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UFOs in the Press:

The French 1954 saucer flap in the daily Press:

The article below was published in the daily newspaper The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, on page 15, on October 17, 1954.

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But The More Paris Changes...

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."

By HENRI DE TURENNE
Special correspondent of The Sun

Paris, Oct. 16 -- The skies of France are as crowded with flying saucers this fall as Times Square is with people on New Year's Eve.

Squadrons of saucers, plates and soup tureens - in fact, practically the whole crockery family - are zooming through the atmosphere and occasionally landing in a friendly manner near schoolchildren, railway workers, farmers or even sailors at sea.

For many years the French knowledge of these foreign elements was only from scattered reports of far-off countries where they had been seen. At long last, this unhappy situation has been corrected and for the past months, all French newspapers have opened special daily columns to dozen of French citizens who give detailed accounts of their strange encounters with people from another planet.

Recognize Paris?

While the whole world is still wondering about the mystery of the flying saucers, the French have solved the problem.

In their minds there is no question that this foreign craft is coming from Mars and, judging by the newspapers, you have to be almost unsociable nowadays to miss running into one of these Martian gentlemen here while taking an afternoon stroll.

In other countries, everyone has talked about vague luminous balls circling through the skies, but in France more is known about them because they come down (preferably on railroads) and hang around for a while, letting you have a good look.

It is probably that in going over France and recognizing Paris from far away, Martian pilots cannot resist landing to get a close view of the Eiffel tower and the French girls. At least this is the way the French like to interpret it.

Shiny Object Lands

In this vein, the most detailed reports about flying saucers and their occupants are originating here. For instance, Bernard Goujon who lives in Coulommiers, a western suburb of Paris, to take one of the testimony out of thousands gathered by the gendarmes - did not believe in their existence until a few days ago. He is a 30-year-old highway engineer in good health and apparently normal without any unusual complexes. Last Thursday, while on the road with a co-worker, Armand Picket, a shiny object landed in a field half a mile from them.

Goujon gave the following account of this exciting experience:

"I told Picket 'This looks to me like a flying saucer.' He was so frightened that he jumped into a ditch to hide. 'You can go over there if you want,' he said, 'but I'm staying here.'

"Like Big Mushroom"

"I ran toward the saucer that looked as if it were made of aluminum and about 25 feet wide. Resting on a sort of tripod, it looked like a big mushroom. On top was a cockpit with three round windows. As I got about 100 yards from it, something stopped me. I couldn't move forward or backward, and I had a strange tingling sensation throughout my body as if I had received an electric shock.

"I was stuck to the spot some 30 or 40 seconds while the ship went up, started circling on itself and suddenly took off like lightning through the clouds."

Poor Goujon probably had to deal with some shy Martians. Many other Frenchmen were more lucky than he. According to them, the Martian is not very attractive, averages 5 feet in height, has a very thick, bearlike beard all over his face, wears a pointed glass helmet and does not speak any of our languages.

Like Caricatures

All in all, he looks pretty much like the caricature of him made by cartoonists all over the world. Three children in the village of Moselle (noted for its wine), in eastern France, have even seen one dressed like a priest - with a hairy face too. He talked to them, but they could not understand him.

To add support to their stories, French newspapers recalled that - according to American sources - one of these travelers has been captured in the United States. He is kept in an incubator at the Pentagon, where intelligence officers are trying to teach him basic english. "But is not easy," they claim.

In general, the French public accept the flying saucer with light irony - like other things. However, police and national scientists had started the difficult job of veryfying the hundreds of testimonies that have poured in from all over France in an attempt to separate pure fantasy or hallucination from objective facts.

Keep An Open Mind

Their position is that in the interest of science, one must keep an open mind on such matters - such is the official attitude.

This is especially true since the French have noticed that as soon as flying saucers begin appearing over French skies, the Russian press published a multitude of articles on soviet progress in building space ships designed to go the moon "in a relatively near future." Is it pure coincidence?

Collective hallucinations are one thing - the public and the press may have fun with them - but politics and science are another - and governments have to keep their eyes open.

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