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Thursday, September 9, 2010

UFOs over Portugal – Part one (1946)

Like any other country in the world, Portugal has had its fair share of UFO sightings. History marks the beginning of the UFO phenomenon with the Kenneth Arnold sighting over Mount Rainier in June 1947, thus starting the first great UFO wave in the United States.
However, there had been a major wave of UFO reports a year before. It happened in the Scandinavian countries – Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland. These sightings, nicknamed “ghost rockets”, soared only on Sweden to almost 1,000 reports between May and early December of 1946. According to the newspaper L’Aurore (France) of July 27:
“More than five-hundred rocket-propelled projectiles are said to have been seen over Sweden since the beginning of July. According to some sources, the projectiles that streak across the Swedish sky look like jet planes, but make less noise than usual aircraft. Others describe them as like “sea-gulls without heads”. On the map, the projectiles do not show uniform trajectories.”
With such a potentially explosive situation (hints of Russian missile tests were the talk of the day) the Swedish Defense Staff decided to implement an investigation of the problem. In the end the final report concluded:
“Despite the extensive effort which has been carried out with all available means, there is no actual proof that a test of rocket projectiles has taken place over Sweden… Even if the main parts of the reports can be referred to celestial phenomena the committee cannot dismiss certain facts as being purely imagination.”
So what was seen in the Northern Europe remained, until today, unidentified. Reports from other countries like France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Austria, Greece and Portugal only compounded the mystery. Portugal contributed with nine reports of “ghost rockets”. Here are a few selected ones:
Diario de Noticias, September 15: At four P.M. today an enormous disc irradiating a green light was seen on the locality of Casa Branca, Montemor-o-Novo. The strange phenomenon was witnessed by many rail workers on duty.  The disc stayed motionless for approximately five minutes, disappearing afterwards in a southerly direction.
From the newspaper Vitoria, September 17: According to information given by several credible witnesses, last night there has been seen in the sky of the city of Porto some mysterious rockets with fiery tails travelling with diabolical speeds.
The rockets came from near the sea in a south-north direction. Could it be the same phenomenon talked about in the foreign press? Surely, this night many will try to see if the phenomenon repeats itself.

Finally from the Diario de Noticias, September 18: Just after 21 P.M. a luminous body, bigger and brighter than a star and with a phosphorescent tail was seen in the sky of the city of Viana do Castelo. It was travelling in the south-north direction. The sighting due to its strangeness became the talk of the town, the current opinion being that it was one of the mysterious rockets much talked about in the press of the recent days.

- Vallee, Jacques, “Ghost Rockets: A moment of history”, Flying Saucer Review, V.10, n.4, July-August 1964.

- Overbye, Bjorn, “Ghost-Bombs Over Sweden”, Flying Saucer Review, V.15, n.2, March-April 1969, V.15, n.3, May-June 1969

- Farish, Lucius, Clark, Jerome, “The Ghost Rockets of 1946”, Saga’s UFO Report, Fall 1974

- Berliner, Don, “The Ghost Rockets of Sweden”, Official UFO, October 1976.

- Gross, Loren, The Mystery of the Ghost Rockets, California 1982.

- Liljegren, Anders, Svahn, Clas, “The Ghost Rockets”, UFOS 1947-1987: the 40 year search for an explanation, London, Fortean Tomes, 1987.

-   Clark, Jerome, “Ghost Rockets”, The UFO Encyclopedia V.2 – The Emergence of a Phenomenon: UFOs from the Beginning through 1959, Detroit, Omnigraphics, 1992.

- Fernandes, Fernando, “The European Wave of 1946”, (in Portuguese), Anomaly, V.5,
Porto, 2005

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