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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, Dole, Jura:

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


In 1956, the pioneer ufologist Aimé Michel published an article in a US ufology bulletin in which he notably mentioned observations in France on the evening of October 16, 1954.

One of the sightings is said to have taken place near Dole, a few moments after the sighting in Salins-les-Bains]: witnesses reportedly spotted the same object.

In the article, Michel indicated that the "Commission of Investigation of the French Air Force" had explained that it was a slow meteor; Michel refused the explanation, arguing that the commission would not have taken into account a "change of direction" during the last observation of the series, arguing that the time of the first and last observation shows that the thing was only flying at 3,000 km/h, too slow for a meteor, and denying that the witnesses' watches could have been imprecisely set.

In his 1958 book "Flying Saucers and the Straight Line Mystery", however, he had changed his mind. Without reviewing his previous arguments, he presented the series of sightings as that of a meteor, and explained that what we can learn from the reports is that although some witnesses called the object a "flying saucer", all had correctly described a meteor.


[Ref. aml7:] AIME MICHEL:

[... other sightings of that day...]

A few moments later [than the Salins-les-Bains sighting] witnesses spotted it near Dole, a dozen or so miles to the Northwest of Salins, [... other sightings...]

[... other sightings of that day...]

The French Air Force Inquiry Commission, after studying the case [of the October 16, 1954 sightings], concluded that the object was a "slow meteor." The Commission did not Above* French press take into account the change of direction of the last Paris sighting. To the several witnesses who saw the UFO halt in the sky, the Commission answered: "Optical Illusion," And since this time differentials reported suggested a meteor traveling at an impossibly slow speed (2400 miles per hour), the Commission supposed that the witnesses' watches had broken.

[Ref. aml1:] AIME MICHEL:

Aimé Michel wrote about the October 16, 1954, 09:30 p.m. meteor:

THE TEST OF THE METEOR. October 16, as if it was purposely, a splendid meteor crossed the north of France towards 09:30 p.m.. It was observed on a score of departments by thousands of people, from the Allier to Lorraine and from the Swiss border to Paris. Naturally many witnesses believed to have seen a Flying Saucer and said so. The newspapers printed "Flying Saucer in Orly", or "in Montididier", or "in Metz." But once again the description made by all these weak brains appeared of a remarkable honesty.


The innumerable gathered testimonys show indeed that even when the witnesses called "Flying saucer" the observed object, their description is identical on 200.000 square kilometres where the visible phenomenon was visible: an "orange ball followed by a trail", a "large luminous ball with a tail", a "flying egg followed by a trail", a "bottle's bottom with a trail of thirty times its diameter", etc. The same phenomenon is uniformly described.


[Ref. lgs1:] LOREN GROSS:

October 16th [1954]

[...other cases...]

More "meteor" sightings

[...other cases...]

At 9:25 p.m. residents of Salins, France, noticed something coming out of the southeast sky from the direction of northern Italy. As the thing passed overhead it appeared as a dull-glowing lenticular shape trailing a luminous stream of smoke. Moments later the lenticular body passed over the cities of Dole and Montmirey still on a northwest trajectory. The elongated form was then spotted at Damparis and Dijon. The object was at a high altitude since observers some distance to the right and left of the object's course could see the thing travel from horizon to horizon. At 9:35 p.m., continuing in a straight line, the lenticular body appeared over Paris, causing some concern at Orly airport which put all air traffic on hold while the phenomenon was in sight. Some people in the French capital claimed they saw the object come to a stop while others even asserted the object made a turn to the west.

The French Air Force Inquiry Commission looked into the case and concluded that a "slow meteor" was responsible, and that those who said they had seen a course change had merely suffered from an optical illusion. To explain the duration of the object's passage, the French Commission suggested that witnesses' timepieces were not set properly.

Aime Michel thought more of the case than the military because he had knowledge of a sighting near St. Malo, a town that lies west of Paris on the coast of Brittany. The time of this sighting was not known but there may have been a connection with the "slow meteor." What was seen at St. Malo, however, did not resemble the supposed meteor. According to the witness two objects raced across the sky and a third object was seen intercepting the first two at a right angle. This new formation of three objects sped away leaving a thin vapor trail behind them. 138.


The meteor of October 16, 1954, at 09:30 p.m..


Aimé Michel's arguments in his 1956 article are not valid:

Around 9:30 p.m., what passed in the sky was described by witnesses as having the appearance of a meteor, as Michel understands it two years later.

His too slow speed argument consisted in taking the first hour and the last hour given in this series of observations, to imagine that the first hour is at the beginning of the seen trajectory and the last at the end, to imagine that these hours are precise to the minute. It was the Air Force that was right - except that I doubt that they said that the witnesses' watches "broke" as Michel said, I think they rather considered them to be sometimes not precisely set.

The argument based on the hours presented in 1956 by Aimé Michel is as erroneous as that of another pioneer of ufology, Charles Garreau, whom Michel knew. In 1958, Michel undoubtedly realized that it made no sense, and he gave up this argument. Garreau on his side never renounced to this error.


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

Dole, Jura, night, multiple


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

Document history:

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1.0 Patrick Gross February 24, 2021 First published.

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