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Rodrigo Bravo, an army major and the foremost specialist of the UFO phenomenon in Chile, comes clean with Publimetro about a subject that creates tremendous attention in our country. From a critical perspective, Bravo seeks to find the effects of anomalous aerial phenomena to contribute toward aeronautical safety, more than to seek out its causes.
Chilean army major Rodrigo Bravo, 38, has twenty-one years of military service behind him and has been the first Chilean military man to approach the UFO phenomenon from a critical perspective. He will be one of several presenters in the 4th Maip UFO Conference. In an interview with Publimetro, Bravo discusses the emergence of his relationship with the UFO phenomenon, discusses his critical perspective, having even been branded a skeptic even while denying it, his international experience and how the subject is currently being handled in our country.
Rodrigo, what is your first link with the UFO phenomenon?
In the year 2000, while I was training as a pilot, I was given the subject “Introduction to the UFO Phenomenon and Considerations for Air Safety” as my graduation thesis. Following that investigation, I arrived at CEFAA (Centro de Estudios de Fenomenos Anomalos Aereos). At that time I gained access to several archives that belonged to the General Directorate of the Military. On 30 May 2002 I was asked to speak about the subject. A historical analysis of the cases took place alongside an aeronautical analysis of cases , all of them linked to the world of aviation. Research was then aimed at the subject of aeronautical safety. The aim was to find more about the effects, rather than the cause, of this phenomena.
Did this bring about any interest by other institutions or activities in your research, beyond the military?
Indeed. After that I took part in several seminars and conferences held at Viña del mar. This was until Leslie Kean invited me in 2007 to speak at the conference held at the National Press Club in Washington to discuss the UFO phenomenon alongside pilots, scientists and military men who have been directly linked to anomalous phenomena.
Was this your first international event?
That is so. I had participated in conferences, but always local ones.
And what was it like to rub elbows with major personalities who study the phenomenon?
I had the good fortune of meeting highly experienced people involved with the subject, but not from a ufological perspective, but from an aeronautical and scientific world, and that is a difference that must be made bluntly.
And what would this difference be?
That ufology is a pseudoscience, an informal study by various factors, as it lacks any doctrine, which are the basic principles that a school of philosophical thought needs to have. It lacks the conditions for generating a scientific method, and therefore no blunt conclusions can be reached. When you work on these investigations from the aeronautical perspective and looking for effects, it is different because you are studying a real, specific phenomenon that exists. One that has been picked up by radars and various technological means, and while you may not know what it is about, you aren’t’ looking for its origin because you have no way of knowing it from a phenomenological standpoint. Then, you look for is a means to counteract its effect on safety, because there have been documented situations in which aeronautical missions have been jeopardized by anomalous phenomena.
So what of the subject of ufology interested in finding the causes? It’s a field of research that is pursued by many to this day.
The classical or normal ufology known to most people, as speculative ufology based on the extraterrestrial hypothesis developed by several ufologists, is no longer sustainable. That ufology died after 21 December 2012. Since the collective memory here is very fragile, everyone forgot about the three days of darkness, the Japanese princess, the appearance of a non-existence planet, the six Elder Space Brothers, and nothing happened. So what are we talking about?
Why do you say that it died so bluntly?
Because that sort of speculative ufology has five major branches: Paraufology, which is the study of these phenomena over time and to its origins; classical ufology, which analyzes photos and videos; paleoastronautical ufology, which is a journey to find ancestral aliens, which these characters began to scratch at when the ran out of things to make up; another that prepares diplomats for alien encounters, another that focuses on the problem of alien presences on earth and the declassification of archives by the authorities, and contacteeism, the most radical branch, involving people who claim having been contacted and supposedly having a direct relationship with beings from other worlds. That speculative ufology came to an end on December 21, 2012, because we have no way of verifying any of the claims made by these people.
So, what does aeronautical ufology believe in?
When we speak of Ufology based on critical thinking, it doesn’t mean that you believe in nothing at all. It means that you know you’re faced with an anomalous phenomenon whose origin you cannot understand or comprehend. Yet, it has certain manifestations that cause havoc with aerial operations and that’s where you go it. The manifestation of an anomalous phenomenon can be due to ions, meteorological phenomena, atmospheric phenomena, unknown advanced technology or under development, in short, anything. It could even be an unidentified flying object of extraterrestrial origin. The problem is that we have no way of proving it, so therefore, we leave the possibility open, and instead of seeking causes, we seek means of mitigating its effect.
So what about some cases of UFO phenomena in Chile? How do you respond to them from this critical perspective, such as the case of Friendship Island in Southern Chile, for example?
That alleged extraterrestrial island in Southern Chile, which made radio contact in the 80s with the Ortiz family, is the most interesting hoax from the sociological perspective, but there was never a single extraterrestrial there. It was an experiment, and from that point onward, a joke that wound up 
snowballing, turning into a worldwide UFO myth.
[Translation © 2014 S. Corrales, IHU with thanks to Guillermo Giménez, Planeta UFO]

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