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The 1954 French flap:

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

October 15, 1954, Albi, Tarn:

Reference number for this case: 15-Oct-54-Albi. Thank you for including this reference number in any correspondence with me regarding this case.

Summary:

The regional newspaper La Dépêche du Midi for October 16, 1954, reported under the title "saucer or not?" that Mr. Duraleix, like a good number of Albi resident, on Le Vigan, stared with a piercing glance a white dot motionless in the sky above the Pontié building.

Mr. Duraleix had a witty spirit, for he said at first with a pleasant smile: "Contrary to what might be thought of its position above the Pontié's cafe, this white spot that you see shining on the blue sky is not, in spite of deceptive appearances, a "flying saucer" [...] And handing me an imposing pair of binoculars that he had hastily searched for at his home, he allowed me to observe the phenomenon not without being irritated by my awkwardness in seeting up the device and aiming at the object. "No doubt you notice that seen in the binoculars, the object does not appear as a circle, but on the contrary, as a spindle elongated in the vertical direction. This is not a flying cigar, as it is customary, if one believes willing and too often enthusiasts observers, to navigate horizontally."[...]

This witness finally declared "peremptorily" that it was simply a balloon. "See the translucency of the material that the sun tints with different colors on both sides. The elongated shape of the balloon is normal: these machines, intended for very high altitudes, take their spherical shape only in the upper layers of the atmosphere, which, badly inflated will have found a position of stability at the altitude where you perceive it. The absence of air currents explains its immobility."

The journalist noted that Mr. Duraleix's listeners seemed disappointed.

The fact is that a high-altitude balloon launched from the University of Padua in Italy had caused numerous reports in southern and central France.

The newspaper Le Tarn Libre, of Albi, which reported sightings in the region noted on October 22, 1954:

"Since then, we learned that this machine was a scientific observation balloon launched in Milan by the services of the American army. This balloon, which has a diameter of 50 meters, is built out of plastic and carries several scientific observation devices. It is inflated with helium. According to the information given by the services which had released it, it was due to evolve at an altitude between 17.000 and 20.000 meters."

Reports:

[Ref. dmi1:] "LA DEPECHE DU MIDI" NEWSPAPER:

FLYING SAUCERS OF NOT?

Yesterday at midday, Mr. Duraleix was, like a large number of residents of Albi, standing on Le Vigan, fixing with a sharp eye the celestial vault. A motionless white point in the sky above the building of Pontié was capturing his attention. Mr. Duraleix had a humorous spirit, because he stated to me immediately with a pleasant smile: "As opposed to what its position above the coffee shop of Pontié could suggest, this white spot which you see shining in the blue sky, is not, in spite of misleading appearances, a "flying saucer" [...] And passing an imposing pair of binoculars to me which he had fetched in haste at his residence, he enabled me to observe the phenomenon not without getting irritated with my awkwardness to set up the device and to point it at the object. "Undoubtedly you notice that seen with the binocular, the object does not look at all like a circle, but quite to the contrary, like an elongated spindle in the vertical direction. This does not mean that it is a flying cigar, those having the habit, if one believes the voluntary and too often enthusiastic observers, to sail horizontally." [...]

"Did you notice how the French people in general and the residents of Albi in particular, is observant? It was enough to have a strange object in the sky to make telescopes spout out as by miracle in the hands of the passers-by." I had all the trouble in the world to bring back my interlocutor to focus of the subject. I succeeded nevertheless, to hear him state with a peremptory tone that it was simply a weather-balloon. "See the translucidity of the matter that the sun dyes of different colors on both sides. As for the elongated shape of the balloon, it is normal: these machines, intended for very high altitudes, take their spherical shape only in the higher layers of the atmosphere. This one, badly inflated, must have found a position of stability at the altitude where you see it. The absence of airstream explains its immobility."

I glanced aside at Mr. Duraleix' listeners. Their face had changed. Disappointment appeared there more and more with the explanations. Their rational character grained them obviously. The group was not long to split while Mr. Duraleix expanded on the knowledge he vaguely gathered during a military and weather training course long ago. His effect was indisputably missed. Flying saucers and surprising Martians would have been preferred. The weather balloon does not grant much success. - J. D.

THE SAUCER OF CARMAUX WAS ONLY A WEATHER BALLOON

Friday, market day, some thousand people believed to see a "saucer" which displayed under the aspect of a silvery sphere, appearing stationary, at a very high altitude. As a journalist and curious person, I was soon in possession of binoculars, which enabled me to describe the machine as two discs. We observed the machine thanks to a Wild universal theodolite with tripod. It is actually supposed to be balloon having very exactly the aspect of a serum bulb of a transparent matter, on which the sun created red-orange or silvery reflections. It seems that this is a balloon of an experimental style.

[Ref. ltl1:] "LE TARN LIBRE" NEWSPAPER:

THE FLYING SAUCERS CORNER

[...]

A sounding-balloon raises a sharp success of curiosity

A mysterious very brilliant ball, on Friday, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., excited the population of Tarn. In Albi, Le Vigan and all the crossroads were full of puzzled people observing in curiosity in the north-north-eastern direction this remote and tiny object lost in the blue of the sky and which presented the aspect of an extremely brilliant metallic ball. In Cagnac and Carmaux, same success of curiosity; in this latter city the sale of telescopes scored high. This ball, quickly baptized a flying saucer, was also observed in the Lot and the Aveyron.

The explanation

Since then, we learned that this machine was a scientific observation balloon launched in Milan by the services of the American army. This balloon, which has a diameter of 50 meters, is built out of plastic and carries several scientific observation devices. It is inflated with helium. According to the information given by the services which had released it, it was due to evolve at an altitude between 17.000 and 20.000 meters.

[Ref. bbr1:] GERARD BARTHEL AND JACQUES BRUCKER:

The two authors briefly indicate that on October 15, 1954, what was observed in Albi was a weather balloon.

[Ref. dgz3:] DIDIER GOMEZ:

Didier Gomez lists this case by indicating that on October 15, 1954, at noon, in Albi, Carmaux in the Tarn, several witnesses aw a "brilliant ball / sounding balloon" during several minutes.

[Ref. uda1:] "UFODNA" WEBSITE:

The website indicates that on October 15, 1954, at 11:00 in Albi, France, "A daytime disc was reported."

The source is indicated as "Vallee, Jacques, Computerized Catalog (N = 3073)".

Explanations:

The high-altitude balloon launched by the University of Padua. See here.

Keywords:

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

Albi, Tarn, balloon, saucer, silvery, reflections, high, multiple, motionless, binocular, discs, theodolite

Sources:

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

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross March 1, 2006 First published.
1.0 Patrick Gross April 24, 2009 Conversion from HTML to XHTML Strict. First formal version. Addition [uda1].
1.1 Patrick Gross August 5, 2019 Addition [dgz3]. Explanations changed, was "Balloon."

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This page was last updated on August 5, 2019.