The flying disc mystery extended well beyond the borders of the United States, but seemed to be overwhelmingly focused on North America and Mexico in its first five years -- dramatically climaxing in the year 1952, the pre-eminent saucer-sighting year of all time.
Some foreign reports did occasionally break through into the U.S. press, but these usually concerned U.S. military zones such as Panama, Korea and Japan, as well as the territories of Alaska and Hawaii. Civilian foreign-sightings reports -- if they appeared at all in American newspapers -- were most often compressed into one or two short paragraphs containing precious little detail and, most likely, a humorous "hook".
Curiously, coverage in the foreign press also primarily focused on sightings in the United States, and were likewise -- except for truly spectacular sightings -- largely confined to short summaries of reports in their own and nearby countries, if covered at all.
This would begin to change in early April, 1952, following the headline-generating article entitled "Have We Visitors From Space?", published in Life magazine in its national and international editions. The Life magazine article and resulting controversy sparked renewed interest in the subject around the world -- as reflected, for instance, in the April 20, 1952, edition of the London, England, Sunday Dispatch...
Above: Article in the April 20, 1952, edition of the London, England, Sunday Dispatch.
Mysteries In Skies Of Britain
ONE of the strangest aspects or the great flying saucer riddle is the fact that sightings have not been confined to any particular country or, indeed, hemisphere. They are worldwide. And they are still going on.
A lot of records have been gathered in the United States, but sky mysteries just as baffling have been observed in, for instance, South Africa and Sweden, and in this country.
Reports of what has been seen in the skies over Britain are of great interest. A great many, from responsible men and women in different parts of the country, have reached the Sunday Dispatch. Here is a selection from a volume of plain, straightforward accounts that has been received.
SUFFOLK: "At lunch-time one Thursday in January 1951, I was looking out of the window of my lodgings in Cauldwell-avenue, Ipswich, where I was then living when my attention was attracted to two silver objects in the sky.
"They looked for all the world like two silver shillings, one following the other, and they did not appear to be going exceptionally fast. I had them in full view for half a minute before they disappeared out of sight over the trees.
"They seemed to be flying very high and they were travelling in a perfectly straight line. They were completely silent and were travelling in a south-westerly direction."
-- Mrs. Irene Stubbings, 71, of Upland-road, Ipswich, well-known Suffolk botanist and ornithologist.
HAMPSHIRE: "Between two
and three in the morning of
January 28 or 29, this year, I was awakened by a bright light in my bedroom. I knew it could not be moonlight because the moon does not shine on that side of the house. So I got out of bed to see what it was.
"Hanging in the sky was an object shaped like a pear, with the big end downwards. It was glowing with a red firelight glow, and appeared to be hovering.
"I went into the next room and awakened my son, who is 14, and together we watched it for a quarter of an hour, until it gradually faded away.
"It was a very clear night and the object seemed a fairly good distance away."
-- Mrs. Gladys Keevil, 54, of Scotts Hill-lane, Purewell, Christchurch, Hants.
LONDON: "My parents and I were all in the garden of our home at Blackheath one bright sunny Sunday morning last September when our attention was drawn to a curious object in the sky.
"It appeared to be a solid object, flying very high, travelling slowly. It was oblong, roughly the shape of a Rugby ball, and to us, even at that height, it appeared to be two-thirds the size of a Rugby ball. It shone silvery white, and was clear and distinct.
"It was in full sight for two or three minutes and immediately it disappeared from our view to the south another approached along the same route. In all we watched 20 of these mysterious objects, all following the same route. They came from the north-east, passed over Blackheath and when some distance away they swung sharply southwards and disappeared.
"They were nothing like any aeroplane or balloon I have ever seen. Their progress appeared slow to us, but that was undoubtedly due to the great height at which they were flying. They were completely silent. They looked like small oblong airships, but with nothing suspended beneath them."
-- Mrs. Monica Manders, 30, of Shooters Hill-road, Blackheath, S.E.3.
CAMBRIDGESHIRE: "At about 10.40 p.m. on Thursday, February 28, 1952, I was walking through the college towards my room. As I drew level with 'C' staircase, walking north I saw a bright round object in the sky travelling north-east. It was evenly bright over a perfectly round surface, which was presented to me broadside on, except that at the bottom spot of light which made the rest of it look rather like the halo round a candle flame.
"I watched it for perhaps 15 seconds until it went out of sight, and during this time it made no noise whatever. I could not tell what size or at what height it was."
-- Keith B. Wedmore, 19, undergraduate, Jesus College, Cambridge, law and history student.
DEVONSHIRE: "At 11 p.m. on October 30, 1950, I was walking down my garden path when suddenly I became conscious of a light almost overhead.
"I saw a funnel-shaped stream of flame, chiefly white, travelling funnel-end first and descending from a great height as if debris from a falling aircraft.
"Then after being momentarily obscured by the roof of my house, it appeared to change to the horizontal, apparently at not more than 2,000 feet. The flame suddenly diminished and ahead of it I saw two large silver-blue discs, one distinctly above and slightly ahead of the other. They were climbing again, lit up by the moon or their own radiance.
"They were travelling at about the same speed but there was no sound and they kept together so well that there must have been some guiding influence.
"These were discs, not globes, and in size could not have been less than 50 feet across. They disappeared over Goodrington and Brixham The experience lasted about 15 seconds.
"I am more inclined to think these discs came from another planet than to accept any glib explanation of secret weapons. No solution of human control so far presented has satisfied me."
-- A.W. Bearne, 57, of Southfield-avenue, Preston, Paignton, well-known Devon auctioneer and estate agent.
KENT: "I was watching a beautiful sunset one evening in the third week of January this year -- I cannot fix the exact date -- when I suddenly realized that something was moving across the sky at a great height from north to south.
"It appeared to be oblong in shape and to my eyes was about 2ft. long and 6in. deep. Its colour was golden -- it looked like a rod of brilliant gold -- and the nose of the object appeared to have flame shooting from it as it ploughed through the sky.
"When it was over Canterbury I lost sight of it, but a couple of minutes later it reappeared, travelling this time from south to north. I watched it until it disappeared from sight behind the woods in the direction of Whitstable. All the time it maintained an even speed which, although not conveying that impression, must have been terrific to cover the distance in the time.
"As an ex-WRAF officer I am familiar with many types of plane, and aircraft are over here all day long. From my experience I can state definitely the object was not a plane. I came to the conclusion that this was something that did not belong to this world."
-- Miss Vera Matthews, of Brambles Farm, Sturry, near Canterbury.
There, set down in their own words, are six plain statements of what people living in different parts of the country assert they have seen in the English skies. What is the answer?
Maybe one day the riddle that is baffling ordinary people everywhere will be plainly and satisfactorily answered.
But although most foreign reports up to that time were given short shrift in the U.S. press, as July, 1952, kicked off, one sensational account from two East German refugees made its way into national news in the United States -- as told in a national newswire story printed in the July 2, 1952, edition of the Salt Lake City, Utah, Deseret News...
Above, top: Oscar Linke with translator at press conference. Middle: Oscar Linke's daughter being interviewed. Bottom: Linke's drawing of the ship and its occupants.
Flying Disc, Crew, Seen By Red Refugees
BERLIN -- Western intelligence officials are investigating the claim of a Russian zone political refugee, the former mayor of an East German town in Thuringia, to have seen a flying saucer and two members of its crew on the ground at close range in a forest in the Russian zone, three miles from the border of the U.S. zone.
The mayor, Oskar Linke, who was forced to flee from Eastern Germany to escape Communist persecution, Wednesday sat in his emergency home in Berlin's British sector and quietly described his experience. He has been "screened" by intelligence officials.
Linke said: "It was an uncanny experience. I was returning home in the evening by motorcycle with my 11-year-old daughter in the side car when we glimpsed something shimmering white through the surrounding trees.
"We were in the neighborhood of Meiningen, a town in Thuringia. We crept through the undergrowths, and to our amazement, saw a huge oval disk about 25 feet across lying on the ground in a clearing.
"It looked like a huge phosphorescent warming pan without a handle. In the center was a square contraption, a sort of upper works which rose about the 'saucer' like a top hat, and was slightly darker in color than the rest of the aluminum-like disk.
"Then, to our astonishment, we saw two figures who appeared to be wearing metallic overalls, approach the object.
"My daughter let out a scream when she saw them and the figures hastily entered it through a porthole on the top of the square upper works in the center.
"It was then that we noticed also that the disk had two rows of circular portholes around its edge, about the size of ship's portholes.
"As we looked the square upper works began to retract and simultaneously the object started to rise slowly off the ground.
"We both noticed that a similar square-shaped base was emerging out of the bottom of the disk and apparently forcing it off the ground.
"Then the object began to rise slowly into the air. It rose to about a hundred feet, hovered for a moment, and then spun away out of sight.
"There was hardly any sound as it rose, but the sides of the 'warming pan' glowed dark red and we felt a swish of air as it left the ground."
After seeing the "saucer," Linke wrote a description of it in the form of an eight-page eye-witness report, with diagrams drawn from memory. He hid the report for fear that the East German secret police would find it and arrest him as a spy.
"This has been the first chance I have had to mention the matter to anyone," he said.
"I was too frightened before."
His 11-year-old daughter confirmed the story in detail: "I was so terrified I did not know what to do," she said. "Father told me I was not to mention it to anyone as long as we were in the Soviet zone as it would have meant our arrest."
Western intelligence officials refused to comment on the report until they had made further investigations.
Linke was a senior official of the East German Farmers' Association and was returning to his home from a meeting of the association when he made his flying saucer discovery.
Seven days later -- as found in a translation of the article in a now-declassified CIA file -- the Athens, Greece, newspaper I Kathimerini published a story on Linke with more, and often conflicting, details...
Flying Saucers In East Germany
Berlin, July -- Furnished with the sworn testimony of an eyewitness, Oscar Linke, a 48-year-old German and former mayor of Gleimershausen, West Berlin intelligence officers have begun investigating a most unusual "flying saucer" story. According to this story, an object "resembling a huge flying pan", and having a diameter of about 15 meters landed in a forest clearing in the Soviet Zone of Germany.
Linke recently escaped from the Soviet Zone along with his wife and six children.
Linke and his 11-year-old daughter, Gabriella, made the following sworn statement last week before a judge: "While I was returning to my home with Gabriella, a tire of my motorcycle blew out near the town of Hasselbach. While we were walking along toward Hasselbach, Gabriella pointed out something which lay at a distance of about 140 meters away from us. Since it was twilight, I thought that she was pointing at a young deer.
"I left my motorcycle near a tree and walked toward the spot which Gabriella had pointed out. When, however, I reached a spot about 55 meters from the object, I realized that my first impression had been wrong. What I had seen were two men who were now about 40 meters away from me. They seemed to be dressed in some shiny metallic clothing. They were stooped over and were looking at something lying on the ground.
"I approached until I was only about 10 meters from them. I looked over a small fence and then I noticed a large object whose diameter I estimated to be between 13 and 15 meters. It looked like a huge frying pan.
"There were two rows of holes on its periphery, about 30 centimeters in circumference. The space between the two rows was about 0.45 meters. On the top of this metal object was a black conical tower about 3 meters high.
"At that moment, my daughter, who had remained a short distance behind me, called me. The two men must have heard my daughter's voice because they immediately jumped on the conical tower and disappeared inside.
"I had previously noted that one of the men had a lamp on the front part of his body which lit up at regular intervals.
"Now, the side of the object on which the holes had been opened began to glitter. Its color seemed green but later turned to red. At the same time I began to hear a slight hum. While the brightness and hum increased, the conical tower began to slide down into the center of the object. The whole object then began to rise slowly from the ground and rotate like a top.
"It seemed to me as if it were supplied by the cylindrical plant which had gone down from the top of the object, through the center, and had now appeared from its bottom on the ground.
"The object, surrounded by a ring of flames, was now a certain number of feet above the ground.
"I then noted that the whole object had risen slowly from the ground. The cylinder on which it was supported had now disappeared within its center and reappeared on the top of the object.
"The rate of climb had now become greater. At the same time my daughter and I heard a whistling sound similar to that heard when a bomb falls.
"The object rose to a horizontal position, turned toward a neighboring town, and then, gaining altitude, it disappeared over the heights and forests in the direction of Stockheim."
Many other persons who live in the same area as Linke later related that they saw an object which they thought to be a comet. A shepherd stated that he thought that he was looking at a comet moving away at a low altitude from the height on which Linke stood.
After submitting his testimony to the judge, Linke made the following statement: "I would have thought that both my daughter and I were dreaming if it were not for the following element involved: When the object had disappeared, I went to the place where it had been. I found a circular opening in the ground and it was quite evident that it was freshly dug. It was exactly the same shape as the conical tower. I was then convinced that I was not dreaming."
Linke continued, "I had never heard of the term 'flying saucer' before I escaped from the Soviet Zone into West Berlin. When I saw this object, I immediately thought that it was a new Soviet military machine.
"I confess that I was seized with fright because the Soviets do not want anyone to know about their work. Many persons have been restricted to their movements for many years in East Germany because they know too much."
But Linke's story was ultimately but a single grain in a sandstorm of reports in 1952 -- still primarily focused on the United States. Then, in 1953 and 1954, the emphasis seemed to shift away from North America to continental Europe and South America (although significant reports also came in from the United Kingdom, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa as well).
Many of the reports from continental Europe exist today only in the form of foreign-language news articles, as in the following translation into English from the December 12, 1953, edition of the French newspaper, Le Méridional...
Flying saucers and flying crescents over Mulhouse
MONTLUCON. -- An employee of the city services of Montlucon, Mr. Madet, while working in a garden in Marcillat (the Allier) saw at about 21 h. [9 p.m.], a huge white disk, which gave off a bright light, moving in the sky for nearly two minutes, to disappear at a prodigious speed without seeming to change altitude towards the mountains of Auvergne.
Soon after, Mr. Madet saw a second gear in the sky, red. This second phenomenon, which was shaped like a crescent approximately three times larger than the first quarter of the moon, disappeared at a very high speed towards the southwest.
But while some of the foreign-language newspaper articles are fairly straightforward, others remain somewhat obscure in translation, as in this January 8, 1954 article in the French newspaper Le Provençal...
Above, top: The Marseille-Marignane airport today. Middle: Undated postcard image of the massive Boussiron hangar. Bottom: Postcard image from 1954 of the Hurel-Dubois HD31 prototype in flight.
Did a luminous flying saucer land in Marignane?
A strange apparatus was seen on the track where metallic remains were found.
(From our special correspondent Constant Vautravers)
Swept by glacial wind under an amazingly clear sky, the runway of the airport at Marignane is really the last place where one could be the subject of an hallucination. It is sufficiently cold there so that one remains awake, even during the nights on guard.
However, a number of members of the staff at the airport wonder whether they did not dream. Did a flying saucer land one moment on the track?
Nobody, of course, can give an unquestionable answer to this question, which we asked many times during our investigation.
Furthermore, each person keeps a careful reserve. And we even had to play hide-and-seek to manage to supplement our information.
The fireman on duty
Monday evening around 2100 hours, consequently in the middle of the night -- which was a moonless night since the new moon began the next day -- fireman Chesneau was on guard at the large Boussiron hangar.
In the quadrilateral that the airport and its tracks form, and the edge of the pond of Berre, the Boussiron hangar occupies the most distant angle towards the west; its giant doors look "transversely" at the main track.
The fireman was standing at the entry, all the more attentive since Boussiron houses a new transportation craft, the Hurel-Dubois prototype with wings of very great length. From where he was, leaning against the concrete walls, the fireman -- well sheltered from the blowing wind -- looked at the multicolored clearness of the track.
A round and luminous craft
Suddenly, he saw, coming from the South, "a round and luminous craft" which came down at moderate speed in what he judged to be the direction of the track. The machine soon touched the ground, then rebounded slightly a few times.
No plane was expected at that hour, in Marignane. Perhaps this was a mislaid airplane, some private plane deprived of on-board radio? This happened once with an English plane.
Professionally conscientious, the fireman alerted the tower telephonically. But while he phoned from the inside, the craft disappeared. The calls to the control tower remaining unanswered, the duty officer was alerted. Taking his car, all headlights lit, he crossed the section of track and its surroundings in all directions without finding anything.
The night proceeded while assumptions were made. Was this a weather balloon? The apparent shape and the whiteness that could have been mistaken for a vague luminosity could incline towards this answer. But the characteristic of a balloon is to follow the wind. However the wind blew from the north-west, and the object came from the south.
Was this a meteor? In this case its fall would have been at the same time more vertical, faster, and the shock on the ground would have been felt, at so little distance.
It wasn't an airplane. So?
The gendarmerie, guardian of the airport, had been alerted. And during their night rounds, the patrol had carried out searches too. Without success.
The following morning, onboard a jeep, an investigator returned to the spot. No upheaval of the ground, no meteor crater. No trace of a balloon either.
A score of metallic debris
On the other hand, scattered on the track, a score of metallic debris was collected, among which were several small long stems of about fifteen centimetres, bent at one end and finishing at the other end in a ball, a little larger than a marble. Yellow metal traces, contrasting with the blackish gray color of the ball, suggested it was soldered on the stem.
We could not learn to whom these remains -- whose nature and source remain to be explained -- were entrusted. According to some of our conversations, they could be end-points of an antenna, a kind of mass to ensure the tension of a cable-antenna on a plane. Others do not agree.
The "mystery" remains
"So... Is it a saucer?"
Nobody answered our question. Maybe it is, maybe it's not! "I emulate Conrart -- silence is prudent."
But let us recall all the same that two years ago, in this sky of Marignane where in this moment, after a twin-engine of transport, a formation of Mysteres jet fighters with sweptback wings, whistling overhead, a customs officer had seen a flying saucer land, at night, and fly away a few moments later.
The last paragraph, above, referred to an earlier -- and now classic -- incident which had occurred at that same airport in October, 1952. The incident was reviewed by French researcher Aimé Michell in his book The Truth About Flying Saucers, published first in France and then in the U.S. in 1956. An excerpt from that book, telling of the "Mystery at Marignane" would appear in the December, 1956, issue of Fate magazine...
Above: Cover for the December, 1956, issue of Fate magazine in which the following appeared, and the opening pages of Michel's article. For unknown reasons, the following veers from the text as published in Michel's The Truth About Flying Saucers. Although editing for space considerations was common in magazines of the time, this does not appear to be the reason behind the alterations in the Fate reprint, which often reword and paraphrase the original text, though it is still presented as a direct "quote" by the witness. Also unknown is whether the revisions were made by Michel himself or -- more likely -- by the editors at Fate. In any case, significant variations are noted within the following text, while lesser instances of rewording and paraphrasing -- although substantial -- are left unnoted.
An object had landed at the airport
during the night, the customs officer reported. It was not a plane but a weird machine.
The Mystery at Marignane
By Aime Michel
The Marignane saucer sighting is one of the most dramatic on record. If his story is true, no man in the entire world, probably, has ever come as close to a saucer as the French customs officer, Gabriel Gachignard. The following information is based upon a four-hour cross-examination conducted by M. Jean Latappy, one of the best informed men in France on the subject of flying saucers. Oddly enough, Gabriel Gachignard himself refuses to say he saw a flying saucer. But this is his story:
"AT ABOUT midnight (Sunday-Monday, October 26-27), a light blow of the mistral cleared the sky, but pretty soon it clouded over again, as if rain was coming. Toward 2 o'clock I was in the hangar. I had been on duty since 8 o'clock [sic, in Michel's book it is 10 o'clock]. I was wide awake, having slept during the day. I had just bought a snack, some bread and cream cheese. I went out to eat it on a bench, in the open air. These benches are on a cement terrace in front of the hangar. The terrace is separated from the runway where the planes park by some cement troughs with flowers planted in them. I intended, when I had eaten, to go to the control office, to make sure that the mail plane from Algiers was going to land at 2:20, as I had been told. Actually that was a mistake: that service is suspended on Sunday nights.
"The airfield spread out in front of me in the darkness but I know all the corners of the place by heart and, anyway, it is never pitch dark on that big space [sic, in Michel's book, instead of "on that big space" it says "in these parts"]. It's so clear in the Midi; you can always distinguish outlines [sic, in Michel's book it says "Here in the south you can almost distinguish outlines"]. The runway to the hangar behind me was faintly lit up by the letters of the red neon sign, 30 feet long and three feet high that says 'Marseilles.'
"It was not more than three minutes after two [sic, in Michel's book, it says "it was just after 2.3 a.m."] -- the Nice-Paris mail, scheduled to leave at that time, had just taken off -- when suddenly to my left I saw a small light that seemed to be approaching, flying down the runway [sic, in Michel's book, it says "when I suddenly saw on my left a small light which seemed to be flying towards me, following the runway."]. It was not very bright, but perfectly visible and clear, even in the darkness. It seemed to be coming at the speed of a jet plane about to land, perhaps 150 miles an hour [sic, in Michel's book, it says "250 kilometres an hour"]. At first I thought it was a shooting star and that I was wrong about the distance and the speed; the background of the field was lost in the darkness and I could not see exactly where the sky began.
"However, about half a mile away to the left, at the edge of the runway, there is a building called the "Two Barrels" on account of its shape, and I saw the light, which still seemed to be approaching, pass over it at just about 10 meters (30 feet). Its course was absolutely straight, without any oscillation, and came down gradually toward the ground. In a moment it passed in front of me and then I knew that it wasn't any shooting star, that it was something that was really flying.
"All this happened very fast, without my having time to think.
"The light had hardly passed me when it touched the ground and suddenly stopped completely, without slowing down. A dead stop from 150 miles an hour, with no transition! It was about 100 yards away from me, on my right. At the exact moment when it touched the grillwork runway [sic, in Michel's book it says "just as the object settled on the criss-cross of the runway"], I heard a dull noise, as if it were muffled, not metallic, the noise something makes when you set it flat on the ground [sic, in Michel's book it says "I heard a dull muffled sound like someone slapping down something flat on the ground"]. That was the first sound I heard; the approach had been made in total silence.
"Then I realized that the object was not a plane, because it hadn't slowed down or rolled along the ground. Fifteen or 20 seconds had passed since it appeared, and there it was [sic, in Michel's book it says "only fifteen to twenty seconds had passed since its first appearance, and there it was under my nose"]. It wasn't a plane, but it wasn't just a light either, because I had heard a noise. It was something solid.
"I got up right away and went toward it, partly out of curiosity, of course, but also because it's my job.
"It took me about 30 seconds to cover half the distance, and it was during that time that I discovered that the light belonged to a larger object [sic, in Michel's book it says "the light was part of a more substantial affair"].
"The larger object stood out dimly against the lighter background of the small yellow Meteo building. This building hid the landing strip from me; the strip is always well lighted, but unluckily it couldn't light the place where the shape was. [Sic, entire paragraph, which in Michel's book reads "It stood out faintly against the lighter background of the yellow Meteo building. This building was between me and the landing ground, which is always lit up; otherwise the spot where the object was would have been lit up also."}
"The object was dark, darker than the shadows around it [sic, in Michel's book it says "darker than its surroundings"]. What was it made of [sic, in Michel's book it says "what sort of a thing was it"]? I don't have any idea and in spite of all the questions they've asked me about it I can't tell them anything. It could just as well have been made of metal as of cardboard.
"Using the distances and the dimensions of the building behind the object as landmarks, all we have been able to do is estimate the object's height as three feet and its length as fifteen feet [sic, in Michel's book it says "one metre high and three metres long"]. It had the shape of a football with very pointed ends. The only part of it that was clearly visible were the two ends, because the weak neon light outlined them vaguely, in the shadow. They were very sharp, very tapering. [Sic, previous three sentences. In Michel's book it says "It was shaped like a rugby football with very pointed ends which emerged from the darkness, thanks to the faint neon light. They tapered to a very marked degree".] The curve of the object underneath was in complete darkness, which prevented me from seeing whether there were any wheels.
"I couldn't see anything, so I can't tell you anything about them. On the upper curve the same shadows, and I couldn't make out anything there either. The only thing I can be accurate about is this: the light I had seen from the start came from four perfectly square windows, eight to twelve inches on a side. They were placed on a line, and this line wasn't straight but curved, following the upper curve of the cigar, in such a way that the upper edge of the windows seemed to be on a level with the top of the machine [sic, in Michel's book it says nothing similar to "in such a way that the upper edge of the windows seemed to be on a level with the top of the machine"].
"The four windows formed a group centered exactly in the middle of the thing, so that the extreme right-hand and left-hand windows were at the same distance from the two pointed ends. But they were in pairs: there was the same distance between the windows of each pair, while the space between the two inner windows was wider. The two outer windows seemed to me slightly inclined [sic, in Michel's book it says "the two outer windows seemed to me at a slight angle"].
"Behind these windows a strange light was flickering. It was not steady or fixed or vivid, but ghostly and soft, almost milky at times. It seemed to go back and forth behind those windows, with changing tints, bluish or greenish, on a pale background. [Sic, previous three sentences. In Michel's book it says "Through these windows I could see a strange light flickering. It was neither steady nor bright, but ghostly and soft, almost milky at times. It reminded me of lights appearing and disappearing behind windows, which make things look blue and green against a light background".] Anyway, it wasn't strong enough to light the dark parts of the object. Its intensity was always the same; it didn't vary when the object was moving. On the other hand, it never stopped 'throbbing,' like the movement of waves.
"I noticed all this while I was walking towards the object.
"But suddenly, when I was not more than 50 yards away from it, I saw a shower of sparks, or rather, a sheaf [sic, in Michel's book it says "a stream"] of tiny white glowing particles, spurt out from under the rear end, on my left. But they did not give enough light to help me distinguish the shape of the object any better. This fiery stream was inclined toward the ground.
"This lasted for only a second, and at the same time the cigar took off so suddenly, and with such irresistible force, that I lost my self-control and retreated instinctively, five or six steps [sic, in Michel's book it says "This was all over in a flash, yet while it was going on the cigar took off so suddenly and violently that I lost my nerve and instinctively took five or six steps back"]. During that second I wondered what was going to happen, whether the machine was going to shoot flames or rush over me! I certainly believed there was danger. And besides, even if I couldn't see 'them' clearly, because the machine was in the shadow of the building, 'they' could see me perfectly, silhouetted against the light of the neon sign!"
M. Latappy says that while the customs official was recalling this scene, his features were completely disordered [sic, in Michel's book it says "his features were frozen in terror"]. The jet of sparks, the lightning take-off, everything in the silence of vast powers used without effort, had suddenly revealed to this simple man the unleashing, close to his defenseless body, of an unforeseeable and unimaginable force. At that moment, says M. Latappy, Gachignard had the face of a man who finds that he has been at the verge of an abyss.
But let us hear the end of the story...
"The shower of sparks and the departure were accompanied by a slight noise, a kind of swish, like a sky-rocket [sic, in Michel's book it says "like a squib on the 14th July"] . There was no air stream, no blast, no preliminary downward tilt. It's true, I was 50 yards away. But in no more than two or three seconds the object had disappeared, in exactly the opposite direction from its arrival. Just as the speed of approach had been moderate, the speed of departure was terrific. There wasn't even the appearance of acceleration, but it changed instantly to a frightening speed, impossible to estimate. The angle of ascent was small; as when it arrived, the machine went through the space, 30 or 40 yards wide, between the operations building and the runway-control building. This passage is in line with the grillwork runway where it landed.
"After it took off, I could not have followed it by eye except for the jet of white particles gushing from the rear, as the windows and their light were not visible any more from where I was. I could see that when it flew between the two buildings it was still very low, lower than their rooftops, which are about 30 feet up [sic, in Michel's book it says "30 metres above the ground"]. The next instant the light disappeared over the Berre pond, which is at the end of the airport, across the road."
It was all over. The customs officer was alone with his bewilderment and could ask himself whether he had been dreaming. At once he tried to find out who might have seen it besides himself. No one was on the runway. He went back to the hangar. Everyone was asleep, for there was no traffic at that hour. Finally, at 2:15 a.m., he ran into the Air Force agent, Dugaunin [sic, in Michel's book it says "Eventually he ran into M. Dugaunin, an Air France policeman"].
"Good Lord, how pale you are!" Dugaunin exclaimed, before the other had said a word [sic, in Michel's book it says "Good God! You look like death!"].
Gachignard told his story. They telephoned the control tower; but no one had seen anything. The tower hardly watches any area except the main runway where all the planes land and take off. Furthermore, it would appear from M. Gachignard's narrative that the cigar came and went too low to be seen -- lower than the tower itself, perched way up there, 45 feet off the ground!
"So I was the only one who saw it; if anyone's around on an airfield at night, it's bound to be a customs officer."
That was the conclusion of Gachignard's story, as told to M. Latappy.
What shall we think of this story?
Everyone who questioned M. Gachignard is convinced of his good faith. In the customs service, with its high standards, he has an excellent reputation as a steady, solid, reliable man, a realist. He is sure that he saw what he says he did. He is not a hoaxer. But did he really see it? Or is he the victim of an hallucination? (The possibility that it was a dream must be discarded, because he was eating at the time.) If it was a case of hallucination, it was, I think, a very strange one.
Note that this "hallucination," so full of detail, almost duplicates the one experienced by Professor Clyde Tombaugh, the great astronomer (over the New Mexico desert). He too saw a cigar-shaped object, he too saw square "windows" (or rectangular ones, taking into account perspective); he too mentioned fantastic speed and silent movement. The only difference between the two observations, that of the distinguished scientist and that of the obscure official, is the landing, with the two faint noises at arrival and departure and the stream of luminous particles...
[Note: Michel then goes on for several pages not included here to calculate the size and actual position of the object, and other such details in support of Gachignard's story.]
Aimé Michel also penned an original article written specifically for Fate magazine. Titled "Saucers Over Europe", and appearing in its issue of August, 1957, it provided an overview of the flying saucer wave reported in continental Europe in 1954...
Above: Cover for the August, 1957, issue of Fate magazine in which the following appeared. Below: Opening pages of article.
FLYING SAUCERS in EUROPE
By Aime Michel
The Crisis of Autumn, 1954
This is first of a series of six special reports on flying saucers in Europe by Aime Michel. The author is a widely known French scientific writer and author of the book, "The Truth About Flying Saucers".
NO MATTER what attitude one has toward the problem of flying saucers, what happened in Western Europe during the fall of 1954 deserves attention. From the end of August to the beginning of November, the residents of France, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy -- with a population of more than 100 million human beings -- could ask themselves if our planet was going to be invaded from outer space.
For more than two months not one day went by without numerous witnesses in all these countries, witnesses in all walks of life, reporting landings by unknown machines. Sometimes these witnesses claimed to have seen the occupants of these mysterious craft. In a few cases, people who seemed to be entirely sincere added that they had exchanged signs, if not words, with these beings and even had touched them with their hands.
I studied this extraordinary period in detail. I questioned the witnesses, inspected the official reports, examined the footprints of the alleged space visitors. Except in the case of witnesses who refused to talk, I was able to learn all the details. Because of the position I hold in scientific and journalistic circles in France I know that nothing was hidden from me by the authorities. And it is the result of this inquiry that I am going to submit to the readers of FATE.
As a man of science I shall not take a personal position but will force myself to state the facts in an objective way. These facts have exceptional value -- whether the witnesses really did see what they claim to have seen, or whether a collective hallucination without precedent in history took place during this two month period. Remember that these witnesses include some of the most cultivated and skeptic peoples of the world.
Eighty per cent of the "sightings" took place in France. Now, toward the end of spring, 1954, few persons believed any longer in flying saucers. For almost two years only rare witnessed reports had been published in the press. Frenchmen were thinking of other things.
In June I was interviewed by a journalist for Paris-Match, a French weekly very much like Life in its appearance and viewpoint. I told him that if we refer to the observations of Wilbert Smith, Canadian engineer, and director of the station at Shirley's Bay, and also to a rather rough statistic which I myself had set up, we could expect the return of the saucers from the middle of the summer on. Despite the large circulation of Match this news interested no one and had no echo in the public press.
Then, on July 24, came the first shock. The residents of Talence, a village near Bordeaux, saw two "white" craft, shaped like discs, pass over their town at 10 o'clock. These discs had great speed, were completely silent, and left no wake. Despite the large number of witnesses this information interested only a few newspapers in the country. They published six-line accounts at the corner of the page, accounts written in a doubting tone. But during the days that followed similar observations were made at Osmery, at Troyes, Munich, Bourgoin, Dijon, Macon, Contrexeville, Sens, Epihal, and other places. The remarkable thing was that only the local papers made mention of these sightings. As a consequence the witnesses had no way of knowing that other persons in other places were having the same experiences.
During the nights of the 12th and 13th of August an object flew over the village of Dole that remained in sight for 10 minutes. It was so brilliant that certain witnesses who were already in bed were alerted by the light shining through their windows.
On August 18 a report of a flying saucer observation came from Montlucon. On August 22 an official communique was published in Switzerland concerning a very detailed observation dated the 7th. An air corps officer had seen and studied a strange flying object through field-glasses.
Then during the night of the 22nd or 23rd the sky over Vernon, not far from Paris, displayed a merry-go-round of aerial phenomena for 45 minutes. At Vernon there is a center of ballistic and aerodynamic studies; the city is full of technicians. Several of them witnessed the spectacle which they described as a large "mother saucer", immobile and surrounded by a host of little saucers which came and went.
The number of saucer sightings continued to acce1erate. Each day several were reported. By the end of August, at the moment when Wilbert Smith, who had predicted the phenomenon, closed his observatory at Shirley's Bay near Ottawa because nothing special was happening in Canada, the skies over Lyon, Anger, and over the entire Paris region were swarming with saucers. From Munich, Innsbruck, Amiens, from the Pyrenees to Berlin, from Brittany to Trieste the reports of UFOs came in.
Here is an example of an observation recorded during the month of August. There were several witnesses, among them a Swiss aviation officer with the rank of First Lieutenant (equivalent to our captain). During the afternoon of the 7th at Zurich this officer watched the phenomenon closely through his field-glasses and turned in a report to the military base at Berne immediately afterwards. This is his report:
"I deem it my duty to bring to your attention the following observation of a UFO.
"Date: Saturday, August 7, 1954.
"Place and Time: Zurich, 4:15 p.m.
"Weather: 5/8 overcast; ceiling 1300 meters above sea-level; wind from the west, 60 kilometers per hour at cloud level.
"Altitude of the object: base of the clouds.
"Length of time of observation: about one minute with field-glasses.
"Description of phenomenon: from the window of my apartment situated near Schaffhouse Place I was observing light planes which were going over the city. At the same time I was watching a child's balloon being pushed by the west wind which was blowing off the lake. The balloon was climbing continually and had become almost invisible.
"Suddenly, in the same direction as the balloon I saw a dark disc about as large as a one centime piece (held at arm's length) which seemed to be immediately beneath the ceiling of the clouds. I thought at first that it was a larger balloon. But this disc, curiously, was not being transported by the wind as was the balloon. I immediately reached for my field glasses and observed it more closely.
"The shape of the object reminded one in an unbelievable way of an upside-down plate. Its thickness was about 1/6 of its diameter. One could see very clearly a large circular crown surrounding a rounded surface, the diameter of which was about half the size of the object. It was not possible for me to determine if the rounded surface at the interior of the crown was hollow or not.
"The color of the large crown changed constantly, going from a silver tint to rose and then to blue. The pale pureness of these tints was very striking. When the color changed to red the contours of the object seemed indistinct and incandescent but they became clearly delineated again when the color was silver or white.
"The object oscillated lightly from one part to another of its vertical axis like a top which is about to stop. At time intervals of about four seconds a sort of brown smoke left the back of the object and immediately dissolved.
"After watching the object for about one minute I expected that it would stay awhile longer where it was and I went to the telephone to call a friend. Unfortunately I could not get through to him and when I went back to the window the object was gone. I continued to scrutinize this part of the sky with my field-glasses and then during a short break in the clouds I was able to distinguish a very small, brilliant light.
"It is difficult for me to estimate the dimensions of the object but it probably wasn't more than 15 meters. On the ladder of the field glasses it occupied four graduations. This count was taken at an angle of 25 degrees; approximately, and based upon my estimate of the altitude, the calculation permits us to obtain a similar size figure."
Let us add to this report that on the same night, at 10:30, also at Zurich, two people saw a very brilliant light above Kloten Airport. At first they thought it was a star but soon the light went up vertically with great speed, changed from white to yellow to red and back to white again. Then it sped away at great speed toward the right and disappeared. Some minutes later it reappeared, crossed the horizon at an unbelievable speed and disappeared toward the left.
This last phenomena brings to mind the observation of a similar phenomena at Villacoublay, on August 29, 1952, by the technical personnel of the military base. It is curious that in both cases the thing happened above an airport.
Observations such as these, reported with similar care, were numerous during the month of August and the beginning of September. And suddenly, on September 7, came the biggest surprise: for the first time witnesses claimed to have seen a flying saucer land.
This incident took place in the Amienois region, less than 200 kilometers north of Paris.
Around 7:15 in the morning, two masons from Acheux in Amienois, Mr. Emile Renard, 27 years old, and his helper, Yves Degillerboz, 23 years old, were on their way to work on their bicycles between Harponville and Contay when they saw an extraordinary spectacle.
According to the police constabulary the two men were interrogated separately and their statements were strictly in agreement; all the details reported by Renard agree with the details reported by Degillerboz.
"Instead of taking our small truck, because the motor needed repairs, my worker and I left by bicycle," Mr. Renard said. "We were going to work at the Constable's at Houssaye. Suddenly, between Harponville and Contay, Degillerboz' bicycle had a flat. I stopped to lend him my pump and my eyes were attracted to a sort of disc about 200 meters from us in a field.
" 'Look,' I said to my worker. 'Don't you find that haystack bas a peculiar color?'
"Intrigued, I was examining the object when suddenly it moved with a slight swinging oscillation.
" 'But look! Look there! It isn't a haystack,' I cried to my companion.
"Then we ran across the fields toward the mysterious object. In order to reach it we had to cross a piece of fallow land and a field of beets. We had hardly reached this last than the object came up obliquely, went on its way diagonally for about 15 meters, then started to go up vertically.
"All in all this vision lasted perhaps three minutes, after which the object disappeared in the clouds.
"The object flew off without noise and emitted on the lower right a little smoke. It was of a blue-green color. It could have been about 10 meters in diameter by three meters high and resembled an overturned plate. On the left, below, one could see a sort of plaque which was longer than it was high, like a door. It was about 150 meters from us at the moment of its ascent.
"The Constable of La Houssaye insisted that we report our observations to the Constabulary of Corbie."
Having taken this double statement, the constabulary went to the place but found no evidence except that of the two men who had left their footprints in the fields. This is explainable by the fact that the two witnesses reported the saucer was oscillating, which means that it could not have been on the ground.
Confronted with this story, told by two men who knew each other well and who were together at the time of the supposed incident, the constabulary decided that it was a hoax being perpetrated by two practical jokers. Therefore the affair was not publicized. The first newspapers to mention it were Figaro, Paris-Presse, and France-Soir, in their issues of October 9.
During this same day, October 7, when the people who knew about the sighting numbered less than 10 persons, numerous inhabitants of the district of Peronne in several villages scattered over a radius of 30 kilometers, reported that they had seen an object flying over the woods of Foucaucourt-en-Santerre. The description they gave matched exactly that of the two masons and corresponded as to time, details, dimension, and color.
The investigation which followed was never conducted on a higher level than that of the police and nothing whatsoever came of it.
We have a choice between the following interpretations:
1. That the thing was a hoax. However, this conclusion presupposes the participation of several villages located at some distance from each other, and the participation of many persons who did not know each other. It presupposes also the participation of the police of each of these villages because anyone who has lived in the French countryside realizes that the policeman knows everyone, plays cards in the local cafe and consequently hears all the gossip. Over and above the presumption of the cooperation of the police in one village with the persons of that village it would have been necessary for the police of the various villages to cooperate with each other. I don't know what the likelihood of such an hypothesis would be in America; in France there is none.
2. Let us take note that the description of this phenomenon resembles very much that of the famous affair of Marignane, on October 26, 1952, almost exactly two years before. Therefore, one possibility is that the two masons and the other persons involved saw exactly what they said they saw.
3. Collective hallucination is a remote possibility. The least we could say of such an hypothesis is that it would be a very fine case in point, twice as impressive because of the telepathic thought transmission required, since so many different persons in so many different places thought they saw the same thing. The affair at Contay is a very curious one. We would like to be able to erase all these police reports so as not to necessitate making a choice between explanations, one as improbable as the other. Mental comfort is a difficult voice.
Suppose we were to decide on the hypothesis that the machine did exist; we must point out also that on the night preceding the meeting of Mr. Renard and Mr. Degillerboz, three persons from Arigny [sic, should be Origny], about 50 kilometers to the east, also made a strange observation. There were Robert Chovel, his wife and father-in-law. Here is their story:
"The night of September 6 we all three had gone by car to the movie in Hirson (10 kilometers east of Origny and about 70 kilometers from Contay). We were on our way back to Origny when upon arriving at the summit of Fort Hill at about 12:30 we saw a sort of luminous disc which was going toward the west following the railroad tracks. I thought at first it was the moon but I soon saw that its movement was very real because it suddenly changed direction, climbed and stayed immobile at an apparent altitude of 300 to 400 meters. We were then able to examine it at our leisure. It was a red-orange disc, adorned with a sort of luminous plume on the opposite side of its flight direction.
"When we arrived at the height of the Bridge of Buire we saw it again. Again it went up and came to a stop. By maneuvering I was able to pinpoint my headlights on it at which time it flew off at a tremendous speed in the direction of La Herie to the west. It disappeared behind the clouds very soon.
"Instead of stopping at Origny we decided to go up to the summit of Chaudron Hill in hopes of seeing it from the other side. But we saw only a red glimmer which was disappearing in the direction of Vervins to the south-west. All this took place in the length of time it takes to do about 15 kilometers by car.
Obviously there is no proof that these three last witnesses saw the same object as the two men from Acheux-in-Amienois. By disregarding the essential points of their descriptions (movements of the object when their car was standing still, luminous plume, etc.) one could even say that these three persons mistook the moon for a flying saucer. The moon was in the fifth day.
On the other hand we must take note that this observation took place only a few hours before the phenomena at Contay, in the same region. Moreover, the witnesses of Origny saw the object disappear towards the west and Contay and Foucaucourt are west of Origny.
One last detail must be mentioned: The two principal witnesses, Renard and Degillerboz, only told their story unwillingly after the police and the press put them through some vexatious publicity which they did not wish and, indeed, had tried to avoid.
The next year, 1958, Michel would pen a far-more extensive detailing of the 1954 wave in France by way of a new book, Mysterieux Objets Célestes (Mysterious Celestial Objects), published that same year in the United States under the title Flying Saucers and the Straight-Line Mystery.
The straight-line hypothesis -- that a series of saucer sightings could be tracked along a straight line -- became known as "orthoteny". Although not a particularly radical idea in the United States, Michel as a private researcher in France did not have the benefit of any official information, such as that provided by the Air Force Project Blue Book as well as civilian research organizations and widespread newspaper coverage in the United States. As such, the "straight line" hypothesis became a tool for additional confirmation of individual reports from different locations occurring over a consecutive time period.
In his analysis of the 1954 wave in France -- using a philharmonic symphony as analogy -- Michel divided the sightings into "The Orchestra Tunes Up" (late August through mid-September, 1954), "Crescendo" (musically meaning a gradual buildup, from mid through late-September, 1954), "Full Orchestra" (from October 1 through October 11, 1954), and ending with "Diminuendo", representing a slackening off of reports thereafter. The following excerpts are a sampling from each section...
Above: Jacket cover for the French edition of Michel's 1958 book.
THE ORCHESTRA TUNES UP
The Great Cloud Cigar
The little town of Vernon is located in the department of Eure, 40 miles west-northwest of Paris. Here, during the night of August 22-23, 1954, one of the most significant phenomena of our time took place. It was to be observed often again, in circumstances equally significant. But the Vernon incident marks the beginning of the extraordinary happenings which this book will describe chronologically.
The night of August 22-23 was very clear. The moon was six days
from full, and toward the end of the night shed little light.
Just before 1 A.M. M. Bernard Miserey, a businessman of Vernon, arrived home and put his car away. As he came out of the garage, on the south bank of the Seine, he was surprised to see a pale light illuminating the town which had been in complete darkness a little while before. Looking at the sky, he saw a huge silent, motionless, luminous mass, apparently suspended above the north bank of the river some three hundred yards away. It could have been compared to a gigantic cigar standing on end.
"I had been watching this amazing spectacle for a couple of minutes," M. Miserey later reported, "when suddenly from the bottom of the cigar came an object like a horizontal disk, which dropped at first in free fall, then slowed, and suddenly swayed and dived horizontally across the river toward me, becoming very luminous. For a very short time I could see the disk full-face; it was surrounded by a halo of brilliant light.
"A few minutes after it had disappeared behind me, going southwest at prodigious speed, a similar object came from the cigar and went through the same maneuvers. A third object came, then a fourth. There was then a longer interval, and finally a fifth disk detached itself from the cigar, which was still motionless. This last disk dropped much lower than the earlier ones, to the level of the new bridge, where it remained still for an instant, swaying slightly. At that time I could see very clearly its circular form and its red luminosity -- more intense at the center, fading out at the edges -- and the glowing halo surrounding it. After a few seconds' pause, it wobbled like the first four, and took off like a flash toward the north, where it was lost in the distance as it gained altitude. During this time the luminosity of the cigar had faded, and the gigantic object, which may have been 300 feet long, had sunk into darkness. The spectacle had lasted about three quarters of an hour."
When M. Miserey described his nocturnal vision the next day, the police informed him that two policemen making their rounds at about 1:00 A.M. had also observed the phenomenon, as had an army engineer who had been driving along Route N-181 (National Highway 181) southwest of Vernon.
The case is briefly described in the Paris newspaper, Liberation, of August 25, 1954.
Nobody has ever put forward an explanation of the Vernon phenomenon. Since the witnesses were not aware of each others' reports, neither group hallucination nor deliberate lying can be offered. The only near-explanation that I heard suggested that the witnesses took the moon for a cigar, and invented the five disks. ...
... On Saturday the 25th, the day after the flying saucers lined up from Bayonne to Vichy, we note only one observation, of little interest, from Mansle (Charente). But on Sunday the 26th there were three well-reported cases, two "landings" and one object seen in the air. The latter was "explained" two days later: it was a flight of starlings. But it is strange that these observations, one of which has been proved "false," are once more in a straight line.
Col du Chat (Savoie)
The witnesses were Dr. Martinet, a dermatologist of Chambery and a former artillery observer, his wife, three students at the air base of Bourget-du-Lac, and the occupants of three cars -- in all about fifteen people.
"It was 5:10 P.M., or a little later," Dr. Martinet said. "We were driving back from Col du Chat when suddenly I noticed, apparently above the Croix du Nivolet, at an altitude which I estimated as 6,500 feet (or about 1,500 feet higher than the mountain), at the edge of the foggy zone, a gray aluminumlike [sic] object. When I had gone past the air base of Bourget I stopped the car, three other cars stopped too, and we watched the maneuvers of the object. The time was then exactly
"At first I thought this must be some atmospheric phenomenon, a waterspout or the like. But the wind was blowing from the northwest while the object was coming from the south. Thirty seconds later, with about fifteen of us now observing the object, it began to descend like a falling leaf, presenting the appearance of a plate with the bottom turned upward. At 5:16 it suddenly turned face on, in the shape of a perfect disk. We were able to see then that a lighter section occupied the center of the craft and that there were dark spots all around it. After that it moved again until it seemed to be hovering over the radio station of Mont Revard, came down a little, then abruptly accelerated and disappeared in a flash. It was exactly 5:18:40.
"According to the angle from which it was seen, the object changed from dark gray, like aluminum, to a lighter gray. The phenomenon had lasted a little more than four minutes, during which I wrote down in my notebook each of the complicated moves made by the object."
This story, or a shortened form of it, was published in all the newspapers. A few days later M. Michel Guyard, chief pilot at the Challes-les-Eaux airfield (three and a half miles south of the Croix du Nivolet) reported that at the same time as the Col du Chat sighting he thought he had seen a flying saucer, but had identified it as a flock of starlings in flight. Everybody was satisfied with such a reassuring explanation, given by such a well-qualified person.
Nobody had enough curiosity to take a look at the map. The map shows that the Croix du Nivolet, where the object was first seen motionless, is almost five miles as the crow flies from the radio station of Mont Revard, where it hovered before its final departure. So you have to choose between two possibilities:
(1) If M. Martinet and the other witnesses estimated correctly, or at a minimum, the actual distance of the object, then in four and a half minutes it covered almost five miles. An average speed of almost a mile a minute is pretty good for starlings. And this assumes that the phenomenon flew in a straight line between the two points; if not, the actual speed would be even greater -- not to mention the stops and the final lightning-fast departure.
(2) If the witnesses overestimated the distance of the object then it was closer to them than they thought, and farther away from Challes-les-Eaux; in that case the pilot could not have seen what they saw, and his starling flight is of no use as an explanation. It is impossible to escape this dilemma.
This case is one of the classics of the period. It is very well known in France, where its dramatic character made a sensation at the time. It is to be noted that all its reporters (for example, Guieu, in Blackout sur les soucoupes volantes, p. 137) repeated the incorrect date given in the first newspaper report -- even those who later made a long investigation at Chabeuil. It was not Sunday the 28th when the event occurred but Sunday the 26th, since the 28th fell on Tuesday and the Sunday date is known to be correct.
M. and Mme. Leboeuf, of Valence, had gone to spend Sunday with Mme. Leboeuf's grandfather in Chabeuil, which is 60 miles south of Lyon and seven or eight miles east of Valence. In the afternoon Mme. Leboeuf, accompanied by her dog Dolly, went to gather mushrooms in the woods, not far from the cemetery where there were several people. M. Leboeuf was at least one hundred yards away from his wife. It was not long after four o'clock when the dog began to bark and then started howling miserably. She looked around and saw the little animal standing at the edge of a wheatfield [sic, throughout], in front of something that she thought at first was a scarecrow. But going closer, she saw that the "scarecrow" was some kind of small diving suit, made of translucent plastic material, three feet tall or a little taller, with a head that was also translucent -- and suddenly she realized that inside the diving suit was a Thing, and that behind the blurred transparency of the "helmet" two eyes were looking at her; at least she had the impression of eyes, but they seemed larger than human eyes. As she realized this, the diving suit began to move toward her, with a kind of quick, waddling gait.
Until then, Mme. Leboeuf had felt no more than a slight surprise and curiosity, for she did not realize that she was seeing anything out of the ordinary. But the rapid and startling approach of the translucent diving suit unnerved her. She uttered a cry of terror, took to her heels, and fled into a nearby thicket to hide. Then she turned and looked, but she could no longer see anything out of the ordinary. The dog continued to howl, and all the dogs in the village joined in. All at once a big metallic object, circular and rather flat, rose up behind some nearby trees, moving off nearly on a level with the wheatfield at moderate speed, while a slight whistling sound was heard. The object rose slightly as it crossed the wheatfield, then veered suddenly and took off toward the northeast at tremendous speed, gaining altitude as it did so.
Hearing the howls of the dog, his wife's cry of terror, and the peculiar whistling, M. Leboeuf ran up, as did the people in the cemetery, who said that they too had heard these sounds. The dogs stopped howling, and the whole village was soon on the spot. At the place among the trees from which the "aircraft" had risen, they found a circle ten or eleven feet in diameter, where shrubs and bushes had been crushed. From one of the acacia trees at the edge of this circular imprint hung down a branch more than three inches thick, broken by pressure from above. The branch of another acacia, which hung over the circular mark eight and a half feet above the ground, was entirely stripped of its leaves. The first few yards of wheat, in the path of the object as it took off through the field, were flattened out in radiating lines.
Mme. Leboeuf was found in a state of nervous collapse. She was put to bed, where she remained for two days with a high fever. As for Dolly, the dog, she was still trembling with fright three days later.
What struck the French public in reading this story was the number of disturbing details: the nervous shock suffered by Mme. Leboeuf and by the dog, which the first reporters and the investigators could see with their own eyes; the freakish traces left by the object, and the noises -- especially the strange whistling -- which many other people besides Mme. Leboeuf declared to have heard.
To all this we must add another fact that nobody picked up at the time because of the error in dates, and because the observation from the Col du Chat had been so completely "explained." When the Chabeuil object departed toward the northeast, it was a little after 4:30 P.M. Col du Chat is 65 miles directly northeast of Chabeuil in a straight line, and the Col du Chat witnesses saw an object arrive from the south at 5:12, half an hour or so later. Two miles a minute may be a snail's pace for an interplanetary saucer; for a flock of starlings, on the other hand, it is quite a respectable speed.
During the night of September 26-27, about 2:30 A.M., a car returning from Val-les-Bains along Route D-130, in the department of Gard, stopped at Foussignargues to drop off Mme. Julien and her son Andre. Then it started off again for Gagnieres, two miles farther north.
Mme. and M. Julien had turned onto Route D-51 toward their village of Besseges, about half a mile beyond, when they noticed in the sky to the east a reddish luminous object, encircled by a halo of dimmer light; it seemed to be moving toward the ground, slowing down as it dropped, and finally disappeared behind a hill. By now the automobile in which they had been riding was several hundred yards away from them, to the northeast; the remaining passengers also noticed the peculiar red light descending toward the ground.
Ten minutes later, Mme. Roche, living at a place called Revety, in the hills by Route D-51, went out on her terrace for a breath of air. Her eyes were at once caught by the red light coming from a round luminous object, apparently on the ground beside the road a hundred yards or so away, and lower down. "It was rather like a luminous tomato," she described it later. "Five or six little vertical stalks, rather thick, came out of the center of it on top."
Wondering whether she could be dreaming, Mme. Roche looked at the strange sight for a moment. As nothing moved, she finally wakened her husband. M. Louis Roche (a roadworker in Besseges) came out, and saw that his wife was certainly not dreaming. They stood watching for twenty minutes, not daring to go down and look more closely. Then they went back to bed, for it was cold. But M. Roche, puzzled and uneasy, could not get back to sleep. Around 3:30 he got up to look again; the object was still there, still with its strange red light. In the end, fear got the better of his curiosity and he went back indoors, anxious to see daylight come. At dawn he went outside again. There was nothing there any more. He examined the place, and could not notice anything in particular.
The three groups of Foussignargues witnesses -- Mme. and M. Julien on Route D-51, the other passengers who returned to Gagnieres, and M. and Mme. Roche at Revety -- came forward separately during the following days, and nothing was published in the press until October 2. Even as an isolated case, Foussignargues has good claims to authenticity. But everything that we have noticed about alignments seems to forbid us to consider it in isolation; for the three observations of the Col du Chat, Chabeuil, and Foussignargues are in line, and so aligned as to give cause for reflection.
Chabeuil -- Col du Chat -- Foussignargues
That the time sequence does not indicate a continuous trajectory -- the earliest of the three sightings is the middle one geographically -- does not detract in any way from the significance of the straight line.
The really strange fact is, that a straight line drawn between the two "landing places," will not cross the position of the Col du Chat witnesses, but the place where they thought the craft was maneuvering. ...
... The Mystery Comes Closer -- The Events Of October 3
Another day rich in extraordinary events is about to begin. Where the 2nd seems dedicated to geometry, the 3rd of October represents interstellar intimacy, if the flying saucer is what it seems to be. Never before had the mysterious phenomenon approached men as closely as it did that day.
The fact that it was Sunday can be considered a piece of luck; more people than usual were outdoors, the weather being fine and clear, and they remembered what they saw. Accordingly when, long after the crisis, it was possible to think of classifying the October cases, that Sunday's events quickly assumed a sharp outline.
There were more than thirty good sightings that day. Almost all of them occurred between 7:20 and 9:30 P.M., and they were grouped largely in two relatively small areas on the map.
About a third of the sightings spread out from the center of France over five or six departments, as far as the eastern border.
The second group, almost two thirds of the sightings, was found to lie within an area of about 75 by 45 miles, bounded on the northeast by the Lille region, not far from Belgium, and on the southwest by Amiens and the Somme River. In this area the witnesses declared, almost without exception, that they had seen, in more or less detail, a circular object several yards in diameter, luminous, changing color and even form from time to time.
Joining these observations in chronological order produced a complicated zigzag showing that the region longest flown over was a rough square, about 40 miles to a side, between Arras and the Belgian frontier. A curious fact, seeming to confirm the unanimity of the descriptions, was that there was no case of a simultaneous sighting at two points far removed; it was as if a single object had wandered about that night over the three departments of Nord, Pas-de-Calais, and the Somme. And if this really occurred, then it is not in the least astonishing that the sightings were so numerous, for this industrial region is the most thickly populated in France.
Zigzag Over Mining Country, 7:20 to 9:30 P.M.
Chereng, 7:20 P.M. -- The first sighting was reported at Chereng, a country village between Lille and Tournai, some six miles east of Lille. The weather was clear, the sky cloudless. Chereng was celebrating its "ducasse," the day of its patron saint.
Suddenly, at 7:20, strollers a little to the west of the village saw in the sky a kind of luminous oblong shape, traveling at a low altitude and at full speed. When it reached the height of the footbridge spanning the little Marque River, the object stopped, emitted what seemed to be sparks, and descended.
The witnesses broke into a run and headed for the bridge. But at their approach the object immediately gained altitude and disappeared just as it had arrived. The whole scene had lasted scarcely more than ten seconds, in total silence. Investigation also revealed that numerous other persons in the vicinity had witnessed either the arrival or the departure.
Marcoing, 8 P.M. -- Thus, at about 7:20, the object slipped out of sight of the residents of Chereng. From then until 8 o'clock, no sighting.
At 8 o'clock Mlle. Anne-Marie Perrut, daughter of a policeman at Marcoing, 35 miles south of Chereng, was looking out of her window when her attention was drawn to a strange spectacle. Several hundred yards from the police station, above the Gouillet woods, a luminous object hung motionless in the air. It was circular, and orange-red in color. A little below this immobile object, and as though suspended from it, she saw a small spot of light with a kind of see-saw movement. Mlle. Perrut watched for a moment, distrusting her own eyes; then she called her father, who at first refused to be disturbed. After several minutes, as the object was still there, Anne-Marie begged so insistently that her father finally consented to come. Then it was the policeman's turn to ask himself if he were seeing things, for there was the object, just as his daughter had been telling him. M. Perrut routed out his colleagues, policemen Faucambergue, Delande, and Bleuzot and their families: soon there were twenty witnesses.
After a moment, while the strange visitor continued to remain motionless above Gouillet woods, the policemen sought other witnesses. They stopped bicyclists who passed the police station. All could see the same spectacle. The luminous ball did not take off; but it was seen from time to time to rise or descend somewhat, apparently in a vertical line.
Shortly after 8:30, the object underwent a sudden transformation: the spot of light suspended below it disappeared, while the ball itself assumed a shape like that of a cigar, or a disk viewed edgewise. According to the police, it was then possible to estimate its altitude as 1,800 or 2,000 feet. Almost immediately after its metamorphosis, the object moved away horizontally, in the shape of a crescent, as if the disk had bent over; it then returned to the same spot, remained there for a few moments, and finally took off at great speed in the direction of Villiers-Plouich, about three and a half miles to the south of Marcoing; there, as it disappeared, it threw out a beam of light so intense as to illuminate the sky several seconds after the object itself had disappeared. The time was 8:45 P.M.
An investigation conducted by the Marcoing police showed that the object had been observed at the moment of its arrival by numerous witnesses at Iwuy, Escaudoeuvres, and Noyelles-sur-l'Escaut, three villages situated on a line northeast of Marcoing, at distances of about 10, 6, and 2 miles respectively. It had thus arrived from the north. And Chereng, where the first sighting was reported, lies just 35 miles north of Marcoing.
The value of the Marcoing sighting rests principally on the exactness of the details unanimously furnished by about a hundred witnesses, in many independent groups, and on the competence of policemen accustomed to establishing the facts of a case objectively. Here are the observed details: the object presented in turn, and in accordance with its motions and positions, the form of a circle, of a plate, or of a cigar; its luminosity varied in proportion to its speed. All these details are familiar.
Herissart to Amiens, just before 9 P.M. -- The next sighting began several minutes later, at a point 33 miles southwest of Marcoing. Since the police of Marcoing had distinctly seen the phenomenon disappear in this direction, the time is confirmed by the location, and vice versa. Several minutes after 8:45, while the Marcoing witnesses saw the object disappear toward the southwest, an automobile driven by Mme. Nelly Mansart, of No. 8, Rue de la Marliere, Amiens (Somme), was leaving Herissart. With Mme. Mansart were two other Amiens residents, M. and Mme. Delarouzee.
As the car was about to turn left into the Amiens road, the three motorists suddenly saw, at low altitude, a luminous ball in the sky, its color a brilliant orange. On closer observation its shape seemed to be "like a mushroom hat."
The upper part of the "mushroom" appeared to vibrate as it changed color from violet to greenish, whi1e short "cables" of some kind hung from the bottom surface. The witnesses estimated the object's dimensions at 20 or 25 feet, its distance at 150 yards.
Mme. Mansart made the turn at the crossroad. She then perceived that the object, now almost at ground level, had also turned and was following her car, always at the same distance. The three motorists grew frightened. Mme. Mansart speeded up, the sooner to reach Rubempre, a village about a mile away, in hopes that the mysterious object would be intimidated by the houses and go away. And in fact it slanted off and disappeared. But hardly were the travelers clear of the village than they again saw behind them, still almost level with the ground and almost no distance away, the tenacious "mushroom." It had detoured the village, and now regained the road!
The next village was Pierregot, a mile or so distant. The three motorists began to wonder what this importunate follower wanted of them, and how it would end. At the outskirts of Pierregot, the same maneuver: it slanted off and disappeared. Mme. Mansart continues:
"As we left Pierregot, seeing that the object had rejoined us once again, I stopped the car. The 'saucer' continued on for three or four hundred yards, and then it stopped too, going around in circles, almost on the ground. I waited a moment, then started the car again. It again took up its position and the pursuit.
"It was only as we entered Rainneville, six miles from Amiens, that we saw the 'saucer' leave us, and this time for good. It turned off toward the west, picked up speed, and disappeared with dizzying rapidity in that direction."
This astounding adventure all occurred in four or five miles of driving, and in less than six minutes. It was about 9:05.
Waben to Rue, 9:05 P.M. -- At this moment, M. Georges Galland, a businessman of Rue (Somme), was driving, with his wife and son, along Route N-40 between Waben and Rue, 40 miles west of Pierregot. And the same scene was re-enacted.
Like the three Amiens motorists, the three of Rue suddenly perceived an orange object in the sky.
They also saw at once that the object was following them. At this place the road, practically deserted, runs through sandy, swampy terrain. The car's occupants were not to undergo Mme. Mansart's experience among the villages. M. Galland slowed down to 30 miles an hour and could see the object do the same, following them almost at ground level some hundred yards away. Just before Rue, after pursuing them for five miles, the object suddenly picked up speed, veered to the right, and disappeared over St-Quentin-en-Tourmont in the direction of the sea.
Meanwhile, at Quend, a tiny hamlet 100 yards off Route N-40 and three miles north of Rue, residents saw an object pass overhead at the place and the time the Gallands said they were pursued. The two sightings thus confirm one another.
The times and directions of the Mansart and the Galland sightings correspond perfectly. Mme. Mansart and her companions saw the object disappear at top speed toward the west, and Rue is west-northwest of Rainneville. The times are the same within a few minutes.
Armentieres, 9:15 P.M. -- A few minutes later, the sightings again follow one another, once more in the same region as at the outset, further north. If the cases do concern the same object, then the one observed by the Gallands departed toward the sea, and rapidly climbed high above the waves in the darkness before returning to earth, six miles or so west of Lille.
Rue de Fleury in Armentieres was still very much alive at that hour, when a pedestrian, looking up at the sky, discovered a perfectly motionless luminous object. He showed it to those around him. Everyone stopped. Soon the whole neighborhood was looking at it, commenting on it, and exchanging impressions. The object remained perfectly still. One man produced a pair of field glasses, examined the distant object at length, then passed the glasses around among others nearby. With the naked eye one could see a kind of cupola, "a mushroom," some said, while others called it a "half-moon." It was yellow-orange, or golden, in color, with a sort of elongated greenish spot. The binoculars confirmed this description. Observation from the ground continued for several minutes, when suddenly the object, till then motionless, cut loose at lightning speed and disappeared toward the south-southwest in the direction of Fleurbaix. The time was then 9:20.
Lievin, 9:30 P.M. -- Ten minutes later M. Jean Lecoq, of Lievin, observed a curious spectacle to the south, above the plateau of Lorette. At a low altitude in the sky a luminous object, elongated in shape but rounded on the top, was lightly balanced. Lecoq stopped a number of persons and pointed out the "apparition." In no time at all he had a crowd of one hundred persons. Of a sudden a "something" detached itself from the lower part, descended rapidly to earth, stayed there a few seconds, and rose again to fasten itself at the point it had left. The object then took off southward, dropping out of sight in the valley below.
Ablain-St-Nazaire, 9:30 P.M. -- In the valley, less than a mile from the Lorette plateau, lies the village of Ablain-St-Nazaire. And residents of this village at the same hour saw the same phenomenon.
Gliding gently through the sky, a luminous object came from the north. When it was rather close it stopped, and seemed to divide itself in two. While the upper part remained motionless, its lower part descended, landed in a field between two haystacks, and soon ascended to reattach itself to the part left in the air. Having regained its initial shape, the object took off and rapidly disappeared.
The two groups of witnesses did not know one another (there are 31,000 inhabitants in the commune of Lievin), but even today neither groups [sic] knows that they were not the only ones to witness the bizarre maneuver carried out twice, at places only about three miles apart and at an interval of perhaps one minute.
But certainly the most remarkable thing about this occasion is that the succession of times and places after Armentieres suggests the rectilinear displacement of an object. The witnesses at Armentieres last saw the object rapidly disappearing toward Fleurbaix, southeast, at 9:20; and the sightings that began ten minutes later took place 20 miles south-southeast of Armentieres.
Vron, 6:45 P.M. -- After 9:30 P.M. there were no more observations in that region on October 3. Evidently the flying saucer (or the hallucination) deserted northern France from that moment on. But there was one more sighting, one of the most extraordinary of all. Though it happened at 6:45 P.M. and thus precedes Chereng, I did not describe it first because it derives its value as a consequence of the others.
On Sunday evening, October 3, two young men of Vron (Somme) were riding their bicycles along Route D-27. Vron is a little village five miles from both Rue and Quend, the area where, two and a half hours later, the second pursuit of a car by an unidentified object would take place.
About 6:45, as the Vron cyclists were two and a half miles from Ligescourt, they suddenly perceived, 150 yards ahead, in the middle of the road, a sort of luminous device emitting an orange light. The witnesses, Bernard Devoisin and Rene Coudette, both 18 years old at the time, tell the story:
"It was circular, three yards wide, perhaps two yards high, and called to mind the shape of a haystack. Near it something moved, which we first took for an animal. But as we approached it we soon saw that it was a creature the height of a child, dressed like a diver. It entered the machine, which took rapidly to the air without a sound when we were no further than 70 yards away from it."
To those who interrogated them the two boys appeared to be sincere. It should be noted that the object they described -- an orange-luminous disk with high-domed top-strongly resembles the one reported by hundreds of other witnesses in the hours that followed. As for the "little creature" they claimed to have seen, it bears an unmistakable resemblance to those described by other persons many times in the course of the autumn of 1954. ...
Stars and Cars -- October 7
For October 5 and 6 there were not enough reliably dated reports for analysis. But Thursday, October 7, was doubly remarkable: first, for its spider web of orthotenic lines, and second, for the first appearance of a new and striking phenomenon.
Midnight to Dawn
Except for an occasional baker or bus driver, everyone sleeps at night in the country. But at sea someone is always on watch.
In the middle of the night of October 6-7, many fishing vessels put out to sea from Plozevet, a small village in Finistere, at the extreme tip of Brittany. They saw, in the sky on the land side, "a spot of orange-colored light surrounded by a cloud of dense smoke. It hung motionless at first, then rapidly crossed the sky and disappeared toward the southeast." In the village, a fisherman's family observed the same object descending very low, perhaps within thirty feet of the ground, before disappearing.
M. Guy Jeanty, a baker, of Marcillac-de-Blaye (Gironde), near the mouth of the Garonne and 250 miles due southeast of Plozevet, was working at his ovens. At 2 A.M. he stepped outside for a breath of air. Suddenly, toward the northwest, there appeared a luminous object crossing the western sky at a low altitude -- perhaps 250 feet, the baker estimated. Its speed was moderate. The lighted object disappeared in the direction of Bussac, toward the southeast.
If Plozevet is joined to a point a mile or two west of Marcillac (which the baker's sighting warrants), the line thus formed touches, 80 miles farther to the southeast, the little village of Montpezat-d'Agenais, north of Agen (Lot-et-Garonne), where an unidentified object was also reported during the early morning hours.
At the other end of France lies Isles-sur-Suippes (Marne), 15 miles northeast of Reims. Also very early in the morning, M. Joseph Roy, mechanic in the Panhard factory, was riding his bicycle along Route N-51 when directly in front of him and very low there was a burst of intense light which he at first mistook for car headlights. The light moved a little in the darkness, then went out. M. Roy continued to pedal and soon came to the place where the light had disappeared. In the field near the road an object about three yards long, shaped like "a giant artillery shell," could be seen by the dim light emanating from its "portholes." In front of this object moved a small dark form which the frightened bicyclist did not stop to examine, and which he could not describe. He pedaled for dear life to the nearest police station. The police went back with him to the road where he had passed the apparition, and found strange marks in the soft earth of the field. Subsequent investigations revealed that three other workmen a few miles away, bicycling to their night jobs, had seen a ball of fire descending toward the place where M. Roy saw the "shell" and the dark form.
At 4 A.M. M. Edouard Thebault, a 36-year-old farmer of Beruges (Vienne), got up for the day's work. The ceiling of his room was strangely illuminated. Out the window he saw a luminous object, two or three yards in diameter, settled on the road a few yards away from the house. When he struck a light, "an enormous light appeared on the machine also, and swept all around." M. Thebault ran to wake his father, but when they returned to the window, the object had disappeared. These five sightings were the earliest on this remarkable Thursday, October 7. At first classified as "poor" sightings, since the descriptions were vague or "incredible" and in three cases involved only one observer, they are in fact extremely important.
Two hours later several strange phenomena took place in the department of Sarthe.
About 6:20 A.M. M. Alexander Tremblay was driving his truck along a side road not far from Route N-138, the major highway running between Le Mans and Alencon. Near St-Jean-d'Asse, as he was going up a slight hill, his motor suddenly died and his headlights went out. He braked automatically, put the clutch in neutral, and stepped on the starter. Nothing happened. Flashlight in hand, M. Tremblay got out to investigate; strangely enough, the flashlight worked. As M. Tremblay raised the hood of his car, he saw in the sky above the road "an intense blue light which seemed to be directed toward me. After several seconds the light went off. Somewhat baffled, I tried the starter again, the motor began to turn over, and the headlights came back on."
Objects resembling the one described by M. Tremblay were reported in flight, around the same time, in the sky above Ballon, a village a few miles east of St-Jean-d'Asse and in the following case.
Route N-23, near le Mans; Lavenay
At almost the same moment some workmen from the Renault factory
were riding their bicycles along Route N-23, to the east of Le Mans and some 20 miles southeast of the spot where M. Tremblay had his encounter. Suddenly they felt a disagreeable prickling all through their bodies and saw an intense greenish light pouring out of a luminous object near the road. Partially paralyzed, they managed to get off their bicycles. In a few seconds the lighted object flew off rapidly, very close to the ground, and disappeared.
A little later, about 35 miles southeast of Ballon and 20 miles from the spot on Route N-23 where the Renault workers had their weird experience, numerous witnesses at Lavenay, also in the Sarthe, saw a kind of "luminous flying egg" pass overhead, going southeast. ...
Proximity Day -- October 11
More than half the sightings reported for Monday, October 11, were marked by the close approach of an airborne object to the observer, or by an observer's close approach to a landed object, with some of the striking results that we have noticed before in such cases.
Fronfrede (Loire), 4:15 A.M. -- As the night of October 10-11 was ending, M. Baptiste Jourdy, aged 30, milk-truck driver, was crossing the mountains south of St-Etienne, on his daily collection. It was still completely dark, with an overcast sky; nothing but his headlight broke the obscurity of the deserted countryside. Suddenly, as he approached the fork where the road to Le Chambon-Feugerolles branches off, near the village of Fronfrede, his engine died and his headlights went out. He stopped instinctively, put the engine in neutral, set the handbrake, and got out to inspect the ignition.
He had hardly set foot on the ground when he noticed overhead, flying under the clouds and at right angles to the road, a glowing multicolored object, apparently of considerable size. It crossed the road in front of him and went into the distance at high speed; he watched it for a minute or two, then, recovering from his amazement, he saw that his headlights were shining again. He climbed back into the truck and tried the starter; the engine turned over as usual, and he set off on his rounds.
Clamecy (Nievre), 4:30 A.M. -- Fifteen minutes later and 150 miles farther north, MM. Henri Gallois and Louis Vigneron, grain merchants of Clamecy, were on their way to the fair at Corbigny when they had an equally startling adventure. "We had not gone far from Clamecy," M. Gallois said, "when suddenly, near Sassier, I felt something like an electric shock all through my body, and so did M. Vigneron. At the same time the motor stalled and the headlights went out. Paralyzed, unable to move, we could only sit there wondering what had happened, and watching. Then we saw that about fifty yards away from us in the meadow next to the road there was a round object or machine, and alongside it we could see very clearly three small figures, with quick, lively movements and gestures. But soon the figures seemed to disappear into the object, which then flew off very rapidly. Almost at once our headlights went on again, and we could move and start the car."
Besides M. Vigneron's detailed confirmation of this account, a resident of the nearby village of Cary, M. Henri Chaumeau, had also seen, shortly after 4:30, a shining object rise over the woods and speed away under the low-hanging clouds.
Vernusse (Cote-d'Or), 4:20 A.M. -- Meanwhile, between these two cases of hallucinated machines, an incident of another type had occurred. M. Labonde, of Epinac-les-Mines (Saone-et-Loire), was driving between Thury and Champignolles on Route D-104 when, as he left the Vernusse woods, he became aware that a strange reddish glow was lighting up the dark interior of his car. Glancing around, he discovered that a luminous crimson globe almost six feet in diameter was about 75 feet behind him above the road, and seemed to be following the car.
M. Labonde nervously speeded up, then slowed down. The object was still coming after him. He turned into Route D-14, which led toward the village Lacanche, and pushed the accelerator down to the floor; the object still kept pace behind him. But the moment the car arrived at Lacanche, the luminous globe swerved, climbed into the sky, and disappeared.
This might have been some trick of light reflection in the windshield, if it were not for the spreading glow of light, the variable distance of the object from the car, and its final departure at Lacanche -- which recalls the Herissart-Amiens and Waben-Rue cases on October 3, in which the objects also seemed to avoid villages.
Panic Among the Cows - Beauquay (Calvados). -- Just before daybreak, a Normandy farmer was on his way through the fields to milk his cow. Suddenly an uncanny red light began to spread across the dark landscape, growing rapidly brighter. The farmer, and two others nearby, watched a huge red object, elongated but lacking any well-defined shape, coming toward them at a very low altitude. It was so close to the ground that it "scraped the treetops," the witnesses said, and the shadows of the hedgerows shifted as the object moved above them. Its speed was rapid but not extraordinary. The terrified cows, their bells jangling wildly, scattered in all directions.
When the fantastic apparition had receded into the distance, the farmer caught his cow, and set to work. But the cow, insulted and injured, was on strike. The other two farmers tried their hand, but had to acknowledge defeat. No milk was forthcoming until the next morning.
Heimersdorf. -- Also at dawn on the 11th, Miles. Anny and Roselyne Pracht, young girls living in Heimersdorf (Haut-Rhin), were puzzled, as they left their house, by a strange light that seemed to come from the neighboring pasture. Thinking that there must be a grass fire, they went toward the light, only to discover a glowing disk, six feet high. At their approach it turned incandescent red, shot up into the air, and disappeared over the horizon. The take off and swift departure were observed by two other villagers. There was no noise.
Next, three reports from the evening of the 11th claim our attention.
Tapignac (Charente-Maritime). -- Toward 7:30 P.M. three Bordeaux residents who prefer to remain anonymous were driving between Royan and Breuillet along Route GC-40. They were at Tapignac when they noticed a reddish glow lighting up the sky and fields. They stopped the car, got out, and saw, two or three hundred yards from the road, a disk-shaped object, surmounted by a luminous orange-red dome, hovering silently about 30 feet above the ground. "It seemed to be suspended from an invisible thread, it hung there in such perfect equilibrium," they said.
They had watched it for several seconds when it began to move away, flying levelly and horizontally at the same height above the ground until it slipped behind a small woods only a short distance away. The object itself was no longer visible, but its light shone clearly through the trees.
Armed with a flashlight, two of the witnesses set off toward the woods. When they had walked about 400 yards they saw the machine again, landed in a field surrounded by trees. Near it were four little creatures about three feet tall, busily engaged in some mysterious activity or task. The motorists headed for the "little men"; but when they were only about fifty feet away the quartet of humanoids rounded the machine and disappeared inside. Almost at once the object began to change color -- to blue, to orange, to red -- dazzling the two witnesses; then left the ground at "terrifying" speed.
Chateauneuf-sur-Charente (Charente). -- Two hours later, 55 miles east, Mmes. Julia Juste, Maria Barbereau, and Marion Le Tanneur, all of Jarnac, were driving along Route D-14. "We were coming back from Bordeaux," they said, "and as we were about a mile from Chateauneuf, at about 10 o'clock, two luminous globes appeared in the sky ahead of us, at a low altitude. The car stalled and the headlights went out. We left the car and stood beside the road for almost five minutes, watching the two globes.
"One was much smaller than the others, and at first they moved slowly, apparently following the same direction as the road. Then they stopped, moved back and forth to right and left several times, and stopped again. The larger one became a brilliant white with a reddish halo. Finally both of them went straight down, disappearing from our view in the valley of the Charente River. We got the impression that they landed somewhere.
"We re-entered the car, which now ran properly, and started for Jarnac again; but later we were sorry that we did not wait to see if either of the objects would reappear. The night was very clear. The moon was shining, a little behind us and to the right."
Montbazens (Aveyron). -- This "proximity" case is the last report for October 11. About 10 P.M. six men were working in an automobile repair shop operated by M. Carriere, when the owner asked his son Bernard, a boy of 17, to bring him a tool. To do so the boy had to walk past a window and, glancing out, he noticed a bright glow which seemed to come from the adjacent field. "There's a fire at the Gimeno house!" he cried.
All the men ran out, but stopped dead in amazement when they saw the disk-shaped object, about four yards in diameter and emitting a powerful red light, that was parked in the field beside the Gimeno house. Most of them hesitated to approach it, but one, M. Gardelle, started forward for a closer look. He had gone only a few yards when the disk lifted noiselessly from the ground, and disappeared in a terrific burst of acceleration. M. Gardelle staggered back, his hands in front of his face. The others ran to him. He was choking and gasping for breath, stunned as if by a violent concussion.
When he was somewhat himself again, all six men went to the place where the disk had been resting, but could find no trace of anything unusual. The whole sighting had lasted no more than two or three minutes. All the witnesses were men of sound mind, steady nerves, without the smallest inclination toward "saucermania."
It is significant that in almost every one of these "proximity" cases the witnesses at first made a mistaken identification in the direction of the commonplace; they thought the object a fire, a car, a haystack, or some other familiar object or phenomenon. ...
... Order Hidden In Disorder -- The Flying Scales, October 18
Only a few days after the meeting at the Academy of Medicine one of my friends commented on it.
"That psychiatrist is right, you know! These supposed observations are all delusion. Do you remember those farmers in the Auvergne who swore they had seen a flying balance? A pair of luminous scales with its beam, its two pans swaying gently, and the whole thing flying around in the sky as easily as a jet plane! If that isn't a delusion, what is?"
I did remember the incident. Newspapers of October 20 had mentioned it, and I had received further details later. It had happened on October 18 in the late afternoon at St-Cirgues, in the Haute-Loire, in the mountains southwest of Lyon. To hear the farmers tell it, an object composed of two luminous balls connected by a "rod," also luminous, had been seen high up in the sky. The middle of the "rod" seemed to be fixed, but the two balls kept swaying like the pans of a balance. After this had gone on for a quarter of an hour, the whole apparatus suddenly started off at high speed and disappeared over the horizon. Other farmers in the same region had described the object, not as a balance, but as a "dumbbell."
The newspapers of course had a field day with the story.
Some time later I happened to mention to Commandant Morin, manager of the paper Ouest-France, the Auvergne farmers who thought they had seen a pair of flying scales.
"In the Auvergne?" he said. "I thought that happened in the Vendee."
Curious, I went through the papers for that part of the country, and before long I made a surprising discovery: an observation of a flying balance had indeed been reported in that region -- also on October 20. When I got full information, the details and the coincidences were astounding.
The sighting had taken place, not in the Vendee, but in the department of Charente-Maritime, which borders Vendee on the south. The evening of October 18, at 9 P.M. -- that is, after it was completely dark -- M. and Mme. Labassiere of Royan were driving from Saintes to Royan on Route N-150.
"Suddenly we noticed," they said, "flying at a rather low altitude, an object that was shaped like a balance and was rocking in the sky. One 'pan' was orange, the other red, and they were united by a trail of luminous green. It was the swaying or 'bouncing' of the two pans which suggested to us the likeness to a balance. The objects soon stopped dead above the fields, not far from us."
The couple stopped their car to see what would happen. "After a few seconds the luminous beam uniting the two objects faded and disappeared, and the objects landed separately not far from each other in a nearby field. We soon saw, in the light emitted dimly by each object, two very small creatures. They went toward one another, passed without stopping, and changed vehicles. Then the two balls went up into the sky at a dizzy acceleration, and disappeared over the horizon in a few seconds."
Investigation showed that several other people on Route N-150 had also seen this object, although not the landing nor the little creatures, which were reported only by M. and Mme. Labassiere.
In other words, a certain sight had been described accurately, with an interval of several hours, by two groups of witnesses about 250 miles apart, in exactly the same language, except that the Labassieres were able to give additional details because they were close to the object. ...
Further Events of October 18
... Three Creatures - St-Point. -- Another astonishing observation took place on Route N-437, on the shore of the lake of St-Point, in Doubs. At 10:45 in the evening Mlle. Marie-Louise Bourriot of Montperreux, 25 years old, was returning by motorcycle from Malbuisson.
When she had reached a spot near the buildings of an orphanage, she saw, about 200 yards ahead, a bright red light which illuminated the whole width of the road. She paid no attention to it, thinking that it was a car. As she approached, the light went out. When she had come to a place called Le Vezenay, in front of the former La Cascade mill, she saw just at her left a creature of human form, a little below average height, dressed in some kind of light-colored one-piece garment. As she rode past very close to him, two dwarf-like beings, little creatures walking on two legs but of a form difficult to describe, crossed the road in front of her, coming from the fields on the right, and joined the first creature.
At this moment Mlle. Bourriot, who so far had not thought of being afraid and who had been thinking of something else, became frightened and speeded up. A little farther on she turned around to see whether she was being followed, and noticed above the lake a luminous object rising vertically at great speed. Bewildered, the young woman went on to her home without trying to discover anything more. Next day, in the field from which she had seen the two small creatures coming, were found very small footprints and lightly-marked "furrows" making a right angle.
Unfortunately Mlle. Bourriot was the only witness for this extraordinary observation; if she was telling the truth, her report teaches us that "little beings" are not the only occupants of flying saucers: with them are "men." She stated that she saw very clearly, in her headlight, the person of human shape whom she nearly ran into. She is just as definite about him as she is positive that the "little creatures" were indescribable. To be sure, she said that he was "of a height a little below average." But what is important in a species is the anatomy and physiology rather than the height. If Mlle. Bourriot really saw a creature "of human form," it was most probably a man, and a man from earth. ...
Three Landings - Auvergne. -- One more report for October 18 should be reviewed briefly: three landings within a small area in neighboring Auvergne villages, and at hours very close together.
At 5:30 P.M. M. Bachelard, 42 years old, was driving a light truck from Gelles to Coheix (Puy-de-Dome). It was a clear, sunny day. When he was three or four miles from Coheix, going around a bend, he felt himself half paralyzed, and the motor of his truck gave signs of trouble. He tried to go faster, but his speed slowed down to less than 20 miles an hour. Just then he noticed in a nearby field, motionless, silent, without lights or windows, an elongated or flattened object about thirty feet long and four or five feet high. A few minutes later he reached Coheix and told of his adventure.
The local police were notified and came to question him; they also went to the indicated field, but found nothing out of the ordinary. But that same day two other landings had been reported in the vicinity. At Gelles several people asserted that they had seen an object, this one ovoid in shape and of smaller dimensions than the first, resting in a field. And at Cisternes-la-Foret (a few miles from Gelles and Coheix), two witnesses had seen on the ground an object of the same shape as the one at Gelles. When they approached, it flew off rapidly toward the northeast.
So ended the peak period of 1954 sightings -- surely an extraordinary collection of strange visions and inexplicable experiences. From these observations we must draw what conclusions we can. ...
Not included in the excerpts, above, were reports of startling events also being reported in the same period in Italy, as reviewed in the March, 1955, issue of Fate magazine...
Above: Cover for the March 1955, issue of Fate magazine in which the following appeared. Below: Opening pages of article.
SAUCERS OVER ITALY
The UFO looked like a half-cigar and made a thundering noise. It rose vertically, trailing white smoke.
By Jared Hamilton
IT came like the roll of approaching thunder -- thunder up close. It had a staccato effect like explosions in series. And like approaching thunder the explosions grew louder as the object neared.
Previous reports of unidentified flying objects have seldom mentioned noise. But this was noisy all right. And thousands of Roman citizens heard it. The radar antenna swung and focused. Pips appeared on the glowing screens.
Then the noise stopped. The object stopped, or appeared to stop, at an altitude of around 6,000 feet. It hung there for awhile. Certainly for minutes. Then suddenly it shot upward, trailing an exhaust of milky white smoke. Rising vertically it disappeared, leaving only a streamer of smoke as evidence of one of the most authentic flying saucer sightings ever reported.
The observatory at Ciampino at first described it as a flying cigar with an antenna on top. The Italian defense department described it as a kind of shortened cone, with a smaller surface on the bottom -- or as two semicircular disks, one bigger than the other, with the larger atop the smaller.
Sensational saucer photograph taken on November 30, 1954, in Taormina, Sicily, is one of several being investigated by U.S. Air Force and armed forces of European governments. UFO's also have been photographed in Sweden and Yugoslavia. United Press Photo.
It wasn't only the speed with which it disappeared that astounded observers. It was the fact that it was able to hang vertically in the air for several minutes and apparently without any expenditure of power. It registered on radar sets in the Roman area for 39 minutes.
There was pretty general agreement that the Roman "half cigar" was silver-colored on one side and red on the other. It traveled northwest. At one time it appeared to approach the earth as close as 1,000 feet.
Among the persons who saw it were AP Correspondent Maurizio Andreolo; INS Correspondent Michael Chinigo, and United States Ambassador Clare Boothe Luce. Andreolo said it looked like a luminous silver coin. Mrs. Luce said, "I saw something, but I don't know what it was."
Chinigo said: "I saw with the naked eye the mysterious flying 'cigar' which flew over Rome and which clearly registered for 39 minutes on radar sets in the area ... To me it seemed like an inverted, sawed-off cone.
"Frankly I thought on seeing it that it must be some Italian or Allied experimental machine or perhaps a British craft in view of reports of Britain's progress in new type of aircraft. What was strange was the object's ability to 'park' in mid-air for several minutes."
This Italian sighting of September 17 was not the first, nor was it the last flying saucer seen over Italy. On November 11 the United Press reported that more than 400 UFO's had been reported throughout Italy in the previous 60 days. They performed acrobatics, scorched a grove of poplar trees, even dug a 20-foot crater in the earth.
On October 30 gray and white disk-like forms presented themselves to hundreds of Romans. A host of UFO's was seen sailing at low altitude over the sidewalk cafes of Via Veneto. "They were so nice, shining and sparkling," one resident said.
Mrs. James Hogg III, of Florence, Italy, wrote a letter to friends in Evansville, Ind., which was reprinted by the Evansville Press.
"The saucers are flying thick and fast around here and many a skeptic is eating his words," Mrs. Hogg wrote. "We're so annoyed, they've been over Florence three days in a row and we've managed to miss seeing them each time.
"Formations of them were seen over Livorno. The next day was even more interesting -- boats all along the Adriatic wired in descriptions in the space of a half hour, so that the course and speed could be fairly well plotted.
"Thursday night in a little town in the vicinity of Milan, around 10 o'clock, a man returning from the movies on his bike was passing the local sports field and noticed a light of exceptional intensity, a luminous body and nearby 'two small shadows' that emitted strange guttural sounds. He raced back into the town to call the police and described what he had seen.
"A whole group of people went back and later described figures with white pants, grey jackets, helmets seemingly of transparent plastic. The intense light of the disk enabled them to perceive a face of dark color with a notable prominence, that recalled a little elephant!' (breathing apparatus?).
"The description was of a disk divided in two parts, illuminated by a green light that rested on the ground on three points. The superior part was a hemispheric cabin illuminated by a silver light so strong as to annoy the eyes, and on top of the cabin an antenna. When finally they were able to force the gates and approach the figures, they retreated toward the disk ... 'all present followed with beating hearts, none unfortunately, was armed but they found a box of fruit and threw that.'
"Then Il Signor Giacomo Stefanoni tried to sic his big Boxer dog against the Martians but the beast, intimidated, instead bit his master in the jacket. While Stefanoni sought to liberate himself from his dog, the two strangers succeeded in reaching the disk and a few minutes later, with a sound similar to a shrill boat whistle, it lifted itself vertically from 'the ground.' "
Mrs. Hogg, who wrote the above letter, is secretary to Bernard Berensen, famed art critic and writer. Her husband teaches at an art academy in Florence.
[The article then continues on with sightings in the United States.]
But though impressive as all such stories were in their detail, the sightings in continental Europe are primarily remembered today for a new and sometimes frightening development in the saucer reports -- strange encounters with "little men", accounts of which were first reported in the United States by way of the national magazines. First up was a derisive report in the October 25, 1954, edition of Time magazine...
Above: Story in Time magazine.
Science: Martians over France
One morning last October, Jean Narcy, a road mender of Haute-Marne, France, was riding to work on his bicycle. In a wheat field he saw a little whiskered man just under 4 ft. tall, who wore a fur coat, an orange corset and a plush cap.
"Bonjour," said M. Narcy.
The little man muttered something like "I'll be seeing you." Then he jumped into a small (10 ft. in diameter) flying saucer, took off with a buzzing sound and disappeared into the clouds.
With Narcy's "hairy Martian" as a starting point, the French press ran wild, and a deluge of Martians has been raining down ever since. They have come in flying cigars, crowns, comets, winged mushrooms, even a flying chamber pot. Unlike Americans who have seen flying saucers, the French "sighters" paid little attention to the vehicles. They were more interested in the people from space.
The Martians were, anything but standardized. One who stopped M. Roger Barrault near the town of Lavoux had brilliant eyes, an enormous mustache, wore rubbers and spoke Latin. Another asked M. Pierre Lucas, a Breton baker, for a light. He was bearded and had a single eye in the middle of his forehead. M. Lucas could not remember what language he spoke.
Paralyzing Pygmies. As the Martian invasion of France proceeded, the invaders became more bizarre. A troup [sic] of pygmies in plastic helmets gamboled down a railroad track near Quarouble and transfixed M. Marius Dewilde with "a paralyzing beam of light." Some Martians were blue, others were yellow or pink. A traveling salesman of the Cotes-du-Nord saw a wonderful sight: a deep rose flying cigar from which stepped a zebra-striped Martian. As he alighted, he changed color, chameleonlike, from yellow to green.
The Martians marched en masse into French affairs. Cartoonists welcomed them delightedly (see cuts). As they multiplied, they even gained respectability. Le Figaro reported: "Counsellor General of Alpes Maritimes greets flying saucers' first appearance on the Cote d'Azur." France Soir announced that "a daily flying-saucer service seems to have been established between Marais Poitevin and La Rochelle." A man from space even made the social columns of Paris Presse: "Mustached Martian spends weekend at Vienna." Angry deputies asked questions in Parliament. Air Force authorities (even as in the U.S.) were badgered for explanations.
Before the many-colored Martians rained down on France, famed Swiss Psychiatrist C.G. Jung was asked what he thought about the saucer epidemic.
"Something is being seen," said Jung. "What is seen may be, in the case of a single observer, a subjective vision (hallucination). In the case of several or many observers, it may be a collective vision. Such a psychic phenomenon ... could be a spontaneous reaction of the subconscious to the present conscious situation: the fear of an apparently insoluble political situation in the world ... At such times eyes turn heavenwards ... and miraculous forebodings of a threatening or consoling nature appear from on high."
No More Dreams. Dr. Jung blames the U.S. Air Force for mishandling the saucer epidemic and for permitting irresponsible journalists to pump it for bits of sensational-sounding information.* He does not believe that the saucers are space ships. Those that are not hallucinations, he thinks, are probably misinterpretations of physical objects or effects. But he was willing to speculate about the effect on the human race of an invasion by beings from another world.
"Should the origin of the phenomenon turn out to be an extraterrestrial one," said Dr. Jung, "it would prove an intelligent interplanetary link. The impact of such a fact on humanity is unforeseeable. But, without doubt, we would be placed in the very questionable position of today's primitive societies that clash with the superior cultures of the white race. All initiative would be wrested from us. As an old witch doctor once said to me, with tears in his eyes: We would 'have no more dreams.'
"Our sciences and technology would go to the junk pile. What such a catastrophe would mean morally we can gauge by the pitiful decline of the primitive cultures that takes place before our eyes. The capacity to manufacture [interplanetary space ships] points to a technology towering sky high over ours.
"Just as the Pax Britannica made an end to tribal warfare in Africa, so our world could roll up its Iron Curtain and use it for scrap ... This might not be so bad. But we would have been 'discovered' and colonized."
*The most complete deflation of the flying-saucer delusion was written by Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, who was in charge of the Air Force's careful saucer investigation from 1951 to 1953. It was printed in the May issue of True Magazine, which had much to do with augmenting the saucer hubbub. Captain Ruppelt's conclusion: visiting space ships are theoretically possible, but there has been no evidence to support this possibility.
A week later, in its November 1, 1954, edition, Life magazine -- sister publication to Time magazine -- included a pictorial feature on the European reports (see original here)...
Above: Story on saucer landings and small-men encounters during the French sightings wave, in the November 1, 1954 edition of Life magazine.
Dumpy little space man they saw land in luminous sphere on basketball court near Toulouse is drawn on barn by Francois Panero (left) and Jean Olivier.
The summer in France had been enough to unnerve anyone. It had rained steadily. The crops were bad. The rabbits had died off by the thousands. And it was absolutely the worst wine year since the war. France was in no state to cope with another crisis, but it came anyway. Out of the autumn skies, from Brittany to the Riviera, dropped a covey of extraterrestrial vehicles and unearthly men. They were not the vaguely described objects sometimes seen by children and frightened old ladies. Good solid citizens: farmers, bakers and other workingmen, who had the reputation for being reliable, swore they had seen them. They even drew diagrams and pictures to prove it. The vehicles they described were of many shapes: whirling disks, flying cigars, crowns, comets and winged mushrooms. They left skid marks in the grass at one place, gashes on a wooden railway tie in another. Out of these conveyances stepped little men of many colors, mostly pleasing pastels, though one had zebra stripes and another changed color with chameleonlike ease. They wore plastic helmets, sleeveless diving suits, orange corsets or cellophane wrappers, and spoke English, French or even Latin. Some, however, were left speechless by what they saw.
Frenchmen report meetings with
MARTIAN MEN'S HEIGHT is shown by two bakers, Pierre Lucas (left) of Loctudy was going to well when, he said, orange ball fell from the sky. Suddenly a small bearded figure with one eye in the middle of his forehead tapped him on shoulder. Serge Pochet (right) of Marcoing was approached by two small shadows.
GLOBULAR SPACESHIP SKETCH (right) by Gregoire Odut depicts golden disk he saw zoom from Wassy after two-legged creature leaped out for hasty look.
DESCRIBING SAUCER TAKE-OFF from field near Amiens, Yves de Gillaboz (left), Emile Renard point to sky where they saw "Martian machine" belching puffs of smoke as it vanished from sight.
HATLIKE SPACESHIP SKETCH (right) was drawn in dirt by Jean Narcy to describe craft he says landed in a field near Wassy. From it emerged a little whiskered man in fur coat and orange corset.
SAUCER SCRATCHES on railroad tie were circled in chalk by Marius Dewilde of Quarouble who carries the tie home to preserve proof of the rust-colored flying contraption he saw land on tracks.
French newspapers suddenly carried almost as many reports about Martians, or whoever the outer space visitors were, as they did about Mendes-France. In the National Assembly, Deputy Pierre de Leotard (inset), who sometimes wears sort of an extraterrestrial look himself though he is actually a Radical-Socialist, demanded to know if the invasion threatened France's security. The government, in the novel position of facing a kind of crisis no French government had ever faced before, reserved answer.
And finally -- as far as major-magazine coverage in the United States -- the November 29, 1954, edition of Life magazine described a startling encounter in Italy (see original here)...
Drawing from Italian magazine "La Domenica Del Corriere" shows how signora Dainelli was robbed in the woods by two merry creatures.
THE VICTIM, Rosa Dainelli, tells husband and children about her distressing meeting with strange little men. Police who went to the scene found nothing.
Now They're In Italy
Astral intruders are depicted by local artist
They had been in France and now over the Alps into Italy they came, only 1,736 years behind Hannibal's elephants. The astral adventurers in flying saucers who so upset the French (LIFE, Nov. 1) had moved on. In the Tuscan village of Bucine two dwarfs popped out of a spool-shaped conveyance and accosted Signora Rosa Dainelli. They snatched one of her silk stockings and also made off with some carnations she was carrying. Mrs. Dainelli called the police. They listened. So did an artist for an Italian magazine, who imaginatively depicted the incident (below). Many other Italians have reported similar incidents (p. 134) involving flying disks, cigars and Marziani (Martians). The Italian air force, however, has reported that its radar, so far, has registered only recognizable aircraft.
Some of the European "little men" reports from that time would become repeated -- and sometimes embellished in the retelling -- in later years and decades. Fortunately, contemporaneous reports or investigations are still to be found.
One such case is the September 10, 1954, encounter told by Marius Dewilde (unfortunately "Marius" was also a name commonly used in France for a uneducated bumpkin, akin to "Cletus" or "Goober" in the United States). Dewilde's story was investigated by reporter Michel Duforest, as reported in the following September 26, 1954, article in the French newspaper Le Provençal...
First part of the article.
Nothing is incredible in the statement of the gate-keeper of Quarouble
...AND THE AIR POLICE TOOK THE ENTIRE AFFAIR SERIOUSLY
From our special correspondent
For the first time since the appearance of mysterious machines called "flying saucers", in Quarouble, close to Valenciennes, the traces left by one of these devices were assessed. Six claws, arranged in a semicircle on cross-pieces of a little-used railway line, seem to prove that in this place a contact or a friction occurred between wood and a harder material.
That is all that can be stated for the time being. But the services of the police of the Air Force which photographed each print and took some of the scattered stones on the ballast may have already drawn other conclusions that they jealously keep under the cover of military secrecy.
For if the public remains skeptical with respect to all that relates to the "flying saucers", it does not hold true for the Air Police which has one section specifically in charge of investigations in that matter. To date, no material fact had come to corroborate the statements of the witnesses -- and perhaps the traces in Quarouble will remove the veil.
MARIUS IS NOT KIDDING
Undoubtedly, this story starts well for the skeptics, since it is told by... Marius Dewilde. But the burst of laughter evoked by this first name ceases when the story is told.
To guarantee the facts, it was not Mr. Dewilde that I asked to tell the details of what he witnessed on Friday, September 10. Because since that day, he might have been influenced by the questions of investigators and tens of journalists who came to see him. The interrogations he underwent -- to check if he was lying, or if he was the victim of hallucination -- could work his imagination, and, involuntarily, he would be likely to add details to his original account. This normal phenomenon -- which happens to the most balanced men -- would be all too explainable since for almost a week now, Mr. Dewilde has read in the "trash press" accounts which do not contain anything resembling his statements.
THE DOG BARKED IN THE NIGHT
Mr. Dewilde's home -- a railway crossing guardhouse -- is isolated at the edge of a small wood, at approximately a kilometer and half from the national road of Valenciennes leading to the Belgian customs checkpoint at Quievrain. A dirt track, hardly suitable for motor vehicles, leads from the road to the house: it is actually used only by farmers to go to their fields.
The house is located in a triangular space separating two railways. One, employed only by the mines, leads to the mine at Quievrechain; one train a day passes by there. The other goes from Blanc-Misseron to Odomez; a freight train passes in the morning in the direction of the border, and returns in the evening traveling in the opposite direction. It is on this railway that the traces are.
Let us imagine that it is last Friday. Mr. Dewilde reads, in his kitchen, his illustrated weekly magazine. It is approximately 22 h 30 [10:30 p.m.]. His wife and two sons, aged 14 and 2-1/2 years, are asleep on the first floor -- in the mansard-roofed room. For the past few minutes Mr. Dewilde has heard the dog barking outside, but he does not pay attention to it. But finally irritated by the barking, he stands up, takes his flashlight and opens the door of the kitchen that opens to a small enclosure contiguous to the railway line. He shouts, "Kiki, will you stop it already?"
SMALL HELMETED MEN
As soon as he says these words, he sees a dark mass posed through the railway, which he mistakes for a carriage loaded with hay. A farmer -- knowing that no train goes by at night -- may, indeed, have abandoned it until the next morning.
Just at this moment, Mr. Dewilde hears a noise in the small passage connecting the two railways.
Instinctively, he directs the flashlight in the direction of the noise. And in the ray of light a man appears -- a small man who runs while moving towards the "dark mass."
It is a child, he thinks, but he gets a better look, and sees a second man, behind the other, and so he supposes they are prowlers, for he thinks he makes out a heavy pack on their back.
At this point in time the flashlight lights the head of one of the individuals and Mr. Dewilde realizes that it is covered with a kind of diving-suit or helmet made out of glass. He also sees that the man carries a very full combination...
And then brutally he is blinded by a light; which surprises him. When his eyes can pierce the darkness again, the machine -- which he mistook for a carriage loaded with hay -- rises vertically while rocking, and moves away quickly above the railway, releasing a small flame at the back, without making more noise than a gentle humming.
Only then does Mr. Dewilde realize that he has just been the witness of an extraordinary event. He rushes into his home and shouts to his wife: "Come quickly, there is a "thing" which flies away on the railway. It is a weird machine, and there are men!"
Awakened too fast, Mrs. Dewilde does not react immediately, and when her husband returns outside, the mysterious apparatus had disappeared.
Mr. Dewilde decides, at once, to go to warn the gendarmerie of Quievrechain, although his wife has asked him to wait until morning. "It is my duty to go there," he answered, according to Mrs. Dewilde. "That will perhaps be useful to them." And, jumping on his motorcycle, he leaves for Quievrechain - more than 3 kilometers distant -- skirting the railway which leads to Blanc-Misseron.
AT THE POLICE PRECINT OF ONNAING
But there is no one at the office of the gendarmerie, and the door remains hopelessly closed, in spite of Mr. Dewilde insistently ringing the bell and pounding on the door. He then goes into a nearby coffee shop, where he explains what he has just seen. The skepticism of the customers is shaken all the same by his account and his state of excitement. Somebody then suggests to him going to the police station of Onnaing.
Mr. Dewilde thus resumes his road travel and crosses the six kilometers which separate Quievrechain from Onnaing, where he arrives shortly before midnight.
The officers on duty are also struck by his attitude: "He was pale," they told me, "and was shaking like a man who had just had a great fright." However, the police officers refuse to wake up the chief detective, but they promise that he will visit Mr. Dewilde early in the morning.
Dewilde returns home, traveling approximately four kilometers, and he ends his night excursion.
After his departure, the officers change their minds and alert the chief detective all the same, Mr. Gouchet, who will collect in the morning the statement of Mr. Dewilde at his home. In the face of the sincerity of the witness, he will alert the Air Police force, and they will record the traces that we mentioned.
THIS IS NOT A HOAX
Such is the true story of the "flying saucer" of Quarouble. The police chief of Onnaing, like the investigators of the services of the Air Security, refuse to say anything more for the excellent reason that they know nothing more. All that they would add would distract away from the truth and would lay in the field of deductions and assumptions.
One can admit initially that Mr. Dewilde, wanting to have people talk about him, invented this uncanny history completely.
"If this were the case," answered Mr. Gouchet to me, "Mr. Dewilde would be, at the present time, in jail for insult to the authorities. I have experience of interrogations, and I can vouch that Mr. Dewilde does not invent anything. This is also the opinion gathered by the Air Police force. You can't make up such a story without betraying yourself, at one time or another."
There are also elements which prove the good faith of the witness. He crossed, in the middle of the night, some fifteen kilometers to inform the authorities. He showed signs of his fear.
... NOR MASS HALLUCINATION
But if Mr. Dewilde did not want to mislead, he could have been mislead. Wasn't he victim of hallucination?
Mr. Gouchet answers this question too. "I thought of that, too. Thus, I examined the last readings of Mr. Dewilde. In the evening of the event, he read a weekly magazine in which there was nothing about flying saucers. He is not stuffed with science fiction novels, and he reads only few illustrated magazines in addition to his daily newspaper."
Moreover, Mr. Dewilde is a balanced and sensible man, and he was in no way predisposed "to see a flying saucer."
And furthermore, it is only when the apparatus flew away that he thought of the "saucers." Hitherto, he mistook the dark mass for a carriage loaded with hay, and the two men for prowlers.
In addition, more than ten people stated to have seen, that evening, around 20 h 30 [10:30 p.m.], either a "fireball," or a "disc letting escape a trail of fire" in the sky. All testimonies agree to state that the disc moved towards Anzin. And actually, it is indeed towards this direction that Mr. Dewilde saw this mysterious thing which rested on the railway move away.
Do we then have to suppose that there was a collective hallucination of people who did not know each other and were not together at this time? Some chattered on the step of their door, others were closing the window of their bedroom, some, finally, were going home.
Last point to be cleared up: who were these "small men". In his statement, Mr. Dewilde says that they were no more than one meter tall. He initially thought that they were children, then "prowlers carrying a heavy burden." Finally, he saw that a "sort of diving-suit" covered them.
Is all that incredible? Before deciding, it is wise to specify that 1) the scene did not last thirty seconds; 2) the night of Friday to Saturday was extremely dark; 3) the wind blew with strength.
Mr. Dewilde thus did not have time to "examine" the individuals. He saw shades and his flashlight allowed him to note that they were covered with special clothes.
But aren't aviators provided, also, of a full combination and a special helmet allowing them to confront high altitudes? Can't men, of average size, curved so that they are not seen, appear as "small men" in particular when the width of their combination still makes them appear smaller?
These are plausible assumptions that the police force says also allows them to believe in the sincerity of the witness.
DeWilde's report gained additional fame in France with the publication of a cover story in the magazine Radar. It also made international news, as for instance in the September 14, 1954, edition of the London, England, Daily Express...
Above, top: September 26, 1954, cover article in Radar. Below: Graphic included with the following article from the September 14, 1954, edition of the London, England, Daily Express...
Look what Marius the Serious
saw down the garden!
'They were Little Men'
From JOAN HARRISON: Paris, Monday
IN the bistros and the bakers' shops they are all asking the same question -- Did Marius really see a flying saucer and two men from Mars at the bottom of his garden?
Marius DeWilde is a 34- year-old steelworker, what the French call "serious."
He does not drink or gossip, and has never been known to have any sense of drama.
Yet Marius the Serious has just told the police at his village of Quarouble, in Northern France, of a strange sight which he swears he saw at the bottom of his garden on Friday night.
No one else saw it, ·and the police have been unable to confirm it. But this is Marius's story: --
It was around 11.30 last Friday night. Mrs. Dewilde had just gone up to bed, and Marius was in the kitchen reading. Suddenly his dog Kiki, who was tied up in the yard, began to howl.
The dog howls
"There is a railway line that runs at the bottom of my garden," said Marius today. "I saw what I thought at first was a cart at the side of the rails.
"Suddenly I heard footsteps. My dog was straining at the leash and howling his head off.
"I shone my torch and saw two figures some three or four yards away, one walking in front of the other. My torch shone on the leading figure, which seemed to have a metallic shine. I got the impression that whoever it was wearing a diving helmet.
"They were both little men with enormous heads.
"I started to walk towards the strange pair. Then from the shape on the railway line came a strong arc light. It seemed to be a green ray and it paralysed me, I found I could not move my legs.
The Thing rises
"The two men continued to walk towards it. The green light was turned off and The Thing began to rise like a helicopter. There was no other noise but a swishing sound as clouds of black smoke began to come from it.
"The Thing gained height and went towards the west. It was semi-circular in shape, like a meat cover, and seemed about six yards wide and about three yards deep.
"As it disappeared it seemed to glow like a red light."
Now Marius is such an unimaginative, hardworking man that police next day examined the railway track.
And, voila! They found the ballast of the tracks slightly dented and the stonework pitted as if some strong heat had been applied.
This is not regarded as proof, as the marks could have been made with a sleeper screw. But Marius sticks to his story.
According to well-respected researcher Jacques Vallee, a follow-up appeared in the September 15, 1954, edition of France-Soir...
Above, top: Dewilde in front of his home at night, standing with his son. Second and third: Dewilde with investigators. Fourth and fifth: Dewilde with marks left on tracks. Sixth: Dewilde draws the "little men" in a still frame from a Pathe newsreel. Bottom: A newswire photo running in United States newspapers in October, 1954.
[Note: The following is Jacques Vallee's translation of the September 15, 1954, France-Soir article, as found in the 1966 revised edition of his book, Anatomy of a Phenomenon...]
Three investigators for the air police arrived at Quarouble, Nord, yesterday to interrogate M. Marius Dewilde, the man who saw two Martians near his back-yard gate. They left the village with the assurance that during the night of Friday to Saturday, a mysterious craft had indeed landed, as claimed by M. Dewilde, on the railroad tracks of the line Saint-Amand-Blanc-Misseron, near the railroad crossing No. 79.
Their inquiries seem, in effect, to confirm the statement made by the metal worker. The witness has declared that Friday, about 10:30 P.M., he had seen a machine of an elongated shape, three meters high, six meters long, sitting on the tracks a few meters away from his house. Two entities of human appearance, of very small height and apparently wearing diving suits, could be seen nearby. M. Dewilde walked toward them, but at this moment a beam of greenish light was focused on him from the craft and he found himself paralyzed. When he was able to move again the machine had started to rise and the two entities had disappeared.
The investigators have found no trace of the existence of these entities. The ground, examined meter by meter, does not show traces of footsteps. However, one of the sleepers on the tracks showed traces that could have been made by a machine landing on it. In five places the wood of the sleepers is tapped on a surface of about four square centimeters. These markings have all the same appearance and they lie symmetrically, on one line. Three of them -- those in the middle -- are separated by an interval of forty-three centimeters. The last two are sixty-seven centimeters away from the preceding ones.
A craft that would land on legs instead of wheels like our own aircraft would not leave other traces, one of the inspectors of the air police has declared.
The narrative made by M. Dewilde is also confirmed by several inhabitants of the region. In Onnaing, a young man called Mr. Edmond Auverlot and a retired man, M. Hublard, have seen about 10:30 p.m. (the time indicated by M. Dewilde) a reddish light traveling in the sky. The same light has been seen from Vicq by three young men.
Unfortunately, as in the United States, there were also a number of fabulists and hoaxers included in the mix of European reports.
Meanwhile, in South America, similar events ran concurrent with those in France and Italy. These were meticulously assembled by American researchers Coral Lorenzen and her husband Jim, who in 1952 were the founders of one of the earliest, and longest lasting, civilian research groups -- the Aerial Phenomenon Research Organization (APRO). Their publication -- the APRO Bulletin -- is even today considered a treasure trove of reports not found elsewhere. APRO was particularly instrumental in publishing reports from South America. In the following excerpt, from her book Flying Saucers (subtitled The Startling Evidence of the Invasion from Outer Space), Lorenzen discusses events in 1954...
Above: Cover of Lorenzen's book. Below: From the photographs section of Lorenzen's book. The caption below it reads, "Photograph of an object taken by an official of a Rio de Janeiro bank on December 9, 1954, as it hovered over the Army Munitions plant at 11 p.m. The photographer wishes to remain anonymous but is personally known to Dr. Olavo T. Fontes, APRO's Brazilian representative.."
[Note: a three-dot ellipse (...) indicates a jump in the text as a result of editing for this excerpt.]
1954 -- Europe and South America
ALTHOUGH a fair number of sightings were made elsewhere in the world during the 1954 Mars opposition, by far the largest number was in Europe and South America. Researchers found no meaningful pattern among the hundreds of sightings of unidentified flying objects during the year, though it was quite obvious that the discs were concentrating on two general areas. Efforts by APRO to find orthotenic lines for South America during the 1954 flap yielded nothing. Not until later was the "straight-line" pattern discovered by Aimé Michel. As Michel so ably points out, it is necessary to obtain correct dates to carry on such an analysis. Unfortunately, even by 1954 we did not have sufficient coverage or sufficiently interested workers to gather the data we needed. But it was definitely established that a close-up survey of South American countries and Europe was in progress...
Joseph Rolas and Horacia Gonzales were APRO's foremost
contributors of information on the 1954 "flap" in South
America, but being Venezuelans the bulk of the information they forwarded to APRO's headquarters dealt with Venezuelan sightings, and information from the other South American countries was sketchy. However, when APRO's South American membership began to enlarge in 1956 and 1957, after the 1954 flap brought the subject into focus, sightings from the 1954 period, which had been gleaned and saved by the new members, were forwarded to us. ...
In November, 1954, Joseph Rolas's Venezuela reports of UFOs were bulging with clippings and translations. Few were of the type that could be discarded as obvious atmospheric or astronomic phenomena, and most of them very evidently were observations of unusual aircraft. In 1954 South America became aware that the United States had no monopoly on the strange sky objects, and the idea that they might by [sic] Yankee secret weapons became more and more ridiculous. The November 1954 APRO Bulletin recorded the first wave of sightings in South America in early November. The 1954 "flap" in South America mainly concerned two countries, Brazil and Venezuela. The findings of Keyhoe, Michel and others concerning the relation of the speed of the saucers to the color and intensity of their glow were confirmed by many observations. On October 23 a disc-shaped object was seen by workers and policemen as it maneuvered over Buenos Aires, Argentina, stopping and changing course many times. The object gave off luminous rays which changed colors alternately. On October 24 air-base personnel in Porto Alegre, Brazil, observed objects which they could not definitely identify as conventional phenomena -- they were circular, silvery in color and maneuvered at great speed with occasional abrupt changes in course. In the Chicama Valley of Peru an engineer observed a brilliant elliptical object on October 27. It pulsated brilliant flashes of light and for several minutes it moved slowly, at other times with great speed and at one time it fell diagonally. The engineer reported that the object hovered at a height of three hundred meters and recovered its luminosity which had paled during the diagonal fall. ...
And then on November 10 a Porto Alegre agronomist out for a ride with his family saw a disc from which emerged two apparently normal-shaped men with long hair and overall-like clothing. They approached the car with their arms above their heads, but the driver, urged on by his wife and daughter, accelerated and left the strange men behind. The motorists saw the men enter their disc-shaped craft and mount the sky at a dizzying speed. In Curitiba, Brazil, a railroad worker told authorities that at 3:30 A.M. on November 14 he saw three beings in tight-fitting, luminous clothing examine the ground around the railway tracks with a lantern. When the strange creatures saw the man they entered an oval-shaped craft which elevated rapidly. On that same day a bright oval object giving off a yellowish glare was seen by many in Buenos Aires as it traversed the sky. Also on the 14th, three hundred members of an anti-aircraft division in Berna, Argentina, watched a silvery, disc-shaped object give off a reddish trail. Observers using binoculars said it appeared to be at nine thousand feet when it was first spotted hovering in the air; suddenly it began to fly south at great speed, disappearing into the clouds. Reports elsewhere at this time were scattered and few. The lull in the middle of October was followed by a spurt of sightings about the middle part of November; then another lull from the 20th to December 1, when "all hell broke loose." The "little men" made their appearance in various sections. ...
Some detailed and well-substantiated South American-"little men" stories will be dealt with in another chapter, but it is necessary now to elucidate the extent of the travels and actions of these creatures during the crucial December, 1954, period. In the early part of December (unfortunately there is no exact date for this incident) a respected and well-liked teacher and director of an educational institution in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, related how he was pursued by a glowing, disc-shaped object while driving along the highway to Guanare. The object when first seen resembled the moon, and he gave it no further thought. Then he noticed that the object was moving toward him and was huge in size. Seized with panic, the professor fired a small revolver he carried in his car at the pursuing object as it maneuvered above his car. The bullets didn't seem to bother the object and, thoroughly frightened, the man pushed the accelerator to the floor. He managed to stop another car occupied by a lawyer, a sheriff and a policeman, bound in the opposite direction. They accompanied the professor back to where he had last seen the object, and they were just in time to see the object heading into the southern sky leaving a bluish trail behind.
On the evening of December 10 a well-known Caracas doctor witnessed a strange sight while driving with his father in the vicinity of Floresta. He was later interviewed by the press, though his identity was withheld since, like most observers, he did not care to be ridiculed for what he saw. At 6:30 P.M., between La Carlota Airdrome and Francisco de Miranda Avenue, his father suddenly pointed. The doctor stopped the car. Together they watched two little men running from the brush. Shortly after they disappeared in the thickets a luminous, disc-shaped object emerged from behind the brush and, with a sharp "sizzling" sound, darted off into the sky at a high rate of speed.
On that same day an American engineer employed by a petroleum company in El Tigre took snapshots of a covey of five saucers as they flew in formation from south to north. They resembled "turtles," with a beam of light at the front and another at the rear of the formation. The photos were shown to the police and the press and were discussed in various newspaper articles; though they were not published. The description of these objects tallies with the objects photographed by a Salem, Massachusetts, coastguardsman in 1952 and the famous Trindade [sic] photo of January, 1958...
The peak of the sightings, whether of objects or little men, appears to have been reached during December 10-14. Brazil also was being initiated, the Brazilian Air Force making public an appeal for the united efforts of all governments toward the solution of the UFO problem. Caracas, Venezuela, newspapers devoted whole pages to a briefing of Brazilian Air Force officials by Colonel Joao Adil Oliveiera who, incidentally, gave good coverage to many "classics" in UFO history. The Brazilians had good reason to be excited. On November 4 Jose Alves of Pontal was fishing in the Pardo River near Pontal. The area was deserted, the night quiet with only a slight breeze blowing from the east. Suddenly Alves spotted a strange craft in the sky, apparently heading toward him. He watched, transfixed, as it closed in with a wobbling motion and landed. It was so near he could have touched it, he said. The object appearing as two washbowls placed together, looked to be about ten to fifteen feet in diameter. He was too frightened to run. Three little men, clad in white clothing with close-fitting skull caps, emerged from a windowlike opening in the side of the small craft. Their skin appeared to be quite dark. Alves stood terror-stricken, watching the small creatures collect samples of grass, herbs and leaves of trees; one of them filled a shiny metal tube with river water. Then, as suddenly as they had come, they jumped back into their machine, which took off vertically as swiftly and as silently as it had come. Residents of Pontal, who heard Alves's story when he came back to town, told the press that he was a quiet man who lived only for his work and his family. He had never heard of flying saucers and he was sure the little men were some kind of devils.
The Air Force base at Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sui, was the scene of a strange incident on November 22. At 9:45 P.M. radio operator Arquidmedes Fernandez left the meteorological station and walked toward a small building a hundred feet away which he had built to store the thermometers and other instruments. Gathering readings for the next weather bulletin, he took a customary look at the sky and noticed a thin dark cloud hovering above small eucalyptus trees behind the building. He observed it very closely. It was not a cloud -- it was a black object, enormous in size, shaped like a washbowl hanging upside down, and seemed to be about 160 feet long, suspended just above the trees. Not motionless as a cloud would appear to be, it had a slow, oscillatory motion. Fernandez became alarmed and ran back to the station, watching the object all the time. It slowly lowered itself into the trees and then began climbing again, rather swiftly. He then noticed a small light on top of it. It dived again between the trees, almost to the same place he had seen it originally. The object moved again, now glowing faintly in the darkness. Fernandez radioed Porto Alegre and reported what he was seeing; the object was still there. At 1:15 A.M. his substitute arrived. Fernandez had watched the object for almost three and a half hours. Fernandez's startling report was corroborated by the testimony of others who also saw the strange object. At midnight another radio operator, Ruben Machado, had seen it from the window of his room in the Canobi Hotel, some distance from the base. To him it appeared to be hovering over the base -- a luminous object, larger than the full moon. He pointed it out to others who saw it clearly before it disappeared into the north. There was further substantiation when Varig radio operator Jurandir Ferreira reported he had spotted the UFO over the base. He saw it as it was gaining altitude; after some maneuvers it headed into the north and was gone.
On the evening of December 9 a farmer, Olmiro da Costa e Rosa, was cultivating his French bean and maize field in Linha Bela Vista, two and a half miles from Venancio Aires, Rio Grande do Sul, when he heard something with the sound of a sewing machine. The animals in the pasture next to the field scattered and ran. Costa e Rosa looked up and saw a strange-appearing man. Beyond him was an unusual object hovering just above the ground. It had the shape of an explorer's hat, cream-colored and surrounded by a smoky haze. There were two other men, one in the craft, his head and shoulders sticking out, the other examining a barbed-wire fence. Costa e Rosa dropped his hoe and the stranger nearest to him raised his hand, smiled and picked up the hoe, which he turned in his hands, examining it carefully. Then the man placed the hoe in Costa e Rosa's hands, bent down, and uprooted a few plants and started toward the craft. Costa e Rosa had stood as though paralyzed. Then, assuring himself that they meant him no harm, he advanced toward the craft. The man who had taken the hoe and the one in the craft made no move to stop him, but the one at the fence made a gesture which seemed to mean that he should stop. Costa e Rosa stopped. Some of the farmer's animals approached and the strangers looked at them with great interest. With words and gestures the farmer tried to tell them he would be happy to make a gift of one of the animals. The strangers didn't seem enthused about the offer. The departure of the strangers was as unexpected as their appearance. Suddenly they trooped into the ship which rose about thirty feet, accelerated abruptly and flashed away into the western sky at high speed.
Costa e Rosa's description of the men was detailed -- he had had time to observe them at fairly close range. They appeared to be of medium height, broad-shouldered, with long blond hair which blew in the wind. With their extremely pale skin and slanted eyes they were not normal looking by earth standards. Their clothing consisted of light brown coverall-like garments fastened to their shoes. Afterward Costa e Rosa said the shoes seemed especially strange because they had no heels. After the men had left he searched the ground over which the objects had hovered but found nothing. However, he did notice the smell of burning coal which remained in the air for some time after the craft's departure. Costa e Rosa was questioned for several hours by authorities from Porto Alegre. It was determined that he didn't read science fiction; indeed, he read with difficulty and had never beard of "flying saucers." He seemed to believe that these men were visitors from another country. This incident was reported in the magazine O Cruzeiro by one of Brazil's outstanding reporter-writers, Joao Martins, who is also a crack UFO investigator.
Two days later at 5 p.m. Pedro Morais, who lived less than a mile from Costa e Rosa's home, was preparing to go to a warehouse for supplies. He heard the frightened squawks of a chicken, and he went out to investigate. The day was hot, with no wind. He still heard the chicken but couldn't find it (and never did), for what he saw hovering in the air took his mind off the chicken and the sparrow hawks he had thought were molesting it. The object had the sound of a sewing machine; it oscillated as it hovered and appeared on the topside to be shaped similar to the hood of a jeep. The bottom resembled an enormous polished brass kettle. Morais's attention turned to the cultivated fields nearby where he saw two human-shaped figures. Indignant at this trespass, he started toward the craft. One of the men started running toward him, while the other raised his arm in a gesture which appeared to be a warning not to come any closer. Morais, still angry, did not obey, and continued toward the machine. He noted that as one ran toward him the other kneeled down and quickly picked a tobacco plant out of the ground. Then both got into the craft which disappeared from view in the sky within a few seconds. Morais said the little men were human in shape, but didn't have any faces. He got the impression that they were enveloped in a kind of yellow-colored sack from head to toe. After their departure he looked for footprints, but found none. But the hole from which the plant had been uprooted was still there. Morais, too, turned out to be a rather simple, uneducated man; he did not know even the alphabet. But, unlike Costa e Rosa, he thought the men were saints or ghosts. When he was told that the government was anxious to have one of these "men" dead or alive he vowed to shoot one if he ever had another opportunity.
And so the picture of the 1954 saucer invasion of South America is fairly clear -- first, a scattered observation, then the landings; the pattern is very similar to that of the European visits in September and October. The incidents reported here are only a sampling of the hundreds brought to public attention by the press in Brazil and Venezuela as well as in other South American countries. The seeming lulls may be due to our inadequate coverage of other areas on the continent; however, the many reports which did come to our attention were startling in that most of the sightings were in the vicinity of defense installations. The possibility that these objects, which had kept their distance in years past, were merely American or Russian secret weapons became invalidated. No reasonable, intelligent individual with any command of the facts would any longer fall for that one...
What the little men did in South America is most important. They took samples of rocks, soil and plants. It does not require a vivid imagination to explain their actions. Idle curiosity? Hardly! Why would they traverse space, spend years on military reconnaissance, pull boulders out of the ground, uproot plants and take soil samples? I envision a huge laboratory somewhere in space in which experiments involving the adaptability of other types of plant life to earth soil are being carried out. What are their plants? They may intend to establish a base on earth, and if the visitors intend to bring along their own agriculture they plan to stay a long while.
Elsewhere in her 1966 book Lorenzen related encounters of a far-more aggressive nature on the part of the South American "little men", involving physical attacks on the witnesses. These had first been reported contemporaneously in the APRO Bulletin -- the hand-typed newsletter mailed out to APRO members -- as in the following excerpts from the first pages of the January 15, 1955, newsletter...
Above: First page of the January 15, 1955, "Special South American Issue" of the APRO Bulletin in which the following appeared...
IN VENEZUELA -- HAIRY DWARVES!
On December 16, 1954, President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower told a press conference that flying saucers are not from outer space and exist only in the imagination of the viewers. On the night of that momentous announcement, a young man of San Carlos, Venezuela was set upon by a small hairy man-like creature and spent the night in a hospital under the care of physicians for treatment of shock.
The most believable part of the San Carlos incident is the reason for young Jesus Paz being where he was when he was when the whole thing happened. Here are the details:
Paz and two friends had dined at a restaurant at San Carlos, then proceeded home. When the party neared the Exposition Park of the Ministry or Agriculture, Paz asked the driver of the car to stop while he went behind some bushes, apparently to relieve himself. His friends, still in the car, heard a piercing scream which literally raised the hair on their heads. They rushed toward the spot where Paz had entered the brush, came upon their friend unconscious on the ground, and were just in time to see a hairy dwarf running toward a flat, shiny craft which hovered a few feet from the ground. One of the men, Luis Mejia, national guardsman, reached for his gun, but remembered it was back in his barracks at Guard headquarters. Mejia then picked up a stone and futilely threw it at the craft which had taken the dwarf in and was rising into the air with a deafening buzzing sound. At last report, Paz was under the care of doctors and all three men were telling a convincingly hair-raising story to the authorities. Paz is not only suffering from shock, but has several large, long, deep scratches on his right side and along the spine, as if clawed by a wild animal.
HUNTERS CLAWED AND BEATEN
Just 6 days prior to Eisenhower's announcement that saucers do not exist, Lorenzo Flores and Jesus Gomez of Carera [sic], Venezuela, related their experience with four little hairy creatures near the Trans-Andian Highway between Chico and Cerro de Las Tres Torres. The boys had been hunting, and when they sighted a bright object off the highway, they thought it was a car. Upon approaching, they saw an object which appeared like two wash bowls placed one on top of the other, and hovered about two and a half feet from the ground. They estimated the size as about 9 feet in diameter, and said it gave out fire from the bottom.
In the boys' own words: "Then we saw four little men coming out of it; they were approximately 3 feet tall. When they realized we were there, the four of them got Jesus and tried to drag him toward the object." "I could do nothing but take my shotgun, which was unloaded," says Flores, and thrust hard blows with the butt of the gun at one of them. The gun seemed to have struck rock or something harder, as it broke into two pieces." [sic, entire paragraph with quote marks.]
Could they notice any features of the little men, they were asked by reporters. "No," said Flores, "we could see no details but what we did notice was the abundant hair which covered their bodies, and their great strength." Gomez could remember little of the incident for he had fainted from fright when the creatures grabbed him. When asked if they saw the saucer leave, the boys said no, that when they broke away they ran as fast as they could for the highway about 150 feet away. Exhibiting scratches and bruises, their shirts torn to shreds, the boys rushed to the nearest police precinct and told their story.
Investigation by authorities showed signs of the fight and where the saucer had rested. They were examined by psychiatrists, found to be sane, responsible young men. But the United States Air Force and the President say that saucers do not exist....
TEACHER FIRES AT PURSUING DISC!
An unnamed (by request) teacher and director of an important educational institution of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, relates how he was pursued by a glowing, disc-shaped object while driving along the highway to Guanare.
Respected and well-liked, the individual involved in this incident states that while driving one evening, he noticed a bright object which, at a cursory glance, he thought was the moon. However, when approaching the town of Guanare, he noticed that the object was moving toward him, and huge in size. The Professor, seized with panic, took out his gun and fired twelve times at the object while in maneuvered around his car.
Thoroughly frightened, the man then pushed his accelerator to the floor, hoping to meet another car. He soon met another car which he managed to stop, and in which were a lawyer, the sheriff of a nearby town, and a policeman. The party of men then turned around and headed back to the spot where the disc was last seen. When they arrived, they were in time to see the disc disappearing to the south leaving a bluish trail behind. The professor has recently consulted a psychiatrist regarding his delicate mental condition since the incident.
But the United States Air Force and the President say the saucers do not exist......
"Little Men" Fail in Kidnap Attempt!!
Yelling, without his shirt and with a terrified look on his face, Jose Parra, an 18 year old jockey of Valencia, Venezuela, arrived at the offices of National Security in the early morning of December 19 and related his hair-raising tale of how a hairy little man tried to kidnap him.
Immediately upon his arrival, Parra was detained by Mr. Lopez Ayara, Commissioner of Criminology until his nerves could calm down. Detectives detailed to examine the place where the incident happened, found tracks which they were not able to identify as either those of a man or an animal. Parra, out doing road work to lose some extra poundage, stopped near a Cement Factory on the highway, where he was surprised to see six little men, all very hairy, who were engaged in pulling boulders from the side of the highway, and loading them aboard their disc-shaped craft which was hovering less than 9 feet from the ground. Parra, startled and frightened, started to run away to call someone also to watch the sight.
At this point, one of the little men spotted Parra, pointed a device at him, which gave off a violet light. Parra was unable to move, and stood by helplessly while the little creatures ran to their ship, and leaped aboard. The craft then disappeared into the sky.
One hour after Mr. Parra's experience, a brightly lighted disc was seen hovering a few feet from the ground near the Barbula Sanitorium for Tuberculars at Valencia. Two hospital employees saw the object at different times, one at about 12 midnight, and the other at about 3:15 a.m. The fellow who witnessed the earlier incident, notified no-one for fear of disturbing the hospital patients. The man involved in the latter incident attempted to approach the craft for a better look but it moved away and ascended into the air.
The January, 1955, edition of the APRO Bulletin concluded with a commentary on the South American creatures by APRO co-founder Jim Lorenzen. In that commentary he makes reference to an incident in Petare, Venezuela, which appeared in the November, 1954, edition of the Bulletin, which is unfortunately not easily available. But the incident was later described in a 1967 book by Coral and Jim Lorenzen, entitled Flying Saucer Occupants...
Above: Cover for Flying Saucer Occupants, published in paperback. The cover photo is included inside the book with a caption stating "This sighting was made in Cumana, Venezuela, by an inspector of public projects for the government. The photographer heard a humming sound, gradually increasing in intensity, then saw the luminous shape advancing over the high-tension wires as though using the cables for rails over which to travel. The object stopped over the supporting tower for two or three minutes before continuing along the cables.".
The fall of 1954 saw the emergence of a new kind of report out of South America. Prior to that time, many incidents had been documented which concerned the presence of strange aircraft hovering or maneuvering in various areas. The new activity, however, concerned landed objects and humanoids of varying sizes apparently gathering plants and soil or rock specimens:
THE HUMANOIDS IN SOUTH AMERICA
The first incident to come to our attention was in a report forwarded by Joseph Rojas of Caracas, Venezuela:
At about 2 A.M. on the morning of November 28, Gustavo Gonzales and his helper, Jose Ponce, set out from Caracas for Petare, a suburb, to pick up some produce, to be put on sale in the markets of Caracas the next morning. Upon entering a street leading to the warehouse area, they saw a luminous spherical object hovering about six feet off the ground, and blocking their way. They stopped the truck and Gonzales got out to investigate. A dwarfish-looking man-shaped thing about three feet tall, hairy, and with glowing eyes came toward Gonzales, who attempted to grab him. The little fellow struck Gonzales and sent him reeling about 15 feet. The little man then leaped at Gonzales, clawed hands extended. Gonzales drew his knife and made a stab at the creature, striking it in the shoulder, but the knife glanced off as though it had struck steel. Another of the little fellows emerged from a hatch in the side of the sphere, directed the light from what appeared to be a metallic tube at Gonzales, blinding him. At this point the creature with whom Gonzales had scuffled, leaped into the sphere and it took off swiftly and was lost to sight in seconds.
During this scuffle, Ponce watched two other entities answering the same description as the first two, emerge from the side of the street carrying what appeared to be rocks or dirt in their arms. They leapt easily up into the sphere through the opening in the side. Alarmed, he ran to the police station about a block and a half away. He was telling his story when Gonzales arrived. Both men were questioned closely and it was determined that they had not been drinking and that both had obviously been badly frightened by something. They were given sedatives and Gonzales was put under observation for a deep, red scratch on his side. ...
As mentioned earlier, the January, 1955, edition of the APRO Bulletin, concluded with the following commentary by APRO co-founder Jim Lorenzen...
Above: Commentary by Jim Lorenzen which concluded the January, 1955, "Special South American Issue" of the APRO Bulletin...
Although it is not the policy, we feel obliged, in view of the unusual correlations which appear among many of the recent South American reports, to set forth a few comments an hypothesis or two.
By Jim Lorenzen
Concerning the authenticity of the most important reports (i.e., contacts with animal occupants of saucer-like air-borne vehicles) we would like to point out that (1) the majority of these sightings were made by groups of people, and that the eye-witness reports agree in all major aspects. (2) The nervous upset and/or prostration exhibited by many of those reports could hardly be faked. (3) Although cross-examined by doctors, clergy, police and National Security (Venezuelan version of M.V.D.), no eye-witness has 'broken' to admit hoax or fraud of any kind. (4) Our Venezuelan representatives who screened, translated and forwarded those reports are men of sincerity and integrity beyond reproach.
What do these visitors look like? They are unanimously described as hairy dwarves about 3 feet in height. They were reported in at least one case to wear a small garment like a loincloth or diaper. They have two eyes (described as glowing in at least one case), a breathing aperture, but no nose as such. We don't know whether they have mouths or not. Their fingers are adorned with sharp claws. Since no one reported whether or not they have thumbs we assume they have, since the lack of thumbs would be likely to attract more attention than the presence of thumbs. These character-istics [sic] combined with a short, squat, hair body completes the picture as we have it now. It's a little hard to accept this, isn't it?
The first and most prevalent objection we've heard runs something like this: "I can't believe that such animal-like beings could have attained the scientific know-how necessary to build space-craft." --- A little careful consideration will show that this is Emotion speaking --- not Reason. We are, after all, animals (a very high type of animal, of course --- Primates, yes --- yes, indeed --- but animals nonetheless) and what could be more animal-like than an animal?
Well, let's call them beast-like, then (ignoring the fact that some men have proven themselves to be more beastly than any real beast that ever lived) but no matter what we call them, what we really mean is simply that they are not human-like. This, then, reveals the real source of our objection --- human vanity. We humans are so intelligent that we just naturally assume that any other intelligent being must look like us. We're afraid we'll have to face it --- little hair dwarves could be a little smarter than we.
Now let's apply balm to the ego with the following consideration: The hairy fellows may be only the servants or slaves or [sic, may have meant of] the brains behind the space-exploration project --- after all, aren't they energetic, athletic boys -- and don't we all know that brain and brawn don't go together? (Whatever that means!)
All of which leads right into another phase of the mystery --- namely the remarkable physical prowess of the little guys. They reportedly leave their saucers hovering anywhere from 2-1/2 to 6 feet from the ground, and make their entry by leaping. Now, a six-foot leap for a 3-foot animal is a pretty good average although several of our earth animals could match it. During the Petare incident, one of them threw a man 15 feet. This would be pretty good for a TV wrestler with rehearsals, yet. They not only can dish it out, they can take it, too. Gonzales, attempting to use a knife, felt it slide off a hard surface without penetrating. Flores, clubbing one with his shot gun succeeding only in breaking it (the gun), and said it felt like he was hitting a rock or something.
We would like to suggest at this point that when confronted with objects or situations entirely new or strange to us, we tend to interpret them on the basis of or in relation to previous experiences. Thus a strange, 3-foot tall biped is promptly called a dwarf. And when he reveals himself to be stronger and more agile than we expect a dwarf to be, our imagination exaggerates this fact until his strength is remarkable, indeed.
Suppose, for the sake of argument, that these creatures come from a planet where the force of gravity is considerably stronger. Their greater strength and jumping ability would be a logical result. Gonzales, who attempted to capture on, reports that he was surprisingly light in weight --- this fits the pattern, too. And consider this: although the dwarf-man was aware of Gonzales' presence, Gonzales was able to approach and grapple with him (it?). Under conditions where a man (or any physical creature) was effectively carrying less than his usual amount of weight, he would likely tend to get off balance quite easily and find evasive maneuvers a little difficult. Bull's eye again! Maybe we should quit while we're winning.
What about the hard skin? An external skeleton maybe? The hairy surface apparently hid any muscle outline if there was any. One guess is as good as another on this point.
One reassuring aspect to the whole affair seems to be that here, at last, we have reports of space explorers acting almost exactly as we would act if positions were reversed. In the first place they seem to be chiefly concerned with collecting botanical and geological specimens while attracting as little attention as possible. Note that their only attempts at hairy-carry (pun) occurred when their souvenir gathering was inadvertently interrupted. These kidnapping attempts seem to be half-hearted and poorly organized to say the least --- probably prompted more by hysteria than anything else. We propose that if our stronger gravity premise (accompanied by thicker atmosphere as it probably would be) is correct, the hairy fellows soon ran out of steam in our thinner atmosphere and were chiefly concerned with incapacitating or routing their intruders and making their get-away.
Note also that their one weapon (aside from those crazy fingernails) does not seem to be completely effective on human beings. Gonzales reported that the ray-gun caused him to lose consciousness but did not immobilize him and that he was later able to recall what had occurred during his period of unconsciousness. This sounds a little odd at first, but essentially the same phenomenon can be produced through hypnotism. Joe Parra reports that it immobilized him but did not cause him to lose consciousness.
Little has been added to previous disc and sphere-craft reports except possible [sic] the burned mark left by the saucer encountered by the two young hungers.
We still don't feel justified in assuming that all UFOs sighted in recent years were piloted by little hair-suited almost-men. The main reason being that these little guys show many indications of being rather new at the game. Somehow, it's hard to associate them with many of the larger craft of many shapes that have been around for years now; the disappearing type that cruised over Washington, D.C., the maneuvering lights, green fireballs, etc., etc.
Further details on the Petare incident: Gustavo Gonzales reports that the dwarves he encountered were attired in a sort of loincloth (he compared them to diapers). Such a skimpy garment adorning a hard, hairy body was obviously not worn for warmth or protection. Why, then? For reasons of modesty, of course! Another characteristic in common with us humble human beings. Scriptural sources attribute the cause of human modesty to the original sin.
Do the hairy ones have an original sin of their own? Or did their ancestors drop by in days gone by and snatch a snack from that self-same tree?
1. In the article Did a luminous flying saucer land in Marignane? correspondent Constant Vautravers makes reference to a quote famous in France, "I emulate Conrart -- silence is prudent". Valentin Conrart (1603-1675) was a co-founder of the Academie Francaise, and a pivotal figure in French literature as a critic, although he considered himself an inferior writer and published little of his own work. The "silence is prudent" quote is a remark made by Nicolas Boileau-Despreaux (1636-1711), known simply as Boileau, and himself a renowned French poet. The quote itself is considered to have originally been an insulting reference to Conrart's decision to avoid publishing his own writing, but has since come to represent more of the feeling that sometimes it is best to say nothing rather than say something one may come to regret.
2. The title page of Flying Saucers and the Straight-Line Mystery carries the somewhat odd notation, "Translated from the French and edited by the Research Division of Civilian Saucer Intelligence of New York." The act of translating a work is at best often subjective and the potential degree of bias introduced into the narrative through translating and editing by the unnamed translator(s) and editor(s) of the "Research Division" of Civilian Saucer Intelligence of New York is and will remain unknown until some theoretical time when it is compared against the original French text.
3. An extensive collection of reports on the French flap of 1954 can be found at the French site Ufologie (English version).
4. One contemporaneous newspaper article on the experience of Madame Leboeuf can be found at the French site Ufologie (English version).
5. In his 1956 book, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, Capt. Ed Ruppelt -- former head of the Air Force Project Blue Book -- had this to say about the 1954 reports in Europe...
The reporting spread to Italy, where thousands of people in Rome saw a strange cigar-shaped object hang over the city for forty minutes. Newspapers claimed that Italian Air Force radar had the UFO on their scopes, but as far as I could determine, this was never officially acknowledged.
In December a photograph of two UFO's over Taormina, Sicily, appeared in many newspapers. The picture showed three men standing on a bridge, with a fourth running up with a camera. All were intently watching two disk-shaped objects. The photo looked good, but there was one flaw, the men weren't looking at the UFO's; they were looking off to the right of them. I'm inclined to agree with Captain Hardin of Blue Book -- the photographer just fouled up on his double exposure.
Sightings spread across southern Europe, and at the end of October, the Yugoslav Government expressed official interest. Belgrade newspapers said that a "thoughtful inquiry" would be set up, since reports had come from "control tower operators, weather stations and hundreds of farmers." But the part of the statement that swung the most weight was, "Scientists in astronomical observatories have seen these strange objects with their own eyes."
During 1954 and the early part of 1955 my friends in Europe tried to keep me up-to-date on all of the better reports, but this soon approached a full-time job. Airline pilots saw them, radar picked them up, and military pilots chased them. The press took sides, and the controversy that had plagued the U.S. since 1947 bloomed forth in all its confusion.
6. In Imagining Outer Space: European Astroculture in the Twentieth Century (an anthology), in the section "Seeing the Future of Civilization in the Skies of Quarouble: UFO Encounters and the Problem of Empire in Postwar France" by James Miller, the following additional information is provided on Marius DeWilde...
A marginalized man's troubled contacts with a 'superior civilization'
That Dewilde, a new arrival to Quarouble in the 1950s, felt alienated there is attested to by witnesses interviewed by computer scientist Claude Gaudeau and psychologist Jean-Louis Gouzien. Like others affected by increasing migration from the countryside to the nation's vital industrial centers and the erosion of rural traditions, men like Dewilde were experiencing new forms of professional, social and cultural dislocation that often seemed beyond their control. Forced from familiar settings, many found themselves uprooted from traditions and practices that had defined their cultural frames of reference and identities. For these men, including Marius Dewilde, defining their place in this new order was as pressing as it was difficult.
When asked later by investigators, many of Quarouble's residents characterized Dewilde as an outsider. Queried about the reliability of Dewilde's testimony, several men and women who knew Dewilde were quick to discredit his story because of his marginal status. One of Dewilde's acquaintances, a local game warden familiar with the case, explained how he never bothered to look into the story because DeWilde was a 'Parisian, not exactly the salt of the earth,' who lived quite literally on the margins of local life in 'a rail attendant's quarters because the line had been abandoned.' In fact, Dewilde lived as an outsider, barely assimilated into local life and excluded from the benefits of a postwar consumer society increasingly important to conferring status and prosperity. His home, which he inhabited illegally, had neither electricity nor running water, a factor all his neighbors were quick to point out in their dismissals of the details and reliability of his story. That Dewilde himself felt alienated by this fact was later evidenced in his memoir, in which he fabricated from whole cloth details about his prosperity and success in Quarouble. When he finally sat down some 20 years after that September evening to ' reveal' the full truth about his adventures in his autobiography, Dewilde claimed that his wife, who had been watching television when the craft landed, came out in time to see it depart. ...
In 1955, Thirouin, the editor and founder of Ouranos, France's first journal on UFOs, spent a month with Dewilde. In the second of two articles he produced from the interview, Thirouin recounted Dewilde's careful description of the extraterrestrials' physiognomy, which was based on a then little-reported second encounter Dewilde claimed to have had on 10 October 1954. According to Dewilde, the beings, whom he this time saw in broad daylight, resembled Asians, 'Mongols; the jaw was fairly strong, the cheekbones high, the hair and eyebrows dark, [ ... ] the skin rather brown: it wasn't that of a white man with a mat complexion, not pink but brown, less "cooked" than one thinks of with the Red-Skins, more like that of Arabs, darker in those places where we have a beard'. Finally, with some prodding by his interviewer, who offered his best impressions of Chinese, Vietnamese and Siamese, Dewilde concluded that the language the humanoids used to address him sounded less Asian than 'European, but not, in my opinion, English, German or a Latin language'.
In 1980 DeWilde (with co-author Roger-Luc Mary, French parapsychologist and ufologist) published a book under the title Ne resistez pas aux extraterrestres!: Le "contacte" de Quarouble, 26 ans apres (translation: Do not resist the extraterrestrials! The contact at Quarouble, 26 years later). Besides the additional sighting in October, 1954, DeWilde claims to have been given a mysterious box, and to have been detained and then transported and interrogated by authorities using truth serum and electroshock. DeWilde also claimed to have had ongoing contact with the extraterrestrials since that time.
6. Lorenzen's 1966 paperback book Flying Saucers: The Startling Evidence of the Invasion from Outer Space was originally printed as a hardcover in 1962 under the title The Great Flying Saucer Hoax -- The UFO Facts and Their Interpretation.
7. Although the entry in the January 15, 1955, issue of the APRO Bulletin is titled " 'Little Men' Fail in Kidnap Attempt!!", and although it says that Jose Parra "without his shirt and with a terrified look on his face... related his hair-raising tale of how a hairy little man tried to kidnap him", there is an obvious discrepancy in that the story also says that, after Parra was paralyzed with the violet light, he "stood by helplessly while the little creatures ran to their ship, and leaped aboard" whereupon the "craft then disappeared into the sky". The same facts were repeated in Lorenzen's 1966 book Flying Saucers: The Startling Evidence of the Invasion from Outer Space, but this time without any mention of the missing shirt or any implication of an attempted kidnap.
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