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ALSACAT:

As its name suggests, ALSACAT is my comprehensive catalog of UFO sighting reports in Alsace, the region is the North-East of France, whether they are "explained" or "unexplained".

The ALSACAT catalog is made of case files with a case number, summary, quantitative information (date, location, number of witnesses...), classifications, all sources mentioning the case with their references, a discussion of the case in order to evaluate its causes, and a history of the changes made to the file. A general index and thematic sub-catalogs give access to these Alsatian case files.

Case of Turckheim, on July 24, 1952:

Case number:

ALSACAT-1952-07-24-TURCKHEIM-1

Summary:

In the regional newspaper Les Dernières Nouvelles du Haut-Rhin for July 25, 1952, there was an article about "mysterious luminous traces in the sky" of the Upper Rhine.

Shortly before 9:30 p.m., four phone calls alerted the newspaper about these traces, and the newpapermen looked outside to check and noticed, above Turckheim toward the west, a broad bright red streak between the dark clouds that extended discontinuously over Colmar to approximately the Zenith.

It lasted "some time" during which the streak widened without apparently losing brightness. A last phone call indicated that a similar trace was seen in the direction of Rouffach, but the newspaper people were unable to check as this direction was not visible to them.

The newspaper stated not knowing what it was, and felt that it did not seem to be traces of condensation left by planes because during the observation, no aircraft engine noise had been heard.

The next day, the same newspaper reported that other people still had confirmed the phenomenon, and one of their readers ensured that this was probably the contrails of a jet fighter; which suddenly appeared above the Neuf Brisach sector to fly in a circle arc and disappear as suddenly as it had appeared.

Later, a competitor newspaper gloated about people who mistake contrails for "flying saucers" - which did not seem to have been mentioned as an explanation.

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: July 24, 1952
Time: ~09:25 p.m.
Duration: Some time.
First known report date: July 25, 1952
Reporting delay: Immediate.

Geographical data:

Department: Haut-Rhin
City: Turckheim
Place: Various, UFO in the sky.
Latitude: 48.087
Longitude: 7.278
Uncertainty ratio: 50 km

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 6 or more.
Number of known witnesses: 6 or more.
Number of named witnesses: 0
Witness(es) ages: Adults.
Witness(es) types: Residents, newspaperman.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Newspaperman directly, and reported to the regional Press.
Type of location: Various, UFO in the sky.
Visibility conditions: Evening, scattered black clouds.
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: Yes
UFO departure observed: Yes
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: ?
Witnesses interpretation: Do not know, and jet fighter contrails.

Classifications:

Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: Jet fighters contrails.

Sources:

[Ref. cv2:] CHRISTIAN VALENTIN:

Former journalist Christian Valentin published in 2012 a very interesting book telling the story of UFO sightings, flying saucers sightings, in Alsace, from the beginning to 1980.

In this book, he reports that the whole department of Haut-Rhin was overflown by what for some was a jet plane, and for others one or two flying saucers. All the newspapers of the region talked about it, publishing testimonies and readers feedback, "in which the ambiguity of a phenomenon that is based solely on the testimonies was already there."

He noted that whereas the debate about contrails seems naive, in the context of that time jet engines were in their infancy and equip only rare military aircraft. It indicates that the first French production jet fighter, Dassault MD450 Ouragan was commissioned in late 1951.

Among the testimonies, he gives what appeared in the newspaper Les Dernières Nouvelles du Haut-Rhin for Friday, July 25, 1952, which he translated:

Mysterious LUMINOUS TRACES in the sky

Last night, shortly before 9:30 p.m., the phone rang 4 times in our newsroom. Every time, one of our readers informed us that weird luminous traces were visible in the sky. With the first call already, scanning the sky in search of something unusual, we noticed above Turckheim towards the west, a broad bright red stroke between the black clouds; which extended discontinuously over Colmar approximately up to the Zenith. We watched the phenomenon for some time and found that the band widened without losing brightness that it seemed to produce. It is likely that the line will be dispersed in the sky at high altitude and was covered in places by clouds. The last phone call mentions that a similar trace was seen in the direction of Rouffach. However, we could not verify this information, because of the back light in this direction caused by the lighting of the station bridge.

What was the cause of these lines of light? We are not able to say. This does not seem to be traces of condensation left by planes because no plane engine noise was heard from 9:00 p.m. to 09:30 p.m.

He then gives his translation of this article in the same newspaper published on Saturday, July 26, 1952, on page 5:

About the mysterious traces of light in the sky

Do they come from a jet plane?

In our issue of yesterday we reported traces of mysterious light in the night sky, visible Thursday around 9:30 p.m.. Many of our readers called us to share their observation; which allowed us to confirm the facts. A friendly reader from Neuf Brisach informs us he observed the phenomenon from the road, that said evening with several friends, and that in any event, this nocturnal light show seemed to come from an aircraft, possibly a jet fighter, that suddenly appeared above the Neuf Brisach sector in order to perform an arc and disappear as suddenly as it had appeared. It left behind condensation wakes initially very thin and then increasingly large, dragged to Colmar by a strong east wind. So that's what these luminous strips must have been, although we however heard no engine noise as we reported yesterday. Thus, against all odds, the night sky still offers us surprises.

A letter from Munster on the same topic.

We received yesterday, about the same affair, interesting remarks from Nr. E. H. of Munster:

Regarding your article: Mysterious luminous traces in the sky, I want to highlight that in the company of many people, I managed to precisely observe the phenomenon from Munster, and it was not lines of light but smoke or clouds.

Both lines were emerging from east towards the west. One of them in the north in the axis "lac des truites - Hohrodberg - Trois Epis", while it was exactly 9. It first seemed to be a kind of wind sock, which seems a bit doubtful though. A relatively strong north wind quickly pushed it south, above the valley, where it is somewhat expanded, like you mentioned.

The second feature was directed "Hohneck - Obersolberg - Rouffach" and straight as a projector beam but gradually weakening as the wind dragged it southward.

Lastly, Christian Valentin gives his translation of this article from Le Nouveau Rhin Français for July 1952:

GUEBWILLER

Weird luminous traces in the western sky, two or three witnesses, this is sufficient to create flying saucers. This psychosis spreads in recent months across the planet. One photographed them, the other, as he claims, saw them perfectly. Scientists have explained the phenomena, however, none of the numerous witnesses seem to believe them. All prefer to persist in error.

The mysterious luminous traces that were seen Thursday night around 9:30 p.m. over Colmar, the Munster Valley, and above Guebwiller, received more attention than they deserved. It was actually only the red streaks left by a fighter plane, neither more nor less. The visit of Martians was not for last Thursday, and the extraordinary event that one wanted to give us fell down like a cold soufflé.

An advice, dear reader: do not confuse the jet fighters that will be present today on the Rixheim airfield with flying saucers.

Discussion:

About Christian Valentin's book:

It is not at all my habit to "advertise" a book or anything, and I have no interested relationship with the author, but I wanted to say a word on the book by Christian Valentin, "Mythes et Réalités des Phénomènes Aériens Non Identifiés" (i.e. "Myths and Realities of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena" (cover on the left) , ref. [cv2]; which, as its subtitle indicates, is about Alsatian UFO sighting reports and the saucer lore in Alsace.

I think Alsatian ufologist and generally people interested in the UFO question, or in the history of Alsace, my region, would probably like this book.

The 144 pages book is sober but well presented, unbiased, richly documented and illustrated. It is the first work in print specifically about UFO sightings in Alsace. (There was another one a few years ago, but it was partly made by copying - pasting without mention of the sources, portions of my website, especially the Alsatians cases I almost exhaustively documented in my catalog of UFO sightings in France in 1954, and copies from another websites; the trivial explanations I proposed or gave there being almost always stripped off!)

The author does not want to prove or disprove the possibility of extraterrestrial visitors or some other so-called "extraordinary" explanation, he rather offers a chronologically ordered review of Alsatian UFO reports, starting from the origin and stopping in 1980, based on known sources ufology, on the articles of the regional Press, and cases less known or even unreleased so far that he collected directly with the witnesses. His own comments are printed in a different color, references to the sources are always given. A very nice work in my opinion!

The author currently has a blog where he shows what libraries in Alsace have the book available, see: christian.valentin.overblog.com

It is pretty obvious that all this was just caused by contrails of jet fighters of the French Air Force, taking a reddish hue at that hour when sun is about to set. As rightly pointed out by Christian Valentin, jet planes were a novelty in France then.

However, even to this day - 2000's - I can still find cases in which contrails are believed to be "mysterious" or interpreted as UFOs not only by their witnesses, by the Press, but sometimes also by some ufologists.

Below: The Dassault Ouragan of the air and space museum in Paris - Le Bourget. Commissioned in December 1951. Photo by the author of this website in 2014.

Evaluation:

Jet fighters contrails.

Sources references:

* = Source is available to me.
? = Source I am told about but could not get so far. Help needed.

File history:

Authoring:

Main author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editeur: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross April 6, 2016 Creation, [cv2].
1.0 Patrick Gross April 6, 2016 First published.

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This page was last updated on April 6, 2016.