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UFOs in the daily Press:

The 1954 French flap in the Press:

The article below was published in the daily newspaper La Croix du Nord, Lille, Pas-de-Calais, France, pages 1 and 8, October 6, 1954.



1. Our special correspondent participated in the launch of a
"flying cigar"

one of the 5,800
hot air balloons
sent by Mr. Oliveira

above the rooftops
de Beuvry-l.-Béthune

The unfortunate combination of circumstances which had until now deprived journalists of hanging, them too, "their" saucer or "their" cigar in the register of various facts and personal memories have just been swept away by the wind. I saw a flying cigar which, at night, shows the famous red glow... I felt it from every angle and even participated in the launch of one of these craft that some claim to be coming from another planet. This is neither a crazy story, nor even a debauchery of the imagination after reading some anticipatuin novel. There is no need to pinch yourself to be convinced of the reality of the thing. The clarity of the evidence would have struck the most skeptical minds and those most reluctant to the hypothesis of an exploration of the earth by some space travelers.

It is a long, a very long story whose starting point is in Portugal at the beginning of this century. H.C. [sic, G.] Wells, the author of "The War of the Worlds" did not yet have the slightest awareness of his advance on the Future... In fact of flying machines, Clément Ader and the Wright brothers were only trying to give practical application to the theories of "heavier than air"...

In a small Portuguese village, when the light wind coming from the sea subsided, a young boy, Victor Oliveira, made "hot air balloons" which he then inflated with hot air... The well-known principle of the lighter than the air made fly these graceful envelopes, which drifted according to the whims of the wind.

Arrived in France shortly before the 1914 war, Mr. Oliveira bravely fought and took part in the battle of La Couture. After a short stay in Portugal, he settled in 1922, in Beuvry-les-Béthune. Until his retirement last December, he held the post of burner operator at the Beuvry Power Station.

However, the favorite pastime of his younger years did not suffer from the well-known phenomenon of disaffection that stamp collections suffer, for example, in adolescence. Married, surrounded

Read more on the last page, under the title: "CIGARS"

2. A professor from the Faculty of Sciences
de Lille shows that last Sunday
the flying saucer was only a lunar phenomenon

Mr. Antoine Bonte, I.D.N. engineer, professor of applied geology at the Faculty of Sciences of Lille, kindly provided us with a scientific explanation of the phenomenon observed by dozens of people on Sunday evening in our region. He writes to us: "I was impatiently awaiting this morning's newspaper and I took great pleasure in reading the accounts of your correspondents, because on Sunday evening I also saw the 'flying saucer'."

"The descriptions given of it agree in every way with my personal observations. I only disagree with their interpretation because, in this case, it was simply a moonset.

"Sunday, at nightfall, the moon shone on a clear day first in the form of a crescent. Later it disappeared into the hazy area above the horizon, only to reappear for a few moments, reddish is distorted - which is normal at this height - and crossed out with a line when passing behind a stratus. Finally, it faded definitively when entering again in the clouds.

"So, in this particular case, it is quite a trivial phenomenon that our fathers would not have even paid attention to.

"Moreover, in most of the other cases, it is about analogous phenomena as I could note it several times. The psychosis of the flying saucers is a phenomenon of collective hallucination which responds to a natural need for the marvelous maintained by a large-run press and fed by a whole category of illustrations for children or... adults. The descriptions of the so-called Martians are so close to Tintin-style spacesuits that we cannot stop smiling.

Continued on last page,
in the sixth column, under the title


The flying saucers

"If the Martians - assuming they existed - were really to visit us, do you think they would have exactly our physical looks, that they would use devices and clothing similar to those designed by our engineers or who only saw the light of day in the overflowing imagination of the authors of anticipation novels: do you believe above all that the nature and the degree of their scientific evolution can be analogous to ours. improbabilities!

"Happy journalists who haven't seen your flying saucer! Take comfort in thinking that, for serious readers, this is a guarantee of honesty and objectivity. But do more, by welcoming only with undisguised skepticism the testimonies of correspondents whom-we-can-be-trusted, in good faith or who prefer to remain anonymous. It is even your duty to fight against this weakening of critical thinking which characterizes our era of culture, universal, but far too superficial."


In a study that he was kind enough to share with us, Mr. Bonte also examines several cases of celestial phenomena reported in recent years and gives an explanation for each of which we will appreciate the strength. He demonstrates that the majority of alleged flying saucers are natural phenomena that occur at high altitude. He observed and photographed in particular, in the region of Lons-le-Saulnier, "a luminous trail that was red orange and stood out clearly against the dark background of the sky. This trail came from a dot which moved slowly from the south to the south - north in the western part of the sky of Lons-le-Saulnier.

"Witnesses of this display would have gladly seen in this meteor a manifestation of a flying saucer; they unhesitatingly rallied to my explanation.


"This was the wake of a jet plane moving at great altitude and at great distance, hence the apparent slowness of the luminous trail and the lack of the characteristic roar. The red in the wake was simply due to the altitude of the aircraft which was still lit by the sun, although it had been set down for a long time. Everyone saw stratus clouds colored in red above the horizon after the disappearance of the sun, which obviously corresponds to the same phenomenon."

"... There are also other phenomena which, unknown to the uninitiated or even to specialists, have credited the legend of the flying saucers... The Director of the Algiers meteorological station has revealed that the alleged saucers observed in this region were none other than sounding balloons equipped with a luminous device; the currents prevailing in the upper atmosphere made these devices move in an apparently disconcerting manner.


"The illumination of clouds by powerful light sources can also give rise to bewildering maneuvers of shiny objects. The intersection of the light beam with the surface of a cloud can give images of all shapes from the circle up to more or less elongated ellipses, the images being able to be uniformly bright or, on the contrary, dark in the center, and brightly lit at the edges. This phenomenon could explain the extraordinary speed of certain "saucers" and their instantaneous changes of direction, characteristics reported by some observers.


"Recently, an American physicist, Mr. W, Scott, demonstrated that it was possible to artificially produce meteors similar to flying saucers in the laboratory, as spheres surrounded by shiny rings. This is not unlike the rings that occur when puffs of smoke are passed through a circular hole, and all smokers have had fun "making circles" with their mouths. Atomic experiments may not be unrelated to the formation of previously unknown meteors.

"Scott's experiment has been criticized by Professor G. Ray Watt, of the Carnégie [sic, Carnegy] Institute in Washington, who claims that the conditions necessary for the formation of these rings do not exist in upper atmosphere. Meteorology is, however, a very young science to authorize such assertions: the normal atmosphere is already not so well known, let alone the upper atmosphere.


"The most important argument to demonstrate the inanity of flying saucers is certainly this information which comes to us from America. A formation of flying saucers having been reported in the skies of Washington, Andrews Air Force bases and of Ballingfields are ordered to intercept them at all costs. Courageously, the jets rushed at 1,000 an hour, one can say "in the fog", and cross without suffering the slightest damage, their supposed adversary who was nothing else than kinds of clouds.

"What then to think of certain disturbing testimonies emanating from informed observers such as airplane pilots, professor of scientific institutions, etc.? Let us first recall that the phenomena which occur in the atmosphere are far away to be all known, even from specialists. On the other hand, critical thinking is sometimes lacking even in respectable scientists. Finally for those who know the atmosphere of certain military circles, the mystification is not excluded vis-à-vis of some more naive comrades.

"Meteors have been observed all along, but they weren't given the same attention as today when everyone wants to see their flying saucer. This is a trivial case of collective illusions from which scientific circles themselves are not exempt.


"It is possible, however, that new aircraft sometimes cross the sky. There is no doubt that the Americans and the Russians, each on their side, are seeking to develop new weapons and some of the flying saucers are perhaps a reality. But both sides have an interest in ensuring that their research is ignored by the adversary, hence the flood of contradictory news.

"It is announced, for example, in America, that the flying saucers are a myth; the next day a craft of the same name is discovered in Spitsbergen and its measuring devices bear inscriptions in Russian language. As if by chance, the drop-off point is in an uninhabited region.

"Depending on the circumstances, we feign ignorance or, on the contrary, we boast of an unbeatable superiority. We know too much, to have suffered from it, of the misdeeds of propaganda to be influenced by information that is lacking impartiality. If there really are new aircraft, there will always be enough time to worry about them when they are used, if they are ever used. There is absolutely no need to worry beforehand.

"In conclusion, it can be said that 90%, if not 99%, of the alleged flying saucers are due only to incomplete observations of natural phenomena and are a matter of pure imagination. Some are undoubtedly attributable to meteors of known or new origin. Finally, in a few special cases, they may be new aircraft being tested.

"As for the extraterrestrial origin of the flying saucers, it is not based on anything positive and we could sleep soundly if we had only this apprehension. We have, alas, more to fear from our neighbours than from Martians."


of his children, Mr. Oliveira continued to glue paper and inflate his hot air balloons. Somewhat surprised at first, his neighbors were quick to put this little dangerous distraction into the realm of normal things. Mr. Oliveira? Ah! yes, the one who makes hot air balloons? "Some breed pigeons, assures Mr. Oliveira, others train roosters for fights. I do this..."

Of medium height, mischievous eye behind large-rimmed glasses, tanned complexion, wearing a gray jacket and patched knee-length pants, lively despite his sixties (he looks barely forty) Mr. Oliveira seems completely surprised by this sudden entry into the news. Sometimes he wants to send journalists and photographers to hell and barricade himself in the shed cluttered with paper from packing cases, which serves as his manufacturing workshop.

He lives in fact with his children, Mr. and Mrs. Lenfant, who run a food house, route de Béthune, in Beuvry.

Spread over a few crates, the carcass of one of the machines awaits inflation. Something to inspire the imagination of some people in need of flying saucers and contact - at a distance - with the Martians or other neighbors of our planet, since it now seems accepted that the "evening visitors" can come from another system as that where the Earth continues its eternal gravitation.

of hot air

The appearance of the hot-air balloon immediately reveals the primary character of a technique that dates back several centuries. The one that will serve as experience and testimony is about three to four meters. It takes the shape of a diamond very swollen in the center and made of simple wrapping paper, thin and resistant. A circular opening, reinforced with a thin wire, serves as a base. Apart from the frame itself, Mr. Oliveira has a tripod of wire which holds a large piece of tow soaked in petroleum, gasoline or oil. The fuel issue is hardly a problem.

Now let's tackle the "launch" part of the balloon. It is kept in the vertical position. Under the opening, Mr. Oliveira has some newspapers in a baste [sic] terracotta pot... We are far from the ramps of V1, V2 and others... Under the action of the hot air, the carcass inflates rapidly and tends to undertake its upward movement. Mr. Oliveira then inflames the gasoline rag, hangs the tripod on the wire which keeps the opening rigid and... the machine begins its course which can be prolonged very far if it encounters favorable winds; which gives it very few jerks. During an experiment made in the morning, the hot air balloon lay down and caught fire about ten meters above the ground.

Beware of illusions

Spirits believing in the probability of flying saucers will smile. Those who claim to have seen one of these craft in their exploration of the earth's crust will shrug their shoulders in a gesture of generous commiseration. The fact remains that, in the dark, the red glow given off by the flaming rag, combined with the reflections which it makes dance on the paper, can abuse the most reasonable. It would also be necessary to possess a critical mind and a very extraordinary amount of modesty not to proclaim oneself the witness of the phenomenon that one automatically assimilates to the "incomprehensible."

Since 1922, Mr. Oliveira has launched nearly 5,800 hot air balloons. No one in the area is moved by it anymore. But outside of this small circle, some people are likely to be troubled and their certainty of not being the victim of a hallucination further strengthens their intransigence. To such an extent that a person from Sailly brought back to the Beuvry police station a hot-air balloon spotted on the inside with drops of oil and blackish marks. Everyone laughs and the carcass, with burnt shreds, does not even constitute evidence.

What begins almost like a fairy tale can end like a fable dear to La Fontaine. How to disentangle the illusion from reality? The difficulties encountered by this concern for accuracy and truth only make the problem more complex. But it also serves as a reassuring argument for those who fear an interplanetary invasion.

We do not believe that we are authorized, because of this personal experience, to settle the debate. Let us only wish that this report inspires more measure and restraint to some people. Flying saucers and cigars get really bulky. There are jokes that should not be prolonged too much beforehand.

[Photo caption:] Mr. OLIVEIRA had a lot of fun reading, in a sensational weekly, a report on flying saucers.



The region of Saint-Amand-Nivelle would also have had its flying saucer, at least according to the words of young Marcel Sénéchal, 20, living in Saint-Amand at a place called La Pannerie.

It was in the night from Saturday to Sunday, around 1 a.m.

That evening, Marcel Sénéchal had, as usual, spent the evening with his fiancée in Hauterive-Nivelle. He then returned by bicycle to Saint-Amand along the course of the Scarpe.

Arrived at the level of the "Vandeville pasture" he suddenly heard a conversation in an unknown language, which came from his right.

Turning his head quite naturally in this direction he then saw to his great agitation, a luminous mass in the shape of a haystack and two 1.20 meter-tall human in shining garment. A ray of light came out of the mysterious craft.

The frightened young man pedalled away at full speed to return to his home where quite upset he reported these facts to his family and neighbors.

Informed by public rumor, the commissioner of Saint-Amand, Mr. Gravet and two inspectors in charge of the Air Police, attached to the Lesquin aerodrome, went to the scene yesterday and proceeded to research. They could not find any trace.

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