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Dim All The Lights: UFOs and Blackouts

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Scott Corrales's picture

Summer can be the cruelest season when the mercury soars past the hundred degree mark and the nights are almost just as hot. Without an electric fan or air conditioner, sleep can be reduced to an incessant tossing and turning. The Spanish town of Bollullos (Huelva) was certainly a perfect example of this unrelenting heat in the month of July 1975, when what little relief offered by mechanical cooling devices was interrupted by a sudden, unexpected blackout.

The power outage had occurred at eleven o'clock in the evening, prompting locals to look out their windows for a possible explanation. Three local youths had gone to the movie theater in search of some relief from the heat, only to find their enjoyment interrupted by the blackout. With nothing left to do, the dejected trio returned home, only to have a startling encounter with the unexplained.

Francisco Esquivel, Diego Sanchez and Diego Salas suddenly became aware of a strange yellow ball of light at the edge of the road--the only source of light amid the surrounding darkness. It appeared to be hovering above the power lines.

Cautiously, the driver slowed down to allow his vehicle to coast gently past the unknown object. In a newspaper interview with Spanish journalist J.J. Benítez, Francisco, the driver, said that the object's fuselage shone with a metallic sheen, surrounded by an aura of bright white light. He added that he felt the strange presence was "trying to drive them away" by hurling flashes of light in their direction.

This did nothing to allay his curiosity: Francisco got out of his car to take a closer look. Just as he did so, the high voltage lines began producing a shower of sparks. Fear gripped the driver and his friends, and they sped away from the area even as their car's engine began to sputter and die. Running into town in a panic, they told anyone who listened what they had seen: a UFO had been responsible power outage.

The Great Northeastern Blackout

One of the earliest factual cases of UFO interference with the flow of electricity to our residential areas occurred in November 1953, a football-sized UFO stormed down from the heavens over New Haven, Connecticut. The mini-UFO proceeded to smash through a billboard close to a residential area and head skyward after the impact. Lights all over the neighborhood dimmed as the event took place. Tamaroa, Illinois, also had its lights cut by a giant hovering UFO in 1957. Porto Alegre, Brazil, was plunged into darkness on August 30, 1954, and the city of Rome had lost power on August 3, 1958. In 1962, an UFO touched ground at Eureka, Utah, not far from Stead AFB and left a nearby power substation inoperative for 40 minutes until the object took off.

Was it inconceivable for UFOs, with their apparent interest or thirst for electricity, to affect even larger population centers? On November 9, 1965, twenty-nine million residents of the northeastern United States, and millions more in Canada, were plunged into darkness as electricity was affected by a mysterious source. At five thirty p.m. on that fateful day, thousands of terrified New Yorkers were trapped in subway tunnels and within elevators in the heart of skyscrapers. No one was spared the event, not even military bases.

The blackout spread like an ink stain from the Niagara Falls area to the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Utica and the smaller communities along the Great Lakes in a matter of minutes. Shortly after, it grew to encompass the states of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont. In a country still in the throes of the Cold War, and with the Cuban Missile Crisis a fresh memory, it was first feared that the blackout heralded nuclear armageddon. An airline pilot allegedly exclaimed that the vision of utter blackness on the ground below him made him think it was "the end of the world."

Radio stations, operating on backup power, were able to keep the frightened population calm, although news items in the broadcasts made reference to "trouble up north" without providing any specifics. A private plane instructor north of Syracuse,NY reported seeing a colossal fireball hovering above the quarter-million volt lines of the Niagara Mohawk Station in Clay, NY. Precisely at that time, operators in the New York City area registered a massive onrush of power to the north, perhaps drawn by the "fireball". The blackout occurred minutes later.

Thousands of witnesses in the darkened cities and countryside would later claimed to have seen strange lights crossing the skies with impunity on that fateful evening. Others reported seeing "fireballs" hovering over power transmission cables, changing in color from blue to orange to green.

The official explanation given at the time was a relay break in the massive Sir Adam Beck Plant No.2, located a few miles to the north of Niagara Falls. According to experts, the break allegedly overloaded the U.S. lines and the load detectors failed to perform according to design -- a fact which was never satisfactorily explained.

The entire Northeastern U.S., plunged into darkness, commanded global attention. Not so the equally mysterious blackouts that followed: New Mexico, Texas and Mexico itself suffered unexplained power losses in later weeks: On December 3rd, Ciudad Juárez in Mexico and the major cities of the American Southwest were left in shadow as Socorro, NM (a UFO mecca), Holloman AFB, White Sands Missile Range and other sensitive installations were rendered inoperative. Blame was placed on a pair of defective units somewhere in New Mexico--however, local witnesses claimed to have seen a glowing object over the power station.

In 1979, author Yurko Bondarchuk accused Canadian prime minister Lester Pearson of covering up the UFO aspect of the Great 1965 Blackout. Bondarchuk cites the explanation offered by Dr. James McDonald that the explanation given about a broken relay as the cause of the power outage was a cover. The prime minister, suggests the author, must have believed that disclosing the real source of the blackout was unwise."UFOs," writes Bondarchuk, "create sudden power surges in transmission lines as the craft flies overhead...in theory, these power surges could produce blackouts of massive proportions." (National Post, 2003)

A Precursor to the 1965 Blackout?

The age of the great UFO-induced blackouts continued throughout those troubled years. A harbinger, perhaps, of would happen later on across the northeastern U.S., were the three separate power failures of September 23, 1965 in the Mexican city of Cuernavaca -- fifty miles away from Mexico City.

The Ultima Hora newspaper indicated that the blackout had been caused by a large luminous flying saucer which crossed the heavens over the city--an inverted soup-bowl device which was seen not only by thousands of citizens but by city mayor Emilio Riva Palacios, who was attending the opening of a film festival with members of his cabinet. The lights went out during the showing, and upon going outside, the city fathers were treated to the sight of the massive object's glow, which reportedly filled the entirety of Cuernavaca valley.

But the force behind all these aerial phenomena appeared to be take a shine to Mexico City itself, with its juxtaposition of massive colonial structures, modern skyscrapers and ancient ruins: it chose the 16th of September, the one hundred fifty-fifth anniversary of Mexico's independence from Spain, to manifest half a dozen luminous objects over the city's skies, casting downtown Mexico City into unbreakable gridlock as drivers left their vehicles to take a better look at the phenomenon. Newspapers reported that aviation authorities had received in excess of five thousand telephone calls from people asking if they had also seen "flying saucers". On September 25, a citizenry weary of craning their necks skyward endured another leisurely display of the unknown as a vast luminous body passed overhead, remaining motionless for a while before shooting out of sight at a terrific speed. Only days later, two smaller objects would buzz the gilded dome of Mexico's Palacio de Bellas Artes, a turn of the century structure that dominates La Alameda park. The early evening sighting was witnessed by a few dozen people waiting at a bus stop; they described the objects as "enormous luminous bodies with intermittent sparkling lights."

By this point in time, some of the world's major newspapers had picked up on Mexico's saucer situation. Paris's Le Figaro reprinted an editorial from Italy's Corriere della Sera on the subject: "Mexico City International Airport has officially recorded, of late, some three thousand cases of mysterious apparitions described in detail. At nightfall, people gather on the terraces and balconies of their homes to search the skies...a clamor of voices can occasionally be heard, saying: "There goes one! Can you see it?" Invariably, what follows is this: traffic is paralyzed on neighboring streets, since drivers also want to partake of the spectacle. The roadways grind to a halt, leading to monstrous traffic jams. After a while, witnesses to tho the event are willing to swear that the presence of platillos voladores causes engines to stall and plunges homes into darkness. Throughout Mexico, the number of blackouts has been inexplicably high..."

Candles and Flashlights

Respected Argentinean author Roberto Banchs mentions the July 4, 1968 blackout that darkened the entire sector of Tigre (province of Buenos Aires). During this incident, a number of witnesses reported seeing a UFO. A woman named Isabel Gómez stated that the object "seemed to emit light. It was the only lighted object at the time." A few months later, the city of Chascomús was plunged into darkness. Mrs. Blanca Davis witnessed a UFO measuring some 7 or 8 meters in diameter hanging motionless in the air, directly above the town square. "When we looked toward the west," she reported, "we saw two [more] discs and another one which gave the impression of being ready to land. Suddenly the UFOs headed toward the lagoon area, from which twenty more objects appeared, flying from north to south at fantastic speeds." Banchs reports that electricity was restored the moment the objects disappeared.

The 1968 wave of UFO sightings, which extended from the Dominican Republic to the island of Puerto Rico, also caused a series of blackouts. On August 11 that year, police officers in the town of Yauco on the island's southern coast were startled to see "a brilliant moon-shaped object which lit up the area completely. The following day, a similar object was seen in the neighboring Dominican Republic by residents of Puerto Plata and Sosúa. According to researcher Sebastián Robiou, the minute that the locals saw the phenomenon approach, they would hurry up to find "candles and flashlights, since electricity always failed whenever the objects flew over their homes."

UFOs and blackouts plagued Argentina again in January 2001, when the La Voz del Interior newspaper ran a story about the harrowing experience suffered by a local motorist named Julio Salguero. At 3:30 a.m. on New Year's Day, Salguero was on his way home in the town of Corralito, cutting across the community of Rio Tercero to save some time.

"We were calmly driving along," said the driver, "when suddenly my wife screamed: "Be careful!" and we saw a light heading straight for us. I hit the brakes. What I could see was a round, very powerful light, like a welding light, over a meter in diameter. It seemed to be heading straight for the car, but it suddenly stopped and backed off. It remained at the hight of the power cables that are now at the side of the road, moving up and down," he explained. "The light lit everything up for a few minutes, without any exaggerations, as if it were broad daylight, due to its intensity. It then rose some 30 meters into the air and suddenly vanished. Neither I nor my family can state which way it went, because we'd be lying. What we saw is that it vanished suddenly, like a light being switched off."

Salguero and his family were startled to hear that the strange object they had seen over the high-voltage lines had deprived the town of Corralito of electricity on a night without storms or high winds, and even more so when they discovered that nearby Rio Tercero had lost power at exactly the same time they had their experience. "As far as I know, no reason for the power outage has been found," he said.

Argentina has not been the only South American nation bedeviled by blackout-causing UFOs: in the Summer 1998 issue of the Samizdat newsletter, Brazilian researcher Oriel Farías told the world about the incredible and still little-known UFO wave that covered northeastern Brazil and which centered on the town of Guarabira. According to Farías, the outstanding characteristic of the '98 flap was the sheer variety of objects reported, ranging from standard disk-shaped craft to massive objects projecting powerful beams of light. "Lengths of 30 meters have been reported, the size of a 20-storey building," he writes.

The Guarabira "invasion" began on March 3, 1998 and was spearheaded by 26 UFOs flying over the city at 6:45 p.m., when the lights went out in Guarabira, and lasting until 3:45 a.m., when power returned to the city. This blackout remains unexplained to this day.

Lights Out in Puerto Rico

UFO and paranormal activity ran almost non-stop throughout the 1990s after a decade of inactivity. Earlier saucer flaps had created their fair share of electromagnetic interference with automobiles and aircraft, and even some widespread power outages

In September 1977, residents of the Colobó sector of Loiza, P.R., were treated to the sight of a UFO flying low over the local beach at around 8:30 p.m.. The object, according to Sebastian Robiou, made an occasional buzzing sound and then "shut off and disappeared". When interviewed, the same residents noted that the lights browned-out in the sector while the UFO was in evidence.

Fifteen years later, residents of the Mayagüez Terrace development ran out of their homes in response to the shouts of students from the nearby university, who were reacting to the sight of a spherical UFO crossing the skies in the general direction of Cerro Las Mesas. The orange-hued sphere materialized after having apparently been the cause of a blackout which affected a considerable part of the city for a few minutes.

Puerto Rico can also boast the distinction of being the only place in the world where a blackout was deliberately caused by the authorities to disprove the presence of the UFO phenomenon in the island's UFO-ridden southwestern corner. Since 1987, reports had pointed to UFO activity in the vicinity of a shallow lagoon known as Laguna Cartagena: all manner of solid craft and intriguing "lights in the sky" had been seen in the area, and in some cases, emerging from and vanishing into the water, leading many to believe that an "alien base" must exist underground in the Lajas Valley.

On October 2, 1991, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) left hundreds of homes without electricity for thirty minutes. Ramón Montalvo, an engineer at the PREPA plant in San Germán, claimed that the unusual lights vanished from the darkened sky "the minute the power was cut off." Lt. Rafael Rodríguez of the Lajas police argued that the blackout proved the lights believed to be UFOs were merely the reflections on the lagoon's surface.

The authorities went to the extreme of placing a series of large reflectors on the crest of nearby Mt. Candelaria. The experiment failed miserably -- no such reflection was seen, despite official claims. Any individual armed with a map would have noticed that the lights on Candelaria, twenty miles away, could not possibly account for the situation being experienced on an almost daily basis by the residents of the Lajas Valley.

In mid-March 1992, residents of the Puerto Rican city of Trujillo Alto were roused from their sleep by an unearthly noise and a spectacular display of blue light. The light changed to other colors of the spectrum in rapid succession as two powerful searchlights scanned the darkened surface from above. Hundreds, if not thousands, of residents were able to see a massive UFO hovering directly over a local power substation. The airborne goliath began drawing electricity from the substation in a stunning visual display that filled onlookers with awe.

Equally awed were the technicians from the local power utility, who reported early the next day to repair the burned out substation: according to estimates, the UFO had caused well over a $250,000 in damages that could not be readily explained, such as the molten transformer terminals and the inoperative automatic breakers which should have prevented such a tremendous loss of current.

They Said It Couldn't Happen Again

Computer screens suddenly went black as the hum of 21st century civilization suddenly stopped to be replaced by an unaccustomed silence. The time was 4:11 p.m. on August 14, 2003.

In a matter of minutes, battery-powered radios would report that a widespread blackout had plunged New York city into darkness for the third time in forty years, and at precisely the worst time of day, as tens of thousands of office workers were getting ready to return home on one of the hottest days of an otherwise unremarkable summer. The problem affected not only the Big Apple, but a wide swath of territory stretching westward: Toronto, Lansing, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, Rochester...the litany of affected cities included major urban concentrations and minor villages. Politicians rushed to occupy their places before the cameras to assure the population that the blackout of 2003 was not an act of terrorism and that power would be restored soon.

The blame game started almost immediately, with New Yorkers blaming Canadians, and placing the blame on a "lightning bolt" which had allegedly struck a power stations. The blame then shifted to an alleged fire at a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania, and so forth. The Great Northeast Blackout of 2003 had affected fifty million people and as of this writing, no official explanation has been put forward.

Is it perhaps naive to ascribe this blackout to the UFO phenomenon, especially as no reliable reports have come in? According to the National UFO Reporting Center, New York state alone reported 703 sightings since the beginning of 2003 (with heavy activity in June and July) so something unusual could conceivably happened. Forty-eight hours after the blackout, it was suggested that a strange "power inversion" along the Lake Erie Loop had caused the blackout, but no explanation had been put forth as to the external force capable of causing the phenomenon. The fact remained that "a huge field of electricity dropped out and drained north," in the words of an Associated Press teletype. Could this have been one of the UFO-induced "massive surges in power" that Yurko Bondarchuk mentioned in his book?

As far as the cause is concerned, it seems as though we will remain in the dark for a long, long time. 

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