By DANIEL REBISSO GIESE, CYNTHIA LUCE and BOB PRATT
(This story is based on research carried out in Brazil in September 1999 and earlier years. A version of the story was published in the MUFON UFO Journal of March 2001. To some extent, it overlaps UFO Awes Intelligence Agents, which was based on research conducted in 1997 and before. Daniel Rebisso Giese is a UFO researcher who lives in Belém, Brazil and Cynthia Luce is an American researcher who has lived in the state of Rio de Janeiro since the 1970s.)
Military intelligence agents who investigated a long series of UFO sightings managed to film numerous craft diving into and coming out of a bay at the mouth of the Amazon River.
The films, which later ended up in classified archives still closed to the public, were shown to officers at a nearby Brazilian Air Force base.
This was in 1977 at a time when aggressive UFOs were harassing and sometimes injuring villagers, farmers and fishermen. The agents shot the films and took hundreds of photographs of UFOs during a four-month investigation as the flap was taking place.
“They showed the films to those who wanted to see them,” Gabriel Brasil (below), a retired lieutenant colonel, told us in September 1999. “Therefore, they were actually in the public domain because they were showing the films to everyone.”
In fact, though, the films were not shown to the general public and it is not known now how many officers took advantage of the opportunity to view them at the base, which is the headquarters for Brazil’s First Regional Air Command.
“We clearly saw small ships going into a bigger ship, and they filmed them going into the water and coming out of the water,” said Brasil, then sixty-two. He was referring to the waters of Marajó Bay that flow into the Atlantic Ocean.
was not a member of the investigative team but was stationed at the base at
A TERRIFYING TIME
These events were part of the “Colares flap,” which was, we believe, part of a much larger UFO wave that took place over a vast stretch of northern Brazil for more than twenty months in 1977 and 1978.
However, the Air Force investigation was centered on hundreds of sightings around Colares and more than two dozen other villages less than sixty miles from the major seaport city of Belém on Marajó Bay. Belém is the capital of the state of Pará and the home of about two million people.
It was a terrifying time for the several thousand inhabitants of the Colares area because there were nights when rays of light beamed from UFOs paralyzed and burned dozens of people, and at least two of them died.
The intelligence agents – six sergeants and one officer – spent most of October, November and December 1977 and January 1978 in Colares and other villages interviewing hundreds of people who had encounters or sightings. During the investigation, the agents also had more than two hundred sightings of their own.
The three of us spent the first two weeks of September 1999 re-visiting Colares and other villages in an effort to better understand what happened there twenty-two years earlier. Despite the passage of time, we were able to locate and interview twenty people who had participated in the investigation, or had sightings or encounters, or had direct knowledge of the flap.
The last three months of 1977 were particularly dreadful for people living in the Colares area.
“I’ll never forget it,” said Ana Célia Oliveira (below), a schoolteacher who was six years old at the time. “People and animals were attacked. There was no food. Terrible lack of food. No one was fishing. People would not go out to their vegetable gardens for crops.
to go around in large groups. Nobody wanted to be left alone. All of Colares
“One time I heard men shouting and I ran to the door and opened it and saw many UFOs in formation, and suddenly they went in all directions. The objects moved very quickly. People began to shoot into the sky to scare them away. One came over the village just fifteen meters high. I dreamed about this and I still sometimes have dreams.”
BLUE LIGHTS UNDER THE WATER
Her father, Rósio Oliveira, then fifty-six, had nine sightings in November 1977 alone, according to documents compiled by the Air Force investigators.
“I often go fishing in my boat and we can see those things coming at great speed and when they get close they just seem to stop,” Rósio (below), owner of a small store on the Colares beach, said in an interview in February 1979. “My brother got really frightened and he jumped out of the boat.
“Sometimes the UFOs go into the water. I’ve seen blue lights moving around under the water, and I’ve seen them come out. It just goes up and away in a northern direction, up and down in a wavy motion toward the ocean.”
We saw Rósio again
in 1999 and he said: “It began with lights all over Colares… sometimes in
the shape of a hat, round, discs, like an umbrella… They seemed to come from
way high up from many places, one from the sky, one from the bay… They put
out a strong light, too bright to see a shape. The light was blinding.
“One time we saw many UFOs coming out of the water at the same time, one, two, three, four… Many lights came out of the water. Huge objects went into the water, came down and went into the water.
“The Air Force people told us the UFOs were not dangerous, don’t be afraid. Everybody was upset and they were trying to calm the people down. They were saying it was just a little flying apparatus and a little laser light and people were being paralyzed but they were not taking blood…”
He was referring to the fact that at the time many people believed the UFOs were somehow using rays of light to suck blood from victims. Villagers said UFOs sometimes hovered in the sky at night and beamed down rays of light that passed through the tile roofs of houses as if the tiles didn’t exist.
The leader of the Air Force investigators was Uyrange Hollanda (say Wee-RAHN-gee Oh-LON-duh), at that time a captain. In an interview in 1997, Hollanda, by then a retired lieutenant colonel, told us the UFOs used two different rays of light.
“First came a green light that would hit the person and paralyze them,” he said. “Then the green light would turn off and a red ray of light would hit, burning them. A lot of people were burned.”
One of the victims in Colares was
Claudomira Paixão (below), then thirty-five. One night in
October 1977 she was asleep in a hammock and was awakened by a light coming
through a window.
She could see a figure holding an
instrument like a pistol.
The being and the light disappeared when she began screaming, and a few minutes later a cousin took her to the small state-run Colares hospital.
Claudomira was one of about forty people who were treated for burns by Dr. Wellaide Carvalho during that time. Dr. Carvalho, who ran the hospital, said the burns did not form blisters or resemble burns caused by fire or hot water but were similar to burns caused by Cobalt.
Also, there was no pain in the affected areas, only itching, and after two days the skin began to peel. She said that when treating victims she often found two small punctures, very close together, more or less in the center of most of the burns.
In a 1993 interview, Dr. Carvalho said two of the victims died within twenty-four hours of being burned. One was a housewife and domestic worker in her early forties and the other was a thirty-two-year-old fisherman.
didn't remember their names. Brazil at that time was
under military rule. She started keeping records of the people she treated
but then began worrying about what the Air Force would think, so she destroyed
didn't remember their names. Brazil at that time was under military rule. She started keeping records of the people she treated but then began worrying about what the Air Force would think, so she destroyed her notes.
MAYOR APPEALS FOR HELP
A few sightings were reported in the Colares area as early as July 1977, but it wasn’t until October that increasing numbers of UFOs were being seen. The Air Force got involved only after receiving an appeal for help from the mayor of Vigia, a small town not far from Colares.
A Belém newspaper, Provincia do Pará, reported that at six forty-five in the evening of October 18, 1977, Mayor José Soeiro was at home talking to his wife when he heard shouts in the streets about a strange object crossing the sky at great speed and giving off yellow light.
He ran to a window in time to catch a glimpse as it passed over an island east of the town, going toward the nearby village of Santo Antônio do Ubintuba.
Vigia itself had plunged into darkness a few minutes earlier as the electricity failed, and the people were alarmed. After the object disappeared, it reappeared two minutes later moving toward Vigia, and then rapidly disappeared again.
As Mayor Soeiro stood in the streets watching with his wife, his mother, his grandmother, his twelve-year-old son, a city councilman and other townspeople, another object rose into the sky from the Colares area fifteen miles to the southwest and moved toward Vigia.
Then it disappeared and yet another one arose from a closer Island and moved toward Vigia at the same time that a third object headed for Vigia, almost causing a collision between the two.
The entire spectacle in the sky lasted about fifteen minutes, after which the lights of the city came back on again.
The newspaper also reported that in Santo Antônio do Ubintuba, Police Commissioner Benjamin Amim said that the following evening six unidentified flying objects were seen over the village emitting rays of green, red and yellow lights.
In September 1999 we were able to interview Brigadier Protázio Oliveira, a retired four-star brigadier general who was commander of the Belém air base at that time of the UFO flap.
“If it’s something in the air, it’s for us to help,” the general said, referring to the Vigia mayor’s request for help. “The people in Colares were really upset and they believed something very strange was happening, and I wanted proof. So I sent a team there. I wanted real proof of what was going on there.”
Sergeant Álvaro Pinto Santos was one of the first of the military investigators to go to Colares.
“People were really afraid,” Santos (below), sixty-four and also retired, said when we visited him at his home in Belém in 1999. “Really scared. They didn’t know what to do.
“They were so terrified they didn’t fish. They wanted guns to shoot… We had to explain to them that they couldn’t shoot at the UFOs or things could get worse.”
Colonel Hollanda told us in 1997 that the UFOs could react swiftly. “The people shot at the discs very often but we told them, ‘Don't DO that!’”
Hollanda cited the case of a Colares carpenter in his fifties who was badly frightened when a UFO focused a beam of light on his home.
“He got a rifle and aimed it at the disc, the light turned red and he fell to the ground. He was barely able to move for fifteen days. The first day he was dizzy. He could hear, see and speak normally but could barely move. He was in a hammock all that time.”
Sergeant Santos said that once the agents began the investigation they didn’t have to wait long to see strange things in the sky.
“One night in Colares we saw something like a great big tub about one and a half meters in diameter about eighty meters from us. Sergeant Nascimento [another member of the team] took photos. The light was so intense it hurt the eyes.”
Still later, at a farm called Fazenda Jejú some distance to the east, “we saw a strange light about eleven forty one night. It came down very low. It was pulsing red on the bottom, almost violet, and on top white.
“We thought it was going to land but it swooped back up. It was kind of heart-shaped with a little dome on top. There was no sound. It just took off with a speed that was absolutely incredible. It just zoomed off into space. I thought it was very beautiful.”
In a preliminary report about five weeks after the investigation began, Sergeant Flávio Costa, second in command of the team, stated that the agents had heard testimony from people “who said they’d been ‘hit’ by a ‘beam of light’ emitted by a ‘body of light’ of unknown origin and characteristics…”
The people of Colares, he wrote, lived “in a state of ‘collective hysteria,’ its inhabitants terrified by the appearance of mysterious lights of unknown origin. They don’t sleep, nor fish… The population lives in a state of terror. At times a scream of fear and then the news is spread that the ‘apparatus’ attacked so and so…
“People struck by a beam of light suffer what we can call a ‘nervous breakdown’ (for lack of a better explanation) whose symptoms are nearly always the same: partial or total paralysis, loss of speech, chills, dizziness, hot flashes, hoarseness, tachiacardia, tremors, migraine-type headaches, and progressive numbness of the area hit by the beam of light.”
The report was written early in November 1977 and by then the team had had a number of sightings themselves. In his report, Sergeant Costa described a reddish-yellow object crossing the sky like an “intense rotating beacon.”
Its apparent size, he wrote, “was estimated at 2 centimeters [about three-quarters of an inch], and its flight a smooth curve to the right until attaining mid-range, where it initiated an ascending swing to the left crossing the mid-point… at an altitude estimated at 1500 meters. It stopped emitting flashes, rapidly losing its luminosity and transformed itself into a minuscule reddish point of light at an altitude of more than 6000 meters…
“This sequence took 45 seconds. Considering the short time for these maneuvers, between the exact vertical point in the trajectory and the point at which it disappeared, it would have had to pass from a sub-sonic velocity (800 km/hr) to super-sonic velocity and then normally there would have been a sonic boom, which did not occur during this sighting…”
Sergeant Costa said this “and other cases… were unexplainable.”
Most of the sightings that the team investigated happened at night. One of the few daytime incidents was reported by Ivaldo Pantoja, fifty-five when we talked to him in 1999. At that time he had been the chief pilot for the Pará state government for more than twenty years.
On November 23, 1977, he was working for an air taxi company and was flying alone in a six-seat Cessna back to Belém after a trip to Marajó Island on the other side of the bay. It was about nine thirty in the morning and he was halfway across the bay.
“I saw an object near the water at a distance and it made me afraid because it was so strange,” he told us. “It was like two soup plates together. It was silverish and was very close to the water.
“I had heard a story about someone being sucked out of a plane by a UFO and I got really scared and wanted to land on a beach. This thing was about ninety degrees to my left and it would go up and down. I was so terrified that I turned back and landed at Soure in Marajó.”
It took him more than a half hour to calm down and resume his flight home.
Pantoja (at right, with his wife Rosalha) was one of at least six civilian pilots who reported seeing UFOs in 1977 and 1978. He had several other sightings, including one when he was with Sergeant Costa.
“This was at Baía do Sol [a village between Belém and Colares],” Pantoja said. “We saw a bluish light over the water that would zigzag, then stop and go around. It wasn’t all that big but it was fast.
“There were all these little balls of bluish light flying around, and then came a bigger ball of light. Right over the middle of the bay it went down into the water in sort of an explosion of light that lit up everything.
“A day later they sent a Navy ship out to see if they could find pieces of it. They put divers down but they couldn’t find anything.”
Santos told us that he, Costa and the other sergeants from Intelligence were chosen for the Colares team mainly because they were available at the time.
“It was just that I was at the right place at the right time,” Santos said. “We were sent in not because we had any particular specialties or anything but because we had reports of these happenings scaring people so badly they were starving and afraid to go out fishing.”
‘JUST ANOTHER OPERATION’
Colonel Hollanda told us in the 1997 interview: “We had a lot of sergeants in the Intelligence Section with different specialties.” But, he added, “We were not trained to research flying saucers.”
He said he himself was chosen because “I was responsible for the operations of the Intelligence Service. This was just another operation.”
He and his team carried out their investigation dressed in civilian clothing and took no weapons with them. They lived in a borrowed beach house at Colares, slept in hammocks they took with them, cooked their own food, washed their own clothes in a stream and dried them on bushes, and drove their own cars.
For the most part, they slept during the daytime and stayed up all night watching the skies, taking photographs when UFOs were seen and recording the information. They interviewed witnesses, taking testimony on tape recorders and later typing up reports.
Other than the recorder and various cameras with special filters and lenses, the only other equipment they had was a theodolite to help track UFOs crossing the sky. They learned about sightings in other localities only by word of mouth from the inhabitants and the police.
“The people knew we were investigating and would come to us,” Sergeant Santos said. “So we would go running off to where something was happening.”
The agents seldom ranged more than forty miles from Colares and generally stayed in the immediate vicinity.
The UFOs were never tracked on radar because no radar existed in the Belém area at that time. Nor were any fighter planes sent up to try to intercept them because the nearest jet base was at Brasília, a thousand miles to the south, and the only military planes then based in Belém were transports.
For reasons we have not yet been able to determine, the Air Force did not consider the UFOs a threat of any kind.
HELICOPTER CREW’S SIGHTING
Helicopters were used sometimes to carry members of the team or other officers to and from Colares, but none of the crews ever reported seeing a UFO while flying. However, one crew, consisting of a lieutenant colonel, a lieutenant and two sergeants, did see one from the ground one night while standing near the cemetery in Colares.
It was a semi-circular object about four thousand feet high that appeared to be three inches wide at that distance. It was bright red on top and emitted flashes of blue light. It moved through the sky in a curve and vanished after about fifteen seconds.
Also present were Sergeant Santos, two other members of the team and the lieutenant colonel who commanded the air base’s Intelligence section.
In early 1997, Hollanda went public about the investigation, the first time he or any other member of the team openly talked about the investigation.
He told A.J. Gevaerd, MUFON’s director for Brazil and the publisher of Revista UFO, Brazil’s leading UFO magazine, that his team took more than five hundred photos and more than three hours of motion picture films of UFOs in October, November and December 1977 alone.
Hollanda told Gevaerd that he believed more than a thousand photos existed. The final report on the operation, which he helped write, was over five hundred pages long. He also said he and his men spoke to more than a thousand victims or witnesses of the phenomena.
The team also made many drawings to illustrate what was happening. They drew sketches of most of the UFOs they photographed to make it clear what they saw. They also made maps showing the flight paths and maneuvers of UFOs, adding dates and times of sightings, and sometimes they made detailed drawings of encounters based on information provided by civilian witnesses. (The sketch below, color-coded by the authors, shows the flight paths of five different UFOs over the village of Baía do Sol on the night of November 22, 1977.)
They sent their final report, the photos and films to the Air Force Intelligence headquarters in Brasília, the nation's capital. Although the reports were classified, photocopies of more than one hundred seventy-five pages were leaked to civilian researchers.
Exactly how many sightings were investigated is not known, but the pages that were leaked give details of three hundred and twenty-five incidents.
The official investigation lasted only four months but for nearly a year afterwards Hollanda and Sergeant Costa continued to investigate on their own in their spare time.
Brigadier Oliveira, the base commander during the flap, told us in 1999 he believed UFOs are real but that he never got the proof he wanted that the UFOs in Colares were real.
“They brought a film for me to see,” he said. “I went to see the film. I thought it was very interesting. I saw something flashing, and another one coming towards… but what is true is that there is a lighthouse there [on a small island one kilometer off the Colares beach].
“So I called the Navy commandant and asked, ‘Do you have a lighthouse in that area?’ ‘Yes, we have.’ And I asked, ‘Was there a problem there?’ ‘Yes, sometimes the lighthouse was blinking, sometimes it wasn't.' So, that’s no proof because it was a malfunctioning lighthouse…
“I think it was mass hysteria that produced the whole thing. I took an impartial position. I just wanted proof… but the ‘proof’ was destroyed when I discovered the whole business of the malfunctioning lighthouse.”
Most if not all members of the team, as well as others, including Colonel Brasil, would probably disagree, pointing out that, among other things, one of the films showing UFOs going into and out of the water was shot on the far side of another island well out of sight of the Colares lighthouse.
Brigadier Oliveira also said he believed Captain Hollanda and Sergeant Costa withheld information from him. That may have happened. We were told by another source that all the reports, photos and films were sent straight to Air Force Intelligence headquarters in Brasília, bypassing the base commander.
The brigadier’s theory also does not explain something that was happening elsewhere in the region. An almost identical flap of the same magnitude had just taken place in the neighboring state of Maranhão to the east, or it may have been just an earlier part of the same flap.
In April, May, June and July of 1977, UFOs were seen almost every night in a wide area around Pinheiro, a small city about five hundred miles southeast of Colares.
“Two-thirds of the people of this city saw a big ball of fire the size of a long-playing record,” Manoel Paiva, the mayor of Pinheiro, said in a 1978 interview. “It came at high speed and then it would stop. Suddenly it would go up or down with the same velocity. Lots of people who were fishing here in canoes and boats were chased by this ball of fire…
“Many people complained that their eyes hurt after they'd stared at it. The object seemed to be a living thing, with colors swirling around in it like molten steel and an occasional flash of light as if explosions were occurring inside it…
“It made many people sick. Everybody was afraid. Many people were afraid to go out at night because of what might happen to them if 'the fire' caught them.”
Paiva said a number of fishermen and farmers reported they'd been burned when UFOs suddenly and silently appeared in a great blast of light in the night sky just over their heads.
“The fishermen were so afraid that they wouldn't go fishing for three or four months. Many people wouldn't even go into their backyards to relieve themselves at night.”
Sightings occurred at least as far away as seventy miles north, east and south of Pinheiro. We have yet to determine how far west, toward Colares, UFOs were seen.
We believe the Colares and Pinheiro area sightings were part of a one huge wave that lasted for more than a year and a half. The story of this flap is fascinating but far from complete.
We do not yet know what may have happened elsewhere in Pará and Maranhão (an area about one and a half times as large as Texas) before or after the Pinheiro and Colares sightings. Some UFOs were seen during this time in small communities and the cities of Santarém and Manaus many hundreds of miles to the west in the Amazon region, as well as in the Territory of Amapá, northwest of Colares.
Nor do we know what happened between the end of the Pinheiro sightings in July and the beginning of frequent sightings in the Colares area in October. However, Belém newspapers reported several sightings in July in Viseu and Bragança, small cities on the Atlantic coast roughly halfway between Pinheiro and Colares. The entire region is largely tropical forests and farmland.
There were at least three other UFO flaps around the world in 1977 but none of the magnitude of the Colares flap. This was an extraordinary one, not only because it took place over such a wide area and for such a long time, but also because people were hurt and the Brazilian Air Force officially investigated it.
The intelligence agents documented the sightings and close encounters of not only several hundred witnesses but their own observations of more than two hundred UFOs, in hundreds of pages of typewritten reports accompanied by numerous drawings and maps, hundreds of photographs and several hours of motion picture films.
All of these records constitute what should be rock-solid proof that UFOs exist, records that still repose in the classified archives of the Brazilian Air Force in Brasília.
(For a guide to pronouncing unfamiliar Brazilian names, click here.)
Copyright 2001 by Daniel Rebisso Giese, Cynthia Luce and Bob Pratt