Tuesday, December 01, 2009

UFO Crashes and Blackouts in Northern Argentina


By Scott Corrales

Scott Corrales     Google Earth is one of those Internet-age novelties that have made the world smaller and more accessible for the armchair explorer, relegating the old atlas and travel guide to the bookcase. Typing in a few words will take you to places that you’re unlikely to see in a lifetime, or even in many lifetimes (ninety per cent of us are tied to our jobs!). This surely applies to the vast spaces of Northern Argentina, where satellite images present the viewer with lonely roads, the odd farmstead, endless cultivated fields or wilderness areas bordering the vast and unforgiving Andean Cordillera and its tributary mountain chains. These brown, black, grey and sometimes green spaces are relegated by human cartography as brightly colored provinces with names that do not quite connect to the barren landscape – Jujuy, Salta, Tucumán – and towns whose nomenclature ranges from native toponyms to those of brave settlers who gambled their lives in colonizing the area.

This strange land is made stranger by the disquieting presence of the unexplained.

In August 1957, less than twenty kilometers from the town of Quilino, Province of Cordoba, a serviceman with the Argentinean Air Force heard a very loud and acute buzzing sound. He got out of his tent to take a look and was startled to see a disk-shaped object coming in for a landing, causing a whirlwind that shook surrounding trees and grass. Frightened, the airman reached for his sidearm but was unable to draw it. “It appeared to be welded to its holster,” he would later say. A voice issued from the unknown craft, assuaging his fear and informing him “interplanetary visitors already had a base in the region of Salta” and would soon make their presence known all over the world.

Readers of Coral Lorenzen’s 1960s books on the UFO phenomenon were exposed to the case histories that were being collected in these early, memorable years. Cities like Salta became known to readers not just for “flying saucer” sightings, but for mysterious disappearances as well, much like the small towns of La Pampa would become familiar names to readers of the ‘90s and the ‘00s, especially those interested in cattle mutilations.

Gordon Creighton’s Flying Saucer Review presented even more detailed accounts of high strangeness in Argentina: giant multi-eyed entities emerging from glowing saucers, a family trapped in their farmhouse by six heat-ray emitting UFOs, the heroic escape of truck driver Eugenio Douglass from twelve-foot tall helmeted aliens--matching their heat-rays with bullets--and the abduction of Dionisio Llanca, with its startling posthypnotic command implanted by the UFO entities. Argentinean investigators, while little-known in the United States, have distinguished themselves for their scholarship in Latin American ufology: Guillermo Roncoroni, for instance, conducted the first statistical analysis of the myriad cases that have made Argentina famous, thus compiling ARGENCAT, which aided in proving that the BAVIC line indeed had as much influence over Argentina as it did in Spain or France. He went on to publish UFO Express, which was considered for years to be one of the most important journals available on the subject in Spanish.

When Objects Fall From The Sky

Reports on UFO crashes make two demands from the reader, the first being a belief in extraterrestrials engaged in visiting Sol 3 for reasons that we cannot possibly imagine, and the other being that their technology is vulnerable to our own. Both beliefs must be in abundance, to judge by public interest in the Roswell Incident. Perhaps there’s room at the table for believing in another, even more spectacular affair: the 1995 crash near Metán.

According to researcher Guillermo Aldunati, an object fell from the sky on the sunny afternoon of either the 17th or 18th of August, 1995 near the mountain known as El Crestón, neighboring the city of Metán. His report suggested that “thousands of people” had witnessed the UFOs maneuvers, and that it had apparently been shot down “by air-to-air missiles” from another, unknown type of aircraft, described as being triangular in shape (an F-117 Stealth fighter?)

“ Hours later,” read Mr. Aldunati’s report “ a small private plane flew over the crash site and it too fell to the ground. The pilot later said that source of electromagnetic energy caused his plane to crash.” Although his name was not featured in the initial communication, the pilot in question was crop-duster Antonio Galvagno, whose experience and near-collision as a result of this incident led him to become a valuable member of the Fundación Argentina de Ovnilogía, and his name has been mentioned prominently in reports on the 2009 incident involving a UFO “mothership” flying over the city of Joaquin V. Gonzalez.

The fact remains that something happened near Metán, and that an effort was made to cover it up. The landscape displayed clear signs of the impact of an object that had been dragged for many kilometers, leaving a wide, burned scar on the ground, which allegedly remains cordoned off to this very day. The force of this impact was such that seismometers were set in motion some ninety miles away.

Government agencies responded to the collision as any official authority would, sending out rescue and recovery teams from the town of Rosario de Lerma in the belief that badly injured survivors would be found from an object that “exploded in mid-air”— according to the residents of small communities who excitedly described the incident, the deafening explosion and the resulting earthquake sensation.

The rescue and recovery team, led by Pedro Olivera, reached the foothills of 9000-foot El Crestón and found the ruined landscape of charred vegetation and blackened rocks. If newspaper accounts are to be trusted, a metallic object was at the center of the ruined terrain (whether an alien probe or terrestrial rocket booster was never established). Olivera’s team reported their finding and was inexplicably told to abort their mission and return home.

In subsequent days, local residents reportedly witnessed all terrain vehicles driven by “English-speaking personnel” heading toward the crash site. An anonymous report from an employee of the Universidad Nacional de Salta claimed that the foreign personnel was escorted by University personnel and technicians from a local nuclear power plant (not mentioned, but possibly the CNEA conversion plant at Pilcaniyeu near Bariloche or the Canadian-built Embalse plant in Córdoba)

The unnamed source made a further claim that hearkened Roswell: the outsiders had recovered pieces of material – slivers of a material resembling aluminum that “assumed a concave shape when joined” with an “an unusual consistency” – and that orders were given to characterize the event as an meteorite impact, displaying the appropriate chunks of rock to the media. On September 1, 1995, journalist Raúl Córdoba stated his belief that “NASA personnel” had visited Northern Argentina in an effort to conceal the truth, finding willing cat’s-paws in the administration of the Universidad Nacional de Salta.

Parallels were soon drawn with the 1979 crash near the Bolivian city of Tarija, which received coverage in the UFO press, both national and overseas. But only a year early, the sleepy community of Villa Mercedes had experienced its own brush with the unknown, jamming the switchboard of the local radio station with calls reporting “a procession” of fifty UFOs across the night skies in May of that year. Broadcaster Otto Gall was able to see the wedge-shaped formation of blue-green objects between 22:15 hours and midnight.

According to a sergeant at the Villa Reynolds airfield, not far from Villa Mercedes, the objects traveled at approximately fifteen thousand feet and resembled oval-shaped craft without any signs of portholes, and making no noise whatsoever. Argentinean “ham” operators were able to monitor communications from Chile, across the majestic Andes, announcing that a massive fleet of “platillos voladores” had just penetrated their airspace

Allegations of a UFO crash also followed in the wake of this 1978 incident. A tremendous explosion, suggesting a ground impact, prompted the National Gendarmerie to send out forces to comb the region that includes the communities of Las Pavas, Baritú and Los Toldos in the hopes of finding whatever it was that had fallen out of the night skies.

Newspaper stories claimed that the unknown object had fallen to the bottom of a ravine known as Bolsón de los Fantasmas near the community of Santa Victoria – information that was corrected by military sources, who indicated that the collision had occurred near the town of Orán. The Argentinean military conducted a fruitless search along the Bolivian border, only to learn that the Bolivians were also looking for another downed object.

In the words of UFO researcher Mercedes Casas, based in Salta, Argentina “Ever since the famous 1978 crash on the border between Bolivia and the province of Salta, UFO activity never ceased in the Tarija region. Reports of nocturnal lights moving in odd patterns – zigzags rather than straight lines – continued for months after the crash when everything had ostensibly quieted down. There is a tremendous influx of Bolivians into Salta, looking for better opportunities,” she continues. “They all have stories to tell involving bizarre nocturnal lights, particularly those hailing from the rural areas.”

A History of Blackouts

The Tunal Hydroelectric Complex One of the most fascinating and disturbing aspects of UFO activity in Latin America, from Mexico down to Tierra del Fuego, is the effect of unidentified craft on the power grid. Entire cities have witnessed strange objects over their streets before blackouts, and others have written detailed reports on their impact on specific power stations. One of the most important characteristics of the November 2009 incident at Joaquin V. Gonzalez centers around the electromagnetic effect exerted by the cigar-shaped “mothership” over a turbine at the El Tunal power station and a number of light posts along a highway – spaced at regular intervals on a road that appears to have visited by the enigmatic object.

This “EM Effect” can be traced back to cases 40 years in the past. Argentinean author Roberto Banchs mentions the July 4, 1968 blackout that darkened the entire sector of Tigre (province of Buenos Aires). During this incident, a number of witnesses reported seeing a UFO. A woman named Isabel Gómez stated that the object "seemed to emit light. It was the only lighted object at the time." The unknown object was reported at 2300 hours that evening, and described as a “large, splendid source of light”.

A few months later, the city of Chascomús was plunged into darkness. Mrs. Blanca Davis witnessed a UFO measuring some 7 or 8 meters in diameter hanging motionless in the air, directly above the town square. "When we looked toward the west," she reported, "we saw two [more] discs and another one which gave the impression of being ready to land. Suddenly the UFOs headed toward the lagoon area, from which twenty more objects appeared, flying from north to south at fantastic speeds." Banchs reports that electricity was restored the moment the objects disappeared.

Not even majestic Buenos Aires was spared these sudden power failures. On December 26, 1965, the city and all of its suburbs in a 40-mile radius were left in the dark. Hours turned into days before service was restored – even as the country experienced one of the great UFO flaps of the decade.

In 1974, it was the city of Cordoba’s turn to light candles as unidentified flying objects flew overhead. Marcelo Lublinksy, a correspondent for the defunct CEFAI research organization, reported that a 30 minute, city-wide blackout had taken place on the 16th of October even as people reported having seen luminous objects flying overhead toward the northeast. “The electric company reports that no defects were found in its equipment.”

Back to the Present

Early on November 26, 2009, while Northern Argentina endured the rigors of an unusually hot summer for the Southern Hemisphere, people either tossed and turned in their beds, waiting for the expected relief of a thunderstorm that would never come in the end, while others sought relief in the open air, whether from eating frozen desserts or simply sitting at outdoor restaurants open at that late hour. This, at least, was the scene in the community of Joaquin V. Gonzalez (Lat. 25.0833, Long. 64.1833), named after the famous Argentinean educator.

Most reports coincide on 0200 hours as the time when over a hundred witnesses, at last count, were treated to the awe-inspiring sight of an otherworldly object, described in newspaper articles as “a strange, gigantic luminous creature, elongated and weightless” embarking on a precise trajectory toward the hydroelectric power station at El Tunal on the Juramento River, twenty-one miles distant toward the southeast, part of the massive Cabra Corral system, perhaps the most important in the Argentinean Northwest. The object made flew over the bemused onlookers, making intermittent flashes of light and with a fixed red beacon on its forward structure.

The unknown visitor faded away into the darkness and within minutes – some say five, others fifteen – the entire region surrounding Joaquin V. Gonzalez and its soybean farms was left dark, a sure sign that the object had reached El Tunal. Power would not be restored for another nine hours, and other services had also been affected, such as vital phone service to this remote community.

EDESA, owner of the 132 kV Cabra Corral system, confirmed the lack of electricity only minutes after the blackout, adding that it was impossible to find the failure, which had occurred at the main power station located at El Tunal. The problem? “A burned-out generator”

According to UFO researcher Luis Burgos “the blackout occurred some fifteen or twenty minutes after the object was sighted over Joaquin V. Gonzalez, and right when it hovered over the generating plant at El Tunal.” To Burgos, the protagonist of yesterday’s episode was “what we call a mothership, a sort of space aircraft carrier measuring no less than 200-300 meters long, and which usually issues smaller UFOs measuring between 8 and 10 meters in size, which later return to the [mothership].”

This will be neither the last nor most spectacular incident involving unknown craft in this part of the world. Only time will tell.

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