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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 Nord-Matin, Nord - Pas-de-Calais, France, pages 1 and 10, on October 6, 1954.

See the case file.


A resident of Beuvry
launched thousands of
flying saucers
- in paper! -
in the Nord sky

(From our regional editor Fernand VARLET)

[Photo caption:] On the threshold of his garage-arsenal Mr. D'Oliveira comments to our editor on the ascensional technique of his device (Nord-Matin photo)

MODEST neighboring city of Béthune, Beuvry was highlighted, a few days ago, by the birth of a writer-miner who hit the headlines and monopolized the airwaves. A news item, very different from this revelation, having just exploded like a bomb, risks carrying the name of this small town beyond our borders: we discovered in Beuvry a brave Portuguese pensioner who, making balloons and launching them into the sky, brought living water to the mill with flying saucers.

He indulged in this kind of sport for his sole pleasure, like an illuminated balloon maniac, having once, in his distant country, been the neighbor of a pyrotechnician who had opened the secret of his art to him.

Thus, from Beuvry, on evenings when the wind was blowing favorably, paper machines flew away, crisscrossing the sky, taking on the appearance of mysterious saucers!

Unknown shadows in a brilliant craft!

Last Monday, September 27, around 10 a.m., Mrs. Irma Hennebelle, who lives in rue de Béthune, in Sailly-Labourse, very close to Beuvry, went about her business in the courtyard at her house. The sky of this autumn evening was slowly declining towards the night and, suddenly, high in the clouds, Mrs. Hennebelle saw appear an illuminated machine, blazing red, which seemed to throwing to the earth an

Read more on the last page
under the title:


[Photo caption:] Test on a reduced model: this miniature saucer seeks to leave its owner for the sky! (Nord-Matin photo).



indiscreet glance. What would you have done in place of Mrs. Hennebelle? Probably like her: she immediately thought it was a saucer... One talks about them so much these days!

Worried, the housewife called her husband, André, and her daughter, Ghislaine. Then one went to get the uncle, who lives two doors away, Mr. Olivier Dubois. He came with his daughter. Five pairs of eyes then turned towards the dark sky that the curious apparatus pierced with an unusual light.

The saucer - since it had to be called by that name - had the shape of a long cigar flying vertically. It launched red reflections and, as if by transparency inside, one could see the moving shapes of three bizarre shadows.

Mrs. Hennebelle and her family probably thought they were only passing witnesses of an unknown phenomenon. No doubt indeed, the craft was going to continue its route towards the direction of its choice. So go find out more about such a mysterious object that freely moves 300 meters high?

But - oh stupefaction - the luminous craft suddenly lost height and came slowly to the ground, a few meters from the quintet who were watching it.

On the other side of the national road which runs alongside the Hennebelles' house, is a meadow belonging to Mr. Monvoisin, farmer: it is the tender grass of this enclosure that the craft had chosen for its landing.

MM. Hennebelle and Dubois ran across the road and approached the "saucer."

Alas! The whole thing was just a craft made of paper - ordinary wrapping paper - which seemed to have deflated like a balloon. An iron circle formed an orifice at one end and, inside, a tow finished burning.

"I launched
thousands of them!"

No mistake, however, this modest object, one meter high, 30 centimeters wide, had a mysterious appearance in the sky!

In the evening, while drinking coffee, one talked about it at length. A few days later, Mr. Hennebelle, worried all the same by this story, went to warn Mr. Raoul Fourgnies, the guard of the commune. The latter told the case to the police station of Beuvry. A peacekeeper was dispatched to return the burlesque remains of a failed saucer to the station.

Its landing could have been dangerous: the tow, as we have said, was consuming itself and the craft had fallen three meters from a haystack. One wondered what would have happened to this haystack if the tow had reserved its last sparks for it?

Rapid deductions and observations made by residents of Beuvry left no doubt: the author of this disturbing farce was none other than a Beuvry resident, Mr. Victor d'Oliveira, Portuguese subject, retired from the electric power plant, living with his daughter, grocer, national road, in Beuvry.

The man did not deny organizing his flights. He welcomed us yesterday with good humor to explain his technique to us. He throws hot air balloons in the air like others raise pigeons or bees! And he said with a smile:

"I've already made thousands of them!"

Hot air balloon arsenal

The shop run by the "manufacturer's" daughter is a stone's throw from the calvary. A small garden succeeds it, itself closed by a garage. It is in this garage and in the attic that overlooks it that Mr. D'Oliveira operates. He led us there, very much regretting that the stubborn rain prevented him from indulging in an experience in front of us in the best conditions. Mr. D'Oliveira has a balloon craze. It dates back a long time. As a teenager he was, in Portugal, a neighbor of a fireworks artist. It was there that he learned to make his machines.

Since then, he has made them in all sizes, from 1.20 m. to 5 meters high. The attic of his garage still reveals a meticulously prepared supply. Mr. D'Oliveira unfolded a huge one in front of us. And you can believe that one easily imagines the impression reserved for the passer-by who sees moving in the sky a thing of such size, shining with all its fires.

Making hot air balloon is a game of patience for Mr. D'Oliveira. He cuts his strips of paper, carefully adjusts them, glues them, then closes his device around a frail iron frame and opens, thanks to a circle, an orifice at one end.

He spends long hours on this delicate task and, passionate about this original kind of sport, admires his achievements with the satisfaction of a job well done.

The craft made, suffice to inflate it and to deliver it to the secrecy of the sky.

For his climbs, Mr. D'Oliveira chooses the evenings when the wind is calm, without whirlpool. So, with the help of his wife, he hung one of the ready-made machines - one day a small one, one day a large one - on a beam in his garage.

Friend readers, you can easily do the same, the operating technique is elementary.

The balloon suspended, Mr. D'Oliveira, very seriously, places under it, just in front of the orifice, a good old democratic flowerpot. He piles up paper there (newspaper paper, please!) And set it on fire in peace. You guessed it: the paper ignites and gives off a smoke which, in the narrow garage, makes your eyes unpleasantly tickle.

This smoke rises, of course, rushes into the paper balloon which, at an extraordinary speed, swells like a weird balloon.

These gestures, Mr. D'Oliveira repeated them so often that it takes him a few seconds to accomplish them. His balloon inflated, he hangs on the inner rods a tow of asbestos more or less large. He soaks it in oil and set it on fire. This slow combustion keeps the air in the balloon at a temperature which makes this gas lighter than air. This is strictly the principle of the hot air balloon.

Such a crafte, provided with rather substantial tows, can, in favorable wind, fly very long, very far and very high.

If Mrs. Hennebelle and her parents saw shadows on the false saucer and could have thought that they were human beings, it is because there were really shadows: those of the stems of the frame, projected by the flaming tow onto the paper.

Mr. D'Oliveira takes particular care in the manufacture of its devices. Sometimes even, he hangs on the opening circle wicks supporting candles!

We guess the disturbing reflection of such a luminous battery strolling at night in the sky. Quite a few people may have believed in the passage of "saucers", especially since these days the Portuguese pensioner has launched some.

A neighbor even told him, being aware of this aerial craze: "People are going to mistake your stuff for saucers!", which made him laugh.

False alarm in 1939!

The problem of saucers may not have been solved, however, because Mr. D'Oliveira's machines have certainly never been able to reach Sweden or Spain. But Mr. D'Oliveira's practices undoubtedly explain many of the various appearances in the Nord region.

As we said: the inventor of the system is generous. In recent years, he launched thousands of hot air balloons in the skies of Beuvry. Quite a few must have been found in the surrounding fields that the changing atmospheric circumstances had stopped in their facetious enterprise. But many must have intrigued the earthlings, on the other hand, during their curious ballads.

Mr. D'Oliveira started his work many years ago, under the Portuguese sun. His passion for picturesque fireworks had followed him to France. And in 1939, it almost cost him the worst of mishaps.

In August 1939, he was on vacation in Calais. Some evening, he had released one of his "phenomena" to the wind. The craft, shining with all its lights, followed the coast of the North Sea, taking the direction of an agitated Germany, a few days before the war. At the semaphores, one saw the curious flying "cigar". We weren't talking about modern saucers at the time. The atmosphere was about spying and war secrets. It was supposed that the paper hot air balloon could contain important messages and Mr. D'Oliveira was in trouble for a while because, in Calais, it had been established that he was at the origin of this suspicious ascent.

He quickly managed to justify himself. But the mishap did not stop him and he resumed his experiences again.

It's his hobby. He is neither a musician nor a player. He is a "sauceristicer". A genre like any other. He broods his machines with love after having built them in fever. hehas red, blue, yellow, cream and white ones, in wrapping paper or silk paper. They are almost his children.

It would be a great pity if he were forbidden such a fantasy. However, this is what will happen to him. At the very least, the local police will reward him with a fine.

But Mr. D'Oliveira wonders where the crime is and what it is.

"We have the right, he said, to fly one's dragon. Even if it is in the shape of a balloon built in thousands of copies."

And if we mistake it for a saucer?...

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