ALSACAT -> Homeclick!
Cette page en franšaisCliquez!

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 Walheim, on April 6, 2014:

Case number:

ALSACAT-2014-04-06-WALHEIM-1

Summary:

In the night from Saturday 5 to Sunday 6 of April 2014, shortly after midnight, a couple of my very good friends were returning from a family birthday party in the Sundgau, South of Alsace, and they drove in their car, arriving at the entrance of Walheim.

The woman friend sent me by SMS just after the occurrence, what they had seen:

"Curiously enough this evening after Altkirch. At the entrance of Walheim, we saw 4 bright orange points at a height I'd say barely higher than a church steeple. Airplane or helicopter as [her boyfriend] thought? Yet no flashing light as is the case on a plane or helicopter. No, I'm not putting out a prank on you and I found this phenomenon rather strange, 4 bright orange and motionless points? can you explain that?"

"As I was driving, it was difficult to observe [Her companion] said that these points seemed to move. He thought of helicopters but four helicopters that follow each other seems unlikely and as said, a helicopter is flashing. these bright orange dots puzzle me and I wonder what could it be? Maybe you'll get another report than ours but anyway I know that entering Walheim I immediately saw these points. Truly this is not a joke and I wouldn't dare to write so late and I'm not delirious but it was weird..."

My two friends obviously know that I deal with ufology, that is why my friend contacted me by SMS just after this observation. Both did not really know about Chinese lanterns, the explanation I proposed to them two days later when we met, and they then ackonwledged that was actually probably what they had seen.

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: April 6, 2014
Time: ~01:00 a.m.
Duration: ~1 minute.
First known report date: April 6, 2014
Reporting delay: Less than an hour.

Geographical data:

Department: Haut-Rhin
City: Walheim
Place: From the driving car in Grand-Rue, south entry of Walheim, UFO in the sky.
Latitude: 47.637
Longitude: 7.264
Uncertainty ratio: 200 m

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 2
Number of known witnesses: 2
Number of named witnesses: 2
Witness(es) ages: Adults.
Witness(es) types: couple, close personal friends.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: SMS I received and talk about it 2 days later.
Type of location: From the driving car at entry of village, UFO in the sky.
Visibility conditions: Night
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: Puzzled.
Witnesses interpretation: Unidentified or helicopters.

Classifications:

Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: Probable Chinese lanterns.

Sources:

[Ref. pg1:] SMS REPORT I RECEIVED DIRECTLY:

First SMS at 01:56 a.m. on April 6, 2014:

Hi tarpick [*]

Curiously enough this evening after Altkirch. At the entrance of Walheim, we saw 4 bright orange points at a height I'd say barely higher than a church steeple. Airplane or helicopter as [her boyfriend] thought? Yet no flashing light as is the case on a plane or helicopter. No, I'm not putting out a prank on you and I found this phenomenon rather strange, 4 bright orange and motionless points? can you explain that?

[*] They are very close friends of mine, and this is a nickname the man invented one day as were joking by reversing syllabus in our firstnames.

Second SMS, the continuation, at 01:56 a.m. on April 6, 2014:

As I was driving, it was difficult to observe [Her companion] said that these points seemed to move. He thought of helicopters but four helicopters that follow each other seems unlikely and as said, a helicopter is flashing. these bright orange dots puzzle me and I wonder what could it be? Maybe you'll get another report than ours but anyway I know that entering Walheim I immediately saw these points. Truly this is not a joke and I wouldn't dare to write so late and I'm not delirious but it was weird...

Discussion:

This is not the first time that people I know very well, including some of my best friends, tell me about seeing something in the sky that intrigued them more or less.

I knew that my two friends were going to a birthday dinner at relatives in the Sundgau that night. I read both SMS only the next day. We had other friends for dinner on Saturday night so I haven't looked at my cellphone immediately. But two days later, we had dinner with my two friends, and I could hear them out again and propose an explanation.

They know perfectly well that I'm into ufology - even if it is not my main topic of conversation with my friends, I certainly do not hide it. That is why my friends contacted me by SMS to describe what they had seen. I I do not think I had explained to them what Chinese lanterns are befre their sighting, or if I did, it must have been in passing and without too much description, because they seem to know nothing about it when they reported this sighting.

When my friend tols in the SMS she was not koking, it was obviously because she feared I would thing of a joke: "Patrick is a UFO buff, I'm telling him I saw something weird, he will surely think I'm joking on him, I must specify that it isn't a joke."

Both know very well, because I have often explained that, everything that people see in the sky is not necessarily an extraterrestrial craft, nor a "hallucination" neither necessarily a lie. They know that in most cases of observations, there is a trivial explanation, sometimes surprising, of course. The fact they told me about this sighting is absolutely not a statement of seeing aliens, just a question about what they had seen. The friend was less convinced of the need to tell me about it, because he thought they were helicopters. His mate did not think so, and she was right. At one point, they had considered pulling off to take a photo or video with their cellphones, but they did not. This is very common: I have dozens of stories like this in Alsace and the pictires or videos taken can be counted on the fingers of one hand, even though almost everyone now has his "smartphone" ready and at hand.

The friend thought of helicopters mainly because he wants to be "rational", as one says, and this seemed the most likely explanation to him. It is not inherently hostile to the idea that aliens would visit us, but he does not want to make a fool of himself. His girl friend did not share his opinion because of the lack of flashing navigation lights, and it would be a bit odd to have four helicopters flying quite low there in the middle of the night. As for me, when I hear of bright orange dots in the night sky, not flashing, moving slowly in the country on a Saturday night, I think that some Chinese lanterns were launched at some party such as weddings, birthdays etc.. These mini hot air balloons are the most common explanation for such observations since the mid-2000s, including in Alsace, my catalog amply proves it.

So, I offered to them Chinese lanterns as the most likely explanation, showing what they look like, before launch and in the sky, how they can fly, etc. The female friend was initially surprised, not only because she did not know what Chinese lanterns are, but also because she thought it made little sense to a release of lanterns so late at night. Once I told her that it is actually around midnight that people mostly launch them at parties of all kinds, animations, shows, religious holidays, weddings, birthdays, she was no longer surprised.

Villages which could have released these lanterns are Walheim, of course, but also Altkirch, Wittersdorf, Tagolsheim, Aspach, Luemschwiller, Obermorschwiller, Illfurth.

In Altkirch, 2 km south of the place of observation, the "2014 Spring Festival" had taken place from Saturday, March 29, 2014, to Sunday, April 13, 2014, a good opportunity for a release of lanterns on that Saturday night.

The first "false UFOs" caused by Chinese lanterns that I identified were in the United States during the airship wave of 1896-1897, it also happened during the 1954 French "saucers" flap, including in Alsace (Example), it happened during the wave of 1973 in the United States (Example), etc. As there are years-long gaps in their use, some ufologists, too many ufologists, and of course the witnesses, forget them as a possible cause for UFO sightings.

Evaluation:

Probable Chinese lanterns.

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
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross April 11, 2014 Creation, [pg1].
1.0 Patrick Gross April 11, 2014 First published.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict



 Feedback  |  Top  |  Back  |  Forward  |  Map  |  List |  Home
This page was last updated on April 11, 2014