Item 39. Trindade Isle, Brazil

from the UFO EVIDENCE, Section VIII, page 90

NICAP has carefully studied prints (but not the negatives) of the four successful exposures of a Saturn-shaped UFO, the verbal accounts and relevant facts. The UFO was sighted about noon January 16, 1958, from the deck of the Brazilian IGY ship "Almirante Saldanha" by a retired Brazilian Air Force officer, Capt. Jose Teobaldo Viegas, and Amilar Vieira Filho, chief of a group of submarine explorers on board. They alerted Almiro Barauna, an expert submarine photographer, who managed to take four successful pictures. Many other officers and men, attracted by the commotion, soon witnessed the UFO, including Capt.-Lt. Homero Ribeiro, ship's dentist. Capt. Viegas later stated: "The First view was that of a disc shining with a phosphorescent glow, which--even in daylight--appeared to be brighter than the moon. The object was about the apparent size of the full moon. As it followed its path across the sky, changing to a tilted position, its real shape was clearly outlined against the sky: that of a flattened sphere encircled, at the equator, by a large ring or platform." 

In his 1963 book ("The World of Flying Saucers"), Dr. Donald H. Menzel labels the Trindade photographs a hoax. His main reason appears to be that Mr. Barauna is a skilled photographer capable of faking a picture, and in fact, Dr. Menzel says, once did produce a fake "flying saucer" to illustrate an article. Further, Dr. Menzel notes, several of the witnesses, including Barauna were members of the same submarine explorers group on board ship (implying complicity in a hoax). However, other witnesses were not members of the explorer's group and there is no evidence of fakery in the case. 

On February 25, 1958 (four days after the pictures were first publicized by the Brazilian press) United Press reported from Rio de Janeiro that the Brazilian Navy Ministry vouched for the Trindade photographs. The report went on: "Navy Minister Adm. Antonio Alves Camara said after meeting with President Juscelino Kubitschek in the summer Presidential Palace at Petropolis, that he also vouched personally for the authenticity of the pictures." This would be a curious statement to make to newsmen if the Navy had any suspicion of a hoax. 

The pictures and negatives were analyzed by both the Navy Photo Reconnaissance Laboratory and the Cruzeiro do Sul Aerophotogrammetric Service, both agreeing the pictures were authentic. The latter's written conclusion stated: "It was established that no photographic tricks are involved. The negatives are normal." 

Correspondence between U.S. UFO groups and leading Brazilian investigators drew out many facts about the ease, including background information about other similar sightings at Trindade Isle over a period of time, all of which tends to substantiate the January 16 sighting and photographs. No suspicion of hoax was uncovered by J. Escobar Faria, Sao Paulo attorney (NICAP Adviser), Dr. Olavo Fontes, M.D., in Rio dejaneiro (APRO Spec ial Representative), or other Brazilian correspondents in a position to ascertain the facts. fSee APRO Bulletins, January, March, and May 1960 for detailed series of articles about the Trindade photographs by Dr. Fontes]. 

Weighing all the facts, we conclude that the pictures appear to be authentic. They definitely are one of the potentially most significant series of UFO photographs on record, so that clarification of the incident and additional analysis is strongly desirable. In the interests of scientific investigation, we urge that secrecy about the case be lifted by the United States and Brazil and that a frank report of the facts be issued to the public. In particular, the full analysis reports by the Brazilian laboratories should be made available to scientists. Information currently withheld by the U.S Air Force about its investigation of the case through the American Embassy in Rio de Janeiro also should be made available to the public. 

Photographic data: Mr. Barauna used a Rolkiflex 2.8--Model E camera, speed 1/125, aperture f/B (causing a slight over exposure). 

 Trindade Island Photo Case Directory
 NICAP Home Page