“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]

Another UFO Thesis in France

by Bruno Mancusi
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A new French thesis on UFOs: the dissertation entitled “Le soucoupisme français: 1945-2012″ (French Saucerism: 1945-2012), by Thomas Margout, who obtained a doctorate in history at the University of Western Brittany in Brest (France), on December 8th, 2017.

Just a year after that of Manuel Wiroth, this is the second university thesis on the history of the UFO movement in France.

Margout is not unknown in the UFO environment, since for the writing of his thesis he had asked the help of our colleagues from the SCEAU (Sauvegarde et Conservation des Etudes et Archives Ufologiques) and had also attended GEIPAN scientific conference on UFO CAIPAN in July 2014, with a poster illustrating his work.

So it was a surprise to read an interview he gave to daily newspaper “Le Télégramme de Brest” on 11 December 2017, in which he stated, among other things: “The overwhelming majority of ufologists are perfectly serious people, who saw a phenomenon that they cannot explain”, thus confusing ufologists and witnesses.

From the text now available it has been possible to understand that the confusion between ufologists, witnesses, contactists and sect followers was not a mistake but a choice of his. In fact, Margout himself explains: “In most cases, these investigators were also witnesses, they are here in the role of gathering and collecting testimonies similar to theirs”. So an ufologist would simply be a witness who questions other witnesses, although the author is not giving any statistics that prove his statement.

Thomas Margout’s thesis is divided into two volumes, available for free from here: vol. 1 and vol. 2. The first contains the thesis itself and the second contains data and statistics largely obtained from the UFO journal “Lumières dans la nuit”. The first volume is divided into four “generations”:
1. the birth (1945-1977)
2. the new ufology (1977-1993)
3. the X-Files generation (1993-2000)
4. independence (2000-2012).

Some choices of data and interpretations by the author are indeed questionable, and that is worthy a more detailed review.

[Pictured above: Thomas Margout during his speech at CAIPAN 2014]

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.

Cataloguing Local Reports, in Austria and France

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In December and January two books were published in two different European countries, notably standing out from the average of what may usually be found about UFOs in bookstores: in both cases it is a collection of case histories, a catalog of UFO sightings in a specific area.

The first book is titled “UFOs über Österreich” (UFO over Austria) and the author is Mario Rank, since 2012 director of the Austrian branch for the German organization DEGUFO (Deutschsprachige Gesellschaft für UFO-Forschung).

In 200 pages, Rank presents a quick overview of both the UFO problem in general, and especially the specific situation in his country, with chapters dedicated to the history of Austrian ufology, the role of the authorities and the most interesting sightings in Austria. As with many European countries, the problem of the language barrier unfortunately remains, but it is not excluded that this book may come to have a version in English, as was recently the case for similar works on UFOs in Poland and in Romania signed by two members of the EuroUfo.net collective, respectively Piotr Cielebiaś and Dan Farcas.

While Rank’s book is only partially a national case catalog, Les Ovnis du Centre – Val de Loire is exactly a regional catalog of UFO reports, collecting and systematically presenting all known case histories (470 sightings in 380 pages) from the six departments of France central region, along the same line already expressed in the past for other French regions.

The curious fact is that, unlike other similar works published in that country, the author is not a long-time ufologist, but an enthusiast who only recently (under the pseudonym Jean de Quercy) took the initiative to write this catalog in book form and publish it by himself: the usual format of a chronological presentation for each case with a detailed summary and an analytical indication of known sources, is just the same for regional catalog publications published by CISU in Italy.

UFO Sighting Reports Decreasing all over Europe

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On 7 January 2018, the Italian Center for UFO Studies issued a press release to provide initial data about UFO sighting reports collected by CISU during the year 2017.

Even if based on partial data, it was already clear that reports of strange objects and lights in Italian skies had diminished for the fifth consecutive year.

That first result was based on the questionnaire forms compiled directly by witnesses on CISU websites: only 113 for 2017, while they had been 136 in 2016, 226 in 2015, 399 in 2014, 617 in 2013 and 974 in 2012. Clearly a strong and continuous descending trend.

As it is known, the number of UFO sightings is not constant: since 1947 there have always been richer years (the so-called “UFO waves”, eg. 1950, 1954, 1973-74, 1978, 1985, 1997, 2001, 2004-05, 2009-10 in Italy) followed by others very poor ones (eg. 1955, 1981-82, 1991, 1998). Over time, various hypotheses have been made of correlations between the number of UFO reports and other physical phenomena (eg. proximity to the planet Mars) or sociological phenomena (eg. economic crises), but none has been substantially confirmed.

In order to compare Italian data with other countries, as it was already done two years ago, the Italian Center for UFO Studies launched an appeal to the other national organizations participating in EuroUfo.net, asking them to share data on each one’s case collection over the past four years.

We are now able to summarize the first totals of the reports collected for the 2012-2017 years by twelve national organizations in Europe that regularly collect, analyze and catalog reports coming directly from eyewitnesses:
BUM and COBEPS for Belgium;
SUFOI for Denmark;
FUFORA for Finland;
GEIPAN and Ovni-France for France;
DEGUFO and GEP for Germany ;
CISU and CUN for Italy;
Ufo-Norge for Norway;
Ufo-Sverige for Sweden.

Eight nations may sound like few but those are representing 41% of European population and 40% of Europe’s surface (excluding Russia, Turkey and other countries actually straddling Europe and Asia), so these figures are a reasonably representative sample for a first attempt at a continental overview. From a mere quantitative side, the set of cases considered is over 13,000 sightings in six years.

Obviously we are talking about raw and preliminary data, whose relevance should not be overstated, but which can and give us tendency indications at the same time quite clear and significant.
First, if you look at the tables of annual data and annual variations, country by country, it will be seen that the sharp decrease in the number of UFO/IFO reports from 2012 to 2017 is general and continuous: the continental total decreased of 22% in 2013, a further 25% in 2015, to fall again by 20% in 2016 and another 23% last year (with an overall reduction of 64%).
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Secondly, this is also the trend for most of the single nations, even if there are sporadic exceptions in which the annual totals have increased (Belgium 2015, Germany 2014, Norway and Sweden 2016) or remained almost stable (Belgium 2014, France 2014 and 2017, Finland 2013 and 2015, Germany 2015, Norway 2014, Sweden 2014 and 2015).

The above data confirmed that the number of sighting reports is decreasing, not only in Italy but nearly in all of Europe, and not only in the last year. There are currently no explanations for such a trend, and discussion among UFO students is open.

A certain satisfaction is warranted because it’s been possible to draw a common picture of UFO reports at European level.

Italian Air Force Confirms UFO Reports Are Diminishing

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After the publication of CISU data about UFO reports collected in 2017, also the CUN (National UFO Center) published its data about UFO sighting report received last year (110 in all), confirming the downward trend not only compared to 2016 but also within the whole decade, unlike some sensationalist claims by some Italian media in early January.

Although less significant, the number of reports coming from Italy to the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) Case Management System, which offers the best known online direct collection system in the world (7,686 sightings worldwide last year), remained unchanged (22 in 2016, 22 in 2017) but the language barrier makes it a very partial indicator for non-English-speaking countries.

Also the General Security Department of the Italian Air Force has now released the usual annual summary of reports of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) received in 2017 and for the first time since 1979 (when this service was started) no UFO sighting report has arrived to the Italian military for the whole year. As already noted in the past, in Italy – unlike other countries – the annual totals of UFO cases received by the government have always been much lower than those collected by private UFO associations, but a total of zero is remarkable anyway.

Italy 2017: Less UFO Reports from Witnesses

by Giorgio Abraini

In line with the trend of the last few years, the number of UFO reports in Italy seems to fall further down, based on a first analysis of data collected for the year 2017 from the CISU (Italian Center for UFO Studies), which has been monitoring UFO sightings in Italy since 1985 (over 25,000 reports since 1945).

If it’s true that the 113 sighting questionnaire forms received directly from witnesses through CISU website in 2017 are slightly more numerous than the previous year, if considering also the third-party sources (websites, newspapers, other UFO organizations) it seems probable that the final result will be a further, marked decline in sightings, confirming the same trend already seen in previous years.

One year ago, in the early days of 2017, you could already count around 500 sightings for 2016, later increased up to the total of about 600 reports known as of today. According to the real-time catalog CisuCat coordinated by Pasquale Russo on the website UfoWeb, we can now count as little as 250 for 2017.

Of course this total is destined to rise as 2017 sightings continue to emerge during the current year. However, based on the data available so far it is possible to estimate a total not exceeding 450-500 sightings, i.e. a significant drop compared to the 600 reports known today for 2016.