American UFO historian visits CISU headquarters

greg1Greg Eghigian is a historian of human sciences and a professor of Modern History at Pennsylvania State University, with a known interest in ufology.

For over a year he has been working on a research project on a  global history of the UFO subject with particular regard to the evolution of UFO sightings phenomenon and of its study.

gregrichieHis usual summer tour in the old continent was therefore an opportunity for a visit to Italy, with his colleague Richard Sherman (who’s teaching video making at the same university and is collaborating on the historiographical project with a documentary).

On June 11, Eghigian and Sherman arrived in Torino, specifically to meet and interview some CISU members and to visit Italian Center for UFO Studies  headquarters and archives (the second largest in Europe).

gregpter American researchers’ Italian day has been articulated in three different moments.
In a first part, the stories and personal evolution of a few CISU members (Paolo Toselli, Paolo Fiorino, Edoardo Russo) were collected as video interviews,  with an exchange of opinions on the past and future of ufology – which highlighted strong philosophical affinities.

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A second part  consisted of a general overview of the history of Italian ufology, followed by a guided tour of the CISU Archives, which amazed our visitors from overseas for the quantity and quality of the collected and organized documentation.

The meeting was also the starting point for identifying specific areas of collaboration, with particular regard to the historiographical aspects, which our association is particularly and actively interested in.

[In the pictures taken during the meeting at CISU registered office, from top to bottom: Richard Shermand  and Greg Eghigian preparing interviews; Eghigian talking with Edoardo Russo and Paolo Toselli; Eghigian interviewing Paolo Fiorino.]

UFO chased by Italian Air Force near Torino?

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In just three days, news of a light in the Canavese skies passed from local news to a state question.
The facts: on Wednesday night, June 6, just before 11 p.m., dozens of residents in the municipalities of Corio, Rocca and Levone (province of Torino) were alarmed by a strong and long roar making windows shake. Most people thought an airplane was about to fall on the houses. Many, who left home or were already outdoors, watched and later described the low-altitude passage of two military planes, seemingly chasing a white light moving in the sky, according to some of the witnesses.
As it is now frequent, testimonies have begun flooding social networks on the following morning, and for the first few days they were reported  only by local newspapers (Sentinella del Canavese, Cronaca Qui Torino), while both ENAV (civilian Aviation Administration) and Italian Air Force denied the presence of low-flying aircrafts in the valley at that time.
When one of the witnesses went to submit a complaint to the Carabinieri police and two local politicians announced they were to present a Parliamentary question to the Ministry of Defense, however, the news rose to national level, with a national wire ANSA press release on Sunday evening, which got to most newspapers and mass media on the following day.
Meanwhile, the Italian Center for UFO Studies (CISU) had opened an investigation,  launched a public appeal to witnesses and has so far tracked down and made contact with a dozen eyewitnesses who, in addition to the roar and the planes, have seen the luminous object in the sky.
Investigations are still ongoing and it is too early to reach conclusions about the observed phenomenon and the dynamics of the events, before data collection is completed, matching the testimonies and making on place surveys.
The CISU is interested in any evidence of unusual objects or aerial phenomena, and always invites witnesses to tell their experiences, granting privacy to them.
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Top: photo of a flying object taken at Corio Canavese (Pian Audi) on August 29, 1962

Francine Fouéré (1927-2018)

The doyen of French ufology, Francine Fouéré, died in Paris on May 26, 2018. She had just turned 91 years old.

foueresA high school teacher, interested in ufology since 1954, in 1962 she and her husband Réné Fouéré were among the founders of the Groupement d’Etude de Phénomènes Aériens (GEPA), an association of technicians, scientists, military representing for 15 years the main attempt in France to make ufology a scientific study, clearly separating from “flying saucers” sensationalism. For their joined involvement as a married couple in that UFO organization, they were considered “the French Lorenzens“.

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After her husband’s death in 1990, Francine had remained actively engaged in studies on the subject, attending meetings and conferences, editing the re-publication in five volumes of the complete collection (and supplemented by various unpublished articles) of GEPA magazine “Phénomènes spatiaux”, in 2008.

 

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In 1982 I had the opportunity to meet her at GEPA headquarters in Paris, and in 2005 we had the surprise to find her at the Chalons-en-Champagne UFO Congress, where she ran a stand with the old publications of her association [photo SPICA].
An autobiographical interview of her was collected by Gilles Thomas in 2009 and can be heard here.

[Communication by Pierre Lagrange]

The 1978 Great UFO Wave, 40 years later

2018 is marking the fortieth anniversary of the great wave of UFO sightings over Italy in 1978, the year with the greatest numer of reports and case histories collected throughout the twentieth century.

Twenty years ago, the Italian Center for UFO Studies (Centro Italiano Studi Ufologici, CISU) already devoted its 13th national congress to re-examining that extraordinary year, with analysis and comparison of the international scene.

A few months ago, 40 years after the events, the CISU launched a new “Project ’78” based on the center impressive archives, a project with two different sections, whose first results are coming in these days.

ritagli1978A first part of the project consisted in the digitalization and full indexing of all press sources of that year. The Italian UFO wave of 1978 was in fact mostly a media wave, overwhelming newspapers and other mass media all around the nation, in a very pervasive way, unprecedented in the past (and in the future as well), as it is also apparent from the annual totals of newsclipping in CISU Press Archive: never before that time (*) more than two thousand press cuttings had been collected in just one year, as in 1978, and never that happened again in the following years. The ufomania in Italian newspapers was already remarked at the time, sort of a “UFO psychosis”.

All collected newscuttings had long been ordered and set up on A4 paper sheets at CISU headquarters, where the 1978 section occupies seven archive boxes of (mostly original) clippings taken from dailies and local information newspapers, plus an eighth folder containing extracts from the illustrated magazines (which published extensive services on the UFO topic, in that year). In the last few weeks, some CISU volunteers have worked on the full scanning of this collection, which was completed in early May, 2018: 2,400 articles from newspapers, which will soon be joined by those from illustrated magazines. Upon this work, other volunteers are currently “renaming” the individual files so that they directly indicate the newspaper and the date of publication, to allow an automatic indexing and an easier recovery.

controllias78By the end of May a second part of the project will start, concerning UFO sighting case histories. The national catalog of Italian UFO sightings currently includes 1,800 reports for 1978, each one corresponding to an archive folder containing all sources relating to it. In recent years a meticulous work of cross-checking has been done between the already existing files and the sources subsequently collected or not recorded at that time, with the following reproduction and filing of several hundred “new” cases. At the end of this work we will now move to the indexing of these new cases, entgering coordinates (date, time, location, type) in the general database. This second phase of the project should be completed before the summer.

That’s a concrete way of commemorating the 40th anniversary of the greatest UFO wave of all time in our country.

(*) with the incredible exception of 1954: more than 4,000 articles, but only recovered in recent years through the systematic and targeted research of the “Operation Origins”.

A White Paper on UFOs in Italy

librobiancoIt’s just arrived in Italian bookshops Il libro bianco degli UFO in Italia (The White Paper of UFOs in Italy), by Moreno Tambellini and Franco Marcucci (Armenia publisher, 350 pages).

This is not the usual book made of anecdotal sightings patched up from here and there, as is unfortunately the case of too many UFO publications, not only in our country. The volume is instead the result of a project representing the evolution and the deepening of a pioneer collection and cataloguing work started by Sezione Ufologica Fiorentina (Florence UFO Section) and in particular by Solas Boncompagni) in the 1960s.

That longtime work led to the publication of six volumes of the “UFOs in Italy” book series (published from 1974 to 2012), covering Italian case histories throughout the twentieth century, but over the years it had gone more and more losing the original intention to provide not only a collection but also a selection and evaluation of each report, on the basis of a proper “veridicity index”.

What was meant by Tambellini and Marcucci (both members of SUF third generation) was precisely a return to the origins of that project, by re-elaborating objective criteria to select the 43 best cases (as of reliability of the testimonies) among the approximately 12,000 files registered in the SUF archive (now merged into Centro Ufologico Nazionale’s files).

The book presents those best cases in detail, based on the documentation (not always complete, alas) available to the authors.

The result notwithstanding, this is a methodology that – unlike almost everything that can be found in bookstores and on newsstands in our country – is starting from case histories and is trying to apply rational, objective and homogeneous criteria to its analysis: an approach that moves along the line that has always characterized our own way at CISU.

“Cielo Insolito” No. 6 is out

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Issue No. 6 was just released of “Cielo Insolito” (Unusual Sky) the journal of UFO history edited by CISU members Giuseppe Stilo and Maurizio Verga.

This 44-pages new issue can be downloaded for free in PDF format, as well as back issues, and is containing five articles.

A long, well-documented essay by Maurizio Verga reports how widely there were many dozens of – more or less ridiculous – instances of flying saucers fallen to the ground, especially in the United States but also in other countries, in the very year of birth of “saucers”, 1947.

A study by the Spanish ufologist Luis R. Gonzalez explains how Spain moved from science fiction literature to the first direct and “real” testimonies of “Martians” apparitions, in the first half of XX Century.

Giuseppe Stilo is the author of three shorter articles:
– an unusual aerial phenomenon watched at Udine by a meteorologist and other learned people in 1923,
– the little known case of a contactee woman active in Trieste theosophical circles in the mid-50s,
– French writer Henri Pensa’s belief that some odd “meteors” might be considered luminous signals to the Earth by Mars inabitants, in the 1920s.

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[Top picture, one of the retrieved “flying saucers”, from The Knicker Bocker News, Albany, New York, 10 July 1947.
Bottom picture: a meeting of the Italian UFO History Group: Giuseppe Stilo is standing on the right, Maurizio Verga is sitting in front of him, on the left.
]

A UFO Night over Italy (and Southern Europe)

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Since the early hours of today, dozens of reports of a bright object crossing the sky have begun to arrive, from half of Italy (and Southern Europe as well).

In our country, the phenomenon has been observed at least from several regions (Liguria, Tuscany, Lazio and Campania), with videos and photographs taken by witnesses still awake shortly after two o’clock in the night between Saturday and Sunday, when watches were supposed to be moved forward one hour.

Ufologists will systematically collect reports in the coming days, but the first reports available on the net and accompanied by photos and videos were those from Anzio (RM), Nettuno (RM), Fondi (LT), Pozzuoli (NA), Benevento (BN), between Salerno and Maiori (SA), in Vallo di Diano (SA) and Padula, a Battipaglia (SA) and other locations in Campania.

Mass observations of luminous aerial phenomena of this type are a recurring phenomenon, well known to ufologists since the early ’50s, and were baptized “flaps”: unlike typical UFO sightings (expecially high degree strangeness reports) that involve few people in a single location, in the flaps there are tens or hundreds of contemporary testimonies from different localities, which describe the same phenomenon.

Flaps reporting the quick passage of one or more luminous objects, with or without a trail, following a generally straight path, are mostly due to two types of causes (which have very similar phenomenic features): bolides and atmospheric reentries of artificial satellites (or rocket parts that put them in orbit). One of the most sensational and better studied took place on the night of June 6, 1983, but this type of events occur on Italy every two to three years on average.

Last night phenomena were in fact caused by the return to the atmosphere of the third stage (2018-026B) of the Soyuz MS-08, which was launched last March 21 from the Baikonour (Kazakhstan) cosmodrome to bring International Space Station two US astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut.

According to US infrared satellites, as reported by amateur astronomeur Marco Langbroek, the reentry took place at 03:25 (summer time) around the coordinates 41.9°N, 8.1°E, above the sea off Ajaccio, Corsica, along a path that would otherwise have continued parallel to the Italian coast.

[Collaboration by Roberto Labanti, Sofia Lincos, Pasquale Russo, Gianni Ascione, Antonio Rampulla]

Peter Rogerson R.I.P.

peterrogersoncs72One of the most learned English scholars of the UFO subject, Peter Rogerson died in Manchester on March 6.

Born in 1951, he had long worked as a librarian. In 1969 he joined the editorial board of MUFOB , an independent periodical then echoing the “new ufology” launched overseas by John Keel and Jacques Vallée, as opposed to “nuts and bolts” ETH (Extra-Terrestrial Hypothesis).

A passionate reader and student of social psychology, folklore and witchcraft, Rogerson wrote a lot of articles, always unconventional, mostly centered on cultural and “humanistic” (as he said) components of the UFO subject, as well as hundreds of book reviews, in forty years of publications of what was originally called “Merseyside UFO Bulletin”, then “Metempirical UFO Bulletin” and finally “Magonia” (for the last eight years in webzine version). All those writings by him can now be read on line by at Magonia magazine web site.

A primary contribution to ufology was his initiative to continue and expand the well-known catalog of UFO landing reports first compiled and published by Jacques Vallée as an appendix to his book “Passport to Magonia”, in 1969. Launched in 1971 and published in installments for over ten years, INTCAT (International Catalog of Type-1 Events) rapidly grew from 923 to over 5,000 case histories collected, cataloged, summarized and referenced, also involving several fellow ufologists worldwide, and stimulating national catalogs of that same kind in at least four continents.

An Italian translation of INTCAT was started in 1978 by Edoardo Russo in the UFO supplement of “Clypeus”, and that was the stimulus for the national catalog of Italian landing reports called ITACAT, compiled by Maurizio Verga.

Few people know that Rogerson had privately “forecast” late 1978 great Italian wave of sightings, basing such hypothesis on sociological considerations.

Peter Rogerson’s huge book collection (over 5,000 volumes) was donated by him to AFU (Archives for the Unexplained) and has been moved to Sweden over the last few years.

[top: Peter Rogerson in his home library, photo by Clas Svahn]

Goodbye to J. Costagliola and J. Tomlinson

Two French ufologists died within few days in February.
On February 16, Jacques Costagliola died in the Paris region. Born in Algeria in 1927, a doctor and biologist, he had long been animator of the so-called “Groupe de Science Ouvert” (Open Science Group) in Versailles, France.

Expecially interested in the potential health risks of what he called “toxic close encounters”, he was best known for his 1988 book “Epistémologie du phénomène ovnien” (Epistemology of UFO Phenomenon).

Together with former Admiral Gilles Pinon, in 2008 he was among the promoters and signers of an open letter to the President of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, asking him to apply the precautionary principle to UFO phenomena and thus to order “an exhaustive study of the UFO phenomenon in application of a hypothetical-deductive method, bringing together competences in the political, military, scientific, sociological, philosophical fields, having as its object to confirm or deny the extraterrestrial interpretation”.

On February 21st, at the age of 50 years, John Tomlinson died in Nice, France, after a long illness. Born in the USA, he had grown up and lived in France. In 2008 he was appointed MUFON representative in that country and soon began an active role in establishing contacts for a better international UFO coordination.

tomlinson2013At the same time Tomlinson he worked on setting up a French branch of the Mutual UFO Network, finding a hand in veteran French ufologist Gerard Lebat, at that time coordinator of “Repas ufologiques” (UFO dinners) network. Thus MUFON-France was born and after Dave MacDonald was elected as MUFON International Director, John organized MacDonald’s trip to Paris in January 2013, for a conference and meeting with several MUFON representatives in Europe, as well as the signing of a cooperation protocol between the Mutual UFO Network and the GEIPAN (the UFO study group within the French space agency).

The ambition to create a MUFON-France that overcame the long-standing rivalries and envies among the various ufologists and associations of that country unfortunately collapsed in a short time, despite both Tomlinson and Lebat stepping backwards and leaving group management to others. Disappointed by the UFO people, John left active ufology shortly before discovering the disease that killed him in a few years.

[In the above photo: Jacques Costagliola (right) with Claude Lavat and Gilles Pinon.
In the lower picture: John Tomlinson in Paris in 2013, with MUFON director Dave MacDonald, GEIPAN director Xavier Passot and MUFON-France director Jacky Kozan.]

Fewer UFOs in the Sky, More News in the Media?

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While UFO sighting reports by eyewitnesses are diminishing, the number of articles and items about UFOs in Italian media are strongly increasing.

In fact, UFO newsclippings from the Italian newspapers have more than doubled in 2017. This was announced by Gildo Personé, coordinator for CISU Press Archive: “During the year 2017, 1,965 clippings and news items from Italian dailies and weekly papers were collected, while they were 910 for the year 2016 and 763 those from 2015.”

The comparison is even more surprising if we consider that the CISU has not renewed its 26-years long subscription to L’Eco della Stampa (Echo from the Press) newsclipping agency, expired in July 2017 and started in October 1990 (over 22,000 articles received). From that moment, the monitoring of Italian mass media is entirely based on the voluntary service of our members, which have already shown an even higher efficiency than the paid service, in the last few years.

It’s often been claimed that the number of UFO sightings is related to how much (and when) newspapers talk about it. The contrary has been true in Italy: the number of press reports on UFOs has been steadily increasing in the last five years, while the number of UFO reports has always been decreasing. That fact drastically denies any correlation between those two variables, in spite of any superficial and unjustified sociologisms.