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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 the Bâle - Mulhouse airport, December 2, 1978:

Case number:

ALSACAT-1978-12-02-AEROPORTMULHOUSE-1

Summary:

The regional newspaper Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace for December 4, 1978, had reported that on Saturday, December 2, 1978 around 05:15 p.m., the weather service at the Basel-Mulhouse airport had observed a UFO at a distance of 25 kilometers; which was confirmed in the newspaper by the air transport gendarmerie squad:

"The apparatus, a cylindrical ball [sic] a hundred meters in diameter and bright white, advanced at a very high speed, the trajectory coming from Belfort to Basel with red streaks. Belfort saw the same phenomenon but even more precisely."

The newspaper commented that it was clear that this was the first time it seems that a UFO was reported in the approach areas of this airport.

On December 6, 1978, the newspaper L'Alsace reported that on December 2, 1978 at 05:16 p.m., a meteorological technician on duty at the observation station at Basel-Mulhouse airport had "noticed a quite troubling phenomenon: about 25 kilometers away, a white ball, very luminous, and a hundred meters in diameter "moved in the sky at a very high speed in the direction Belfort-Basel. The phenomenon had been observed for a few minutes. The UFO disappeared by rising very quickly and leaving a red trail behind.

Other airport staff, a mechanic and a porter, as well as people outside the airport confirmed this testimony. The local air transport gendarmerie, involved here for the first time on such a case, had collected all these observations to transmit them to the central management.

The airport's meteorological service said the phenomenon "is not the subject of any official investigation."

The newspaper reported two attempts to explain this event: the central service of the weather in Paris, which had also recorded the observations made at the stations of Belfort, Langres and Luxeuil where the phenomenon had also been observed, this great clarity would be due to a pearly cloud at a very high altitude, lit by the sun.

The newspaper reported that this was not the opinion of all the observers, including a Swissair pilot who was passing nearby, because it did not explain the very high speed of movement of the phenomenon and the drag left behind.

Another explanation was based on a film shot by an amateur and broadcast on December 5, 1978 on TV, and believed it could be a sodium rocket. (This "film", a video taken in Roanne, was broadcast in the TF1 news on December 3, 1978).

In fact, it was known quite soon that it was the result of a rocket fired from the test center of Biscarosse, reported in the press. The rocket had gone into a "spin" at launch, it was intercepted, and exploded in flight at 10,000 meters altitude, which caused testimony on a large part of France, including this one in Alsace.

This does not prevent some "ufologists" even in 2018 to continue to want to believe that this was a "wave of UFOs" on France.

To complicate matters, "zeteticians" (UFO skeptics) evoke a reentry of debris of the Russian satellite Cosmos 1047 on December 2, 1978 - without providing an hour, a place, or testimonies that describe such a thing .

The fact is there, I found the documented traces: that December 2, 1978, an S3 missile - those used to carry an atomic bomb - had been launched, probably for test, from Biscarosse.

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: December 2, 1978
Time: 07:16 p.m.
Duration: Several minutes.
First known report date: December 2, 1978
Reporting delay: Hour, 2 days.

Geographical data:

Department: Haut-Rhin
City: Blotzheim
Place: From the Basel-Mulhouse airport, UFO in the sky.
Latitude: 47.598
Longitude: 7.529
Uncertainty ratio: 100 m

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: Several.
Number of known witnesses: ?
Number of named witnesses: 0
Witness(es) ages: Adults.
Witness(es) types: Airport weatherman, others.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Gendarmerie, the regional Press.
Type of location: From airport weather station and elsewhere, UFO in the sky.
Visibility conditions: Evening.
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: ?
UFO departure observed: Yes
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: Puzzled.
Witnesses interpretation: ?

Classifications:

Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: Out of control military rocket.

Sources:

[Ref. ge1:] GENDARMERIE NATIONALE:

The Gendarmerie Nationale, at the Brigade des Transports Aériens of the Basel-Mulhouse, did write an official report about the event, this part leaked to the media and remains on the web nowadays:

[Ref. dn1:] "DERNIERES NOUVELLES D'ALSACE" NEWSPAPER:

In St. Louis

A UFO at the airport

Saturday at 05:15 p.m. the weather service of the Basel-Mulhouse airport in St. Louis observed at a distance of 25 km an unidentified flying object (UFO), confirmed to us by the brigade of gendarmerie of the aerial transport. The craft, a cylindrical ball [sic] a hundred meters in diameter of a luminous white color, moved at a very high speed, the trajectory coming from Belfort towards Basel with red streaks. The meteorological observatory of Belfort saw the same thing but even more accurately. This is the first time it seems that a UFO was reported in the landing approach zone if the Basel-Mulhouse airport.

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

UFOs in the border region?

Saturday at 5:16 p.m. a meteorologist technician on duty at the observation station at the Basel-Mulhouse airport noted a rather disturbing phenomenon: at 25 kilometers away approximately a ball of white color, very bright, and a hundred meters in diameter that moved in the sky at a very high speed in the direction Belfort-Basel. The phenomenon was observed for a few minutes. Then the unidentified object disappeared by going up very quickly and leaving a red trail behind it. Other employees at "Basel-Mulhouse " (a mechanic and a porter) and people outside the airport confirmed this testimony. The aviation police (involved for the first time such a case) collected all these comments to be forwarded to the central management and will swell the already voluminous record of UFO spotted in French airspace. The weather service from the airport is adamant that this phenomenon is the subject of no official investigation.

Let's note however two versions that have been advanced to try to explain this event. For the Central Weather Service in Paris, which also collected the observations at the stations of Belfort, Langres and Luxeuil (from where the phenomenon was also observed) - this clarity is due to a pearly cloud (at very high altitude and illuminated by the sun); this is not the opinion of all observers, however, including a Swissair pilot passing nearby. How to explain the effect of very high speed movement of the phenomenon and the trail it left?

The other version, which is based on a film shot by an amateur (which was reportedly shown yesterday on TV) said that it could bes sodium rocket. But then again we would like to know... who the fireworks operators were.

So, UFO?

[Ref. no1:] "NOSTRADAMUS" MAGAZINE:

The object of Mulhouse and Roanne: it was a sodium rocket

We were finishing the closing of our last issue when two telephone calls from our correspondents in Mulhouse and Roanne indicated the observation of O.V.N.I in the skies of these two cities. It was Saturday, December 2, at 5:30 p.m.

Faithful to the policy adopted by our editorial staff since we devoted our columns to the U.F.O. phenomenon, we did not want to deliver "hot" the details of these observations. Above all, it was necessary not to yield to the sensational; to check the facts and to contact the authorities authorized to record and investigate this type of observation.

And, once again, we were right.

All the guarantees of seriousness

The precisions given by the witnesses, the recording of a video film in Roanne, the taking of photos in Clermont-Ferrand and Montluçon, the very identity of certain witnesses deserved that we give in to the fever of this information.

From Mulhouse we were told that the U.F.O. came from the direction of Belfort in the shape of a sphere of 100 meters in diameter (!?!), extremely bright white, leaving behind red streaks, moving at high speed towards Basel.

Observed alternately by the meteorological service of the Basel-Mulhouse airport, by the weather observatory of Belfort and by ten other witnesses including Mrs. Odette Lapagne of Chèvremeont, it disappeared soon, leaving behind red and blue luminescences; which took a long time to dissipate.

At Roanne, St-Etienne, Clermont-Ferrand, Montluçon, at the same hour just a few minutes apart, the mysterious object is seen by several witnesses. Some in Clermont and Montluçon were able to take photos, another in Roanne, Mr. Jean-Luc Michault, alerted by a neighbor, recorded from his balcony on the 12th floor of the Burgundy Tower a video film of exceptional quality.

This film, moreover, some of our readers were able to view it, Tuesday, December 5, during the news of TF 1 [National TV channel] at 1 p.m..

Appeared in the west vertical of the Chérier hamlet, beyond the mountains of the Madeleine, the object was singularized by a zigzag climb and a graphic reminiscent of the hat of a gigantic mushroom.

At 6 p.m. the object disappeared leaving a kind of iridescent light in its passage through the sky of the Massif Central.

For the first time, all the testimonies agreed. We were in possession of unique documents. It was too good to be true.

Great was our disappointment, like that of Jean-Luc Michault, when the results of the investigation opened by the gendarmerie of Roanne under the direction of Captain Barnis fell.

The contacted military authorities were unanimous:

"It's a sodium rocket coming in and breaking up in the atmosphere."

The best and the most sincere of the witnesses alike can be misled because of the difficulty to analyze, to synthesize an original and rare event like the appearance in the sky of a flying object.

The U.F.O. in question had lost its identity. It had simply become an I.F.O., that is to say, for specialists, an "identified flying object".

J.-M. MEILLAC

[Ref. pd1:] PIERRE DELVAL:

- On December 3 and 4, 1978, three U. F. O. were seen by several people in the department of Haut-Rhin. First in Contrexeville (Vosges) where a long trail of light, with a powerful headlight surrounded by rays is observed by people. Then it is the EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse which indicates a cylindrical object of a hundred meters.

[Ref. ze1:] ERIC MAILLOT, ERIC DEGUILLAUME, DAVID ROSSONI:

In Chapter 8 titled "SEPRA and Atmospheric Rentries: Inventory after Closure", it was suggested that GEPAN, and then SEPRA, CNES services in charge of explaiing unidentified aerial phenomena, erred in explanations of UFO reports as Debris of rockets, satellites, etc., these authors write in the "Notes of Chapter 8", within a list of phenomenon of atmospheric reentry of artificial origin:

December 2, 1978: probably the engine of Cosmos 1047 (email by Pierre Neirinck [sic, Neyrinck] to the author, March 2, 2007);


[Ref. ud1:] "UFODNA" WEBSITE:

2 December 1978 Night

Mulhouse, Alsace, France

Meteorological Office incident.

White luminous ball, 100m diameter, crossed near airport at 25km distance at high speed. Came from Belfort, went moving rapidly to the Basel (SUI). Left reddish trail.

An unidentified object was sighted, but with appearance and behavior that most likely would have a conventional explanation.

One white ball, about 300 feet across, was observed by numerous witnesses at an airport.

Hynek rating: NL

Vallee rating: FB1

The sources are indicated as: "Farish, Lucius, UFO Newsclipping Service, UFO Newspaper Clipping Service, Plumerville."

[Ref. cv2:] CHRISTIAN VALENTIN:

In St. Louis a UFO at the airport

Saturday at 05:15 p.m. the weather service of the Basel-Mulhouse airport in St. Louis observed at a distance of 25 km an unidentified flying object (UFO), confirmed to us by the brigade of gendarmerie of the aerial transport. The craft, a cylindrical ball [sic] a hundred meters in diameter of a luminous white color, moved at a very high speed, the trajectory coming from Belfort towards Basel with red streaks. The meteorological observatory of Belfort saw the same thing but even more accurately. This is the first time it seems that a UFO was reported in the landing approach zone if the Basel-Mulhouse airport.

He adds that the newspaper L'Alsace for wednesday, December 6, 1978, published this:

UFOs in the border region?

Saturday at 5:16 p.m. a meteorologist technician on duty at the observation station at the Basel-Mulhouse airport noted a rather disturbing phenomenon: at 25 kilometers away approximately a ball of white color, very bright, and a hundred meters in diameter that moved in the sky at a very high speed in the direction Belfort-Basel. The phenomenon was observed for a few minutes. Then the unidentified object disappeared by going up very quickly and leaving a red trail behind it. Other employees at "Basel-Mulhouse " (a mechanic and a porter) and people outside the airport confirmed this testimony. The aviation police (involved for the first time such a case) collected all these comments to be forwarded to the central management and will swell the already voluminous record of UFO spotted in French airspace. The weather service from the airport is adamant that this phenomenon is the subject of no official investigation.

Let's note however two versions that have been advanced to try to explain this event. For the Central Weather Service in Paris, which also collected the observations at the stations of Belfort, Langres and Luxeuil (from where the phenomenon was also observed) - this clarity is due to a pearly cloud (at very high altitude and illuminated by the sun); this is not the opinion of all observers, however, including a Swissair pilot passing nearby. How to explain the effect of very high speed movement of the phenomenon and the trail it left?

The other version, which is based on a film shot by an amateur (which was reportedly shown yesterday on TV) said that it could bes sodium rocket. But then again we would like to know... who the fireworks operators were.

So, UFO?

[Ref. ps1:] PATRICE SERAY AMD ROBERT ALESSANDRI:

Closer to us yet, Saturday, December 2, 1978 at precisely 05:30 p.m. in Mulhouse arrives to us a weird report and once again so similar to tour topic developed here.

The object came from, it seems, Belfort, and had a spherical shape a hundred meters in diameter. From a very bright white and leaving behind reddish traces, the UFO moved towards Basel.

Tens of witnesses and not least saw the phenomenon. It was to fade, leaving behind luminescent reddish and bluish "clouds". They used some time to disappear from the heavens.

These authors mention this sighting in the context of an article about rocket and missiles launches mitaken for UFOs.

[Ref. ub1:] "UFO-DATENBANK.DE":

Case number:19781205
New case number:
Observation date:05.12.1978
Observation hour:
Zip code:
Place of observationBalemulhouse
Geocoordinates:Length: Width:
Federal state:
Country of observation:France
Witnesses:
Classification: (Explanation)LN
Investigation: (Explanation)
Identification:
Investigation status: (Explanation)
Investigator:
Source:DUFOA-Deutschland - SiDat - 1996-2002

[Ref. ub3:] "UFODATENBANK":

Case ID19781205
Global case number:19781205-0002-UDB
Date of observation (Day)5
Date of observation (Month)12
Date of observation(Year)1978
Hour of observation
Zip Code
Place of observationBalemulhouse
County
Federal state
CountryFrance
Witnesses
Hynek ClassificationNL
Vallee Classification
Ruthledge Classification
Henke Classification
Evaluation
Identification
Investigations
Status of the investigation
DomainUFO-Datenbank
Case added by
Latest change by:
Investigator in charge of the case
SourceDUFOA-Deutschland - SiDat - 1996-2002
State of the information25.04.2015 22:16
Accesses to this record2
Link to Openmaphttp://nominatim.openstreetmap.org/search?q=Balemulhouse,France
Link to theobservationhttp://www.ufo-db.com/WfrmSetupSichtung.aspx?uid_Sichtung=b00be862-e45b-4b0d-b2fd-d5e5386a8e98
Summary for guestsLes faits et éventuellement d'autres documents seront publiés progressivement. Nous vous remercions de votre patience.
Preview image

Discussion:

Above: An image of the phenomenon as it was filmed in black and white video above Roanne by Jean-Luc Michault. It is his film that was mentioned in the newspaper L'Alsace. It was indeed shown on the news report of the TF1 TV channel on December 3, 1978.

Above: This picture of the phenomenon was taken by a Mrs Deschamp from Bourg-en Bresse in the department of Ain.

Above: The phenomenon was photohraphed also from Clermont-Ferrand, this photo was published on the cover of "OVNI - Un Dossier Brûlant", by Jacques Hervy, Atlas publisher, 1984.

Because there had been independent observations from various departments in France, and nearly a dozen photographs of the "streaks" remaining in the sky, some had spoken of a "wave of UFO" although all this was a single phenomenon.

Normally it would have been enough to see the pictures and read the testimonies to understand that it was a rocket launch that went wrong.

A precise explanation had been found, it can be found on the GEIPAN website in the file of this national case:

"At this date, an incident about a military rocket launched from the Biscarosse test center was reported in the press. This rocket started to "spin" at launch, was intercepted and exploded in flight at 10,000 meters altitude; which explains the perfect vision of this event on a part of France."

Source: http://www.cnes-geipan.fr/index.php?id=202&cas=1978-12-00572

But, to complicate a little the case, we also have the notion of the re-entry of a debris of the Russian satellite Cosmos 1047 (see [ze1] above). We find:

COSMOS 1047

COSMOS 1047 is no longer on orbit

NORAD ID: 11108
Int'l Code: 1978-104A
Launch date: November 15, 1978
Source: Commonwealth of Independent States (former USSR) (CIS)
Launch site: PLESETSK MISSILE AND SPACE COMPLEX (PKMTR)
Decay date: 1978-11-28

See: http://www.n2yo.com/satellite/?s=11108

This woule mean Cosmos 1047 fell down on November 28, 1978. But we also have:

COSMOS 1047 DEB

COSMOS 1047 DEB is no longer on orbit

NORAD ID: 11120
Int'l Code: 1978-104C
Launch date: November 15, 1978
Source: Commonwealth of Independent States (former USSR) (CIS)
Launch site: PLESETSK MISSILE AND SPACE COMPLEX (PKMTR)
Decay date: 1978-12-02

Note: This is SATELLITE DEBRIS

Source: https://www.n2yo.com/satellite/?s=11120

So, a debris of Cosmos 1847 fell back on December 2, 1978; it could be the engine, as suggested by Pierre Neyrinck.

I unfortunately could not find the place of this fall. It would probably be France, otherwise the information given by Pierre Neyrick is irrelevant.

I could not find either the time of the fall. The observation in Basel Mulhouse appears in the regional press at an hour that seems accurate to the minute, 05:16 p.m.

The trajectory data of Cosmos 1047 does not help much. This satellite was maneuverable, its fall could be "directed" in advance to a desired point other than that of a point of fall imposed by the physical laws of its initial orbital trajectory. Its operational tilt of 72.9 ° makes it able to fly over any point of the globe including France.

I searched whether Cosmos 1047 or its debris was given as an explanation for one or more UFO sightings of December 2, 1978. For this I listed the observations:

Lieu:Pays:Heure:Description:Source:
AbingdonR-U07:10Silver triangle flew south to the northwest.UFOcat
Clermont-FerrandFrance?Photo, missile.Fotocat
Arc-et-SenanFrance?Photo Serge Antoine Denis Grandjean, missile.Fotocat
?France17:00Faisceau lumineux blanc, plus loin derrière traînée dissolue.Gendarmerie
?France17:00Sphère montante avec traînée rouge, passe à l'horizontale, plusieurs faisceaux.Gendarmerie
RoanneFrance17:15Vidéo, Jean-Luc Michault, 9 minutes, missile.Fotocat
PropièreFrance17:15Michelot, photo, missile.Fotocat
?France17:15Traînée ascendente part en vrille.Gendarmerie
?France17:15Engin montant avec traînée rouge, explosion avec retombées.Gendarmerie
?France17:15Boule lumineuse rapide s'immobilise, six traînée blanches, puis nuage, arrivée autre traînée blanche.Gendarmerie
RoanneFrance17:30Eric Beaudonnet, photo, missile.Fotocat
MontluçonFrance17:30photo, missile.Fotocat
Bourg-en-BresseFrance17:30Mme Deschamp, photo, missile.Fotocat
?France17:40Forme filamenteuse.Gendarmerie
Charlieu France18:00J. Séchaud, photo, missile.Fotocat
LyonFrance??UFO-Datenbank
BerneSuisse?UFO-Datenbank
BâleSuisse?UFO-Datenbank
BabindaAustralie20:00?UFOcat
ChivaEspagne23:00Lumière blanche atterri à 200m, décroit, et 2 boules orange vers l'horizon.UFOcat

I see that in general, there is a widely seen event in France and in bordering Switzerland seemingly to be the fired missile spinning with sometimes what would be the arrival of the other missile to destroy it. I do not see anything that would fit a re-entry of Cosmos 1047 debris in France or elsewhere, no UFO so widely seen as it should have been if it were Cosmos 1047. Cosmos 1047 seems to have caused no "UFO" sightings over France.

In the end, just consider the photographs: what they show is not a reentry of satellite debris (compare with the reentry of November 5, 1990, for example) but the many "zigzagging" streaks left by a rocket gone out of control.

Alain Esterlé of the "GEPAN" of the time, had replied on January 16th, 1979, by a letter to Jean-Luc Michault, witness of Roanne, that the phenomenon was indeed connected with tests of military rockets. It is quite obvious that these tests were to be discreet, that is to say that the military did not insist, at the time, in giving details on the craft launched or on their launch dates, even less tell of successes or failures.

The fact is there: on December 2, 1978, a missile was fired from the Landes Test Center (CEL) near Biscarosse, where launching missiles used for nuclear deterrence at the Albion plateau were tested. There was more than 9000 launches there in 40 years...

That of 2 December 1978 was of an "SSBS S3 V7" missile.

(See for example https://www.capcomespace.net/dossiers/espace_europeen/albion/centre_dessai_landes.htm or http://fuseurop.univ-perp.fr/1sbs_e.htm).

The S3 is a mid-range, solid-propelled two-stage missile, 13.8 m long, 25.8 tons, and it has a maximum range of 3500 km. One of them is on display at the Bourget Air and Space Museum.

Now, it would take really good arguments to convince me that what was described and what one cas see in the images would not be a rocket in distress but Russian satellite debris or an extraterrestrial spaceship...

Evaluation:

Out of control military rocket.

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 8, 2018 Creation, [ge1], [dn1], [la1], [no1], [pd1], [ze1], [ud1], [cv2], [ps1], [ub1], [ub3].
1.0 Patrick Gross February 8, 2018 First published.

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