreo. Se dice que el visitante alemán que lo vio y fotografió afirmaba que se trataba de un objeto estacionario, giratorio y que estuvo a la vista durante 15 minutos hasta que despegó a gran velocidad a las 5:30 de la tarde. Pero, como ya advirtieron otros colegas, es solo una nube lenticular, típica de la costa oriental española. Es bonita de ver, pero no tanto como para dejarse engañar.
Por coincidencia ‒porque las coincidencias se dan, y muy a menudo‒, el día anterior, un bioquímico doctorado tomó una fotografía que durante varios años fue considerada como la prueba definitiva de la existencia de los platillos volantes. Fue el 22 de noviembre de 1966, en Willamette Pass, Oregon. OVNI inexplicable, sin duda, para el sesudo astrofísico y ufólogo convencido Dr. Pierre Guerin, cuya física podría explicar cómo una nave material, con cúpula y en forma de disco, aparece apilada tres veces consecutivas en la imagen. Durante un almuerzo en Francia con Aimé Michel, Claude Poher y otros, intentó convencerme con sus cálculos y razonamientos, siendo yo su compañero de mesa. Pero no imaginó un detalle insignificante: la historia del avistamiento fue una mera invención y la imagen resultó de una foto casual al paisaje durante la que se interpuso inesperadamente una señal de tráfico que el movimiento del automóvil distorsionó hasta producir la figuración del platillo volante. El caso se resolvió en un excelente trabajo de análisis realizado por el Dr. Irwin Wieder en The Journal of Scientific Experience:
Estrategia de Seguridad Aeroespacial Nacional
Tomado del Editorial de la Revista de Aeronáutica y Astronáutica, correspondiente a julio-agosto de 2019:
El pasado 12 de abril se aprobó la Estrategia de Seguridad Aeroespacial Nacional (ESAN), que reconoce la vulnerabilidad del espacio aéreo y ultraterrestre como una de las principales amenazas para la seguridad nacional por el gran valor estratégico que tienen para la actividad de la sociedad española. La ESAN identifica medidas que permiten proteger los intereses nacionales en el aire-espacio como un ámbito único, el ámbito aeroespacial, en base a la inexistencia de límites físicos o funcionales entre ambos y a la continuidad que, por consiguiente, debe existir en la prestación de seguridad para que sea realmente efectiva.
Fallece Sergey Chernous
Tuve un mal presentimiento cuando el pasado julio, el mensaje grupal  que suelo enviar para anunciar la actualización de mi blog rechazó el del Dr. Sergey Chernous, con quien he estado en contacto regularmente en los últimos años. Imaginándome lo peor, escribí a su asociado más cercano en Rusia, el Dr. Yulii Platov, quien me dio las indeseadas malas noticias: Sergey falleció el 1 de marzo pasado de un ataque al corazón, a los 75 años, tras varios luchando contra la enfermedad. Durante muchos años, el Dr. Chernous ha trabajado en el Polar Geophysical Institute del Kola Science Center, centro perteneciente a la Academia de Ciencias rusa. Especialista en la aurora boreal, ha escrito más de 150 ensayos profesionales y tres libros técnicos. Chernouss fue también un dedicado estudioso de los fenómenos aéreos inusuales y un activo miembro de la comisión sobre fenómenos atmosféricos anómalos de la Academia de Ciencias de Rusia. En la sección en inglés de este blog complemento su bibliografía con más datos.
Junio de 2012, Barcelona, S. Chernouss (izquierda) y V.J. Ballester Olmos.
El Dr. Yulii Platov (IZMIRAN, Moscú) ha sido su colega más cercano en investigación ovni durante décadas. Tuve el privilegio de coincidir con ambos durante el congreso que BUFORA celebró en la Universidad de Sheffield (Inglaterra) en 1995. Guardo recuerdos muy agradables de nuestras reuniones de trabajo, fuera del paraninfo, los tres, revisando fotografías de extraños efectos luminosos producidos durante el lanzamiento de misiles y de otras anomalías espaciales que han sido impropiamente considerados como no identificados. Al mismo tiempo, ¡nos regalábamos con auténtico vodka, caviar y ahumados!  Escribí un artículo sobre aquel simposio para Cuadernos de Ufología, excelente publicación que ahora tenemos disponible en línea en la web del AFU1.
Julio de 1995, Sheffield University (Inglaterra). © V.J. Ballester Olmos.
Pasados los años, seguí en contacto ocasionalmente con ambos científicos. Con Sergey, concretamente, me reuní además en dos ocasiones en Barcelona en agosto de 2010 y  junio de 2012. Mi blog de entonces se hizo eco de aquellos encuentros tan fructíferos como amigables:
La ufología ha perdido uno de los pocos científicos de peso que realizaba una verdadera investigación ovni. Le echaré mucho de menos.
Una reciente foto de Sergey A. Chernous. Cortesía de Yulii Platov.
(1) V.J. Ballester Olmos, “8º Congreso Internacional de BUFORA (Diario de un Ponente)”, Cuadernos de Ufología, 1995, páginas 58-65, https://tinyurl.com/y9qvyzd9
Sobre la sección en inglés de este blog
El lector del blog debe saber que las secciones en español e inglés no son clónicas. En cada actualización aparecen trabajos y ensayos específicos para el lector anglosajón o hispanohablante, que no se traducen al otro idioma. Con el fin de que no se los pierdan, señalo a continuación algunos de dichos artículos y entradas en el blog: además del trabajo sobre una foto de 1893 ya señalado en otro lugar, el ensayo “The Alien Reports We Have”, varios estudios de fotografías (“Fakes at the Baskatong Lake”, “U.S. April 1, 1967”, “Flying Object Too Bright to be a Star”) o nuevas informaciones sobre “UFO Sightings by US Navy Pilots”.
(1) As Gándaras de nuevo. Escribe el estudioso Victorio Uranga en su blog: El ufólogo gallego, Miguel Pedrero, publicó el pasado mes de julio, en las páginas de la revista comercial Año Cero/Enigmas, un antiguo incidente ufológico ocurrido en una instalación militar durante la llamada "oleada gallega" (1995-1996). El suceso se produjo en el polvorín de artillería de As Gándaras (Lugo), durante la noche del 27 al 28 de noviembre de 1995. Aconsejo no perderse el resto en:
(2) Mitos sobre el primer alunizaje. El periodista Alejandro Agostinelli revela “el increíble caso del radiotécnico argentino que el 20 de julio de 1969 le reveló a una revista haber interceptado la transmisión de la NASA desde la Luna, usando una antena budinera y un televisor Admiral”. Una lectura de lo más entretenida:
(3) A veces es de agradecer leer una síntesis de asuntos enrevesados sobre los que se ha vertido mucha tinta. Por ejemplo, Roswell. Asunto endiabladamente complejo, pero resumido acertadamente por el periodista Alfonso Galán, de Esquire, aquí: https://www.esquire.com/es/actualidad/a28296530/caso-roswell/
(4) Nuestro amigo Luis R. González (bajo el nombre de Reinaldo Manso) ha publicado su segunda novela, titulada “Las variaciones Malaka”, una antología de cinco relatos de ambiente holmesiano, de160 páginas en formato 21x15 cm. El PVP de esta obra es de 12 euros. Para adquirir este primer volumen, basta con mandar un correo electrónico con los datos de envío y la forma de pago deseada, a la siguiente dirección de correo: reinaldomanso2015@gmail.com
Luis Reinaldo González Manso (a la derecha) y V.J. Ballester Olmos, Valencia, junio de 2019, Cortesía de Juan P. González.
(5) El estudioso mejicano Luis Ruiz Noguez ha reeditado una versión ampliada de su obra “La autopsia extraterrestre. Un mito dentro de un mito”. De lectura amena, es un libro imprescindible para conocer los entresijos de aquel fraude de 1995 que tuvo una gran repercusión mediática a nivel mundial. Más información en:
(6) Segunda entrega del inventario de Martin Kottmeyer sobre ovnis en el periodo clásico: SUNlite, páginas 24a 35,
(7) En su última actualización, la base de datos de tesis y disertaciones sobre ovnis de Paolo Toselli, alcanza ya nada menos que 352 referencias, entre 1948 y 2018. Para los 315 trabajos donde se conoce el grado del autor, 67 corresponde a licenciatura, 141 a máster y 117 a doctorado. Del total, 136 trabajos proceden de los Estados Unidos. (Tengo razones para creer que a su debido tiempo un doctorado español se añadirá a esta lista). Véase:
(8) Hace unos años, Alexander C. T. Geppert, miembro de la facultad de la Universidad de Nueva York, publicó un inteligente e inquisitivo artículo en la revista History and Technology (septiembre de 2012, páginas 335-362), con el título “Extraterrestrial Encounters: UFOs, Science and the Quest for Transcendence, 1947–1972”. El ensayo finaliza con una frase demoledora: “Un mito moderno, desencadenado por y profundamente inscrito en la era espacial, el OVNI es un fenómeno que los historiadores apenas han comenzado a entender”. Parece que esta conclusión se está convirtiendo en un mantra para los historiadores y otros académicos que abordan el fenómeno OVNI con 70 años de perspectiva. Creyentes, ¡despierten, por favor!
(9) Con relación a los supuestos metamateriales de “To the Stars”, leemos esto:
(10) Sobre el estudio ovni del Pentágono. Luis Elizondo y el programa AATIP, ¿sí, no, o todo lo contrario? Una ceremonia de confusión. Aquí lo último del investigador John Greenewald:
(11) El afamado folclorista de la University of the West (California), Dr. Peter M. Rojcewicz ha escrito sobre la experiencia y tradición de los “hombres de negro” (MIB):
(12) Dos interesantes artículos del antropólogo cultural de la Universidad de Chicago Ryan Cook: “Gods Descending in Clouds (Flying Saucers)” y “Why UFOs are ideal for new religions, and why they fail”. Se pueden encontrar aquí:
(13) Artículo de nota de la periodista de Los Ángeles, Hadley Meares: “That Time ‘UFOs’ Took Over Los Angeles,”
(14) Un raro ejemplo de excelencia en la investigación relativa a un caso aparentemente inexplicable. El veterano estudioso norteamericano Tom Tulien ha creado una web dedicada al estudio de los sucesos ocurridos a primeras horas del 24 de octubre de 1968 cerca de la base aérea de Minot, en Dakota del Norte.  Una lectura aconsejable y un material para la crítica inteligente:
(15) El Dr. David Clarke sobre los “Expedientes X” del ministerio de Defensa británico:
(16) Mare Kõiva pertenece al departamento de folclore del Museo Literario de Estonia y ha publicado una pieza titulada “Some Aspects of UFO-lore” que se puede descargar desde este enlace:
Orgullo de padre
Mi hija mayor, Laura, doctorada en Finanzas Cuantitativas y profesora en la Facultad de Economía de la Universidad de Valencia, ha sido distinguida con el Premio a la Excelencia Docente en la XXIII edición de los Premios del Consell Social de la Universidad de Valencia. El acto formal de entrega de los premios, con la presencia de autoridades académicas, civiles y políticas y del Presidente de la Comunidad Valenciana, tuvo lugar el pasado 16 de julio en la sede de la Fundación Universidad-Empresa ADEIT. Según describe la web de la Universidad, estos premios “tienen por objetivo destacar la profesionalidad de los docentes vinculados a la Universitat de València”. ¡Enhorabuena!
Por último, y no por ello menos importante, ayer, 19 de septiembre de 2019, Laura defendió y ganó el concurso-oposición a Profesor Titular de la Universidad de Valencia. Doble enhorabuena.
De izquierda a derecha, Dra. Julia Suso, directora del Departamento de Economía Financiera y Actuarial, Dra. Laura Ballester, profesora de la Facultad de Economía, Molt Honorable Sr. D. Ximo Puig, Presidente de la Comunidad Valenciana, y Dr. José Manuel Pastor, Decano de la Facultad de Economía, Universidad de Valencia.
Mi gratitud a Richard W. Heiden
Durante casi 50 años, el ufólogo estadounidense Richard W. Heiden ha brindado un gran servicio a la comunidad de estudiosos al traducir del español y portugués casos y artículos sobre ovnis que de otra forma hubieran pasado desapercibidos a los colegas de habla inglesa. Rich, como le llamamos sus amigos, ha publicado numerosos artículos, cartas al director y crítica de libros en destacadas revistas, como Flying Saucer Review, International UFO Reporter, Journal of UFO Studies, Stendek, Fortean Times y Wisconsin Law Enforcement Journal. También participó en la realización del catálogo mundial de aterrizajes, dirigido por Peter Rogerson y serializado en el boletín Magonia. Rich se hizo miembro de la APRO en 1970, del CUFOS en 1974 y de la MUFON en 1975, e investigó varios casos para las tres organizaciones, principalmente en los ochenta. Desde 1978 hasta la clausura del APRO nueve años después, fue director adjunto de su publicación, The APRO Bulletin.
Rich se ha interesado mucho en la vida y las reivindicaciones del conocido contactado George Adamski, y ha colaborado con el investigador belga Marc Hallet en su gran obra George Adamski: The Man Who Spoke to the Space Brothers (GA: El hombre que habló con los hermanos del espacio).
Rich vive en Milwaukee, estado de Wisconsin. Estudió una primera carrera en ingeniería (que incluyó un año de estudios en el Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey) y más tarde contabilidad, desempeñándose muchos años como contable de empresa. Como empedernido bibliófilo, su biblioteca personal reúne varios miles de libros sobre los ovnis, e innumerables revistas.
Durante décadas, he tenido el privilegio de contar con él como mi principal traductor y revisor de textos. Tanto antes como ahora, algunos de mis escritos han visto la luz en lengua inglesa gracias a sus meticulosas traducciones. Sólo una vez hemos coincidido en persona. Fue durante mi presencia en Washington, D.C. en 1987, con motivo de una conferencia que di en el congreso de la MUFON. Lástima que no exista ninguna foto que inmortalice aquel momento. Sirva esta nota para mostrar públicamente mi agradecimiento y reconocimiento por su valiosa y leal ayuda durante tantos años.
Mi gratitud a los siguientes colegas que han aportado información o consejo a la presente edición del blog: Kay Coggin, Juan Carlos Victorio Uranga, Terry W. Colvin, Marc Leduc, Dr. Yulii Platov, Wim van Utrecht, Richard W. Heiden, Matías Morey Ripoll, Enrique Márquez y J.P. González.
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
De estas obras agotadas se encuentran ejemplares en el mercado de segunda mano, por ejemplo:
Norway in UFO Photographs: The First Catalogue (con O.J. Braenne)
UFOs and 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)
Belgium in UFO Photographs. Volume 1 (1950-1988) (con Wim van Utrecht)
Hay varias opciones de colaboración a su disposición, a saber:
· Trabajo voluntario, presencial o a distancia
· Entrega de información sobre casuística, fotografías, archivos, bibliografía, etc.
· Donaciones para ayudar a sufragar gastos de investigación
Puede dirigirse directamente a nosotros por correo electrónico: ballesterolmos@yahoo.es