Chile: The Pelluco Case (1965) Revisited
By Raul Núñez – IIEETranslated by Scott Corrales, IHU
Among Chile’s most outstanding UFO cases we find the one dubbed “The Pelluco UFO” by the communications media. Much like life itself, world ufology undergoes many twists and turns: enormous hoaxes are unveiled in some cases, and new details and information emerge in others. These are essential for researchers and followers of this discipline, since they form part of the background of anyone interested in the subject, and enable the correction of existing files.
This, then, is the case known as “The Pelluco UFO” and on this occasion we shall allude to the excellent first-hand information provided by an authority of those days, who conducted on-site researcher in that bygone year of 1965. We are referring to Raul Gajardo Leopold, who held the rank of major with the Carabineros, and kindly gave us his opinion and hitherto unknown details that emerge to light four decades after the event took place.
For purposes of fidelity with Major Gajardo’s statements, we present a verbatim transcript of the private instrument in our possession. It reads thus:
The Pelluco Case, as this UFO incident is known, belongs to what is known as the “Great 1965 UFO Wave”, which ran from 18 June to 2 August 1965, as defined by authors Manuel Saenz and Willy Wolf in their book Los Sin Nombre (The Nameless Ones), now in its 5th edition, due to the interest it created in Chile. It was the first book of its kind in this country.
Today, after so many years, the case remains strong to those who experienced it so closely due to some unpublished details which I will make known. This “great wave” included UFO sightings in five Antarctic bases belonging to various countries, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Chile (Norte Grande), Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Puerto Montt (Pelluco) and Oklahoma, USA.
The studies performed enable us to deduce that the UFOs were moving northward on a day-to-day basis, having the South Pole as their point of dispersal. A point of entry for these spacecraft, avoiding the hazardous Van Allen radiation belts around the Earth, being perpendicular to the tropics. Only the poles are free of this radiation.
At the time of the Pelluco Case, I was already a lieutenant in the Carabineros (state police) at Puerto Montt, and my customary services included alcohol checks. Two weeks before July 30, 1965, that is to say, the date that concerns us, I was engaged in this task at the 2nd Commissariat at 00:30 hours. It was informed by the subofficer on duty that there had been a report of “strange lights in the sky” in the Pelluco sector. I was superficially aware of this phenomenon, as was customary in those years. I took this report mainly as an emergency and grabbed a machine gun, taking eight Carabineros with me who had just returned from their shift, but those were the only available men at the time.
Fifteen minutes, we reached the Pelluco sector, a tourist inlet some 4 kilometers distant, and found the home where the call for help had been made. They welcomed us excitedly, hugging us, as the fear or panic they’d experienced had been considerable. Brokenly, they told us that around 22:30 hours, “three immense lights” like car headlights had appeared over their house at no more than 100 meters overhead. They alternately grew larger and smaller, approaching and flying away from the house. This activity persisted for several minutes, and the enormous luminous objects flew away toward Piedra Azul in the north, following the coastline.
These preliminaries prompted us patrol the coastal road, which was in poor repair. We came across other local residents who had also endured the siege by the luminous objects, which gave off a bright white radiance before losing themselves toward the sea as they gained altitude. We subsequently returned to the base, having completed our mission.
A personal note follows: While we were on the truck heading off to the case, carrying an automatic weapon, I asked myself: “And we’re going to fight off aliens with this?”
Thirty-seven years have gone by since that experience and I have never forgotten the feeling of helplessness that overcame me in facing such a contingency.
And now to the incident that concerns us. I learned of it the next day, as the story spread throughout all of Puerto Montt at the same time, given its spectacular nature.
On the evening of July 29, a wake was being held for lovely Carolina Proschle, 16, who had died in a traffic accident. Some seventy people were gathered in the home of this well-known and distinguished family. Suddenly, the respectful murmurs of the participants was interrupted by a loud noise, like a nearby explosion, at 04:20 hours. Everyone rushed to the windows to part the curtains. The outside light “slid” off the glass without penetrating the interior. Curiosity overcame both fear and prudence, and people went out to the rear patio. Behind some tall trees some 300 meters to the east, they witness the descent of an immense mass of “throbbing” violet light.
Many people ran off boldly to see what was going on. Several held back on the rough rural trails, but approximately twenty came within 40 meters of the luminous phenomenon. I was subsequently able to speak to four of these brave witnesses, who included public utility directors and a retired colonel of the Carabineros. All of them were completely serious and reliable.
The minutes went by slowly, but no more than six minutes went by until there was another loud noise, but not quite as powerful as the first one. The oval-shaped mass of light began rising very slowly, tipping forward first, then backward. To everyone’s astonishment, it took off in a straight line to infinity at an indescribable, unimaginable speed. According to eyewitness reports, due to the intense light given off by the object, it was impossible to determine in shape, much less the details of its structure.
At daybreak, those present at the wake became aware of what had happened on the ground. The were able to ascertain that where the object had landed, there was now an immense clearing among the brambles. A surface area measuring sixty meters in diameter and one meter deep was now missing. Where had the dirt gone?
Tree roots and irregular borders were in evidence. No burned vegetation was found. Something tremendously powerful sucked up the soil in the landing area in a very even manner.
I was there. This was the event that set me off on my task as an amateur UFO researcher.
The Intendancy arranged to have a public agency conduct an investigation and submit a report on the case. Its conclusion: “Soil subsidence due to excess moisture.”
It should be remembered that 1965 was a very dry year, heralding the great drought of 1966. Despite clear evidence and the abundance of witnesses, the event was officially covered up. Such a report, with the prevailing prejudices of the time, is understandable. But the presence of hundreds of curiosity-seekers who visited the site that day and on subsequent days, destroying any remaining evidence with their footsteps, was unforgivable for any possible future scientific research.
But not all evidence was lost. A little over a week after the incident, a U.S. scientific commission visited the landing sight. Later on, I would learn through a book whose title I no longer recall, they determined that the small bottom roots were intact in their upper section and were not carried off by the UFO, as they remain tightly rooted to the ground. In other words, the surrounding soil was detached without effort, rising weightlessly, attached to the bottom of the UFO. This confirmed once more the theory that UFOs can create an antigravity field around them, as many ufologists have established after analyzing numerous incidents like this.
The Pelluco case is a classic one, and will neither be forgotten nor debunked as the years go by.
(Signed) Raul Gajardo Leopold – 20 May 1998
This verbatim report by researcher Raul Gajardo Leopold contains some valuable attachments for future study, such as the only known photo of the great hole of Pelluco. All others vanished. The caption reads: “Where are the tons of soil extracted from the locality of Pelluco?”
This Chilean policeman claims that he returned to the site the next day, as it was his day off. He was able to enter the large hole without any hesitation. He spoke to many witnesses and local residents and found no contradictions. He only regrets lacking investigative expertise, as he would have compiled a list of names and persons who were close to the event, and he would not have stepped into the hole itself, and would have taken soil samples and taken many photographs. The non-existence of research groups in Chile at the time is the best example of how this case was treated.
Moreover, Gajardo has tried to find photos of the time in the archives of the El Llanquihue newspaper, but the images were removed. Nothing was found in the archives except for an internationally-known image, showing some children wearing white aprons within the soil depression itself.
His investigation has confirmed that the photos were taken by personnel from the American laboratory that visited the area, meeting the same fate as many photos and other evidence from small countries lacking research infrastructure. Possible samples are taken away by foreign powers for subsequent analysis, and the material is never returned to the country of origin. The reader will recall the Paihuano Case in La Serena, Chile, where the “black hand” of silence was also at work. Oddly enough, CEFAA (Committee for the Study of Anomalous Aerial Phenomena), a dependency of the Chilean Air Force in one way or another, did not dispatch any members of its organization to look into the case, despite the social unrest over the collision of a large object on the summit of the Las Mollacas mountain. CEFAA tried to save the day by providing explanations overseas, but in fact, it was the El Tololo Astronomical Observatory that took the initiative and issued all statements on the situation. Concerns regarding the Observatory’s behavior were voiced at once, especially since its funding comes largely from the U.S.
Anyone reading the foregoing will logically conclude that the Pelluco Case was a wasted opportunity, as these seldom occur. The phenomenon itself has evolved, and this is how the research conducted by Gajardo has led him to envision the fact that in 1965, the UFO phenomenon was a distant and strange one.
[UFO] cases came about very late in Chile, and the Chilean press covered only a few of them. Nowadays, the phenomenon is much more frequent and common. It can be said that it has come closer to populated areas, with waves occurring on their outskirts, as has occurred every year since 1999, when the Angol Incident transpired. Gajardo is bold enough to say that the phenomenon is “predictable” if a field researcher engages in constant and continuous work. Logically, an “intellectual” researcher, says Gajardo, “who is satisfied with the Internet, purchased videos and many books, cannot reach the same conclusions that I am providing after many hours of looking at the night sky.”
Setting aside the enthusiasm and cases collected by Gajardo in the Southern Cone, when we consult our own files, we see that enormous hollows of missing soil were reported in Europe in those years, allegedly removed by UFOs. One of the cases that best coincides with the Pelluco affair occurred in the French village of Poncey-Sur-L’Ignon.
This town of 140 residents suffered the experience of having a chunk of soil sucked up by “something” unexplained. The events occurred in October 1954 on a surface measuring 1.50 meters (...). The soil was missing after a sighting by a Mme. Fourneret. Her statement to researchers was as follows: “It was around 8 p.m. and night had fallen. I head toward the windows to close the bolsters and suddenly, as I glanced outside, I saw that thing. Some twenty meters away from the house, in a meadow belonging to Msr. Gazet, there was a luminous body swinging softly in the air to the right of a cherry tree, as though readying itself to land. As far as I could tell, the body was more or less three meters in diameter and was elongated, horizontal and orange-hued. Its light cast a weak glow on the tree’s branches and leaves. Frightened, I grabbed my son and sought shelter in Mme. Bouiller’s home, and we shut the door carefully. At that moment, Messrs. Girardot and Vicent arrived. Seeing our fear, they asked what was going on. When we told them, the grabbed their rifles and ran out to the meadow. There was nothing there. But when the examined the soil, they found a fresh print. This proved that what I saw wasn’t a dream.”
The fact of the matter is that all cases, no mater how solid they may seem, have their detractors. Raul Gajardo Leopold experienced these events first-hand and they marked the rest of his life, proof that the so-called UFO phenomenon leaves its mark not only on the ground, but also left a subtle print in the soul of this constant and enthusiastic UFO researcher.
The indentation is so large that new generations consider the case indisputable, but since life always has two faces, Chilean skeptics have also cast doubt on the case, and although it is a fact that the opposing team must fight as hard as it can, I believe that it is only fair to hear and discern the Pelluco events with an open mind.
The “Ufología en Chile” dossier, written by young journalist Diego Zúñiga, published in Spain by Cuadernos de Ufologia, compiles the information and makes a very interesting social analysis of the UFO phenomenon in Chile. We agree in many respects, but the truth does does not belong to anyone, and the best tool with which to investigate these cases in humility, applying objectivity to the fullest extent possible, especially where the UFO phenomenon is concerned, as it becomes more abstract and inexplicable. Furthermore, events of this sort mandate an essential on-site investigation to draw responsible and coherent answers. But who engages in field research these days? Anything else is akin to “phone sex” – the essential sensations are lost with out direct, real-time contact.
For the Pelluco Case, all we have left from those times are Gajardo’s direct impressions, and logically, his position of authority in the area confirms his initial impression of the facts. These impressions were up to now unpublished, and I thank him for his cooperation and trust. Unfortunately, time has erased the Pelluco imprints. Its witnesses are nearly impossible to find, and the photos vanished...has anyone else followed this case closely, just to find out what really happened on the night of a 16-year-old girl’s wake?
Another pending task for Chilean ufology, along with many others that have become lost in time.
Los misteriosos platillos volantes (author: Aimé Michel)
Los sin nombre (Manuel Sáenz and Willy Wolf)
Cuadernos de Ufología Nº 28 3ª Época 2002
Documentación provided by Raúl Gajardo Leopold
(personal correspondence and conversations)