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The 1954 French flap:

The index page for the 1954 French flap section of this website is here.

October 11, 1954, Birac, Charente:

Reference number for this case: 11-oct-54-Birac. Thank you for including this reference number in any correspondence with me regarding this case.

Summary:

In his 1958 book on the wave of 1954, pioneering ufologist Aimé Michel narrated a case he said he found in the newspapers Le Figaro, L'Aurore, Le Parisien Libéré for October 13 and 14, 1954, and Sud-Ouest and Ouest-France for October 14, 1954:

The witnesses, from Jarnac, were driving on the departmental road 14 in the Charente department, and their story according to Aimé Michel was that they were returning from Bordeaux on October 11, 1954, when at 09:50, four kilometers from Châteauneuf, they saw two luminous balls appear in the sky in front of them at low altitude.

"The car was stopped, the lights were extinguished, and we went down and stayed about five minutes looking at them, different in size, one much smaller than the other, and advancing slowly along the same line as the road. They came to a standstill shortly, did two or three maneuvers to the right and left, came to a halt again, the larger one turned bright white with a reddish halo, and the two balls went down vertically and disappeared into the Charente valley. Our impression was that they had landed."

The witnesses got back in the car and drove to Jarnac. They later regretted not having waited to see if the two balls reappeared.

They said that the night was very clear, that the moon was shining a little behind their road, on the right.

In 1966, ufologist Jacques Vallée gave a short summary, stating that among the four witnesses were Julia Juste, Maria Barbeau and Marion Le Tanneur, and that the hour was 09:50 p.m..

The summary of 1979 by Michel Figuet and Jean-Louis Ruchon gave witnesses names as Maria Barbereau, Mrs. Julia Juste, and Mr. Marion Le Tanneur.

Reports:

[Ref. aml1:] AIME MICHEL:

Aimé Michel notes that the case is mentioned in the newspapers Le Figaro, L'Aurore, Le Parisien Libéré for October the 13th and 14th, and in Sud-Ouest and Ouest-France for October 14, and that the witnesses, from Jarnac, were driving on route départementale 14 in Charente.

The witnesses' story is reproduced as below by Aimé Michel:

"We were returning from Bordeaux when at 10 hours in the evening minus 10 minutes, whereas we were at four kilometers of Châteauneuf, two luminous balls appeared in the sky in front of us at low altitude. The car was stopped, the headlights were turned off. We went out of the car and remained five minutes approximately to contemplate them. They were of different sizes, one much smaller than the other, and advanced slowly on the same line as the road. They were still again, carried out two three manoeuvers on the right and on the left, immobilized themselves again. The largest turned a shiny white with a reddish halation, and the two balls went down vertically and disappeared in the valley of Charente. Our impression was that they had landed."

"We then went up in the car again and set out again towards Jarnac. We thereafter regretted not to have waited to see whether the two balls would reappear. The night was very clear. The Moon shone a little behind of our road, on our right."

He put the sighting location as Châteauneuf on a map supposed to demonstrate cases are lined up:

Map by Aimé Michel

[Ref. jve5:] JACQUES VALLEE:

306 000.06128 45.56100 11 10 1954 21 30 1 BIRAC-CHARENTE F 0013 G

[Ref. fle1:] FERNAND LAGARDE:

The ufologist Fernand Lagarde believed he found a connection between the locations of UFO sightings and the locations of earthquakes or geological faults.

He published a map centered on the Charente-Maritime department, with parts of the surrounding departments, with these cases (his list is incomplete) represented, all dates October 1954:

"N 150 between Saintes and Royan 10.54"
"Taupignac 10.54"
"Pont L'Abbé 10.54"
"St Savinien 10.54"
"Birac 10.54"
"Soudran 10.54"
"Tourriers 10.54"
"Angouleme 10.54"
"Puymoyen 10.54"
"Marcillac 10.54"
"Nessier 10.54"
"Béruge 10.54"
"Lusignan 10.54"
"St Maixent 10.54"
"Niort 10.54"
"La Rochelle 10.54"
"Angles 10.54"
"Luçon 10.54"

Carte par Fernand Lagarde

[Ref. jve1:] JACQUES VALLEE:

239

Oct. 11, 1954, 09:50 P.M., Birac (France).

Four persons, among them Julia Juste, Maria Barbeau [Barbereau], and Marion Le Tanneur, of Jarnac, saw two luminous spheres flying in the same direction. Having stopped and maneuvered in mid-air, the larger one took on a deep red color, turned to an intense white light with a red aura, and both landed. Witnesses did not wait. (Quincy; M 160).

[Ref. jve2:] JACQUES VALLEE:

The author indicates that on October 11, 1954, four people who were driving by car close to Birac saw two luminous spheres, one much smaller than the other, flying in the same direction. After having stopped and having manoeuvered in the air, the large sphere took a dark red color, then became intensely white with a red halo; both land vertically. The witnesses did not wait.

[Ref. ioi1:] "INFO-OVNI":

[...]

We had the opportunity to discuss this problem with Jean Claude Dufour in a letter of 04/174/1974, he pointed out in a letter of the 1/01/74, he was struck by the extremely elaborate nature of the "mystification" of Montbazens about which we discussed above.

Indeed, Mr Carrière perpetrated an extremely elaborate mystification by "inventing" the landing of a red circular object. But, and we quote Dufour, on 12 observations of the day supposed good, 8 were about circular objects emitting a red light... and the prankster made it work ten minutes after the observation of Birac, while one of the objects that had landed near this locality was actually red... the joker would have been INSPIRED (it is us who say this) that he would not have done better... even better, by taking the previous observations, one realizes that red objects on the ground are in the minority, while landings mainly concern dark or metallic objects..."

[...]

Notes:

This is taken from an article supposed to demonstrate that it would be an "intelligence" (mysterious, undefined) that would inspire the authors of hoaxes. By "this problem", the author(s) refer to this thesis.

The "Montbazens prank" took place on October 11, 1954, on the same date as the present case. It took place at 10 p.m., 10 minutes after this case, and it occurred 211 kilometers in straight line from the location of the Birac case. That is why it is not possible that the Birac sighting was a prank performed by this Mr. Carrière.

The case of Monbazins, that same day, but at an unspecified time, would have taken place even farther, in the Hérault department.

[Ref. prn1:] PETER ROGERSON - "INTCAT":

414 11 October 1954 2150 hrs

BIRAC (FRANCE) Four persons, among them Julia Juste, Maria Barbeau, and Marion Le Tanneur, of Jarnac were driving along Rt Dl4, when they saw two luminous spheres flying in the same direction, at a low altitude. The car stalled and the headlights went out. Having stopped and manouvered in mid air, the larger object took on a deep red colour, which turned to an intense white light with a red aura. They then both appeared to land in the valley of the Charente River. The witnesses did not wait. (M239; Michel II, 160; Cramp, 213)

[Ref. fru1:] MICHEL FIGUET AND JEAN-LOUIS RUCHON:

The two authors indicate that on October 11, 1954, to 21:50 in Birac in the department of Charente, three people were traveling on departmental road on D14, at 4 kilometers of Châteauneuf, when they saw two luminous spheres at low altitude.

The witnesses went out of the car and observed the phenomenon. The two balls were one above the other, of different sizes, one much smaller than the other, and advanced slowly and parallel to the road. They soon became motionless, performed two or three manoeuvres on the left then on the right, became motionless again.

The largest changed color to a shining white with a reddish halation, and the two balls went down vertically. The impression of the witnesses is that they landed in the valley of Charente not far from there.

The three witnesses were Mrs. Maria Barbereau, Mrs. Julia Juste, and Mr. Marion Le Tanneur.

The sources are noted as case 239 of the Vallée catalogue; Quincy; Aimé Michel in "A Propos des S.V." page 198.

[Ref. mrr1:] MARK RODEGHIER:

Oct. 11, 1954

2200

FRANCE, Chateauneuf: Three young girls, returning from a trip, saw two luminous globes at a low altitude. The engine of their car died and the headlights went out. For five minutes they watched the two globes as they executed several movements. One globe was much larger, and it eventually turned brilliant white with a reddish halo. Both globes eventually disappeared by dropping straight down towards the Charente River valley. The car could then be restarted. (Michel)

Note: this source is supposed to be a catalogue of "vehicle interferences" caused by UFOs. But Mark Rodeghier likely misunderstood his source: the original report suggests that it was the witnesses who turned off the car's engine and lights, not the UFO.

[Ref. mft1:] MICHEL FIGUET:

This ufologist noted:

CASE Nr CLASSIFICATION DATE HOUR PLACE ZIP CODE CREDIBILITY SOURCE
l8O CE0 11 10 1954 21.50 Birac 16120 D3 NI-RS [=unidentified, sparse information], OVNI: p. 151

[Ref. lhh1:] LARRY HATCH - "*U* COMPUTER DATABASE":

4071: 1954/10/11 21:50 5 0:03:40 W 45:33:40 N 3333 WEU FRN CHN 7:8

nr BIRAC,FR:3/CAR:2 LUMn ORBS/LRG+SMALL LAND/DISTANCE:CAR EMES:/r8#239+/r138#9

Ref# 30 FIGEUT[sic]&RUCHON: OVNI: Le 1er Dossier Page No. 151 : FARMLANDS

[Ref. goe1] GODELIEVE VAN OVERMEIRE:

Godelieve van Overmeire indicates that on October 11, 1954, in France, in Birac, at approximately 09:50 p.m., four witnesses including Julia Juste, Maria Barbereau and Marion Le Tanneur de [or "from"] Jarnac saw two luminous spheres flying in the same direction. Stopping and maneuvering in the air, the largest became red then of an intense white light with a red halo, then both landed. The witnesses did not await the continuation.

The sources are indicated as "Quincy" and Jacques Vallée in "Chronique des apparitions ET", Denoël 1972, J'Ai Lu collection page 277.

[Ref. mcn1:] MARK CASHMAN'S SIGHTINGS DATABASE:

Birac (France).

10/11/1954 21:50

Four persons, among them Julia Juste, Maria Barbeau, and Marion Le Tanneur, of Jarnac, saw two luminous spheres flying in the same direction. Having stopped and maneuvered in midair, the larger one took on a deep red color, turned to an intense white light with a red aura, and both landed. Witnesses did not wait.

The event is recorded twice in the database:

Chateauneuf-sur-Charente, France

10/11/1954

Car motor and headlights failed, two UFOs observed at low altitude ahead of car.

[Ref. djn1:] DONALD JOHNSON:

Donald Johnson indicates that on October 11, 1954, four persons in Birac, France - among them Julia Juste, Maria Barbeau, and Marion Le Tanneur, of Jarnac - saw two luminous spheres flying in the same direction. Having stopped and maneuvered in midair, the larger one took on a deep red color, turned to an intense white light with a red aura, and both landed. The witnesses did not wait around to investigate further.

The source is given as Jacques Vallee, Passport to Magonia: A Century of Landings, pp. 225-226.

[Ref. lcn1:] LUC CHASTAN:

Luc Chastan indicates that in Charente, in Birac, on October 11, 1954 at 09:50 p.m., three people driving on the D14, 4 km from Châteauneuf, saw two luminous spheres at low altitude. They left the car and contemplated the phenomenon, two balls of different sizes, one much smaller than the other, moving slowly and parallel to the road. The balls soon immobilized, carried out two or three manoeuvers on the left then on the right, then again immobilized. The largest changed to a shining white with a reddish halation, and the two balls descended vertically, the impression of the witnesses being that they went to land in valley of Charente not far from there.

The source is indicated as "Ovni, Premier dossier complet..." by Figuet M., Ruchon J.L., Alain Lefeuvre publisher 1979.

[Ref. jbu1:] JEROME BEAU:

Jérôme Beau indicates that on October 11, 1954, at 09:50 p.m., in Birac in France, "4 people, among them Jumia [sic] Juste, Maria Barbeau and Marion Le Tanneur, of Jarnac," saw two luminous spheres flying in the same direction. Stopping and maneuvering in the air, the largest became red, then of an intense white light with a red halo, then both landed. The witnesses did not await the continuation.

The source is indicated as "Quincy".

[Ref. mps1:] MICHEL PADRINES:

Michel Padrines indicates that on October 11, 1954, at 09:50 p.m., in Birac in France, four people, among them Jumia [sic] Juste, Maria Barbeau and Marion Le Tanneur, of Jarnac," saw two luminous spheres flying in the same direction. Stopping and maneuvering in the air, the largest became red, then of an intense white light with a red halo, then both landed. The witnesses did not await the continuation, they flee.

Michel Padrines indicates no source.

[Ref. uda1:] "UFODNA" WEBSITE:

The website indicates that on 11 October 1954 at 21:50 in Birac, France, "two luminous spheres landed. Four persons, among them Julia Juste, Maria Barbeau, and Marion Le Tanneur, of Jarnac, saw two luminous spheres flying in the same direction. Having stopped and maneuvered in midair, the larger one took on a deep red color, turned to an intense white light with a red aura, and both landed. Witnesses did not wait. One red ball was observed."

The source is indicated as "Vallée Magonia Database".

[Ref. nip1:] "THE NICAP WEBSITE":

*Oct. 11, 1954 - At 9:50 p.m. four persons in Birac, Charente, France--among them Julia Juste, Maria Barbeau, and Marion Le Tanneur, of Jarnac--saw two luminous spheres flying in the same direction. Having stopped and maneuvered in midair, the larger one took on a deep red color, turned to an intense white light with a red aura, and both landed. Witnesses did not wait around to investigate further. (Sources: Aime Michel, Flying Saucers and the Straight Line Mystery, p. 160; Jacques Vallee, Passport to Magonia: A Century of Landings, pp. 225-226, case # 239; Mark Rodeghier, UFO Reports Involving Vehicle Interference, p. 2).

[Ref. ubk1:] "UFO-DATENBANK":

This database recorded this case 9 times:

Case Nr. New case Nr. Investigator Date of observation Zip Place of observation Country of observation Hour of observation Classification Comments Identification
19541011 11.10.1954 Chateauneuf France Night CE II
19541011 11.10.1954 Birac France 21.50 CE II
19541011 11.10.1954 Birac France 21.50 CE II
19541011 11.10.1954 Birac France 21.50 CE II
19541011 11.10.1954 Birac France 21.50 CE II
19541011 11.10.1954 Chateauneuf Charente France 21.50 CE II
19541011 11.10.1954 Chateauneuf Charente France 21.50 CE II
19541011 11.10.1954 Chateauneuf Charente France 21.50 CE II
19541011 11.10.1954 Chateauneuf Charente France 21.50 CE II

Explanations:

If the witnesses drove from Bordeaux to Jarnac by the D14 road, and were 4 km from Châteauneuf-sur-Charente, they were either just before the entry of Birac or 4 km after Châteauneuf-sur-Charente on the D14.

But as after Châteauneuf-sur-Charente the road no longer leads to Jarnac where they were going, they were probably at the first possible spot, just before Birac; which is indeed the place given by Figuet and Ruchon.

The place would then be likely somewhere along the red line in the map below:

I have no sure prosaic explanation for the sighting; but its strangeness seems moderate.

Keywords:

(These keywords are only to help queries and are not implying anything.)

Birac, Charente, Julia Juste, Maria Barbereau, Maria Barbeau, Marion Le Tanneur, multiple, sphere, luminous, manoeuvres, red, white, landing

Sources:

[----] indicates sources which I have not yet checked.

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross April 6, 2003 First published.
1.0 Patrick Gross December 15, 2008 Conversion from HTML to XHTML Strict. First formal version. Addition [lcn1], [goe1], [jbu1], [js1].
1.1 Patrick Gross December 20, 2008 Addition [mps1], [uda1].
1.2 Patrick Gross June 28, 2010 Addition [jve5].
1.3 Patrick Gross October 18, 2014 Addition [nip1].
1.4 Patrick Gross February 21, 2017 Addition [ubk1].
1.5 Patrick Gross April 18, 2019 Additions [ioi1], [mft1], [mrr1], [lhh1], Summary. Explanations changed, were "Not looked for yet."
1.6 Patrick Gross May 2, 2019 Addition [prn1].
1.7 Patrick Gross August 21, 2019 Addition [fle1].

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