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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 Gunsbach, on April 30, 1978:

Case number:

ALSACAT-1978-04-30-GUNSBACH-1

Summary:

This photographic case appeared in the form of a "photo of the photos" taken by the journalist Jean-Claude Bourret from a UFO case file of the Gendarmerie, image published by Jean-Claude Bourret in his 1979 book indicating only that they are considered authentic and were taken in France in July 1978.

Alsatian journalist Christian Valentin tells us much more in his 2012 book about UFOs in Alsace. He obtained this information from the testimony given by the witness to the gendarmerie of Munster three months after the alleged event:

At the end of April 1978, between 8 and 9 p.m., the witness was in the attic of his couple's apartment in Gunsbach, looking out the window at the national road and the Gunsbach station.

He then saw a circular object in the sky, dark in color, giving off an orange glow around it.

He took his Polaroid camera and managed to take two shots while the object was almost at a standstill.

The object moved slowly, swinging from left to right, then began to go away "at a tremendous pace", "like a lightning bolt," towards the Schwartzenburg, where the witness lost sight of it.

He had heard no sound, no engine noise. The sighting lasted about a minute.

He had inquired in the village, but no one had seen this object. He had not reported his sighting immediately, being afraid of not being taken seriously and being ridiculed afterwards, and most importantly, he did not want publicity. He wished to remain anonymous.

Christian Valentin met the witness on May 15, 2009, and the latter expressed regrets because he had agreed to hand the photographs over to the gendarmes during his testimony in July 1978, and he realized he had given up the only tangible evidence of his observation.

I note that the gendarmerie file about this is still not posted on the GEIPAN website as of January 2018, or not yet.

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: April 30, 1978
Time: ~08:30 p.m.
Duration: ~1 minute.
First known report date: July 1978
Reporting delay: 3 months.

Geographical data:

Department: Haut-Rhin
City: Gunsbach
Place: From home's attic, UFO in the sky.
Latitude: 48.047
Longitude: 7.175
Uncertainty ratio: 600 m

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 1
Number of known witnesses: 1
Number of named witnesses: ?
Witness(es) ages: ?
Witness(es) types: Male resident.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Reported to the Gendarmes.
Type of location: From home's attic, UFO in the sky.
Visibility conditions: Night
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: ?
UFO departure observed: Yes
Entities: No
Photographs: Yes.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: ?
Witnesses interpretation: ?

Classifications:

Hynek: DD
ALSACAT: Possible extraterrestrial craft, or hoax.

Sources:

[Ref. jb1:] JEAN-CLAUDE BOURRET:

These images are published as is, the caption by Jean-Claude Bourret indicating that they were taken in France in July 1978, that they came to enrich the military documentation, and that they are judged to be authentic.

Looking closely at the page by J.C. Bourret, I can read the captions in the file like this:

Upper left: "PHOTO Nr 1 - Reproduction of the polaroïd photo taken by the witness, from the attic of his home."

Lower left: "PHOTO Nr 2 - second shot made by the witness of the same craft before its disappearance".

Top right: nothing.

Top left: "second shot made by the witnessof the same craft before its disappearance".

[Ref. ld1:] "LUMIERES DANS LA NUIT" UFOLOGY MAGAZINE:

[Ref. bo1:] JUAN-VICENTE BALLESTER-OLMOS:

The Spanish ufologist recorded in his photographic UFO cases catalog that on April 30, 1978, in "Gunsbach, Munster, Haute Rhin (France)", there was a photographic case published Lumières Dans La Nuit, 221-222, November-December 1982, cover and pp 28-30., by J. Journot.

[Ref. cv2:] CHRISTIAN VALENTIN:

The former journalist Christian Valentin published in 2012 a very interesting book about the history of UFO sightings and other flying saucers in Alsace, origins until 1980.

In this book he recounts this observation, the story of the witness.

In late April 7978 , between 20 and 21 hours, he was in the attic of his couple's home in Gunsbach looking out of the window toward the highway and the railway station of Gunsbach.

He then saw a circular object in the sky, dark around it and releasing an orange glow.

The object moved slowly swaying from left to right, and then went "at lightning speed" toward the Schwartzenburg where the witness lost sight of it.

He had heard no sound, no engine noise. The sighting lasted about a minute.

He had taken his Polaroid camera and managed to take two shots when the object was virtually at a standstill, before departing "like lightning."

He informed the village, but no one had seen this object.

He did not report it immediately because he was afraid of not being taken seriously and being mocked thereafter, and most importantly, he did not want publicity.

Christian Valentin indicates that this comes from the testimony filed with the police of Munster three months after the fact by the witness who requested anonymity.

He met him on May 15, 2009, and the witness admitted that he had some regrets about the photographs because he had agreed to hand them over to the police when he testified in July 1978, and he realized later it was the only tangible element that linked the phenomenon he had seen to a physical reality.

Christian Valentin indicates these photos were published without the slightest allusion to the observation of the witness in the iconography of J.C. Bourret's "OVNIS l'Armée Parle" with the indication of the date and a judgment of authenticity. A photo was also published January 10, 1980, as illustration of an article by "L'Alsace" newspaper.

They were finally published with the comments of the investigator J. Journot in the journal Lumières Dans La Nuit for November 1982.

Christian Valentin thinks that as the oldest cases published on the website of GEIPAN dates back to 1979, it is likely that this observation will soon be there with a "D" rank, ie their rank for "unexplained" phenomena.

He published two of the photographs as they were published in LDLN:


Discussion:

It may be necessary to first recall that one or two photographs are not necessarily synonymous of "proof", far from it. The "fakes" abound, and abounded also in those years. It is sometimes possible to demonstrate the fraudulent nature of so-called UFO photos, I think it is much more difficult to demonstrate their authenticity - if possible at all.

I note then that the information is for the moment quite succinct, and the available images are not of high quality. The camera is a Polaroid, so with instantaneous development, there will be no negative, however, the original versions, in color, of these images must exist somewhere.

For now, what struck me at first glance is that the object(s) in the two images does not have the same shape:

(Above, I have placed the two images of the "UFO" side-by-side, mirroring the second one along the vertical axis).

The shape seems very different, except if one assumes that the lower part of the left one has become "invisible" since only the top seems almost identical in both images.

My second thought was that in both cases, the UFO seems to me to resemble those of other images; so I searched for them.

The one on the right seemed similar to to the alleged UFO in a photograph that was taken by a pilot over Provo, Utah, USA, in July 1966 ("The Condon Report: Case 7: Allegedly Taken from C-47 Cockpit", Case 7 North Mountain Summer 1966" - Investigators: Craig, Levine.) But after comparison, the two are not sufficiently similar for the 1978 one to be a copy of the one in 1966 (below).

In this line of research, I was not - for the moment - able to find images that could have been purely and simply copied; but it is obvious that this can still be pursued; I do not necessarily have at hand all the images that could be checked.

I can also note that between the 1st photo and 2nd, the lighting seems consistent, the light coming from the right in both cases.

Evaluation:

Possible extraterrestrial craft, or hoax.

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 February 4, 2018 Creation, [jb1], [ld1], [bo1], [cv2].
1.0 Patrick Gross February 4, 2018 First published.

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This page was last updated on February 4, 2018.