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Few rumors about this incident had circulated in the USSR. I was aware of some, but until 1996 did not have the complete story.
In August of 1961, a test flight of the most modern Soviet fighter-interceptor jet was to take place. The top brass wanted to film everything, so as to demonstrate the might of Soviet Air Force. A film crew, headed by Victor Dudinsh, was commissioned for that purpose. They set up their equipment in the vicinity of the airplane, next to the take-off and landing strip. Over one hundred military officers had been waiting to see the air show. But nothing happened. The jet was fine the day before, but now the pilot could not start the engine. At the same time a sinister sound pierced through the air, and a strange object appeared in the sky.
It appeared from nowhere, and everyone was able to see it at once. They started running in every direction. Fear gripped everyone, and panic ensued. Dudinsh, a real professional, fought this fear to film the occurrence. He aimed the camera at the object in the sky, pushed the start button, and ran to the shelter. The object did not descend, but rather moved in a strange fashion. It would disappear, and reappear, but slightly further from its original position. This went on for a few minutes, and then something else took place. An entity inside the UFO moved around intensively. The object was illuminated by sun; blue sky in the background, i.e., the visibility was fine. Its shape was that of a triangle, its color violet. A few minutes later and the UFO suddenly dimmed. It remained in the sky, but became somewhat invisible. As its brightness disappeared, so did the fear.
The military crawled out from various holes and shelters, and discussed the event. Not one doubted the ET nature of the object. Dudinsh ran back to his camera, and saw that it was working, but the film was already spent. He wanted to take it back to the studio, but the airfield commander confiscated it. The KGB arrived some time later, and took the film away. Dudinsh, however, convinced the airfield commander to take witness statements from the hundreds of eyewitnesses. Most signed it with trepidation. The pilot was the first to sign; he also mentioned that it was probably the UFO that caused the strange behavior of on-board equipment, and the dead engine of his jet. Dudinsh and his colleagues did find out some time later that the UFO was filmed. Those who witnessed the object had been warned to forget everything and keep silent. Somehow the information about this UFO leaked to the West, and letters of inquiry followed. So did offers to buy the film. To diffuse the situation, the Soviet media published a report that the object sighted that night was a meteorological probe. For many long years no further information came from the KGB archives. I tried to get more details, but all my contacts could find out nothing.
S. Boyev pursued this case, too. He published his account in the NLO magazine (Issue# 13, 1996). The perestroika was in the air, and Boyev was able to get permission to see the film. He was preparing materials for his documentary about UFOs over the USSR. The KGB, damaged by glastnost and changes sweeping the USSR, relented and released everything. Famous Soviet proponent of UFO phenomenon, a scientist from the Academy of Sciences, V.S. Troitsky, assisted Boyev. Still, even then the authorities did not recommend them to disseminate the information. The first public showing of the film took place in somewhat strange circumstances. The giant hall of the Institute of High Temperatures was filled by hundreds of UFO debunkers. Exactly at midnight the light was turned off, and the crowd breathlessly watched a UFO over the airfield. The film lasted thirty seconds. The next three minutes the audience sat silently, and then discussions literally exploded, and lasted until the morning. Everyone had a UFO story of his own, and everyone there was tired and disgusted by the silence about UFO phenomenon under the Soviet regime. Experts were questioned, and they confirmed: the UFO has nothing to do with weather balloons, probes, or space junk. The object was classified as a cosmic voyager, a phenomenon of extraterrestrial origin, unknown to science. The psychosis-horrible fear- experienced by eyewitnesses was probably caused by powerful and directed infrasonic radiation. Other measurements based on the film and interviews indicated that the object hovered at an altitude of 20 kilometers, and its "base" was more that 200 meters.
The 1961 Riga UFO left a trace in the history of Soviet UFO phenomena, a trace that the KGB could not hide.
To those of you interested in the current UFO research, remember the names of present-day Russian and Ukrainian ufologists who doggedly pursue the study of the phenomenon, in spite of the great difficulties experienced by their countries. I have nothing but respect for people like Aleksandr Rempel, Yuri Smirnov, Nikolay Subbotin, Gherman Kolchin, Mikhail Gershtein, Vadim Chernobrov, Dr. Rubtsov, and others like them. I hope that I and Philip Mantle will be able to tell you about them and their research in our new book (there is more to the Riga 1961 incident, too). And if any of you are truly interested in Russian/CIS ufology, let the information I have provided here be your first step on a road of discovery.
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