Sunday, December 17, 2023

Argentina: Neuquén's 1973 "UFO Invasion"



Cuentos Asombrosos (Astonishing Tales) Podcast

Date: December 23, 2023

 Argentina: UFOs Invade Neuquén

 [Voice of Luis Burgos]: "Well, this evening I'm bringing you something different from the stories we usually share with our listeners."

 1973 - The so-called Year of the Humanoids. Argentina could not be the exception, as many reports, complaints, records of that nature were recorded. But as the year came to a close, in the month of December, a considerable number of residents of Neuquén witnessed four flying saucers in the heart of the city itself. It was the only subject of discussion for days, and it came to an end the following week, with a caravan of desperate local residents seeking to make contact with the space aliens, who had landed in Balcón del Valle.

 One evening in the middle of the month, Edgardo Troncoso chatted with a group of teenage friends beside the canal that ran past the San Martín district. It was a daily routine for them - lying on their backs, looking at the sky, talking about life. The central park did not exist in those days - it was a just a sandy lot with a handful of trees. Neuquén at the time did not have any tall buildings or extensive street lighting, and for this reason, a moonlit night offered an incomparable vista of stars and planets, as well as smaller heavenly bodies that blinked or moved slowly across the deep, dark skies of Patagonia.

 It all happened in a matter of seconds, barely after midnight. Four perfectly round saucers appeared against the star-studded background. The saucers were adorned with multicolored lights that floated in the sky without making a sound.

 The objects were rather flat, with a slight protuberance in the middle that also issued small flashes. The saucer squadron made no sudden movements - they began descending just as the boys jumped to their feet, stunned and unable to believe what they were seeing. The craft remained suspended over that part of the city before taking off at a breathtaking rate of speed.

Edgardo and his friends exchanged glances without saying a word. They were stunned, yet marveled having been the unsuspecting witnesses to such an incredible sighting. All those episodes of The Invaders - a series that inspired wonder in them - came to mind. Many evenings had been spent in front of the TV set at some friends' house, watching the show. It was unbelievable. Flying saucers really existed.

The fact is that the group of friends went to bed that night convinced that they had been the only privileged spectators of the uncanny site. But they were wrong. The following day, news about the flying saucers was the talk of the town. Many residents of Neuquén claimed having seen them, and as hours rolled on, the young men learned of sightings all along the Rio Negro valley. Even later they discovered the phenomenon had been seen in Bahía Blanca. How could this be possible? Were they indeed flying saucers?

All manner of speculation was brought forth over the following days: not only did the TV and radio engage in conjectures regarding the nature of the strange objects over Patagonia, but offices, bars, schools and businesses did so as well. Everyone discussed the phenomenon until it finally receded into the background. But mind you, this was only briefly.

There was a popular radio show in Neuquén in those days - "El Club de los Solitarios" (The Loners Club), broadcast every Saturday at midnight on the LU 5 station. Osvaldo Cabanillas, the show's host, was a charismatic individual with an unmistakable voice, able to create lovely word pictures using the classic songs of the day, carefully chosen to make his show complete with sounds and images. The show's listenership was considerable, to the extent that "Loners" from the entire area anxiously waited for the minutes to pass by before the club opened its imaginary doors, gathering everyone in.

Shortly after the sightings, Osvaldo went about his daily routine, speaking to his Loner listeners, passing remarks, adorning them with excellent music, infecting the ether with his usual good nature. The show went on normally until at a given moment, the host changed his tone of voice, proffering some intriguing statements.

"There's something going on in Neuquén at this moment, but I'm not sure if it is wise for me to say what it is. I am afraid of the reactions those who are hearing this may have, but believe me, you have no cause for fear," he said, without giving further details about what was allegedly taking place.

At that point in the show, the Loners’ ears were glued to the radio like never before. What had happened? What was going on in Neuquén? Osvaldo kept up the intrigue for some thirty or forty minutes before finally delivering an unexpected bit of news. "I am being told the flying saucers have returned to Neuquén, and that they are coming in for a landing in the Las Bardas sector of Balcón del Valle," he said. Within minutes, the city center became filled with people ready to embark upon a desperate caravan to the highest point in the community. They came in cars, motorcycles and even bicycles - residents of Neuquén swiftly departed in order not to miss the spectacle that promised to play out again in the skies of Patagonia.

"The flying saucers are back and landing at Las Bardas," people said as they covered the final stretch of Avenida Argentina, which at the time was little more than a rock-strewn track. Many of them carried portable radios with which to hear Osvaldo's transmission; others tuned in to LU 5 on their car radios. A modicum of fear was palpable among the drivers, yet there was a considerable sense of intrigue and fascination. Some had taken the story as a gag, but were tagging along nonetheless.

Edgardo Troncoso, the young man who had seen the craft in the company of his friends, also grabbed his bicycle and pedaled frantically in an effort to repeat his earlier experience. When the crowd finally reached the summit of the city, they turned their eyes to the sky, which spread majestically over Las Bardas. But there was nothing to be seen aside from stars in the immense darkness, and the moon lit the upper valley and the shores of the Neuquén River.

"Perhaps they've already landed and are somewhere hereabouts," someone said.

Others began to comb the deep ravines that crisscrossed Las Bardas in search of the enigmatic craft, but they did not find them. The more credulous conjectured that the saucers had landed, and then taken off abruptly, as they had done the last time. Disenchanted at the thwarted alien experience, they made their way down the avenue, wondering what had happened. Some returned home; others remained in the downtown bars to continue their exchanges.

Shortly after they learned that the news item had been a joke by Osvaldo, aimed at keeping alive the fascination over the extraordinary paranormal phenomenon days back. Furthermore, that Saturday was the 28th of December, the day of Holy Innocents [Translator's note - the equivalent of April Fool's Day in the Spanish-speaking world]

[Translation and Transcription ©2023 S. Corrales, IHU, with thanks to Luis Burgos and OVNI-Radio ICOU]