A few years ago, I wrote and recorded a song called The Others which was inspired by several firsthand UFO sightings in Quito, Ecuador.
In 1964, at eleven years old, I was an army brat living in Fort Riley, Kansas. My father was training troops and gaining crucial schooling for a mission he would never forget. My brother, Arthur and I had a paper route in the barracks with the sounds of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan.
One day my father came home from work and at the dinner table he told us kids that he got orders to go to Quito, Ecuador. After dinner we huddled around my father with a National Geographic map and he began to tell us the story of Quito. After explaining to us the purpose of his mission, he told us about the culture, the Andes on the equator, the Jim and Elizabeth Elliott story, Kon Tiki and Thor Heyerdahl, the Galapagos and The Beagle.
He loved history and we kids sat for hours listening to him tell us stories of our new destination. But we really got excited when he told us about the UFO sightings that were being reported all through the Andes. At the time, NASA was in its heyday and was operating a satellite tracking facility on the slopes of Cotopaxi the highest active volcano in the world. There was a lot of activity going on in Quito and the astronauts would train in the Andes for their mission to the moon (see my video of the astronaut parade at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYspMyj7w6A). My father was gaining all kinds of intelligence to prepare for our new destination.
In the summer of 1965 at Hobby Airport in Houston, we boarded a colorful Panagra airline jet to Panama. We stayed there for a month while the army prepared our housing, school, and other pertinent things. All the while the Balli kids got training as well. We were constantly told about etiquette and discipline since we were representing American children and had to be at our best behavior. Our family stayed in Fort Clayton, toured the Panama Canal, and explored the jungles. The Px and Commissary (stores for military personnel) had all the cool stuff a young teen boy could want. After getting all our shots and buying up albums we finally headed for Quito.
We got off our plane and marveled at all the huge mountains!! It was amazing!! Driving up to greet us at the airport was my dad in his Blue 1964 Buick Electra, which was shipped in a week earlier from Galveston, Texas. He was so proud! He drove my mother and 5 children up the ominous slopes of Pichincha to our house nearby which was a fortress with a high brick and wire fence. We had never lived in a house so big and never enjoyed such a wonderful view – Quito was slightly below us with Mount Cotopaxi in the distance. We were less than 12 miles from the equator – on top of the world and the furthest distance from the center of the earth. Inca land.
Soon, we were settled in and after a few months began seeing strange lights at night on the high mountains now and then. It was true, there were UFOs. They would dance around before your very eyes near Mount Rucu. They would appear and disappear through the clouds. I am telling you the truth, in 1965 the US government did not have anything near the acrobatic display we were witnessing. There were treacherous jagged peaks and gale force winds in those mountains. Yet the UFOs could maneuver with ease. One day my mother who was watering her garden in late afternoon came running into the house to alert us kids to come outside quickly. We thought we were going to be hit by an earthquake which we had experienced before. I then ran outside and my mom pointed up to some strange lights on Pichincha that seemed to hover for a long time and then suddenly dart away. It was scary and I could see the fright on my mom's face. The Outer Limits was being shown on Ecuadorian HCJB television and we were frightened in a cool way. I am a devout christian and yet this threw my beliefs into a loop, but as a kid in Quito, I accepted other views of life. We coexisted with these eery sightings while in the Andes. NOTE: The above incident happened during the time of the referenced article below of 1966!!
Another close encounter happened in the early spring of 1967 when my father and a few of his buddies drove me and a group of explorer scouts up the slopes of Pichincha in Land Rovers for a camping trip. We zigzagged our way up to near Rucu where camp was set up. Our group explored the base of the mountain peak and saw wild llamas and wild mustangs that we had seen before. Soon, clouds started to settle in and keeping a fire burning at those high altitudes was a chore, but we had a good one going with the assistance of army ingenuity. My brothers and I and several other scouts were huddled around the campfire eating hotdogs and telling stories as we glanced below to the lights of Quito. The clouds would break occasionally for us to glimpse the avenue of volcanos that filled the panorama. It was all mystifying. We were again blinded by the clouds where sometimes we couldn't see each other less than four feet away then all of a sudden we felt a force fly near us in a gust of wind. Quietly undulating and wispy but without the roar of an engine. It happened again only this time we saw a blinding light. We froze. My father and his two friends looked at each other in utter horror! Immediately, my father gave the orders to break camp then my brother Arthur and another scout came running down to us since they were somewhere above us exploring Rucu, frightened as hell. They yelled, “Did you see that?” Then explained seeing a bright light dance around them with the sound like a UFO on the Outer Limits TV show. We were really scared! While we boarded the Land Rovers, we again saw the strange lights and heard the spine tingling sounds. My father and all of us were then scared shitless and hurriedly retreated down the mountain to be thankful we could live another day.
Shortly thereafter in the early summer of 1967 we left Ecuador. My dad's mission of getting Che Guevara was over. With the help of the USA and the Bolivian army they got Che and thwarted his attempt to overthrow Ecuador for a crazy Fidel Castro and communism. It is what it is. My family moved to Fort Hood, Texas and my father went on to win the Bronze Star, saving a couple of guys from a grenade thrown in his camp in NaTrang, Vietnam.
This article is what stirred my interest in writing my story on UFO sightings in Quito of 1966. See for yourself at http://www.ufo-hunters.com/sightings/search/5197887183c78d384ec2d197/UFO%20Sighting%20in%20Quito,%20Pichincha%20%28Ecuador%29%20on%20Monday%2014%20March%201966. They are here and always have been. But don't take my word for it. Those of you who experienced the same sightings many of us saw in Quito, please tell us your stories. I would love to have you share on my website as well as listen to my song, The Others at www.calvinballimusic.com
Thank you fans for another true life experience in my Storytellin'.