UMMO: the great UFO fraud forged in Spain

publicado a la‎(s)‎ 4 may 2020, 8:23 por Plataforma Sites Dgac   [ actualizado el 3 nov 2020, 9:57 ]
Since the dawn of the “contemporary era” of ufology (since June, 1947) characters have become known in different parts of the world who claim to be in contact with alleged extraterrestrial beings from the most varied origins, from planets and natural satellites from the Solar System, like Venus, Mars, and Ganymede, to distant stars and constellations, like Orion and the Pleiades.

Fernando Sesma, an alleged alien contactee and one of the first persons who received letters fron the alleged ummites.

Some of the publications, photographs and drawings from the alleged ummite UFO sighting in San José de Valderas.

José Luis Jordán Peña, the confessed author of the UMMO fraud.

In the 1950s, and in parallel with the advancement of the space race, characters such as George Adamski, Orfeo Angelucci, Truman Bethurum, Eugenio Siragusa and Daniel Fry, to name just a few, became well known after claiming to be in regular contact with angelic beings from other worlds who came to Earth to deliver a message of peace and love and to prevent us from destroying ourselves with the misuse of nuclear energy and ecological damage.

In Latin America, the case of Sixto Paz Wells is well known, a Peruvian who, since the mid-seventies, claims to be in contact with beings from Ganymede, one of the moons of the planet Jupiter, and from distant planets. Paz even claims to have been to Ganymede on a couple of occasions and has been invited several times to television shows where he speaks about the utopian civilizations of his cosmic friends without providing any evidence.

But one of the most famous cases of alleged contact with extraterrestrial civilizations in the Hispanic world, and which also transcended borders, is the so-called “UMMO” affair, which was born in Franco’s Spain in the mid-twentieth century.

The Happy Whale

A Post Office official named Fernando Sesma Manzano claimed to maintain contact with beings from other worlds and since 1954 he led a group in Madrid called “Society of Friends of the Space Visitors BURU”.

The group held weekly meetings to discuss “flying saucers” and other topics related to parapsychology in the basement of Café Lion, in a place called La Ballena Alegre (The Happy Whale), a few meters from Plaza de Cibeles in Madrid. Fans of the paranormal, playwrights and members of Franco’s secret police met there.

In 1966 and after receiving a phone call from an alleged extraterrestrial, Sesma began receiving typewritten letters from humanoid entities claiming to come from the star Wolf 424, from a planet called “UMMO”. The letters dealt with different aspects of science and the arts. Fernando Sesma read some of the letters in the gatherings at La Ballena Alegre and many of the attendees did not question the authenticity of the contact, since they believed that the content of the letters encompassed more advanced concepts than those known at the time.

The supposed ummites claimed to have arrived on Earth on March 28, 1950, in a “lenticular ship” that would have landed in the French region of the Low Alps, about 8 kilometers from the town of La Javie. Some of the expedition members would have stayed to study our planet, after which they would have begun to contact some people, such as Sesma, through letters they sent from different parts of the world, from places as close as Madrid and as far away as Australia. 

Aluche and San José de Valderas

Two of the milestones in the history of UMMO occurred in 1966 and 1967, when the alleged ummites produced some proof of their existence.

On February 6, 1966, a UFO would have landed in the town of Aluche, in the outskirts of Madrid, and left footprints on the ground. The witnesses were a man named José Luis Jordán Peña and Vicente Ortuño. The evening paper Informaciones covered the event and thus became known to the public.

Although the news took almost everyone by surprise, Fernando Sesma said that he had been told about it four days in advance. And that was not all. In one of the letters they told him that a few months later one of his ships would be seen in San José de Valderas, also in the Madrid area.

On June 1, 1967, the news of the alleged appearance of a circular ship was spread. The ship had in its “belly” the same symbol with which the alleged ummites signed their letters: two facing parentheses, joined by a horizontal strip crossed by another vertical one.

Hours later, Informaciones’ journalist Antonio San Antonio received a phone call in the newsroom. A man who didn’t want to identify himself said that he had seen the UFO and photographed it. If he was interested, he would leave the photographs deposited under his name in a store in the Carabanchel area. The journalist collected the envelope with the negatives and published the photographs with the story in the evening.

Credulity and suspicions

Those two “founding milestones” of the UMMO affair were met with enormous credulity and enthusiasm by some scholars and ufologists. One of them was Antonio Ribera, the “father” of ufology in Spain, who also began to receive some letters from the alleged ummites and ended up writing several books on the subject. One of the most celebrated is Un caso perfecto (1969), co-authored by Rafael Farriols.

But some ufologists, such as Óscar Rey Brea from Galicia, already doubted the authenticity of the photographs of San José de Valderas and in the seventies the ufologists of the Spanish skeptical wing already suspected that the whole matter had been concocted by José Luis Jordán Peña and some accomplices.

Jordán Peña is a character who began to take precedence on the issue of UMMO in subsequent years and also began to appear in various television programs and magazine articles about ufology and parapsychology in Spain. He was the vice president of the Spanish Parapsychology Society and had been one of the alleged witnesses to Aluche’s UFO.

At the end of the 1990s, a “brood” of young researchers began to operate in Spain who had grown up reading the story of UMMO in books such as Un caso perfecto and who decided to investigate the matter in depth.

In 1997, one of those journalists, Manuel Carballal, recreated the photographs of San José de Valderas with a fishing pole and a model.

Deceit discovered

But Carballal didn't stop at that and interviewed the controversial Jordán Peña. “I am the author of UMMO. It is an experiment that I did to study the credulity of man, but it got out of hand”, Jordán Peña admitted to Carballal.

“It was my fault. I’m sorry. My intention was to make believe that there was a group of aliens that had reached France and from there they spread to Spain, South America, and so on. But it must be said that it did not refer to any sect. The believers were free to believe or not. What happens is that, over time, some people became obsessed with UMMO and have turned it into a cult. A thing that was not dangerous was made dangerous”, he added.

According to Jordán Peña, to maintain the charade for decades he received financial aid and infrastructure from foreign intelligence agencies, although he never provided many details about it and what he said was vague and contradictory.

Because of this, many UFO fans refused to believe Jordán Peña’s confession and for them the UMMO affair continues to this day and they refuse to believe that it was the work of a single man. 

José Luis Jordán Peña died in Madrid on September 9, 2014, and, according to the author Eduardo Bravo, ummite communications did not cease after his death and letters and messages that now also use social networks continue to be received today.

Sources:, El País newspaper.