Monday, August 23, 2010

Trindade Island UFO - The Numbers Game

I had other things on my mind, but I seem to have been drawn into the Trindade Island numbers game. This isn’t about the pictures, but about the people who allegedly saw the object in the sky when the pictures were taken. If the numbers hold up, then this is an important case. If they do not, then it falls from the ranks of the credible and could easily be the hoax that many believe it to be.

As I have mentioned before, and as has appeared on this blog before, the sighting took place on January 16, 1958. The photographer, Almiro Barauna, shot six pictures of a "Saturn-shaped" object as it passed over the small island of Trindade, some 600 miles from the Brazilian coast. According to him, there were dozens of witnesses... or maybe I should say, implied by him. He suggested that he lost the opportunity to take additional pictures as he was "pushed and pulled" by the crew and others on the deck, amazed by the sight. Apparently only four of the pictures he did manage to take held the object.

Barauna was well known as a professional photographer and had illustrated an article about faking UFO photographs for a magazine at some point. During his career, he had also faked photographs about a treasure. But the Trindade photographs couldn’t be faked because of all the eyewitnesses, or, at least, that was how the thinking went in 1958.

There are apparently some technical problems with the pictures, but that is an argument for another time. Here we’re all about the numbers.

Over the next few days several Brazilian newspapers carried reports of the photographs, as well as other sightings made during the research that was being conducted at the island as part of an international effort. I suspect that some of the numbers confusion might have arisen here.
Anyway, Coral Lorenzen suggested there might have been as many as 150 witnesses. Other sources put the number at something like 40. The question became, how many witnesses were there... or more importantly, how many named witnesses were there? How many gave statements to the press?

Going through the files, including that from Project Blue Book, various reports about the pictures, web sites, and other books, I have been able to identify three people other than Barauna who saw the object, or might have seen it. These are Amilar Vieira, Jose Teobaldo Viegas and Homero Ribeiro.

But here’s where it all gets tricky. A Brazilian Naval officer, Commander Paulo Moreira da Silva, interviewed in a couple of Brazilian newspapers gave a statement that could be interpreted as him seeing the UFO as it flew over the island when Barauna took his photos. Or, maybe he had seen something similar during one of the other, earlier sightings and assumed it was the same object that he had seen. His statement is confusing but that might simply be the translation of it. What I have seen suggests he saw a Saturn-shaped UFO. I just don’t know if it is the one that Barauna photographed as he photographed it.

The ship’s captain, Corvette-Capt Carlos Alberto Ferreira Bacellar, in a report to the higher headquarters, said that another UAO alarm was sounded by members of the crew on the stern and in the bow of the ship. Bacellar didn’t see the object himself, but was on the deck right after the UFO disappeared and mentioned the reaction of the crew which seemed to be consistent with the sighting of a UFO.

While none of this gets us to 150 witnesses to this particular object, nor even close to 40, it does change, to a degree, the argument. There might have been additional witnesses available, but no one bothered to find and interview them, at least in the records I can find. Or, for those in the Brazilian Navy, they might have been ordered not to talk about what they saw... though that prohibition would have expired long ago. We have yet to hear from any of them, as far as I can tell.

On the other hand, I’ve added a couple of names to the roster, running that total to five. And, as always, there is a complication to this. It seems that the main witnesses, that is Barauna, Vieira, Viegas and Homero Ribeiro were all close friends in 1958. In other words, they weren’t the disinterested third parties we would hope for in such a case. They might have been working together in the creation of the hoax.

Again, we have the skeptics suggesting there were only the three but I have indications and names for two others. We have the statement of the ship’s captain that the crew, at separate ends of the ship sounded an alert, and that while he didn’t see the object, he did observe his crew’s reaction. Finally, of course, are the photographs, again thrown into dispute.

No, I have not resolved this issue and the additional names might not even be all that important. Those in Brazil might be able to do something about the numbers, through we’re now more than 50 years after the fact. The point here, as it was before, is simply we don’t have all the necessary information. Yes, it is looking grim for the Trindade photos, but we still haven’t eliminated them


Lance said...

Hi Kevin,

Who are the two?

I got Commander Paulo Moreira da Silva as your maybe (he is just as much a maybe not).

Who is the other one?

You mention yourself that the Captain was not.

I am confused.


KRandle said...

Lance -

My fault. Barauna and his three friends make four... one of them was infrequently mentioned... and da Silva makes five.

In have found no other named witnesses and though there is some good evidence there are others, without names it is impossible to evaluate their importance. In other words, they might as well not exist.

cda said...

Probably the best article on the numbers game is the one by John Rimmer in MAGONIA Supplement 44, Dec 2002. Notice how he nudges Jerry Clark who promised at the time to deliver a knockout blow to those who had the temerity to doubt the validity of the case. He never did and, as far as I know, Rimmer's challenge on this 'numbers game' remains unanswered.

Clark had said "There is some very important new evidence. I'm sorry to say that the news for you [i.e. John Rimmer] is not good".

Jerry then promised that this new evidence "will be announced, I am sure, in the near future".

We are still waiting.

KRandle said...


Of course I have read Rimmer's article. Did you think that I wouldn't?

I try to find all the relevant data... though sometimes it gets lost in all the nonsense.