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The 1954 French flap:

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

August 31, 1954, Orly, Val-de-Marne:

Reference number for this case: 31-Aug-54-Orly. Thank you for including this reference number in any correspondence with me regarding this case.

Summary:

In his book on the French wave of 1954, Aimé Michel reported a case of August 31, 1954; which, he said, remained unexplained, and which no newspaper had reported. He said he knew about it by letters from people who did not know each other.

Around 07:30, p.m. Mrs. A. Fouquiau, residing 7 rue du Maréchal Joffre, in Orly, looked mechanically at the sky, and saw at a height that she estimated to be very important, "two luminous craft of orange color" which quickly arrived from the west, following parallel and straight trajectories.

Mrs. Fouquiau reportedly alerted her husband and her granddaughter, and all three watched the two objects as they quickly crossed the sky, to "disappear" still side by side to the east.

The three witnesses were very puzzled by what they had just seen and continued to watch the sky, in case these two objects or other objet would appear again.

A few minutes later, a third object identical to the first two also crossed their field of vision on the same trajectory and at the same speed, and was lost from sight at the same spot of the horizon to the east.

The witnesses described the three objects as having been some kind of "rather large cigars," and their letter to Aimé Michel expressed the hope that the radar set of the nearby Orly airport might have spotted and plotted their movements.

Aimé Michel indicates that the Orly radar station had not spotted anything, and he suggests that it may be because the three objects had passed too high.

He points out the observation in Chennevières (by those other witnesses that did not know the witnesses of Orly) at 16 kilometers (or rather 12 kilometers) East-North-East of Orly as being the third object seen by these witnesses, because "everything matches".

Aimé Michel remarked that it is "not usual to see two meteors fly together", and that the fact that Ms. Fouquiau was able to alert her family and that all had time to contemplate the phenomenon implies that the objects were too slow to be meteors.

Reports:

[Ref. aml1:] AIME MICHEL:

Aimé Michel reports on a a case of August 31, 1954 in the Paris area, which then remained unexplained, and which were mentioned in the newspapers. Aimé Michel indicates that he became aware of the sighting through letters of people not knowing themselves.

At about 07:30 P.M., Mrs. A. Fouquiau, living at 7, rue du Maréchal-Joffre in Orly, was idly looking at the sky when she saw "two luminous machines of orange color", at a height she estimated important, arriving from the west at sharp pace and both on a parallel and rectilinear way. Mrs. Fouquiau warned her husband and her young daughter, and all the three followed the two objects with the eyes while it crossed the sky quickly and disappeared still side by side towards the east.

The three witnesses were very intrigued by what they had just seen and continued to observe the sky in case these two objects or others would reappear.

A few minutes later, a third object identical to the two first also crossed their field of vision on the same trajectory, at the same speed, and was lost sight of sight towards the same point of the horizon towards the east.

The witnesses have described the three objects like as being like "rather bulky cigars," and their letter with Aimé Michel expressed the hope that the Paris Orly airport's radar set which is very close may have detected and tracked them. Aimé Michel indicates that the radar of Orly had not located anything, and suggests that it is perhaps because the three objects had flown too high.

He makes a point in noting that the sighting in Chennevières within 16 kilometers in the east-north-east of Orly may be that of the third object which the witnesses in Orly described, because the correspondance is perfect.

Aimé Michel points out that it is not usual to see two meteors flying "hand in hand", and that in addition the fact that Mrs. Fouquiau could alert her family and that all had time to contemplate the phenomenon implies that the objects were too slow to be meteors.

[Ref. lgs1:] LOREN GROSS:

"False saucer" excites France.

Things didn't really begin to boil over in France until the very end of the month (the 31st) when a spark shedding meteor exploded in the sky at extreme altitude above Paris (8:20 p.m.). People in 20 departments of France witnessed the show resulting in hundreds of reports being made to the newspapers.

UFOlogist Aime Michel was satisfied with the meteor hypothesis since there was no evidence to indicate otherwise, however the following afternoon (12:50 p.m.) a group of six persons, watching military aircraft perform in the sky over Asnieres-les-Dijon, which is about five miles north of Dijon, spotted a mysterious glowing body crossing the heavens east to west at an altitude that exceeded that of the French airplanes. During its quick passage, the strange object changed color from red, to orange, and then finally to silver.

Michel's collaborator, Charles Garreau, a Dijon resident, checked into the incident and was puzzled over the speed. The thing seemed to be too slow to be a meteor and too fast to be an airplane. 216.

Michel began to suspect something unusual was looming when he learned that about six hours after the sighting near Dijon, witnesses in the Paris region observed two orange-colored oval-shaped objects crossing the sky in a side by side formation. He became aware of the sighting from two independent sources.

Just by chance a Mrs. A. Fouquiau of Orly, noticed the speeding pair of UFOs as they came out of the western sky, cannonballing eastward. Startled and instantly convinced a rare event was in the making, Mrs. Fouquiau summoned her husband and young daughter to "come and see" the "chunky cigars." Highly curious, the trio of witnesses kept watch after the UFOs passed out of sight and were rewarded when another object, a carbon copy of the others, came into view on the same course.

This third object was evidently also witnessed by some people at the town of Chennevieres-les-Louvres a dozen miles away to the northeast, when at 7:30 p.m. a "very long bright egg" zoomed overhead. If the objects in question were "meteors," wondered Michel, how come Mrs. Fouquiau had time to call her family to come and look at the objects? 217.

  • 216. Michel, Aime. Flying Saucers and the Straight-Line Mystery, p.31.
  • 217. Ibid, pp.31-32.

[Ref. djn1:] DONALD JOHNSON:

Encounters With Aliens On This Day

August 31

[...]

1954 - In Asnieres-le-Dijon, France a disc travelled through the sky at 12:50 p.m. from east to west at great speed without stopping. It changed color from red to orange to silver. It was observed near military aircraft. In Orly, France at 7:30 p.m. two luminous orange objects at high altitude came from the west at high speed and crossed the sky rapidly flying toward the east. (Source: Aime Michel, Flying Saucers and the Straight Line Mystery, p. 31, citing C. Garreau).

[Ref. gc1:] "LA GAZETTE DE COTE-D'OR" NEWSPAPER:

[... Other cases ...]

August 31, 1954, Asnières-les-Dijon

Six people observe military operations of planes from BA 102 [French Air Force Base 102]. Suddenly at about 12h50, coming from the east, a red disc splits the summer sky. It moves quickly towards the west and changes color – orange then silver - during its progression. The pilots later said they noticed nothing. Charles Garreau, journalist of La Bourgogne Républicaine, and experienced ufologist carries out the investigation. He concludes that the machine could not have been a plane (since circular), neither a balloon, (much too fast), nor even of a meteor (much too slow). A little later in the course of the day, in Orly, close to Paris, two similar objects to those appeared in Asnières-les-Dijon are seen by several witnesses.

[... Other cases ...]

[Ref. lcn1:] LUC CHASTAN:

Luc Chastan indicates that in the Val de Marne in Orly on August 31, 1954, at 19:30 hours "A witness observes at great height two luminous objects of orange color. It come from the west at sharp pace completely parallel. The witness alerts two other witnesses who observe the two objects disappear towards the east. A few minutes later, a third identical object and following the same trajectory at the same speed. The three objects are described as cigars."

The source is noted "M.O.C. by Michel Aimé ** Arthaud 1958".

[Ref. uda1:] "UFODNA" WEBSITE:

The website indicates that on 31 August 1954 at 19:30 in Orly, France, "Two luminous orange objects at great height, coming from west at high speed, crossed sky rapidly toward east."

And: "In Asnieres-le-Dijon, France a disc travelled through the sky at 12:50 p.m. from east to west at great speed without stopping. It changed color from red to orange to silver. It was observed near military aircraft. In Orly, France at 7:30 p.m. two luminous orange objects at high altitude came from the west at high speed and crossed the sky rapidly flying toward the east."

And: "Unidentified objects were sighted, but with appearance and behavior that most likely would have a conventional explanation. More than two orange balls were observed by three female witnesses in a city for two minutes (Fouquiau)."

The sources are noted as "Michel, Aime, Flying Saucers and the Straight-Line Mystery, S. G. Phillips, New York, 1958; Vallee, Jacques, Computerized Catalog (N = 3073); Hatch, Larry, *U* computer database, Author, Redwood City, 2002".

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

*Aug. 31, 1954 - In Asnieres-le-Dijon, France a disc travelled through the sky at 12:50 p.m. from east to west at great speed without stopping. It changed color from red to orange to silver. It was observed near military aircraft. In Orly, France at 7:30 p.m. two luminous orange objects at high altitude came from the west at high speed and crossed the sky rapidly flying toward the east. (Source: Aime Michel, Flying Saucers and the Straight Line Mystery, p. 31, citing C. Garreau).

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

Case Nr. New case Nr. Investigator Date of observation Zip Place of observation Country of observation Hour of observation Classification Comments Identification
19540831 31.08.1954 Orly France 19.30 NL

Explanations:

In these early years of French ufology, most reports were too shoddy to make for "good cases". This one is a good example.

When Michel argues that "it is not usual" that two meteors would fly side by side, he utters a half-truth: it is not common, but it actually does happen on occasions: a meteor can split in two... So, what he obviously ironized about was not very smart thinking.

Arguing that the sighting was too long to be about meteors because Mrs. Fauquiau had time to alert the others is certainly not silly. But it is not very meaningful either, because we just do not know how long it took! If the two other witnesses were, for example, on the same terrace, they could have been altered and spotted the phenomenon fast enough. A meteor is visible during seconds up to 1.30 or even 2 minutes. So what would have been clever would have been to get dur duration of the sighting, rather than the pointless argument on the alerting duration that is actually unknown.

And what about trails or lack or trails? What about noise or silence? This is basic information, even in 1954's state of ufology affairs and nothing is said about it.

Michel apparently thought about the most likely explanation: planes.

Why would these two plus one "cigars" not be some jet planes? It seems the only reason would be that the Orly radar (the Orly strip is 600 meters from the witnesses) did not track them. Yet Michel himself alludes to objects flying to high for the radar range.

Again, this is all quite shoddy again. We need the actual range of the Orly radar at the time, for example. As a civilian radar, it is quite likely that it did not range high enuugh to track high-flying military jet planes, for example.

In the end, this is to me a low strangeness report, without actual investigation, and the strong possibility that all three objects were military jet fighters, orange colored in the western sunlight.

Keywords:

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

Orly, Val de Marne, object, cigar, cigars, three, high, Fouquiau

Sources:

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

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross November 6, 2005 First published.
1.0 Patrick Gross March 4, 2010 Conversion from HTML to XHTML Strict. First formal version. Additions [lcn1], [uda1].
1.1 Patrick Gross July 22, 2010 Addition [gc1].
1.2 Patrick Gross October 18, 2014 Addition [nip1].
1.3 Patrick Gross November 25, 2016 Additions [lgs1], [ubk1].
1.4 Patrick Gross July 4, 2019 Addition of the Summary. Explanations changed, were "Not looked for yet. Possible airplanes."

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This page was last updated on November 25, 2016.