CORAL LORENZEN AND
THE UBATUBA UFO FRAGMENTS
This article was submitted to various UFO-related publications between 1991-1994, and actually was accepted - but then rejected -- for publication in England. The apparent objections among editors were my reluctance to name names and the probability that article content would lack mass appeal among a younger readership which may not be familiar with the Ubatuba UFO case. I obviously respect editorial wishes, for editors must base their decisions on a variety of factors. However, I stand by my decision to exclude various names in the interest of privacy and fairness (and now that Coral Lorenzen is gone, I have no one to back up the story I relate), and I believe the Ubatuba case remains important enough to merit the attention of any readership intrigued by UFOs - no matter their age or knowledge of UFO history
- Robert Barrow, August, 2000
In a perfect literary world, the editor whose desktop boasts only finely-crafted, informative articles written without any hint of writers' personal musings, whining or bitching is fortunate indeed. Alas, this submission won't altogether reach those standards.
Some 28 years of serious inquiry into the nature of UFOs have afforded me the opportunity to research the subject, investigate reports, write about the phenomenon for publication, teach a course on UFO history at a college, and to be both praised and condemned by government sources for my meager contributions. At one time, and I've never mentioned it publicly before for fear of sounding like the number one traveler on an extended ego trip, I received a Congressional recommendation to serve on a government UFO research project that was only rumored and apparently never came to be.
All of this may seem fabulously interesting to some, but it doesn't matter much on a resume intended for today's politically correct society in the USA, nor in many other areas. Thus, having pursued the UFO for many years and usually coming up with a hand full of thin air, yet convinced beyond doubt that the enigma is reality incarnate and likely of great significance to us all, this writer becomes increasingly content to entertain memories.
Like my relationship with NICAP as a member for several years, another very influential memory will long remain my affiliation as both member and field investigator with the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization of Arizona, founded in 1952 by the late Jim and Coral Lorenzen. I joined APRO in 1965 and remained a member until Coral's death in 1988. Little did I suspect that my final contact with her in 1987 would involve the intriguing Ubatuba UFO incident and possible UFO evidence.
My last contact with Mrs. Lorenzen occurred about a year before her passing. On an afternoon in May, 1987, she phoned my home, leaving a message that she very much needed to speak with me.
(1) As I was away, however, I could not return her call until after 1:30 a.m. E.S.T.
(2) Pleasant enough, yet obviously gravely concerned, Coral wasted little time in getting to the point: Could I help her track down a missing fragment of the (alleged) Ubatuba, Brazil UFO?
Far from conclusive as UFO evidence, the Ubatuba incident nonetheless remains a genuine puzzle to researchers. In September, 1957, a Rio de Janeiro newspaper printed an illegibly signed letter about a "flying disk" that exploded over a beach at the Sao Paulo Province of Ubatuba. Enclosed with the letter were three tiny pieces of a white metallic substance that had supposedly rained down" from the exploding object. Despite an intensive inquiry by the late Dr. Olavo Fontes, APRO's Brazilian representative, the witnesses to the bizarre beach event could never be identified, a dilemma that plagues the case to this day.
Scientific analysis at the time, however, certified the fragments themselves to be eminently curious, composed as some of them were of pure magnesium, a metallic element. The purity of the samples, in fact, caused some scientists to entertain an extraterrestrial source of intelligence.
A number of high-tech examinations of minute pieces of the Ubatuba fragments have continued over the years; unfortunately, some of the crucial portions from early investigations were destroyed as an inevitable result of tests performed upon them. (3) The history of the Ubatuba incident is widely recounted in UFO literature, so this writer won't belabor the details, except to report that, apparently, the remaining fragments continue to provide scientists with some rather curious findings, particularly in view of what sort of things shouldn't have been able to be hoaxed, let alone manufactured, with known 1957 technology.
"Listen, I may have called the wrong person," Coral explained, "but I do know that you're a good, faithful APRO member.. this is very important." Sinking further into my chair in the early morning New York darkness, I suddenly felt as if the anxious voice speaking from West Grape Drive in Tucson, Arizona, was hovering right at my ear, intent upon making me understand something essential. The conversation would be all the more intriguing because Coral had found it necessary to hang up from my call due to a bad connection, and then she phoned back, at which time the long distance hookup was fine - a curiosity that she firmly believed was created by a government phone tap on APRO's line, and a problem that recurred when I spoke with her a few days later, in fact.
APRO, she continued, was working with a physicist on a Ubatuba sample, "and we have had very good results, which I won't go into..." The apparent problem was that APRO needed another piece to strengthen its case - a piece that was missing.
As most of the people referred to here are still living and in many cases would find disclosure of their names most unwelcome, or at the very least unnecessary, and in an attempt to relate this story fairly, names are excluded. If participants wish to come forward in the future, that is their business. This writer is simply the messenger.
As our conversation progressed, Coral recalled that in 1979 her husband Jim had loaned a Ubatuba sample to a man who writes UFO articles with some success for major publications, supposedly for additional analysis. Years later, learning of Coral's search for the fragment, the writer contacted the scientist currently working on Ubatuba evidence and stated that, indeed, he had actually returned the piece to APRO soon after obtaining it.
"We know better," Coral added. "I would have known if it had come back because I log that stuff in.
Additionally, she knew that a certain other scientist acquainted with the UFO writer was to be the recipient of the fragment for examination, and upon further inquiry the APRO physicist located the scientist. He, however, insisted he had turned the piece over to another man, a UFO "enthusiast" who works for a large corporation, but resides in a small town. Incredibly, he couldn't even remember the man's name!
"Well, here's the thing." Coral went on, "(the APRO physicist) is bound and determined, and I am, too, to find this stuff," and even though their target was nameless, they knew the name of his alleged town of residence in New York State. Coral asked me to check with the local newspaper to see if anybody in town was "big on UFOs." Big on UFOs was perhaps an understatement, for, as she confided ("This is confidential") with anxiety, the guy was a "Meierer," a fan of UFO photographer/ contactee/ witness/ ambassador/ what-have-you Billy Meier, a man whose claims held no credence for her.
Even more complicating, Coral feared that the nameless man had connections with another Arizona UFO researcher whom, once a friend, she no longer trusted, concerned that he might get his hands on the Ubatuba sample for his own ends. Her one compelling wish was to retrieve the fragment and turn it over to her physicist, whom she and Jim had chosen specifically to analyze the Ubatuba material. My task was only to learn the name of the man in the small town, but to avoid contacting him so as not to alarm him. After that, Coral would make arrangements to contact him about the fragment, even if it meant someone's necessity to visit him personally. She was adamant about my not contacting him myself, but just to "See if they know a guy who is very into the Meier case, because it seems to be that's the hooker."
After a little more discussion about her health, Arizona weather and some particularly underhanded actions and shortcomings on the part of a UFO organization director who she despised (perhaps with excellent reason), we ended the conversation with my promise to find out what I can. I would be back in touch in a few days. I failed miserably, overwhelmingly, and discovered nothing useful. I dreaded Coral's certain disappointment when I phoned back several days later, (4) but before we engaged in any specifics she noted, as previously, a terrible phone line connection. "I think maybe they're running a tap on my line," Coral admitted. "I mean, if I turn around and call you back it'll be just ducky, just like before."
As previously, Coral phoned me back immediately, and this time the audio was remarkably improved. "I told you," she sighed, as if resigned to it, as if having only temporarily dispensed with a pest that always returns. "I think that my incoming calls that are long distance, they can't pick up - that if I dial out it's easier for them."
I related the empty news, the futility of my inquiry. First, there existed no newspaper at all in the town, nor broadcast stations in this area of about 1500 people. In fact, my only negligible victory occurred in a conversation with a town librarian whom, when asked about anybody she knows who might have an interest in UFOs, replied in the negative. The best she could do was to suggest contacting larger nearby areas and their newspaper editors. In fact, one location I mentioned did ring a bell with Coral, whatever she planned to do with this information.
Kindly, Coral thanked me profusely even for the near-nothingness I had provided. She seemed, however, all the more furious with the UFO writer to whom Jim had originally loaned the desired Ubatuba fragment. "That damned (last name stated), I could kill him!." This was serious, considering that during our prior discussion she had merely referred to him as an S.O.B! "(Last name stated) has never done a damned thing for us. He's a writer, he wants to make a buck off anybody he can."
Coral calmed herself after this uncharacteristic outburst. "Well, I'll just tell (the physicist) that you've done the best that you could." She then considered other APRO investigators who might be in a better position and closer to potential locations to check things out, and she came up with a name I knew and respected. "He knows quite a few people, that's the thing," she admitted.
That conversation, more than five years ago now, provided my last cherished opportunity to speak with Coral Lorenzen, and I haven't the slightest idea how her frantic search for the enigmatic Ubatuba fragment turned out. I hope she found it before her demise, especially because the Lorenzens and their associates expended considerable labor on the case over the years. At the very least, Coral certainly gave the impression that some exciting discoveries were popping up in the laboratory. Maybe an individual or two will come forth and contribute a little more insight eventually. Or maybe not.
Ubatuba is an old UFO case, superceded now by stories of alien abductions, cattle mutilations, mysterious crop circles and "Andromeda Strain"-like intervention in human society on a global scale. Nevertheless, Ubatuba has a meaning on some level to UFO research, and Jim and Coral Lorenzen recognized this acutely.
So, the applicable extent of my knowledge of the search fbr the missing Ubatuba fragment having been presented, I shall end my recollections simply with the one word Coral routinely used at the termination of her notes and letters, a word that I fondly hope had some personal meaning in her final days.
1. Telephone call from Coral Lorenzen on the afternoon of May 6, 1987.
2. Telephone call to Coral Lorenzen from approx. 1:37 to 2:00 a.m. E.S.T. on May 7, 1987.
3. Basic details of the Ubatuba case as mentioned here are obtained from The Encyclopedia of UFOs, ed. By Ronald Story (Ubatuba section contributed by Walter W. Walker, who analyzed a fragment himself). Dolphin Books, NY, NY, 1980, pps. 374-375.
4. Telephone call to Coral Lorenzen from approx. 12:48 to 12:53 a.m. E.S.T. on May 12, 1987.