Merida is a city sufficiently attractive to cause a visitor to stop and look around. With Roman ruins over 2000 years old, historians consider it one of the most important Roman cities in the Iberian Peninsula and one of the most noteworthy ones after Rome itself. The enclave remained important during the Visigothic Age and also under Arab domination, remaining an important center for Christians within the Order of Santiago.
Here dwelt José Ferrán, his wife and six children. He was a renowned industrialist in the area and owner of a cottage in a small nearby community, which would witness an event so uncanny that it went beyond the imagination of its inhabitants. Local residents would never forget the strange apparition that materialized itself on the night of 15 April 1980.
On that night, Felipe Caballero walked up to the terrace of his house, heading for one of the bedrooms located alongside it. Since it was a very dark night, he was intrigued by a certain brightness emanating from a nearby field in the outskirts of town. Within seconds, he grew alarmed. The brightness emanated from the area where his friend José Ferrán’s cottage stood.
At first blush, it looked like a fire, causing his concern to grow by leaps and bounds, as he was the person in charge of looking after the property in the absence of its owners, who only came by on the weekends.
Caballero’s responsibility also extended to the farm animals and a lovely white mare that the industrialist kept in the cottage’s stables. Caballero immediately went to the lower floor, lifted the phone’s receiver to his ear and called his friend. The time was 10:15 in the evening.
The industrialist, who at the time was watching television with his wife Laura and the youngest of his six children, answered the phone, only to hear Felipe’s anguished voice on the other end, ask him to come immediately to the location in question. “Look, Pepe, I’m so sorry, but I think you’d better come to Mirandilla as soon as possible. I’m seeing a great deal of brightness coming from your cottage. When I was there this morning, I left everything in good order. Something makes me think there was a break-in and a fire’s broken out…”
The industrialist didn’t think twice. The cottage represented not only a place of relaxation for him and his wife, but also an item of great sentimental value. He had designed it and built it himself. Ferrán owned a respected decoration and painting business that employed a considerable number of people.
He got in his car – a white Mercedes Benz – and after leaving a note for his remaining five children, who were away from home, took off in a hurry with his wife and youngest son toward Mirandilla. Ferran was an excellent driver, and he covered the twelve kilometer stretch in a few minutes.
Upon reaching Mirandilla, they crossed the town square and headed for the outskirts. Leaving the last few houses in town behind them, they noticed knots of people staring in the direction of the family cottage. Ferran stopped the car as they went past the last structure – an enormous house which had only been used by a contingent of troops from Cordoba the day before on maneuvers, located next to a bean field. Felipe Caballero was standing there with his own son. They explained that they had dared to approach the cottage despite the fact that no smoke was visible, just in case there were intruders on the premises.
Ferrán looked fixedly at the cottage, located on a rise among large boulders, some of which had to be dynamited away to set the foundations. Thinking something abnormal was going on, he got in his car and sped toward the house. This conjecture caused his wife to panic; the child held on to its mother, asking her to make his father stop the car. Upon seeing this, Ferrán pulled over so they could abandon the Mercedes, leaving them in the middle of the bean field.
The light was now two cone-shaped columns, blinding in their whiteness. In the dark, Ferrán tried to find the source of the light. Far above the cottage, and serving as a vertex, he saw a series of lights that looked like car lights, in colors ranging from red to orange, serving as the base for a structure so black that it was lost against the dark sky, blotting out the few visible stars. Above these was another row of yellow, red and orange lights, larger than the ones below. According to the industrialist, the montage created a silhouette similar to that of an enormous hat, with pillars of light streaming from its hypothetical ends, making it impossible to determine their final shape.
He looked at the cottage once again, and was struck by something. A light began to move and stand out among the others: it was a red sphere that began to rotate around the assembly.
Ferran looked at the lights, ascertaining that the distance between them was enormous. He would later remark: “In the course of my professional life I’m accustomed to measuring facades, and I’ve only seen something so large in Cádiz, when I saw a U.S. aircraft carrier moored at the port.”
After several efforts at starting the car again – uncertain if this was due to his nerves or some mechanical failure – he was finally able to get the Mercedes’ engine to turn over. No sooner did the car approach the cottage than the object moved slightly to the right of the building, casting one of its beams on the large house occupied by soldiers the previous day.
At that moment, the gathered neighbors – who were by this point most of the town – heard a sound they subsequently described as “the dropping of boards”. The enormous, dark and solid-looking object, betraying no windows, doors or anything else beyond its lights and the red orb gyrating around it, began to rise into the night as the orb vanished. Simultaneously and astonishingly, the object became little more than luminous dots above a copse several hundred meters away.
Ferrán, astonished by the object’s prodigious speed, hesitated for a moment. Then, in a bold effort to ascertain the true nature of “the thing”, raced away from the cottage, heading toward the location where the object was now suspended at treetop level. The car bounced over the irregular terrain, and as he closed in on the object, which had regained its colossal aspect, Ferrán suddenly realized that “it” was no longer there. He hit the brakes quickly, stepped out of the Mercedes, and looked everywhere. There wasn’t a trace of the object to be seen anywhere!
“Where could something so large have hidden itself?” he wondered.
Stunned and confused, he re-entered the vehicle and turned around. He was still mulling things over when once again – facing him and hovering above the cottage – stood the colossal object. How could such a thing be possible? Everything felt like a macabre joke. An unreal prank from which he felt he would awaken at any moment, leaving the bad dream behind. He had not approached the cottage when the object played around again, vanishing and reappearing over the wooded area.
Meanwhile, initial amazement had turned into panic among the townspeople. Small children, perhaps influenced by their elders’ remarks, broke into tears, not understanding what was going on. José Ferrán thought it was all a pointless cat-and-mouse game. At that point he remembered the QUASAR group, a veteran association involved in the technical study of strange phenomena. Some of its members were friends of his, and would know what to do. Without further ado, he returned to pick up his wife, who had witnessed the game played with the object and had begun to fear for his life. He told her his plan, left her there, and drove quickly back to Mérida.
José Maria Mordillo, then vice-president of the research group, lived in the same block of houses as Ferrán, and in the Trajano Cinema at that time. Ferrán managed to get him away from the movies, and both men went to find Luis Cuervo, the group’s photographer. Grabbing the camera nearest to hand, the three men raced back to Mirandilla.
When they returned, people were still clustered at the outskirts. Above the trees and far away they could see something that gave out a white light that illuminated the treetops, making them visible at a distance. Without hesitating, the men headed toward it, but this time, as if the object had guessed their efforts at “hunting it”, it sped off before they came much closer, placing itself above the Sierra del Moro mountains.
Getting there was impossible. Luis clicked away with his camera. His viewfinder only showed a light larger than a star, and hence with little documentary value. The flash went off accidentally, and as though a reflex mechanism were involved, the object took off at lightning speed and vanished.
The time was now 11:30 p.m. and it was all over. There was nothing left to do except inspect the cottage for any damage, and then return to his home in Mérida.
Ferrán returned the next day with Saturnino Mendoza, president of the QUASAR group and the more specialized researcher at the time in such phenomena in Extremadura. They began by analyzing the cottage and found nothing that could explain why the object had stopped above it. Only a metal plate was found on the rooftop. Later, they headed toward the large abandoned house where one of the beams of light had penetrated, and where a “sound of crashing boards” had been heard. Before entering, they conducted measurements to calculate the distance between both sources of light. This would give them an approximate estimation of the object’s diameter. The result: one hundred meters (328 feet).
Armed with flashlights, they entered the abandoned house. They found a broad paved courtyard surrounded by stables in some places to care for the cattle. Rooms were in the background. They headed toward them.
In one room, with ancient walls made of earth rather than brick, they found a stairway. Carefully, they ascended to the top floor, finding themselves in a room measuring some sixteen or eighteen square meters, with a rubble-strewn floor. Aided by their flashlights, they ascertained that the room’s ceiling had caved in. They thought at first that this could be due to the structure’s deterioration and the passing of time, but Felipe Caballero’s son told them that the roof had been intact only a few days before. This prompted them to conduct a detailed search. Was the sound of the roof collapsing the noise that the townspeople had heard?
They found that the entire structure rested upon a thick wooden beam, and that a chunk somewhat larger than a meter long had broken off from it, not from the middle, but from a part nearer the wall. It was therefore strange that the remainder of the assembly had not collapsed with it. On the floor, among the remains of shingles and boards, they found the rest of the beam. Casting the light of their flashlights upon it, the men could not help but be amazed: the beam showed two holes caused by burns, wide enough for a fist to go through them. Despite the beam’s age, the fact that it hadn’t burned up was equally strange – it was as though the wood had been attacked by a blowtorch. The remaining boards were singed at their ends, but the burns had a graphite-like cast to them, as shiny as the lead in a pencil.
More surprises were in store, although this one was somewhat repulsive. Some of the shingles were covered of a sort of whitish mucus; others presented only partial burns. In a corner of the wall belonging to the collapsed roof they found the remains of a fire. In any ordinary fire near a wall, smoke and the remains of combustion form a triangle with its base toward the bottom, narrowing out as it rises. The opposite was apparent here: the wider zone was above and the narrower one on the bottom, just before touching the floor. How was this possible? There was only one answer: the fire had been projected in a jet from above, projected downward. Could it have then been produced by the beam emanating from the object responsible for such a sinister situation? Local residents said that the beam of light never extinguished itself; it simply retracted and extended itself yet again.
Moreover, the small weeds and lichens on the shingles presented exudations of sap, showing they had been affected by some sort of heat radiation.
An accident occurred back in Mérida, upon examining the samples. The various samples, wood, shingles, bags with plants and other items from the ground had been placed in the back room of a record shop owned by José María Mordillo. They ascertained that the mucus-like substance had vanished, and that when placed beside some nails, the iron material had been dragged toward the samples, which now had magnetic properties! This could only have been caused by the object.
As far as witnesses were concerned, it was surprising that the entire town agreed on the sighting. There was no doubt whatsoever about the reality of the case.
Remarkably, one of the female witnesses startled researchers by offering them a bit of information that would be as interesting as it was relevant to the case. She told them that one evening of the previous weekend, upon leaving a friend’s house and crossing the street, she looked down the road to see two identical objects over Ferran’s cottage, even though these objects were somewhat smaller than the others.
Laura, Ferrán’s wife, also recalled a major detail. That weekend, as was their custom, the couple had stayed at the cottage with one of his brothers and their family. They had gone to bed, and were awakened around 1 a.m. by considerable brightness. “Are you sure you didn’t leave the car lights on?” she asked her husband. The industrialist replied no, and that the brightness was probably produced by the moon. Laura reminded him it was a moonless night. This prompted José Ferrán to get dressed and look outside. At that same time, he heard a noise, and saw that the surroundings were illuminated in a manner similar to the effects of the full moon. The mare was excited, injuring herself in an effort to escape from its paddock. Ferran called out to her and whistled in an effort to calm her down, and to avoid serious injury.
Once the mare had calmed down, Ferrán led it to the stables and returned to bed. He was telling Laura about the mare when suddenly, the brightness vanished. He thought that it might have been one of his brothers turning on the entrance lights to the cottage, and didn’t thing about it again.
The next step was to contact the Talavera la Real Air Force Base and seek confirmation of overflights in the area. Calls were placed to the Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA), which refused to hear about the matter, directing them to military authorities, who responded as follows:
“Dear Sir: With regard to your kind letter dated the 20th of last month, I am pleased to inform you that on the 10th and the 15th of last April training flights were conducted from this school between 9:30 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. It is possible that one such aircraft flew over the area you have indicated, but never lower than 5000 meters. Moreover, having made the pertinent inquiries, there is no word of any radar echoes in the area and times indicated.”
Curiously, the letter from the commandant of the Aviation School referenced the 10th and 15th as specific dates, when the events they were asked about referred only to the one in recent days. It is doubly curious if we consider that that experience narrated by the woman mentioned earlier and the experiences of José and Laura Ferrán that same weekend, occurred five days earlier, that is to say, on the 10th. Were the events on both days related? Another question: fighters from this air base never fly beyond 20:00 hours. Why then were they flying at midnight on both days, precisely over the scene of the events? In spite of the denial, could they have been trying to identify a strange echo picked up over the area?
The enigma endures despite the years that have gone by. While the events are still being investigated, José Ferrán will never hear the end of the story. Lung cancer – detected only a short time after the incident – took his life.
Source: Misterios del Hombre y del Universo – http://pedromariafernandez.blogspot.com.es/2012/07/el-ovni-que-atemorizo-un-pueblo.html
[Translation (c) 2013, Scott Corrales, Institute of Hispanic Ufology (IHU). Special thanks to Guillermo D. Gimenez, Planeta UFO and Pedro María Fernández]
Visit Scott’s website: Inexplicata-The Journal of Hispanic Ufology