CISU on Mars (15 years before InSight)

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Millions of TV viewers in front of the TV screens and on the Internet on November 26, 2018 to watch  InSight space probe landing on  planet Mars.

As usual, conspirators claimed that it was a NASA staging, that not only we never arrived on either Mars or the Moon, but even that the red planet is inhabited, with cities, seas and forests.

cisu-vt-su-marteOnly a few, however, knew that, without much clamor, the Italian Center for UFO Studies has already landed on Mars fifteen years ago, with an expedition started in 2003.

The initiative was by CISU Viterbo Section, which decided to join a NASA offer to include your name on a microchip meant to travel in space and land on that planet within the Rover module.

In June and July 2003, the Mars Exploration Rover mission launched two twin expeditions with Spirit and Opportunity rovers on board, both arrived onto the Martian ground in January 2004. From that moment on, CISU Viterbo Section has formally set foot on the planet from which, starting from 1893, millions of people all over the world have expected (and someone still expects) to see the Martians arrive on Earth.

In the meantime, the Italian Center for UFO Studies has been and remains the first (and only) Italian UFO organization to have landed on Mars  😉

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In the top photo: the Opportunity rover.
At the center: NASA certification that “CISU sez. Viterbo” was included among the names of people and associations joining the “Send Your Name to Mars” initiative.
Below:  Viterbo section of CISU (from left: Mauro Garberoli, Angelo Ferlicca, Andrea Bovo) at work.

UFOs above Parma: a new catalog

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On time for the 33rd National UFO Conference, held by CISU in Bologna on November 10th, the second edition of Cristian Vitali‘s “UFO su Parma” was published by UPIAR Publications.

The book, subtitled “Collection of UFO Reports in Parma province from 1947 to 2017″ is the updated and enlarged version of the 2015 result of Vitali’s three years work at collecting, filing and cataloguing all UFO case histories from his province.

vitali2015Compared to the first edition, this one brings from 445 to 502 sightings in and around Parma, with 34 new cases from the 2015-2017 periods and other 23 cases from previous years but not in the old catalog. Revisions and updates of 37 events were also added, in the typical “CISU style” for which the publication does not mark a project arrival but also the starting point for further investigations, in a continuing work in progress.

In addition to detailed description of each sighting, the volume contains statistical analysis and some in-depth investigations by the author, for a total of 220 pages. It can be ordered from Upiar Store website.

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In the below photo: Cristian Vitali presenting his provincial catalogue at CISU 30th National UFO Congress (Torino, 2015)

The 1978 Wave Becomes History – 33rd CISU conference in Bologna

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The 33rd edition of the annual National UFO Congress, organized by CISU, was held in Bologna on Saturday, November 10th, 2018.

As announced, the conference them was “The 1978 Wave Becomes History – Documents, Reflections and Research 40 Years Later than that Exceptional Year”. The congress was not open to the public but a closed-shop workshop for members of the Italian Center for UFO Studies and interested scholars, so to allow free and in-depth discussion.

33marzoGian Paolo Grassino opened the proceedings with an introduction entitled “Chronicle of an Unusual, Difficult, Unique Year” which consisted of a month-by-month overview of the main events (more relevant sightings, more clamorous UFO news, ufological activities, facts or society events) in Italy during 1978.

33tosellicoverA deliberately provocative paper by Paolo Toselli followed: “1978: Italy calls UFO – mass disinformation techniques?”. By cleverly  correlating the ambiguous role of some individuals (contactees, scientists, intellectuals, officials) in different moments, it raised the tongue-in-cheek question whether the wave was at least partly planned and built, for not admitted purposes. A lively discussion ensued.

33casiritagliThird speech was Edoardo Russo‘s “1978: the Invasion?”, closely centered on the figures & data of what was then and still remains the record year in Italy (as of number of sightings, landings, encounters of the third kind, articles and news in newspapers, TV services, published books). In view of the forty-year anniversary,  the Italian Center for UFO Studies completed an extensive work of updating the case histories archive and catalog in recent months, bringing from 1,800 to over 2,300 Italian sightings collected and filed for that year alone (equal to 28% of all reports up to that time). In parallel, the complete digitalization of the newsclipping archive was completed, which for that year has got to over 2,200 articles or cuttings. In addition to some monthly and weekly statistics from those two files, the trend of their time distributions was also compared, and the uniqueness of the Italian “1978 phenomenon” as compared to the rest of the world was highlighted.

Both at the end of the speech and on the following day (before CISU members annual general meeting) several suggestions were proposed for further research on/from these data. And that was precisely the intention and purpose of the conference: not a point of arrival but of departure.

In order to relieve the discussion, it was again Grassino’s turn to talk about “Close Encounters of the Third Kind: the Film”, with little known UFO background about the genesis and production of Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster, the role played by astronomer-ufologist Joseph Allen Hynek and the Italian side of both items (the film and Hynek’s  Italian journey in that spring of ’78, with its queue of public conferences, interviews in newspapers and TV, publication of his book).

Four intense hours, but a strong stimulus for all the participants. The presentation slides of the papers and the whole recording of the speeches are available to CISU members, so to share the conference with those who were not able to attend.

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Pre-UFOs over Italy: 3,400 Apparitions in Past Centuries

preufocat-2018PreUfoCat is the catalog of unusual aerial phenomena over the Italian peninsula all along the centuries before 1900, coordinated by Pietro Torre. Its third edition has just been published by Upiar Publications under the title “Strange Lights in Italian History”.

torrepietroThe first edition (November 2011) presented about a thousand case histories in 260 large-format pages. The second edition (exactly three years later) had doubled the total of cases collected and reported in full, with bibliographic sources and illustrations, coming to 684 pages for a  limited edition (for collectors only) on paper, while the catalogue went out in a digital DVD edition (with a 12-page introductory paper booklet).

This third edition, arriving almost four years after the second, has risen to over 3,400 case histories, so that the 1,010 paper pages have been broken into two volumes for the limited edition (once again for collectors only, in full color), paralleling the DVD edition.

Both versions (as well as previous editions) can be purchased as usual from the Upiar Store website.

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In the central picture: Pietro Torre presenting PreUfoCat first edition at the 26th CISU conference (Turin, 2011)
Below: comparing the three editions of PreUfoCat.

Two UFO books by Nico Sgarlato

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The aeronautical journalist Nico Sgarlato succeeded in a odd record:  two UFO books by him were published within just over a month, the first ones in an already long career as a writer on technical issues.

At the end of September, Delta Publishing  announced the release of a volume titled “UFO Fighters” (80 pages, hardcover), which consists of a collection of articles he Sgarlato wrote about UFO cases hisotires having pilots in flight as witnesses , especially in the magazine “Aerei” (Airplanes) . Among these are Kenneth Arnold, Thomas Mantell, George Gorman, Frederick Valentich and Giancarlo Cecconi (Italy) testimonies, Washington, Lakenheath, Teheran, Belgium aerial encounters etc., each with a wide range of illustrations and references to the aerotechnical aspects.

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In early November, the book entitled “Roswell, New Mexico” (and subtitled “Flying disks, airplanes and secret military projects: stories and facts”, 93 pages + xvi of pictures) has been published  by UPIAR Publications about the famous story of a flying saucer crashed in southwestern USA, in those very early days when the “flying saucers” saga began. Here, too, author’s attention is mostly centered on aeronautical and military history, with an eye to the role played by intelligence in this and in some other historical cases (Mantell, Kinross, Fu-Go Ballooons, Kecksburg).

 

Nico Sgarlato (born in 1944 in Albenga,sgarlatonico where he has always lived) is mostly known as editor or editor-in-chief of several specialized periodicals (eg. Aviation & Navy, Airplanes, Aerospace-month, Airplanes in History, Aeronautics & Defense), but only a few people know he also has a ufologist curriculum dating back to his younger years and the collaboration with “Clypeus” magazine  (1967). Since 1990 he’s been  a full member of the Italian Center for UFO Studies (CISU), writing articles in its journal “UFO”.

1978 UFO invasion on show in Alessandria

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Exactly forty years ago, in the autumn of 1978, the whole Italy was overwhelmed by a real “UFO psychosis”: thousands of lights sighted in the sky and hundreds of close encounters (often with traces and humanoid beings) spread all along the peninsula in a crescendo culminated at the end of December.

But that’snot all: daily newspapers, magazines and general mass media were overflown with articles on the UFO subject, movie theaters projected Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (and “Eyes from Behind the Stars”, too), “Atlas UFO Robot” cartoon conquered the young kids from TV screens.

In order to celebrate the forty years from ’78 and the continuing presence of UFOs and extraterrestrial spacecraft in our everyday life, the Italian Center for UFO Studies (CISU) presents the thematic exhibition “The famous invasion of Flying Saucers at Bassavilla”, at the Ethnographic Museum ” Once upon a time”  in Alessandria, with free admission every day from 9 to 12 and from 15.30 to 19 (closed Sunday morning), from September 7th to 30th.

Inauguration will be held at 6 pm on Friday,  September 7th. On Sunday, September 23, at 5 pm, there will be a conference by Danilo Arona and Paolo Toselli about “Alessandria and the UFOs: 45 years of investigations”.

For information: tel.+39.0131.400.30, e-mail museogambarina6@gmail.com, www.museodellagambarina.it

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In the above picture: exhibition poster by Franco Brambilla (artist of many “Urania” cover pages) showing Dome Square in Alessandria (the “Bassavilla” born from the mind of Danilo Arona)  “invaded” by spaceships and aliens, who look like intrigued by a classic Borsalino hat.

Italian MoD’s Answer to the Parliamentary Question: (only) one Tornado above Corio…

by Gian Paolo Grassino

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On August 2, during the question time at the Italian  Chamber of Deputies Defense Commission,  the answer arrived to the parliamentary question presented to the Minister of Defense  by Francesca Bonomo and Davide Gariglio on June 18th and later re-submitted (by Alberto Pagani and Francesca Bonomo) on August 1st, in the most cogent form of “immediate response question”.

raffaelevolpiUndersecretary of Defense Raffaele Volpi read the following text:

“Air Force General Staff, after due investigations, excluded the presence of airplanes at the time and in the indicated area; however, they areported that on June 6th, around 23 o’clock, a Tornado aircraft passed in Corio area, on a regularly planned night training mission  approaching Turin-Caselle airport. The glow and the roar perceived by the population might be due to the normal approach manoeuver to the runway performed by the aircraft and, more particularly, to the “re-starting” which, in order to allow climbing in total safety, means the use of engine maximum power, including the afterburner.

It should be noted that these maneuvers were carried out in full compliance with current laws and restrictions, as well as all training and exercise activities are fully regulated by specific directives of the Armed Forces, aimed at minimizing the inconvenience to the inhabitants . The use of airspace is planned by the Italian Air Force daily and any planning is also communicated to the competent civil aviation authorities who must know the extent of the military air traffic and the details of the flight plan, both for organizational and safety reasons .

As for the preventive information by military authorities  to the population on the occasion of carrying out training activities with aircrafts, it is already the practice of Armed Force to give public notice of each relevant exercise, as well as of any event with the contemporary participation of more than one aircraft. In the case in question, it was a training mission of a single aircraft that used the normal flight trajectories, thus not falling in the cases described above. On the legal aspects of safety and compliance withregulations, maximum attention is paid to ensure that the essential training requirement minimizes the impact on residents in areas affected by flight drills. Precisely for this reason, as well as to avoid interference with civil traffic, strict procedural, temporal, geographical and altitute limits are foreseen for all training activities “.

We won’t now discuss this new answer and its compatibility with what reported by eye witnesses about flight path (from the valley toward the mountain), altitute (very low), not just sound effects, and we’d rather concentrate our attention on the different, partly contradictory releases and explanations so far provided by the Italian Air Force.

It would seem that the author of the response presented yesterday by the Government to the parliamentary question roughly aligned himself  to the very first version provided to newspapers  by A.F. spokesmen as early as June 7th: only one Tornado (at the time told to have passed  “at very high altitude”, now instead “approaching Caselle airport”). A version later  denied by what the Air Force itself reportedly answered on July 20th to the General Attorney, Giuseppe Ferrando, that is there were actually two aircraft at low altitude above Corio on that night, which had a technical trouble (now no longer mentioned in the “normal approach maneuver”) causing the anomalous roar, as we have already reported.

No mention, however, for the third light, the one that had preceded the arrival of the fighters, which seemed to be his pursuit, according to several witnesses. At least on this point, the various statements of the military are consistent: absolute silence. Waiting for the next installment of this soap opera…

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In the above picture: Chamber of Deputies Defense Commission meeting on August 1st, 2018.
In the smaller photos: Undersecretary of Defense, Raffaele Volpi (above) and two Tornados in flight (below).

Italian Air Force Now Admits: Military Planes Flew above Corio

by  Gian Paolo Grassino

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45 days later, the Italian Air Force released  a new and different version about the lights and loud air noises that  alerted the inhabitants of Corio and other towns in Malone Valley (province of Turin) on June 6 evening, as we have already reported.

Ufficio PIAt first, spokesmen of the Air Force Public Information Office in Rome told newspapers there were no military planes in flight, except “a Tornado training at a very high altitude, even higher than usual. None of our aircraft has flown over the area of ​​Corio at low altitude and we rule out that it might be an experimental aircraft” (as reported by Claudio Neve in Cronaca Qui daily newspaper). Or even: “The only plane training in the Turin area, at about 5 thousand meters of altitude, was a Tornado, as  verified on the radar. So it certainly has not passed just over the roofs of the houses” (Gianni Giacomino in La Stampa).

Thus, easy and unwarranted ironies followed on the dozens of people who had instead witnessed they had heard a loud and growing rumble shaking house windows and walls, and dozens outdoors or having had time to run outside  who had seen what most called two military planes.

Then two parliamentary questions were announced and presented by the honorable Francesca Bonomo to the Chamber of Deputies and by Mauro Marino to the Senate, and an inquiry was started by Public Attorney in Ivrea, Giuseppe Ferrando, announcing on June 12 that he had opened a file, charging the Carabinieri [Italian Gendarmerie] of the Venaria station to ask Air Force top echelons what had happened “with the only purpose of clarifying, if necessary, the whole affair”.

tornado-notteAs of now, no answer has yet come from the Ministry of Defense to the Parliamentary questions, but on July 21 the Public Attorney in Ivrea said that the Air Force had responded to him admitting that yes, on that night there were two aircraft military above Corio, for sake of precision two Tornados engaged in an exercise. Even the roar was real and was caused by an unspecified “technical trouble” causing “an abnormal noise”.

No reference, however, to the strong white light, first in slow motion, then stopping above the ridge, finally disappeared at the arrival of the fighters. But that was enough for newspapers and websites to title UFO Mystery Explained, No UFOs, those were Tornados or even Air Force Denies UFO Presence, when the military said nothing about the first white light (the real UFO of this story) and, if the Air Force denied something, they denied their own previous statements.

While the Attorney is going on with his investigations and members of Italian Parliament are waiting for the Government to say something, it is just the case  to point out that, once again, eyewitness were shown to be serious  and reliable. It was not a “hoax” but a sincere and precise description of what was actually there in the sky: two noisy military aircrafts at low altitude.

Starting from this first and important fact, we are now waiting to have access to the details the Air Force wrote down in order to try and understand if it was really an exercise, a training flight or some other air operation, as yet unclear. And we keep wondering what the other light was. As we have said since the first moment, that does not mean to endorse fantasy or SF-like hypotheses, but just to look for an explanation of what happened, with an open and rational mind.

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In the photos from top to down:
– a witness showing the exact spot where the light had stopped above the woods in  Corio, before disappearing when the planes arrived (investigation by Edoardo Russo, CISU);
– the Italian Air Force Public Information Office in Rome (source: U.P.I.A.M.);
– a night flying Tornado (source: N.S.M.).

A UFO landed on the Dolomites?

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In recent years, the percentage of close encounters on the total number of Italian UFO sightings has dropped significantly, even below 5%, i.e. more or less to 10 case histories per year. The rare cases of “UFO landing” reported by witnesses are therefore of particular interest.

The latest one took place on  July 7th, when an American tourist allegedly had an experience quite out of the ordinary on the Dolomite mountain path connecting two cabins near Auronzo di Cadore (in the province of Belluno).

The report was sent to the MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) Case Management System and we report its contents by summarizing what written by the witness, a professional photographer who was taking an evening excursion in the  Tre Cime di Lavaredo natural park, in order to take pictures of the sunset and later of the Milky Way.

sentiero-lavaredoOn the evening of Friday, July 6, the man had left his car in the parking of Rifugio Auronzo and had walked along the path climbing to Forcella Lavaredo for an hour’s walk to Rifugio Locatelli, on the opposite side of Mount Paterno.

Around midnight he decided to get back along the path in total darkness, lit only by his torchlight.

rifugio_auronzo_forcella-longeresShortly before one o’clock A.M., after having passed Cappella degli Alpini (when he was now in sight of Rifugio Auronzo parking area) he turned back and was astonished to see “a large bright orb-like structure, consisting of many many bright lights, sitting stationary and silently” on the cliff edge about 170 meters away, where he had passed a few minutes before. He could not see a real structure but only the multicolored lights, which covered an area as large as a two-story cabin.

lavaredo-cut-drawingAfter a brief look at what did not look like anything known to him, literally terrified at the idea of having ​​been noticed because of his torchlight, the witness decided to run to his car. In doing so he turned back a few times, but renounced to take his camera out of the backpack to photograph the thing.

In hindsight, the man tried to make some hypotheses: a large tree with Christmas lights on, fifty+ drones hovering at that point, another cabin not listed on the map suddenly turning all lights on. None of these, however, persuaded or reassured him, and that’s why he thought it might be a UFO.

The next day he sent his report to the American UFO organization, which opened an investigation file on the case, assigning it to  MUFON Italian branch.

In the pictures from above to below:
the three Cime di Lavarone at night (source: TripAdvisor);
– the path from Rifugio Auronzo to Forcella Longeres (photo by Marco P. from Tripadvisor);
Rifugio Auronzo and its parking area, seen from the above path (source: it.wikipedia.org);
– witness’ drawing illustrating his sighting (source: MUFON)]

A book by GEIPAN Chairman, Xavier Passot

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Xavier Passot‘s book has now been  published, about his five years direction of GEIPAN (Groupe d’études et d’information sur les phénomènes aérospatiaux non identifiés), the UFO sightings collection and analysis office within French “Center National d’Etudes Spatiales” (CNES), the only non-military government UFO office active for over 40 years all over the world.

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We have often written about GEIPAN, and Mr. Passot himself was a guest and speaker at CISU national conference in Torino, in October 2017, where he presented us his experience in such unique position as an “official ufologist”.

The book is titled “J’ai vu un OVNI: Perceptions et réalités” (“I saw a UFO: Perceptions and Realities”, Cherche Midi Pub., 142 pages), with a foreword by sociologist Pierre Lagrange.

 

It is not the first book written by a former GEIPAN director: he was preceded by Jean-Jacques Velasco (“Ovnis: La science avance”, 1993; “Ovnis: L’évidence”, 2004 ) and Jacques Patenet (in the collective book “Phénomènes aérospatiaux non identifiés, un défi à la Science”, 2007). In fact each director of the GEPAN (later renamed SEPRA, finally GEIPAN) has given his own mark to that office, and it is therefore interesting to know each one’s perception “from within”.

Following on the footprints of his predecessor Jacques Patenet, Passot’s  years marked the phase of GEIPAN’s maximum openness both to the public (with the gradual publication of its whole archive of UFO reports) and to private ufologists (at least to those of scientific orientation), culminating with the Paris congress CAIPAN (Collecte et l’Analyze des Informations sur les Phénomènes Aérospatiaux Non-identifiés) in July 2014.

The book is not addressed to ufologists but to a general public, it is written in simple language, with a pedagogical intent, and is divided into three parts.
The first section (“GEIPAN Files”) reports a dozen significant case histories investigated, also reporting the conclusions where it was possible to reach one.
In the second part (“Investigation Complements”) the author delves into the complexity of UFO investigation, by quickly reviewing conceptual components of the problem: what is (and can be seen) in the sky, the weight of cultural factors, the role of the witness at the heart of the investigation, the concept of evidence and the role of photographs, the role of the investigator.
The third section (“The UFO Challenge”) examines the most widespread interpretative hypotheses, the interaction with the tools of science, the relationship with the mass media, the aspects related to defense, the role of beliefs.
The book ends with a chapter of conclusions, a critical analysis of the “COMETA Report” and an annotated essential bibliography.

If Passot’s purpose was to resume his five years in chair of GEIPAN and report his personal experience in the UFO world, even if brief his text makes an effective synthesis of the UFO problem and of its study today.