October 20, 1996
Editor: Joseph Trainor
The story that began with the reported abduction of backpacker Ricardo Machado Oliveira in Portugal nearly a month ago has taken some surprising new twists.
During the last week of September, Machado was hiking in the Serra da Guardunha mountain range in eastern Portugal when he decided to visit a cave on Cabeca da Penha mountain. The cave was famous for a "miraculous" incident in the 14th Century. Upon entering the cave, Machado passed out. When he came to, he found himself in an underground UFO hangar, confronted by three distinct species of extraterrestrials. The aliens told him that the Serra da Guardunha was one of their four "observation bases" on Earth. Machado then passed out again and, when he woke up, it was night, and he was lying on the ground outside the cave.
The morning of Wednesday, October 2, 1996, a shepherd named Fernando Soares checked on his flock, which was grazing in a pasture just north of Idanha-a-Nova. He made a truly gruesome discovery. Nine sheep lay dead, the bodies drained of blood. All told, 28 of Soares's sheep had been attacked by "something." Each sheep, including the nine dead, sustained an identical wound, "a deep circular hole on the right side of the neck," Soares said.
Skeptics claimed that a "practical joker" was trying to "stir up another Chupacabras scare, like the one in Mexico." (See the Toronto Globe and Mail for October 5, 1996)
Interestingly, Idanha-a-Nova, the site of the sheep mutilation, is 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of the Serra da Guardunha, where Machado had his strange experience the previous week.
Shortly after the Idanha-a-Nova incident, the U.S. government handed over 25 jet interceptors to Portugal. The package was rushed through the Defense Department military assistance pipeline. The equipment included 25 U.S. Air Force F-16 A/B fighter planes, five spare F100-PW-2200 jet engines, replacement parts and program support totalling $258 million. Moreover, the F-16s were ferried directly from the USA to Portugal's Monsanto air base.
(See the October 7, 1996 issue of Aviation Week and Space Technology, "Industry Outlook," page 13)
(Editor's Comment: Of course, this could all be a coincidence. But if it is, it's certainly an amazing one.)
On Saturday, October 5, 1996, at 9:30 a.m., Brazilian pilot Haroldo Westendorf, 39, was flying over the southern end of the Lagoa dos Patos (Lake of the Ducks) in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, just north of Brazil's border with Uruguay. With him were three passengers, one of them Airton Mendes da Silva, radio operator from the Pelotas, RS airport, where the flight began.
As Westendorf's plane banked toward Sao Jose do Norte, a small town across the Rio Sao Goncalo from Pelotas, he spied "a gigantic OVNI (Portuguese acronym for UFO) as large as a soccer stadium" hovering over the lake.
Westendorf described the UFO as "a pyramidal-shaped ship, about 40 to 50 meters (165 feet) in height, with a dome on top, from which a smaller ship emerged in vertical liftoff." He circled the hovering UFO three times at a safe distance as the smaller daylight disc zoomed away. Right afterward, the huge UFO "took off at a very high speed," heading for the South Atlantic. An experienced pilot with 20 years' experience, Westendorf was puzzled. The movement of so large an object through the sky should have created "air displacement" leading to turbulence. But there was no turbulence and no noise from the object.
(See the Brazilian newspaper Correio do Povo for October 10, 1996, page 18. Thanks, and a tip of the saucer, to Pedro Cunha for forwarding this story.)
(Editor's Note: Pelotas is 244 kilometers (146 miles) south of Porto Alegre, state capital of Rio Grande do Sul. This is the second mammoth UFO seen in South America in a month. Three weeks ago, a giant cigar-shaped UFO was seen at Santiago del Estero, Argentina, 800 kilometers (500 miles) west of the Lagoa dos Patos.)
Elsewhere in the southern hemisphere, the Australian city of Brisbane entered the second week of a UFO flap. On Sunday night, October 13, 1996, unidentified objects described as "huge blue-green and white illuminations" appeared near the perimeter wire of the Royal Australian Air Force base at Amberley, near Brisbane. Eyewitnesses reported seeing "five to seven" UFOs "like huge plumes or domes of blue-green or white light" at the southwest corner of RAAF Amberley.
In Brisbane itself, at about 10:40 p.m., people spotted lights moving at "very high speed" at "100 to 200 kilometers (60 to 120 miles) above the city."
No anomalous lights were reported in nearby Richmond, but there was an unexplained power failure in Coorparoo.
(Thanks to Ross Dowe of Australia's National UFO Reporting Centre for the Brisbane update.)
On Saturday, September 21, 1996, eight members of the Skywatch group held a campout at Joshua Tree National Monument in southeastern California's high desert. At 6:30 p.m., just about at dusk, the group was startled by the appearance of a disc-shaped UFO.
Don Allen, a licensed California private investigator and Skywatch member present at the scene, said, "The craft approached silently from the east at approximately 50 to 60 miles per hour, 75 yards (83 meters) above ground and 100 yards (110 meters) to the northeast, appearing over a low rise adjacent to our location. I was up the hill from our group site, closest to the craft, and attempted to intersect its westerly line (of flight) by heading north. As I approached this point, the craft stopped directly in front of me, apparently 50 yards (65 meters) above and 30 yards (33 meters) out. I, too, stopped at this point and took in the sight, probably open- mouthed."
"The craft was 60 to 70 feet (18 to 21 meters) wide, and 20 to 25 feet (6 to 7 meters), appearing cigar-shaped from the edge and as a thick disc from below," Allen said. "It was gunmetal-gray, metallic, with a brilliant blue-green glow emanating (from) around its rounded outer edge. There were no wings, windows, doors, antennae or any other appendages at all on the craft. Most remarkably, the craft made no sound at all. It was completely silent during the whole event, which lasted about four minutes."
Although Don has seen "anomalous lights in the sky" before, this was his first daylight disc. "It was real, physical, and right smack in front of me, and it was amazing."
"The craft exited the area heading directly north (toward the Sheep Hole Mountains) at a slow rate of speed and increasing speed with distance," he added. "Using high- powered surveillance binoculars, I observed it crossing the valley floor to the next range, where it dropped in three vertical-cascading crescent motions, pausing momentarily as the base of each "C"-shaped maneuver."
Since the Skywatch encounter, there have been three other sightings in California's high desert.
On Friday night, October 4, 1996, visitors to Joshua Tree saw four UFOs flying in formation south of the Sheep Hole range. At first they flew in a horizontal straight line and then suddenly began flying in box formation, with a bright glowing UFO at each corner of the "square."
On Tuesday night, October 8, the UFOs were seen again by 10 eyewitnesses, one of whom reportedly videotaped them.
On Saturday night, October 12, the UFOs appeared again.
Local newspapers attributed the "lights in the sky" to a U.S.
Marine Corps exercise, Operation Starlight, at the USMC base
at Twentynine Palms, California.
On Friday, October 11, 1996, at 8 p.m., four men were sitting on an apartment patio near Ridgewood Road and Parhan Bridges Park in Jackson, Mississippi. All at once, one of the men felt the hair on the back of his neck bristle. Shivering, he looked up and saw a UFO, which he described as "smoke gray and distinctly shaped like a boomerang. It seemed almost ghost-like in appearance and was flying at about five miles an hour at approx- imately 200 feet. It made absolutely no noise and was close enough so that we would've heard an engine running. We ran out onto the street to get a better look and watched it disappear into thin air."
"After that, our eyes were glued to the sky," said witness
Evan M. "We thought it might reappear. Instead, we spotted
smaller ones. These were bright objects far, far off in the sky,
flying at extremely high velocity. They looked like large electric
sparks, and they cycled through different colors as they moved.
Each of these UFOs we spotted intentionally. The first three of
this type flew in either a straight or a slightly curved path. The
last of this type of UFO appeared and began making zigzag
motions in the air. Then it started flying in a somewhat downward
direction, then made an almost 90-degree turn upward. It
appeared that it was literally bouncing off thin air. My friend
compared it to when you skip a stone on the water."
Investigators for the group Tri-States Advocates for Scientific Knowledge (T.A.S.K.) are looking into a mysterious plane crash in Campbell County, Kentucky that took place at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 10, 1996.
The single engine Cessna took off from Blue Ash, Ohio (population 9,506), about 17 miles northeast of Cincinnati. The pilot was heading home to Orlando, Florida. Shortly after takeoff, the Cessna suddenly and mysteriously "lost all power." The pilot had to make an immediate dead-stick landing. The Cessna crashed in a wooded ravine off Route 8 southwest of Oneonta, Kentucky. Fortunately, the pilot was unhurt. He declined to discuss the crash with the news media, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said they would launch an investigation of the accident's cause.
T.A.S.K. is interested in the crash because, exactly four hours later, at 10:30 p.m., a woman driving on Ohio Route 727 near Stonelick Lake in Goshen Township encountered a UFO. She described it as "an oval-shaped light" that "hovered half a Phone pole high over the roadway. It was pretty close to my car." She added that "no engine noise" could be heard from the UFO.
T.A.S.K. investigator Charles Stuart phoned the Goshen Police Department and spoke to the dispatcher. Earlier in the evening, this officer had been on street patrol near Stonelick Lake. According to T.A.S.K. public information officer Kenneth Young, the officer told Stuart that he had seen "a funky green light" on the Woodville Pike, near Stonelick Lake, at 7:30 p.m.
"I had never seen anything like it before," the officer reportedly told Stuart. "I couldn't make out too much, and I couldn't see what it was. It was just a big green light, and it might have been a light on top of a building or something. But when I came to a clearing, I couldn't see it any more, so I don't know."
Stonelick Lake is located midway between Owensville and Blanchester, the site of July's big UFO flap, which was investigated by Dale Farmer, Kenneth Young and Charles Stuart of T.A.S.K. The lake is 20 miles (32 kilometers) northeast of the Cessna crash site in Campbell County, Kentucky.
(Many thanks to Kenneth Young for this report.)
(Editor's Note: Mysterious airplane engine "shutdowns" are not unknown in UFO lore. Similar incidents occurred many times back in the Sixties, notably at Isabella, Minnesota on March 13, 1960; Markham, Illinois on September 6, 1964; and Lake Monona, Wisconsin on December 10, 1967, the air accident that killed blues singer Otis Redding.)
British ufologist Ian Read, who first posted the Skegness UFO story on the Internet by transcribing the original news article in the October 7, 1996 Eastern Evening News, has two more radar confirmations of the two UFOs spotted over the Wash. At 11:09 a.m., RAF Neatishead radioed this message: "The object has not moved. London radar and (RAF) Waddington can also see it."
However, on October 11, after the UFO incident, the UK's Anglia TV network news reported, "The mystery of the strange lights seen off the Norfolk coast, which sparked a UFO alert at the MoD (Ministry of Defence) has been solved. The lights were seen over the Wash at the weekend by a number of witnesses (at Boston, Skegness and Great Yarmouth) and at the same time a mysterious stationary object appeared on radar. The object has been traced to the 200-foot (67 meter) Boston church tower, while weathermen say the lights were an electrical storm."
Ronald Hill, who provided the Anglia TV "explanation," comments, "Strange electrical storm which appears as rotating coloured lights for 7 hours! To say nothing of our radar stations only just noticing a church for the first time... but I wonder what the inhabitants of Boston thought when they found their church had gone."
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: To "Lourenco"--I got your email, but I lost your online address. Please send. That area you're interested in is really booming.
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