Important USO Case that Never Happened

By | September 20, 2022

Hi Everyone, 

While writing USO cases together for a book I want to complete this year, I took a fresh look at a case which is easily one of the most dramatic and often cited cases out there. In fact, It is one that I discussed in one of my recent USO videos, and actually starts off Ivan Sanderson’s classic USO book from 1970, Invisible Residents.

This was from “Operation Deep Freeze,” and featured a Brazilian scientist named Dr. Rubens J. Villela while aboard a U.S. vessel at Admiralty Bay in Antarctica. In Sanderson’s book, Villela  was with two other individuals on deck when an object broke through 37 feet of ice into the sky while enormous chunks of ice cascaded all around them. An incredibly dramatic scene for sure, and one that many UFO researchers, myself included, referred to. 

In writing my book and covering this incident, I wanted to get to the original source of the story. I saw that Sanderson cited a popular magazine article from 1966. I had been aware of this before and didn’t love that source, but for years I thought, oh well, Sanderson’s probably got good judgement on this. And on many cases I have no doubt he did. Just not this one. 

I could never find the article he cited but I did find something else, which was a direct statement by Dr. Rubens Villela himself from 2008. Actually, what I will do is paste what I wrote about this case for my book. It’s likely to be tweaked but for now it’s readable. There is also a link to Villela’s article. 

The Case that Wasn’t: Admiralty Bay, Antarctica, March 16, 1961

In a book about genuine USOs, here is one case that must be debunked. For years it has been considered to be one of the most dramatic events of all, and yet it never actually happened according to the man who was there. 

This was the Admiralty Bay incident of March 16, 1961 as part of the U.S. Navy’s Operation “Deep Freeze,” which was an ongoing scientific investigation of the Antarctic continent that started in 1955. As it was originally told in a magazine article from the 1960s and then most famously by the writer Ivan T. Sanderson in 1970, it involved an object that broke through more than 37 feet of ice to emerge from the sea and fly off, leaving three witnesses in a state of utter shock. According to the account, huge blocks of ice cascaded down all around following the emergence of the craft and left the sea roiling and possibly even boiling. 

Except according to the main witness cited, Dr. Rubens J. Villela, it never happened. Villela was indeed aboard the USS Glacier in Admiralty Bay on March 16, 1961 when he witnessed an unusual aerial phenomenon. Writing years later in 2008, he described it as “a strange luminous aerial phenomenon, resembling a meteorite, but which, in my opinion, should be classed as a true UFO.” 

In fact, the details of his sighting and the expedition as a whole were described in a multi-part series for the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo after he returned. Villela talked about the “troublesome visit ashore to Base G to investigate if the light could have been a pistol flare shot by someone in need of help.” Apparently it was not and remained unidentified. “In truth,” Villela continued, “the object I saw was silent, its trajectory nearly horizontal, and there was no ice pack in Martel Inlet, only small pieces of drift ice around, besides a few icebergs.”

[CITATION: Villela, Rubens J. “A further Antarctic Myth,” Polar Record , Volume 44 , Issue 1 , January 2008 , pp. 83-84


In the aftermath of this sighting, and at the suggestion of a colleague, Villela filled out a sightings form for the UFO organization NICAP and presumably forgot about it. Most likely the event was transformed into the dramatic scene of broken blocks of ice by a writer named Ed Hyde who wrote an article entitled “U.F.O.’s –At 4500 Fathoms!” for the magazine Man’s Illustrated in March 1966. Perhaps Hyde had access to Villela’s report and either grossly misread it or decided to spice it up for his readers. Hyde’s article has been very hard to track down and may not even exist on the web. Either way, it was this article that was the source for Ivan T. Sanderson in his USO book, Invisible Residents (1970). Indeed, when Villela learned that his sighting had been so badly mischaracterized in Sanderson’s book, he tried writing to him to complain but learned that Sanderson had died. 

The incident is instructive because it shows that when it comes to UFOs and USOs, making mistakes can be easy. Sanderson was generally a careful and analytical writer but in this case was too trusting of a source that not only led him astray, but countless researchers and websites to this day that continue to repeat the false story. 


That is what I wrote about it. I’ll just add that in my view this in no way diminishes the great achievement of Ivan T. Sanderson as a serious writer of the UFO subject. Thinking about the difficulties of writing a book like his back in 1970, it’s easy to see how mistakes can creep in. Any good story is only as strong as its weakest link, and in this case Sanderson was the FOURTH link. First was Villela himself, next was the report he wrote to NICAP, third was the journalist Ed Hyde, and then Sanderson. I’d really like to find Hyde’s article — and the NICAP report for that matter. In any case, reading Villela’s account about it all in 2008 was enough for me to realize that this was truly a case that wasn’t. 

I imagine some UFO skeptics may have been on to this case, but in all honesty I have not come across any other writer in this field, pro or con, who has referred to Villela’s statement. I think it simply slipped below the radar. 

I should add that in gathering together the many USO cases that I have found, there is no question that this constitutes a major element to the overall UFO story. USOs are real, of that I have no doubt. Just not this case, at least that is how I see it. 



15 thoughts on “Important USO Case that Never Happened

    1. itsmeRitaC

      Boy do i know these kinds of movies do not have me, ritac, as a target audience. I guess because i have no experience ‘in country’ or being twenty clicks out of Baghdad. Or …………………Most anyplace the u.s. is making war.

      Love the darkness and malevolent vibe. It is just what we need now in the u.s.a. And elsewhere! And i don’t mean to be personally facetious toward you, btw. 🙂 Fear sells big time, i know. Take a look at any media outlet.

      Sorry, but it is getting hard to be someone who always cared about ufo phenomenon. It is turning out to be a police/military/spook festival. Not my cup of tea. It never was and never will be.

      Take care, rita

      1. Clifford Ribaudo

        No worries, Im a tough nut and can handle other points of view between adults 🙂 After reading all his books, seeing his previous 2 documentaries and also recently watching a bunch of his videos on his Youtube channel (he did book reviews of both Skinwalker / Pentagon books) I don’t think David is pushing fear to sell. He is simply following the data and asking the questions that such data raises. Paulides has A LOT of data and it is forcing some very serious questions, which by the way many who are familiar with both phenomena (UFOs and Missing Persons) have wondered about the convergence. There IS a dark undercurrent in the USA (and world) and as they say … sunlight is the best disinfectant … time to drag some of this out into the light and take a look around.

  1. Clifford Ribaudo

    This is Paulides discussing what happened to him and the production while he was trying to make the documentary and wow, all I can say is I know EXZACTLY what he’s talking about and which I encountered when I got into the Dan Sherman part of my MILAB analysis. Man, do you get the a lot of subjective, psychic push back in certain areas.

  2. PressToDigitate

    So he really did see the Alien craft, when, where and as reported; it just didn’t “burst through 37 feet of ice taking off” as the article sensationalized. I don’t think that’s worth “debunking”, nor is it fully “debunked”. Its another Sighting; in Antarctica.

    Perhaps it was “juiced up” to sell magazines; perhaps to make the [otherwise credible] sighting subject to discreditation at a later date – as has now been done, in the way that many viable sightings from that period were subjected to ridicule through such manipulation.

    As I’ve previously suggested: There are hundreds of thousands of working and retired Merchant Seamen around the world, who have each spent years on the open ocean, and have no “security clearances” or “Non-Disclosure Agreements” to worry about. If you seriously want to get to the bottom of USOs, then solicit *their stories*, and bring forth the best ones to testify publicly – as Hastings & Sallas did with the Missileers! All of those Freighters and Tankers have Radar and Sonar, too, btw. There are many independent owner/operator shipping lines. You might event find some willing to cooperate in such an investigation *institutionally*, perhaps even by mounting special instrumentation on their ship, which relayed relevant data back by satellite.

    My mother was a LCDR in the U.S. Navy, and is buried at Arlington. But, when it comes to getting at the truth about USOs, “Fu*k the Navy” – after decades of lies, we can’t now depend on them for candor or honesty, even now that USOs are publicly accepted as genuine. Drop those Bathystats at Sycamore Knoll & Gran Carretera, Interrogate all the Merchant Seamen, and Instrument fleets of freighters & tankers to detect USOs. Its Our Planet; lets get *serious* about who else is doing what here!

  3. HappyCup

    If it wasn’t just a fib….it sounds to me like the guy put the wrong name to the wrong story. Who knows? That would be a helluva experience though. To be in a vulnerable situation like that and then have the ground virtually open up and a craft pop out? That would be crazy!
    I’ve still got one eye on Antarctica. Is it a base or a portal…probably both. The fact that no ones allowed to go there is pretty significant. It would be to cool if we could get a thousand of us with hairdryers down there for a few weeks. Oh, well, maybe someday.

  4. Durkle

    Richard, please consider a session with Ross C. and Bryce Z. From my perspective it would be a “dream team” of experience and a compelling interview. I’d pay to be a fly on the wall.

      1. elevator

        Richard, I was watching some Eye on Cinema videos tonight and their was one with several interviews with South American airline pilots. One in particular was very interesting as the pilot described an incident about 150 miles off the coast of S. America. He said he observed an object enter the water and as they flew over they could see an undersea city, with structures. Wow. It was not a long clip and offered little more information, except he was sure of what he saw.

        1. Richard Dolan Post author

          Thank you I will look for that. I have found several USO accounts dealing with the Atlantic coast of South America, specifically Argentina of course. Mostly on the southern half of the country. Very very interesting stories that do make one consider the likelihood of a base of some sort down there.

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