Go Back Report # 230


UFOCAT’s Text:

Nautical UFO, crew of icebreaker watch fiery oval for 12 seconds, object splits in two, falls into ocean. 


Antarctic Sighting      

March 16, 1961; Antarctica. A Brazilian meteorologist, reemployed at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center near Washington, D. C., observed a strange phenomenon while aboard an ice-breaker in Admiralty Bay, Antarctica, on a scientific expedition. He noted the observation in his diary and later filled out a NICAP report form. Though in some respects the phenomenon resembles a meteor, in other respects it does not. At any rate, it is worth recording as an unexplained aerial phenomenon, possibly related to UFO activity.

       Rubens J. Villela, who also has experience as a glider pilot and Moonwatch observer, was on the deck of the U.S.S. Glacier about 6:15 p.m. The temperature was about 33 degrees, dew point 28, wind calm, sky overcast, visibility about 5 miles. Weak, yellowish sunset light was visible to the NW. About 50 degrees above the horizon, he noticed a strange, tear-shaped, "luminous body" crossing the sky from NW to SE. It was "multi-colored, leaving long trail as tracer bullet; abruptly divided in two (in tandem) as if 'exploding,' shone more brightly in bluish-white and red, and threw lateral rays radiating backwards at an angle. Appearance neither 'solid' nor purely 'light'; best described as 'corporified light,' forms geometrical and not diffuse." The object was roughly tear-shaped before and after splitting.

       The object travelled on a level course, completely disappearing "very suddenly" after about 10 seconds. It moved "rather slowly" leaving a long trail.

       "I believe it was much too slow for a meteor," Mr. Villela stated, "also its appearance was 'out of this world.' I can think of nothing on earth which would reproduce the phenomenon."

This reference: The UFO Evidence, Vol. 1, Richard Hall, p. 53-54, © 1964       


       Five years later there was another documented account of a UFO sighting over Antarctica by Rubens Junqueira Villela, a meteorologist and the first Brazilian scientist to participate in an expedition to the white continent, now a veteran of eleven expeditions to Antarctica (two with the US Navy, eight with the Brazilian Antarctic Programme, and another on the sailing ship Rapa Nui). Whilst on board the US Navy icebreaker Glacier which had set sail from New Zealand at the end of January 1961, Villela claims that he witnessed a UFO event in the skies over Antarctica which he immediately recorded in his diary, even including the emotions felt by all those involved. During 16th March 1961 and after, a fierce storm had forced the expedition to retreat to Admiralty Bay in the King George Isles.      

       "A strange light suddenly crossed the sky, and everyone started to shout.       

       "‘It’s a missile!’ said one excited Marine. ‘No, it’s a meteor,’ barked another member of the crew. The excitement was wide-spread and growing. Trying to describe the light which appeared over Almirantado Bay wasn’t easy … I wrote in my diary: ‘Positively the colors, the configuration and contours of the object, as a bodied [sic] light, with geometric forms, did not seem to be from this world, and I did not know what could possibly reproduce it."   

       "The object was multi-colored and had a luminous body – oval-shaped. It left a long tube-like orange/red trail. Suddenly, it split into two pieces, as if it had exploded. Each part shone even more intensively, with white, blue and red colors projecting ‘V’ shaped rays behind it. Quite quickly they moved away and could be seen 200 meters above the ground … Throughout the sighting no noise was heard by any of the witnesses."   

       "The US Navy officially registered the incident as "a meteor or some other natural, luminous phenomenon" according to the report submitted by the Glacier’s captain, Captain Porter.    

       As a trained meteorologist, Villela easily dismissed the official line. "How could they mistake a meteor with an object carrying antennae, completely symmetrical and followed by a tail without any sight of atmospheric disturbance?" (25) 

       The renowned skeptic and self-styled debunker, Phillip Klaus, believes this episode is a classic example of ‘plasma,’ however, the late meteorologist James McDonald argued that the highly structured nature of the object and the low cloud overcast present at about 1500 feet were not compatible with Klass’s hypothesis.

       The South Atlantic area was also host to another sighting on 16th January 1958 when the Brazilian naval vessel Almirante Salddanha was escorting a team of scientists to a weather station on Trindade Island. As the ship approach[ed] the island (or rather an outcrop of rock), a UFO reportedly swooped past the ship, circled the island, then flew off in front of dozens of witnesses.      

       One of these witnesses, the expedition photographer, took a number of photographs of the object, and later the film was handed over to the military by the captain. After analysis, the Brazilian government released the film stating that they were unable to account for the images.           

       Whatever was going on in the Antarctic region, it certainly wasn’t happening in isolation.           


(25) Rubens Junqueira Villela, “UFOs in Antarctica,” translated by Ricky Seraphico and republished in UFO Magazine, November/December 1998. First published in Revista UFO Brasil, May 1998. Original title “Discos Voadores Na Antarctica.” See also US Congress, House Committee on Science and Astronautics, Symposium on Unidentified Flying Objects, Hearings. Ninetieth Congress, Second Session, 29th July 1968, Washington, DC. US Government Printing Office, 1968.                                                                                                                                       

This reference:


UFOCAT PRN – 34168

UFOCAT URN – 034168 The UFO Evidence, Vol. 1, Richard Hall, p. 53, © 1964

UFOCAT URN – 077478 What We Really Know About Flying Saucers by Otto Binder, p. 92, © 1967

UFOCAT URN – 125526 GEPA – Phénomènes Spatiaux, June 1968

UFOCAT URN – 073269 Invisible Residents by Ivan T. Sanderson, p. 3, © 1970

UFOCAT URN – 034167 James E. McDonald investigation files

UFOCAT URN – 034169 Computerized Catalog (N=3173), #1427 by L. Schoenherr, no © date

UFOCAT URN – 191820 UNICAT computer database by Willy Smith (727), #142, no © date  

Antarctica – South Shetland Islands, United Kingdom

Admiralty Bay               Latitude 62-10 S, Longitude 58-25 W (D-M) [Almirantado Bay]

King George Island      Latitude 62-00 S, Longitude 58-15 W

Reference: South Atlantic Gazetteer, prepared in the U.S. Office of Geography, Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C., January 1957.           

King George Island information page: http://www.kgis.scar.org/Home.php  

UFO Location (UFOCAT) Latitude 72.00 S, Longitude 170.00 E (D.%) 


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