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URECAT - UFO Related Entities Catalog

URECAT is a formal catalog of UFO related entities sightings reports with the goal of providing quality information for accurate studies of the topic. Additional information, corrections and reviews are welcome at ufologie@inbox.com, please state if you wish to be credited for your contribution or not. The main page of the URECAT catalog is here.


Brief summary of the event and follow-up:

Ufology sources telling or not where the story came from told, in summary, that above western Belgium, early one morning in the spring of 1917, "German ace Peter Waitzrik" and the famous Baron Manfred von Richthofen were in flight when "an object with undulating orange lights", silver-colored, about 40 meters in diameter and resembling a flying saucer, suddenly appeared in a clear blue sky ahead of their Fokker triplane.

Frightened, they assumed it was some new flying machine of the U.S.A., and Manfred von Richthofen immediately opened fire at it, whereupon the saucer fell down like a stone, shearing tree branches as it crashed into the woods.

Peter Waitzrik, the alleged source of the story, said nothing about it publicly until he was aged 105.

This version is the most common watered down version of the real story; which is a pure invention of the Weekly World News tabloid, as proven below in this file.

Basic information table:

Case number: URECAT-001440
Date of event: Spring 1917
Earliest report of event: August 31, 1999
Delay of report: 8 decades.
Witness reported via: N/A. Claim of report to headquarters.
First alleged record by: N/A.
First certain record by: Weekly World News tabloid.
First alleged record type: N/A.
First certain record type: Tabloid publishing invented tales.
This file created on: March 14, 2013
This file last updated on: November 6, 2023
Country of event: Belgium
State/Department: Not reported.
Type of location:
Lighting conditions: Early morning. Clear sky.
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: Not reported
UFO departure observed: N/A, crash
UFO/Entity Relation: Certain
Witnesses numbers: 2
Witnesses ages: 23 and 25
Witnesses types: Men, German fighter pilots, aces.
Photograph(s): No.
Witnesses drawing: No.
Witnesses-approved drawing: No.

Number of entities: 2
Type of entities: Humanoid or human
Entities height: Small
Entities outfit type: Not reported.
Entities outfit color: Not reported.
Entities skin color: Not reported.
Entities body: Not reported.
Entities head: Yes.
Entities eyes: Not reported.
Entities mouth: Not reported.
Entities nose: Not reported.
Entities feet: Not reported.
Entities arms: Not reported.
Entities fingers: Not reported.
Entities fingers number: Not reported.
Entities hair: Bald-headed.
Entities voice: None heard.
Entities actions: UFO shot down by plane, came out of UFO, fled in the woods.
Entities/witness interactions: UFO was shot down by 1917 fighter plane.
Witness(es) reactions: Observed.
Witness(es) feelings: Frightened.
Witness(es) interpretation: Secret US craft, then extraterrestrial craft and occupants.
Explanation category: Invention by Weekly World News.
Explanation certainty: High.


[Ref. wwn1:] "WEEKLY WORLD NEWS":


DOGFIGHT between the Red Baron and a flying saucer in 1917. The UFO crashed in a ball of flame.

By JOE BERGER / Weekly World News

105 years old's story created a shockwave

BONN, Germany -- The flamboyant fighter pilot known as the Red Baron not only shot down 80 enemy planes for the Germans during World War I -- he also was the first human in history to gun down an alien spaceship!

That's the fascinating claim of former German Air Force ace Peter Waitzrik, who says he watched in astonishment as the deadeye fighter pilot shot a UFO with undulating orange lights out of the sky over Belgium in 1917.

Then, Waitzrik says, he stared in disbelief as two bruised and battered occupants of the downed craft climbed from their spaceship and scampered off into the woods -- apparently never to be seen again.

"The Baron and I gave a full report on the incident back at headquarters and they told us not to ever mention it again," the feisty, 105-year-old retired airline pilot recently told a reporter.

"And except for my wife and grandkids, I never told a soul. But it's been over 80 years, so what difference could it possibly make now?"

The ageing Waitzrik said he and Baron Manfred von Richtofen -- the renowned Red Baron -- were flying an early morning mission over western Belgium in the spring of 1917 when the UFO suddenly appeared in a clear, blue sky directly ahead of their Fokker triplanes.

"We were terrified because we'd never seen anything like it before," recalled the easygoing great-great grandfather of five. "The U.S. had just entered the war, so we assumed it was something they'd sent up.

"The Baron immediately opened fire and the thing went down like a rock, shearing off tree limbs as it crashed in the woods. Then the two little baldheaded guys climbed out and ran away."

Waitzrik said he assumed the glittering silver spaceship was some sort of enemy invention until the flying saucer scare that began in the late 1940s convinced him that his buddy had shot down a UFO.

"The thing was maybe 40 meters (136 feet) in diameter and looked just like those saucer- shaped spaceships that everybody's been seeing for the last 50 years," the awed oldster said.

"So there's no doubt in my mind now that that was no U.S. reconnaissance plane the Baron shot down, that was some kind of spacecraft from another planet -- and those little guys who ran off into the woods weren't Americans, they were space aliens of some kind.

"You know, sometimes I wonder what ever became of those guys, anyway."


[Ref. ars1:] ALBERT ROSALES:

Albert Rosales indicates in his catalogue that over Western Belgium, in Spring 1917, in the early morning, German Air Force Ace Peter Waitzrik and the famed Baron Manfred von Richtofen were flying a mission over western Belgium when an object with undulating orange lights suddenly appeared in a clear, blue sky directly ahead of their Fokker triplanes. Both were terrified and assumed it was some type of US aircraft (The US had just entered the war). The Baron immediately opened fire and the thing went down like a rock, shearing off tree limbs as it crashed in the woods. Then two little bald headed occupants climbed out of it and ran away. Waitzrik described the craft as silvery in color about 40 meters in diameter and resembling a saucer placed upside down. The two bruised but otherwise unhurt occupants ran into the woods and were never seen again. (The 105-year old Waitzrik recently broke his silence as to this allege incident that occurred over 80 years ago).

Albert Rosales indicates that the source is "Peter Waitzrik".

[Ref. maa1:] "MAGONIA" BLOG:

The UFO-skeptic blog reviews the Mack Maloney UFO book and says:

"There is the amazing tale of the ‘Red Baron’ von Richthofen, the German WWI ace, and the flying saucer, referenced to that well know scientific publication Weekly World News (he gets the name wrong, calling it ‘World Weekly News’ and wrongly calls it a British tabloid). The WWW does not follow the usual tabloid approach of mingling fact and fiction, in the WWW its all fiction."

[Ref. nwn1:] NIGEL WATSON:

This author takes up my summary published on March 14, 2013, with some of my reservations - those on the origin of the story.

Nigel Watson cited my catalog as a source: "URECAT - UFO Related Entities Catalog website, ufologie.patrickgross.org/ce3/1917-belgium-westernbelgium.htm".

[Ref. rwh1:] ROB WAUGH:

Did Fighter Ace The Red Baron Shoot Down A UFO During World War I?

Various legends about aliens and flying saucers have circulated about World War I - of which the most astonishing is that German fighter ace the Red Baron shot down a UFO.

The report - from Austrian news site OE24 - recounts rumours allegedly from fellow flyers who claim Baron Manfred von Richtofen shot down a flying saucer.

The witnesses claim that two ‘aliens’ fled from the downed craft after the fighter ace shot it down, according to reports recounted in Nigel Watson’s book UFOs of the First World War.

Tireless alien-hunter Scott C Waring of UFO Sightings Daily says, ‘Its possible that the Red Barons two front machine guns could have damaged not the UFO, but the airier antenna on the top center of the craft. If this antenna was hit by the Baron, then yes, a UFO would lose control and be forced to land to make repairs.

UFO fans also believe that aliens may have ‘abducted’ people from the battlefields of World War I - with a claim of hundreds of men ‘vanishing’ into a cloud during the Gallipoli campaign.

Fellow German pilot Peter Waitzrick said that fighters flying with the ‘Red Baron’ saw an aircraft like an upside down saucer, ‘We were terrified because we’d never seen anything like it before. The Baron immediately opened fire and the thing went down like a rock, shearing off tree limbs as it crashed into the woods.

‘There’s no doubt in my mind that the Baron shot down some kind of spacecraft from another planet and those little guys who ran off into the woods were space aliens of some kind.

The story is highly dubious, however - given that Waitzrick didn’t share his story until 80 years after the event, and chose to do so in the U.S. tabloid Weekly World News.


A recently published book – UFOs of the First World War – delves on the mysteries and paranormal sightings WWI soldiers and even the Red Baron himself encountered during the Great War a hundred years in the past.

According to this book, authored by Nigel Watson, more bizarre and more frightening things than fighter pilots patrolled the skies above the French battlefields during the said conflict. Throughout the First World War, there are existing accounts as told by soldiers and civilians about a paranormal encounters — encounters that even historians and UFO experts have long struggled to explain.

Here are some of these sightings (as featured in the above-mentioned book):

The Red Baron and UFOs

German pilot Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen who went down in history as the famous Red Baron is WWI's most famous pilot. No other human flyer could match his skills in flying and even fighting while up in the air. Apparently, neither could UFOs, too.

Accordingly, the Red Baron spotted an Unidentified Flying Object – described as a "looking like an upside down silver saucer with orange lights* – in the spring of 1917 while he was on an early morning mission in Belgium.

The account went on to say that another WWI German Air Force ace, Peter Waitzrick, witnessed the dogfight between his comrade and that of the UFO. Waitzrick described how they looked on with fear at the object as it was unlike anything they have seen before. The Red Baron immediately began firing on the said UFO and it went down crashing into the woods, mowing tree limbs on its way.

Allegedly, two occupants from the saucer-like flying object clambered out from the wreckage and ran into the trees.

The squadron, along with Waitzrick, initially believed that the UFO the Red Baron encountered was a secret US Army aircraft. However, when he read about UFOs and reports on flying saucers, the former undoubtedly maintained that what they saw and what the Red Baron fought off in the Belgian skies was one.

Nevertheless, Waitzrick waited eighty years after its occurrence before sharing the story, He was already 105 years old when he did open up about the encounter. The account made it into the pages of the Weekly World News August of 1999.

But historians are doubtful with Waitzrick's narration. According to them, it was not until months later after the encounter that the Fokker triplanes that the squadron were allegedly fighting when the incident occurred were put into operation service. That fact cast a shade on the WWI German pilot's story.

Points to consider:

Albert Rosales says the source is "Peter Waitzrik". It is not. It is Weekly World News [ww1]. But of course giving this real source would not have been sounding too good...

Weekly World News, as I explain in other CE3 files of this catalog, is just laughable as a source, and the "case" would deserve no further attention.

Those few typical covers of the tabloid, below, should tell the reader about the editorial style of the articles in that publication:

But here is a few proofs that they just made up the story.

A. At the time when the alleged story is supposed to have occurred, the Red Baron could not have flown his famous Fokker Triplan: it was not existing yet! He flew the Albatross DIII D.789/17 as a Jasta 11 pilot.

B. All German "aces" of WW1 are of course known. There was never a "German ace" or any pilot on the German side named Peter Waitzrik.

C. Weekly Work News stupidly wrote that the "105 years old's story created a shockwave". Of course this is just a lie, Weekly World News were the first to tell it, so nobody else could have been "shocked" before it was even published - and no shockwave was created either later, od course. Except for some gullible or novice ufologists, everyone knows Weekly World News is only about making up outrageous untrue stories.

D. "Waitzrik" is not a real name. Google it up, and you can see it is only existing in the Weekly World News story, it is not used for any other person. This is a typical habit Weekly World News: they invent stories and carefully choose name that would not put real persons in trouble.

E. The photograph in Weekly World News is not a faked one. It is a known photograph (Ref. Bundesrarchiv Bild 183-2004-0430-501) showing the Jasta ("Jagdstaffel", fighter squadron) 11 pilots, taken in April 1917 (May 23, 1917 according to other sources).

The pilots on the image are indicated. The alleged "Peter Waitzrik" is actually Leutnant Otto Brauneck.


I want to point out that not only [ars1] and the books listed in the references below propagated the hoax. Numerous websites and blogs and web forums did it, generally by publishing the [ww1] article without source reference, or the [ars1] version.

As of 2013, it appears for example at:


(etc. etc.)

List of issues:

Id: Topic: Severity: Date noted: Raised by: Noted by: Description: Proposal: Status:


Invention by Weekly World News.

Sources references:

* = Source I checked.
? = Source I am told about but could not check yet. Help appreciated.

Document history:


Main Author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history

Version: Created/Changed By: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross March 14, 2013 Creation, [wwn1], [ars1], [maa1].
1.0 Patrick Gross March 14, 2013 First published.
1.1 Patrick Gross November 6, 2023 Additions [nwn1], [rwh1], [who1].

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This page was last updated on November 6, 2023.