“We are well aware that the word humanoid is not in the dictionary;” wrote Charles Bowen, editor of the United Kingdom’s world-renowned Flying Saucer Review, “that it was coined somewhere along the line by a writer or researcher. Nevertheless it seems to suit our purpose far more than those other words of anthropology like hominid, which means kin of man (Neanderthal man was one of these) and hominoid, which means man-like ape.” These were the words that formed part of his foreword to Gordon Creighton’s anthology of cases from around the world entitled – what else? – The Humanoids (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1969). This far-reaching book, published only a few years after it became acceptable to speak openly about the possibility of UFOs having occupants. Bowen also drops the hint that Dr. Edward Condon and his committee had access not only to The Humanoids and issues of FSR in assisting with their evaluation of the phenomenon.
The cases contained in the book are of another age and are widely known to the audiences interested in the field, but its perhaps hard for modern readers, particularly those who are newly arrived to the field, to imagine a time when even believers in “flying saucers” preferred not to deal with the possibility of beings stepping out of these lights or craft or projections. Two years before FSR’s book on the project, Coral and Jim Lorenzen published Flying Saucer Occupants, covering the best-known cases of the time on all continents and making an effort at interpreting and evaluating them (including a psychological interpretation of cases by Dr. R. Leo Sprinkle). One of these conclusions stands out nearly fifty years later: “In rare instances we may examine a report of UFO occupants which involves an observer who is sound of mind, has a stable emotional structure, an artist’s eye for observation and whose experience takes place under ideal lighting conditions.”
“It was impossible to tell whether they were military or not,
but they were all dressed alike in sealed astronaut-type one piece
plastic suits with bubble helmets and tanks strapped to their backs.
Neary thought they looked like a cooking-foil commercial.”
—Steven Spielberg, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, p.177
As has been exhaustively documented in many other places, UFO research – or more specifically, UFO culture – owes a great deal to science fiction, particularly when it comes to the conceptualization of vehicles and occupants. The notion of the “silver-spacesuited alien” so common to early occupant reports and contactee chronicles may owe a lot to the iconic vision of Michael Rennie’s Klaatu descending from his spaceship in The Day The Earth Stood Still, or at a later date, the widely circulated promo photos of the Robinson family in CBS’s Lost in Space, coolly posed in silver one-piece outfits with red piping and boots to match.
In real life, the vision of the silver-suited astronaut was turned iconic by the Friendship 7 astronauts, wearing their Mylar-covered spacesuits developed from the pressure suits used by pilots on stratospheric flights. Changes would later be made to the silver spacesuit by the time the Gemini Project rolled around, allowing for greater mobility under pressurization than the Mercury Project original. The need to perform extra-vehicular activities (EVA) and eventual lunar landings caused new suits to be developed and the striking silver outfit to be relegated to museums.
It appears, however, that ufonauts did not receive the memo. Reports of humanoid occupants in silver suits remained unabated, even up to quite recent times.
Dr. Anthony Choy, one of Peru’s best known researchers, looked into one of these cases as recently as 2002, this time in the community of San Bartolomé in the Peruvian highlands, specifically in the province of Huarochirí, several hours to the north of Lima, the capital city. The picturesque town is known for its variety of fruit trees and otherwise excellent weather, boasting nearly year-round sunshine, filled with forests (Bosque de Zarate being the best known) and abundant wildlife. Not a grim or ominous location in the least.
The case involved two witnesses, the main one being Luis “Lucho” Rojas Povis, 51, a toll booth operator who happened to be outdoors at two o’clock in the morning with his best friend when both men became aware of “two figures” making their way down the slopes of Cerro de la Pascua, clad in silvery outfits. Initially, the onlookers did not find anything unusual about them, believing them to be mountain climbers or official personnel in outlandish protective gear. As the figures approached there was the awful realization that things were not quite as normal as expected.
The entities were described as having “an athletic build, slender and tall” with form fitting silver outfits. Their faces looked human, but their eyes were described as “shining”, and they didn’t walk as much as float above the ground. They did not utter a single word.
Astonished beyond belief, Rojas and his friend walked up to the strange new arrivals; the friend even reached out to touch the face of one the entities to see if it was “real”. One of the entities slapped the probing hand away, shocking the human.
“Hey, why are you messing with my buddy?” the toll booth operator challenged the creature, according to Dr. Choy’s interview. But what could have become the first mano-a-mano between humans and non-humans (since the 1954 case involving José Ponce and Gustavo González in Venezuela) was interrupted by the unexpected arrival on the scene of a taxicab whose passenger and driver were about to become the next set of witnesses to the mind-bending situation.
Beatriz García, 34, had just taken a taxicab back to San Bartolomé at that late hour from the town of Ochocica, where a fair had been held that day. Agreeing to pay the driver a rather high fee for the journey home, Ms. García was startled to see “a man made of pure tin, or dressed in aluminum” standing at the edge of the road. She was only able to see one figure, but could not say if it was the entity that slapped away the man’s effort to touch its visage. The driver became very agitated by the unearthly sight, and his nervousness caused her not to look very closely at the being, while having noticed its “brilliant” eyes. During the interview with Anthony Choy, she estimated that a distance of ten meters separated her from the entity, which appeared to be “walking back and forth, two steps forward, two steps back, but actually floating in the air.” She coincided with Rojas’s description of the creature’s dress, the form fitting nature of the outfit, its helmet and general build.
Some will dismiss this incident as another “colorful” Latin American case (the dictionary definition of the word is “full of interest; lively and exciting”, but tends to be interpreted as “patently untrue” on the lips of a skeptic!) but the strange motion of the single helmeted being witnessed by Beatriz García has been mentioned in many case histories. Dr. Frank B. Salisbury also noted this in his foreword to the Lorenzens’ Flying Saucer Occupants mentioned above: “These beings may sometimes walk like normal people, but they may also move with “sliding motions” or a tottering gait.”
A silvery-suited “humanoid child” is at the center of a highly complex “Julio” case of 1934, re-opened by Magdalena del Amo-Freixedo in the late 1990s.”…the girl had a pinkish complexion and wore a silvery suit. She was small, like one of our six year-old girls, with platinum blonde hair. I don’t remember the color of her eyes,” said the experiencer. More ominous is the tall figure with empty eye-sockets that played a role in the 1973 case involving a Puerto Rican housewife. The entity – humanoid in shape, towering and wearing a tight silver outfit – projected the words “cerakia ovnit” into the terrified experiencer’s mind, words whose meaning remains a mystery forty years later.
Another entity seen in the Spanish province of Zamora in 1974 was described by the percipient as being over six feet tall, with arms held closely to the sides of its body, and having an overall “military” bearing. It was also noted that the creature appeared to have been “made of silver” and glided away into a hill when the witness pressed his hunting dogs to attack it. Guillermo Giménez of Argentina’s Planeta UFO looked into a case that occurred in Necochea, Argentina in February 1988, involving entities wearing tight-fitting costumes. “The fact is that they’d go completely unnoticed among us if they wore normal clothes and not those silver coveralls,” noted the interviewee.
Regarding the “slap” with which one of the San Bartolomé humanoids responded to the human’s urge to touch its features, it is worth remembering what Argentinean researcher Roberto Banchs noted in his own monograph, La fenomenología humanoide en Argentina (Servicio de Investigaciones Ufologicas, August 1977): “Social behavior is sometimes misinterpreted, leading matters to such a state of confusion that any action on part [of the intruders] is deemed hostile. It is imperative to analyze all physical and psychological factors before a conclusion can be reached.”
A Skywatch Interrupted
Three summers before the incident involving the San Bartolomé humanoids, a skywatcher in neighboring Chile had his own brush with the unknown. Enrique Bermúdez had driven to the outskirts of Punta Arenas, which aside from boasting the privilege of being Chile’s southernmost community, the city on the Brunswick Peninsula is also one of the largest one in the Patagonian Region. The clear skies above beckon to skywatchers and amateur astronomers, or simply anyone wanting to enjoy the unspoiled night air. It had also become famous in flying saucer circles for a famous “radar confirmation” case involving a warning issued by an air traffic controller to a passenger plane, advising it to be aware of unknown traffic in the area.
Bermudez had no idea that he was about to enter the pages of UFO lore on September 22, 1997. The man were startled to hear a strange sound outside, and upon turning off the headlights to eliminate the glare, he could see short humanoid figures running around the vehicle. According to the description given to researchers, the entities were “small, standing around one meter tall, with long arms and oversized heads,” but their facial features were could not be clearly seen in the darkness.
A total of eight short beings now surrounded his car, besieging him behind the wheel for an estimated 40 minutes. When they finally ran off into the forest, the witness started the car and drove away.
He would return – bravely – a week later with a researcher from Chile’s AION group, Dr. Carlos Muñoz, who had joined the organization in 1996 and become one of its most active field investigators. Both men descended from the vehicle and were startled to see a truly unusual sight: a source of light resembling a red neon tube was hovering in the darkness some twenty meters away from them, pulsating as it did so. Muñoz lifted his camcorder to shoot footage of the uncanny phenomenon, but to his surprise, the light source did not appear in the viewfinder.
Bermudez and Dr. Munoz found their nerve beginning to fail them. They re-entered the car and drove away from the forest.
On June 4, 1978, two brothers – Juan and Héctor Juárez , ages 10 and 8 respectively– were walking back home from school to their humble home in the El Corito neighborhood of Ciudad Cárdenas in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosí. As the boys walked past Zaragoza Street, they saw activity in the empty field that served as a makeshift soccer pitch. Other children of around their age seemed to be engaged in frantic activity, and not wanting to be left out, Juan and Hector walked down the street and on to the empty field. While separated by a distance, the boys were suddenly realized that the figures were not their neighbors or classmates having a post-school day game of futbol, but something they’d never seen before.
The figures were not children, although their height was comparable to boys their age. The two brothers found themselves facing between fifteen and twenty creatures darting around the field. Far from fleeing in terror, Juan and Héctor approached, curiosity getting the better of them, and making an uncanny discovery: the kid-sized figures’ feet did not touch the ground. They darted on air, moving as if on roller-skates. Some of the creatures – with devices on their backs that the two brothers could not recognize – interrupted their play to look at the humans. Something, in retrospect, the Juarez Brothers wished they had not done.
Part II of this series continues tomorrow Wednesday February 12, 2014!
Visit Scott’s website: THE JOURNAL OF THE INSTITUTE OF HISPANIC UFOLOGY (IHU)