by Javier García Blanco
Ten years would have to pass before the so-called "modern age" of UFOs would kick off in 1947 with Kenneth Arnold's famous sighting. However, strange flying objects and their crews were already plowing across our skies, even as Spain was embroiled in a civil war.
Nationalist and Republican soldiers at the front wondered what those unidentified flying objects might be.
"Kenneth Arnold did not describe the objects he saw as "flying saucers", rather he said that the artifacts he had seen moved like saucers skipping off the water's surface." It was the press that came up with the equivocal designation. Curiously, from that moment onward, witnesses described objects resembling flying saucers." this is one of the arguments wielded by pseudo skeptics to deny the reality of the UFO phenomenon. To them, the UFO "myth" was born from a journalistic error. However, the truth is quite different. The "champions" of rationalism forget (whether intentionally or not) that much before Arnold saw those boomerang-shaped objects (for this was the actual description given of the objects), hundreds, if not thousands, of witnesses around the world had already described disk-shaped unidentified flying objects.
And Spain was no exception.
Researchers have gleaned a wealth of accounts which make mention of this type of object, since at the start of the century, when no one spoke of flying saucers and much less of UFOs. In fact, some ten years prior to the start of the modern UFO age and Arnold's sighting, Spain was fighting its Civil War.
It need not be said that the generation which was forced to live through that fratricidal conflict was not much given to imagining little green Martians. There were other more pressing concerns to worry about, but nevertheless, our files include several cases in which a variety of witnesses had face-to-face encounters with the phenomenon.
Like a Mexican Hat
The sun had already risen and the soldiers whose battalion defended the Peñón de la Mata position (to the north fo the Province of Granada) on February 5, 1938 endured the cold as best they could.
They guarded their position carefully under perfectly cloudless skies and our witness--a fighter with the 76th Brigade--suddenly became aware of the presence of something abnormal in the skies over Granada.
Located at a considerable distance, and at an altitude of 200 meters, the soldier saw an object resembling "a Mexican hat" the color of flat aluminum. The sun's rays, reflecting off its surface, enabled him to see that it was a metallic device. It flew slowly as it approached the witness's position. It was then that he was able to observe it with greater detail:
"Seen from below, its shape was exactly that of a cartwheel. In its center, from where the spokes emerged, it had what looked like a photo camera lens and gave a sensation of depth."
When the object approached even closer, passing almost directly overhead, the soldier was even able to make out some curved black windows which appeared on the side of the remarkable "Mexican hat". The following is a transcript of an interview with the ABC Andalucía newspaper:
--Did the object leave a wake in its path or anything similar?
--Well, yes. It gave out a sort of vapor from its sides and gave the overall impression of having a small tail. I can't tell you exactly where it was coming from, but as it came out it formed what I already said: a little tail.
--Was its trajectory always straight or did it make any kind of turn?
--It made a slight skip as it moved away, similar to a pulse.
From that moment onward, he stopped looking at it, since the pressing reality was not conducive to distraction. For this reason he was unable to see how the object vanished, perhaps, over the horizon.
--Could you describe for us, as precisely as possible, what the object looked like?
--Overall it looked like a Mexican hat, as I've told you, but with the detail that its ends formed straight angles. Afterward, as it approached and passed almost directly overhead, I was able to see that it had small windows and was completely round. It gyrated in a counterclockwise motion. At first I thought it was a truck tire that had exploded, but "that thing" seemed to have a life of its own, aside from the fact that had it been a truck tire, we would have seen it fall. Its diameter would have been approximately three meters.
--Which way did it go?
--From north to south.
This ends the soldier's description. But what exactly was it that those astonished fighters saw? A military prototype? In Spain, and in the 1930's? Let's see what J.J. Benítez has to say about military aviation during the Civil War in his book La Punta del Iceberg:
"In 1936, the Spanish Air Force was small and antiquated. The main fighter aircraft was the Nieuport NID 52 hemi-plane, of which it had 40 left. The aircraft with the largest number of operating units was the Breguet, a twin-engine biplane for reconnaissance and bombing operations (60 units). Germany's earliest aid took the shape of 20 Junkers aircraft. Shortly after, other Italian, German, Russian, French, American, Dutch, British and Czech vehicles would arrive."
However, despite the material aid from other countries and received by the various combatants, neither of these airplanes met the characteristics described by the eyewitness. A circular aircraft in 1938 Spain? While it is true that the Germans did design and build a number of circular wing aircraft, these vehicles did not come about until the Second World War, and could not very well have been flying over Spanish skies. [Anyone interested in man-made UFOs can consult the book Los expedientes secretos del CESID, written by our colleague Manuel Carballal].
The eyewitness, who chose to remain anonymous, wound up losing a leg three days after the sighting. Many years later he became a painter, and would sign a sworn statement attesting that what he had described was completely true.
Humanoids at the Guadalajara Front
Only five months after the sighting over Granada, other military men would become witnesses--this time in the city of Guadalajara--of a no less remarkable event.
It was half past eleven o'clock on the evening of July 25, 1938. The witnesses (a lieutenant and his aide) were descending down a gully located in the town of La Alcarria. Suddenly, a powerful white light drew their attention. Shortly after the light was extinguished, a disk-shaped object some 11 meters long and 5 meters high appeared before their eyes.
The disk which was some 60 meters away from them, appeared to be suspended at some two meters over the ground. The witnesses described it as: "two plates joined on their convex sides, separated by a line or section of a darker color." Furthermore, the object's lower section had a sort of column which descended very slowly and appeared to contain two humanoid figures.
Next, the object began projecting a circle of bluish light on the ground. When the circle of light reached the military men, they felt a sensation of cold. Shortly afterward, the light turned off and the column rose in complete silence, all of this accompanied by colored sparks emanating from the object.
At the time, the onlookers believe they saw "the two halves" of the object begin to rotate, each in an opposite direction from the other. The disk began to project a powerful white glow and rose into the air with great speed, vanishing into the heavens. As with the Granada case, there is no apparent explanation for the sighting. In spite of the fact that both military men believed that they had witnessed a German prototype or something belonging to the "reds", we have already explained that this was materially impossible. The main witnessed (the lieutenant) rejected any publicity regarding the subject and insisted upon remaining anonymous to our colleague Manuel Carballal. Having eliminated the possibility of fraud, what is left? We can only accept that the UFO phenomenon was widespread in Spain in 1938.
UFO Landing in Avila
It was Juanjo Benítez who brought this case to light in his book La Punta del Iceberg. The eyewitness, Mariano Melgar, who was a 7 year-old boy at the time, had been sent by his parents to the town of Muñizo to safeguard him from the horrors and perils of the war. It was the summer of 1938, and one morning, while the boy tended to the cattle, the incredible event occurred.
"I looked after some of my relatives' cows at the time, and on that hot summer morning, at around twelve o'clock, I left town toward a rural area located some 2 or 3 kilometers from Muñizo. I reached the little forest and sat down among the trees while the cows ate in a nearby field. It was then that I heard a buzzing sound that almost pierced my eardrums. I looked up to the sky and saw a flash of light amid the blue. Suddenly I became aware that it was a circular device that fired off flashes like silver. It came down not far from the copse's edge and touched ground. I took shelter behind one of the trees and spied its movements."
It was then that Melgar closely observed a circular object measuring some 15 to 20 meters in diameter and which featured a sort of cupola on its upper half. Several legs which supported the object could be seen in its undersection and dozens of colored lights went on and off on the "ship's" fuselage.
Suddenly, a door opened on the structure and after lowering a ramp, three "men" emerged: "Only a few seconds had gone by when I saw a "man" appear through the door. He was followed by a second one, and then a third.
But while the first two walked along the ramp and moved some five or ten meters away from the craft, the third, who was slightly shorter than the others, remained at the doorway. The first two men almost reached the top of the door, and I figure that the door was some two meters tall and another two wide. The fact is that the first two began collecting something, I couldn't tell you if it was plants or soil. One of them kneeled, of that I'm sure. They had something in their hands, perhaps it was a bag. I tried to approach the strange pilots, but I hadn't walked more that five meters when the one standing at the doorway fired a flash at me that almost landed me on my back. That scared me, so I went back to the trees."
After Mariano made a second attempt to approach, and received a similar discouragement, the "men", who seemed to be moving in slow-motion, returned to the vehicle. One of them made the unusual gesture of raising a hand as if waving to the youngster. "From there I was able to see the object taking off. First the ramp went back in and the door closed next. Then, within seconds, the device rose some 50 to 100 meters into the air, spinning on its own axis, and many colored lights could be seen. It then went away toward Barco de Avila."
This ends the boy's tale. He had remained in absolute silence about his unusual experience for forty years, until Benítez's fortuitous interview. As with the earlier cases, the then child identified the crewmen and their aircraft as "one of General Franco's aircraft." However, he himself acknowledged years later: "Today I know that "thing" couldn't have been related to our war in any way."
Epilogue for a War
The Spanish Civil War came to an end in March 1939, when Nationalist troops reached Madrid. However, UFO activity continued, apparently oblivious to the conflict's progress.
In May 1939, some residents of the Horcajada farmstead were startled by the unexpected arrival of a humanoid entity with metal legs, who was seen on a number of occasions. One of the witnesses, Adelaida Rubio, claims that the entity, whose appearances were always prefaced by a powerful flash, had the aspect of a "strange soldier", moving clumsily along with large strides.
Two months later, on July 1, 1939, several children who looked after cattle in Zahara de los Atunes (Cádiz) witnessed a flying object eighteen meters in diameter. When the UFO flew over their heads at low altitude, they felt a sensation of extreme heat. The object landed with a whistling sound some 30 meters away, kicking up a dust storm. A door emerged on the object's side and two beings emerged from within, one of them tall, and the other short and squat bearing a sort of flashlight which was able to illuminate the surroundings despite the fact that it was noon. After walking some twenty paces away from the UFO, the beings turned around and re-entered the craft. The strange encounter lasted 15 minutes.
While Spain tried to rebuild after the horrors of the war, sightings and landings continued to occur all over the country. Cases earlier than 1947 (the start of the UFO "myth" for our illustrious pseudo skeptics) in Spain number in the dozens.
Who knows how many cases may have never been disclosed, remaining locked forever in their protagonists's memories? One way or another, these case which predate Arnold's show that UFOs were already crossing our skies when the words "flying saucer" had not yet been uttered.
For more information:
OVNIs en Andalucía caps. 61, 62 y 63. ABC Andalucía.
BENITEZ, Juan Jose. La punta del Iceberg. Ed. Planeta.
BENITEZ, Juan Jose. El ovni de BelΘn. Ed. Plaza & JanΘs. 1983.
MAS ALLA de los OVNIs Encylopedia. Los OVNIs aterrizan. Vol. 3. Chapter 24.
Phenomenes Spatiaux no. 28, junio de 1971, 18?19
CARBALLAL, Manuel. Los expedientes secretos del CESID. Ed. Planeta.
JIMENEZ ELIZARI, Iker and FERNENDEZ, Lorenzo. 50 años de OVNIs, Chapter 19. ENIGMAS Magazine.