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The 1954 French flap:

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

October 3, 1954, La Chapelle-d'Armentières, Nord:

Reference number for this case: 3-oct-54-La-Chapelle-d'Armentières. Thank you for including this reference number in any correspondence with me regarding this case.


Many newspapers in the Nord had reported that on October 3, 1954, from 9 p.m. to 9:20 p.m. or 9:30 p.m., rue Fleury in La Chapelle d'Armentières, in the Nord department, residents, one of whom owned binoculars, were able to observe for a long time an object in the shape of a half-moon of golden color barred in the center by a greenish line, which "suddenly disappeared" in the direction of Fleurbaix.

In his 1958 book, ufologist Aimé Michel said that at 9:15 p.m., at La Chapelle d'Armentières, 10 kilometers from Lille, many people were still outside in the rue de Fleury. A passerby looked up and saw a perfectly still luminous object. He showed it to others, a gathering occurred with people looking at the object and discussing the phenomenon. One witness used binoculars and observed the object for a long time, then passed the binoculars on to the others.

Michel added that the object seen with the naked eye was a kind of dome, a mushroom according to some, a half-moon according to others. The color was gold-yellowish or orange, with some sort of greenish patch. After standing still for several minutes, the object suddenly sped away at a huge speed in a south-southwest direction, towards Fleurbaix.

In 1978, ufologist Dominique Caudron, who is from this region, shows that this observation is one of those that took place in this region that evening that was in reality a misinterpretation of the Moon barred by a cloud.

Although Caudron's undisputed findings were also presented in 1979 Barthel and Brucker's book and more widely in Figuet and Ruchon's book, other UFO researchers continued to publish the case as if it were without ordinary explanation.


[Ref. aml1:] AIME MICHEL:

Aimé Michel indicates that at 09:15 p.m., in La Chapelle d'Armentières, 10 kilometers from the city of Lille, many people were still outside in rue de Fleury (street). A passer by looked up and saw a luminous object perfectly motionless. He shows it to other people, and a gathering occurs with people looking up and discussing the phenomenon. One witness used binoculars and observed the object lengthily, and passes the binoculars to the other people. Michel says the object viewed with the naked eye was a sort of cupola, a mushroom according to some, a half-moon according to other. The color is golden-yellowish, with some sort of greenish patch. After being still for several minutes, the object suddenly buzzed away at a tremendous speed in the south-south-westerly direction, towards Fleurbaix, at 09:20 P.M.

At another page he mentions a sighting in Armentières, 10 kilometers East of Lille, at 09:30 p.m.

Further, he adds that an explanation by a a helicopter would deny main features of the case: the observation with binoculars, the precise descriptions of the shape of mushroom or half-moon by a large number of witnesses, the colors, etc.

[Ref. aml2:] AIME MICHEL:

In an article in 1963, Aimé Michel adds:

b) a low-size object that witnesses saying they were close of described as like circular, hemispherical on the top, changing aspect in the bottom. In the night and in flight, the object is generally luminous, the reddish, orange or gilded top, the lower part likely to emit green, white, red, purple colors, either separately, or simultaneously; the closest witnesses state that, in this latter case (simultaneous emission of several colors), the sources of light are sort of small verticals rods under the object which were seen appearing, disappearing, exchanging between them their colors and thus giving an impression of whirling (for example, October 3, 1954, in Armentières, in Château-Chinon, in Montbeliard, and other dates a little everywhere in the world). Instead of the small rods, under the main object, sometimes appears a smaller object, very luminous, interdependent of the first but likely to go down vertically below him (for example, this same 3 October, in Marcoing, in Liévin, Ablain-St-Nazaire, Milly, Champigny).

[Ref. jve7:] JACQUES VALLEE:

Jacques Vallée indicates that in the evening of October 3, 1954, in the north of France, reports involved mostly objects in the shape of a "mushroom" or "half-moon", and such a motionless object was seen at 9:15 p.m. at Armentieres by dozens of witnesses.

[Ref. gni1:] GNEOVNI:


10/3/1954 - LA CHAPELLE D'ARMENTIERES 59 type 3

9:45 p.m. a flying object, a sort of golden half-moon, marked in its center by a greenish bar, stopped above rue Fleury. Many witnesses including one with binoculars could specify the forms. After several minutes the object starts at lightning speed and disappears.

(M.O.C. Aimé Michel page I45)


The weekend of October 2-3 appears on all graphs as the maximum-maximorum of the 1954 wave. Although the work of counting the press of the time is not yet finished, the 118 various issues of newspapers and magazines I have been able to analyze for this period gives us an almost complete overview, in any case very broadly representative of the regional observations which were reported in the press for Sunday, October 3. I included the observations of the Somme which seemed to me inseparable from those of Nord - Pas-de-Calais and which also appear in the chapter entitled "Zigzag on the mining country" of the book by A. Michel: "Mystérieux Objets Célestes."

I count, as one case, each observation made by an independent group of witnesses. The astonishing quantity of observations reported below, shows once again the interest of thoroughly searching the newspaper archives.

OCTOBER 3, 1954:

29) 9 to 9:20 p.m. or 9:30 p.m., LA CHAPELLE D'ARMENTIERES _59_ "rue Fleury": The residents, one of whom had binoculars, were able to observe at length an object in the shape of a half-moon of golden color barred in the center by a greenish line. It suddenly disappeared in the direction of Fleurbaix. (All the newspapers already quoted from 5,6, 7 and 10/10)

Dominique Caudron dealt with the whole set of cases of that night in the region, and explained that it was actually the Moon, speifying for this case that we again have the object "split in two, by a darker line" (by a cloud) as in other cases, and that it ws described as a half-moon in this case like in other cases.

He concludes:

Several witnesses describe the disappearance of the object as if it were falling on the horizon, on or below.

Now we know that that evening, at 9:30 p.m. the crescent Moon was setting in the Southwest [...]

Disaster! This collection of suspicions casts a total discredit on this magnificent series of observations, one of the most beautiful that we have ever found. We will have to check certain data, the direction of certain observations, the weather conditions but already the doubts are too big, so that we cannot classify these observations as UFO.


Dominique Caudron rédige une présntation des écrits d'Aimé Michel dans son livre de 1958 [aml1] afin de montrer le point de vue "pro-soucoupique" sur les événements de la soirée du 3 octobre 1954 dans le nord de la France. Il cite pour ce cas:

Armentières, 9:15 p.m.

... here is our psychosis [*] in action at La Chapelle-d'Armentières, about 10 kilometers west of Lille. The rue de Fleury was still very busy at this time. And now a stroller, looking up at the sky, discovers there a perfectly motionless luminous object. He shows it to his neighbors. One stops. One gathers. And soon the whole neighborhood watches, comments and exchanges their impressions. The object is still motionless. A curious person takes binoculars, studies it at length, then passes them to his neighbors. With the naked eye, one sees a kind of dome, a mushroom, some say, a half-moon say the others. It is yellow orange, or golden in color, with a kind of elongated greenish spot. The binoculars confirm this description. The contemplation continues for several minutes then, suddenly the object until now motionless starts at a lightning pace and disappears towards the south-southwest, in the direction of Fleurbaix. It is 9:20 p.m.

Aimé Michel was ironic here, presenting the "skeptics" point of view as being that saucers are a "psychosis". Some "skeptics" t the time, such as Pr. Heuyer, did think so. Aimé Michel of course did not.


The two authors quote an article of the newspaper La Voix du Nord for of October 5, 1954, about the case of "La Chappelle d'Armentières between 9 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.":

"A flying machine, sort of 1/2 gilded moon marked in its center by a greenish strip stopped above the "Chappelle d'Armentières". All the residents lengthily observed "the thing". Besides, it is one of the witnesses who could specify the shape, using binoculars. Then all of a sudden the machine sprang in the direction of the Pas-de-Calais."

They say that they had had a presentiment, without daring to admit it, that this case explains as the moon, as shown by Dominique Caudron in the GNEOVNI bulletins #3-4-5.


These ufologists quote in their book the findings and arguments given by Dominique Caudron a year earlier [dcn6], crediting the latter, in a section devoted to the misinterpretations caused by the Moon on October 3, 1954, in the North of France.

For this case, they write:

In La Chapelle d'Armentière [sic], the object is cut in two by a darker line.


The object is often described as a crescent, [...] a half-moon in La Chapelle-d'Armentière [sic] [...]

[Ref. lgs1:] LOREN GROSS:

3 October. Armentieres, France. (9:20 p.m.)

A "kind of cupola?"

Michel wrote:

"Rue de Fleury in Armentieres was still very much alive at that hour (9:20p.m.), when a pedestrian, looking up in the sky, discovered a perfectly motionless luminous object. He showed it to those around him. Everyone stopped. Soon the whole neighborhood was looking at it, commenting on it, and exchanging impressions. The object remained perfectly still. One man produced a pair of field glasses, examined the distant object at length, then passed the glasses around among others nearby. With the naked eye one could see a kind of cupola, 'a mushroom,' some said, while others called it a 'half-moon.' It was yellow-orange, or golden, in color, with a sort of elongated greenish spot. The binoculars confirmed this description. Observation from the ground continued for several minutes, when suddenly the object, till then motionless, cut loose at lightning speed and disappeared toward the south-southwest in the direction of Fleurbaix." (xx.)

(xx.) Michel, Aime. Flying Saucers and the Straight-Line Mystery. p.117.


3948: 1954/10/03 21:20 5 2:53:00 E 50:43:00 N 3333 WEU FRN NRD 7:B


Ref# 49 MICHEL,Aime: FS & STRAIGHT LINE TH: Page No. 117 : TOWN &CITY

[Ref. uda1:] "UFODNA" WEBSITE:

The website indicates that on 3 October 1954 at 21:15 in Armentieres, France, a "hovering object was observed. One object was observed by numerous witnesses in a town for five minutes."

The sources are indicated as Michel, Aime, Flying Saucers and the Straight-Line Mystery, S. G. Phillips, New York, 1958; Vallee, Jacques, Computerized Catalog (N = 3073); Vallee, Jacques, Anatomy of a Phenomenon, Henry Regnery, Chicago, 1965; Del Valle, Pierre [sic, Pierre Delval], Pierre Del Valle investigation files, Bordeaux; Hatch, Larry, *U* computer database, Author, Redwood City, 2002.


In "Special notes" of their catalogue, the GNEOVNI group indicates that there exists in several books, such as Aimé Michel's "M.O.C.", Planète publishers in 1966, in which there is a number of observation cases in the Nord and Pas-de-Calais which are not included in their catalogue because there "remains much doubts as to their credibility." One of them is noted "3-10-54 La Chapelle d’Armentières nord".


Dominique Caudron indicates that the catalogue of 800 cases published in 1970 by Maurice Santos, is a good example of what one should not do; he indicates to extract from it the list of the cases of October 3, 1954; which he knows well as he had investigated into these cases of his area of Nord. For each case, below the text of the Santos catalogue, he states what should have been written, and the explanation after analysis, when there is one.

Santos wrote that for this case #530 of "various forms" of October 3, 1954, with Vault-in Armentières consisted of an "Unknown Flying Object in half-sphere."

Dominique Caudron says that at 9 p.m. pr 09:30 p.m., in "la Chapelle-d'Armentières, 59, witnesses saw a kind of half-moon barred of a greenish feature."

Dominique Caudron indicates that this was actually the moon.

He notes that the numbering of the cases by Santos seemed a good idea, but that it prevents the evolution of the catalogue, whose numbering becomes incoherent at the first update: "For example, this catalogue contains only 10 cases for the area of the Nord, whereas we know 48 of them. How to place the 38 others?"

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

This database recorded the case 6 times:

Case Nr. New case Nr. Investigator Date of observation Zip Place of observation Country of observation Hour of observation Classification Comments Identification
19541003 03.10.1954 Armentieres France 21.15 NL
19541003 03.10.1954 Armentieres France 21.15 NL
19541003 03.10.1954 La Chapelle France 21.15 NL
19541003 03.10.1954 La Chapelle France 21.00 NL
19541003 03.10.1954 Armentieres France 21.15 NL
19541103 03.11.1954 Armentieres France NL


Dominique Caudron drew up an inventory of observations in the Nord on October 3, 1954, containing 51 reports, including this one:

The Fabulous day of October 3, 1954


Chronology of the observations of October 3.

We give here only a summary of what was published in the press of the time, for the nord region, regardless of what the ufologists could later say. We have numbered all these observations, the first of which have nothing to do with the setting of the moon, in order to be able to study them globally in a table. Some are already the subject of a special file.

[... other cases...]

29) 21 à 21 h 20 ou 21 h 30, LA CHAPELLE D'ARMENTIÈRES (59), "rue Fleury"

- The residents one of whom owned binoculars were able to observe for a long ti,e an object shaped like a half-moon of gilded color barred in the center by a greenish line. It then suddenly disappeared in the direction of Fleurbaix.

(La Voix du Nord 10/5 page 3, Nord Matin 10/5 page 10, La Croix du Nord 10/5 page 8, Le Nouveau Nord Maritime 10/6 page 2, Libre Artois 10/6 page 3, La Bailleuloise 10/10 page 1, l'Armentiérois 10/9 page 8)

[... other cases...]

All this is only a compilation of the information given by all newspapers of the time, including local editions, and of which ufologists only used a part.

We will see that the analysis of this information makes it possible to eliminate the hypothesis of a flying saucer, in favor of those of multiple observations of the moon, whose image was reddened and deformed by clouds, which also gave it a illusory apparent movement.


Analysis of the observations of October 3, 1954

[... other cases...]

29) 9 to 9:20 p.m. or 9:30 p.m., LA CHAPELLE D'ARMENTIÈRES (59), "rue Fleury"

Same appearance as the moon that night, same direction as the moon, same apparent behavior as the moon.

[... other cases...]


October 3, 1954: Lunar orthoteny

Orthhoteny is, according to Aimé Michel, the alignment of observations of flying saucers. But when the so-called flying saucers turn out to be only the moon, we must speak of lunar orthotenia.

On October 3, 1954, Aimé Michel invokes an alignment of 6 points, from La Chapelle d'Armentières to Pommiers, extending over 500 km. This alignment is on Jean Latappy's map

But on examination the observation spots widen more and more when one goes down to the south: 26.5 km apart at Milly-La-Forêt. Obviously Aimé Michel was wrong in the position of the village of Pommiers. To restore the agreement, we must forget Pommiers and end the alignment to Milly-la-Forêt.

But we will see that all the observations thus aligned are observations of the moon.

La Chapelle d'Armentières, the first lunar saucer in the lineup

Nord Matin gives the most complete version.

Appearance near Armentières

Sunday between 9 p.m. at 9:20 p.m., a craft, in the shape of a golden half-moon, crossed out in the center by a greenish line, parked above rue Fleury, in La Chapelle d'Armentières. All the inhabitants observed the object for a long time. One of them provided binoculars to better define its contours, then suddenly the saucer disappeared in the direction of Fleurbaix.

(Nord Matin, October 5, 1954, page 10)

The other sources are La Voix du Nord 5/10 page 3, La Croix du Nord 5/10 page 8, Le Nouveau Nord Maritime 6/10 page 2, Libre Artois 6/10 page 3, La Bailleuloise 10/10 page 1, l'Armentiérois 9/10 page 8. But none of them says more.

On analysis, the object had the same appearance as Professor Bonte had seen on the moon that evening [= barred by a cloud], the same direction as the moon, and the same mode of disappearance. So it was probably the moon.



The object left towards Fleurbaix, the direction is 250° at more or less 10°, West-South-West, and not South-South-West as Aimé Michel wrote.


There is no "rue Fleury" or "rue de Fleury" in La Chapelle-d'Armentières, it was actually "rue fleurie", (direction 218° for a good part, 224° right next to the intersection with the main village road, there are slight bends) renamed later "Avenue du Président Kennedy", it is the red line on my map. Fleurbaix is about 4.5 km away. The terrain is flat.

The Moon was at 9 p.m. precisely at 224° 59' and the low elevation of 1° 40', conducive to both a "Red Moon" phenomenon and a misintepretation - the Moon seems bigger when it is low. It sets at 9:16 p.m.

The famous cloud that blocked it, causing the impression of a "split" in many cases that evening, obviously contributes to the incapacity of the witnesses to recognize its crescent (36.6% of its surface is lit.)

Initially the Moon was on the axis of the street where the witnesses are located, a street which could have been free of visual obstacles at the time, and it then moves visually to the right of the witnesses to set. This is indeed the direction "towards Fleurbaix". Michel tells us of an "enormous speed", Caudron cites a "lightning pace", but this is explained, as follows: the vertical crescent of the Moon gradually disappearing below the horizon, the "size" of the object appears to be decreasing, and witnesses must have interpreted this as a rapid departure in the distance.

Aimé Michel had given 09:15 p.m. as the hour of observation. The time of 21:45 given by the GNEOVNI initially was undoubtedly false, Dominique Caudron gave just a bit later the hour as 9 p.m. with end of observation at 09:20 p.m. or 09:30 p.m.

This case is therefore effectively explained by the Moon.


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

La Chapelle-d'Armentières, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, multiple, object, luminous, still, motionless, cuppola, mushroom, moon, balloon, yellow, orange, green, fast, strip


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

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross January 17, 2006 First published.
1.0 Patrick Gross January 9, 2009 Conversion from HTML to XHTML Strict. First formal version. Addition [uda1].
1.1 Patrick Gross July 6, 2010 Additions [jve7], [gni2].
1.2 Patrick Gross October 4, 2014 Addition [lgs1].
1.3 Patrick Gross October 14, 2016 Addition [dcn1].
1.4 Patrick Gross February 2, 2017 Addition [ubk1].
1.5 Patrick Gross January 21, 2020 Additions [gni1], [dcn6], [dcn7], [fru1], [lhh1], [dcn3], [dcn4], [dcn5], Summary. Explanations changed, was "Not looked for yet."

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This page was last updated on January 21, 2020.