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October 14, 1954, Faucigny, Haute-Savoie:

Reference for this case: 14-Oct-54-Faucigny.
Please cite this reference in any correspondence with me regarding this case.


In 2019, journalist Sylvaine Romanaz, on the website of the regional newspaper Le Dauphiné Libéré, recounts "flying saucers" events of mid-October 1954, undoubtedly fished in the archive of this journal.

She reports several of the October 14, 1954, sightings, of what was often called a "flying saucer" but really was a high altitude scientific study balloon launched by the University of Padua in Italy and hovered over the South-East of France from October 14 to October 16, 1954.

Among the places where it was sighted on October 14, 1954, apparently, she mentions Faucigny.




Sunday story: Flying saucer alert!

Every Sunday, the Dauphiné delves into its archives and makes you relive an event from the past. This weekend, back in 1954, when the South East saw aliens everywhere...

By Sylvaine ROMANAZ - August 11, 2019 at 06:05 - updated on Apr 18, 2020 at 11:07 - Reading time: 4 min

In public gardens, on café terraces, on sidewalks, thousands of motionless people staring up at the sky. On this October 14, 1954, alert in Grenoble: a flying saucer crosses the sky. No doubt for the most informed, the Martians are coming!

In the afternoon, the switchboard of the Dauphiné Libéré is overwhelmed by calls. And at 6 p.m., at the exit of the factories and offices, the crowd increases again in the streets. "But I'm telling you it's a weather balloon!" a passerby shouts. Wasted effort. Not one convinced witness.

Better still, the collective hallucination of the Grenoblois spreads. From Chambéry to Gap, from Fontaine-de-Vaucluse to Faucigny, same stories. "A large vertical cigar" for some, flaming red or green and gray, orange or shiny, an unidentified object travels the South-East.

In Fontaine de Vaucluse, the case is growing. This white disc which hovers above the city, here is something strange nevertheless... The witnesses who observe it with binoculars go there for their details: the disc is surmounted by a spherical cap, and looks like a silver bowler hat. And to describe in the Dauphiné Libéré, a "lower circular border which intermittently carries powerful lights, varying from white to purplish through red". The object begins to intrigue so much that around 2 p.m., two jet planes take off from Caritat air base. But the "saucer" goes too fast, and disappears in the sky ..

So, Martians or not Martians? The answer comes very down to earth... from the prefecture of the Isère. They receive a message from a Mr. Polvani, director of the Institute of Physics in Milan: "We are asking for assistance in identifying and recovering a stratospheric balloon loaded with scientific material, passed in France." The device is intended for studying cosmic rays. End of the craze? Not at all.

Because the scientists are offering a bonus of 20,000 francs to anyone who will help recover the balloon by calling "Odéon 99-17". What push everyone to scan the sky again and again. Moreover in Grenoble, on the airfield, specialists try to locate it and estimate its height when the object passes over their heads.

It is hard to miss, the ball is 28 meters in diameter and weighs 110 kilos. Being able to climb up to 33,000 m, it is however very difficult to chase...

The Grenoblois hardly look up that it is at Bourg-Saint-Maurice or Modane, then further in the Ubaye, that the gendarmes are alerted by citizens more or less frightened, more or less curious. And when everyone begins to agree with to the scientific explanation, blam, a second craft is seen simultaneously. This time the witnesses rather report a "ball of fire". But still no Martians. The Saint-Michel observatory near Digne is formal, that's a meteor. And for the first one, same certainty, it is a balloon.

Yet two appearances at the same time is too suspicious for many minds. So the tongues are loosened. And one cross-checks all the testimonies from the four corners of the country.

In the Dombes it is an insurance salesman who remembers having seen "a very short machine which descended slowly." In Moulins, it is a teacher and his class who saw in a field "a metallic-looking craft" with around it "three shapes which seemed to be the passengers of this apparatus." What do aliens look like? "An almost normal human trunk with two arms ending in a hook. A single leg ending in a spherical base". And the head? "Conical with three eyes in a triangle". As for the clothes, one of the children was very precise: they wore the same leather jacket as Louison Bobet! No need to ask us for the photo, this invasion has never been immortalized. Martians are not photogenic enough or too shy...

More timid in any case than the witnesses who throughout the 50's and 60's seem happy to be filmed or to be questioned by journalists to describe what they saw...

So many stories that snowballed to the point that the debate eventually reached the Assembly. Ignoring the scientific balloon (which continued its route in the Rhone valley, in particular above Crest then the Ardèche), the deputy of Ariège Mr. Dejean addressed a question to the President of the Council to know whether "a service was created in charge of gathering the existing documentation and studying the nature and origin of the said devices." Service that exists today.

The Geipan is very officially responsible for looking into unidentified aerospace phenomena. If during your Sunday walk the aliens say hi to you, you can contact them. Be careful though. In October 1954, workers at a construction site near Naples said loud and clear: seeing a saucer could be dangerous. The Pekingese dog who was with them at the time of the apparition looked at the saucer, barked... and fell dead.



Most likely the high altitude balloon of the University of Padua. See also Raymond Veillith's note in 1968 on this matter.

The picture of this balloon by the observatory of Haute-Provence:


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

Faucigny, Haute-Savoie, balloon


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1.0 Patrick Gross March 17, 2021 First published.

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This page was last updated on March 17, 2021.