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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 Illzach, on July 5, 2002:

Case number:

ALSACAT-2002-07-05-ILLZACH-1

Summary:

At the FFU (French Federation of Ufology), of which I was then acting president, we had passed in the regional newspaper L'Alsace a call for witnesses, about a sighting report collected by the web by the Swiss ufology group GREPI. This observation that took place on the highway near Basel Mulhouse airport made me think that it was simply an airliner in landing approach. The call for witnesses brought no information about this sighting, but led a good dozen other witnesses to come forward to report observations sometimes in the same period, sometimes in other periods.

A lady had called our secretariat on July 10, 2002, the very day of the call for witnesses, identifying herself, and explaining that her son and seven or eight other young people had seen a "luminous triangle with three lights on the edges and one on the underside."

Appointment was made for July 13th for a field investigation, that is to say near her home in Illzach.

The lady spontaneously told us that her son and other young people had seen a "UFO", which had "illuminated the sky with a great glow," which was not quite similar to what she had said over the phone. She introduced us to her son, who took us to the observation place, outside amidst the buildings, where we were awaited by some of the son's mates who had witnesses the UFO, around 6 p.m..

What they saw, they all told us, had passed quite far in what seemed to them, in a part of the sky between two buildings, as shown in a photograph below in this file. As far as the youth could judge, the trajectory was in a straight line, and the UFO traveled this route in about 20 seconds, without letting a sound be heard.

The overall concordant descriptions of the young people were that it was something lengthened in the direction of travel, a cylinder or a flattened oval shape, or an airship shape according to one or another. It was roughly dark gray.

The angular size was very difficult to evaluate, but was very small, of the type "pencil tip held at arm's length." The best indication that young people gave us was that it was the size of a plane that would pass there in the distance.

After haveing checked together, having noted the total absence of any strangeness, the characteristics of "the UFO" being, for all that could be reported, that of an airliner in the distance, I and the other investigator both felt that it was probably just that, an airliner passing in the distance.

Some doubt remains because of descriptions of form indicating a slightly too "bulging" shape for an airplane; a form that for some of the young people was more a "saucer" or a "dirigible" of the Zeppelin kind. But because of the obvious distance of the thing, it is not quite sure that this really excludes an airliner. I think a plane not seen exactly in profile, but somewhat at an angle, can show a more "swollen" shape than a plane in profile.

The young people had not been very upset by this. They thought it was "maybe" a UFO, but they did not make a big deal of it.

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: July 5, 2002
Time: ~06:00 p.m.
Duration: ~20 seconds.
First known report date: July 10 and 13, 2002
Reporting delay: 5 days.

Geographical data:

Department: Haut-Rhin
City: Illzach
Place: Outside in buildings area, UFO in the sky.
Latitude: 47.781
Longitude: 7.347
Uncertainty ratio: 1 km

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 7 to 8
Number of known witnesses: 5 to 6
Number of named witnesses: 2
Witness(es) ages: 13 to 15.
Witness(es) types: Neighborhood teenagers.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Phone call then personal field investigation.
Type of location: Outside in buildings area, UFO in the sky.
Visibility conditions: Day.
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: No
UFO departure observed: No
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: Mildly Puzzled.
Witnesses interpretation: UFO.

Classifications:

Hynek: DD
ALSACAT: Probable airliner.

Sources:

[Ref. pg1:] MOI-MEME:

At the FFU (French Federation of Ufology), of which I was then acting president, we had passed in the regional newspaper L'Alsace a call for witnesses, about an observation report received by the web by the Swiss group Ufology GREPI. This observation took place on the highway near the Basel-Mulhouse airport and everything made me think that it was simply an airliner in landing approach. The call for witnesses did not result any information relating to that observation, but led a good dozen other witnesses to come forward to report observations sometimes in the same period, sometimes in other periods.

Below:

Reproduction od the call for witnesses published in
the regional newspaper L'Alsace on July 10, 2002,
Mulhouse-ville issue on page 33; which prompted
among others this observation report:

A lady had thereupon called our secretariat on July 10, 2002, the very day of our call for witnesses, giving her name, her address, her telephone number, explaining that she was calling us because her son, among seven or eight witnesses, had seen a "luminous triangle with three lights on the edges and one on the underside."

Appointment was made for July 13th for a field investigation, that is to say near her home in Illzach.

Myself and another member of the FFU who was a field investigator in the department for almost two decades, wee introduced to the lady's home. She spontaneously told us that her son and other young people had seen a "UFO", which had "illuminated the sky with a great glow". I was immediately surprised that this was not very similar to what she had said over the phone. The lady had heard in the story of the young people elements which, we were going to notice, did not correspond to anything.

My colleague investigator has a habit of checking people's ideas or beliefs about UFOs; one of the ways to do this is to take a look at the bookshelves. In fact, it appeared that there were several books on ufology or the paranormal; which were not of the "best quality" in this area. The lady was interested in various "mysteries" - she did not hide this from us, by the way, and it seems that what she understood from the observation had become a mix between what her son had told, what appears in UFO books, and what was told in our call for witnesses.

This obviously has little consequence on the observation itself, but I think it was necessary to mention it. There is indeed some sort of "UFO culture", an imagery, or a folklore as some researchers like to call it, and does have an "influence." This influence here is not on the witnesses, but on the entourage. The lesson to be learned is that second-hand accounts should be taken with a grain of salt. The witness or witnesses should be interviewed, rather than friends or relatives.

The lady then introduced her son, a teenager, who took us to the place of observation, where some of his mates were waiting for us. They had rightly thought that it was best to go on the spot to explain what they had seen.

The place is the playground where these teenagers, in a building area. What they saw, they all told us, had passed, quite "far" away it seemed to them, in a part of sky between two buildings, as shown in this photograph we took:

The green line I added to this photograph shows the "UFO" trajectory, which was, as far as the youth could judge, in straight line. The route was followed from right to left, and the UFO traveled this route in about 20 seconds.

This second photo, below, is taken with the idea of showing what the witnesses had in front of their eyes from where they stood:

The overall concordant descriptions of the young people were that it was something lengthened in the direction of travel, a cylinder or a flattened oval shape, or the shape of an airship according to some. It was rather dark gray.

As one can realize, there is no luminous triangle, no lights, no glow illuminating the surroundings. This happened by day around 6 p.m., the ambient lighting was about the same as in the above photographs.

The angular size was very difficult to evaluate, but was very small, of the type "pencil tip held at arm's length." The best indication that young people gave us was that it was the size of a plane that would fly there in the distance... No noise coming from the UFO was heard.

After checking with each other, having noted the total absence of any strangeness, the characteristics of the "UFO" being, for all that could be reported, that of an airliner in the distance, we had both felt that it was probably just that: an airliner passing in the distance.

Some doubt remains because of descriptions of shape indicating a slightly too "bulging" shape for an airplane; a shape that for some of the young people was more a "saucer" or a "dirigible" of the Zeppelin kind. But because of the obvious distance of the thing, it is not quite sure that this excludes an airliner. I think an airliner not exactly seen in profile, but somewhat "three-quarter" and therefore have a more "swollen" shape than a plane in profile. I want to add that somestimes, the wings and tail of an airliner are not seen because they refect the ambiant light of the sky; a fuselage with a different albedo is the only thing seen.

I want to point out that the young people were not quite upset by this sighting. They thought it was "maybe" a UFO, but they made no big deal of it.

It turns out that at that time, one or more of us at the FFU had mentioned that following the call for witnesses, we had collected several contacts and started investigations. Someone had formulated: "Currently the French Federation of Ufology auditions more than 10 witnesses of this observation" - which was poorly formulated, since it was not yet established that these people were witnesses of the same observation, and later it proved not to be the case. This is the first time that anything has been published on this observation in Illzach on July 5, 2002; but at the time someone who had heard of these investigations in progress, without further details, had contacted the American Joseph Trainor. The latter was then the editor of a latest UFO sightings news web page, called UFO Roundup, and had headlined about a "UFO flap" on Mulhouse, which is really exaggerated!

We had a dozen cases, were able to investigate a bit less than half of them, explain all but three of them by trivial causes, but only one of them was really of high strangeness. But it had taken place years before. So there was no "UFO wave" in Mulhouse in early July 2002. There was a wave of reports, this is true, but the call to witness explains it. At that time, most of these people told us they did not know who to turn to in such a case; it is therefore logical that there was this "peak" after the call to witnesses, and logical to think that if people knew at all times who to turn to, there would be more reported observations.

Discussion:

See [pg1] above.

Evaluation:

Probable airliner.

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 March 27, 2018 Creation, [pg1].
1.0 Patrick Gross March 27, 2018 First published.

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This page was last updated on March 27, 2018.