Friday, March 05, 2021

The Forgotten UFO Wave of the 1980s










The Forgotten UFO Wave of the 1980s

By Scott Corrales

Many UFO authorities in the U.S. and Europe generally agree that the 1980s were a ‘lost decade’ for UFO research. Books were no longer published, magazines disappeared, and interest in the subject as a whole went into abeyance until the sensational claims of the early 1990s.

In his editorial “A Ufology for the 1980s” (International UFO Reporter, March / April 1985) Jerome Clark wrote: “For one thing, since 1947 there has never been a period that has seen so little UFO activity […]. It remains to be seen whether the absence of significant UFO activity is a fluke or whether it marks a return to things as they were before 1947, when UFOs were so rarely sighted that society at large didn’t even have a name for them. Now, of course, the firm place UFOs occupy in popular culture will assure the survival of flying-saucer mythology for some time to come, even in the relative absence of sightings.”

Across the ocean in Spain, researcher Ignacio Cabria had the following to say:” In early 1982, it seemed that UFOs had vanished from the skies, and some wondered if the phenomenon had gone extinct […]. UFO research had entered a ‘dark age’ and a mass defection from the ranks of ufology had begun. Some of those who had participated most actively in the development of ufology were sneaking out the back door, demoralized by the general rollback of interest in the subject, the lack of means and the absence of substantial theoretical gains achieved in so many years of devotion. Those who had entered the field with a passion, secretly hoping to witness humanity’s giant step in achieving contact with an alien civilization could not help but to feel dejected by the phenomenon’s disappearance, especially when in 1979, a level of euphoria had been attained that led many to believe that unraveling the UFO mystery was at hand.”

However, one could be tempted to quote the astronomer Galileo’s  defiant “Eppur si muove” as elsewhere in round the world, the phenomenon  showed the vibrancy that had characterized it a decade earlier.

During the Iran-Iraq War of 1980, Agence France Presse issued a news wire from its Tehran bureau concerning an intriguing incident. Iranian anti-aircraft batteries, it seemed, had opened fire against an unidentified flying object, believing it to be a secret weapon developed by the Iraqis or given to them by Western powers abetting Saddam Hussain’s efforts against the Islamic Republic. The Iranian news agency had also reported that a flash of red light had traveled at moderate speed over Tehran, seen by numerous onlookers, who remarked that it flew lower than the altitudes associated with Iraqi fighter jets. Citizens of Isfahan had also been treated to the sight of an unknown object in 1982.

Despite the dearth of UFO cases in Spain, it was still possible to come across the odd incident, such as the January 18, 1984 event in which two students photographed a UFO near Cádiz. The memorable photograph appeared in the Diario SUR newspaper with the following text:  "Around 11:30 yesterday, an unidentified flying object flew above the Cadiz Highway for a very brief span of time, its maneuvers being witnessed by some thirty people from the San Carlos district."


Suspicions arose as to the 'convenient' fact that the two young men involved in the photograph happened to have such a device available to them at that time (it may be hard for some to remember that we did not always carry cameras or have a culture of taking snapshots of everything and anything!), but the explanation given was that one of the two friends was testing a recently purchased camera and were outdoors taking a photo of a dog. Hence, when the intruder appeared in the early morning sky, they were perfectly equipped for it.

The object vanished into the distance at high speed.

Across the wide Atlantic Ocean and in the Southern Hemisphere, August ’85 was proving to be a powerhouse of UFO activity in Chile. News agencies reported that the “bizarre auditive phenomena” in the skies above Santiago de Chile, the nation’s capital, ‘appeared to be linked to the UFO phenomenon’. Three loud detonations – possible sky quakes – were heard over the city, with the military hastening to say that they were not related to army artillery practice or to sonic booms from aircraft. Not to be left behind, the weather bureau chimed in, saying that the phenomenon bore no relation whatsoever to meteorological events.

Against all odds, it would an astronomer – Prof. Rodrigo de la Vega – who would champion the UFO option. He was quoted as saying: “It is very likely that UFOs break the sound barrier much like aircraft do, as they fly at breakneck speed across the Earth.”

Across the Andean Range, Argentina was sharing in the UFO sightings. Reports came in from the provinces of Chaco, Santa Fe, Cordoba and Tucumán, describing sources of light projecting beams against the ground and fireballs colliding against the surface. The most significant of these occurred in San Pedro, a community north of Tucumán on August 17 – the very same day that Santiago de Chile had been rocked by explosions of unknown origin. The San Pedro event was confirmed by residents of another community – Cafayate in Salta Province – who said the UFO exploded against the mountains with the sound one would expect from an airliner collision.

August 26 1985 was a red-letter day for ufological journalism. Newspapers in both Argentina and Chile published the story of “The Ituzaingo CE-3” – an event that transpired on the highway linking Buenos Aires with the city of Corrientes. The experiencers – a married couple driving in their car – claimed having been detained by aliens who spoke fluent Spanish, and who had a message to deliver (in true contactee fashion): “We come from the planet Mait, which is in another space. Like on Earth, we are men and women, but we do not have this civilization (sic). We have come to learn about you. Tell everyone not to be afraid.”

Further corroboration for this improbable event was forthcoming from the city of Necochea (the base of operations of INEXPLICATA contributing editor Guillermo Giménez) where a photographer, Oscar Vallejos, managed to take a picture of a mysterious flying object. Other locals witnessed the object and were startled by its radiance.

We urge interested readers to check out Andrés Salvador’s fascinating analysis of the Ituzaingó CE-3 in INEXPLICATA, May 4 2014 -

A case worthy of note emerged from Brazil in 1986. In May of that year, unidentified objects buzzed the international airport at São José dos Campos in the state of São Paulo. The presence of these unknown entities was confirmed by the air defense and civilian aviation radar in Brasilia (CINDACTA) but an hour would go by until an airliner captain would asked to confirm the radar contacts. The airliner in question was piloted by Alcir Pereira da Silva and Col. Ozires Silva, founder of the aviation giant Embraer. The crew confirmed the presence of luminous orange objects in night sky, and despite their best efforts at approaching them for a closer look, were thwarted by the prodigious speed of the UFOs.


At this point, the Brazilian Air Force scrambled a Northrop F-5 and two Mirage interceptors for visual contact, unable to engage the skittish objects, which were being reported and photographed in a number of cities, including Rio de Janeiro. During a press release held on May 20, 1986, the Ministry of Aeronautics stated that '21 unidentified objects had penetrated Brazilian airspace, confirmed by fifty radar facilities throughout the country'.

Activity had also dwindled in Mexico, a steady source of UFO and humanoid reports over the decades. But fascinating cases still emerged. Jorge Moreno of Yucatan’s SIPSE wrote in 2013 about an Eighties incident that had recently come to his attention – incidents in the jungle locale of Cobá in the state of Quintana Roo, long before the area became the tourist mecca that it is today.

“Raul Robles shares two experiences he shared a few years ago,” says Moreno, “which I found striking, as they were similar to other sighting reports in the municipality of Chemax, Yucatan, and on the road leading to Cobá, Quintana Roo, which could result in the witnesses having seen the same thing.

“Well, I would like to share my experience with you. I visited Cobá, Quintana Roo in 1980 and in 1983 I had two USO (unidentified submarine object) sightings, one within a 100 meters distance and another at five hundred meters. At the time, this little town only had a few palapas (shacks) and I came to work at a hotel facing a lagoon, 500 meters from the Cobá ruins -- covering ninety four square kilometers and four lagoons – and which are very famous today.

“The first sighting occurred in the lagoon facing the hotel at around midnight. It was witnessed by a local resident, who was the hotel watchman and yours truly, since we were checking the surrounding area.”

“What happened was that a very bright light emerged from the lagoon, very quickly, and the waters rose into the air, as though it were raining. We just stood there looking, startled and not saying a word. Once we recovered from our fright, we said “no one’s going to believe us” and that’s how it was. But it was unforgettable for us. I told my girlfriend at the time – who is now my wife – about the event and she said I was a fool and insane, to keep my feet on the ground because such things did not exist.”

“In a matter of seconds, the water fell down like rain.”

“She didn’t believe in any of this, and well, it upset me greatly that she should doubt me, and time went by. So at the end of 1983 we went out of the hotel I worked at around one in the morning (we had a child by then, too) and there were no lights in the town. Only the hotel had a generator. Imagine our surprise, as we left, to find a light covering a good portion of the pyramids.

“The light looked like when you’re going into a city, and you can only see the glow, but very powerful. I thought I saw it between the two pyramids where we find the one called “El Observatorio” (the observatory). We were stunned, and I asked her, are you seeing what I’m seeing? Weakly, she replied yes. And we stayed like that for around ten minutes until we saw how the light withdrew, becoming smaller, and then it shot off into the sky at a high speed, vanishing into infinity, until we could no longer see it.

“I asked my wife again if she had seen it, and she replied yes with a certain amount of fear in her speech. Then I said: “Now you believe me?” “Yes,” she answered.