How about Operação Prato? What do you know about it?
Not much. I only know it occurred in the Amazon, in 1977, and was under Brigadier Protasio [Lopes de Oliveira]. As you know, I was a commander to the VII Comando Aéreo Regional (COMAR VII), in Manaus, and that all happened at the I Comando Aéreo Regional (COMAR I), which is in Belem.
Exactly. Operação Prato was prepared at COMAR I and carried out at the island of Colares, 80km from Belem. Documents disclosed show routes, formats, and sizes of UFOs.
All these [pointing to papers shown to him] are official government documents? Did you have access to all that?
Yes, we did. These are copies from the originals and tell of all that happened at that time. Similarly interesting are the documents recently declassified which account for the occurrence of 19 May 1986, which had Ozires Silva as a main figure involved, the so-called Official UFO Nights in Brazil.
That’s interesting. I can see here among the documents regarding that night there’s an incident report signed by Brigadier Jose Pessoa Cavalcanti de Albuquerque.
Yes. In that report he describes how the objects zigzagged, stopped, reached incredible speed, and so on. It also states that the objects both chased and were chased by Brazilian jets [See UFO 160].
I see. Decisions at the time were made by the Comando de Defesa Aérea (CODA), a body responsible for the monitoring of any non-identified objects which could pose a threat to the country. CODA was the body in charge of the taking-off of Mirages and F-5Es and the interception of intruders. There (CODA) is where the search for anything unusual starts.
Now we know that thanks to this document disclosed by the government. However, there are still some topics missing in order to illustrate that night. For example, you were the commander of the IV Comando Aéreo Regional (COMAR IV), in Sao Paulo, which was the body directly in charge of the occurrence. Did you follow the development of the incident?
No, I did not. That was the same night my wife witnessed those objects in Rio and I was with her when Mirages and F-5Es were launched against the objects in Rio and Sao Paulo. At the same time, Ozires Silva was on his way from Brasilia to Sao Jose dos Campos and witnessed the phenomenon.
As the commander of COMAR IV didn’t you follow on the facts? There were statements published at the occasion which were quoted as being yours. You were quoted as saying that those facts were long being reported and that FAB was aware of that. That was all published. What do you have to say about that?
Yes, now I remember. What I’m saying is that I didn’t have the opportunity to witness the event in real time. I only knew that radars had spotted unusual objects or, again, “electronic anomalies”. We put that all down in reports that were sent to EMAER, which was the appropriate reporting mechanism.
Did you get any answers from EMAER about that case or any other event reported to them? Also, did you receive any instructions as to how to behave in those circumstances?
No, but I know how they dealt with it. When there was nothing to say or no plausible explanation to give, the reports were sent to the archives awaiting for the day when a possible explanation could arise.
Do you know if at any given time the government, EMAER or even CODA had established a committee in order to address these cases?
When I was a minister of Aeronautics and received that kind of reports, I just did as usual: sent them to the appropriate files containing all of those similar cases. That was a single folder so that we do not loose the origin of the reports. All was kept there. When we lacked an explanation, we simply waited for it to come up one day. I used to give orders for a research, but it was not an investigation or an inquiry. It was just an informal check-up.
Those check-ups were routine or were applied in only special cases?
It happened only in a few cases, when we consider it worth to investigate. When the description of the event was a credible one, I tried to search for more concrete data.
How were those check-ups conducted?
I used to send someone to talk with locals from the place where the event occurred. We talked to people who might be linked to what was reported. We also inspected the area followed by the witness, because such cases normally happened in the rural area or small cities, not in large urban centers. At least
this is what we normally got. If I’m not mistaken, it has been happening in Brazil since the 1950s, when officers from Gravataí Air Base, state of Rio Grande do Sul, saw strange objects in the sky at broad day light. I believe that was in 1954.
Were you already in the military at that time? What was your rank?
Yes, I was a Lieutenant at the Air Force. The event was registered in Gravatai and caused great commotion, since high-ranking officials like Brigadier Jose Hernani were involved.
Brigadier, I’d like to resume the Brazilian Official UFO Night when jets were sent to intercept the objects.
In that occasion you’ve said that FAB had been recording such cases for years. You also said that the artefacts went from 250 to 1500 km/h in less than a second, which is confirmed by the documents recently disclosed by the government. What else can you say about it?
My technicians mentioned 4000 km/h, but that speed is too much for our radars. It makes them loose accuracy. Therefore, we can not really state that they flew at that speed (4000 km/h). However, they disappeared from radar screens so quickly that Cindacta’s system registered a not much reliable velocity assessment. We could not precisely assert 4000 km/h technically speaking. What was certain is that the objects were at more or less 800 km/h, then suddenly sped up so quickly that they disappear from radar screens. Our technicians said that happened at 4000 km/h, but I do not endorse this assumption.
When radars showed that the objects disappeared in that fashion, did you still think of “electronic anomalies” as an explanation?
Well, I still called it “electronic anomalies”, because I didn’t have any other name to give to it [laughing about his own definition].
But what do you think those objects were? What is your opinion?
I don’t think anything and do not have a personal say on that.
Have you ever considered those might be ships from another planet crewed by a superior intelligence?
I’d like to think like that. I’d like to be able to say I believe it, that I’m sure, but I’m kind of skeptic about things I can not prove. However, if you ask me if I think that is all fabrication, I’d say no. I don’t think this is the case. But the point is I can not say what those things are.
I would insist in asking you: What do you think they are?
I think it’s very hard to say that nothing can exist beyond our knowledge or beyond our world. That would be false. I wish I could say “they” are there, but I still had no opportunity for a close look. I have no concrete data to give to you regarding those objects. Believe me, I wish I could join you in order to research this “thing”, but I’m in no conditions for that.
As you said before, FAB had been recording UFO sightings. Can you tell of any case which had this same proportions?
Yes, I consider the Gravatai case as a significant occurrence. [See box].
More next week