An investigation by Marc Cecotti and Keith Basterfield
In our previous articles we reported that investigators and translators from Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies (BAASS) visited Fortaleza and Sobral in the State of Ceará, Brazil, at least on one occasion in May 2009. Thanks to additional witnesses and documents, we have learned that the history of UFO events in Brazil was deemed important enough to send BAASS upper management to Saõ Paulo to meet with several UFO researchers. The purpose of those meetings was to gain more information about the UFO phenomenon in Brazil, to create possible cooperation with research organization, but also, according to those witnesses, to try and discover any technology associated with UFOs for possible spin-offs to Bigelow Aerospace projects.
BAASS managers in Saõ Paulo
Marc Cecotti reached out to Brazilian UFO researcher Edison Boaventura Jr. from Guarujá Ufological Group (GUG). He confirmed that he met two BAASS employees for a few hours in Sao Paulo in May 2009. “I talked to them in a hotel here in the state of São Paulo...” Boaventura recalled. The hotel was later identified as The Holiday Inn Express, located Rua Doutor Homem de Melo, 1206 in Saõ Paulo. When he was asked who he met, Edison Boaventura Jr. could easily remember the names “They were two representatives of Bigelow Aerospace. Douglas Kurth and James A. Johnson.”
|Holiday Inn Express where the meeting with BAASS took place|
Douglas Kurth is a retired US Marine Corps F-18 pilot and Squadron Commander, who was a witness to part of the Tic Tac UFO event in November 2004. He was one of the first individuals to join BAASS in December 2007, according to his LinkedIn profile. His position is described as "Program manager." Note that BAASS was registered as a Limited Liability Company in January 2008, and was awarded the contract for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) - sponsored Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Applications Program (AAWSAP) in September 2008.
|Source: Kurth's LinkedIn profile|
Little is known about James A Johnson, but we had already come across this name. Thanks to Blue Blurry Lines February 2020 article, "The Pentagons UFO Program's Secret Partner" by Curt Collins and Roger Glassel, about the MUFON/BAASS contract, we knew that James Johnson was in a managerial position at BAASS. "A formal slide presentation to the MUFON Board explained the relationships and responsibilitie and named both organizations management teams as of April 2009. For MUFON they were Richard Lang, James Carrion, Jan Harzan and Chuck Modlin. For BAASS they were Colm Kelleher, Douglas Kurth and James Johnson."
Boaventura met Kurth and Johnson at the Holiday Inn Express hotel on May 29th, 2009 along with UFO researcher Josef Prado, who translated the discussions. Two other researchers, Milton Dino Frank Jr. and Mário César Mancinelli, also met both Americans on the same evening. This was on the exact same day that the BAASS four-people team led by Loran Huffman was attending the CSPU monthly meeting more than 3000 kilometers away in Sobral, State of Ceará, as we reported in our previous article. The purpose of the meeting in Saõ Paulo was then described by Boaventura “They were interested in UFO cases, metamaterials and wanted me to supply them. I later learned they also went in the northeast of Brazil doing research with people who saw UFOs and were also attacked. They went for example in the state of Ceará.”
|BAASS program manager Douglas Kurth, Josef Prado, Edison Boaventura Jr. and BAASS manager James A Johnson. Credit Edison Boaventura|
Regarding the physical evidence BAASS was trying to obtain, Boaventura said : “[They were interested in] the fragments of any UFO... We had several cases of crashes with fragments... For example, the case of the UFO explosion in Ubatuba, state of Saõ Paulo in 1957, among other cases.” Edison Boaventura had those alleged UFO crash fragments tested in 2017. (http://www.portalburn.com.br/explosao-de-ovni-em-ubatuba-1957-analise-qualitativa-dos-fragmentos/). Most of the discussions regarding metamaterial happened during subsequent phone calls, which we’ll expose later in the article.
Boaventura did not know about the US government-sponsored operation. “They didn't tell [they were working on a government contract]... Just said they were BAASS employees.” The other Brazilian ufologist concurred; none were aware of the BAASS ties with the US government.
Regarding any another contact with BAASS, Boaventura said “I never saw them again... They only called me from the United States a couple of times and then never contacted me again.”
Josef Prado, who attended the meeting along Edison Boaventura, gave a similar statement “Basically they were interested in photographic evidence or footage that could give clues about the UFO propulsion system. According to them, BAASS was developing space propulsion technologies and were trying to understand what kind of technology UFOs used to exploit it.”
According to Prado, they explained how they could use pictures to gain information. “Example: if in the photo or footage they could observe halos of a specific color, they could then speculate on the possibility of ionized fields, electromagnetism, etc… But we can sum up the conversation like this: to try and find information about the propulsion systems. How to do reverse engineering without having the technology in hand, but exploring the evidence. But I remember well that they were very interested in the photos where it was possible to see the halos around the UFOs.”
Both Kurth and Johnson didn’t share much information, and they didn’t give any much indication about their next destination. “The meeting was in a simple, discreet hotel, and they booked a meeting room to welcome us. They were very objective and didn't stay in conversation beyond what they were looking for. They gave us a card and said that if we had more information or evidence, we could contact them.”
Asked about the overall impression Kurth and Johnson left on him, and if both men had any knowledge about ufology in general, Prado said “Honestly, with all those questions about the propulsion systems, it looked to me that they were just representing Bigelow’s interest. But it seemed to me that they were a little afraid to tie Bigelow to this visit with ufologists in Brazil. You know how that can turn out to be easy sensationalism.”
It is noteworthy that Jãnder Torres already mentioned BAASS' great interest in propulsion system when he met the 4-people team in Sobral on the same day, as we reported in our last article. “The only thing they really wanted to know was about the propulsion systems” Jãnder Tôrres recalled.
Marc Cecotti was able to have an online conversation with the other ufologist who also attended the meeting, Milton Dino Frank Jr. He confirmed meeting Kurth and Johnson at the Holiday Inn Express in Saõ Paulo, on May 29th 2009. He explained “I talked to them for an hour and thirty minutes and that was it. At the time I had a big ufology website. They reached out to me through the site. I didn't pay much attention to them. And I don't have any contact with them either. I never talked to them again, much less followed what they did here.”
|BAASS program manager James A Johnson, Milton Dino Frank, Mario Cesar Mancinelli, and BAASS program manager Douglas Kurth. Credit Edison Boaventura|
Then, he explained how the meeting went “They asked me about the Varginha UFO case, Operation Prato, Official UFO night and other cases that I can't remember. Edison Boaventura was with me at the hotel the same day. […] After I talked to them about these cases, I took a plane and went to my home in Rio de Janeiro. It was no big deal. I explained what I had read about these cases since I had not personally researched any of them. Edison Boaventura also gave his opinion about these cases. So it was just an informal conversation, where nothing was recorded and much less documented. It was a bar conversation.”
Mário César Mancinelli, of the Centro de Ufologia Brasileiro(CUB) came at the meeting with Milton Frank. Here are his recollections “There was me, Milton, two guys from another organization [Boaventura and Prado] and the guys from Bigelow. And we were talking about Brazilian UFO cases. Then, when the guys from the other organization left, I asked them what exactly they were looking for. What they wanted with us. And the answer was Extreme technology. I said we don't have it. If we had, we would have called the press and proved once and for all that ETs visit us, since a scientific proof of that doesn't exist yet. Then I told them what I used to say to the craziest people in the old CUB group, that to do that, they'd have to take one down !”
Marc Cecotti then asked Boaventura how they reached out him for the meeting in Saõ Paulo “[They reached out to me] by telephone and email” Boaventura said and he added “I still have their business cards, some pictures and email correspondence.” Thanks to this we were able to have more insight into BAASS operations in Brazil. And what was written in those emails brought additional evidence regarding BAASS intentions.
|BAASS business cards for Douglas Kurth and James A. Johnson. Credit Edison Boaventura Jr.|
Edison Boaventura retrieved email conversations he had with BAASS managers before and after their meeting in Saõ Paulo on May 29th, 2009.
The first email written by Douglas Kurth reads: "Sr. Edison Boaventura Juniuor, BAASS would like to come to Brazil and meet face-to-face with you to discuss information about this very important topic of Ufology. We are arranging this trip to meet with yourself and a few other prominent Ufologists in Brazil. We would like to inform you of the missions and goals of BAASS. And we would like to learn about your organization - whatever you are comfortable discussing. The intent is for a very informal meeting and informal discussion. We would like you to get to know us and set the foundation for information flow between our organizations, where necessary in the future [...] BAASS is planning to bring three people:
Douglas Kurth - Program manager
Jim Johnson - Chief Investigator
Luke Gornichec - Portuguese-English translator.
Travel and meeting arrangements are discussed, including a delay due to visa considerations. "We have had to delay our trip because of Brazilian visa considerations. We will now be in Sao Paulo and available to meet from May 26th through May 30th.
Boaventura agrees to meet with BAASS officials and offers to show BAASS some interesting files. "If you are interested, we intend to send and show you some original Brazilian Air Force Documents, related to the UFO research they made in our country in the past among other materials." Kurth replies that "We are confirmed at the Holiday Inn Express [...] We will have two people from BAASS, myself and Mr Jim Johnson, Chief Investigator. I believe Mr. Milton Dino Frank Jr will also meet with us that evening. It should be a great opportunity to get to know each other."
The two-man team, Kurth and Johnson, is consistent with the evidence we gathered. Gornichec who was initially supposed to be in Sao Paulo, was instead attending the CSPU meeting in Sobral, 3000 km away with the other BAASS team on the same day.
After this informal meeting in Sao Paulo in May 2009, Douglas Kurth sent a follow-up email to Edison Boaventura on August 14th, 2009. Of the four people who met the BAASS represntatives at the Holiday Inn, only he was contacted again.
The email, written by Douglas Kurth on August 12th 2009, reads "Edison, when we had our face-to-face meeting in Sao Paulo, you stated that you had several pieces of physical evidence associated with UFO cases that you have investigated. In fact, you showed us some pictures of various pieces of evidence. We at BAASS are very interestd in cases that involve physical evidence. If you are available, we would like to call you this Friday, August 14 to listen to the stories of your physical evidence cases."
Edison Boaventura remembered this phone call. "Yes, we talked twice over the phone and talked about cases of metamaterials, 3 fragments of UFOs, such as the Ubatuba UFO explosion, the case at Campinas, among other cases involving physical materials. They were interested in scientific reports on these materials and fragments of UFOs."
Then he added “I did not give any material that I had, because they did not want to pay any amount for them... I told them to help our research with financial sponsorship, but they did not accept the proposal... I knew that they already helped MUFON in the United States with a value in cash and monthly. They were looking for UFO materials in Brazil to use in experiments at Bigelow Aerospace. They said they would study these materials for use in space travel and in the future construction of hotels on the Moon to make space tourism ... They were interested to use the UFO materials on their Bigelow Aerospace spaceship.”
But Boaventura explained that those few phone calls in 2009 were the last time he heard of BAASS, and he never provided them with metamaterials or UFO-related documents. All the other people from South America we interviewed during this investigation stopped receiving emails from BAASS in the Fall of 2009.
All those testimonies and available evidence show a consistency of BAASS objectives, to create some kind of cooperation with research organizations; to acquire as much information as possible about UFO cases; to obtain physical evidence (metamaterial or implants are mentioned in correspondence), but discover possible UFO-related technology. This last point sounds somewhat naïve, and we asked ourselves in the course of this investigation if this wasn’t just a way to justify Bigelow Aerospace involvement in UFO investigation and to better conceal the US government-sponsored program.
Either Robert Bigelow was using BAASS to do his own private study of the UFO phenomenon, and the AAWSAP contract only funded the 38 DIRDs, or the secret purpose of this contract was to investigate UFO on behalf of the Federal Government, on US soil and overseas. If the latter hypothesis is true, and this is what Senator Harry Reid affirmed on several occasions, the correspondence and testimonies we and other researchers were able to obtain make it hard to deny that this whole US government-sponsored program was nothing but a large-scale UFO research and evidence collection program, despite repeated official statements of Pentagon spokespeople. In any case, Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies, with 50 employees and a 22-million dollar budget over a 3-year period, must have produced large amounts of records. We know only about the 38 DIRDs and the famous, but undisclosed 494-page “10-month report,” that means a lot remain to be discovered.