(Last Updated On: February 1, 2017)


Date: July 6, 1978

Sighting Time:

Day/Night: Night

Location: Mendoza, capital of the Province of Mendoza, Argentina

Urban or Rural: -Rural

Hynek Classification: CE3?


No. of Object(s): 

Height & Speed:

Size of Object(s):

Distance to Object(s):

Shape of Object(s):

Color of Object(s): Red

Number of Witnesses: 2

Source: Cronica newspaper, Buenos Aires, Argentina, on August 30, 1978

Full Report

The case appeared in the Cronica newspaper, Buenos Aires, Argentina, on August 30, 1978, and in later issues. It was investigated by a local ufologist, Vitorio Corradi, language and literature professor in Mendoza, Argentina. Lastly, it was re-examined on location spot by the US ufologist Bob Pratt who again heard the alleged witnesses in November 1978.

These were Francisco Nuñez, 66 at the time, and his son Carmelo Nuñez, 23 at the time. They lived in Mendoza, capital of the Province of Mendoza, in Argentina, an attractive city with sidewalk cafes and streets that are lined with tens of thousands of trees. It is in the wine country of western Argentina, on a line between Buenos Aires and Santiago, Chile.

Francisco Nuñez was a car mechanic who worked for the Mendoza Provincial Ministry of Labor. He was responsible for keeping the ministry’s vehicles, including police cars, in working order.

Carmelo Nuñez was also a mechanic, and in their spare time, he and his father fixed up old cars in a repair shop at their home and sold them. In 1933, when Francisco was a young man, his parents gave him a new American Chrysler four-door sedan. He drove it for many years and eventually retired it, putting it up on blocks. The years passed and when Carmelo turned 14, he began to tinker with the old Chrysler. Before long, he had it running again and ever since has used it as his personal car.

Neither the father nor the son was overly tall but both were stocky and strong, especially Carmelo, who was quite husky. He had a strangely soft, gravelly voice that reminded you strongly of some of the menacing characters in The Godfather movies.

The exterior of the car was beautiful, its dark green restored to its original luster, and the engine ran to perfection when Bob Pratt visited the Nuñezes.

Carmelo had not gotten around to restoring the interior yet, but he had installed extra dials and gauges on the dashboard to monitor the engine’s performance. He had also put in a radio and tape deck as well as stereo speakers. He liked to tape his favorite music at home and then play it in his car when he was driving around.

On the evening of July 6, 1978, he was playing a tape of modern music when he drove his father to Maipu, a suburb on the southeastern side of Mendoza. They went there to talk to a man about doing some masonry work for them. The same tape was still playing when they started driving back home around 9 p.m., so, in the night.

On their way home, Carmelo started to drive onto an expressway ramp when a new olive green pickup truck seemingly came from out of nowhere behind them and passed them, going very fast. Then, as soon as the truck had passed, it slowed down, and so did Carmelo’s car, even though Carmelo never took his foot off the gas pedal.

1978-07-06-argentina-mendoza-bp1c Left: This picture, published by Bob Pratt, shows Carmelo Nuñez, at left, and Francisco Nuñez, posing at the entrance to the expressway where the incident began.

Carmelo was a curiously uncurious fellow and although he thought this was a little odd, he didn’t think much about it. Then, just as he drove onto the expressway itself, the truck and the expressway disappeared.

“Hey, Carmelo! What happened to the truck?” Francisco asked.

“I don’t know,” Carmelo replied in surprise.

“Where’s the road?”

“I don’t know.”

Both men were stunned. They found themselves driving in total darkness, unable to see anything.

Carmelo Nuñez told Bob Pratt: “The headlights were on high beam but we couldn’t see anything. Neither of us could see anything for a few minutes. Everything was dark.”

Long after the incident was over, both men became convinced that the truck and the highway had not disappeared at all. Instead, as Francisco said, “WE had disappeared! We didn’t know what had happened. We felt we’d lost our way. Then, some minutes later, the car very swiftly entered some city. We were going very, very fast and the buildings were just flying by.”

He said the old Chrysler was racing down the middle of a broad avenue lined with big buildings with rectangular windows. The buildings reached higher than they could see and everything was red. The eerie red light was shining from inside the buildings as well as being reflected from something high above them.

“Where are we?” Francisco asked for what was to be the first of many times.

“I don’t know,” Carmelo said, trying to figure it all out.

To Francisco, it looked like “one unending building with the red light coming from inside as well as outside. I couldn’t look down because it made me dizzy. I felt seasick.”

“Everything was red. The avenue was 50 to 60 meters wide and all the buildings started from the road and went upwards completely straight, very tall. We couldn’t see the tops of the buildings because everything was reddish up there.”

“The light came from above. It was a reflection and it lighted the whole city. There were no clouds. It was a ceiling, not a sky.”

They saw no curbs, no sidewalks, no doors, no cars, hydrants or signs, no people or animals, no trees… nothing but the tall, unending buildings on either side as far as they could see.

Carmelo normally never drives faster than fifty miles an hour, but he felt they were going at least twice as fast, if not faster. He said: “We were going as fast as a bullet.”

Carmelo couldn’t feel the street under his car. “It felt like the car was controlled by something else, like it went by itself,” he said. “The steering wheel seemed fixed and I couldn’t turn it. The car felt as if it was in the air and not on the street.”

Midway in their journey, Francisco got very cold, even though he was wearing a jacket. “I couldn’t stand the cold,” he said. “It was like twenty degrees below zero!”

Carmelo was wearing only a green jersey over his shirt and wasn’t bothered by the cold.

“How beautiful it is,” Francisco said in wonder. Carmelo agreed, faintly aware of unfamiliar music coming from his tape deck. “I couldn’t make out what kind of music it was. It was very strange. It wasn’t from my cassette. It was very soft music. I’d never heard it before.” But Francisco was hard of hearing and barely heard the music.

The car hurtled down the avenue for what seemed at least 15 minutes, and then the journey came to an abrupt end after this brief exchange between the two men:

“Where are we?” Francisco asked for the umpteenth time.

“I don’t know,” Carmelo said once again. “It seems the Martians have taken us.”

At the very moment he said that about Martians, the red city vanished and the two men found themselves on a familiar street. The long, noiseless ride instantly became one of rattles and bounces as the car jounced over railroad tracks. They were in the suburb of Godoy Cruz, 6 kilometers from where they had entered the expressway.

1978-07-06-argentina-mendoza-bp1d Left: This picture published by Bob Pratt shows Carmelo Nuñez, at left, and Francisco Nuñez.

When they got home, Carmelo’s mother asked why they were late and Carmelo replied: “We went to a place where nobody goes.”

He refused to tell her anything more and Francisco would not explain what Carmelo meant. For nearly three weeks, neither man told anyone about the incident.

“We felt as if our minds were blocked,” Francisco explained. “Then, one day at work I was talking with my boss and suddenly I felt as if my mind had been opened up and I told him what had happened to us.”

Francisco accepted his experience but didn’t understand what happened or why.

“I cannot imagine why this happened to me,” he said. “I felt we were not on earth. I think we were taken some place, where I don’t know. After this happened to me, I have felt like I have more knowledge, more strength.”

Bob Pratt was then working for the National Enquirer, and under instructions from his editor, he had the two men hypnotized by a physician. Both told of seeing several large tunnels, like entrances to underground parking garages, something neither of them had mentioned in the interviews.

Under hypnosis, Carmelo also said that he, his father and his mother had seen two UFOs hovering over Mendoza one night the previous January, something that both had hinted at in the interviews but had refused to discuss.

Neither man saw a UFO the night of their experience, and there are no known witnesses to what happened to them on the expressway. However, UFOs were seen in Mendoza the same day.

Among the witnesses were two watchmen in the suburb of Godoy Cruz, Marcos Ricardo Palma, 35, and Gilberto Caballero, 48.

Just before dawn, they said, they had watched a fleet of UFOs seemingly playing a game of chase in and out among the tall concrete light pylons of the city’s then new soccer stadium. The two men stopped cars and buses to point out what was happening. They said at least fifty other people also watched.

This happened as Caballero’s shift was ending at six a.m. and Palma was taking over. When Palma arrived just before six, he noticed something moving in the dark sky.

“It went about five hundred meters, made a turn and came back,” Palma told Pratt. “It was still very dark at the time.”

“We thought it was a cloud, but it was moving too fast and when it went back over the stadium we realized it wasn’t. The stadium’s security lights were on and we could see the reflection of the lights on the windows of the object, and then we saw more objects.

“They were round and very bright, going in a figure-eight pattern in and out around the light poles. There were maybe twenty five or thirty of them. They had green windows and were about the size of a small foreign car, maybe two or three meters in diameter.”

“We stopped buses and cars and about fifty people saw these things with us. We couldn’t believe they were flying saucers. There’s no doubt in my mind that these things were not planes or helicopters. There was no noise.” “After 25 or 30 minutes, they suddenly disappeared, going north very fast.”

Caballero tells much the same story, but he believes there were many more UFOs.

“There was a whole cloud of them, maybe five hundred, in perfect formation, maneuvering and avoiding the light columns,” Caballero said. “I was very impressed.

“The objects looked conical and had windows on top. They were small, but two people could fit inside them. They had dark green windows and the rest was silver. There were windows all the way around the tops.

“Farther to the north there seemed to be a much larger object, rounder and fatter and very big. It was sitting in the air motionless. About six thirty a.m., the UFOs all went north. I didn’t see the big one at that time. I was distracted by the people and didn’t notice when it left.”

Several Mendoza UFO groups investigated the incident involving Francisco and Carmelo Nuñez, checking with police, neighbors and others.

“Our group interviewed many people about the Nuñez men and we found them to be very honest,” Vitório Corradi told to Bob Pratt. “We sent four people into their neighborhood to question neighbors and tradesmen about the father and son and we found they are considered to be honest, reliable, law-abiding people who are good mechanics.”

Corradi said his group, the Instituto de Estudios de Fenomenos Extra Humanos, worked with the Mendoza police in investigating UFO incidents. Adolfo Siniscalchi, then twenty eight and a sub-inspector in the Intelligence Division of the Mendoza Provincial Police, confirmed this:

“We don’t officially investigate the UFO phenomenon as such but we are concerned about public reaction to UFO sightings because there’ve been so many cases,” Siniscalchi told Pratt at the police headquarters. “There have been a lot of UFO cases and public reaction has been high. There’s been a lot of anxiety. Some people are uneasy and some are scared.”

“We do look into UFO cases, unofficially. The Nuñez case we looked at more closely because the Nuñezes sometimes repair police cars and they’re known to us. They are honest and reliable people. We don’t think they invented this story.”

“We went to the site and investigated. We don’t know what happened to them, but we feel something did happen to them. Even though no UFO was seen, we consider it to be part of the UFO phenomenon.”

Dr. Alfredo Stefanelli, the physician who hypnotized the two men, told Pratt: “Basically, these men were telling the truth. They believe this actually happened to them. It is my opinion that they are not educated enough to have made up such a story, and the incident itself is too elaborate to have been made up.” “A double hallucination would be very unlikely. It would be very strange if two people had the same thing. And, then, one had a hearing problem and the other doesn’t. If it had been a double hallucination, both would have heard the music regardless of the hearing problem.”

Another physician who was a UFO investigator also believed the Nuñezes were telling the truth. He is Dr. Carlos Wittenstein, then 43, a cardiologist, geriatrist and also ufologist, with a colleague, Dr. Hector Bercerra, put the men through a number of tests and worked with them for many hours. Healso believed the Nuñezes were telling the truth:

“They always told exactly the same story each time with no contradictions.” “There is no fraud in this case.” “Since 1968, Dr. Bercerra and I have investigated two hundred seventy two UFO cases, and we believe only five are true cases. The Nuñez case is one of them.”

“In these five cases, the people always tell the same thing, the same type of experience, the red city, everything. They all tell the same story about the red city.”

Leave a Reply