The Unexplained Castelo De Bode Dam UFO Case

First Published: January 20, 2020 Last updated: September 1st, 2020 Written by: Marcus Lowth Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes Posted in: UFOs, Sightings

Although the UFO incident over Castelo de Bode Dam in Portugal took place over 40 years ago, it remains one of the most intriguing UFO cases in (relatively) recent history. And furthermore, it remains unexplained. What is also interesting, like the Ota Airbase incident five years later, the Portuguese military and government would show remarkable transparency and an apparent desire to genuinely get to the bottom of the bizarre incident which occurred one June morning in 1977.

A superimposed UFO in front of a single engine plane

Just what did happen over the Castelo de Bode Dam?

The incident itself was but “5 or 6 seconds long” but is one that features not only the close proximity sighting of an object unlike any conventional aircraft of the time, but one that also had direct effects on the witness’s plane. Furthermore, and unbeknown to the pilot at the time, bizarre events were unfolding deep within the command center of the dam itself at exactly the same time.

As we might imagine, the incident has been researched and investigated by several researchers. Perhaps most predominantly by Portuguese journalist and researcher, Joaquim Fernandez. It can also be found within the pages of veteran UFO researcher and author, Timothy Good’s Beyond Top Secret.

In fact, decades later for a television reconstruction of the incident (which you can see at the end of this article), Fernandez would state that the incident was one of great importance as it was a “significant example of physical interaction” between such a strange and mysterious craft, and the actual “instruments of the plane” itself. It also remains, for all the genuine transparent investigations, unexplained.

A Routine Flight By An Experienced Pilot

At around 11:15 am on 17th June 1977, Jose Francisco Rodrigues was speeding down the runway of Tancos Airbase in a Portuguese Air Force aircraft – a Dornier 27 – ready to embark a routine flight. The 23-year-old was already an experienced pilot, with over 800 flying hours of flight behind him. He was soon leaving the ground and heading into the cloudy, grey, skies overhead, which looked likely to disperse their soaking load at any time.

Around 45 minutes later, he was approaching the Castelo de Bode Dam, a hydroelectric facility, which could perhaps be of key importance as to the events that would unfold next.

Castelo de Bode Dam

Castelo de Bode Dam

As the pilot scanned his surroundings, he would suddenly notice a dark object coming out of a bank of clouds slightly ahead of him. He at first believed the object to be another plane so he changed his course before radioing to base for confirmation of other aircraft in the area. However, rather than confirm the other “plane”, the base claimed to have nothing out of the ordinary of their radar screens. And more to the point, no other aircraft apart his Dornier plane.

He decided to turn his plane once more so that he could examine the object further if indeed it was even there. However, when the control tower heard Rodrigues cry out in alarm as if something had surprised him, it was evident to all that something out of the ordinary was taking place.

There, directly in front of the young pilot’s plane, was a dark, round object, unlike any aerial vehicle Rodrigues had ever seen.

Disappeared In An Instant “From A Stationary Position!”

Knowing he was not looking at a plane but not knowing exactly what the strange craft was, Rodrigues would take in as much detail as possible. He would later state that the upper part of the object was black, although part of it was obscured by the clouds. Meanwhile, the lower part was made of several different panels.

It remained where it was “no more than 6 meters away” from his plane before suddenly vanishing into the distance at fantastic speed. And what’s more, and something not at all lost on the pilot at the time, it did so “from a stationary position”.

Impression of pilot's view of UFO

Impression of pilot’s view of UFO

It was at this point the pilot’s plane began to suddenly vibrate greatly while the compass began to spin aimlessly. Within seconds, despite his engine working, the plane went into a freefall nosedive, the treetops near the dam wall suddenly rushing up to meet him.

He would ultimately open his throttle and just as he was “almost touching the treetops” he regained control of the plane. Furthermore, he would manage to land the plane back at the base. After undergoing a medical evaluation (which he would pass with no problems) he would report the incident to his superiors. It was noted, however, how distressed he was due to the experience. An experience who both the doctors and his superiors accepted must be something a lot more than “just engine trouble”.

Corroborative Witnesses And Further Strange Events

In fact, the Portuguese Air Force would investigate the case thoroughly, and would ultimately cooperate with “independent” UFO investigators.

There were also two witnesses, who would corroborate Rodrigues’s version of events. At least as far as the loss of control of his plane. Two shepherds happened to notice his Dornier suddenly take the nosedive just over the dam. They would also witness the plane suddenly level out thanks to the pilot’s quick thinking.

They would even offer that they heard a loud noise before the plane came out of its “falling leaf” like descent. Both the description of the fall and the loud noise would match the nosedive and the opening of the throttle to regain control of the plane.

A picture of single engine plane flying over the countryside

Many UFO sightings take place near water

What’s more, at the actual dam facility itself, although they were unaware of Rodrigues or the bizarre object he had witnessed, at the same time he began to experience plane trouble, they would notice a sudden drop in pressure and energy. As if everything was suddenly being drained. The incident would last only a few seconds. Most likely for as long as the nosedive of the plane. It would, however, cause great concern to those working at the facility at the time.

Might it be a case of coincidence? It surely would, though, take the most skeptical mind to dismiss entirely the likeliness that a genuine connection exists between the two strange incidents.

Other Very Similar Incidents Of Interest

Whether there are further connections to be found are not, two other incidents are worth mentioning here.

For example, an account from the files of Albert Rosales is of particular interest. It would take place in Carapito Beira Alta, also in Portugal just after midnight on 4th January. Furthermore, it was only six months before the sighting over the Castelo de Bode Dam. On the night in question a dogwalker witnessed a similar object while taking his German shepherd for a stroll. The canine would become suddenly and unusually “agitated”.

It was as he was seeing to the dog that he noticed the cause of its concern. Slightly ahead, a “dark, metallic, domed object” was hovering a short distance above the ground. Even more bizarre, a tall humanoid figure was stood near to the futuristic craft. As the dogwalker and his pet looked on, a blinding flash of “silver light” suddenly filled their vision. When the light vanished, so too had the humanoid and the domed craft.

A little closer in terms of time but further away as far as distance is concerned, is an account from the 1st July over a NATO base in Aviano, Italy. At around 3 am on the night in question, electronic alarms that used magnetic and motion detectors suddenly activated. At the same time, all power in the base suddenly died.

The back-up system would provide basic power, but for the next 20 minutes even this would be subject sudden “fluxes”. Several members of the base would report seeing a “luminous round object with a dome” hovering overhead. This activity over the base was at the same time as the power outages around the facility.

For now, though, let’s return to the Castelo de Bode incident.

Proof Of Something Untoward In The Basic Of The Principles Of Flight?

Given that one of the first things offered by many skeptics on these kinds of cases is that at such altitudes, usually being traversed at great speed to boot, natural phenomena and “sky mirages” can often make things appear to be closer than they are. Or out of shape, or even create something that is not there at all. And these “rational” and scientific principles explain how these things can (and do) sometimes occur. However, at least, in this case, such an explanation appears off the mark for several reasons. Not least of which, are the basic principles of flight.

At its very basic level, high air pressure is created below the wing of a plane. On the other hand, low pressure resides above. Put another way, the dynamics of a plane are such that air will move over the top of the wing of a plane a lot faster than it will underneath. This creates “lift” which combined with speed creates flight.

Artist's impression of the UFO

Artist’s impression of the UFO

If a vehicle passed by at great speed or, as Rodrigues claimed, took off at such speed from close proximity, the object would essentially take with it the high pressure and the slow-moving air. This would then cause the plane to drop out of the sky – essentially, to nosedive. This, even though the engines were essentially in working order.

This scientific principle is perhaps proof that something – whether physical or not – caused just such a scenario. This would also suggest that what Rodrigues witnessed that day in June 1977 was very real.

Weather, Water, And Unexplained “Unexplainables!”

There are several other points of interest for us to consider here. In Good’s write up of the incident, for example, he mentions the conditions. He states that “the weather was poor with imminent rain and a cloud ceiling of less than 3,000 feet”.

As we have mentioned in several articles looking at strange phenomena, might weather and the bizarre effects it can produce have something to do with some of these UFO sightings? And not necessarily from a mirage type of view. But something more in line with opening portals or gateways to other dimensions or realms.

And, once more, there is the large body of water below where the incident would unfold. This also should not escape our attention. Especially when we consider that many, many UFO sightings have a connection to water.

Newspaper clipping reporting on the sighting

Newspaper clipping reporting on the sighting

Perhaps most interestingly, what should we make of the fact that radar operators failed to see anything on their equipment. It certainly isn’t the first time that a visually confirmed sighting failed to yield results on radar. And while such systems do on occasion malfunction, they are, generally speaking, very accurate.

So, should we suspect that these objects simply can’t be physical crafts, despite the mountain of visual confirmations? And, as in this case, supporting evidence to suggest a physical craft was present? Or should we possibly consider the notion that futuristic cloaking devices might shield these crafts from radar? Or perhaps they are solid and physically present in a way that our collective scientific understanding simply doesn’t yet understand?

Official Stance Of “Cautious Alert”

No official explanation is on record from the Portuguese military or government. However, the previously mentioned Timothy Good would receive further information investigating the case in the early 1990s. And this information would come from the Portuguese Embassy in London. It would state that official Portuguese position on the matter, and UFOs, was one of “cautious alert”. Furthermore, all pilots in the Portuguese Air Force are under the same instructions. And that is to “register the details of any non-identified objects” during the course of their time in the air.

The Portuguese officials, as we can see, are relatively open about this approach. It is likely, however, to be one that is in place across the vast majority of militaries. And most likely commercial airlines around the world, if privately.

Of course, despite this openness, although we know the full details of the incident (at least to the best of anyone’s knowledge) and we most certainly know that “something” most definitely did happen that afternoon, what the object might have been, where it came from, and why, are all questions that remain without answers.

Like other incidents, though, it continues to contribute to the overall big picture that is the UFO and alien question. And will one day, no doubt, prove to be just as crucial a piece in that big picture.

Check out the video below. It looks at the case in a little more detail.


The stories, accounts, and discussion in this article are not always based on proven facts and may go against currently accepted science and common beliefs. The details included in the article are based on the reports and accounts available to us as provided by witnesses and documentation.

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About Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years experience. Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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