Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Argentina: The First UFO Encounter (El Maitén, Chubut – 20 Feb 1949)

Argentina: The First UFO Encounter (El Maitén, Chubut – 20 Feb 1949)
By Dr. Roberto Banchs

The oldest incident available – from the Arnold Era – regarding the landing of a UFO and the presence of its occupants on Argentinean soil, is the one that occurred on 20 February 1949 at El Maitén, a small town near the border with Rio Negro in the northwestern corner of Chubut Province. A location with an arid, mountainous landscape, owing its name to the hispanized indigenous term meaning a tree with its branches hanging down in bunches.

The information was restored to memory by the Clarin newspaper in 1970 (1), using information provided in a letter by Eulogio Pereyra, addressed to a radio station in Buenos Aires (Radio Belgrano), describing the descent and landing of a UFO, which burned the alleged landing site. It also described the emergence of three men of peculiar aspect from the craft.

Radio announcer Carlos Iglesias was responsible for informing the country of the historic event, resulting in challenges from younger journalists and the need to visit the site to confirm the episode. It took a night and a day by train, over twelve hours by jeep, to get there. Journalistic investigation ratified, in part, the information supplied by Pereyra through another witness – Antonio de la Iglesia – who said that a group of local residents were able to see from the rail station (which linked the towns of Ingeniero Jaccobacci and Esquel for freight purposes in more prosperous times) how the UFO descended to some 500 meters, flashing its lights within the town itself, which at the time barely had a police brigade, a guard station, a railroad shed beside the narrow platform and a half-finished house. Some small farms were in the distance.

Against the article appearing in the newspaper, our researcher Ricardo M. Dobelli requested further details (2), managing to nail down the exact date of the event, correcting the old information which set it in 1948. It was also noted that subsequent investigation has managed to establish that Eulogio Pereyra did not live at that location. However, two or three witnesses appear to have confirmed the existence of the alleged landing from stories collected from people living some 20 kilometers distant. Securing further information was impossible, says the article.

Drawn by the interest created by these articles, we visited the area in 1978 – nearly thirty years later – with the goal of learning details on the encounter. Reaching the town was not free from difficulties, as the place had not yet been turned into a tourist attraction by the railway’s presence. Without much hope of finding the witnesses, and even less material evidence of the events discussed, we found out that both E. Pereyra and A. de la Iglesia had died several years earlier. In spite of this, the latter’s relatives were able to confirm the UFO landing.

Continuing with the research into the old case, we found Edmundo C. Sánchez, who was also a UFO witness and a fuel station manager, but who at the time was a member of the Gendermerie. He was able to confirm the sighting of the strange phenomenon that crossed the sky from west to east, touching the ground in the direction of the police post’s location and before the eyes of three or four witnesses. One of them recalls following the UFO in his car.

Sánchez told us that while he was on duty, an overexcited and stunned traveling salesman, saying that at 0445 hours he had been near the outskirts in town, driving in his car, when an unusual object suddenly appeared from which three figures of human appearance emerged, dressed in striking outfits and with flashes of light emerging from the helmets on their heads. The characters were linked to the object by means of wires or cords, and urged the traveler to slow down and stop.

The witness’s identity fell into oblivion, but some fragments of his eyewitness account survived as a defaced reality wearing a halo of legend.


(1) Clarín, Buenos Aires, 13 marzo 1970, p. 52.

(2) Ibíd., 29 March 1970.

[Translation © 2013, S. Corrales, IHU with thanks to Guillermo Giménez (Planeta UFO) and Silvia & Andrea Pérez Simondini (Visión OVNI)]