Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chile: The Los Angeles Case (1990)

Chile: The Los Angeles Case (1990)
By Camilo Valdivieso –

This was among the most important cases that occurred in the year 1990. The news media provided ample coverage of the event, and it became known as the “flying house of Los Angeles” case. With over ten years having elapsed from the date of the occurrence, we shall look into the details of the story and learn more about the current situation of the Balboa family, who lived through the events. What happened to the ground research supposedly conducted where the UFO flew over? Have they had further UFO experiences?

We shall first examine the investigation conducted by Ovnivisión Chile only days after the event.

The time was 01:30 hours on April 16, 1990. Octavio del Tránsito Balboa Altamirano, 53, was sleeping peacefully alongside his family, consisting of sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren. The night was dark and rainy. Suddenly, they were wakened by a noise, and in a matter of seconds, a very strange force had completely toppled the wooden dwelling.

This event occurred in Maria Dolores, an agricultural district some 10 kilometers northwest of the city of Los Angeles, in the 8th region of our country (Chile). The event received considerable coverage in the spoken and written press alike, but up to that point, the case, aside from being spectacular, has no connection to the UFO phenomenon. This, of course, is because there were other details involved: only 80 meters away from the site, Mrs. Marta Pino Rodriguez saw how a multicolored light approached the location menacingly. This prompted us to visit the location.

After having covered 513 kilometers, we reached the lovely city of Los Angeles, it was a chilly morning, but we wanted to reach the area as soon as possible. Finally, at 15:00 hours on April 19th, tape recorded in hand, I stepped for the first time in Lot #20 of Maria Dolores. The first thing I noticed was the loneliness and considerable vegetation of the area (characteristic of Southern Chile)

The Maria Dolores Airport was nearby. All day, aircraft from the domestic carriers LAN and LADECO took off and landed, something which no longer occurs nowadays. Seeing substantial witnesses here, I tried to enter the structure to interview the air traffic controllers on duty on April 16th, which I was not allowed to do. Strange, isn’t it?

But research must continue, and I penetrated the district in order to have a better look at the effects that were produced, and which were visible 3 days later. A considerable number of belongings from the Balboa’s family’s home were still scattered within a radius greater than 50 meters. A search of the bushes revealed, to my surprise, a completely twisted spoon, like an accordion. After interviewing the family, I learned that a number of metallic objects had vanished. Others were completely dehydrated: a clear example was a water tower installed next to the ruined house. It was demolished, and its 300 liter tanks were crushed like cheap beer cans.

During my survey I was able to see what had been the family garden before April 16. Completely dehydrated vegetables were in evidence: burned-out watermelons, uprooted trees. Another important aspect worthy of comment was the selective aspect of the phenomenon, since it only affected the Quillayes bushes and other shrubs, leaving the young pine trees unharmed. No effort at replanting the area had occurred as of this ground investigation, and we therefore do not know if the soil was affected. More on this later.

Mrs. Marta Pino was present at the site. She told us: “I was awake that Sunday night, because of the very strong winds. I looked through the window,” pointing at one visible in the front of her house, “ and that was when I saw a small star that got bigger. The light was multicolored and everything became as bright as day.”

Meanwhile, one of the direct victims, Marcos Balboa’s wife – Edith Parra – also told us: “It was like an approaching fireball. It was while I was looking at this that the house came down.”

Another noteworthy eyewitness account comes from Mr. Octavio Balboa, who remarked: “I don’t think it was a mere wind, no matter how strong, can burn things and topple homes. I think there’s something strange at work here. I’m 53 and a mere wind isn’t going to scare me. This is something strange, a greater force.”

Prior to being interviewed, the witnesses displayed a basic level of education and indicated that they were not readers of the UFO subject (given their manifestations, this statement is correct). All of the collected eyewitness accounts agree as to the time, date, atmospheric conditions, etc. They further agree on a very significant detail: the fact that the sound heard prior to the event was similar to that of a tractor engine.

Many theories were presented within the Chilean UFO landscape to explain the phenomenon. The case was dubbed as “The Flying House”, but the fact is that the house merely toppled.

Many researchers have presented their own opinions on the matter, as is the case with Rafael Vera Mege of the physics department of the University of Concepción (Chile) who told a national newspaper (Diaro La Tercera) that it was a “waterspout” – a theory that was discarded, since the term, when correctly used, describes “a column of water of vapor that rises from the sea” and which cannot be imagined in this case, since the event occurred only within the property of Octavio Balboa. Morover, some stated that it was “ball lightning” which, given its short duration (scant minutes only) cannot be imagined. We reconstructed the facts with the witnesses’ assistance, yielding a total of 18 minutes. That is to say, the light remained in that location for that entire time, completely dismissing the likelihood of ball lighting, since as I indicated, it has a lifespan of only a few minutes.

At the end of the on-site investigation, the affected parties (a total of 10) told me that the night preceding my visit, that is to say, April 18th, the strange light was seen again.

As can be expected, at least by those of us following the case, strange events continued occurring in southern Chile. Thus, on July 25 of that year (1990) in the town of Carelmapu, a locality some one hundred kilometers from Puerto Montt (Chile’s 10th Region) and in the Commune of Maullín, an unexplained tornado suddenly razed a considerable chunk of said community.

The events began around 16:40 hours. According to witnesses interviewed by Diario La Tercera, it only lasted a few minutes. One of these witnesses, small-scale fisherman Yoanis Papa Michail, described the situation on that July afternoon: “Everything was calm here. There was only some rain and cold, as is normal in winter, but the wind suddenly became a storm and the hail turned to large chunks of ice that fell with great force, making a loud noise against the houses.”

A detonation was heard after this, causing great panic among the five thousand residents of the town. We can see here a similarity with the Los Angeles case (April 1990), since a strange noise was also heard earlier. My purpose isn’t to find similarities, but after being involved for sometime in UFO research, I believe less and less in coincidences.

Moreover, Mrs. Gabriela Lemus described how her family endured the transit of this uncommon “tornado”: “There were five of us at home – my husband, myself and the three little girls, when we began hearing the hailstorm first, then the wind, and the house began to move. And I don’t know how, but suddenly everything was twisting around.” Readers may notice again the similarity between both cases, and if they don’t, I’ll refresh their memories: Octavio Balboa, the toppled house’s owner, said in this regard: “I’m very catholic. I’m scared. I don’t want to leave the house. Something strange is happening to was a miracle, because you can see how the house was left topsy-turvy.”

Both houses were wrenched off their foundations by a force that the locals were unable to explain. We must remember that these are people accustomed to inclement weather, such as that of Southern Chile.

(Translation (c) 2011, S. Corrales, IHU)