Unsolved Mystery: The Object That Fell Between Bolivia and Salta
Source: El Tribuno.com
Unsolved Mystery: The Object that Fell Between Bolivia and Salta
By Antonio Abarzúa, El Tribuno
On May 6, 1978 at 1730 hours, residents of the communities along the Bolivian and Argentinean borders, along a segment that starts from the tripartite corner with the Republic of Paraguay, looked skywards. A penetrating, buzzing sound caused them raise their eyes as one and up to this very day, thousands of people remember the extraordinary event: a metallic, oval shape the [apparent] size of a soccer ball, incandescent, crossed the sky from east to west at an unheard-of speed, apparently out of control and in free-fall.
The unidentified flying object (UFO) lost itself in the horizon, but a tremendous explosion made itself felt later on. The communities of Aguas Blancas, Salvador Mazza, Los Toldos and Santa Victoria Oeste in the Argentinean province of Salta trembled; the same happened to the Bolivian settlements of Tarija, Padcaya, La Mamora, Las Cañas and Bermejo, just to name a few.
Everything pointed to the strange object having crashed at some point along the border between the two nations.
The Gendarmería Argentina, under the orders of Cmdr. Juan Nicasio Boari, head of the 20th Orán Squadron, sent three patrols to the Baritú National Park to find the UFO or whatever had crashed to the ground. Likewise, airplanes were sent to survey the area. A similar determination was made by the Bolivian Air Force, which sent its own air and ground forces to the probable impact area.
A team of scientists from the Universidad Misael Saracho in Tarija, led by Argentinean physicists Orlando Bravo, announced that that the point of impact had been determined, with a relative degree of certainty, on Bolivian soil, in a mountain range facing the Argentinean community of Mecoyita, in Santa Victoria Oeste.
The Bolivian Nuclear Energy Commission dispatched a team of scientists to the site under the command of Lt. Cmdr. Francisco Mariaca.
The resulting expedition would depart aboard a Bolivian military helicopter. The team would also include a journalist (Antonio Abarzúa, author of this report) and photographer Luis Benjamín Arias of El Tribuno. When everything was ready at the Tarija Airport to set off, a U.S. Air Force plane landed on the runway, from which emerged Col. John Simmons and Capt. John Heide, who interviewed the commandant of the local base, Col. Jorge Molina Suarez. Questioned by the press, they denied that their presence in Tarija had anything to do with the UFO. After a two-hour stay in the community, they boarded their plane and departed.
Minutes later, Col. Molina advised us that the expedition’s helicopter had suffered a breakdown and those wanting to participate in the mission would have to do so on foot. Two donkeys, loaded with food and tents, were made available to the volunteers, along with a military escort headed by a lieutenant and four soldiers.
El Tribuno, Dr. Orlando Bravo and his team, plus Cesar Mascetti of Buenos Aires’s Channel 13 and his cameraman, Oscar Isse, set off on foot. Along the road, the locals stated that dozens of helicopters had been operating for days in the mountains. After a two-day walk, the expeditionaries reached Mecoya, at an altitude of nearly 5000 meters. Upon reaching the point of impact, they were struck the ravaged landscape. One mountain – El Salle – was totally destroyed, with a crater measuring 1500 meters long, 800 meters wide and some 50 meters deep. Heat-crystallized rock was evident at the bottom, and others had been displaced farther afield, but there was little else. The residents of Mecoya told us: “If you’re looking for the remains of what fell, the gringos already took it.”
Upon returning to the base – this time on horseback, using animals provided by the residents of Mecoya, the expeditionaries were welcomed by two Americans: Journalist Bob Pratt and Charles Tucker, president of the International UFO Bureau. When they learned of what happened, and that no exotic debris had been found, they remarked: “It’s always the same. NASA and the Air Force get ahead and take it all away.”
At that place we were told: “Bolivia has declared the case closed” and upon returning to Argentina, the news was that “Gendarmería interrupted its investigation.”
[Contributing Editor Guillermo Gimenez adds the following: “On May 6, 1978, a U.S. photographic monitoring satellite – ID 1972-052C, Catalogue Number 6096 OPS7830 – weighing 60 kilograms, placed in orbit on 7 July 1972 from Vandenberg AFB aboard a powerful Titan 3D booster, began to experience orbital decay. If this is the object that fell on the border between Salta and Bolivia, U.S. interest in recovering immediately becomes apparent.”]
(Translation (c) 2011, S. Corrales, IHU. Special thanks to Antonio Abarzúa of El Tribuno and Guillermo Gimenez, Planeta UFO)