Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Magic in the Age of the Crusades

Magic in the Age of the Crusades
By Scott Corrales
(c) 2002

The concept of sorcery or ceremonial magic being placed at the service of military or political interests figures prominently in myth and legend. Hence we find Merlin offering magical aid and advice to King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and the lesser known Malagiggi at the side of Charlemagne. These legendary wizards performed multiple services: espionage through what we would nowadays term "remote viewing", the summoning of paranormal forces to tip the balance of a battle, and perhaps more importantly, the ability to predict the outcome of a given situation. The sorcerer's role in myth was continued by novelists of heroic fantasy, and writings of this kind can be found on bookshelves to this very day.

Historical sources point to the reality of such sorcerers: The emperor Marcus Aurelius, for example, was accompanied by a mage known as Julian the Theurgist in his campaigns against the Marcomanni and the Quadii in 174 C.E. This sorcerer was allegedly able to cast thunderbolts and create rain. On this specific occasion, Julian created a phenomenon called an iunx to cause rainstorm that served to slake the thirst of the Roman army and to drive off the terrified Marcommani. References to "the miracle of the rain" can be found in most classic sources, although some sources attribute the phenomenon to the workings of an Egyptian sorcerer named Arnouphis.

But was there ever any truth to the prominent role played by users of magic during the Middle Ages? Modern readers have certainly come to known about the "Burning Times" when practitioners of magic in Western Europe were burned at the stake in late medieval times. Yet was this the same case in Eastern Europe, or in the Near East, or North Africa? Was the use of magic allowed, or even sanctioned, by the political and religious elite of the time?

Crusader Witches

We have come to understand this age of iron as a succession of battles in which there was little time for pursuits other than war. Some sources tell us, however, that the study of paranormal forces was alive and well at the time and being actively employed.

During the siege of Jerusalem, there were reports that the Muslim defenders were employing the services of sorceresses against the Christian attackers. One chronicle mentions that Raymond of Aguilers, a French Knight, noticed that witchcraft was being employed against the besiegers. Two witches, says the account, were standing on the parapets casting spells on one of the Crusader siege engines. Their magic must not have been quite as powerful as they had hoped, since the sorceresses were killed by a stone hurled by one of the catapults. Aguilers mentions in passing that the use of witchcraft was forbidden to the Crusaders on their "holy endeavor". This raises interesting possibilities. Did Medieval armies employ the services of such sorcerers or enchanters regularly? Was there, as in heroic fantasy novels, a wizard methodically rubbing his temples as he cast spells for his employer's side?

There can be no doubt of the existence of sorcery in the Islamic world at the time, since the pre-Islamic Arabian peninsula had been awash with magic potions, amulets and powerful talismans, and the belief in efreeti and djinns. These practices existed during the Caliphate and appear to ignore the Koranic ban on such practices. Arabic authors such as Albumassar wrote treatises on the occult which would later be cited by Western practitioners of the art, and even the famous 10th encyclopedia known as the Firhest (Kitab-Firhist) dwells on sorcerous subjects, mostly quoting older magical works from Babylonian, Syrian and Persian sources. The great magician and alchemist Surawardi, who established the "illuminationist" branch of Sufism, ran afoul of the legendary Sultan Saladin ibn Yusuf of Egypt, the Crusaders' main adversary, and summarily executed. The reason for Saladin's had nothing to do with Surawardi's use of magic or his alchemical experiments--one of Saladin's sons was showing signs of fascination with the Sufi's teachings, and the Sultan feared the he might become a heretic.

No less strict than Christianity in this regard, Islam officially banned the use of magic, declaring it haram (forbidden) to practice it, seek advice from those who used it, and much less try to seek a sorcerer's aid to affect the material world. Even money and material possessions obtained through magic (such as the three wishes traditionally granted by a genie) would cause the recipient to fall under a ban.

Islamic religious texts offer a curious explanation as to how black magic came into the world: at the time of King Solomon, a pair of angels descended to earth and imparted the knowledge to those who asked to learn it, after cautioning their would-be pupils that listening to their tuition would cause disbelief in Allah, resulting in a situation likened to the "estrangement between a man and a woman." It was also believed in the Medieval Islamic world that practitioners of the black arts could not cause harm to their fellow men "unless Allah allowed it" for one reason or another.

The Islamic view of the sorcerer was that of a man or woman bent on aiding Satan's work in the world--a belief echoed centuries earlier in Zoroastrianism--and in harming humankind, Allah's creation. As protection against the sorcerer's wiles, the faithful were encouraged to recite certain suras and to give alms to the poor on a regular basis, aside from wearing certain passages from the Koran, written on deer hide, and pinned inside their clothes close to the skin. Given their origin in the holy book, these passages did not fall under the category of charms, which are also proscribed by Islam.

Parapsychologists will perhaps find it interesting that Islam offered a special charm "against djinn that throw stones at one's home". The victim of this poltergeistic phenomenon were asked to pick up one of the stones and say aloud: "Allah is sufficient and satisfying for me. Allah hears the call of whosoever calls. There is no one and nothing as the ultimate save Allah." Perhaps as obsessed as their Byzantine adversaries over the effects of the evil eye, Muslims were advised to recite the eighty-seventh verse of the al-Anbiya over a hundred times.

Perhaps Raymond of Aguilers was being disingenuous when he spoke of the ban on the use of witchcraft by Crusaders. It is almost certain that many of the warriors standing outside Jerusalem, or trying to scale its walls, or manning siege towers, were emboldened by the sense of invulnerability conferred by the chemise de necessité (literally, "shirt of need") worn under their hauberks. This garment, which allegedly offered magical protection against weapons, was able to deflect sword blows and arrow heads. It had to be woven by a virgin during a single night of Christmas week, while uttering a series of charms. If properly made, the garment would even be able to render the wearer invisible.

European sorcerers of the crusading age were supposedly able to cast magic arrows directed by elementals or other entities under the magicians' control. These paranormal bowmen, known as sagittarians, were a source of understandable fear on the medieval battlefield.

The monks and religious men of Christendom often entertained demons, obtaining critical information from them: the abbot Trithemius was accused of being a necromancer for summoning up Emperor Maximilian's late wife. The Pope himself was supposed to have a terrible power reserved to him, known as "the shadow of the blessing", often represented as the dark side of the papal hand raised in benediction, casting the shadow of a horned figure.
Pope Silvester II, a brilliant scholar, reputedly confessed to the College of Cardinals his dealings with the dark forces. Prior to this time, Pope Leo the Great had collected an assortment of charms and spells into a work known as the Enchiridion, which was presented to Charlemagne in appreciation for the Frankish ruler's defense of the papacy.

When the Templars were finally prosecuted by the kings of France and their arrest decreed throughout most of Western Europe, a number of remarkable stories began to emerge, among them the belief that the warrior-monks had given themselves over to devil-worship. The religious order was also accused of keeping a number of "talking heads" employed for divination and darker purposes. Perhaps the best known among them was the "idol" Baphomet, allegedly worshipped by the Templars in their ceremonies. This oracular statue, according to the inquisitors who singlehandedly destroyed the order, was proof positive of the Templar's league with the devil. Efforts at securing this damning evidence failed miserably, and the "talking heads" remain just another tantalizing piece of Templar mystery. However, in May 1308, Guillaume Pidoye, a seneschal and custodian of the Templar chapterhouse in Paris, surrendered to the Inquisition a number of statues in his custody. According to the records, a large head depicting a woman--made of gilded silver and bearing the legend "Caput LVIII", was presented to the authorities. It is surprising that the Church would have leveled such an accusation against the Templars when other "heads"--made of brass and used for oracular purposes--had been in possession of the Bishop of Lincoln and his student, the friar Roger Bacon.

Strange events also befell the Crusaders in the Near East: the late Andreas Faber Kaiser mentions what we could now call a high-strangeness incident which transpired during the siege of Antioch in 1099.

Montcada, was a Spanish knight from the city of Barcelona. He had joined the First Crusade and was making full display of his puissance in battle at the walls of the fabled city of Antioch was knocked from his horse by a Saracen warrior. Surrounded by foes, Montcada prayed to St. George, the patron saint of warriors, and a magnificent white horse galloped toward him in the midst of the fight. Since it was customary for warriors to re-horse themselves in mid-battle with steeds taken from the enemy, Montcada assumed that the horse belonged to some Saracen emir who had met his demise. The knight pulled himself onto the horse's back and charged against the city's walls, "landing a mighty blow against it with his sword, cracking it and opening a breach," according to the original text. Followed by footsoldiers, Montcada charged into the streets of beseiged Antioch.

Or so he thought.

The Spanish warrior experienced momentary confusion as he realized that he was not facing the glories of an oriental city, but the common, drab houses of a medieval European one. The men in arms surrounding him were not the motley assorment of French and German soldiery of the Crusader army, but rather wore the clothing and devices of his own country, and more importantly, spoke his own language: Montcada realized that he was in the city of Alcoraz, a Moorish stronghold in the Iberian peninsula, beseiged by James, the king of Aragon. As swift as thought, the white steed had borne him across the Mediterranean to his homeland, where his sword was needed most.

While this story can be dismissed as forming part of the heroic vein of medieval lore, which would later give rise to the chansons de geste, the 13th century chronicle Crónica del rei Jaume records the event: "As the Saracens themselves told us, they witnessed the entrance of a knight in white armor on a white steed, and we think it may have been St. George..."

Faber Kaiser's impression was that the events surrounding the teleportation of the noble Montcada were similar to those involving the alleged teleportation of a 16th century soldier from Manila to Mexico City. Of such things are legends made.

Wizards of the Christian Empire

In getting to the Holy Land, the Crusaders had traversed the Balkans and therefore, entered the domains of the powerful Eastern Roman Empire, better known to us as the Byzantine Empire, although its inhabitants would have balked at the suggestion of being called anything other than Romans. This surviving half of the ancient Roman Empire, although much reduced in size by constant wars against the Islamic Caliphates, was still reckoned as the Mediterranean's superpower, with huge mercenary armies and a powerful navy, commanded from the splendid city of Constantinople. The French and German knights who formed the backbone of the Crusades felt both awe and loathing for Byzantium as a culture and as a political entity--despite the fact that their reason for having gone to the east stemmed from a request by the Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus for troops needed to fight the Turkish sultans.

The Christian Empire of Byzantium, despite being organized as a strict theocracy, offered a certain amount of "wiggle room" for the remnants of paganism to flourish along with the practice of ceremonial magic. This was a holdover from Imperial Rome, when the state either sponsored or persecuted sorcery as the political winds or imperial whim dictated.

Belief in the supernatural was rife throughout the empire. It was believed that the emperor Justinian had sold his soul to the Devil and could be seen wandering the palace grounds at night, carrying his head in his hands; the arch-fiend had attacked the bishop Parthenius in the guise of an enormous black dog on the palace grounds. Demons allegedly aided the scholar Michael Sicidites in making things invisible or playing spellbinding tricks, and that one of the early patriarchs of the church, John the Grammarian, had held séances in which nuns were employed as mediums.

What we know about these forbidden practices comes largely from the work of the 11th century Byzantine chronicler Michael Psellos, one of the first of the of the paranormal and a demonologist as well. His work, the Chronography, describes how the Empress Zoe (1028-1050 C.E.) had an image of Christ which would change colors to forecast the future--the inspiration for "mirror, mirror on the wall"?--and other oracular purposes. Byzantium, the world's greatest repository of relics (most of them fraudulent), sanctioned the belief in miracles and supernatural intervention by "holy" forces, such as the procession of icons along the walls of Constantinople, which saved the city from enemy attacks twice in its history, or so thought the population. But the population made equal use of amulets and charms which flew in the face of official policy, which banned witchcraft of any kind. Perhaps more than any other Mediterranean nation, the Byzantines feared the evil eye and its consequences. In his paper Reactions of Two Byzantine Intellectuals to the Theory and Practice of Magic, scholar John Duffy mentions that the use of amulets was widespread in the early days of the Empire, when churchmen such as St. John Chrysostom railed against the populace for placing chains of coins with the image of Alexander of Macedon around their heads to ward off evil. But even the impassioned speeches by the golden-tongued father of the Eastern Church failed to separate the population from its belief in charms, and two centuries later, writes Duffy, people still wore tunics adorned with images of Alexander on horseback as a safeguard against evildoers.

As the vestiges of paganism were snuffed out, the amulets and tokens reflecting pagan deities and monsters (such as Medusa, employed as protection during childbirth) were replaced by medals of Christian saints, crosses and icons. But even then, the average man who feared the jealousy of his peers or encounters with evil creatures on lonely roads might carry a parchment amulet pinned inside his clothes, safe from any prying eyes. A gold coin of the Emperor Constantine the Great, with his mother Queen Helena on the reverse side, was extolled by the chronicler Michael Italikos as being "invested with an ineffable power" and therefore capable of warding its possessor against illness. Nor was divination shunned by the Byzantines: the emperor Leo the Wise antedated Nostradamus by almost four hundred years, allegedly making accurate predictions of the Empire's future, in verse form, right up to the conquest of Constantinople by Venetian and French forces in the early thirteenth century.

Eminent historian Sir Steven Runciman writes that the Byzantines expressed the belief that the lives of important personages could be somehow bound to a given physical object--a stoicheion--and harming the physical object would bring harm, almost in voodoo doll fashion, to the indiviudal. Runciman relates the story of how a monk told the emperor Romanus I that a certain stone pillar was the stoicheion of the Bulgarian king Symeon. The emperor did not wait to have his soldiers topple the otherwise harmless column, and word was eventually received in Constantinople that the elderly Bulgarian ruler had died.

Perhaps it was because Byzantium was so torn apart by religious dissent that the government never had the time to chase practitioners of sorcery, as would occur in the West in later centuries. While Imperial authorities had enacted strict anti-sorcery legislation in the early days, magic-use was no longer seen as a political matter by the time the Crusades developed. Religious authorities under the Patriarch of Constantinople could deal with the problem of sorcery as they saw fit. Another scholar, Marie Therese Fogen, notes that the Christian Empire had achieved a state of detente with the use of magic: in a theology that espoused the belief that divine justice would prevail in the end, any gains made through the use of sorcery were ephemeral. Therefore, the sorcerer's control over demons was a short-term problem, since all of his or her ambitions would be thwarted in the long run.

Even as Byzantium declined and became a ghost of its former self, it was still dangerous for practitioners of the hermetic arts. Author and theologian John Opsopaus, writing on the subject of Pythagorean and Orphic traditions, mentions the Byzantine occultist George Gemistos, who lived in mid-14th century in the Pelopponesian city of Mistra. Gemistos' compilation of Chaldean and Zoroastrian lore, known as the Book of Laws, came into the possession of the Patriarch Gennadios, who ordered its destruction. Although fate was kind to the Greek occultist, since fragments of his work have survived to this day.

A Warrior Returns

The advantage that historical novelists have over the writers of non-fiction chronicles is being able to persuade the reader as to the thoughts that were actually in the heads of the great men and women of ages past, and it is a device that will be employed here to a small extent.

The year is 1300--a full seven centuries ago--and the hot air of summer bears down on Palestine as desert winds blow dust in the air. A special kind of dust, for it is an admixture of desert sand and the ashes of the armies, Christian and Moslem, who fought over control of this land during the previous two centuries in the wars we have come to know as the Crusades. A man, wearing armor covered with a surcoat bearing a cross, looks out the window at the desolation that is the holy city of Jerusalem from his vantage point at the massive pile of stone known as Solomon's Temple. His name is Jacques de Molay, and his task is daunting.

Since his election as Master of the Templar Order eight years earlier, Molay, a tactician and strategist who rose through the ranks of the warrior-monks to become a general, had achieved what in a later age--one with better communications--would have been hailed as one of the great achievements of all time.

For the Crusades were over: the last remains of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, bravely defended for over two hundred years, had just been swept into the ocean by the Mameluke Sultans of Egypt, bringing an end to European adventurism in the Middle East that would not be rekindled until the reign of Napoleon. The Crusader outpost of Acre had fallen in the year 1291 and the Knights Templar, sworn to defend the Holy Land, were now on the island of Cyprus--without a land to defend and without a mission.

As chance would have it, the Templars would find an extraordinary ally in the Mongol rulers of what is now modern Iran, who were kindly disposed toward Christians and were enemies of the Mamelukes. The Mongol Emperor, without hesitation, placed thirty thousand of his troops at their service, and so it was that De Molay abandoned the isle of Cyprus to lead a veritable sea of warriors to reclaim the Holy Land.

In December 1299, two huge armies--the size of which had never been seen before during the Crusader wars--squared off outside the Syrian city of Hims. Accustomed as we have become to sanitized, video-game warfare, it is fully impossible for us to fully imagine the din of battle: the clash of steel, the screams of the wounded and dying, and the rallying cries of both sides as Mongols and Mamelukes collided like waves breaking against reefs. De Molay's coalition, which aside from Mongols included Armenians, Circassians, Cypriot levies and Templar horsemen, heralded the late 20th century coalition against Iraq.

The outcome of the battle was clear: half of the Mameluke army had been destroyed and the other half limped back to Egypt. The Mongol Emperor, Ghazzan, redrew the political map of Palestine back to its Crusader-age boundaries.

The Templars and their allies surveyed the bleak landscape of ruined cities and villages, destroyed almost a decade earlier after the fall of Acre. The Mamelukes had sworn that no crusader would ever be able to reoccupy the land, and had done their best to make it so. It was Europe's turn now to send thousands of soldiers and colonists to reoccupy and rebuild.

History shows us that this never happened: Europe was no longer interested in Palestine and the reoccupation of the Holy Land by Western forces lasted all of six months. But what happened during those six months? A foresighted military man like Jacques de Molay could have probably envisioned the futility. As he looked upon the ruined landscape, was he concerned about the chances of resurrecting the Crusader Kingdom, or calculating the Templars' next move? Is it entirely unreasonable to suppose, in our age of conspiracy thinking, that the Grand Master of the Templar order was perhaps more concerned about returning to the Temple Mount to retrieve something of great importance to the warrior monks?

The possibility that the Templars retrieved the Ark of the Covenant from its secret resting place beneath the Temple Mount has been discussed elsewhere, but some researchers have looked into an even more tantalizing prize: recovering the rest of the Table of Solomon.

Not much is known of this object beyond its name. Spanish author Jesús Callejo believes it to have been an enigmatic "magic mirror" made out of a combination of different metals, capable of revealing the location of any location in the world, as well as the "image of the seven climates of the universe", quoting the chronicles written by Ben Aben Al-Hakam. A fragment of this mirror, suggests this author, may have already been in Templar hands, and efforts were being made to recover the rest.

And what would the Templars have done with this source of hidden wisdom? Some believe that the fragment in the hands of the warrior-monks was used in the confection of maps: perhaps the most precise maps ever crafted before the Industrial Age. With this advanced cartography, it would have been possible to navigate to distant lands beyond the confines of the Mediterranean...such as the Americas.

Although historians usually have little patience for the myths that have developed around the Knights Templar and their supposed esoteric activities, it is nonetheless important to note that French esoteric writer Louis Charpentier suggested the possibility that the Templar Fleet, sailing either from La Rochelle on the French Coast or from Lisbon in Portugal, reached the Americas to retrieve gold from the Amazon and silver from the Mexican mines. Charpentier added that legends from the Yucatan Peninsula mention the arrival of "white men in large ships" who wore on their brows an insignia of "two crossed serpents". Known as chanes to the Maya, these strange arrivals imparted "great wisdom" to their priests. Charpentier argued that such transatlantic voyages were necessary to account for the enormous wealth of the Templar order, a wealth which, according to author Jacques de Mahieu, allowed the Templars to finance the construction of seventy churches and eighty cathedrals.

European silver mines in Spain and Moravia, according to Louis Charpentier, had been nearly exhausted or damaged by crude mining techniques (such as the ruina montium employed by the Romans, who aimed and making entire mountains collapse), and silver veins in Hungary were still undiscovered. Most of Europe's gold had been hoarded by the Byzantine emperors and very little of it circulated until after the sack of Constantinople in 1204. But the Americas offered an abundance of these metals.

Is there any proof of such visits? Argentinean engineer Fernando Fluguerto Martí seems to think so: the Grupo Delphos research team ( believes that an ancient ruined fortification on the summit of the aptly-named "Cerro El Fuerte", commanding the approach to Golfo San Matías (an Argentinean body of water well known to UFO researchers) constitutes proof of Templar occupation.

Some of the surface stones give the appearance of having been dressed by stonemasons, and superimposed stones held together by mortar have also been discovered. Researchers were stunned, however, to find a slab of dressed stone engraved with a Templar cross. Ing. Fluguerto believes that "a series of enclaves may have existed in Patagonia which were established by some kind of Templar or proto-Templar order... There would have been at least three cities--a fortified port on the Atlantic, and another on the Pacific, both at the same latitude...". The Grupo Delphos researchers have linked their discovery to the Argentinean legend of a city filled with silver and gold somewhere in the Andean foothills--a cryptic reference, perhaps, to the source of precious metals sought by the Templars? There are other tangible suggestions of the Order's possible operations in the Americas: Massachusetts gives us the carving of an armed knight, bearing sword, shield and dagger, discovered in the town of Westward, and the controversial Newport Tower also rises in that state. The latter structure, according to explorer David Hatcher Childress, while usually associated to the Viking presence in the Americas, shows that the measurements employed in its construction correspond to the architectural knowledge of Western Europe.

Other authors have remarked that many of the mines being worked today appear to have been exploited in the past by unknown operators--a possibility that suggests even further secretive activity at a time when European mariners had not yet ventured beyond the Azores. It is also curious that 12th century navigators heading out into the Atlantic were forbidden to sail beyond Cape Mogador on the Moroccan coast unless they took great care to fly the Templar cross on their sails--something which Christopher Columbus also did over a century later. Historians tell us that the Carthaginians would destroy any craft venturing beyond the Strait of Gibraltar, but did the Templars do the same to keep the secret of their wealth? The answer must lie, along with any victims, at the bottom of the sea.


The High Middle Ages were probably one of the most dynamic and bloody periods in human history: even the casual perusal of a textbook on the subject gives the reader the impression that after a long period of lethargy brought about by the collapse of Rome and invasions of nomadic tribes out of Asia well through the 11th century, the Mediterranean world was ready to burst its shackles and begin the age of exploration, which was still to come. But perhaps this urge to explore the unknown was visible in the magical practices of the time, which already showed the transition from the theurgy of the Ancient World to the practices of Paracelsus, Cornelius Agrippa, John Dee and others.

(A version of this article appeared in FATE Magazine in 2003)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Spain: An Offshore Sighting (Huelva, 1981)

Spain: An Offshore Sighting (Huelva, 1981)

From the files of the GEIFO group (Grupo Español de Investigación del Fenómeno Ovni)

Case No.: 007
Case Name: Sighting Over the Sea, Huelva (25 March 1981, 19:00 hours)
Description of Event: According to statements made by Eugenio Burgo Gómez, master of the fishing vessel “Moguer-5”, based in Punta Umbría, Huelva, his ship and six other fishing vessels were returning to port on 25 March 1981 around 19:00 hours when they saw a grayish object over the sea at one meter over the surface of the water. Its approximate size was estimated at some 50 meters at the base an and equal number of meters tall. The object was static, rotating on its own axis. It had a double row of yellow lights.

The closeness to the surface of the water caused it to form whirlpools, obeying the direction of rotation of the object in question.

The observation lasted 20 minutes, after which the UFO ascended vertically and at high speed into the heavens, vanishing from sight. The distance from the object to shore was approximately some 500 meters; the vessel’s trajectory was 000 and its speed was five knots, approximately one mile distant from the harbor entrance.

Points to be Considered:
- Large number of witnesses
- Object had a metallic appearance
- Object was of considerable size
- Proximity of the harbor
- Brushing the water’s surface

Evaluation: Large conical object of metallic appearance with a double row of yellow lights, flying at low altitude, nearly brushing the water’s surface, and rising into the air at high speed, vanishing skyward.

References and sources: Case investigated by GEIFO. Diario de Cádiz

(Translation (c) 2012 S. Corrales, IHU. Special thanks to Angel Rodríguez, GEIFO)

Spain: CE-2 in Gerena, Seville (1980)

Spain: CE-2 in Gerena, Seville (1980)

From the files of GEIFO (Grupo Español de Investigación del Fenómeno Ovni)

Case No.: 004
Case Name: Sighting in Gerena, Seville (30 November 1980 at 21:00 hours)
Event Description: At nine o’clock in the evening, it was time to close the gate that separates the dwelling from the fenced-in area where some 200 yearling bulls were kept at the “La Caldera’ farm, municipality of Gerena, Seville. This establishment is devoted to raising fighting bulls. The keepers of the estate, Mrs. Josefa Acuña and her son Diego Vidal, witnessed an intense glow similar to daylight, coming from the immediate vicinity of the amateur bullfighting field near the house.

Then noticed the presence of a pyramidal object on the ground. This object had a row of intermittent white lights on its left side, a central red light and some red lights of greater size than the intermittent white lights on the right side.

Both witnesses observed the phenomenon as they entered and exited the dwelling at regular intervals over a period of three hours, although they cannot say for sure, since at the end of that time period they stopped coming out to look, and do not know what became of the object.

The 200 yearling bulls asleep in the area were not disturbed throughout the UFO’s presence; neither were the guard dogs on the property, who exhibited particular aggression toward GEIFO members during a site visit. However, members of GEIFO, with our flashlights and camera flash, caused the bulls to stampede, placing us in great danger.

One bull was found dead the next morning, and another injured. It is said that fighting among these bulls is commonplace, so any connection with the sighting is uncertain.

Points to be Considered:
- The long duration of the object in the landing area is to be highlighted.
- Fights among animals of this type are frequent. It is therefore possible that the dead and injured specimens found have no connection to the sighting.

Evaluation: Landing of a Conical or Pyramidal Object of Unknown Origin.

References and Sources: Case investigated by GEIFO. Diario ABC newspaper, Canal Sur TV.

(Translation (c) 2012, S. Corrales, IHU. Special thanks to Angel Rodriguez, GEIFO)

Spain: The Barbate USO (1980)

Spain: Strange Undersea Tracks in Barbate, Cadiz (1980)

From the files of GEIFO (Grupo Español de Investigación del Fenómeno Ovni)

Case No.: 003
Case Name: Strange Undersea Tracks in Barbate, Cadiz (27 June 1980)
Event Description: The story goes back to 27 June 1980 in waters off the locality of Barbate, Cádiz. Ildefonso, a diver with over 15 years’ experience and a local resident, was diving near a tuna trap when he became aware of a series of strange tracks on the bottom of the sea. These marks ran parallel, with a separation of two to three meters between them, following a pre-set and perfectly well-defined path, as the obstacles in this path had been clearly avoided or rounded, causing no damage to the fishing tackle deployed by the tuna trap at the moment.

The story drew media attention under the title “Tracks Beneath the Sea” (Diario de Cádiz) based on a report filed by journalist Juan Jose Benitez, claiming the discovery of track marks resembling those of a vehicle with treads.

Having become aware of the event, we got in touch with the diver, who ratified the events published. He told us that the tracks had been made that very morning, and had they been older, they would have been washed away by the sea.

The tracks were found a depth of 40 meters, approximately. Was a vehicle with crawler tracks operating at a depth of 40 meters?

In November 1983 there appeared a story in the Revista General de Marina (General Navy Review) under the “Weapons” section, discussing a Soviet submarine vehicle being employed on espionage missions on the coasts of Norway and Sweden. This story can be compared to our case involving the crawler tracks. After studying all the available information, it emerged that we were facing a similar case.

On 18 October 1984, we made our suspicions known to the Hon. Admiral of the General Staff of the Navy, in the event that the crawler tracks in question had any connection to some sort of espionage activity in the Straits of Cádiz.

On 20 November, the Diario de Cadiz (11.20.1984) published a story with the title “Soviet Minisubs at Work in the Straits of Gibraltar for Over 10 Years”, seemingly confirming the events.

The Ministry of Defense sent out two agents of the Intelligence Division who contacted GEIFO. One of them pretended to be a member of our group to continue his investigations.

The matter ended with the confirmation – by these agents – that real Soviet espionage was taking place in this area and in the Huelva area.

The Soviets did not deny the facts but stated that they weren’t engaged in espionage activity. Rather, they were looking for the remains of Atlantis (?)

Points to be Considered:

- The tracks match those of a submarine vehicle with a crawler track system.

Evaluation: Soviet espionage activity in the Straits of Gibraltar, confirmed by the Intelligence Service to GEIFO.

References and Sources: Report by the GEIFO group, Diario de Cadiz (11.20.1984) pg. 15, “Provincial” section; letters to the Admiral of the General Staff of the Navy on 18 October 1984; Revista General de Marina No. 724, 1983, “Weapons” Section.

(Translation (c) 2012, S. Corrales, IHU. Special thanks to Angel Rodriguez, GEIFO)

Spain: CE-2 in Huelva (1980)

Spain: Cases Investigated by the GEIFO Group (Grupo Espanol de Investigación del Fenómeno OVNI – Spanish Group for the Research of the UFO Phenomenon)

Case No.: 002
Description of Event:

When Carmelo Villar Sousa returned home to Ayamonte (Huelva) from a discotheque on Isla Cristina in the small hours of the morning, he was pursued by a luminous, spherical object that changed its shape to that of a half-moon. The object placed itself over the witness’s motorcycle, which began to hesitate until it finally stalled out.

The witness got off the motorcycle and broke into a run, holding on to his vehicle. The UFO placed itself over him at low altitude, causing Carmelo to lose sight of everything surrounding him. He could only see an intense red light, resembling “a wall of light” according to his own account. He began to feel a sensation of considerable heat.

Upon reaching a bridge, the object pulled away from the witness, placing itself over some dwellings in Ayamonte. Carmelo tried to start the motorbike by going down a slope repeatedly, but to no avail.

The UFO swooped over him again, prompting the witness to dive to the ground in terror; the object flew over him at an altitude of one meter. The object later rose skyward, losing itself a considerable speed in the direction from which it had initially appeared, adopting the shape of a luminous red orb once again.

Information to be Considered:

- Witness claims having experienced intense heat.
- Claims having been surrounded by walls of heat reminiscent of “cohered beams of light”
- Motorcycle begins to experience problems until it seizes up definitively.
- The motorcycle’s relay points were destroyed.

Evaluation: Possible plasma ball of unknown origin
Sources: Report by Grupo GEIFO, Diario de Cádiz newspaper, Correo de Andalucía newspaper, other sources.

(Translation (c) 2012, S. Corrales, IHU. Special thanks to Angel Rodriguez, GEIFO)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Forgotten Exporers

Writer and researcher Rosa Santizo called our attention to an exhibit currently on display in the Spanish city of Madrid on a hitherto little known aspect of colonial enterprise: the considerable presence of women explorers as active partners in adventure and settlement. The exhibit bears the title “No fueron solos” (They Didn’t Go Alone) and can be seen at the Madrid Naval Museum from 21 May to 30 September, 2012.

An article by Tereixa Constenla provides some fascinating details on these forgotten characters. She focuses initially on the figure of Isabel Barreto, born in Pontevedra, Galicia in 1567, is the only “lady admiral” ever appointed by King Phillip II (of Spanish Armada fame). Well-educated and the daughter of a noble family, Isabel followed her father to Perú in 1580. She met Alvaro de Mendaña six years later, and learned that he had found small quantities of gold and ivory in the Solomons, believing that there must be considerable quantities in the area.

Barreto and her husband, Don Alvaro de Mendaña, shared a dream: they wanted to find Ophir, the legendary land of gold and precious stones, which they believed to be somewhere in Polynesia. Their expedition set out from El Callao in Perú toward the Solomon Islands in 1595, braving the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean: a total of four ships and nearly four hundred men, women and children who planned to settle in the Solomons. Disease and malnutrition did not take long to spread among the crew, decimating the would-be conquerors of legendary Ophir. Isabel’s husband was among the casualties, and his widow had no qualms about assuming command. Barreto is described thus by Pedro Fernández de Quirós, the ship’s pilot: “[A woman] of authoritarian, virile, and undaunted character, who imposed her will upon all those under her command, especially during the perilous voyage to Manila.

The galleon and its moribund crew reached the Marquesas seven thousand miles later, no closer to the mines of Ophir than they were at the port of El Callao. Natives in canoes turned out to greet the explorers, but the meeting between cultures ended in disaster, with deaths on either side.

Her crew was no less hostile than before, but none dared to contest her claims, much less her title of “adelantada (royal officer) of the Western Isles”. Manila was reached without further misadventure, and the expedient Barreto did not delay in remarrying, this time to Fernando de Castro, who would become her new partner in the search for Ophir.

Juan Francisco Maura of the University of Vermont suggests that women were present in two of Christopher Columbus’s journeys to the New World – the 1493 and 1497 sorties. Another academic, Mar Langa Pizarro, puts forth the figure of nearly fourteen thousand female passengers during the colonization period. Some of them held important titles, such as María de Toledo, wife to Columbus’s son Diego, who held the title of Vicereine of the West Indies from 1515 to 1520, although she was denied permission to outfit new expeditions after her husband’s passing.

Other Spanish ladies were luckier, despite lacking viceregal trappings: Francisca Ponce de Leon in Seville outfitted a merchantman, the San Telmo, for regular crossings to Santo Doming less than twenty years after its discovery, or María Escobar, the first importer and grower of wheat in the Americas. This business sense was also seen in Mencía Ortiz, who established her own import-export company to trade with the West Indies in 1549. In an age where the Crown demanded the purchase of a permit to sail off to the Americas, brokers could also be found. Francisca Brava was one such agent.

The article by Tereixa Constenla features a quote by Carolina Aguado, in charge of the Naval Museum exposition. The single uniting factor among all these women, she says, “is that they were women to be reckoned with. They left a country in the 16th century in which women had no participation to board ships on terrifying journeys, facing the threat of both piracy and shipwreck, to reach lands that were completely unknown to them.”

Aguado illustrates her point with a fascinating example – the story of Mencía Calderón, who traveled to the New World with her three daughters as part of her husband Juan de Sanabria’s expedition to resupply the city of Asunción in Paraguay with new settlers. It would take six years for the journey to be completed Following shipwreck and an attack by pirates and hostile natives.

Then there were the warriors: Inés Suárez, a maid to Pedro de Valdivia, set off with him in 1537 to conquer Chile, became his mistress, and a formidable fighter against the Araucan tribes, beheading their chieftains without hesitation, and Ana de Ayala, who sailed along the Amazon River with Francisco de Orellana, in an expedition searching for El Dorado, of which she was the sole survivor, along with a few dozen others.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Crop Circles: Other Aspects of the Las Perdices Case (Argentina)

Crop Circles: Other Aspects of the Las Perdices Case (Argentina)
By Andrea Pérez Simondini and Dr. Luis Reinoso

Research into this case lead us to work on the quest for background information in the same place and region. This survey is extremely important when facing such an important case as the Las Perdices print, as it was known journalistically, given the investigative need to associate a physical event such as an imprint on the ground with the manifestation of lights at the same time that the imprint occurred.

Another significant aspect consists of finding background information, as we said, and Guillermo Gonzalez, one of the owners of the property, managed to put us in contact with the owner of another field who had two similar marks appear on his property in 1998.

As you may recall from the first report on this research, VISION OVNI conducted the investigation with Dr. Luis Reinoso of EDOVNI, who gave a chance to gain a different perspective on the case.

Conclusions Reached by Dr. Luis Reinoso, EDOVNI

This case was researched jointly by members of VISION OVNI in the city of Victoria, Entre Rios, whose director is Silvia Perez Simondini, accompanied by her daughter Andrea Pérez Simondini and a group of associates. I was not planning to make any report on the matter, considering that the one presented by Andrea Pérez Simondini and uploaded to the VISION OVNI site sufficiently elucidated all of the eyewitness accounts collected as well as the photo and film evidence uploaded by Andrea and Silvia for the benefit of the public at large and for all persons interested in the subject of UFOs.

But at Andrea’s request, I submit this report on the “Las Perdices” case, having the honor and pleasure of sharing this research with her.

Prior considerations: sharing research on-site with another research group was extremely important, mainly from the human perspective, showing that it is possible to do this when no one is looking for a “leading role” and each party does what it’s supposed to do before the witnesses themselves, before the evidence itself, and above all, facing an array of peoples looking for answers from us about an event they deemed “strange” and “anomalous”. It was a unique experience, in Andrea’s words. Both Silvia and I had to provide answers to the questions posed by these people, who perhaps approached us only out of curiosity, but most of them did so as a result of having had UFO experiences beforehand – some of them in the Las Perdices region, others in Capilla del Monte and in Greater Buenos Aires.

Upon reaching Las Perdices, we got in touch with G Gonzalez, owner of the local FM radio station operating in the area, and which is the second one, since there is another community FM station belonging to the priest of the local church. Gonzalez spoke to us about the area’s characteristics, mainly about its inhabitants, where the majority was “astonished” by the event. But no one wanted to speak in favor or against it, as the fear or ridicule is very strong here. On the one hand, there are those who say such things are “foolish”, but are in fact showing their fear of the unknown, that for which a logical explanation cannot be found. The people we met at the crop circle told us they dismissed the possibility of a prank by teenagers, since “they’re into something completely different”, and could not imagine “truant kids” doing something, as this would represent more work than they’re willing to do.

Furthermore, the eyewitness accounts or the people interviewed did not want their names and surnames to become known, and initially reacted with suspicion and even some mistrust. After hours went by and we made ourselves known, they opened up and the barrier was erased. From that moment onward, they provided us with all of the required information that was captured on videos and recordings.

A detail we noted was the following request from most witnesses: “don’t let it be like 14 years ago, when researchers gathered all the information and promised to send a report or conclusions, yet never did.” It was a bill we weren’t responsible for, but we promised that it wouldn’t occur, not in this case. Andrea tried to get us out the situation by saying: “Those were other times. There wasn’t much communication and the media was different. Today we have the Internet and you’ll be able to find the report on our website,” They were much more at ease and helpful after that.

Reminiscing About A Case From 1998, Involving Teenagers from Las Perdices

Gonzalez took us to the home of a family whose children and friends had a UFO experience back in 1998. As they left a confitería (sweet shop) located in the town of General Dezha, 11 km distant from Las Perdices, they were followed by a large white light throughout the return trip. The luminous object followed them along the road and over the high-voltage wires. When they realized this, the young man driving the car tried to go faster, but that was when the object got behind the car and shone its lights within it. At that very moment, the teenagers were overwhelmed with panic and something known as “missing time” took place, or rather “they cannot recall what happened after”. They later found themselves somewhere else in town. The odyssey ended at one of the girls’ homes. The father, who was telling us about the event, swung by that house to pick the up. This event had psychological consequences: the daughter was overcome by a permanent sense of fear before going to bed, bordering on panic and terror. On many evenings she would ask her parents to let her sleep with them, and episodes of bed-wetting persisted for a long while. This condition ended over time.

The car involved – a Renault 12 – developed a peculiarity after the incident. Whenever a compass was brought near it, the needle would go wild, indicating the presence of an electromagnetic field. Despite repeated washing with water and detergent, the field persisted for several months.

A Strange Circle in a Sorghum Field

We reached the indicated location at around 15:00 hours. It was located 1000 meters from an urban zone, in a field surrounded by a rural road known by the locals as “Ríspido”. The field covers 120 hectares and belongs to the Tossi family. The data obtained suggests that [the crop circle event] resulted in a family feud, since the surface upon which it appears belongs to one of the nieces, as there is joint ownership, and this niece did not authorize the event to become publicly known. When the incident became known, the field was overrun, with damage inflicted to the sorghum crop. This was inevitable.

We have been suggesting the need, in the light of similar cases, for the corresponding authorities to take measures and decree a ban on the entry or invasion by private parties or curiosity seekers of the premises where these crop circles appear. This would serve to avoid destruction, intoxication or contamination of the scene. Until professionals arrive (from the University, INTA, etc. or UFO groups) with sufficient equipment to make tests and secure evidence for subsequent analysis, freedom of access should be restricted.

When we arrived, the circle was perfect, but its surface had been trampled. We used an aerial photograph as reference, which had been prepared by Vision Ovni as part of the worksheet for this investigation. We proceeded to make measurements. It measured 25 meters in diameter and presented two parallel straight segments measuring 12 meters each. The plants were flattened in a counterclockwise direction (whirlpool-shaped). A grassy section drew our attention: it had a whirlpool effect and the direction was also arranged or displayed counterclockwise.

Andrea discovered some holes near the circle, but beyond its circumference. These can be seen from the air, and we took the aerial photograph into consideration. Material was extracted from them for subsequent analysis. Andrea extracted the amount of soil needed for analysis from the center of the circle. Other perforations made by specialists from Rio Cuarto University were made, and we do not know the results obtained. We were told however that those specialists had not found any signs of radiation.

On the site, and taking in all possible details, it was not possible to detect the passing of any vehicle that was supposedly employed to make the circle, and it would have had to exist, because it is impossible to erase it by the very arrangement of the sorghum crop itself. This is also visible from aerial photographs. That is to say, we reached the conclusion that whoever created the circle, or caused it to happen, arrived from above. We can clearly see the trails created by curiosity-seekers and by our own team when crossing the barbed wire fence and walking toward the circle. Furthermore, the photos clearly show that entering the field through the barbed wire fence parallel to the road is impossible, as there is a 2 meter height from the surface of the road to the final wire, and there is no breakage whatsoever along that border of the property.

If one arrives by car, or better yet, in a 4x4, being taller, it is impossible to look into the field and see the circle. Its existence was only discovered because a combine, four or five meters tall, entered the area. A similar machine went by during our stay in the area, and Andrea asked permission to climb aboard and videotape the scene. The crop circle’s date of creation is estimated between the 6-7 of April 2012. It became publicly known around 26-27 April and we visited the site on 1 May 2012.

Our presence at Las Perdices was not a mystery, since both Andrea and Silvia had been interviewed on the town’s FM station and many people were aware of our visit with the intention of researching the case. As a result of this, a young mother approached us to offer her own account and physical evidence, and what happened to her 12-year-old daughter as they were recording the crop circle with their cellphone: it displayed anomalies or interruptions at the moment the recording function was used, being captured by the cellphone. She was kind enough to give us the recording, which you can see at the Vision Ovni web page.

At night we went to dinner at the San Lorenzo Club, where we took the opportunity to rest up and discuss all the details of the experience, and make plans for the following day.

Recalling Similar Cases from the Year 1998

After breakfast, we went to Don Juan’s house. He is the owner of the field on which two similar circles had appeared in the year 1998. Dr. Lewis and Mr. Sosa of the City of Rio Cuarto investigated this case. It was during a UFO convention in which I participated in 1998, and remember well.

With the characteristic kindness of people from the country’s interior, Don Juan and his wife welcomed us. They asked us into their home in Las Perdices and began to tell us their story: “There used to be a stream, several trees and a sheep pen near our country home. That’s where a circle measuring 25 meters in diameter appeared.” Today, the stream and trees are gone. He provided us with photos of the field at that time. They also told us that beyond the first circle there appeared another similar one, but in this case, what happens every harvest, is that the yield is increased or the plants grow as though fortified by something.”

We conducted a photo survey of the places where the marks appeared; we spoke to their children and employees.

Don Juan showed us some spheres he found in the field back in 1998. One of them could be part of a meteorite, the others could be worked by human hands, perhaps from the time when natives occupied the land.” All of these were matters worthy of research and we departed, in the end, with many questions, but pleased to have visited Las Perdices. This marks the end of the report.

To see the videos, please visit:

(Translation (c) 2012, Scott Corrales, Institute of Hispanic Ufology (IHU). Special thanks to Guillermo Gimenez, PLANETA UFO)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Spain: A Humanoid at Fuengirola (CE-3, 1976)

Spain: A Humanoid at Fuengirola (CE-3, 1976)
By Manuel Ramírez, “Ovnis en Andalucía”

On the night of 9-10 July, 1976, a group of young photography enthusiasts agreed to travel to a small country home owned by one of them in the vicinity of Fuengirola (Malaga). They reached the house at around one o’clock in the morning on a warm summer evening. The main purpose of their journey was to test new photographic gear and spend some days at the beach. As they settled in, a member of the group (as told by Manuel Linares to researchers Miguel Peyró, Emilio Linares, Inés Pérez, Ignacio Benvenuty, Ricardo Lineros and Manuel Ontivero of the CIEPE group) informed his friends that according to word of mouth, a flying saucer had been seen to sweep across the skies “like a luminous stain”. No one took him seriously.

However, shortly after taking photographs within the house, the new arrivals began hearing a deep, powerful respiration, comparable to a strange animal panting outside the dwelling. The five young men went outside with more curiosity than fear, thinking that it could be a prank, or the likelihood that a burglar had taken advantage of the cover of darkness to conduct his activities, as the summer house was normally unoccupied. Armed with axes and machetes, the young men turned on some flashlights and set out to explore the surroundings, hoping to find the source of the odd panting they had heard in the silence of the night. The heavy panting stopped the minute they turned on their flashlights. The silence became more intense. It seemed that alleged animal, or whatever it was, had vanished.

At five o’clock in the morning, Manuel Linares was roused from a deep sleep by some strange noises. He alerted his friends and all of them were able to hear the sound of panting respiration once again, punctuated by a whistling sound resembling the sound made by a car braking on pavement.

Three of the young men ran toward a hallway with a window that opened precisely toward the location the sounds were being heard. The approached it at a crouch, fearing discovery by the strange visitor. When they reached the window, they saw the source of the loud panting they’d heard...and it made their blood run cold.

Standing beside a tree was a sort of very tall man, taller than the tree itself, with two very bright sources of light where his eyes should have been. The figure’s outline was lost in the darkness, although the figure appeared to be enveloped in a black robe.

Following a few minutes of genuine panic, their reaction was to find the machetes with which to fight off a possible act of aggression from the strange prowler. Upon leaving the house, they found that the figure had either concealed itself or vanished. The only possible clue was that the surrounding temperature became considerably warmer, and a powerful smell of sulfur filled the air. Manuel Linares returned to his room, from where he saw something even stranger.

“I saw a shadow walk past the doorway, neither quickly nor slowly. I turned on the lights and tried to hide. The shadow, making noises like the sound of deep breathing, walked right by.”

Linares and his buddies took shelter in the house and didn’t dare leave again. Shortly after, a new sound startled them: strange footsteps could be heard on the rooftop. Momentarily, “something” started banging on the doors and windows, as though trying to enter the house. The feeling was could not be described. The banging sound faded after a while and there was no further sign of the “visitor”, but they’d experienced enough, and returned to Seville immediately. The long night siege was over.

Only some facts bear out the story told by the five youths: in that very same area, more or less a year before the night siege, a series of unexplained events had taken place. Many animals of various species had been found dead within a short span of time. No natural cause was found to account for their deaths.

(Translation (c) 2012, Scott Corrales, Institute of Hispanic Ufology. Special thanks to José Manuel García Bautista)

Spain: The Algeciras Humanoids (CE-3, 1980)

Spain: The Algeciras Humanoids (CE-3, 1980)
By Manuel Ramirez, “Ovnis en Andalucia”

On 12 February 1980, Rafael Tobajas, a resident of the city of Algeciras, accompanied his wife to visit some friends, another married couple in which the wife was bedridden with the flu. From the terrace of that apartment, Rafael Tobajas was able to see some strange lights moving in the direction of “Los Adalides”. This marked the start of a strange story that was echoed by the local press and became the talk of the town in Algeciras.

A strange phenomenon repeated itself night after night in February 1980 along the local highway, known by the name “Botafuego” and linking the towns of Llano de la Vega, Garganta del Capitán and Sierra de Ojen. Around 9:30 p.m. every night, lights resembling white fireballs with violet hues crossed the firmament. Many witnesses agreed that these object, upon descending for closer inspection, resembled inverted teacups with red and green lights, shooting beams of light, with protruding antennae from their upper sections. The objects were able to change position and altitude quickly. Their heading, according to local witnesses, was always the same: from North to South, descending slowly over Sierra de Ojén toward the Algeciras neighborhoods known as “Los Adalides”, “La Granja” and Camino Viejo de Los Barrios. The objects made no noise whatsoever and moved speedily.

Rafael Tobajas and his wife, on their visit to the couple with the ailing wife, were the first to see something strange in the sky when they looked out on the apartment’s terrace at nine thirty in the evening. Tobajas had heard, like everyone else in Algeciras, about the remarks being made in the city at the time, and paid little attention to what he saw. He thought it was a bright flash and re-entered the apartment without further concern. Subsequently, however, driven by curiosity, he decided to focus his eyes on the same spot in the distance. There was no doubt that something was moving in the air, wobbling and emitting readily discernible flashes of light. He summons his host and asks him accompany him to the site for a closer look in order to ascertain its nature and observe it in greater detail. His friend declined, and Tobajas and his wife set off on their own.

Driving their car down the old road to Los Barrios, they passed by the entrance to the Los Adalides school. Standing outside was a group of thirty or forty boys armed with sticks and flashlights. Tobajas exchanged some words with the boys and three of them – as many as he could fit in his car – agreed to join in on the closer look, since they too had seen something odd in the night. José A. Sanjuan, José Rodriguez and Diego Gutierrez boarded the car and guided Rafael Tobajas along the narrow road leading to the area where the strange flying craft materialized.

A few kilometers away, upon reaching a garbage-burning pit in the vicinity, they saw two bright lights on the slopes of the Sierra de Ojen. Stopping the car, they used binoculars to focus on two luminous masses dancing in the air for some ten or fifteen minutes. The light show was attractive, but their curiosity grew apace as they objects descended. Looking through the binoculars and unaided, Tobajas, his wife and the three boys were able to see that the two lights were like “headlights” of a dark grey mass whose outlines could not be made out in the darkness.

Mrs. Tobajas is the first to discover something that will cause fear and uncertainty among the group: She is able to see, through binoculars, a figure emerging from the unknown craft and standing nearly three meters tall, perhaps taller. Rafael Tobajas took the lenses from his wife and confirms the sighting, only it wasn’t one, but two figures standing slightly over three meters tall, clad in form-fitting khaki green outfits and walking in slow motion, as though weighed down by their feet. They saw the figures jumping over some bushes, at which point their limbs became perfectly discernible.
The distance between one figure and the other was about a hundred meters at most, and the vehicle was near a stream on the slides of a small mound. No buzzing sounds are heard. The brightness of the craft became more intense, causing the two figures to cast their shadows over the stream. Walking slowly, they appeared to be headed to where Tobajas and his companions observed the events. The children were starting to panic, but Tobajas, remaining calm, fears that something worse is about to happen, as he cannot bring himself to believe what he is seeing. He chooses to put the car in gear and abandon the area as quickly as possible.

As the car raced away down the narrow road, the boys still feel the sensation that the entities were coming after them, moving slowly. After going around a curve, they lost sight of the humanoids. The experiencers agree on what they have seen, and numerous witnesses in the area corroborate the details of the sighting.

A few hours after the sighting, the main witness [Tobajas] returned to the site, finding an array of strange footprints on the ground. On this second venture, a person having no connection to the first group, in order to insure objectivity, accompanied him. The prints discovered in the vicinity of the stream appear to belong – according to experts from the Red Nacional de Corresponsales (National Correspondents Network) – to mortar rounds fired during exercises by the military brigade at Botafuegos. They dismiss the possibility, however, that the events seen that night could have had any connection to the military. Furthermore, there is another detail that corroborates the strange possibility of a humanoid presence in the area.

It took place a few kilometers away from the scene of the events and has a single protagonist: the watchman of an automobile graveyard near Los Barrios.

On the evening of 12 February 1980, the graveyard watchman was snoozing inside one of the vehicles, which still had its doors and windows, to shelter himself from the cold temperature. Fast asleep, he suddenly felt a hand pounding on the car window. He woke up suddenly and was stunned by what he saw. On the other side of the auto glass, he saw an entity with female features, slanted eyes and greenish skin. Taking hold of a long stake he kept handy to ward off potential thieves, and gripped by a mixture of panic and bravery, the watchman opened the car door to give the strange character a beating. Emerging from the vehicle without the visitor offering any resistance, the watchman was able to see the female figure dematerialize before his very eyes.

Overwhelmed by panic, the watchman deserted his post and never went back.

This event, however, did not seem to be the first one recorded in the area in question: in September 1959 at 2:30 a.m., a worker at a pump house in the city of Algeciras was able to see an oval object surrounded by a “visor”, measuring six or seven meters in diameter and hovering 180 centimeters over the ground. Two human-looking figures stood between the object and the onlooker. He placed their height at one meter eighty, and they fled from him upon being discovered. Twenty-one years later, Tobajas, his wife and companions were able to see a similar situation to the one experienced by the cemetery watchman and the pump house worker – one they could not explain.

(Translation (c) 2012, Scott Corrales, IHU. Special thanks to J. Manuel García Bautista)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Follow-Up: The A Graña UAV (Spain, 1966)

Follow-Up: The A Graña UAV (Spain, 1966)
By Scott Corrales

Our friend and colleague Angel Rodriguez, director of Spain’s GEIFO organization, has sent us an update on the fascinating story involving the 1966 account of the UFO that turned out to be a UAV – of sorts. Angel brings to our attention a three minute clip aired on Televisión de Galicia (TVG) on the remarkable incident, bearing the title “Ovni recuperado polo exército” (UFO recovered by the army) and featuring an interview with the eyewitness who actually managed to see the recovered object nestled saftely inside one of the color-coded tunnels deep in the cliffside, surrounded by armed guards.

Juan Daniel Araoz, the witness, says the following: “It had the aspect of a flying saucer, as commonly described, and must have measured some twelve meters in diameter more or less, and had lights that went on and off, green, red and yellow, intermittently. It flew over the area slowly, remained in sight for some twenty, twenty-five minutes, and then slowly made its way toward [the town of] Bazán, and from there to the mouth of the ría.”

The object at some point plunged into the ocean and was subsequently recovered by fishermen, who hauled it back to shore, only to have it confiscated by the military.

Araoz, however, was able to see the object after it was under custody.

“A sailor, at the instructions of his commander, took me to the tunnels, an impressive series of tunnels, because that place is a naval base, full of ammunition, and then when we reached a room, he suddenly told me: “it’s this.” That’s when I saw, in fact, the color of the object that I’d seen, a yellowish color. To my astonishment, I saw the writing “NASA” followed by some numbers underneath. I was stunned, since I was a believer in the presence of extraterrestrial flying saucers.”

This discoidal craft does not match any of the known UAVs or drones in use from 1960 to 1970: Beech AQM-37 Jayhawk, target (1961), QH-50 DASH, attack (torpedo launch),Ryan Model 147/AQM-34 series Fire Fly and Lightning Bug, reconnaissance (1962), Northrop M/BQM-74A Chukar, target, decoy (1964), Lockheed D-21, reconnaissance (1964), Ryan AQM-91 Firefly, reconnaissance (1968) and the BQM-90, target (1970). All of these models had wings.

So what was the mysterious NASA-identified vehicle that crashed into Galician waters in 1966? A piece of Soviet technology captured by the military and tested overseas? A relic of Nazi aeronautics being tested for unknown properties? Until the file on A Graña is released, the field for speculation remains wide open.

Addendum: Only a few hours after posting this item, Angel Rodriguez sent us a photograph of the entrance to Tunnel No.3 (covered by a color-coded door, this one green) with some very interesting commentary about Spain's nuclear ambitions during the Franco years. It would appear that considerable uranium enrichment took place in underground facilities such as these, and that the government had access to (U.S. supplied) Nike-Hercules missiles. Unconfirmed reports suggested that this nuclear force would have been used in the Sahara against the Green March - a chilling prospect. Here is the photo in question:

UFO Crash/Retrievals in Chile

[Stories of saucer crashes and retrievals are not the exclusive province of the American Southwest. The Pacific coast of South America has some interesting cases to offer, as we can see from Raul Núñez's "UFO Crash/Retrivals in Chile. Mr. Núñez is the director of his country's branch of the Instituto de Investigaciones Espaciales (IEEE) and a frequent contributor to Inexplicata. This article appeared in Issue #9 of the INEXPLICATA journal -- SC]

UFO Crash/Retrievals in Chile
By Raul Núñez

On October 7, 1998 at 15:45 hours, residents of Paihuano, a small village in Valle de Elquí (Chile) underwent an extraordinary experience which keep its 2,500 residents on the edge of their seats. A flying object described as having a metallic color and measuring some 15 meters across remained motionless over the Las Mollacas hill, from which the entire town could be seen.

The object began to rise and abruptly made a sudden turn that split it in two before the awestruck witnesses. One part of the object fell on hill's peak and the other behind it. Accounts collected on the field by this correspondent among the many persons who wintessed the uncanny event lead us to consider the following events: a) the object witnessed was metallic (silvery); b) the sun's rays reflected off its structure, aiding its visibility; c) Its shape was elongated; d) it remained on the summit of the hill throughout the afternoon of Wednesday the 7th, Thursday the 8th and Friday the 9th, when it was removed by personnel in uniform; e) all of the townsfolk, including mayor Lorenzo Torres, witnessed the event; f) earthquakes were registered after the object fell to the ground; g) electric blackouts covered the entire region; h) radio and TV broadcasts throughout Paihuano, Pisco Elquí and Monte Grande (two neighboring towns) were disrupted.

In view of the alarm caused by the event, a detachment of Carabineros (Chilean militarized police) looked at the object through binoculars and made an effort to reach the area on horseback after confirming the events described by the locals. The rocky soil, composed of sedimentary stone, made getting to the top an arduous affair--it is known that several efforts were made to reach the top and that one of the animals died during the operation. Furthermore, communications between the police forces and their base were successfully intercepted: the law enforcement agents stated that they had found nothing on the summit, but that "comments would be made after the descent."

This transmission was sent by means of "Condor One", the special code employed by local police only in very special cases, and it is the first and only instance of the Carabineros taking part in this matter. 24 hours later, this unit was relieved military personnel dispatched to the area to take charge of the investigation. Independent researchers carried out a survey among the local population to confirm in detail all of the information on what transpired as of the moment that the military forces cordoned off the area.

A Military Operation

Military personnel did not restrict its investigation to the residents of Paihuano--it extended the operation to cover the neighboring towns of Pisco Elquí and Monte Grande, aside from "combing" nearby hills to expel the local muleteers. This correspondent's investigation, conducted jointly with military analyst and local researcher Roderick Bowen, was able to ascertain that local hotels reported an increase in the demand for lodging by U.S citizens who in all instances claimed to be tourists.

On Friday, October 9, several eyewitnesses described the arrival of trucks bearing uniformed personnel. Residents of the sector nearest the hill, including the goatherds who customarily make use of secondary alternative routes, were issued orders to refrain from ascending the hill and to stay away from the location.

A goatherd who was in the rear of Las Mollacas, and who will not state his name for fear of reprisals, claims having seen the arrival of unmarked helicompters. These vehicles worked tirelessly from midneite until the early hours of Friday the 9th to hoist the object on metallic nets. It was subsequently installed in containers which were dragged to the positions occupied by large trucks belonging to the armed forces.

Researcher Patricio Díaz, who lives in the area, managed to collect several accounts from locals who described the nocturnal operations of these unmarked choppers as they lit vast part of the hill and recovered the strange object on its summit, which shined intensely throughout Thursday the 8th before the startled eyes of Paihuano's residents. Omar Prieto, manager of the "Gabriela Mistral" tourist resort in the town of Pisco Elquí, stated the following: "I had the chance to see it with my own eyes. It was something like the wing of an airplane, everyone could see it. It remained on the hill for 2 1/2 days. After that, it disappeared during the night and there was no further information. Soldiers and members of the Carabineros kept us from going up the hill. Strange things are always going on here, such as blackouts or TV interference. We don't know why."

The site used by the military as their base is known as "La Palmilla" and is located on the slopes of the hill. The tread marks left behind by heavy trucks were in evidence the day after the object was collected, and intense activity was also reported behind the hill. One witness claimed that there was a large cleft, measuring some 5 meters long and some 40 centimeters deep, surrounded by bootprints and heavy vehicle tracks. This account was confirmed hours later by researchers Patricio Díaz, Luis Sánchez Perry, Miguel Jordán and Roderick Bowen, members of ESIO (Equipo Superior de Investigaciones Ovnilógicas), who visited the area to conduct field research.

As of Monday the 12th, persons climbing to the summit of Las Mollacas find stones painted the color of aluminum, clearly giving the appearance of being some sort of premeditated disinformation effort. Surprising hypotheses were aired to explain the strange glare--abandonded beverage bottles, or an optical effect caused by sunlight.

Significant Reactions

The El Tololo astronomical observatory stated unequivocally that the phenomenon had been caused by an out-of-control weather balloon which had fallen in Las Mollacas. However, Gustavo Rodríguez of the Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil and Secretary of the Comité de Estudios de Fenómenos Aéreos Anómalos (CEFAA) made it clear that there was no information regarding the lauching of a weather balloon in the area, since all activities of this sort require 48 hours advanced notice.

Strangest of all is that El Tololo assumed powers it didn't have, even going beyond the competence of the CEFAA, while this Air Force-dependent agency recused itself and did not even initiate an investigation into the area, at least not officially. During the interview granted to this correspondent, General Ricardo Bermudez, CEFAA's director, stated that his agency simply had no faith in the events occurrd at Paihuano. However, an interesting bit of information emerged in a subsequent conversation with Mario Dusuel, a psychiatric consultant for CEFAA who had visited the area along with geophysicist Carlos Leiva. Apparently, these persons collected the testimony of a muleteer who had been visited by a captain in the Chilean Air Force who questioned him about the object's fall. Now then, if CEFAA officially recused itself in this case, why then did it covertly send some of its best-qualified members to the area?

Incident at Quebrada de Huchumi

Valle de Elquí is a special place. Its soil is rich in minerals and even has uranium deposits which are often related to the UFO phenomenon. On June 15, 1998, only four months prior to the Paihuano incident, an object which had crashed into the snow in the region known as Quebrada de Huchumi was detected, some 20 kilometers from Cerro Tololo. The crash was accompanied by a deafening noise. Windows on many local homes shattered to pieces while an intense, lightining-like flash gave witnesses the impression that "night had turned into day."

The spectacular luminous phenomenon reached the localities of El Indio and Ovalle, located at a distance of some 200 kilometers away. Sudden storms were also detected. Eyewitnesses speak in terms of the panic created: a local taxi driver named Juan Veliz, who carried four passengers along the road from Paihuano to Vicuña, felt powerless in the face of the fear that gripped his passengers. "I'm a highly skeptical person," Veliz told researchers. "But that night last June, my passengers were made very nervous by a great light that flooded the entire valley. It's as if it had suddenly become daylight. I couldn't stop them from getting out of the vehicle in the middle of the road to pray. The fact is that I see lights chasing me constantly when I drive at night. These lights pop out from behind the mountains and I get the impression tha they respond to something that's intelligence. I've lived in this valley all my life and many people have seen the same things I have..."

On this occasion, the Quebrada de Huchumi area was also afflicted by a considerable amount of "official" acitivity. According to eyewitness accounts, the object was recovered and transferred to Vicuña aboard large, containerized military trucks, in exactly the same way seen months later at Paihuano.

This region is constantly visited by "flying lights" reminiscent of the so-called "Foo Fighters". Only scant days before this researcher arrived in the city of La Serena, that city's lighthouse was "buzzed" by strange lights for some twenty minutes. Local residents are familiar with these phenomena due to their frequency.

Everything points to the fact that the authorities are trying to cover up events which have sometimes escaped from their hands. Too many people witnessed the object on the summit of Las Mollacas hill. Moreover, the fear of reprisals is still palpable when interviewing witnesses. Nevertheless, there are photos of the helicopters busy at work in the region and recordings of communications between the military personnel involved in the recovery operations. All of this material is zealously guarded to avoid complicating the lives of persons living in the area and who have kindly provided their assistance with this investigation. Many of them hold positions in public administration and even political appointments.

An Alien Spaceship?

In the light of these events, it is well worth asking if we are facing the prospect of crashed alien vessels or the collision of secret military prototypes. We must keep in mind that these events coincided with the UNITAS Exercises held jointly by the Chilean and U.S. military.

Some researchers have expressed the belief that it is precisely when said joint exercises are held that UFO activity reaches its highest point in Chile. But there are also considerable accounts which support the suspicion that -- in the cases in question -- crashed alien artifacts could be involved. Thus, for example, the research conducted in Vicuña includes the statements made by a hospital worker who claimed having seen some strange bags during the recovery of the remains of the Las Mollecas object. According to his account, said bags are similar to the body bags employed in collecting corpses.

Are we dealing with a secret military operation or a UFO crash? The numerous accounts regarding the activities conducted to "recover the thing that fell" cannot be ignored.

(Translation (c) 2001, Scott Corrales, Institute of Hispanic Ufology. This article originally appeared in Año Cero No.06-119)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Argentina: What Happened at La Aurora?

[This article by our friend and colleague Pablo Villarubia appeared in Inexplicata #12 (Summer 2003). It describes one of the most shocking UFO incidents of the year 1977 - the so-called "Tonna Case", named after its protagonist, rancher Angel María Tonna - SC]

What Happened at La Aurora?
by Pablo Villarubia Mausó

I left Montevideo behind and was heading twoard the city of Salto on the Argentinean border, riding a dilapidated bus in order to rescue from oblivion the events which occurred one distant February 17, 1977. The central protagonist of the story was the owner of the La Aurora ranch, a man named Angel María Tronna. The victims included one dog, several sheep, a bull and one horse -- gravely affected by an object come from afar.

The first thing I did upon arriving was making a straight line toward the office of the El Pueblo newspaper to consult old newspapers which would put me on the track of the "Tonna Case". The Saturday the 19th edition was already legendary, since it presented the first news item on the macabre event.

On Sunday, February 13, 1977, at 5:30 a.m., Julio Cesar Rattín, 18, the youngest son of Angel Tonna, witnessed a UFO at a distance of some 150 meters, suspended of a copse of eucalyptus trees. It was light-emitting disk that illuminated a broad swath of countryside. On the following day, Monday at midnight, Tonna's wife, Elena Margarita Rattín, was watching TV before going to bed when a blackout suddenly occured. Upon going outside to insure the operation of their generator, she noticed an intense glow over La Aurora. Frightened, she ran back into the house.

It was the February 20, 1977 edition that anounced half a page saying "UFO in a ranch near the Daymán: Seen on three occasions." The anonymous journalist said that at 04:00 on February 17, Tonna, his children and some farmhands witnessed a strong light coming from behind a shed in which they stored feed. It was then that they saw a "flying saucer" measuring some 3 meters in diameter at an altitude of 15 meters. "The cows were frightened and stampeded, trampling one of the workers; the dogs howled in terror and we couldn't contain our astonishment. I was able to notice that the lights of the farm and the vicinity were totaly out and that the generator "coughed", threatening to seize up. THe disk moved slowly, almost in a zig-zag motion, and after passing over the pasture pond it headed toward the eucalyptus copse--the same one as on Sunday--and after a while wi didn't see it again," Tonna told the journalist.

The journalist interviewed the children and farmhands of the property. All versions agreed. Tonna spoke of the strange prints that had emerged three months ago on the pasture, shaped like a horseshoe 40 to 50 cm wide and with some parts more deeply sunk into the ground than others. It had a diameter of 3 meters and a variety of mushrooms began to grow inside it. At first the grass was burned but another type of grass soon sprang up to replace it. In spite of the assortment of data offered by the journalistic account, there were even more important elements missing -- some which Angel María Tonna and his people decided not to tell the reporter from El Pueblo.

The Mummified Dogs

It wasn't easy for me to find out more about La Aurora. I ased a few people on the street about the subject, even though 20 years had gone by, the memory fo the event was still fresh in the minds of many citizens. Some said it had all been a hoax, a lie, and others beleived that it was real and were even aware of the appearance of "unidentifieds" in the region for a few years now. Even luckier ones had also witnessed the transit of "flying saucers" over the county, such as twenty-year old Andrea Carpanesi. "What I am going to tell you took place in early 1997 at around 23:30 hours in front of the house in which I live. I was with my friend Cecilia, and looking northward an intense light appeared. The entire neighborhood was looking at it. It was almost orange in color, making a pendular movement. It lasted five minutes. Seeing such things is commonplace around here," Andrea said.
"Could you find out if it was a satellite or an aircraft?" I inquired.
"I called the weather bureau and I was told that no satellites were flying overhead, nor weather balloons or aircraft. They couldn't tell me what it was, iether. But I can tell you something else that's very interesting..."
"Go ahead," I encouraged her.
"Around 1993 I studied at the Universidad de Salto. The word spread that the School of Veterinary Medicine had two very strange dogs. With one of my friends, we sneaked into one of the labs, since it was forbidden to see these animals. I remember it all perfectly because it scared me. We saw a dead dog that had been propped up "alive". It was intact and even looked alive. It was black in color and medium-sized. Some students said that for unknown reasons, both this and another dog which I couldn't see did not decompose or didn't do so with the normal speed associated with death. Furthermore, they added that they had been found at the La Aurora ranch. Nothing further was ever said about the subejct," explained Campanesi.
That very same day I headed to the School of Veterinary Medicine. Everything I heard upon asking about dead dogs at La Aurora was a "we don't know" and an almost unbearable silence accompanied by not very friendly glances...
The next step in assembling this puzzle was to find journalist Carlos Ardaix, one of the first to appear after the incidents of February 1977. This man, with a Basque-French surname, welcomed me into his home and told me about his contact with Angel Tonna: "At that time hosted a radio show with a considerable following. It was when Angel Maria Tonna phoned me adn said: "If you want to know the truth atbout La Aurora and why the city's lights went out, come over." I went with two or three people from the radio sation. When we arrived Tonna was still rather upset. He told me that at 0400 hours they had seen a light behind the shed and thought that it was on fire. The horses, the dogs...all of the animals were frightened. Tonna walked to some 50 meters of where the apparatus was. It approached slowly and Angel fell to the ground, covering his face with his arm to avoid the powerful light. Later the object vanished at high speed," the newspaperman explained.
There was talk of burned or severed wires...
"When I reached the ranch the steel wires were still cut and the cables of the electrical facility. The engine's piston broke down, a very expensive breeding bull died slowly...I understand that an autopsy was performed on it at the School of Medicine and no cause of death was established. The same happened to several sheep, whose wool was singed black and left like rough wifer. A very fierce dog that Tonna kept died little by little. Tonna had a skin eruption on the arm that he used to shield his face from the light.
You did not doubt Tonna's information?
No, he seemed very sincere. In any event, as a journalist, I tried to find other witnesses. One of the farmhands had already seen something similar near the site. I visited other farms near La Aurora, sicne i thought a local may have seen the UFO. I asked a foreman and he told me hadn't seen anything at night. As we walked out, a farmhand chopping wood told me: "We all saw what happened at night, but we were forbidden to speak of it." After that we transmitted Tonna's recording over the air. There was a chain reaction. Many people started visiting the site, like those Americans who wanted to take him back to the U.S. for testing.
Do you recall who these men were?
No. It was said at the time that they were from NASA, but I'm not sure. I think there was an American journalist [among them]. At the time the Salto Grande dam was being built and there were Japanese engineers staying at the farm. One physician--Dr. Menoni--discovered through some photographs that there was considerable radiation in the trees at La Aurora. The Japanese confirmed it on their measurment devices.
What about the burns on Tonna's arm?
It was a burn that would reoccur sporadically. The electocardiogram machine would't work when the electrodes would be placed on him. That's what two doctors I know told me. After two years the burns began to fade. It was something truly strange that could've had something to do with radiation.
So..what about the blackouts?
No one has been able to explain why there were so many blackouts in 1977. On the night on which the events played out in La Aurora there was a half-hour long blackout. In following days there were others, always whenever UFOs appeared.
Could there have been somtehing more behind the events? Human manipulation perhaps?
Never! I can tell you that the breeding bull he had died, and it was worth a fortune. That wasn't a joke. The pedigree horse didn't die...he was a stud and was rendered sterile.
Is it true that the ranch became a place of pilgrimage?
Yes, but Angel Tonna, in recent years, is sick of receiving callers and has chosen not to let anyone in and to refuse interviews. I understand, because he wants to work normally, look after his animals and his property. So many people came from all over the world came, like American ufologists James Hurtak and Bob Pratt, Pedro Romaniuk from Argentina. Tonna showed me a letter in which Antonio Ribera claimed to be interested in visiting La Aurora but he couldn't come. The most controversial was a visit by Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon. No one knows why he visited...
And to these pilgrimages still go on?
Sometimes entire buses of people come seeking cures. Yes, they think the place was blessed by a supernatural force. It was decided to build a crypt to Padre Pío there and don't ask me why. The people who find the warning sign advising them to stay away from La Aurora cross the road where they find the chapel of teh prioest that makes miracles, healings...

Radioactivity on the Farm

On the following day I tried contacting Tonna and his relatives using the phone numbers featured in the localk directory. After some frustrated events, I managed to speak to one of his sons, the veterinarian, and he told me that his father no longer spoke of Angel Tonna. The matter was closed for him.

My only alternative was to open other fronts. One of these was to locate doctor Juan María Menoni, the same one who took photographs in the area which showed traces of radiation. "I'm not a ufologist," he said, "but I became interested in the case at the time. When I visited the site, I found that part of the fence had been melted. The generator and the motor had burned out. I took a sample of tree bark that had been burned by the UFO. A photographer friend suggested that I place the piece of bark over a strip of 35mm film. When we developed the film some strange spots appeared on the film.

Without a word, Menoni went to his office and returned with some photo enlargements which showed the result of the vegetable matter's exposure. "It's curious. It seemed to be charged with radiation, but where was the radiation coming from? It must've been from the mysterious flying saucer."

A few days later, in Buenos Aires, I had an interview with famous parapsychologist and ufologist Antonio Las Heras, who had visited La Aurora in 1978 to look into the case. "What happened there drew my attention. I saw the trees, the toppled eucalyptuses, almost uprooted, as though a giant hand had played with them. I saw the branches ripped off by a UFO's effects. In fact, they looked like someone had smashed them, making them tumble over and over. I found calcined rock with vitreous formation on the sandstone. For vitrification to occur, the tempuratures must be in excess of a thousand degrees [Centigrade]. I saw giant mushrooms measuring a meter and a half in diameter, standing inside the strange marks left by the UFOs. Only radiation could have mutated those living organisms."

Las Heras told me that Tonna had been accompanied by a police dog that fateful night. "The animal died three days later. They said that it had no blood, as though it had been absorbed through its flesh, which had developed an inconsistent appearance, like flesh that has been boiled. The dog's skin was burned in seeral pales and its tail hairs were bristled like wire. No one was able to offer a diagnosis for what occurred," he said, shaking his head.

"What happened to the bull?" I asked, trying to avoid showing surprise at his words.

"It was a show animal of great value and it died with the very same symptoms as the dog, but after a week. The horse--a stallion--was left sterile. The sheep deaths were also mysterious: they had a sort of band around their bodies which passed through their withers. IT was really a burned patch, as though a branding iron had been applied, according to Tonna."

That made me react, associating the facts with the enigmatic manifestationsof the infamous Chupacabras, but much later, in the mid-Nineties. A large amount of farm animals turned up dead in several Latin American countries, generally bled dry, attacked by an unknown creature or force.

Uruguayan ufologist Jorge Monsalve, whom I couldn't locate, also interviewed Tonna around the time. In his book Encuentros Cercanos con OVNIS (Montevideo, 1995), Monsalve explains how he arrived in time to see the Normandy bull, imported from France, still alive. Tonna asked the man to touch the animal's horns: "That being said, I extended my hand and [the horn] practically crumbled in my fingers. A sad and disagreeable experience."

(Translation (c) 2003, Scott Corrales, Institute of Hispanic Ufology)