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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 between Walheim and Wittersorf, on November 5, 1990:

Case number:

ALSACAT-1990-11-05-WALHEIM-1

Summary:

On November 21, 2006, I received by email a brief summary from the webmaster of a UFO website; he stated that the case was not yet on his website because it was "in progress"; it was never published.

He reported that on November 5, 1990, at about 7:00 p.m., two parents and their daughter, living in the end of the village of Walheim facing Wittersdorf, were walking to the Wittersdorf soccer field where the son was playing a soccer game.

The mother and daughter had left first, followed by the father with the dog. It was in the night.

Suddenly their attention was attracted by a huge object that moved from southwest to northeast at a relatively slow speed; which remained constant, and at an estimated altitude of 200 meters.

A faint whistling sound was heard.

The object was cylindrical in shape, it passed above the witnesses. Its size was so huge that it occupied the entire field of vision at the best time of the observation.

It had numerous lights and "mechanical" elements, the mother comparing it to "a city above our heads."

The object moved away; the sighting had lasted about a minute.

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: November 5, 1990
Time: ~07:00 p.m.
Duration: ~1 minute.
First known report date: November 21, 2006
Reporting delay: 16 years.

Geographical data:

Department: Haut-Rhin
City: Walheim or Wittersdorf
Place: Outside between Walheim and Wittersdorf, UFO in the sky.
Latitude: 47.628
Longitude: 7.269
Uncertainty ratio: 1.5 km

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 3
Number of known witnesses: ?
Number of named witnesses: 0
Witness(es) ages: Adults.
Witness(es) types: A couple and their daughter.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Email by ufologist to me.
Type of location: Outside between two villages, UFO in the sky.
Visibility conditions: Night
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: ?
Witnesses interpretation: ?

Classifications:

Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: Probable space junk reentry.

Sources:

[Ref. pg1:] EMAIL I RECEIVED FROM A UFOLOGIST:

I received on November 21, 2006, this brief summary from the webmaster of a UFO website; as it was a private email I do not give identification of the author.

He indicated that the case was not yet on his website because it was "under construction"; it still is not published there.

11/05/1990

the witnesses: 3 people from the same family. Living in the end of the village of WALHEIM on the WITTERSDORF (side), parents and their daughter walk to the WITTERSDORF stadium where the son is playing a soccer game. It is about 19:00. The mother and daughter go first, followed by the father with the dog. It is night, and suddenly their attention is attracted by a huge object that moves in the SOUTHWEST to the NORTHEAST at relatively low speed. A faint hissing sound is noticeable. The altitude is estimated at 200m. The object is cylindrical, it passes over the witnesses. The size of the object is so large that it fills the field of view at the best time of the observation. It shows many lights and "mechanical" components. (The mother says. "A town above our heads") The speed remains constant and the object moves away. Duration of observation: About 1 min.

Discussion:

On 5 November 1990, one or two minutes after 07:00 p.m., a very commonplace phenomenon occurred, explained, and devoid of any actual strangeness, but it nevertheless started a UFO delirium of some of the French ufologists.

The sightings started with an explosive decay over the Bay of Biscay in France, resulting in combustion fragments seen from afar, and generally, as they approached, seen as a group of three main lights - hence it was called a "triangle" - of large angular size, and followed by trails of smoke and sparks.

Once over land, the thing was seen from different angles and at various distances by people on the ground, which gives a range of quite diverse descriptions.

The thing crossed France following a line approximately from Bordeaux to Strasbourg, in silence, in a straight line without any maneuver, in two to three minutes, reaching Strasbourg at about 07:06 p.m.

There were also sightings reported from the South of England, London, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, but not beyond.

In the evening, several Gendarmerie brigades contacted the National Center for Space Studies to report what people told them. Gendarmes brigades of Angers and Tulle got the chance to see the display themselves. In the evening, the Press service of the armies, SIRPA, confirmed that military pilots had seen something without being able to formally identify it. Near Paris airports of Orly and Roissy, the luminous phenomenon was seen from the control towers. Hundreds or even thousands of civilians reported their sightings to the authorities, the Press and other media.

Radio stations, television channels, newspapers, talk of a UFO, then a meteor, and finally the correct explanation appeared through information given by NASA: it was the entering in the atmosphere of the remains of a Russian Proton rocket launched from the Baikonur space center to put a Gorizont 21 satellite in orbit. Calculations had predicted the fallout of the rocket debris at its 36th orbit, crossing France from the South West to the North East on November 5, 1990 around 07:00 p.m.. SEPRA, then officially in charge of such matters, provided this explanation to news agencies on November 9, 1990.

In November 5, 1990 already, an amateur expert in satellites and space debris impact trajectory calculations, Pierre Neirinck, had seen himself, and had also identified the phenomenon, independently of NASA, as space junk from the Proton rocket.

Any sensible ufologist should have understood what is was from the beginning, given the descriptions, and at least understand thereafter that it was a classical space junk case. But some ufologists refused to hear anything about a rocket and continued to talk and write about it as a "UFO flap", of "400 UFOs" or even "thousands of UFOs", often mixing other, unrelated sightings that were more or less of the same day, sighting who have other explanations. This resulted in the continuing presence of this explained case as massive UFO sightings in some of the UFO literature, and of course this includes observations made in Alsace.

Regarding this case, it is clear that it was the reentry of the remains of the Russian rocket. Otherwise, given the date, hour, direction, if there had been something else to observe there, why would the witnesses not also report the burning debris of the rocket in the sky?

The three oddities there are the "faint whistling sound", the "cylindrical shape" and the "mechanical parts"; but the narrative is indirect, coming from a UFO buff who had not even noticed that the observation takes place at a significant date and time, and who did not publish the story afterwards. Did he imagine these details? Alternatively, did the *cylindrical shape* refer to the main trail and were the "mechanical game" a pure interpretation of what "had to be" a "craft"? The low whistling sound could naturally have come from an airliner on landing approach to the Basel - Mulhouse Airport.

From the center of Walheim to the Wittersdorf soccer field, there are a little less than three kilometers. The witnessed surely walked on the "Street of Walheim."

Evaluation:

Probable space junk reentry.

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 May 23, 2015 Creation, [pg1].
1.0 Patrick Gross May 23, 2015 First published.

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This page was last updated on May 23, 2015