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The Trindade Island Incident, January 16, 1958

Claudeir Covo

original source |  fair use notice

Summary: It was the beginning of the International Geophysical Year of 1958, and on January 16, upon an invitation by the Brazilian Navy, Almiro Barauna joined the crew of training ship Almirante Saldanha on its way to explore Trindade Island, on the coast of Espirito Santo, a state in the Southeast of Brazil.

As promised earlier, I am posting engineer Claudeir Covo's
article about the Trindade Island case - below. It was kindly,
professionally, translated by the Translation Co-ordinator of the
Brazilian UFO Magazine, Marcos Malvezzi Leal, and his sister,
Martha Malvezzi Leal.

Claudeir Covo is a leading Brazilian UFO researcher who has
degrees in 3 areas of engineering. He as been the most active
UFO image analyser in Brazil for nearly 20 years. One of his
areas of expertise was vehicular illumination, as he worked for
some automobile companies in Brazil.

Other articles will be posted here soon.

A. J. Gevaerd


The Trindade Island Incident, January 16, 1958

Claudeir Covo

In 1954, after proving that the photographs of an alleged UFO
sighted on Barra da Tijuca, taken by Ed Keffel and Joao Martins,
were a product of double-exposure, professional photographer
Almiro Barauna, from Rio de Janeiro, made several photographic
tricks to reproduce the effect. The results of his tests and a
text by Vinicius Lima were published in Mundo Ilustrado
magazine, under the title Um Disco Voador Esteve na Minha Casa,
or A Flying Saucer Was in My House. Back in those days, the
episode was widely discussed in Rio de Janeiro's media. Although
he had no way of knowing it, fours year later, Barauna would be
personally involved in a unique opportunity to photograph a real
flying saucer. But in view of the fact he had virtually given a
lesson on how to fake photographs of that kind, he received
nothing but criticism and skepticism from the same media.

It was the beginning of the International Geophysical Year of
1958, and on January 16, upon an invitation by the Brazilian
Navy, Almiro Barauna joined the crew of training ship Almirante
Saldanha on its way to explore Trindade Island, on the coast of
Espirito Santo, a state in the Southeast of Brazil.

The ship was docked, preparing for its return to the continent,
when something most unusual happened. Barauna, 43 at the time,
had taken several snapshots of the landscape shortly before and
was lying on the deck of the ship, feeling un-well, with a
strong headache and seasickness. All of a sudden, around 12:15
p.m., he sensed a big commotion aboard. The sailors were calling
out to him to look at something luminous in the sky. Captain
Viegas, an Air Force officer aboard the Almirante Saldanha,
approached Barauna and asked him to photograph that mysterious
flying object. Barauna promptly picked up his Rolleiflex camera
and took six shots. He missed two of them, i.e., the fourth and
fifth due to the object's high speed and the commotion on deck.

The Saturn-shaped object captured on film had emerged from the
sea, flown over the island and the tip of Galo's Crest, then
above Desejado mount, when it finally vanished behind a
mountain. But soon it was visible again on the other side, as it
flew back towards the sea, stopped for a while and shot up at an
incredible speed, as though it were a rocket. The object was
absolutely silent.

The whole episode lasted no more than 14 seconds, but 48
eyewitnesses saw everything and were flabbergasted. Among the
witnesses were sailors, sergeants and officers. The civilians
aboard the ship were an employee of Banco do Brasil (Brazil's
Bank), attorney Amilar Vieira Filho; Mauro Andrade, employee of
the Bank of London; Jose Teobaldo Viegas, retired captain of the
Brazilian Air Force, an industrialist and the director of
Carioca Air Club at that time; a gentleman known only by his
first name, Aloisio; and another man known by his first name,
Fernando, a professor of geology. They were all members of the
Icarai's Divers' Club, in the city of Niteroi (RJ).

After the object had disappeared, other people began to feel
unwell, just like Barauna had before. He felt his heart beat
faster; he was trembling and had a feeling of emptiness, and
broke out in a cold sweat. An hour later, somewhat recovered
from the shock, he was asked by the commander if he had been
able to take a photograph of the object. Barauna said he had. It
was then decided to set up a dark room in the ship's makeshift
laboratory. The film was developed on the spot. All the 48
witnesses confirmed that the images seen in the four negatives
were exactly like the object they had sighted over the island.

When the UFO flew over the Almirante Saldanha, the whole
electrical system went haywire, the lights were dim and the
radio was dead. When the ship sailed, the commander wanted to
talk to Barauna, in private, and said he could keep the
photographs. He added that before publicizing them, though, he
(Barauna) would have to report to the Navy authorities. When the
ship reached Vitoria (ES), it had to remain in the docks for two
days and Barauna, who could not stay, took a bus to Niteroi. In
Niteroi, he went to a lab and had his photographs enlarged,
using the negatives that had already been developed.

Four days later, a Navy commander requested he present himself
at the Armada's Secret Service headquarters, in Rio de Janeiro.
The commander drove Barauna there and the photographer was
questioned by a group of officers about photographic tricks, air
photos and several other things. He remained at the headquarters
from 8 a.m until 4 p.m. because the officers wanted to be sure
of the photographs authenticity. They borrowed the negatives
from Barauna and took them to the aero photographic laboratory
that belonged to a company called Cruzeiro do Sul. Afterwards,
the negatives were sent to Kodak, in Rochester, USA, for further
analysis. The negatives were tested with the use of electronic
equipment and chemical processes - no evidence of fraud was
found. So, under the authorization of the Juscelino Kubitschek
(President of Brazil at that time), Barauna's photos were
disclosed to the admiralty, after a month, on an Ash Wednesday.
All the radio stations were announcing that the newspaper
Correio da Manha would publish a world photographic scoop in its
next edition.

But Barauna contacted Joao Martins who convinced him to take the
issue to the editorial staff of O Cruzeiro magazine, so that the
magazine would release the news concerning the photographs. In
journalistic terms, Correio da Manha was "scooped" by O
Cruzeiro. Forty copies were then made from the original photos
and distributed to all the newspapers in Rio de Janeiro. Most of
them printed the photos, published the testimonies, analysis,
data, articles, etc, in several issues. Some days later Barauna
found out that the newspaper Correio da Manha had obtained the
photos directly from the Navy - those copies that Barauna
himself had provided and that were stamped with the expression

The official report from the Fleet-Admiral, Antonio Maria de
Carvalho, chief of High Naval Command, known as Documento
Confidencial # 0098/M-20 (Confidential Document # 0098/M-20),
describes the following details concerning the photos taken on
Trindade Island:

"Finally, another UFO alert was registered at 12:15 pm,, on
January 16, 1958. This time, it occurred aboard Almirante
Saldanha, docked on the open sea at Trindade. The ship was ready
to set off and the "pinaca" [small open boat] used for the
crossing to the land, was being brought in by the crew when the
alarm rang, from stem to stern".

The document goes on to say that a civilian professional
photographer, who was aboard shooting the retrieval of the
"pinaca", had its attention turned to the flying saucer, from
which he obtained the four photos.

"After the sighting, photographer Almiro Barauna removed the
film from the camera in the presence of the corvette captain
Carlos Alberto Bacelar and other officers (.) and the film was
developed within ten minutes".

In his report Admiral Carvalho also stated that Bacelar himself
examined the negatives afterwards. He confirmed that they were
still wet when delivered to him for examination. "He recognized
the UFO on the negatives", emphasizes the official document.
"Afterwards, the negatives were shown to the crew members, eye
witnesses of the incident. They confirmed that the images on the
negatives were identical to the object they had seen in the
sky." The legitimacy of the photos was made official. So, under
the authorization of the Navy Ministry, the testimony given by
Captain Bacelar, was released to be published in the press.

He tells us that, in fact, a UFO was sighted from the deck of
Almirante Saldanha. "I did not witness such appearance
personally because at that exact moment I was in my cabin.
However, I was called to the bridge immediately". Even then,
Bacelar confirmed the fact that Barauna was on deck, with his
camera, and that, after the incident, fell into a state of
nervous exhaustion. "I stood by his side all the time, because I
wanted to be present at the film development."

With a battery-operated flashlight, Viegas followed closely as
the film was developed in the small makeshift laboratory, while
Bacelar, outside, waited until the process was finished. Both
concluded that the negative showed, with accuracy, the sequence
of the UFO flight over the island.

As previously agreed, Bacelar went to Barauna in Rio and, twice,
accompanied him to the Navy Ministry. "I called the
photographer's attention to the fact that the publication of the
photos without official authorization was strictly forbidden and
I informed him that he would be told as soon as the competent
authorities decided do release the photos for publication."

Amidst the turmoil, on February 24, 1958, Minister Alves Camara
commented, during an interview with the United Press agency,
that the Brazilian Navy was involved in an important secret that
could not be discussed in public since there was still no
explanation for flying saucers. "But the photographic proof
presented by Almiro Barauna convinced me that they exist", he

On that same day, corvette Captain Moreira da Silva declared
that he did not favor any discussion as to the character of the
photographer who had taken the UFO pictures, for the object had
also been sighted by a number of known and respected people.

"I can assure you that the photos are authentic and that the
film was developed immediately aboard Almirante Saldanha. I also
confirm that the negatives were examined by several officials
immediately after being developed. So, any possibility of a
photographic trick is dismissed."

Based on the analysis of the negatives and the details reported
by the witnesses, experts were able to calculate the speed of
the UFO as 1200km/h. But such speed increased considerably when
the object accelerated. The size of the object was estimated to
be 40 meters in diameter and 7 meters high.

All things considered, we can say that we are facing an
absolutely genuine incident, completely different from the
incident on Barra da Tijuca, discussed in another article in
this issue.

The position of the Brazilian authorities is surprising. "Our
attitude facing the UFOs does not matter, because the fact that
there was a phenomenon documented in photographs and confirmed by
the written testimony of 48 witnesses remains", declared captain
Moreira da Silva, in an official tone.

The Navy Ministry, through the Naval Operations Command,
elaborated in a secret, detailed report on the Trindade Island
incident. At that time, congressman Sergio Magalhaes wished to
have some information about the document but it was not

A curious fact was that the report was only brought to public
attention in October 1971, in an article written by Jorge C.
Pineda, published in an Argentinean magazine. The article
presents mail exchange between the officers Luiz Felipe da Luz
and Antonio Maria de Carvalho, where they once again confirmed
the incident. The article also includes a request for
information about the issue, signed by M. Sunderland, US Naval
Attache in Brazil at the time.

Oddly enough, after all that was declared by the Brazilian
authorities, concerning the incident, the secret report
inexplicably reduces its importance. Its conclusions, endorsed
by Corvette Captain Jose Geraldo Brandao, of the Naval
Intelligence Service, state that there are different witnesses
and they all confirm the same thing. But the document states
that "most of the information presented is insufficient;
especially in view of the lack of technical competence by most
of the observers and the short duration of the phenomenon
observed; so the fact that they sighted flying objects is
inconclusive." The report still declares that the most valuable
and important proof presented - the photograph - somehow loses
its convincing quality owing to the impossibility of completely
disregarding a previous photo trick.

Still today, UFO researchers wonder what made the Brazilian
officers disregard the issue so suddenly. The adoption of a
dubious position is certainly contradictory. Although the report
affirms the importance of the fact, it disqualifies some of its
details. And it suggests a careful tendency toward the
acceptance of the facts, when it says that "finally, the
existence of personal reports and the photographic evidence of
some value, considering the circumstances involved, allows us to
admit the fact that there is evidence of UFOs." The final
conclusion in the report is, in fact, a suggestion made by
its author, that the authorities of the Navy High Command begin
to consider all the information obtained about the UFO
phenomenon, "in order to reach beyond-any-doubt conclusions."

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Trindade Island