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The 1954 French flap:

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

Beginning of June, 1954, Nice, Alpes-Maritimes:

Reference for this case: Beg-Jun-54-Nice.
Please cite this reference in any correspondence with me regarding this case.


In the summer of 1954 in France and a little earlier in the United States, the newspapers spoke of mysterious automobile windshield explosions, and while it was often allotted to "collective hysteria", or fabrication faults, in France, the Science-Fiction writer and pioneering ufologist Jimmy Guieu had quickly attributed these occurrences to activities of extraterrestrials.

A case of this kind that went unnoticed by Jimmy Guieu was reported in the Paris-Presse newspaper for June 9, 1954:

"NICE. - For some unspecified reason, the window of a door of a coach ensuring the connection Nice-Menton suddenly exploded in very small fragments without the least projection of projectile."




The "Windshield Cancer"

DIJON. - While Mr. Paris, an industrialist in Dijon, was driving between Fougerolle and Plombières, he suddenly heard a violent explosion. At the same time, a purple flame started from the left corner of the windshield and crossed the car. The windshield glass became opaque and Mr. Paris was able to put his fist into it without breaking it.

NICE. - For some unspecified reason, the window of a door of a coach ensuring the connection Nice-Menton suddenly exploded in very small fragments without the least projection of projectile.



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 sense 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 this case, which is not the only one of its kind, as Jimmy Guieu then Michel Jeantheau pointed out, there is no reason at all to claim that extraterrestrials have something to do with it.


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

Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, windshield cancer, glass, explosion


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Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
1.0 Patrick Gross January 15, 2020 First published.

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