Huneeus CH Chile
J. Antonio Huneeus
Citizen Hearing/South America: Chile
In recent years Chile has become one of the world’s leading nations in the official study and recognition of the UFO phenomenon. UFO agencies or departments have been traditionally under the Air Force in most countries. In France, as we shall see in the next session, the effort is under the space agency, but Chile has taken a novel approach which makes logical sense: its committee known as CEFAA (Committee for the Study of Anomalous Aerial Phenomena) is under the Civil Aviation agency DGAC. In other words, it’s like if the FAA, the Federal Aviation Administration, had a UFO department. Civil aviation agencies all over the world deal with aircraft safety and navigation and UFOs, though not regulated by human governmental agencies, are primarily flying in the air and could pose a threat to aviation safety.
Chile has a rich history of UFO cases, some of them highly strange, like an incident involving a group of seven soldiers and a corporal near Putre in Chile’s northern Atacama region near the border with Peru in 1977, the so-called time warp case of Corporal Valdes, which became the subject of my very first article on UFOs back in 1977. In the 1980s, Gustavo Rodriguez, an air traffic controller, began to collect cases involving pilots who would call the control tower asking if there was any traffic that could explain lights or objects they were seeing during the course of their flights. There were also incidents involving the scramble of military jets, a situation common to many countries of the world.
In the mid-90s Rodríguez received the support of Gen. Ramón Vega, a former Commander-in- Chief of the Chilean Air Force and later a senator. I had the opportunity of meeting both Gustavo Rodríguez and Gen. Vega during several trips to Santiago in the 1990s. I gave the general, in fact, a copy of the Laurance Rockefeller-sponsored UFO Briefing Document which I had coauthored and which perhaps played a small role in marshaling the evidence for the creation of CEFAA in 1997. During its first months, however, CEFAA seemed rudderless until Air Force General (Ret.) Ricardo Bermúdez was named director. Gen. Bermúdez was the director of the Technical School of Aeronautics, which trains air traffic controllers, and it was at this school— which I visited many times—where the Commission was housed for a number of years. CEFAA’s mission is to:
Record and analyze all relevant reports concerning UAP [Unidentified Aerial Phenomena] occurring within the national territory, on the basis of a serious, objective and scientific analysis with the purpose of determining any possible risk to air operations.
In 2002 CEFAA became essentially inactive for a number of years, but in December of 2009 the DGAC announced that CEFAA was being reactivated and once again Gen. Bermúdez was brought back to direct it and Gustavo Rodríguez to serve as secretary. The Committee’s headquarters was moved to a new location at the National Aeronautical and Space Museum near the old airport of Los Cerrillos in Santiago. One of the first things they did was to launch an official website [http://www.cefaa.cl/web/home.html], which is by far the best of all the South American official agencies. It contains several UFO aircraft incidents with audio recordings of pilot-control tower communications, videos, documents, articles, and other data.
CEFAA has an “External Committee of Advisors” which includes eight top scientists from the Chilean Commission of Nuclear Energy, Aerospace Medicine at Santiago University, astronomers from the Metropolitan and Catholic Universities, a plasma physicist from Santiago University, a geographer and expert of satellite imagery from Chile State University, and two psychologists. There is also a CEFAA Internal Committee which includes experts on Operations Safety, Air Control Center, Meteorology, Air Accidents Investigations, Aerospace Engineering and Audiovisual. They also have representatives from each branch of the armed forces and the police.
On August 11, 2008, the Chilean government passed Law 20.285 known as “Transparency Law.” In some respects it works similarly to our Freedom of Information Act—government agencies have 20 days to responds to queries from the public regarding public records—but in some respects it goes beyond the FOIA. With the exception of matters dealing with national security and foreign relations, the Transparency Law was designed so government agencies can act in an open and transparent manner even in cases where they received no queries from the public. CEFAA has fully complied with the requirements of the Transparency Law, and as explained by Gen. Bermúdez, “this is the way we deal with the phenomenon, openly and freely.”
CEFAA has documented many UFO cases involving commercial and military pilots. One of the more interesting ones known as the Pelican case occurred on June 24, 2010 and it involved three different aircraft—two airliners and a navy plane called Pelican. As put by Gen. Bermúdez at a lecture he gave at the International UFO Congress in Fountain Hills, Arizona, in 2012,
“three airplanes witnessed the same phenomenon, two commercial planes are approaching Santiago, the military plane is coming 300 miles from the north, and an object is cruising his airway. The pilot reports something he sees camouflaged in erratic motion. In the audio communication, one can hear the pilot saying, “ROGER…At this moment I can’t see it anymore…I could see a traffic loud and clear…it looked like a cloud… Camouflaged as a cloud but with erratic motion.”
This case, as well as another one in Punta Arenas detected by primary radar in 2011, is important because you have different professional pilots reporting the same object. As explained by Gen. Bermúdez:
“Think for a moment, if one experienced commercial pilot reports to me that something flew across in front of his airplane, I pay careful attention; but now if a second commercial pilot reports the same a few seconds later, I become interested; but if a third pilot, a military one, confirms the same fact, I tend to believe it. In this case, do we have one UFO close to the airplanes, or we have two UFOs? If we have one, its incredible speed doesn’t correspond to anything we have now.”
During the same lecture at the International UFO Congress, Gen. Bermúdez released a multiple video case taken at the El Bosque base in Santiago, where the Air Force Academy is located, which made world headlines. This was because several videos were taken during an important ceremony for the change of the Commander of the Chilean Air Force on November 4, 2010, attended by the President, all the commanders of the armed forces and top brass, the Minister of
Defense and other cabinet members, the diplomatic corps and many other important officials including Gen. Bermúdez himself. The ceremony is popular with the public and widely photographed and filmed because it includes the air parade by all the different squadrons of the Chilean Air Force. It must be clarified, however, that none of the dignitaries or public saw the UFOs at the time. These were discovered later as people began to review the footage they had taken. I am enclosing an interview I did with Gen. Bermúdez, published in Open Minds magazine issue 16, Oct.-Nov. 2012, where he explains the methodology of CEFAA as well as many of their best UFO cases, including the multiple footage case of El Bosque.
Chile has shown that a serious and open official investigation of UFOs can be conducted in a serious and scientific manner. Some of the ingredients include cooperation among different government agencies, scientific and academic institutions and even the civilian UFO community. Official and private investigators can and should cooperate instead of fighting with each other. This same model has taken place in other South American countries like Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Ecuador. Another key component is to establish official cooperation among different countries since UFOs don’t seem to care about national boundaries and are reported widely all over the world. For this reason, CEFAA and CRIDOVNI, the official UFO agency run by the Uruguayan Air Force since 1978, signed an official agreement of cooperation and exchange of data in 2012.
The United States likes to think that it’s always ahead in all areas of society, but I am afraid that this is not the case in the field of ufology. Other countries are moving ahead with an open and transparent investigation of this phenomenon. The unknown nature of the phenomenon itself and the likelihood that it originates not on this Earth requires a change of attitude and a level of openness that seems to be amiss in this country. Let me finish with a quote from my interview with Gen. Bermúdez:
The official conclusion is that the anomalous aerial phenomenon known as unidentified flying objects is real and is present within the controlled airspace and outside the controlled airspace. It is also present in the sea—we have some reports from our navy in that respect. It is present everywhere, and therefore it is necessary to share the information in order to have more background and be able to study it more scientifically, so that we can give real information to the people and not rely on what is shown on TV and in sensationalist media.
Thank you very much.