On March 6, 1826, the ‘Diario de Cádiz’ reported the sighting in Campo de Criptana (La Mancha) a resplendent “jar turned upside down that descended with a considerable blast of smoke.” From time immemorial there has been talk of phenomena in the skies of unknown origin, including biblical episodes such as the disturbing Ezequiel wheel, but the incident of the flying jar is, surely, the first ‘UFO case’ documented in the Spanish press. Since then, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of incidents with strange flying objects and suspected creatures Coming from another world, which accredits Spain as a hot territory in UFO matters.
Between 1992 and 1999, the Air Force compiled, ordered and declassified all the documentation related to “sightings of strange phenomena” occurred in Spanish airspace between 1962 and 1985. Since 2016, this information is available in the virtual library of the Ministry of Defense. It is an exciting material on some of the best-known episodes of Spanish ufology, such as the legendary file 620806, the first documented and declassified sighting, happened in the San Javier air base, in Murcia, on August 6, 1962, when a flight officer observed a “powerful star over Mount Cabezo at an altitude of 500 meters.” A fact that would be repeated two more times, the 7th and 13th of the same month, and that the Ministry of Defense has considered, until today, as a “Unexplained phenomenon”.
1962-08-06 Sighting in … by Julian Garcia
Coinciding with the imminent and sounded declassification of ‘UFO files’ in the US, we wanted to dive into the unlimited wardrobe of ufology in Spain and remember Five great episodes of flying object sightings that, decades later, are still wrapped in the most fascinating of mysteries.
Balazote’s flying saucer
In 1947, the American pilot Kenneth Arnold popularized the term “flying saucer” when referring with that term to the nine artifacts that he sighted from his plane while flying over Mount Rainer, in the state of Washington. That happened on June 24, just a week before the memorable incident from Roswell, New Mexico, in which a flying saucer allegedly crashed and which was the starting point of current ufology and all sorts of conspiracy theories about the possible presence of corpses of alien origin among the remains of the UFO: Area 51, government mute, men in black, reverse technology, all that paranoid high-voltage stuff.
Interestingly, the same days that all this happened in America, the newspaper ‘Albacete’ reported on a group of neighbors who claimed to have witnessed the passing of a “flying saucer”, according to the popularizer Iker Jiménez in his essential manual ‘Encuentros. The history of UFOs in Spain ”(EDAF, 2003). The amazing events happened in the La Mancha region of Balazote and, apparently, several peasants went to the newspaper office to explain that they had seen a dark device, “similar to a bowler hat”, crossing several locations around seven in the afternoon with a “slow and silent flight.”
A couple of weeks later six people claimed to have seen in Azpeitia (Guipuzcoa) the passing of a very bright record which emitted flashes that made “all the valleys light up as if it were broad daylight.” Over the next several years, the succession of sightings in Spain skyrocketed; some of them, terrifying, like the one Giant humanoid dressed in black supposedly appeared in Garganta de la Olla (Cáceres), a dark being with limbs similar to the legs of a goat whose sight would have caused the death of a horrified goatherd.
The UFO that collapsed Madrid (and Ummo)
On September 5, 1968, around six in the afternoon, An unidentified flying object landed on the Madrid sky. The globe-shaped device hovered high, motionless and illuminated. “All of Madrid saw it. The UFO fever has reached Madrid ”, headlined a newspaper in the capital with great typographic display.
According to the ‘ABC’ chronicle, “the object, bell-shaped and without apparent movement, was observed for two hours by thousands of people.” Suddenly, and after causing a bumpy traffic jam on Gran Vía, the mill disappeared through the Casa de Campo without a trace. It was impossible to know what it was, perhaps a weather balloon; perhaps the reflection of an artificial satellite. “In the competent centers it has not been possible to obtain any information,” the newspaper stated, exhaustively. The radars that surrounded Madrid (Barajas, Torrejón, Robledo de Chavela or Paracuellos de Jarama) did not detect anything in the sky nor could they specify the identity of the object, although the spokesperson for the Madrid Meteorology Observatory was clear: “Undoubtedly, it is a UFO”.
The sighting caused a deep commotion when it took place in full effervescence of the ‘Ummo case’, which during the 60s and 70s fascinated both fans of the ufological and lay people of the subject. The origin of Ummo was the supposed landing of a UFO in the Madrid neighborhood of Aluche, on February 7, 1966, something that would be repeated a year and a half later in the town of San José de Valderas. The UFOs in question were said to be manned by ummites, socially and technologically advanced beings who they came from the planet Ummo, located in orbit around the red dwarf star Wolf 424, as they would have explained themselves through a vast correspondence and telephone relationship that they maintained with selected inhabitants of planet Earth, especially Spanish and French.
The ‘Ummo case’, analyzed in depth in Eduardo Bravo’s magnificent book ‘Ummo. The incredible is the truth ‘(Autsider Comics, 2019), soon ceased to be a modest story of UFOs and aliens to lead to a Abracadabra hybrid of late Franco sociology, biological experiments, escaped Reich Nazis, and captor sects which, finally, was revealed as a fraud engineered by José Luis Jordán Peña, vice president of the Spanish Society of Parapsychology. “It is an experiment that I did to study the credulity of man, but it got out of hand,” he said.
The Poseidon Missile Incident
One of the most astonishing cases of UFO sighting is known as the incident of the Canary Poseidon missile. On March 5, 1979, thousands of people observed strange clouds in ring formation on the horizon. Just after dark, the clouds were transformed into orange and yellow zigzagging lines, from the inside of which would shoot a point of light that released a jet that would expand to form a gigantic luminous bell.
The spectacular celestial phenomenon, which it had already been registered, although with less intensity, in 1976, It could be observed from almost all the islands of the Canary archipelago, even from Africa and the coasts of Cádiz. The sighting, of course, inflamed fans of ufology in Spain, still in ‘shock’ after the premiere, in March 1978, of ‘Encounters in the third phase’by Steven Spielberg. “This is not a meteorological phenomenon. It is simply a UFO, “said the meteorologist. Mariano medina, at that time irrefutable voice of science from its atrium on Spanish Television.
Several decades later, experts argued that the anomaly seen in 1979 and 1976 was not alien in nature but the result of the launch of Poseidon C-3 type missiles from North American nuclear submarines. Of course, the defenders of the extraterrestrial path did not think the same, who consider the Canarian episode as the most resounding visual evidence ever seen on a UFO.
The ‘Manises case’
Undoubtedly, the biggest milestone in the long history of UFO sightings in Spain. On November 11, 1979, a Super Caravelle plane of the defunct TAE company flew from Salzburg (Austria) to Santa Cruz de Tenerife after having made a stopover in Palma de Mallorca. Forty miles northeast of Valencia, the pilot Francisco Javier Lerdo de Tejada and the co-pilot Ramón Zuazu observed some disturbing lights They were heading towards the aircraft.
The commander requested information but neither the Torrejón de Ardoz military radar nor the Barcelona control center could provide an explanation for the phenomenon. The object was placed just 200 meters from the plane. “We are getting closer and closer to him!” The commander yelled. Fearing a collision in flight, he ended up requesting an emergency landing at Manises airport.
A fighter Mirage F-1 piloted by then Captain Fernando Cámara took off from the Los Llanos air base (Albacete) to try to identify the lights. The Mirage undertook a dangerous pursuit of the luminous object, which seemed to respond to its every movement and even cause interference in its flight instruments. After an hour and a half of racing, and due to lack of fuel, the fighter was forced to return to Los Llanos without any result.
Several years later, a study by the Fundación Anomalía, an entity created in Santander in 1996 to promote the rational study of UFOs and other scientific anomalies, concluded that the ‘Manises incident’ was caused by flames from the combustion towers of the Escombreras refinery, next to Cartagena. “I have seen the Escombreras flames hundreds of times from the air. And I know very well what I saw,” would reply, angrily, Fernando Cámara, today a retired colonel and an expert in the investigation of the UFO phenomenon in the ‘Fourth Millennium’ program.
From Montgat to Montserrat
One night in 1979 Luis José Grifol was at his house in Montgat watching an episode of ‘Los Roper‘when he felt a strange sensation of hives all over his body. His blood boiled and, worried, he went out to cool off on the terrace. He looked up at the sky and glimpsed lights that drifted until they disappeared over the horizon. A few days later the tingling returned and the phenomenon of lights also repeated. “I realized what was happening: there was a relationship between the sensation and the lights moving across the sky”, Grifol would explain in an interview with ‘El País’ in 1983. Since then, the visions, alleged telepathic contacts and UFO sightings will follow each other without restraint in Grifol’s life.
So much so that since that distant 1979 personal experience in Montgat, Grifol organizes visits to the sacred mountain of Montserrat to spot supposedly extraterrestrial signals, or what he calls “tracer ships” that cross the skies from one side of the great Catalan mountain of mystery to the other. In 80% of the meetings, which take place on the 11th of each month (in homage to the day and time of the ‘Manises case’), “something happens,” says Grifol, for whom the aliens are not coming, they are: “They are our immediate superiors, angels who watch over us, like shepherd dogs who take care of the human flock.”