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Professor Zigel’s reports on Russia’s Korbozero Lake UFO case

Idyllic view of Korbozero Lake. (Credit: Panoramio)
A recent story on our website, “Russia using UFOs to boost tourism” by Jason McClellan, based on an article posted online by the Voice of Russia, discussed “a new tourist route of the Leningrad region” based on an intriguing incident on Lake Korbozero that took place back on the night of April 27-28, 1961.

UFO tourism of course is not a new concept in Russia, the US, or many other parts of the world. Various tours have been developed around high profile cases or facilities like Roswell and Area 51. But what is unusual about this new tour is that the Korbozero case is rather obscure and there is very little data about it online. When Jason first mentioned it to me, the name of Korb Lake didn’t ring a bell initially but once I read some of the details about the physical evidence that had been retrieved by divers on the lake, I did remember reading some reports of it in the papers of the late Professor Felix Zigel, who is universally acknowledged as the founding father of Russian ufology.

The huge contribution of Dr. Zigel

Professor Felix Zigel of the Moscow Aviation Institute, father of Russian ufology. (Credit: Huneeus Collection/S. Bulantsev)
I wrote a biographical article about Dr. Felix Yuerevich Zigel (1920-1988) for the “Researcher Profile” section of Open Minds magazine (Issue Nº 4, Oct./Nov. 2010). Zigel was an astronomer, author of dozens of popular scientific books, and associate professor at the prestigious Moscow Aviation Institute, although he is now best known for his pioneering work of building Russian (then Soviet) ufology. His dealings with the Soviet communist state and scientific bureaucracy shifted back and forth over the years. There were times when his work was approved officially, like the publication of his milestone article “Unidentified Flying Objects” in Soviet Life in February 1968 (Soviet Life was an official, glossy magazine published in dozens of foreign languages with a positive spin on Communist society).

However, most of Zigel’s UFO work couldn’t pass the barriers of Soviet censorship, but that didn’t stop the professor and his close group of associates. Zigel’s UFO investigations instead were circulated in photocopies through the underground system known as samizdat that existed unofficially in the Soviet era. Some of these Zigel documents went not only around Russia and the other Soviet republics, but also abroad, where they were translated into various languages. One of the most precious Zigel manuscripts is the volume titled, UFO Landings in the USSR and Other Countries, which was translated to English by Dimitri Ossipov and published in a limited edition by Dr. Richard Haines of the Joint USA-CIS Aerial Anomaly Federation.

It is in this book that we find a short summary of the 1961 Korbozero case, which we reproduce below. The term “LO” stands for cases where “there are no witnesses to the [UFO] landing, but on the ground surface there are traces typical in landing sites.” Here is the complete summary by Dr. Zigel:

Landings – class LO *

Mysterious destructions on Korb-Ozero

This case was described in detail by an investigator V. Demidov in a book “We go last,” Nol. Guardia 1967, and in article “What was it?” Znanie-Sila, No. 6, 1968. It was also reported in my manuscript “UFO observations in the USSR,” issue 2, 1975.

Cover of one of Zigel’s scientific books, Wonders of the Night Sky, translated to English by Mir Publishers in Moscow. (Credit: Huneeus Collection)
In the morning of 27 April 1961, two dam inspectors from a lumber farm went to inspect dams before the spring floods. In the evening of the same day, they came to the small Korb-Ozero lake (Karelia). They inspected the dam, and spent the night at 6 km. from the lake. The next morning, one of the inspectors, V. M. Brodsky, came back to the lake, and found there an amazing scenery: Their yesterday’s traces were erased by a hole, 10 m. wide, 25 m. long and 5 m. deep, with its “mouth” toward the shore’s precipice. This “mouth” had walls with a negative slope. On the lake, which was still covered with ice, there was a large unfrozen area of water.

In answer to a call from the inspector, V. Demidov, together with a diver thoroughly inspected the area. It was found that chunks of ice, swimming in the unfrozen water, were colored in emerald color. In a water swam greyish foams, and amid them some little balls resembling millet grains.

Neither on the shore, nor at the bottom of the lake (30 m. deep) were found any objects which could be connected to the cause of the event. Neither at the bottom, or below it, were found any metal traces. True, divers have noticed at the bottom of the lake two spits, connected by a cylinder of 1.5 m. wide. Between spits, there was a cylindrical depression, giving an impression that some “pipe” was laying at the bottom of the lake. Residents of the nearest settlement (30 KM. from the lake), heard and saw nothing that night.

Satellite photo showing the outline of Lake Korbozero in the Vologda Oblast in Northwestern Russia. (Credit: mapcarta.com)
This event remains a mystery up to this day. Consultations with specialists fully exclude hypotheses of landslide, Karst occurrence, ball lightning or meteorite. During melting of the ice, the emerald substance formed a sediment. In it were found small quantities of silicon, magnesium, iron, aluminum, sodium, calcium, barium and boron. The two first mentioned elements were predominant.

In the water and sediments were discovered some organic substances of unknown origin. In the depression were found small plates, 1 m. thick. (Scale type). Basic elements – iron and silicon. Some of these plates contain significant admixture of sodium and lithium.

The above mentioned black grains were noticeable by their metallic brilliance and turned out to be acid-resistant. In the opinion of specialists, they are of an artificial origin. All substances during tests had a high acid resistance and thermal stability. Elements found in a melted ice do not explain green color of ice. There was no noticeable radio-activity.

What has happened there? What caused the destruction on Korb Ozero? It is not possible for the present to answer these questions. Even though nobody has observed a UFO, the landing and the take-off of the “flying saucer” could be in principle the cause if the mysterious event.

The second Zigel report

Although I remember having a copy of the English version of Victor Demidov’s original Znanie-Sila article published in Sputnik magazine (the Russian equivalent to Reader’s Digest), I was unable to find it in my archives so far. But I did find a second, more complete report by Dr. Zigel, “UFO Ground Effect Cases in Russia,” were the scientific analysis of the Korbozero samples are discussed in detail. It was obtained years ago by MUFON member Joseph Brill and translated to English by Professor Julian Steen. We reproduce this article in full in PDF format as it was published in UFOlogy magazine in the fall of 1976.

The Korbozero case is an unusual incident. Although there was no known UFO sighting, the physical evidence retrieved on the site was both intriguing and significant. Furthermore, Korbozero is important in the history of Russian ufology as the details were published and circulated even in the days when the subject was heavily censored in the USSR.

Antonio Huneeus

Open Minds Investigative Reporter J. Antonio Huneeus has covered the UFO field from an international perspective for over 30 years. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications in the U.S., Latin America, Europe and Japan. He was also the co-author of the Laurance Rockefeller-funded “UFO Briefing Document – The Best Available Evidence” and edited the book “A Study Guide to UFOs, Psychic & Paranormal Phenomena in the USSR.” Huneeus studied French at the Sorbonne University in Paris and Journalism at the University of Chile in Santiago in the 1970s. He has lectured at dozens of UFO Conferences all over the world and been interviewed by many media outlets including The Washington Post, the Sy-Fy and History Channels, Nippon-TV, etc. He received the “Ufologist of the Year” award at the National UFO Conference in Miami Beach in 1990 and the “Courage in Journalism” award at the X-Conference in Gaithersburg, Maryland, in 2007.

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