Form: Research Report
Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2007 13:56:49 -0600
From: Kevin Randle,
Subject: Barra da Tijuca Photos
Cat: 8
To: nicap

1952 wave was not localized. People around the world were seeing flying saucers, and a large number of them took photographs.
Among the first of the 1952 still photographs offered as physical evidence that UFOs were real was a series of five pictures taken on May 7 on a cliff near Barra De Ti-juca, outside Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Ed Keffel, along with another man, sometimes identified as his assistant, were taking pictures of the landscape when Keffel thought he saw an airplane in the distance. His friend, however, realizing that the object was not any kind of airplane he had ever seen, shouted, "Shoot! Shoot!"

According to Keffel, during the next sixty seconds he took five pictures of the object. In the first, the UFO resembled an airplane coming directly toward them over a large group of trees. The second was taken showing that the object was disk-shaped, proving that it was not a conventional aircraft. The third photo was taken as the object tilted slightly, showing both the top with a slight dome and the now obvious disk shape. More trees, including a very tall palm, can be seen in the photograph. In the fourth picture, taken as the object tilted the other way, a raised ring on the bottom could be seen. Again, the disk shape is obvious. The last picture was taken as the object was nearly vertical, seen over part of the ocean and some distant hills. The UFO disappeared shortly after this last picture was snapped.

According to the story that came out of Brazil, and reported later by the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO), a civilian group interested in UFOs and based in the United States, the Brazilian Air Force became very interested in the report and the pictures. They interviewed the photographer, allegedly tracked down many of the estimated forty additional witnesses who were standing near Keffel, and tried to learn something about the object based on measurements made from the pictures. For weeks Brazilian Air Force investigators tried to duplicate the images using trick photography. They made diagrams of the sighting, the location, and the position of each of the witnesses. They searched for evidence of a hoax but in the end, according to the reports from Brazil, were unable to find it. They concluded, based partially on the corroboration of the forty witnesses, that this was not a hoax. Keffel had photographed something that was unknown and probably unearthly.

The APRO representative in Brazil, Dr. Olavo Fontes, forwarded a copy of his report, including the pictures and witness statements to the APRO headquarters. There, again, the photographs and statements were subjected to renewed scrutiny. The Brazilian Air Force claim of authenticity was seconded by APRO. APRO found no evidence of a hoax, but then, their pro-UFO stance might have colored their thinking.

The National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) noted that the pictures had been taken by magazine writers Ed Keffel and Joao Martins. NICAP never received negatives for scientific analysis, but did examine prints provided to them. NICAP reported that "Critics have pointed out that in main photograph shadows on object do not coincide with shadows on the ground below." NICAP was suggesting here that there were internal inconsistencies in the photographs and such a finding was suggestive of a hoax. The NICAP representatives were not impressed with the pictures.

That is the way the case stood for five or six years. Upon the formation of the Condon Committee, those scientists on the project who wished to review the photographic forms of physical evidence asked for copies of the Keffel pictures. All the information that APRO had collected was sent on to Colorado. In the end, the Condon Committee decided, as had NICAP, that there was a "glaring internal inconsistency." According to the committee, in the picture in which the top of the object is tilted toward the camera, the UFO is illuminated from one direction and the trees, specifically a very tall palm, is illuminated from another. According to the Condon scientists, "This is evidence of a hoax unless there were two suns in the sky." They dismissed the case as a hoax and therefore irrelevant.

Both APRO and Dr. Fontes had been aware of the problem. According to them, enlargements of the picture that showed the tree and the surrounding area revealed that a shadow cast by a damaged palm caused the problem. They reported that the palm tree's trunk appeared to be in the shade, meaning the sun was behind it and the shadows on the UFO showed the sun should have been in front of the tree. The trunk should have been brightly illuminated by the sun. The enlargement, however, suggested that two branches on that tree had been broken and were hanging in such a way that they shaded the trunk. APRO researchers suggested the shadow was, more or less, an optical illusion.

According to the APRO analysis, enlargements of the surrounding area showed a dead tree without any branches on it. They suggested that the sunlight on the trunk of that tree was in the proper place, and suggested that this showed that the photographs were not faked. Or rather, it showed that there were no internal inconsistencies, so the authenticity of the photographs could not be questioned for that reason.

That wasn't the end of the controversy, however. People living in the area reported they had seen a number of men with models of a flying saucer taking pictures. APRO said that the Brazilian Air Force had explained that easily. The men with the models were Air Force officers trying to duplicate the photographs. According to the report issued by APRO, they had failed.

Today, the best evidence seems to suggest the case is a hoax, perpetrated by two magazine writers who wanted an interesting story. By themselves, even if authentic, the pictures do not prove that UFOs are extraterrestrial. The pictures merely suggest that something unusual was seen flying above Brazil. The conclusion of hoax is not surprising, given both the attitudes of the investigators and the mission of the Condon Committee.

Source: Invasion Washington, Capt. Kevin Randle,  200-203