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The 1954 French flap:

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

June 18, 1954, Chagny, Sa˘ne-et-Loire:

Reference number for this case: 18-Jun-54-Chagny. Thank you for including this reference number in any correspondence with me regarding this case.


In 1954, from May to June, there was a wave in the United States and then in France of newspaper stories reporting "explosions" of automobiles windshields, estimated to be mysterious in their number especially, and attributed to various causes: sometimes to the "Martians", sometimes to a "collective hysteria", sometimes to manufacturing defects or wear, or even to "vandals".

A French case of this "glass cancer" reported in the newspaper Le Bien Public, Dijon, June 22, 1954, and published by the ufology group ADRUP in the 1980's, is as follows:

On June 18, 1954, around 7 p.m., one Mr. Bouchard, wine merchant in Beaune, was driving between Chagny and Chalon when his windshield suddenly became opaque.

The newspaper reported that a loud detonation had been heard, accompanied by a kind of strange glow, and that it seemed no stone had been the cause of the incident.




Two new cases of this strange disease affecting car windshields have just been reported to us in the region. The first occurred last Friday around 7 p.m.. Mr. Bouchard, a wine merchant in Beaune, drove between Chagny and Chalon when his windshield suddenly became opaque. The same incident was repeated on the RN 74 Sunday between Corpeaux and the Meursault hospital. The windshield of the car of a senior Dijon officer was also abruptly frosted. Of course, the same symptoms were observed in both cases. Strong detonation accompanied by a kind of strange glow. It seems that no stone hit is at the origin of these two new manifestations of windshielditis.

The source is said to be the newspaper Le Bien Public.


The windshields "explosions" in 1954, called "window cancer" or "parebrisite" in French, has become an often cited example of "collective illusion" or "mass hysteria". Sociologists and psychologists refer to these incidents in France and in the United States to ensure that "crowds" can easily fall into unfounded collective myths.

And of course, some "skeptical" ufologists explain that the "window cancer" that preceded the wave of "flying saucers" of 1954 proves that the saucers too were only illusions.

None put forward the following point: "collective hysteria" here would in any case concern only the interpretation of the facts, not the facts themselves. And the interpretations were not really "hysterical", they were attempts at rationalization quite understandable and sensible in the context of the time.

All sorts of explanations were advanced at the time for the "window cancer", such as an effect of atomic experiments, Martian activity, or "vandals". In the United States, the police found that the epidemic affected mainly old cars, and it was thought that the windows would explode as a result of their wear.

In the windshield explosions reported in France in 1954, I find "constants": the mention of a light or a flash, blue when the color is mentioned, the lack of sens of the explanations by vandals, Martians, atomic tests, the insistence of the witness(es) that no pebble struck the windshield, the hearing of an explosion sound, the opacity of the window after the explosion.

Some of these characteristics have really no strangeness: an explosion noise is perfectly normal when a windshield breaks. The window becomes opaque because the anti-burst protection layer produced this. The lack of notice of a shock by a pebble or something else can also be explained: the windshield may have been hit and weakened by a hit long before, and then explodes only later when nothing hits it.

I have less idea about the flash or the light. Is it an illusion caused by the sudden opacity of the glass?

Jimmy Guieu linked this mystery to the extraterrestrials, but few ufologists followed him on this path. The Press did it sometimes, but without claiming this "explanation" was serious.

For the present case, I do not think that extraterrestrials have been at work. But like ADRUP, I think it is useful to document these occurrences, as this is the only way to then evaluate the meaning of this phenomenon.


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

Chagny, Sa˘ne-et-Loire, Chalon, Bouchard, windshield, explosion, gleam


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

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
1.0 Patrick Gross February 3, 2019 First published.

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