Tuesday, March 04, 2008

UFO at Trindade Island

(Blogger’s Note: When people suggest there is no evidence of alien visitation, one of the first things pointed to are the photographs taken in 1958. Skeptics have said that only the photographer saw the object, that he was a note "trick" photographer, and that these pictures have been proven to be a hoax. Now, thanks to friends in Brazil, we have a witness who was there and who can shed some light on the topic. My thanks to A. J. Gevaerd, Alexandre de Carvalho Borges and Eduardo Rado for their work and the permission to reprint the article.)

Interview with Amilar Vieira Filho After 50 years a witness to a UFO at Trindade Island talks about criticism over the case.
By Alexandre de Carvalho Borges,
consultant of the Brazilian UFO Magazinee-mail address:
Translated by Eduardo Radovolunteer translator of the Brazilian UFO Magazinee-mail address:
Amilar Viera Filho, now 82, was a witness to the famous UFO case occurred in 1958 which became worldly known as Trindade Island Case. Amilar lives with his wife in Icarai Beach, Niteroi (RJ),and was the president of Icarai Underwater Fishing Club at the time. He was a lawyer and worked for Banco do Brasil.
The Trindade Island Case is a classic in Ufology mentioned by ufologists as one of the greatest evidence of the UFO phenomenon on Earth. This case should be only one among many others in the archives of ufology if there were not four impressive pictures of the UFO taken by a professional photographer called Almiro Barauna. Those pictures were shown worldwide and are contained in several specialized books being continuously debated and discussed even 50 years after the case.
From the time of the occurrence opinions were divided with some publications attacking the photographer by accusing him of fraud and manipulation of the pictures. Others defend their authenticity because they know Barauna's reputation and also because the sighting is supported by testimonials from many other people that were aboard the ship Almirante Saldanha, stage to the sighting. Witnesses observed the UFO hovering over the sea and the island while only Barauna was ready to use his camera to register the object in the sky.
The sighting was very quick. According to calculations from the Brazilian Navy it took no more than 14 seconds. Despite the short duration, some reports and articles on the case tell that many people were at the deck of the ship and could witness the UFO. At the time reporters could interview some of them while others gave their testimonials in anonymity. However, only a few from those eyewitnesses had their names disclosed for posterity. This turns difficult the attempt to list all those eyewitnesses in order to rewrite that fact with a new look. We know that most of them are dead now and some others could not be reached. Amilar would be the only witness alive that had the name disclosed by newspapers and articles were written over these years.
Some witnesses who were in the ship at the moment of the encounter are known by name to date: the photographer, Almiro Barauna; Amilar Vieira Filho, president of Icarai Underwater Fishing Club; Jose Teobaldo Viegas, Brazilian Air Force Reserve Captain; Homero Ribeiro, 1st Lieutenant; Paulo Moreira da Silva, Commander; Mauro Andrade, employee at Bank of London; Aloisio Araujo, no reference to his occupation; Jose Saldanha da Gama, Captain; Carlos Ferreira Bacellar, Lieutenant-Commander; Farias de Azevedo, photographer; Fernando, geologist.
Despite being on board, not all of them were eyewitnesses to the UFO. Moreover, the presence of the geologist Fernando is not verified, since reports say he must have left the ship before in the island. Names of other witnesses were not disclosed, however, newspapers and Barauna say that some military were interviewed at that time but preferred anonymity. There is also reference to sailors and sergeants who would have seen everything, but unfortunately their names are not known nowadays.The following interview was taken by phone and focused on questions prepared based on current criticism and old ones being revived nowadays.
After so many years, Amilar restates that he really saw the UFO and the occurrence was real. Years after his sighting at Trindade Island he had another visual contact together with his wife. This time it was a USO over Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro. What we could learn from this is that the episode gets reinforced despite some inconsistencies here and there when we join together all documents related to the case. Such inconsistencies may arise from witnesses particular points of view subject to the observation of an unknown phenomenon without any previous parameters. One can not rule out that many inconsistencies may arise from totally wrong sources.
Finally, if there was any photographic fraud performed by Barauna this was never confirmed despite all analyses conducted. As the interviewee say, if there was any fraud in the pictures it was made from the real UFO observation at Trindade Island.
Alexandre de Carvalho Borges: Do you have the names of the 48 people that witnessed the UFO?
Amilar Vieira Filho: No... I don't... not even the names of the crew.
Who mentioned the number of 48?
I haven't heard that, not about 48 people seeing the object. I have no information on that.
Alexandre: So there were not so many people seeing the object?
Amilar: Everybody was at the deck, everybody looked at it, but I don't know if there were 48 people looking at the object.
Alexandre: Was there any confusion on board at the moment of the sighting?
Amilar: Yes, there was a lot of noise and confusion.
Alexandre: Don't you have the name of any military officer?
Amilar: No, I don't. I met Bacellar in that ship [Lieutenant-commander Carlos Alberto Bacellar] and Captain Saldanha da Gama [Jose Santos de Saldanha da Gama].
Alexandre: Did Bacellar saw the UFO?
Amilar: No, he didn't; nor Captain Saldanha da Gama. It was a very quick sighting, didn't take long.
Alexandre: Before that event did you have any information on other sightings at the island before the arrival of your group from Icarai?
Amilar: We heard about objects appearing over the island only after that occurrence and the pictures taken by Barauna. Bacellar had no authorization to disclose information on UFO sightings occurred in that island.
Alexandre: But didn't you hear anything, Weren't there any comments from the crew about objects being seen in that island?
Amilar: No, I had never heard that kind of story. Also, we stayed there only for two days. The ship was there to deliver supplies and we went on diving for two days only.
Alexandre: Testimonials say that you were the first one to spot the UFO and then called Jose Viegas [Jose Teobaldo Viegas, then Brazilian Air Force Reserve Captain] who, in turn, called Almiro Barauna. Is that true?
Amilar: Viegas must have seen it first and then called Barauna, because I saw it afterwards, when the object was already beside Desejado Peak.
Alexandre: So Jose Viegas was the first one to see the UFO?
Amilar: Yes, Viegas was the first. He said he saw a door, a window, etc. I haven't seen any of these. He gave an interview about it, which I avoided because I thought it would be kind of ridiculous. I don't like to talk about it, never wanted to get involved. That time I gave only one interview to O Globo newspaper with my little daughter in my arms and asked the reporter to write exactly what I had said, not to increase anything.
Alexandre: Was that an event that influenced your life or was that irrelevant?
Amilar: No big influence, I just skipped a few days of work at the bank. The Brazilian Navy also asked us not to disclose anything. We spent one month without talking about the event. Barauna had an agreement with Diarios Associados newspaper in order to publish the story as soon as the Navy granted the authorization. However, a director from Correio da Manha newspaper saw the pictures held by president Kubitschek and was to publish that on Monday. Then, Diarios Associados decided to publish too in that same morning.
Alexandre: Where are the other members of Icarai Underwater Fishing Club?
Amilar: We were five. Almiro Barauna passed away, Mauro Andrade [employee at the Bank of London], Aloisio Araujo, and Jose Viegas passed away too. I'm the only one remaining.
Alexandre: How about Farias de Azevedo?
Amilar: Yes... the photographer. He worked for Jornal do Brasil. He passed away too.
Alexandre: And where are the negatives today?
Amilar: I don't know! Barauna is dead and I don't know what happened with them. [Note: It is known today that Barauna's widow is in possession of the negatives of pictures obtained by him.]
Alexandre: Did you see them on board?
Amilar: Yes, I have the pictures here with me, the positives.
Alexandre: Skeptics ask how could you see the shape of the UFO in the negatives after the development on board, once it was very tiny in that negative.
Amilar: I'll tell you one thing, I didn't see it. The negative was held by the Brazilian Navy.
Alexandre: Reports from that time say that Barauna showed the negatives to all military as soon as he left the development chamber on board.
Amilar: But I wasn't there at the moment of the development of the pictures. I was at the quarter deck. That was in 1958, I was the president of Icarai Underwater Fishing Club, now I'm 82. I don't have further details to give. What I saw was only a bright object which showed a grayish light when stopped.
Alexandre: So it changed colors?
Amilar: Yes, it did. It was bright when I saw it beside Desejado Peak. After that he was hovering over the island and got brighter then went away to disappear on the horizon.
Alexandre: Which color was it when it came from the sea?Amilar: When I saw the object it was already beside Desejado Peak. When I was called, it was already there. When hovering it increased speed and brightness and went away until it disappear at the sea. This is my observation. I saw a bright object without any details in surface, no more than this.
Alexandre: Did it show any rotation movement?
Amilar: No, I saw just a gray object which turned bright then went away slowly then increased speed until it disappear on the horizon of the sea.
Alexandre: When it turned bright, what color it had?
Amilar: It was something like a fluorescent light. The object was gray, but I didn't see any details on the surface. As it became brighter, it started to move slowly. After that, the light got brighter and it went over the island until disappear. That was my observation. I didn't see when it arrived at the Peak.
Alexandre: Did the ship radar spot any UFO before the sighting?
Amilar: I don't know about this. I have no idea.
Alexandre: Were you called by the Navy to testify?
Amilar: No, I was called only once by a reporter from O Globo newspaper.
Alexandre: So you have never told this story in other places?
Amilar: No, I try to avoid it. I went to the bank to work and people use to laugh at me, they used to toss a coin saying it was a flying saucer. I avoided the subject because of this.
Alexandre: What do you think about the criticism over Barauna when even friends say he did some photographic tricks to mock a UFO?
Amilar: This is because Barauna was always a very capable photographer. He pictured everything! An article says that he pictured the Rio de Janeiro Fleet. [Note: Published in Mundo Ilustrado magazine, in 1954, before the sighting at the island]. But what made me believe even more is the fact that the negatives were taken from the camera on board. He didn't touch anything. The negatives were impounded by the Navy.
Alexandre: Some current criticism say that Barauna was together with Jose Viegas at the moment of the development of the pictures and they might have arranged some fraud at the occasion.
Amilar: I believe that the pictures were developed in the presence of authorities of the ship together with them. It was not the case of Barauna and Viegas developing the pictures without anyone else awareness.

Alexandre: But reports from that time say that the military stayed outside the chamber waiting for the development of the pictures. Captain Bacellar was outside waiting for the development.
Amilar: Well, I don't know about that because at that moment I was at the quarter deck. I can not guarantee anything.
Alexandre: Another remark says that one of the pictures show the object in an inverted position compared to others. The second picture showing the object over Crista do Galo Mount would be similar to the first picture when the UFO was still arriving at the island, however, this second picture shows the UFO in an inverted position compared to the first one.
Amilar: I am not an expert, I have nothing to say.
Alexandre: Such remark says that Barauna would have created a fraud. In summary, Barauna would have inverted and manipulated the object in that picture...
Amilar: It could be, but that object was really in the sky. I can assure that because I saw it and I'm saying that I'm sure!
Alexandre: What do you mean with "it could be"?Do you mean he could have played any tricks?
Amilar: No, I don't know! I don't know if he played some kind of trick as you say, what I'm saying is that the object was really in the sky. If he did anything it was from what was seen in the sky. But as everyone else are dead, I'm the only one to tell the story and I'm telling what I saw. I have no doubt that what I saw was not any illusion.
Alexandre: OK! I'm asking you about this because the possibility of a fraud was very much commented even among photographers that were his friends at that time.
Amilar: I have never taken part in UFO subjects, but it was not that I am a skeptic. My wife, for example, believes in UFOs. I saw a very strange object with her in Niteroi, but I'm not going to say that it was a flying saucer, I can only say that was an unidentified flying object. I don't like to talk about it, but since you called me I'm being kind to tell you what I saw. I've already told what I saw, an object did appear in the sky. Barauna was a photographer and had a collection of cameras. Maybe he even got some prize taking pictures of the object, who knows? You might have testimonials of people saying he mocked the pictures, etc, but even authorities sent the negatives for analysis at the Cruzeiro do Sul Air Photogrametrics Service and the conclusion was that they "could not say that was a hoax". So, it could have been a fraud, but it could be such a well done... But the object was really in the sky, nobody can deny it. I saw that, then went to my cabin because it is very annoying having people asking about that, I never liked it. I have no interest in discussing if there was a fraud or not. I'm just saying that this was my observation, I saw the object and I will never deny it!
[At this point the interview with Amilar is over and he passes the phone on to his wife who didn't want to tell her name, so that she could tell us the sighting of a USO in the municipality of Niteroi (Amilar was there too). Below is the wife's brief testimonial.]
Alexandre: This other sighting happened after of before the sighting at Trindade Island?
Amilar's Wife (AW): It was much after that, I believe it was in 1963. I had never thought about that before, never had any interest.
Alexandre: Did you take any pictures?
AW: No.
Alexandre: And how did it happen?
AW: I was in a village, in Niteroi, and as in that time there weren't many buildings, we could observe a lot. It was around 5:30-6:00 PM in a place with many people and, strangely enough, I didn't see anyone commenting after that. The object that I was had lights around it like a car lantern, but it has many colors with no colors in the middle of it. I saw it together with Amilar, with my daughter and an aunt of mine. Everyone saw it at the same time.
Alexandre: Did it look like the UFO pictured at Trindade Island?
AW: No.
Alexandre: How long did that observation took?
AW: It took very long. We sat on a bench at the beach and observed its whole travel. It took more than half an hour. When I first saw it was very low, then went higher but still relatively low. Then he stood still showing those colorful lights, after that it went higher and the colors disappeared leaving only a bright light like a full moon. Then it went left, then right and stood between the Pao de Acucar and Galeao in a swinging up and down movement. At that moment we could see a light that disappear afterwards. Then, when it was a little closer to Rio de Janeiro than Niteroi, it descended and dived in the sea making no bubbles or reflection.
Alexandre: Getting back to the sighting from 1958 in Trindade Island, what did you think when Amilar arrived home telling the story?
AW: He arrived telling he saw a very strange object with no defined shape and odd movements. When he saw this other object he realized that the movement was the same and was also silent.
Alexandre: Did you meet Almiro Barauna?
AW: Yes, I thought he was a very serious man. A very closed person and not any exhibitionist.

A. J. Gevaerd,
Editor, Brazilian UFO Magazine


Bob Koford said...

"No, I try to avoid it. I went to the bank to work and people use to laugh at me, they used to toss a coin saying it was a flying saucer. I avoided the subject because of this."

Some things never seem to change. This attitude, which is still active today, is why we can't be sure about anything.

starman said...

Actually some people, including Friedman, have perceived some improvememt. He said the media has treated UFOs more fairly in recent years. I think we've made some progress since that kind of nonsense 50 years ago.

Bob Koford said...

I have tended to shy away from the photo stories, unless they have verified witnesses to go along with them, as anything could be the reason for any particular image on any supposed UFO photograph, without the witnesses. So, in this case, I am happy to be able to read that type of information, with this particular series (Trinidad)of shots.

As for the ridicule association with UFOs...

Although I agree with Starman's assessment, somewhat, it has been only very recently that certain people at my workplace, for instance, have stopped ridiculing my interests in UFOs, mostly behind my back. A few of them seem to get quite a kick out of the crazy flying saucer stories, and the "must be stupid" individual(s) who believes that sort of stuff. As far as the media goes, it has been a mixed bag of tricks. There had been some good videos available, from retail outlets, over the years, but even some of them, I would argue, are full of mystical, other-worldly music, and shock-value type editing, as opposed to just good historical information, with good sources given.

It's the straight-forward, no silliness added, information that needs to race out in front of the line...not sensational garbage and misinformation (like leaving key items out so that it appears that you have said something, when you really haven't, or have said exactly the wrong thing).

The actual genesis of the truly mean-spirited attitude emanating from the Air Force is unknown to me, at this time, but one could go to www.bluebookarchive.org and view documents NARA-PBB89-888 through 897 and come away with a good view of it in action. Here the Air Force author is using outright lies, and slander, against Keyhoe and NICAP, as well as Air Force personnel who do not toe the "party line".

Cullan Hudson said...

I'm cautious about "flying saucer" stories and photographs since the very motif is a byproduct of misrepresenting what Kenneth Arnold said. One mistaken turn of phrase and suddenly "saucers" enter our lexicon, becoming an archetype that we still can't shake. Prior to Arnold, you would be hard pressed to find mention of saucer shaped objects in the sky.

KRandle said...

Well, you'd think so, wouldn't you, but it turns out that we have a long history of seeing circular objects in the skies whether described as flying shields or balls of light. One of the first uses of the term saucer comes from a Texas sighting in 1878...

And, if you look at Arnold's original drawings, they do have a "saucer" shape, though the back end is cut off.