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The 1954 French flap:

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

October 1954, Beuvry-les-Béthune, Pas-de-Calais:

Reference number for this case: Oct-54-Beuvry-les-Bethune. Thank you for including this reference number in any correspondence with me regarding this case.

Reports:

[Ref. dm1:] "LA DEPECHE DU MIDI" NEWSPAPER:

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Dangerous hobby

An old mine worker of the Nord was amusing himself in building "flying saucers"

Lille. -- A retired miner from Beuvry-les-Bethune, known in his commune as a jester, did not miss the opportunity offered to him by the mystery of the flying saucers to amuse himself at the expense of the inhabitants of the neighboring localities.

Inspired by the system of the hot-air balloon, the happy retired man made machines that reached three meters in diameter. The envelope was made of sheets of strong gray paper, carefully glued. At the base of the "saucer" was a small receptacle in which was placed a tuft of tow impregnated with a flammable liquid. It was then enough to ignite the tow to see the machine rise and disappear at the whim of the winds surrounded by yellowish and orange reflections.

It was as a result of the discovery near a hay stack to which one of these machines had almost set fire that the gendarmes were led to suspect the retired man.

In fact, many models of "flying saucers" prototype were found at the latter's home, that their inventor was preparing to launch into the sky of the Nord.

The mystifier claimed that he had already built and launched more than a thousand of these devices.

The miner will no doubt be sentenced to fines for dangerous amusement.

[Ref. pr1:] UNKNOWN NEWSPAPER FOR OCTOBER 6, 1954:

To mystify his compatriots

A prankster built flying saucers

Lille, 5 October. - A retired mine worker of Beuvry-les-Bethune, known in his commune as a prankster, did not miss the opportunity offered to him by the mystery of the flying saucers to amuse himself at the expense of the inhabitants of the neighboring localities.

Inspired by the hot air balloon system, the happy retired man built machines that were three meters in diameter. The envelope consisted of sheets of gray paper, strongly glued together. At the base of the "saucer" was a small receptacle in which lay a tuft of tow impregnated with a flammable liquid. It was then enough to ignite the tow to see the machine rise and disappear at the winds, surrounded by yellowish and orange reflections.

It was after the discovery of one of these devices near a stack of straw, to which it had almost set fire, that the gendarmes were led to suspect the retired man. In fact, there were many models of "flying saucers" at his place, prototypes that their inventor was preparing to launch in the sky of the Nord.

The mystifier claimed that he had already built and launched more than a thousand of these devices. The ex-mine worker will no doubt be sentenced to fines for dangerous amusement.

Those who have seen...

Le Havre. -- Mr. André Lefèvre, a taxi driver, who was parked yesterday evening at 8 p.m. on the harbor, saw an incandescent disk which rose to the west of Deauville, leaving behind a phosphorescent trail and a slight smoke. This phenomenon, which was visible for ten minutes, was also witnessed by several sailors returning to their boat.

The Puy. -- Mr. and Mrs. Teyssier, of Saint-Etienne, who camped at Aurec-sur-Loire (Haute-Loire), saw in the sky a luminous object giving the impression of a large headlight moving at a rapid pace at about 2000 meters altitude. The craft emitted an orange-reddish light beam and followed a north-south trajectory. When it had disappeared, a second apparatus, similar to the first, appeared to follow it, in the same direction, and disappeared in its turn.

At about the same time, several persons saw above the bell-tower of Aurec similar machines which, after being immobilized for a moment, crossed the sky at a rapid pace towards the south-west.

Lens. -- Sunday evening, around 9:30 p.m., in Ablain-Saint-Nazaire, a machine that had the shape of a pot and which rotated on itself was seen in the sky by two people. It emitted a reddish glow and moved quickly.

At the same time, a craft which, this time, had the shape of a crescent, was seen in the sky of Liévin. After hovering for a few minutes, the crescent split in two. The upper part then remained motionless, while the other landed in a field between two haystacks, from which it took off shortly afterwards to join the part that was in the air.

Angoulême. -- Sunday evening, around 9:15 p.m., on the road from Montmoreau to Villebois-Lavallette (the Charente), Mr. Jean Allary, 22, saw very clearly, in the light of his moped's headlight, a sort of barrel high of about 1.50 meters, studded with gilded nails, which swayed on the side of the road. When Mr. Allary had passed the mysterious machine, he looked back, at a distance of about ten yards, but he saw nothing.

Witnesses saw, yesterday afternoon, at the very place indicated by Mr. Allary, traces about seven meters long in the grass that borders the road.

Autun. -- Several people said they saw in the region of Epinac-les-Mines (the Saône-et-Loire), a kind of large luminous ball moving slowly in a bizarre manner in the sky.

A similar phenomenon has been observed in the Ain and in the north of the Rhone department, towards the Col des Echarmaux, as well as in the Isère, near Morestel.

Nevers. -- In Chateau-Chinon, five persons whose sincerity could not be doubted, saw a phenomenon which occurred several times before their more astonished than frightened eyes.

At 9 o'clock a luminous spot of oval shape, seemingly motionless at a very high altitude, appeared in the sky. At one point the spot began to rotate at full speed, changing color several times. Then all went out, but after a few minutes the luminous spot reappeared, split again, and began to rotate.

[Ref. la1:] "L'ALSACE" NEWSPAPER:

A "saucers manufacturer" is discovered

Lille, October 5. -- A retired miner, of Beuvry-les-Béthune, known as a prankster, did not miss the opportunity the flying saucers offered to him, to have fun at the expense of the residents of the nearby localities.

Inspired by the Montgolfier principle, the merry pensioner manufactured machines three meters in diameter. The envelope was made of strong gray paper sheets, carefully glued. At the base of the "saucer", there was a small receptacle in which a tuft of packing soaked with a flammable liquid rested. It was then enough to ignite the packing to see the machine rise and disappear with the liking to the winds, surrounded by yellowish and oranges reflections.

It is after the discovery, close to a haystack in which one of these machines had almost set fire, that the gendarmes were brought to suspect the pensioner. In addition, many models of "flying saucers" were found at his home, prototypes which the inventor was getting ready to launch in the sky of the Nord.

The mystifier claims that he already built and launched more than one thousand of these machines, but as he is a prankster he perhaps brags. As for his "saucers", they of course follow the direction and the speed of the wind and they thus cannot compare with the usual machines which move at high speed in all the directions, stop short, etc...

Anyway, the prankster will be sentenced for dangerous fun.

[Ref. bs1:] "THE BALTIMORE SUN" NEWSPAPER:

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Frenchman Tells How To Build A 'Saucer'

Lille, France, Oct. 5 (Reuter). Now to make a "flying saucer," you take some strong gray paper and fashion it on the fire-balloon principle.

Then you light some kerosene-soaked rags, and the warm air lifts the burning "saucers" off into the winds. That's how you get the orange and yellow lights.

That, at least, is the way a retired miner of Beuvry-les-Bethune village did it, police said tonight. And that may account for at least some of the hundreds of "flying saucers" reported in the sky here recently.

They said the miner, whose name was not disclosed, claimed he made over 1,000 of these "saucers" as a joke. Police found him out after one of his gadgets landed near a haystack and nearly set it on fire.

But the "saucer sightings" go on in France - and not only around Lille.

Several Parisians reported seeing a "flying saucer" over the capital today.

A traveling salesman, Pierre Allouis, who saw it from a taxi, said it was a big silverish disk which made a loud whistling noise.

Painter Gibert Bacon said he saw the same "saucer" but described it as triangular shaped, like a flying wing.

[Ref. qh1] "LE QUOTIDIEN DE HAUTE-LOIRE" NEWSPAPER:

DAILY SAUCERS
In the Nord, a mystifier built machines with yellowish and orange reflections!

A retired miner, of Beuvry-les-Béthune, known in his commune as a prankster, did not miss the occasion offered to him by the mystery of the flying saucers, to have fun on the residents of the nearby localities...

Inspired by the system of the Montgolfier, the retired chap manufactured machines which reached three meters in diameter. The envelope was made of strong gray paper sheets, carefully stuck. At the "saucer's" base was a small receptacle in which a tuft of packing soaked with a flammable liquid rested. It was then enough to ignite the packing to make the machine to rise and disappear at the liking of the winds, surrounded by yellowish and orange reflections. It is after the discovery, close to a haystack in which one of these machines had nearly set fire, that the gendarmes were brought to suspect the pensioner. One was to discover besides at his place many "flying saucers" models, prototypes which their inventor was preparing to launch in the sky of the Nord. The mystifier claimed that he already had built and launched more than one thousand of these machines. The ex-miner will undoubtedly be condemned to infringements for dangerous recreations.

[Ref. fi1] "LE FIGARO" NEWSPAPER:

To have fun at the expense of his fellow-citizens, a retired minor of Beuvry-les-Béthunes manufactured ... flying saucers, in series. Taking as a starting point the principle of the montgolfier, this pensioner built, using extremely carefully glued strong paper, machines which reached a diameter of two meters.

At the base of the "saucer," a small receptacle containing was a piece of packing soaked with gasoline, the liquid being ignited, the apparatus rose in the airs and disappeared surrounded of yellow and orange reflections.

But one of these saucers landed close to a haystack which it had almost set fire to. An investigation was opened and the facetious manufacturer discovered. The former minor claims that he had already built and launched more than a thousand "saucers". He will see himself inflicted infringement for... dangerous recreation.

[Ref. ag1:] "THE AGE" NEWSPAPER:

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WORLD NEWS IN BRIEF

Miner Built "Flying Saucers" for a Joke

PARIS, October 6 (A.A.P.). -- A retired miner built many of the hundreds of "flying saucers" reported in the sky near Lille (northern France) recently just for a joke.

Police said yesterday that the miner of Beuvry-les-Bethune village, made his "saucers" out of strong grey paper on the fire balloon principle.

After paraffin soaked rags had been lit warm air lifted the "saucers," some about 10 feet in diameter, and off they went into the winds, displaying an orange and yellow light.

[Ref. cd1:] "THE CORSICANA DAILY SUN" NEWSPAPER:

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TRACE FLYING SAUCER

LILLE, France, Oct. 8. (INS) -- The "Flying Saucers" which have been appearing over the Lille area for some time turned out today to be paper hot-air balloons launched by a retired miner. Police said the miner made 10-foot balloons out of strong paper and attached kerosene-soaked rags to them. He was caught when one of his "saucers" nearly set a haystack on fire.

[Ref. cp1:] "THE COURIER-POST" NEWSPAPER:

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Miner Uses Hot Air To Launch 'Saucers'

Lille, France, Oct. 8 (INS) -- The "flying saucers" which have been appearing over the Lille area for some time turned out today to be paper hot-air balloons launched by a retired miner.

Police said the miner made 10-foot balloons out of strong paper and attached kerosene-soaked rags to them. He was caught when one of his "saucers" nearly set a haystack on fire.

[Ref. le1:] "THE LUBBOCK EVENING JOURNAL" NEWSPAPER:

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"Flying Saucers" Are Just Balloons

LILLE, France, Oct. 8 INS -- The "flying Saucers" which have been appearing over the Lille area for some time turned out today to be paper hot-air balloons launched by a retired miner. Police said the miner made 10-foot balloons out of strong paper and attached kerosene-soaked rags to them. He was caught when one of his "saucers" nearly set a haystack on fire.

[Ref. nn1:] "THE NEW CASTLE NEWS" NEWSPAPER:

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'Flying Saucers' Mystery Explained

LILLE, France, (INS) -- The "flying Saucers" which have been appearing over the Lille area for some time turned out today to be paper hot-air balloons launched by a retired miner.

Police said the miner made 10-foot balloons out of strong paper and attached kerosene-soaked rags to them. He was caught when one of his "saucers" nearly set a haystack on fire.

[Ref. tb1:] "THE TAMPA BAY TIMES" NEWSPAPER:

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No 'Saucers'

Lille, France, Oct. 8 (INS) -- The "flying saucers" which have been appearing over the Lille area for some time turned out today to be paper hot-air balloons launched by a retired miner. Police said the miner made 10-foot balloons out of strong paper and attached kerosene-soaked rags to them. He was caught when one of his "saucers" nearly set a haystack on fire.

[Ref. dt1:] "THE DAILY TIMES" NEWSPAPER:

Scan

Flying Saucers Are Hot-Air Balloons

LILLE, France, Oct. 8 (INS) -- The "flying saucers" which have been appearing over the Lille area for some time turned out today to be paper hot-air balloons launched by a retired miner.

Police said the miner made 10-foot balloons out of strong paper and attached kerosene-soaked rags to them. He was caught when one of his "saucers" nearly set a haystack on fire.

[Ref. ti1] "TINTIN ACTUALITES":

"FLYING SAUCERS"... MADE OF PAPER

It is the great joke of the day. Of all the azimuths fresh news are coming about the "Martians" and their "flying saucers"; which would be mounted, hold on tight, by "plants gifted of reason", the Uranides! This is at least what Dr. Oberth, the V-1 engineer, claims.

When by chance a truly mysterious and worrying machine will land on our earth, and wanders in our atmosphere, nobody will believe in it anymore! An example among so many others:

A mine-worker of Bouvry-les-Béthunes (Nord), Mr. Victor d'Oliveira, 60, manufactured flying saucers himself... And the machines which he launched (secretly) in the sky of the Nord intrigued the inhabitants of the close localities extremely. They were small strong paper montgolfiers, inside whose an ignited piece of stuff heated the air and thus allowed them to fly away. The machine rose then and sailed with the liking of the winds, surrounded by yellowish and orange reflections of the most mysterious effect. Alas! one of these "saucers" while landing, almost set fire to a stack of straw... The gendarmes had quickly discovered the culprit and Mr. d'Oliveira had to stop his manufacture. One sees on the right one of these saucers-montgolfiers in the inflating process.

[Ref. hw1:] HAROLD T. WILKINS:

However, everybody who regarded these disturbing visitors as merely the sport of hoaxers, "spoofing dupes," took heart of grace and confidence again, when the police of Lille trailed a rascal of a miner at Beuvry-les-Bethune, who said he had made saucers out of strong grey paper soaked in gasoline, and having lit a fire under them, sent them - 1000 of them (sic) - into the wind, with yellow and red lights. The police found one on a haystack. While this may be partly true, it would be distinctly unwise to jump to the conclusion that what these people saw all over France, a pretty big country, were just a miner's prank.

[Ref. gb1] GRAY BARKER:

One thousand of the strange sky craft were manufactured by a Beuvry-les-Bethunes miner in his own backyard. They were balloon, made of strong gray paper, and filled with hot air by attaching paraffin-soaked rags to the 10-ft. "saucers." The balloons displayed orange and yellow lights, and were responsible for many of the saucers stories until one of them almost set a haystack on fire and got the inventor into trouble with the police.

[Ref. lg1] LOREN GROSS:

"Paper flying saucers." Not all UFOs were "spaceships."

A [sic] Bouvry-les-Bethune miner, M. Victor d'Oliveira, manufactured and sent aloft over 1,000 ten foot high balloons made of strong grey paper, the hot air supplied by payloads of burning paraffin-soaked rags. The miner's creations were impressive in flight, appearing yellow and orange in color and no doubt were responsible for many saucer sightings. The "paper saucers" were a well kept secret until one balloon nearly set a haystack ablaze which attracted the attention of the police. 185. (See newsclipping)

  • 185. Tintin. Supplement No 315. 21 0ctober 54. p.8.

"FLYING SAUCERS"... MADE OF PAPER

It is the great joke of the day. Of all the azimuths fresh news are coming about the "Martians" and their "flying saucers"; which would be mounted, hold on tight, by "plants gifted of reason", the Uranides! This is at least what Dr. Oberth, the V-1 engineer, claims.

When by chance a truly mysterious and worrying machine will land on our earth, and wanders in our atmosphere, nobody will believe in it any more! An example among so many others:

A mine-worker of Bouvry-les-Béthunes (Nord), Mr. Victor d'Oliveira, 60, manufactured flying saucers himself... And the machines which he launched (secretly) in the sky of the Nord intrigued the inhabitants of the close localities extremely. They were small strong paper montgolfiers, inside whose an ignited piece of stuff heated the air and thus allowed them to fly away. The machine rose then and sailed with the liking of the winds, surrounded by yellowish and orange reflections of the most mysterious effect. Alas! one of these "saucers" while landing, almost set fire to a stack of straw... The gendarmes had quickly discovered the culprit and Mr. d'Oliveira had to stop his manufacture. One sees on the right one of these saucers-montgolfiers in the inflating process.

Notes:

Beuvry-les-Béthune (Pas-de-Calais) (and not "Bouvry-les-Béthunes (Nord)") amalgamated with Béthune at the end of 1993 and took the name of Beuvry.

Explanations:

Hand-crafted Chinese lanterns.

Chinese lanterns are one cause of some old tales of UFO sightings: During the "airship" wave of 1896 - 1897 in the USA, during the wave of 1972 in the US Midwest, etc.

Since these miniature hot air paper balloons can be ordered on the Internet at very low cost - they also commonly found in France now in stores - there is no need anymore to take the trouble of manufacturing them yourself.

Above:

A Chinese lantern.

Of course, this file is not exactly a "UFO sighting" file, as the first source is about the explanation of unspecified sightings. Nevertheless I feel that such facts should not be concealed.

Keywords:

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

Beuvry, Pas-de-Calais, Bouvry-les-Béthunes, Beuvry-les-Béthunes, Beuvry-les-Béthune, Victor d'Oliveira, gendarmes, police, fire, Chinese lanterns, Nord, montgolfiers, negative case, hoax, prank

Sources:

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

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
1.0 Patrick Gross December 14, 2016 First published.
1.1 Patrick Gross December 24, 2016 Addition [dm1].
1.2 Patrick Gross December 30, 2016 Addition [pr1].
1.3 Patrick Gross September 16, 2017 Additions [bs1], [ag1], [nn1], [le1], [cp1], [cd1], [tb1], [dt1].

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