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

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 Dark Red Sky: the Saucers Arrived (1947-1949)

by Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos

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“A Dark Red Sky” (Un cielo rosso scuro) is the literary title of Giuseppe Stilo‘s new book (UPIAR publications, 2017) devoted to the arrival of flying saucers over Italy and the world, in 1947-1949. A thorough and well-documented 414-page volume which, once more, places Stilo in an authoritative position in the study of the UFO phenomenon.

This book inquiries into the initial period of the phenomenon, but this requires to be seen in the perspective provided by the author’s entire opus. It all began with “Operazione Origini” (Operation Origins), a CISU project started in 1984 to retrieve press cuttings for the early years (1946-1954) on which he embarked in 1988. He has since continued to produce a history of UFO reports in Italy and in the rest of the world. The encyclopedic erudition of Stilo in ufology has not many parallels. His work documenting what had happened, when and where is overpowering. Reading what is already a veritable library of books by him, might save a newcomer dozens of years’ worth of investigation and documentation.

Therefore, I will hardly touch this one volume that, naturally, wanders by the Italian panorama in 1947 and the birth of the flying saucer phenomenon, the 1947-48 wave, the “phantom airplanes” of 1948-49, the growth of the ETH during 1949 and the impact of foreign reports in the Italian media. The book makes a quantitative analysis of cases known in the 1947-1949 period in Italy and reviews the international panorama of the flying disk prodigy.

Giuseppe Stilo’s new book is the latest item of an indispensable collection, comprising the previous ones published by UPIAR publishing house in Turin:
“Scrutate I cieli!” (Watch the Skies!), UPIAR, 2000. 424 pages to document the 1950 wave.
“Ultimatum alla Terra” (The Day the Earth Stood Still), UPIAR, 2002. This large volume of 536 pages deals entirely with the 1952 UFO wave.
“L’alba di una nuova era” (Dawn of a New Age), UPIAR, 2004. The 1946 ghost rockets phenomenon is examined in this 228-page book,
“Il quinto cavaliere dell’Apocalisse – Vol. 1” (The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse – Vol. 1), UPIAR, 2006. This first volume, a mammoth tome of 680 sheets, covers the large wave of 1954 from January to October.
“Il quinto cavaliere dell’Apocalisse, Vol. 2” UPIAR, 2016. The second tome with 504 pages is devoted to the months of November and December 1954.

“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.
]

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.

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%).
2017europeuforeports-totals 2017europeuforeports-variation

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.