Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Brazilian Air Force X-Files? What they didn’t tell you


This last Tuesday (10), the Brazilian Air Force Command published a regulation about “the recording and treatment of subjects related to ‘unidentified flying objects’” [full text at the end].

Ufologists have been hailing the regulation as “a major step to openly recognize the UFO Phenomena as serious and worthy of immediate actions in Brazil”, “a turning point in history to say the least”, as discussed on UfoUpdates.

In fact, the regulation points to the exact opposite direction. A press release by the Air Force makes it clear:

“the Air Force Command doesn’t have a specialized structure to conduct scientific investigations regarding these aerial phenomena. It restricts itself to recording these events and forwarding them to the National Archives”.

According to the release, the aim is to make these documents available to society, as in effect, the Brazilian Air Force (BAF) takes no responsibility on the subject beyond that.

The regulation isn’t really anything new”, says researcher Jeferson Martinho, responsible for Vigília, covering UFO information for more than a decade. “Even the press release is nothing new. In 2000, when former representative Joao Caldas tried to approve a project to end UFO secrecy, he received from the BAF the same reply”.


Open X-Files

Besides forwarding current and future UFO reports to the National Archives, the BAF has in fact already been releasing all past files to the same destination, in line with policies in the US, UK and other countries. As a matter of fact, the BAF just completed sending all UFO files it had until the end of the 1990s to open access at the National Archives, as Ademar Gevaerd confirms.

While in France and the UK the authorities went as far as making the files openly available for download through the Internet, in Brazil the files are just sent to the National Archives, as in the US, and private UFO groups are making them available electronically for easy access.

So, while the Americans have the “Project Blue Book Archive”, the Brazilian groups CIPEX and CBPDV, from the local UFO magazine, have files available for download in sites like “Fenomenum”. There anyone may download several folders and thousands of pages of documents.

This is an ongoing process developing for years, finally reaching a conclusion. Not much has changed. “As the secrecy policy hasn’t changed, COMDABRA may classify a document and there’s nothing in the regulation that would undo that”, evaluates Martinho. “I believe the transit of documents to the National Archive will keep following the same rules of limits and deadlines established by law”.


Air Force Minister falls for “Uranus” joke

So what is in those released files? Well, what one finds is actually extremely revealing, but not about aliens. It’s revealing about humans. In particular, those working as military men in Brazil.

The recent regulation revokes two previous ones about UFOs, and one of them just shocked this author. It’s note #C-002/MIN/ADM, April 13, 1978, signed by none other by then Air Force Minister Joelmir Campos de Araripe Macedo.

There, Minister Macedo recommends to the Higher Command the creation of a “secret UFO record, where phenomena would be archived chronologically … at the same time, an Evaluation Comission would give each record a grade of credibility”.

Later records, which make reference to this note, suggest that the recommendation was put into effect. The damning thing is, to give support to this recommendation, the Minister wrote that:

“Though speculations about UFOs date as long before as the existence of the humankind, acquiring traces of pure fantasy, the truth is that in the last years of the Second World War, in 1944, the Luftwaffe High-Command created a specific control to investigate several reports made by war pilots about UFO sightings. Said control was denominated ‘Sonder Buro Nr. 13’, and the codename was ‘Operation Uranus’.

I was shocked to read the terms “SonderBuro 13” and “Operation Uranus”, as I had read Kevin McClure’s work on the Nazi UFO Mythos. Quoting Andy Roberts:

“We have at least one outright hoax in foo-fighter lore. For years rumours had been flying round that the Germans had been fully aware of the foo-fighter phenomenon and that they had a special study group formed to look into the problem under the name of “Project Uranus”, backed by a shadowy group by the name of Sonderburo 13. This was first detailed in La Livres Noir De Soucoupes Volantes (The Black Book of Flying Saucers – 1970) by French ufologist Henry Durrant. … When I checked this out with Durrant he informed me that the whole “Project Uranus” affair was a hoax which he had inserted in his book precisely to see who would copy it without checking. The hoax apparently had been revealed in France some years before but hadn’t percolated its way through to English speaking ufologists.”

The hoax was revealed in English in Roberts book along with David Clarke, “Phantoms of the Sky” (1990). Clarke kindly confirmed the hoax and shared the letter Durrant addressed to Roberts:

“Here in France, when I informed [the] ufologists, by means of an ufological bulletin, that ‘Sonderbüro Nr 13’ was a trap, it was suddenly a real furor, and I was accused [of hiding] the truth and [of releasing] false information. … For me, it was very funny [and] very instructive, because I had there the [opportunity] to see where were the serious ufologists… and the others!”.


It seems almost unbelievable, but a Brazilian Air Force Minister fell for an Uranus joke, going as far as using it to recommend to the Higher Command the creation of a UFO investigation record. He didn’t check his source, a popular UFO book by Durrant, “and the fisherman has hooked his biggest fish”, as Clarke pointed.

Could there be a Great Cosmic Conspiracy when a Minister during military dictatorship sends a secret recommendation to the Higher-Command based on a joke? And yet, there’s more. Or less.


Severe lack of resources

During the year of 1977, UFO reports in the Amazon sparked panic among the locals, leading to the creation of the so-called “Operation Saucer” by the BAF. The Operation’s aim was to investigate the nature of the events, but contrary to what one would imagine for such an investigation dealing with cosmic secrets, the operatives dealt with many basic problems.

The written documentation of the Operation has already been officially released, and one of the most relevant excerpts comes from the conclusion of a report from September 1977:

“Our film and photographic records do not portrait our certainty [that the objects and lights are "driven by an intelligence"], because we lacked much technical and material resources and personnel. On other times, we lost the chance, photographing useless material. We believe that with better resources we could get to the reasonably acceptable.”

Why such a severe lack of resources? According to the Air Force Command, the operation was in fact the result of personal interest on the subject by some of its officers. That claim is supported by statements of the commander of the Operation, Uyrange Hollanda. He reminded that “it was very fortunate that at the COMAR I, at that time, in that region, there was an Air Force officer, a brigadier, who believed in flying saucers. Had it been another officer, another brigadier, maybe the Operation wouldn’t have happened.”

At the same interview Hollanda also complained that of four film rolls used to record UFOs, three were bought with his own pocket money but were nevertheless sent to the Air Force Minister. Later we revealed that many of the photos from this Operation were developed at one of the officer’s house, by his son, who hoaxed some of them as he was then just a teenager. Just as he told, mostly all known photos are useless because they lack any point of reference, being just cropped blobs of light.

According to the Social Communication Center of the Brazilian Air Force,

regarding the Operation Saucer, the Air Force has only the records based on the data given by one of the members of that activity. A report with many testimonies was produced, apparently with no scientific base”.

Indeed, the available reports are just a compilation of reports. There’s no scientific analysis of the cases. The Operation was cancelled soon afterwards.



Personal interest

Not only has the BAF released mostly all of its UFO files. Most of them were already known, due to previous leaks. And the unimaginable, almost as incredible as the Uranus joke, also happened. One ufologist had UFO files that the military themselves didn’t have.

The IV COMAR in Sao Paulo started a UFO investigation project called SIOANI in 1969, but it was later cancelled when a new brigadier “not very sympathetic with the subject” assumed the command. Like the comment by Hollanda of Operation Saucer, SIOANI was also related to personal interest by the local command.

But not only was SIOANI closed, its files would be lost due to lack of interest, and to avoid that an officer took them to his home. Secret UFO files held not in a Top Secret Archive, but an officer’s house. Later, ufologist Edison Boaventura managed to contact this officer, who donated them to him, and recently, Boaventura finally donated them to the National Archives.

The story of SIOANI was published here in 2008: “SIOANI”: How the Brazilian Air Force Investigated UFOs Officially

From Operation Uranus to UFO investigation projects relying in UFO believers at the command, to UFO files held at ufologists’ hands – and not the military – the story is very different from what one would expect of a Great Cosmic Conspiracy.


“The phenomena are solid and reflect a certain intelligence”

Of all the thousands of released pages so far the only document of greater interest involving aliens is an Event Report dated June 2, 1986. It’s interesting to note this report refers to the Minister recommendation involving Uranus, an indication that the UFO record and investigation measures were put into effect.

Authored by Air Brigadier Jose Pessoa Cavalcanti de Albuquerque. then temporary commander of COMDABRA, this report deals with a famous UFO event days before, involving several anomalous radar plots and scrambling of jet fighters, popularly known as the “Official UFO Night”, as the authorities later went on television admitting they scrambled after UFOs.

After a description of the events, the report’s conclusion is surprising:

“As a conclusion of the observed facts, in almost all events, this Command evaluation is that the phenomena are solid and reflect a certain intelligence, by its ability to follow and keep distance from observers, as well as flying in formation, not necessarily manned”.

Is this the smoking gun evidence the military recognize flying saucers?

This document, publicized with great fanfare by ufologists at the time it was released, does not represent the official nor the final position of the Air Force”, answers researcher Rogerio Chola, Brazilian Representative of NARCAP. “It’s simply an Event Report, in which the ‘conclusion’ was that of Brigadier Jose Pessoa. It’s not even a conclusion, it’s an opinion”.

Chola calls attention to the introduction of the report, which makes it clear that:

“Due to restrictions in time and specialized knowledge regarding facts of this nature, this Command decided to limit itself, within the operational sphere, to a simple narration of the facts, in a way not to give margin to speculations involving the Air Force Ministry.”

In a letter in 1991 to ufologist Rafael Cury, the BAF officially states that the actual conclusions, with

“all the technical treatment available … pointed to magnetic anomalies which became ‘plots’ (points in the control radar screens). In the case in question, all the military air defense apparatus was mobilized without a visual contact that justified the presence of such ‘plots’.”

The case is actually very interesting, and Chola himself considers it one of the most intriguing UFO cases in Brazil. But Albuquerque’s report mentioning “solid” and “intelligent” phenomena is far from being the BAF final evaluation of the events, being written only around a week afterwards, clearly stating in its introduction its own restrictions.

If one will believe what the BAF publicly replied five years later regarding “magnetic anomalies”, is subject to another discussion. But in short, no smoking gun here, far from it.



The Public Deceived

If there’s something that could be called a conspiracy, perhaps its the omission of important information and context by media outlets when dealing with the subject. The public may reach the exact opposite conclusion regarding what is actually happening. The Brazilian Air Force is not involving itself in the UFO subject, it’s not leading credibility to the subject. It’s the exact opposite.

While the BAF states very clearly it won’t investigate UFO reports and mostly all previous documents have already been released, with no extraterrestrial bombshell, what they actually reveal is that indeed there’s evidence to support the official position that there’s no “ specialized structure to conduct scientific investigations regarding these aerial phenomena”, and past projects dealt with lack of resources, depending mainly on personal interest by local commanders.

When the commanders changed, not only did these UFO projects end, even their files were not properly preserved. In a recent message, Gevaerd himself writes that the Operation Saucer film records may have been lost, and in fact, that he doesn’t know where they are.

There’s this false idea that if something is military, then it’s immune to error. I don’t think that’s right”, says Chola. “The Barra da Tijuca case, for example, where many Ufologists claim the Air Force investigated the case, in fact they didn’t. Who investigated it were some military officers who had an interest in the subject, leaded by cornel Joao Adil de Oliveira. And even being qualified officers, they managed to reach erroneous conclusions regarding this case”.

The officers actually endorsed the crude hoax, where even the shadows are not right.

Military officers are as prone to error as the rest of the population, and they may just as well believe in aliens and flying saucers. This is not limited to Brazil: to those laughing about an Air Force Minister and the Uranus hoax, not very different examples of gullibility can be found in France, where David Rossoni, Éric Maillot and Éric Déguillaume analyzed 30 years of official studies with very critical conclusions.

Even in the US, the first UFO investigation efforts such as Project SIGN were very similar to some of the Brazilian efforts, with its first conclusions favoring the idea of an extraterrestrial origin for UFOs. Similar examples can be found in some British cases. There are believers in the military, all over the world, but so far they seem as distant as the rest of us to any actual evidence of their beliefs.

As a Brazilian, I must remark that the recent BAF regulation revoked the Uranus recommendation, along with another note which also had a gullible tone, and now Brazil may be as good – or as bad – as other countries in the relationship between UFOs and authorities.

Not much has changed, not much has been revealed, apart from a few new interesting stories.

– – –

[With thanks to David Clarke, Andy Roberts, Rogério Chola and Jeferson Martinho. Image at the top: sxc.hu/spekulator]

Dispõe sobre o registro e o trâmite de assuntos relacionados a "objetos voadores não identificados" no âmbito do Comando da Aeronáutica.
O COMANDANTE DA AERONÁUTICA, de conformidade com o previsto no inciso XIV do art. 23 da Estrutura Regimental do Comando da Aeronáutica, aprovada pelo Decreto nº 6.834, de 30 de abril de 2009,e considerando o que constado Processo nº 67000.001974/2010-61, resolve:
Art.1º As atividades do Comando da Aeronáutica (COMAER) relativas ao assunto "objetos voadores não identificados" (OVNI) restringem-se ao registro de ocorrências e ao seu trâmite para o Arquivo Nacional.
Art. 2º O Comando de Defesa Aeroespacial Brasileiro (COMDABRA), como órgão central do Sistema de Defesa Aeroespacial Brasileiro (SISDABRA), é a organização do COMAER responsável por receber e catalogar os registros referentesa OVNI relatados, em formulário próprio, por usuários dos serviços de controle de tráfego aéreo e encaminhá-los regularmente ao CENDOC.
Art. 3º O Centro de Documentação e Histórico da Aeronáutica (CENDOC) é a organização do COMAER responsável por copiar,encadernar, arquivar cópias dos registros encaminhados pelo COMDABRA e enviar, periodicamente, os originais ao Arquivo Nacional.
Art.º Esta Portaria entra em vigor na data de sua publicação.
Art. 6º Revoga-se a Nota No C-002/MIN/ADM, de 13 de abril de 1978 e o Aviso No S-001/MIN, de 28 de fevereiro de 1989.
Ten.-Brig. do Ar JUNITI SAITO

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tornike Getsadze , steorfan. steorfan said: Brazilian Air Force X-Files? What they didn’t tell you http://dlvr.it/3pmz7 […]

  2. Hyperstition Engineering and Applied Research August 15th, 2010 11:25 am

    […] remains one of the best fishbowls in which to observe fact/fiction reversals and ostension. From forgetomori on the Brazilian Air Force X-Files: Air Force Minister falls for “Uranus” […]

  3. Ian Ridpath August 16th, 2010 1:17 pm

    Great analysis of the Brazilian UFO files! They are just like the recent releases in the UK – a complete disappointment to the true believers and conspiracy theorists. Even those on UpDates such as Gevaerd and Ticchetti, who only days before were banging the drum about the importance of these files for UFOlogy, sound deflated. They have only their eternal (and, we suspect, misguided) optimism to fall back on.

    Meanwhile, in Britain the Rendlesham Forest incident approaches its 30th anniversary and will no doubt continue to climb the Top Ten of UFOlogy, despite the fact that the files released by the Ministry of Defence show they never took it seriously at the time. and still don’t.


  4. Kandinsky August 17th, 2010 5:51 am

    The Colares events of ’77 have been amongst my favourite accounts of UFO activity. The evidence seems very persuasive. Colonel Hollanda later went on record(written statement and a TV interview) claiming to have seen some kind of entity and testifying to very strange events. Also there’s the testimonies of the mayor of Belem, Doctor Wellaide Cecim Carvalho and inhabitants.

    Sergeant de Freitas Costa is on record has having an interest in UFOs. There’s an implication in the article that his judgement or integrity could be questioned. This then undermines the Operation Prato reports and overlooks the fact that the events dictated the investigation.

    Ian Ridpath (above) has an interest in UFOs, does this make him prone to fantasy? Perhaps he should be dismissed with a smile and rolling eyes? Likewise Dr David Clarke is interested in UFOS. Interest in UFOs needn’t equate to dishonesty or tendencies to make things up.

    His son’s claims to have hoaxed many images are amusing and plausible. If we are to take his claims seriously, we should also accept that he describes UFOs on images he didn’t tamper with. It’s hearsay and we either accept both claims or neither.

    As ever the article is well-written. Forgetomori is a superb site for directing us to rational and researched explanations for those incidents that have many others drooling in confusion. People get carried away when any nation releases the UFO files. They are nearly always unexceptional and the UK’s recent batch are no different.

  5. Frank John Reid August 17th, 2010 7:42 pm

    Unfortunately, I do not right now have access to the CUFOS file of APRO BULLETINs, etc. But if memory serves, you cannot call the Barra da Tijuca case a “crude hoax, where even the shadows are not right.” That private/semiprivate report by the Air Force officers had a photo showing that the famous tree, with its shadow opposite to the shadows on the object, was a photographic illusion due to a double trunk (or two trees very close together). And as the Lorenzens commented, for the tree “shadow” to be where the debunkers say it is would mean the sun was abnormally placed in the sky that day.

    The shadowing on the object was, as the officers’s report noted, exactly right for that day and hour. For all I know, this means only that a model was thrown into the air at this specific time, and well-photographed. Maybe this could be proven by computer analysis of a first-generation print–maybe someone has proved it another way.

    But the shadowy disproof used by the Condon Report, Menzel, et al, should be filed with “Sonderbuero 13.” Is this at all important? Yes: it shows there are easy received opinions, and even myths, accepted by skeptics. And it shows the exhaustingly fine grain of the history (= investigation, of whatever sort possible) that is “ufology” at an intellectually acceptable level. It’s like forensics, and just as prone to scandalous slacking as “real-life” forensics. Tough.

  6. PurrlGurrl August 18th, 2010 12:10 am

    All these international document dumps indicate is that the governments involved:
    1. Don’t know or understand what these things are;
    2. Never had resources to do more than collect data and draw some superficial, and often erroneous, conclusions;
    3. Never saw the point of taking this seriously because there were no resources available or forthcoming.

    If anything is to be known about the phenomenon it would take a world-wide, cooperative scientific effort (permanent skywatch stations and listening posts manned 24 hours daily, rapid diployment teams of field research specialists on constant standby, labs of a variety of disciplines focused on evaluating evidence, everything from physical traces to optics to EM effects, etc.) Since coordinated research on this scale has never been done, what can there be locked away in any file that has a definitive explanation for the phenomenon?

    I don’t count on disclosure coming from any current or future government document releases. There’s no smoking gun in them to disclose.

  7. Mori August 18th, 2010 12:59 am

    The palm tree is not the only shadow problem, in another photo the saucer is illuminated from below, “the Sun would have to be inside the ocean”, and the bizarre thing is, the Brazilian Air Force officers who did the analysis endorsing the photos as authentic had a diagram showing exactly that — the sun inside the ocean.

    But your comment that there are easy received opinions, and even myths, accepeted by skeptics is very true. Shough recently published a nice work on Arnold which criticizes one of the most interesting psychosocial points in ufology by questioning if the “flying saucer” expression was indeed an error by Bequette.

    And why sould it be different? We are all prone to error.

  8. Mori August 18th, 2010 1:01 am

    Indeed. Fernando Costa says he hoaxed some images, not all of them, and he also says he thinks the phenomena there were very intriguing.

    The point is, the case is intriguing but it’s very far from being any conclusive evidence of anything. Also, it’s not a simple hoax, thousands of people really did panic there.

  9. Mori August 18th, 2010 1:03 am

    Wow, many thanks for the comment, Ian! Would it be a surprise some people in Brazil take Rendlesham as one of the great mysteries of the world? he he


  10. Documenti brasiliani July 21st, 2011 5:50 am

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