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The 1954 French flap:

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

November 1954, Colmars, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence:

Reference number for this case: Nov-54-Colmars. Thank you for including this reference number in any correspondence with me regarding this case.

Summary:

In the "Open Letter to my friend Titin Brisemotte", a chronicle on the front page of the local newspaper Sisteron-Journal, from Sisteron, for November 20, 1954, one reads:

"Something less serious, but also due to progress, is Windshield cancer. The imitation windows that shatter, for no apparent reason. There is more: Colmar-les-Alpes [sic] has been reported [sic] in the kitchen of Mr. and Mrs. D... a drinking glass was suddenly powderized by an explosion attributed to windshield cancer."

"Inexplicable! It is fit to say: Mystery and gas nozzle!"

(I explain below in this file why this is supposed to have something to do with the "flying saucer" reports.)

Reports:

[Ref. sjl1:] "SISTERON-JOURNAL" NEWSPAPER:

Something less serious, but also due to progress, is Windshield cancer. The imitation windows that shatter, for no apparent reason. There is more: Colmar-les-Alpes has been reported [sic] in the kitchen of Mr. and Mrs. D... a drinking glass was suddenly powderized by an explosion attributed to windshield cancer.

Inexplicable! it is fit to say: Mystery and gas nozzle!

Explanations:

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 ideas 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.

As for this case, it appears so anecdotal, at least in the version I have at hand, that I cannot grasp how this would justify this or that "theory" about the flying saucers...

Keywords:

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

Colmars, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, windshield cancer, glass, explosion

Sources:

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

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
1.0 Patrick Gross September 2, 2019 First published.

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