Saturday, November 28, 2009

Salta and the 1995 “UFO Crash”

It’s very hard to impress upon readers the level of UFO and high-strangeness activity that has characterized the Salta region for over half a century. A cursory glance at any of the maps provided with the news items provided with the most recent UFO blackout of Joaquin V. Gonzalez and its environs will reveal the names of adjacent communities that have appeared again and again in connection with the phenomenon: cattle mutilations, monsters, ghosts, UFO sightings, landings and contact experiences, human disappearances...far from being merely a “hot-spot” or a “flap area”, the province of Salta is a place where the line between the mundane and the extramundane has been permanently blurred.

In 1997 I wrote an article with information kindly provided by researcher Guillermo Aldunati concerning UFO activity in this region, and particularly an incident that is referred to (as recently as this week, in relation to the blackouts) as the “Argentinean Roswell”, as one of the incident’s protagonists has gone on to become a respected researcher in his own right, and a key member of the FAO organization. You have seen his name mentioned in these dispatches: Antonio Galvagno.

On August 17, 1995, Mr. Galvagno was having lunch with his wife at a quarter to two in the afternoon when a deafening explosion shattered the silence of the otherwise peaceful region. Thinking at first that it could be a massive earthquake, he and his fellow townspeople were startled to see a column of smoke rising into the air. This made them think immediately of an airliner collision or a meteorite impact.
As a civilian aviator involved in crop dusting, Galvagno did not hesitate to avail himself of his ultralight biplane to take a closer look at the impact area and check for survivors. The source of the smoke was in a vast, mountainous area known as the Serranía Colorada, and as he approached he was able to see that the pillar of black smoke was sooty and contained metal particles. His flyover was fruitless and he returned home. But far from being a quitter, he renewed his surveys of the collision area for two weeks.

Shortly after the event, according to his story, Mr. Galvagno had meeting with members of the National Gendarmerie, who sternly cautioned him to desist from his research. The warning was also extended to other local residents involved in getting to the bottom of the strange affair. But by now, the Argentinean news media had taken an interest in the matter, and journalists had been dispatched from Buenos Aires to distant Salta to cover the story. No official explanation was ever issued by the authorities and all that remains is a five hundred meter wide, five-kilometer long burn mark. According to a recent statement by Mr. Galvagno, “vegetation never grew in the area again, and it remains cordoned off to this day due to national security reasons,” in the words of both the Gendarmerie and the Argentinean Air Force.

Meteor fragments and military space debris have also found their way to this peaceful and remote part of the world. Southern Bolivia, to the north of Salta, is also remembered for the 1979 crash near the community of Tarija.