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September 14, 1954, Saint-Prouant, Vendée:

Reference number for this case: 14-Sep-54-Saint-Prouant. Thank you for including this reference number in any correspondence with me regarding this case.

Summary:

The first report published on this affair is an article of the regional newspaper La Résistance de l'Ouest, of Nantes, for September 20, 1954.

We learn that "cigar and saucer" appeared above Saint-Prouant and Sigournais, seen by thirty witnesses, "last Tuesday" - thus on September 14, 1954.

The newspaper explains that there was such a silence about it that it took the indiscretion of a young worker to make them learn about it, and that they went to hear many witnesses "whose good faith and sincerity cannot be doubted ".

They collected at La Gabelière de Saint-Prouant, the story of Mr. Georges Fortin, 34, who is quoted saying:

"- It was about 5 o'clock in the sun, I was there in this field, when all of a sudden, from the cloudy sky where the storm was rising, I saw a curious blue-purple cloud emerge and that had the form of 'a carrot, coming towards us the tip slightly forward."

When the newspaper asks him if "it was a really a cloud?", he answered:

"- It seemed to me and my servant like a cloud, but it appears rather that it was a craft surrounded by steam or an artificial cloud. Arrived at about 4 to 500 meters from us, and at the same height, it took the vertical position and stopped, and we watched the phenomenon intensely."

The newspaper asked him if he was afraid:

- Of what? Moreover curiosity drove us. And then it is only after that I realized the strangeness of the event."

"The cloud, or the apparatus was thus immobilized when suddenly, similar to the traces which a jet leaves, a white smoke was detached from the "tail" of the apparatus and is assembled in spirals, surrounding it of its orbs. The smoke arrived at the top returned down again, left in the other direction and it was at this time that a very shining disc, like a mirror, was detached and came while turning and while fluttering towards us, then to other places of the valley, before regaining the "apparatus" at a tremendous speed "quicker than a shooting star." The "carrot" then took an horizontal position, point ahead, and took again its course at an accelerated speed before disappearing from our sight. The whole was visible for half an hour approximately."

The newspaper indicated that Mr. Louis Grellier, 36, servant at La Gabellière, confirmed this story entirely "also adding some details on the walk of the famous disc."

In the nearby village, they heard the same affirmation from Mr. Mercier, from Mr. Jean Perrocheau, 50, farm hand, from several women who saw the "cloud" from the farmyard, but could not see the "disc" because of the buildings.

Mrs. Pizou, 67, widow, "alert farmer who after losing her husband, her son to the war, maintains her farm pending the arrival of his grandson currently mobilized", was also a witness of the apparition, and is quoted saying:

"I was in M. Fortin's field, busy curving the cabbages when my attention was drawn to this curious cloud, and I looked at him with astonishment all the while he was over us. It was half an hour in the shape of a carrot with a kind of hat above, and I saw a white smoke escape and draw pictures around it."

When the newspaper asks her if she noticed a white disk, she answers:

"- Maybe, but the trees were in the way because the "cloud" was just up to them."

And:

"- But was it a cloud, surely not, it was something else, but what? I saw it leave afterwards, lying in the direction of its length."

The newspaper said that Mrs. Pizou's daughter repeated her mother's testimony, to which one must add the statements of the laborer who worked with her, who also speaks of "cigar" and a smoke spiral.

Then, there was a Mr. Tissot, from La Lègerie, who is also very positive, and "the young Daniel Bornufart" (actually Daniel Bonifait), an electrician who was busy on a power line at La Gabelière.

The newspaper indicates that in Libaudière, La Godinière, La Lègerie, they herd the same story and "everywhere we hear about the "carrot" which "would obviously recall the appearances of "cigars" formerly reported."

The newspaper specified: "Once again we attest to the good faith of the witnesses, some of whom had not seen each other since Tuesday, and who had never dared to speak of their appearance for fear that they would be accused of bieng fanciful and jokers."

Parisian newspapers would then publish summaries of the case, and sketches of the "cloud" or "cigar", (visible below in this file).

In his 1958 book, ufologist Aimé Michel gave other information, firsts wrongly claiming that the case was still "totally unknown in 1958", except in the region where it took place, because "only a local newspaper spoke of it."

He then says that there have been hundreds of witnesses (the "only local newspaper" never said that) spread over half a dozen Vendée villages.

He explains that he learned about the case by a letter from one of his readers, and that an investigation took place (he does not say by who or when), which led to the following testimonies:

Georges Fortin, 34 at the time of the sighting, and who was a farmer at the location "La Gabelière" near de Saint-Prouant which is crossed by national road RN10, stated:

"It was about 5 p.m. I was working in the fields with my employee when suddenly, from the heavy cloudcast where a storm was menacing, we saw some sort of luminous cloudiness of a blue-purple color emerge, which regular shape were reminding of that of a cigar or a carrot. The phenomenon had literally popped out of the cloud layer in an horizontal position, slightly bent towards the ground, point down, (like a submarine going underwater)."

"This carrot-shaped "cloud" looked rigid. Each of its manoeuvers (which bore no relation to the clouds' own movements) was done in one operation, as if it really had been some sort of craft surrounded by vapors. It descended quite fast under the cloud layer down to an altitude which by comparison with the clouds, seemed for us to be of 400 à 500 mètres and a distance which seemed to us as less than one kilometer from us. It then stopped, while its point rose fast into the sky. When it reached the vertical position, it stopped."

"During this time, the dark clouds continued to move in the sky, vaguely enlightened from below by the purple luminosity of the phenomenon."

"It was an extraordinary display. We looked at it intensely. Everywhere in the countryside the other peasants too had dropped their tools and did what we did, the eyes turned towards the sky."

"Suddenly - we had contemplated the immense motionless thing for several minutes - from the lower end of the cloud, a white smoke exactly similar to a trail of condensation spouts out. It initially rushed towards the ground, as if it was produced by an invisible shuttle which would have fallen in free fall, then slows down gradually by starting a change to level flight and finally went up tracing an ascending spiral which enclosed the vertical object in spirals. While the back of the trail quickly dissolved in the air, carried by the wind, its point thinned and was more and more tenuous, like taring little by little in its source, without the object which released it in the air - and that we were still not distinguishing - lost speed, on the contrary. It then goes up whirling to the higher point of the vertical object, then started to go down again while whirling in the other direction. And at this point in time, the trail having completely melted, which we saw finally the object which "sowed it": it was a small metal disc shining like a mirror and which reflects by glare the light of the large vertical object in its fast movements."

"Deprived of its trail, the small disc ceased almost at once to turn around the luminous cloud and went down again towards the ground, but this time he was also moving away. During long minutes, we saw it fly above the valley at low altitude, moving at high speed here and there, sometimes accelerating, sometimes stopping for a few seconds, then setting out again. It thus crossed the area ranging between Saint-Prouant and Sigournais in all directions, the distant villages of approximately seven kilometers to flight of bird. Lastly, whereas it was within more than one kilometer of the vertical object, it finally accelerated once in its direction, this time at a vertiginous speed, and disappeared as a shooting star in the lower part of which it had come out. Maybe one minute afterwards, the "carrot" inclined while starting, accelerated, and disappeared far in the clouds, having resumed again its primitive horizontal position, point ahead."

"The whole had lasted approximately half an hour."

Aimé Michel notes that Mr. Fortin's worker, Louis Grellier, who was then 36, and was also from La Gabelière, was interviewed separately and gave an identical story, "specifying some details about the maneuvers of the disc."

He then gave the story of Mrs. widow Pizou, 67, inhabitant Saint-Prouant, who was working around 5 p.m. in a cabbage field about half a kilometer of Messrs. Fortin and Grellier:

"Around 05: P.M., my attention was drawn by the arrival of a curious cloud in the shape of a carrot which seemed to have detached from the clouds layer which fled quickly, carried by the wind. It arrived not far from us, point ahead, then levelled. It seemed to me that above the carrot another smaller cloud was forming which capped the first."

"At one time, a white smoke detached as if it was a wire, from the base of the vertical carrot and started to trace drawings around it. Then the trail moved away towards the valley, where what occurred then was hidden from me by the trees: I was told that a disc had come out of the trail, but I cannot say that I saw it, because of this curtain of greenery whose higher line, from the place where I was, arrived at about the base of the vertical cloud. Was this really a cloud? Certainly not in my opinion, for it remained motionless and always kept the same shape whereas the others clouds slipped above him at great pace towards the horizon."

"Lastly, as I had looked at it for approximately half an hour, it lay down and left quickly in the direction where it had been inclined."

Then Michel indicates that the story of Mrs. Pizou was entirely confirmed by her daughter and a worker who worked with her, as well for the cigar maneuvers, the complicated sketch, the duration and so on. He says that at the same time, in the streets and farm yards of Saint-Prouant, a dozen people including Mr. Pérocheau, Mr. Mercier, women working on domestic tasks, all saw the arrival of the "cloud", reclining, and its resuming of the upright position, the spurt out of the trail, the whirling of the trail, but all were prevented by trees and buildings to see what happened at low altitude in the valley: the appearance and the maneuvers of the disk.

On the other hand, he says that the peasants of the farms and hamlets of the valley, or those scattered between St. Prouant and Sigournais, all confirmed the story of the first mentioned witnesses, Mr. Fortin and Mr. Grellier. They saw the "cloud" arrive, some describing its inclination to the left and others to the right, depending on where they themselves were in relation to the "cloud".

Aimé Michel indicates that there was, in particular, Mr. "Daniel Bornufart" who was setting up a power line at 5 p.m. in La Gabelière, Mr. Tisot who was at La Lègerie with several other people who worked with him, and that there were a few hundred other witnesses, peasants at work in the hamlets of La Libaudière, Chassay, Coudrais, La Godiniere and so on.

Michel said the weather was low and saturated, and that "it has been told it would be a cyclone." He does not believe it since it would be surprising none of the Vendean peasants would never have seen cyclones or would have been unable to recognize them, taking a cyclone for a flying saucer, and that this cannot be the explanation because the meteorologists were formal: there was not a single cyclone in this region or elsewhere in France on September 14, 1954.

He commented: "We would have liked to know more cases of silent cyclones, immobile for half an hour, occurring under a uniform layer of cumulonimbus, standing horizontally and releasing small disks. These cyclones would be of great interest to meteorologists."

He refers to the explanation by collective hallucination, noting that such a thing would be of great interest to psychiatrists, as much as the cyclone would interest meteorologists, because such a hallucination would be "properly miraculous." He adds, "but the true skeptic feeds on miracles."

Elsewhere in his book and other writings, he would link this "cigar" to what he called the "big cloud-cigars", a type of UFO consisting of an object surrounded by a cloud or mist and dropping, like a "mothership", smaller objects that go "exploring" the surroundings.

In 1968, in the ufology journal Phénomène Spatiaux of the GEPA ufology group, an investigation report formatted by the editor and leader of GEPA René Fouéré appeared.

He reports that two GEPA investigators, Dominique Jay and Rev. Jean Métayer, who were in Vendée, heard about the case by first questioning Mr. Fortin. They wrote:

"We meet the witness on the road to La Gabellière, and he answers us with reluctance at first, and when he sees the GEPA id, he realizes that we did not come to make fun of him. He then tells us his observation, well present in his memory after more than ten years.

"Working in a field of beans at the end of the afternoon, under a cloudless sky, the witness had his attention attracted by a bizarre carrot cloud, white-yellow, which slowly descends from the sky, tilted at 45°, tip down, and stops at about fifty meters from the witness and at about 6 to 8 meters above the ground. The size of this cloud is compared to that of a power transformer station that the witness shows at the edge of the road (concrete building with a square base of 3 meters by 3 and 10 meters high approximately).

"During the descent, a kind of smoke escapes from the point and wraps around the cloud, in the direction of a corkscrew. After its immobilization, the cloud dissipates gradually and reveals a brilliant ball (or a disc which would have always shown the same side to the witness) of 35 to 40 cm of diameter. Then this ball performs a large number of fast and jerky maneuvers, consisting of a rectilinear path of a few hundred meters, followed by a stop and a new rectilinear path in another direction, moving from left to right as well as from bottom to top along a broken left line (1) Finally, the ball rises abruptly vertically and gets lost in altitude, it all lasted twenty minutes.

"The witness has a negative memory of the investigation at the time, led by a "tall, bad-tempered and uneasy" journalist who questioned him only superficially and seemed to know better than he did what he had seen. He is furious that they wanted to make him say things he did not see and that his words were distorted. Since then he has been questioned only once, by letter, by a journalist from La Rochelle. His observation is confirmed by others, but who were in very close places.

"Mr. Bonifait, an electrician, did not see the disc, but just the odd cloud, which he saw coming from a distance because he was working on a power line in height, that cloud made him believe in a sudden storm, but he was intrigued by the behavior of this cloud, quite unusual, He only observed it descent to the ground, after which the cloud disappeared from his eyes, hidden by trees."

"This observation of Saint-Prouant is not to be related to those of the type of large vertical cigar, according to the naming by Aimé Michel, but to those of similar little discs or "foo-fighters" (2).

René Fouéré commented that between the text quoted by Aimé Michel, a text of which the latter does not name the author, and the testimony of the witness collected by MM. Jay and Métayer, there are "undeniable similarities, but also serious disagreements." In one as in the other, the moving disk is described as small and the maneuvers that it performs agree appreciably. But according to the account proposed by Michel, the "cigar-cloud" remains present until the end - since the disk returns to lodge there by entering by the point from which it had left -, in the testimony of Mr. Fortin the cloud begins to dissipate as soon as it is immobilized, and does not reappear. It is the very dissipation of the cloud that reveals the disc, or the ball. As far as the "cigar-cloud" is concerned, the descriptions are therefore, except in the very first moments of the appearance of this cloud, completely incompatible: "If the cloud, supposed initially solid, has not mysteriously dematerialized, erased in some elusive dimension, one is inclined to believe that, without of any material consistency from the beginning, it was only a side effect of the hidden presence of the disc, a sort of conical aura that the disc had created around itself and which hid it from the sight of witnesses."

And: "It will be noted that in the testimony of Mr. Fortin reported by Messrs. Jay and Métayer, the "cigar-cloud" is, when it stops, much closer to the witness than in the text of Aimé Michel, who has a slight error regarding the name of the electrician, who is Daniel Bonifait and not Daniel Bornufart."

René Fouéré also notes Mr. Fortin's statement that "the journalist who came to interview him seemed to know better than him what he had seen!" René Fouré then writes very sensible remarks on the danger for investigators to be influenced by their own preconceptions, and the risk of being in the presence of witnesses who do not dare or do not know how to contradict the investigators who wrongly extrapolate.

From Daniel Bonnifait, we learn another observation he made later with his wife and daughter.

The article by GEPA made Aimé Michel react with a certain bad mood; he mistakenly believed that the GEPA insinuated that he was the tall and unpleasant journalist Mr. Fortin talked of. He more or less challenged the new testimony of Mr. Fortin by attributing the differences to the passing of 15 years, and therefore did not agree with the idea that the UFO of Saint-Prouant would not have been of his "cloud-cigar" type. But Michel would still give no indication about the author or the nature of the "investigation" he referred to in 1958.

Dominique Jay also responded to Aimé Michel's criticism; on that occasion he stated that Mr. Fortin was a man of the countryside with little vocabulary, and that the quotes in quotation marks in the mode of the "I" attributed to him in Michel's book cannot be real quotes cited verbatim.

Dominique Jay explains that the witness has a negative memory, not only of the uninviting journalist, but also of a person who wanted him to say that he had seen little beings on the disc. He repeated several times: "I only saw what I told you". In addition, he had been questioned 2 or 3 years before the visit of the two GEPA people by letter by a journalist from La Rochelle, and replied only six months later: "Obviously, writing a letter is very unusual for him."

In response to Aimé Michel's question "why did your collaborators only interview one of the witnesses named in my book?", Dominique Jay explains that he naturally tried to meet the other witnesses, but Ms. Pizou "is dead and her daughter is no longer there, Mr. Tissot is dead, and his son, who lives in his former farm, is not a witness to this affair, nor is the worker Grellier. We only found Daniel Bonifait, who was young at the time and remembers only the cloud, as stated in the report, but I must see his brother who is now in Reims and also saw the display."

The information collected by GEPA will be largely ignored and the version of Aimé Michel would continue to be republished, in short summaries most often.

In 1997, we will be treated to Jean Sider's commentary, in his own typical way. In this case, he says, "there was no abduction, at least in appearance."

Finally, in 2007, based on Aimé Michel's 1958 version, the Belgian "skeptical" ufologist Wim van Utrecht published an article explaining that it was a "funnel cloud", a tornado, "accompanied by a wired condensation trail and ball lightning."

Reports:

[Ref. lro1:] "LA RESISTANCE DE L'OUEST" NEWSPAPER:

After Les Sables...

Cigar and saucer appear
above Saint-Prouant
and Sigournais

Thirty people witnessed the fact

The fact goes back to last Tuesday, but such muteness was observed on both sides that it needed the indiscretion of a young workman so that the echo arrives from there to us.

But for strange that it is, it therefore is not isolated, since it relates to an appearance of flying saucer, or more exactly of "flying cigar" in the sky of Saint-Prouant and Sigournais. Moreover the event is confirmed by many witnesses that we questioned and whose good faith and sincerity cannot be doubted.

In La Gabelière de Saint-Prouant, Mr. George Fort, aged 34, makes the account of it for us:

- It was approximately 5 hours of the sun, I was there in this field, when suddenly, from the cloudy sky where the storm went up, I saw a curious cloud emerging, blue-purple, and which had the shape of a carrot, coming towards us the point slightly ahead.

- Was it indeed a cloud?

- It seemed to me and my servant to be like a cloud, but it appears rather than it was a machine surrounded by vapor or an artificial cloud. Arrived at approximately 4 to 500 meters of us, and an equal height, it took the vertical position and became motionless. We looked at the phenomenon intensely.

- And you were not afraid?

- Of what? Moreover curiosity drove us. And then it is only after that I realized the strangeness of the event.

"The cloud, or the apparatus was thus immobilized when suddenly, similar to the traces which a jet leaves, a white smoke was detached from the "tail" of the apparatus and is assembled in spirals, surrounding it of its orbs. The smoke arrived at the top returned down again, left in the other direction and it was at this time that a very shining disc, like a mirror, was detached and came while turning and while fluttering towards us, then to other places of the valley, before regaining the "apparatus" at a tremendous speed "quicker than a shooting star." The "carrot" then took an horizontal position, point ahead, and took again its course at an accelerated speed before disappearing from our sight. The whole was visible for half an hour approximately.

***

- Mr. Louis Grellier, aged 36, servant in La Gabellière, confirms in all aspects this account, adding also some details about the walk of the famous disc.

- At the nearby village, same statement by Mr. Mercier, Mr. Jean Perrocheau, aged 50, day laborer, several women who saw the "cloud" from the court of the farms, but could not see the "disc" because of the buildings.

Mrs. Pizou, widow, aged 67, astute farmer who after having lost her husband and her son with the war, maintains her farm while waiting for the arrival of her grandson currently in military duty, was also witness to the appearance.

- I was in the field close to Mr. Fortin, busy in "curving" the cabbages when my attention was drawn by this curious cloud. I looked at it with astonishment during all the time that it was above us, i.e. half an hour. It had the shape of a carrot with a kind of hat above. I saw a white smoke escaping and plotting drawings around it.

- Did you notice a white disc?

- Perhaps, but the trees obstructed me, because the "cloud" was right at their height.

- But was this really a cloud, surely not, it was something else, but what? I saw it leaving then, after having become horizontal.

There too, Mrs. Pizou's daughter repeats the statement of her mother, to which come to join the assertions of the day laborer who worked with her, and who also speaks about this "cigar" and of the spiral of smoke.

***

Mr. Tissot, of La Lègerie, is also very affirmative, like also young Daniel Bornufart [Daniel Bonifait], electrician who was busy with the assembly of a power line in La Gabelière.

In Libaudière, Godinière, Lègerie. Everywhere one gives us the same account and everywhere one speaks about a "carrot" which obviously points to the previous appearances of "cigars."

***

Once again we attest the good faith of the witnesses, of which some had not seen each other since Tuesday, and some had never dared to speak about their appearance for fear to be accused to be fantasists and jokers.

After The Fables [sic, Les Sables d'Olonne], and other places, will the Vendean sky become a place of predilection for the travels of cigar, saucer, and other celestial vehicles of which it is legitimate to wonder where the home port is?

[Ref. ppe1:] "PARIS-PRESSE" NEWSPAPER:

Scan.

SAUCERS AND CIGARS CLOG IN THE SKY

... and cause a traffic jam in England

Cigars, orange balls, green discs, phosphorescent globes: since Sunday, it's been a continuous parade of flying saucers of all models. You can see them everywhere: in the East, in the West, in Lorraine, in the Parisian suburbs, in England. Actress Michèle Morgan believes she saw two of them the other night above the Invalides.

Do they take off from Mars or do they come out fully armed with the imagination of spectators obsessed with tales of anticipation and the revelations of "skeptical" journalists? We still don't know. But we hesitate to qualify as jokers those who report these "apparitions" when among them are - this is the case near Châteauroux - two gendarmes in uniform and in the exercise of their functions.

The two gendarmes, MM. Courtaud and Peninon, were on patrol the other night in Montierchaume, when they saw a luminous machine immobilized in the sky, then two others of greenish color, at an altitude of about 1,500 meters.

A country keeper, M. Louis Moll, from Obersdorf [sic] (Moselle) also assures us that he saw Sunday in the sky "a weird thing" that arose near the village of Tromborn.

- The craft, he said, looked a bit like a small bus. It then took on the appearance of an orange ball.

It is also a phosphorescent ball, but red this times and followed by a luminous trail, that a butcher of Saint-Fargeau, Mr. Rabot, saw yesterday evening around 8 a.m. near Ponthierry, a few kilometers from Melun.

Mr. Rabot thought he was seeing things and fled to find his neighbor, Mr. Binet, who came out with his wife. Both saw the saucer like him, as it continued to move for a few minutes.

In the Hérault, it is a flying cigar "towing" a fiery red gobe, that three residents of Lodève saw the other evening.

It was also seen yesterday, in the Vendée, by about thirty people, in Sigournais and Saint-Prouant. It was purple blue and shaped like a carrot... "topped of a sort of disc".

An industrialist of Origny-en-Tiérache (Aisne), Mr. Chovel, said today that he also saw, the other night, an orange disc which moved a hundred meters above the trees, at a dizzying pace.

Traffic jam

There will soon be a cigars and saucers traffic jam in the sky. Meanwhile, traffic was interrupted yesterday for an hour in Blackpool (England) by onlookers who contemplated a "round white object" swaying in the sky... and which, according to the authorities of the nearby aerodrome, may just be a simple weather balloon.

[Ref. ppe2:] NEWSPAPER "PARIS-PRESSE":

Scan.

Cigar-carrot in Vendée

A "flying cigar" was seen yesterday in the Vendée sky by about thirty people from the villages of Sigournais and Saint-Prouant. Of a vaporous blue-purple color, the craft was shaped like a carrot with a sort of hat resembling a disc.

[Ref. fde1:] "FRANCE-DIMANCHE" NEWSPAPER:

Vendée

This is what Mr. Georges Fortin, a farm worker, saw on September 14 at 5 p.m., between the villages of Libaudières and La Gaudinière, the in Vendée. In (1), a cloud looking like a carrot emerged from the other clouds. In (2), a trail of white smoke jetted out from the base of the cloud, then a brilliant disc emerged, manoeuvered and re-entered the cloud, which (3) then rose up and disappeared. 30 other people saw this together with Mr. Fortin.

[Ref. fde2:] "FRANCE-DIMANCHE" NEWSPAPER:

This weekley newspaper published a series of third hand drawings of some of the different shapes of flying saucers allegedly reported in France in 1954:

La Gaudinière (Vendée)

Here an original saucer in the carrot shape. Likes to coat itself with clouds which seems to adhere readily to its walls. Receptacle of brilliant discs which evolve around it. Observed by Mr. F... inter alia.

[Ref. aml1:] AIME MICHEL:

Aimé Michel indicates that the Saint-Prouant case is still completely unnoticed in France, in 1958, except in the region where it happened, and that only one local newspaper wrote about it.

On September 14, in Saint-Prouant near the coast of the Atlantic ocean in Vendée, the phenomenon was observed in broad daylight by hundreds of witnesses spread across a half-dozen villages.

It was by one of his reader's letter that Aimé Michel learned the existence of the case, and that an investigation was lead, which gathered the following witnesses accounts:

Georges Fortin, aged 34 at the time of the sighting, and who was a farmer at the location "La Gabelière" near de Saint-Prouant which is crossed by national road RN10, stated:

"It was about 5 p.m. I was working in the fields with my employee when suddenly, from the heavy cloudcast where a storm was menacing, we saw some sort of luminous cloudiness of a blue-purple color emerge, which regular shape were reminding of that of a cigar or a carrot. The phenomenon had literally popped out of the cloud layer in an horizontal position, slightly bent towards the ground, point down, (like a submarine going underwater)."

"This carrot-shaped "cloud" looked rigid. Each of its manoeuvers (which bore no relation to the clouds' own movements) was done in one operation, as if it really had been some sort of craft surrounded by vapors. It descended quite fast under the cloud layer down to an altitude which by comparison with the clouds, seemend for us to be of 400 à 500 meters and a dictance which seemend to us as less than one kilometer from us. It then stopped, while its point rose fast into the sky. When it reached the vertical position, it stopped."

"During this time, the dark clouds continued to move in the sky, vaguely enlightened from below by the purple luminosity of the phenomenon."

"It was an extraordinary display. We looked at it intensely. Everywhere in the countryside the other peasants too had dropped their tools and did what we did, the eyes turned towards the sky."

"Suddenly - we had contemplated the immense motionless thing for several minutes - from the lower end of the cloud, a white smoke exactly similar to a trail of condensation spouts out. It initially rushed towards the ground, as if it was produced by an invisible shuttle which would have fallen in free fall, then slows down gradually by starting a change to level flight and finally went up tracing an ascending spiral which enclosed the vertical object in spirals. While the back of the trail quickly dissolved in the air, carried by the wind, its point thinned and was more and more tenuous, like taring little by little in its source, without the object which released it in the air - and that we were still not distinguishing - lost speed, on the contrary. It then goes up whirling to the higher point of the vertical object, then started to go down again while whirling in the other direction. And at this point in time, the trail having completely melted, which we saw finally the object which "sowed it": it was a small metal disc shining like a mirror and which reflects by glare the light of the large vertical object in its fast movements."

"Deprived of its trail, the small disc ceased almost at once to turn around the luminous cloud and went down again towards the ground, but this time he was also moving away. During long minutes, we saw it fly above the valley at low altitude, moving at high speed here and there, sometimes accelerating, sometimes stopping for a few seconds, then setting out again. It thus crossed the area ranging between Saint-Prouant and Sigournais in all directions, the distant villages of approximately seven kilometers to flight of bird. Lastly, whereas it was within more than one kilometer of the vertical object, it finally accelerated once in its direction, this time at a vertiginous speed, and disappeared as a shooting star in the lower part of which it had come out. Maybe one minute afterwards, the "carrot" inclined while starting, accelerated, and disappeared far in the clouds, having resumed again its primitive horizontal position, point ahead."

"The whole had lasted approximately half an hour."

Aimé Michel notes that Mr. Fortin's workman's name is Louis Grellier, who was 36 years old, and was also of La Gabelière. Michel indicates that he was interrogated separately and told an identical account, specifying additional details on the sudden changes of the disc.

Aimé Michel gives the account of the widow Mrs. Pizou, 67 years old and inhabitant of Saint-Prouant who worked at about 05:00 P.M. in a cabbage field approximately at half a kilometre away from Fortin and Grellier:

"Around 05: P.M., my attention was drawn by the arrival of a curious cloud in the shape of a carrot which seemed to have detached from the clouds layer which fled quickly, carried by the wind. It arrived not far from us, point ahead, then levelled. It seemed to me that above the carrot another smaller cloud was forming which capped the first."

"At one time, a white smoke detached as if it was a wire, from the base of the vertical carrot and started to trace drawings around it. Then the trail moved away towards the valley, where what occurred then was hidden from me by the trees: I was told that a disc had come out of the trail, but I cannot say that I saw it, because of this curtain of greenery whose higher line, from the place where I was, arrived at about the base of the vertical cloud. Was this really a cloud? Certainly not in my opinion, for it remained motionless and always kept the same shape whereas the others clouds slipped above him at great pace towards the horizon."

"Lastly, as I had looked at it for approximately half an hour, it lay down and left quickly in the direction where it had been inclined."

Aimé Michel indicates that the account by Mrs. Pizou was completely confirmed by her daughter and a workman who worked near them, including confirmation for the operations of the cigar, the complicated drawing, the duration and so on.

Aimé Michel indicates that at the same time, in the streets and the barnyards of Saint-Prouant, ten people among them Mr. Pérocheau, Mr. Mercier, women working with domestic tasks, all witnessed the arrival of the lying "cloud" lying and its change to the vertical, the gushing of the trail, the whirling course of the trail, but all were prevented by trees and buildings to see what occurred at low altitude in the valley, that is, the appearance and the operations of the disc.

Aimé Michel indicates that on the other hand, peasants of the farms and hamlets of the valley, or those dispersed between Saint-Prouant and Sigournais, all confirmed the account of the first witnesses he names, these being Mr. Mr. Fortin and Grellier. He indicates that they saw the "cloud" arriving, some describing its slope orientation towards the left and others indicating its slope towards the right, depending of their own position relative to the "cloud."

Among these witnesses, Aimé Michel cites the names of Mr. Daniel Bornufart [Bonifait?] who was working on a powerline at 5 hours in the afternoon at La Gabelière, Mr. Tisot who was in La Lègerie with several other people who were working with him. Michel indicates that other witnesses were a few hundreds of witnesses, peasants at work in the hamlets of Libaudière, Chassay, Coudrais, La Godinière and so on.

Michel indicates that the weather was of low pression and saturated.

Michel indicates that it has been put forthg that the phenomena was a cyclone.

He notes that as astonishing as that can be that none the Vendean peasants would never have seen cyclones or would have been unable to recognize them, mistaking it for a flying saucer, that cannot be the explanation because the meteorologists were formal: there was no cyclone at all in this area nor elsewhere in France on September 14, 1954.

He comments:

We would have appreciated to know of other cases of silent motionless cyclones during half an hour, occurring under a uniform layer of cumulonimbus, getting themselves in horizontal position and releasing small discs with metallic reflections. Such cyclones probably would fascinate meteorologists.

He discusses the explanation by collective hallucination, noting that such a thing would interest much the psychiatrists as much as the cyclone would interest meteorologists, because such an hallucination would be "positively miraculous." He adds, "but the true skeptic is fond of miracles."

[Ref. mcs1:] MICHEL CARROUGES:

Michel Carrouges indicates that in Saint-Prouant in the Vendée, ON September 14, 1954, in full day AT 05:00 p.m., according to Aimé Michel page 29, George Fortin, aged 34, farmer, worked in the fields with his workman Louis Grellier, aged 36.

The weather was very overcast and a storm threatened, when the two men suddenly see descending through the clouds of storm what Fortin described as "a kind of luminous cloud of a purple blue which regular forms evoked those of a cigar or a carrot", "a gigantic machine surrounded by vapors."

This object advanced inclined like a diving submarine, then stopped, changed its position to a vertical position. This "cigar" remained motionless like this during several minutes under the storm clouds. All of a sudden, something moved, which was "a white smoke exactly similar to a condensation trail" which came out of the lower end of the cigar, fell initially towards the ground, "as threaded an invisible shuttle which would have fallen in free fall", then became straight again and went back up in a spiral around the cigar while the back of the trail dissolved progressively. Once arrived at the top of the cigar, it again went down following a new spiral, but in opposite direction.

At this time, the condensation trail thinned more and more and finally what produced it was distinguished, described as follows by Fortin:

"The trail having completely melted, we finally saw the object which "sowed it": it was a small metal disc shining like a mirror and reflective by glares in its fast movements the light of the large object."

This small disc then moved away and flew on all sides above the surrounding countryside, between Saint-Prouant and Sigoumais, at a distance of approximately 7 km approximately, then returned "at a vertiginous pace" and disappeared "like a shooting star" in the lower part of the large cigar.

One minute later, the cigar changed position from vertical to an angle again, went up and was hidden in the clouds.

The author indicates that Fortin and Grellier were at 1 km of that thing, but that there were also Mr. Pizou, his daughter, and her workman, who were within 500 meters, in Saint-Prouant, and Mr. Pérocheau, Mr. Mercier, Mr. Tissot, and Mr. Bomufart, and others, which were dispersed in the neighbouring localities.

[Ref. jve5:] JACQUES VALLEE:

119 +000.96938 46.72800 14 09 1954 17 00 130 SIGOURNAY, ST PRT F 121744 C 030

[Ref. aml2:] AIME MICHEL:

1° The big cloud cigar. It has been described in the same terms dozens of times in all parts of the world, from Tasmania to U.S.A., and in France as elsewhere. Here are the testimonies of witnesses who observed the big cloud cigar on September 14, 1954, in the area of Saint-Prouant, a small village of 300 inhabitants in Vendée (7):

a) Mr. Georges Fortin, thirty-four years old (in 1954), farmer at the place called La Gabelière.

"It was around 5 p.m. I was working in the fields with my workman when suddenly, from the thick cloudy layer where the storm was threatening, came out of a kind of bright violet-blue cloud, whose regular shape evoked those of a cigar or a carrot. The phenomenon had literally emerged from the layer of clouds in a horizontal position, slightly tilted towards the ground, the point forward like a submerging submarine. The carrot-shaped light had a rigid appearance, and each of its maneuvers (which had nothing to do with the movement of the clouds themselves) operated as a block, as if it had actually been a gigantic machine surrounded by vapors, and it descended quite rapidly under the vault of clouds to an altitude which, in comparison with them, seemed to us 400 or 500 meters and, we thought, less than a kilometer from us. It stopped then, while its tip rose quickly towards the sky, having reached the vertical position, it stopped.

"... Suddenly, from the lower end of the cloud, emerged a white smoke exactly like a condensation trail, and it first tapped towards the ground, as if spun by an invisible shuttle that had fallen in free fall, then gradually slowed down by initiating a recovery and finally went up again by going around the vertical object in an ascending spiral which would surround it in its evolution. While the back of the trail dissolved rapidly in the air, carried away by the wind, its tip was softened and refined more and more, without the object that dropped it in the air that we still did not see lost speed, on the contrary, It went up again, spinning to the upper point of the vertical object, then began to go down again, spinning in the other direction, and then, the trail having completely melted, we finally saw the object that "sowed" it: it was a small shiny metallic disk shining like a mirror and flashing reflections in its rapid movements of the light of the large vertical object."

"Cleared of its trail, the little disk almost immediately stopped spinning around the cloud and descended to the ground, but this time by going away, for a long time we saw it flying over the valley."

"... It traveled in all directions the region between Saint-Prouant and Sigournais (villages about 7 kilometers distant from each other) as well as being more than a kilometer from the vertical object, it accelerated one last time in its direction, this time at a vertiginous speed, and disappeared like a shooting star into the lower part from which it had left. A minute later perhaps, the "carrot" tilted as it started, accelerated and disappeared into the clouds, having resumed its original horizontal position, the point forward, and it had lasted about half an hour..."

b) Alongside Mr. Fortin was his worker, Mr. Louis Grellier, thirty-six years old. Interrogated separately, he gave an identical story, specifying some details about the flutter of the disc.

c) Mrs. widow Pizou, sixty-seven years old, her daughter and a worker, who were half a kilometer away, behind a curtain of trees and higher up, describe the whole maneuver of arrival and departure, saw the twirls of the trail, but not the maneuvers of the object cleared of its trail, because at that time the lower point of the cloud was hidden by the curtain of trees. All the common parts of the report are in agreement.

d) A dozen people from Saint-Prouant, more distant still, gave the same description as Mrs. Pizou: the lower part of the object, at the time of its vertical parking, was hidden by trees and buildings.

e) On the other hand, the peasants of the farms and hamlets of the valley, or scattered in the fields between Saint-Prouant and Sigournais, all confirm the story of the first witnesses. Some saw the cigar arrive and bow to them, others to the right, others to the left, according to the places where they were. In all, there were several hundred witnesses at La Libaudière, Chassay, Coudrais, La Godiniere, etc...

Such is the big cloud cigar. It has, I said that, been described a great many times in identical terms and in all countries of the world. In France, it was seen during the wave of 1954 very near Paris: the night of August 22 to 23 in Vernon, and the evening of September 12, around 07:30 p.m., in broad daylight, by a crowd of witnesses in the south of Paris, at Saint-Chéron, at Arpajon, on national road 7, at Chailly-en-Bière, etc. The description is always the same. Outside of France, I could mention a host of cases. For example, Professor Hynek has a record of a case observed on April 11, 1964, in the United States. Among the witnesses, a former pilot of the U.S. Air Force who was able to observe with binoculars all the carousel described ten years earlier by Vendean peasants.

[Ref. obr1:] OTTO BINDER:

September 14, 1954, Vendee, France. A farmer and his hired hands looked up at a thick layer of what looked like storm clouds, to suddenly discern a patch of blue-violet luminous mist in the shape of a "cigar or carrot." The eyewitness account continues: "The luminous cloud appeared rigid... and its movements had no connection with the movement of the clouds themselves... as if it were actually some gigantic machine surrounded by mists. It came down... to an altitude which we thought was perhaps half a mile above us. Then it stopped, and the point rose quickly until the object was in a vertical position, where it became motionless."

[Ref. gep1:] GEPA - DOMINIQUE JAY ET LE R. P. METAYER:

WAS THE "CIGAR" OF SAINT-PROUANT
ONLY A CLOUD?

Retrospective Investigation and Recent Observation

by Dominique JAY and Rev. METAYER

While we still thought he was in Reims, our friend Dominique Jay - who, on the problem of the orthoteny, did with François Toulet some in-depth researches which we mentioned in the 12th issue of "Phénomènes Spatiaux" - we were surprised to receive a letter from La Rochelle informing us that he was now residing in Vendée and that he and another of our members, Father Métayer, had engaged in an investigation which had led them to Saint-Prouant, theater of an old observation and put them in the footsteps of a recent observation.

This investigation is of the greatest interest because it seems to call into question the almost "classic" interpretation of the Saint-Prouant incident.

This incident that occurred on September 13, 1954, in this locality located on the N 160 bis road, almost halfway between Chantonnay and Pouzauges, is well known. One can even say that in the U.S.A., in France and in England the books of Aimé Michel made it famous. The main object observed during this incident was considered by the author of "A Propos des Soucoupes Volantes" as one of the typical and striking illustrations of what he called "the great vertical cloud cigar", and which seems to be a gigantic "disc carrier", standing vertically when the flying disks escape or reintegrate and surrounding itself

- 26 -

in this position, of a cloud it would create and in which we could see, in agreement with the views of Jean Plantier, a "cumulus of descent".

However, according to the report sent to us by Dominique Jay and Abbot Métayer, the report at the bottom of which they have affixed their signatures and that they have written according to the words they have collected from the very mouth of one of the principal witnesses, Mr. Fortin, it now appears that the "cigar" of Saint-Prouant never existed, if one understands by "to exist" the fact of presenting a dense, solid and material nature. But, before any other comment, let's first hear Dominique Jay and Rev. Jean Métayer.

The case of Saint-Prouant, Vendée, September 13, 1954

"Testimony of Mr. Georges Fortin, farmer at "La Gabellière", near Saint-Prouant, Vendée.

"We meet the witness on the road to La Gabellière, and he answers us with reluctance at first, and when he sees the GEPA id, he realizes that we did not come to make fun of him. He then tells us his observation, well present in his memory after more than ten years.

"Working in a field of beans at the end of the afternoon, under a cloudless sky, the witness had his attention attracted by a bizarre carrot cloud, white-yellow, which slowly descends from the sky, tilted at 45°, tip down, and stops at about fifty meters from the witness and at about 6 to 8 meters above the ground. The size of this cloud is compared to that of a power transformer station that the witness shows at the edge of the road (concrete building with a square base of 3 meters by 3 and 10 meters high approximately).

"During the descent, a kind of smoke escapes from the point and wraps around the cloud, in the direction of a corkscrew. After its immobilization, the cloud dissipates gradually and reveals a brilliant ball (or a disc which would have always shown the same side to the witness) of 35 to 40 cm of diameter. Then this ball performs a large number of fast and jerky maneuvers, consisting of a rectilinear path of a few hundred meters, followed by a stop and a new rectilinear path in another direction, moving from left to right as well as from bottom to top along a broken left line (1) Finally, the ball rises abruptly vertically and gets lost in altitude, it all lasted twenty minutes.

"The witness has a negative memory of the investigation at the time, led by a "tall, bad-tempered and uneasy" journalist who questioned him only superficially and seemed to know better than he did what he had seen. He is furious that they wanted to make him say things he did not see and that his words were distorted. Since then he has been questioned only once, by letter, by a journalist from La Rochelle. His observation is confirmed by others, but who were in very close places.

"Mr. Bonifait, an electrician, did not see the disc, but just the odd cloud, which he saw coming from a distance because he was working on a power line in height, that cloud made him believe in a sudden storm, but he was intrigued by the behavior of this cloud, quite unusual, He only observed it descent to the ground, after which the cloud disappeared from his eyes, hidden by trees."

"This observation of Saint-Prouant is not to be related to those of the type of large vertical cigar, according to the naming by Aimé Michel, but to those of similar little discs or "foo-fighters" (2).


Between the text quoted by Aimé Michel ("A Propos des Soucoupes Volantes", pages 32 to 34), text of which he does not name the author, and the testimony of the witness collected by MM. Jay and Métayer, there are undeniable similarities, but also serious disagreements. In both of them, the moving disk is described as small and the maneuvers that are given to it agree appreciably. But whereas, according to the account proposed by Michel, the "cloud cigar" remains present until the end - since the disc returns to lodge there by entering by the point of which it had left -, in the statement of Mr. Fortin, the cloud begins to dissipate as soon as it stops, and does not reappear. It is the very dissipation of the cloud that reveals the disk, or the

ball. Regarding the "cloud-cigar", the descriptions of them are, except in the very first moments of the appearance of this cloud, totally incompatible. If the cloud, initially supposed solid, has not been mysteriously dematerialized, erased into some elusive dimension, one is inclined to believe that, devoid of any material consistency from the beginning, it was only a side effect of the hidden presence of the disc, a kind of conical aura that this disc had created around itself and that hid it from the sight of witnesses.

It will be noted that in the testimony of Mr. Fortin reported by MM. Jay and Métayer, the "cloud-cigar" is, when it stops, much closer to the witness than in the text of Aimé Michel, which includes a slight error regarding the name of the electrician, which is Daniel Bonifait and not Daniel Bornufart.

We will not fail to remember Mr. Fortin's statement that the journalist who came to interview him seemed to know better than him what he had seen! It is the danger which, to some degree, is awaiting all investigators: that of approaching the witnesses with, in the mind, an intellectual scheme, a prefiguration of what is expected to be discovered. And, if their interlocutors are simple men, having only a vocabulary too limited to be able to make all the details of their observations known, the investigators will always be able to solicit somewhat, in the sense of their prior images, the testimonies which will be offered to them. They will fill with their own a priori deductions the inevitable gaps in the description that will be made to them. Their readers themselves will find in the reports published by these investigators a pleasant coherence which they would not have discovered in the direct words of the witnesses, but truths will be lost from it, and even be distorted. Especially since, confident in their logical constructions, the said investigators will, before the witness, often bewildered by a vision totally unusual for him, if not disturbing, an insurance that will intimidate and impose on him. He will not dare to correct them as much as he should when they venture to make extrapolations which are not justified, to give to his words prolongations leading to nothing that he is able to confirm, or to refute, even by appealing to the best of one's memories. Being a research in which human testimony plays such a large role and where the subject matter is so unusual, the task of the investigator is one of the most difficult. It imposes constant discipline and lucidity.

But the investigation led by Dominique Jay and RP Métayer was to bring them to meet a second witness of the 1954 incident, the electrician Daniel Bonifait, and the latter surprised them when he talked to them about a new and recent unusual observation. Here is the report, duly signed, that they sent us on this subject.

Simon-la-Vineuse, July 24, 1967, between 10 p.m. and 10.30 p.m.

"Observation of Mr. Daniel Bonifait, electrician in Mouchamps, Vendée, with his wife and daughter".

"We meet the witness at his home to question him about the Saint-Prouant affair, he receives us coldly, but seemed very relieved to learn about GEPA, and confesses that he did not know who to turn to for a more recent observation that has left a deep impression on him and his wife and daughter whom he brings in so that we interrogate them.

"On July 24, 1967, Mr. and Mrs. Bonifait and their daughter drove on the road between Mareuil and Ste Hermine, returning from friends' houses where they did not drink alcohol (1). Between 10:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., and there are no clouds. Miss Bonifait gives a shout that catches the attention of others, and all see a huge red disk, the size of a building, which seems to fall on the road 200 or 300 meters in front of the car. Mrs. and Miss Bonifait notice black shapes on this sparkling red disc, which does not dazzle, Miss Bonifait faints and Mrs. Bonifait begins to scream in fear. Mr. Bonifait tells us that they might have stopped to see more of it if there had been another man with him but that, in the circumstances he was in, he was also scared and quickly turned around. During time, the disk was half hidden by a fold of the terrain, as shown by a sketch drawn by the witness.

Moving away from the place, the witness frequently looks in his rearview mirror and sees the forest like illuminated by flames, different from those of a fire (the witness is a fireman in his village). The witness then notices that the moon is clearly visible on his right, in another direction. The family then returns to their home by another road. They have not spoken to anyone about it, for fear of ridicule, and are visibly relieved to have testified and to know that our organization is interested in such observations.

"Mr. Bonifait seems to us to be a perfectly balanced man who, because of his job, possesses some technical knowledge. The family leaves us with the impression of perfect good faith. All are anxious to know what they saw that day."

The visible falling motion of the object and the fact that the moon was seen by the witness in a different direction absolutely preclude the view that the observed object could be our satellite, even if deformed by all the arsenal of unusual refractions that Dr. Menzel uses to identify at all costs all that is presented to him. On the other hand, Dr. McDonald would agree with us that the gigantic size of the sparkling disc - a size attested to somehow by the fear that seized Miss Bonifait, who fainted; Mrs. Bonifait, who shouted, and even the driver himself - does not allow to see, especially in such a low atmosphere, one of these manifestations of the ball lightning that Philip Klass invokes, often abusively. Not only the size of the disc, but also the "black and dark shapes" seen on its surface, oppose this identification.

Mr. Bonifait's remarks show how much the discredit officially cast on such phenomena puts a gag on the mouths of witnesses and subtracts valuable information from our knowledge, leaving us with a truncated view of what is happening on our planet. Damage that could be serious is caused.

Needless to say, we fully trust the investigators, one of whom is a mathematician of our friends and the other a clergyman. We tell them all our gratitude for their letter.

[Ref. gep2:] GEPA - RENE FOUERE, AIME MICHEL DOMINIQUE:

A LETTER FROM AIME MICHEL
ABOUT SAINT-PROUANT

by René FOUERE

We received from Aimé Michel the following letter: (23-1-69.)

"My dear Fouéré,

"When you are as sensitive to criticism as you are, you have to be very objective and avoid any provocation, and in particular you have to refrain from brushing as you do a portrait of a dishonest or obsessed investigator whose name we do not know, but for whom we see that the only name proposed is that of Aimé Michel, I do not like half-tints of innuendo, if you have something clear to say, do it, and then we'll see.

"Meanwhile, and as I am implicated in this article (1), I ask you to publish the following answer:

"Your article on Saint-Prouant inspires me some thoughts:

"1) On the "clouds-cigar", it seems that you confuse Aimé Michel with Georges Adamski. I never said it was a "gigantic discs carriers" presenting a "dense, solid and material nature." Where did you read that? I refer you to my definition (MOC, 354: A Propos des SV, 254): "A phenomenon of nebulous appearance, large, elongated, luminous at night, vertical at a standstill, tilting at the start, remaining tilted during movement, sometimes emitting or "absorbing" one or more objects (...)"

"If you had re-read this text, before writing your own, you would have noticed the distinction between "phenomenon" and "object", this last word being reserved for other saucer manifestations presenting a "solid and hardware nature".

"The cigar of clouds is the nebulous phenomenon that accompanies the appearance on the spot and the disappearance of the material objects, the definition I gave of it formerly describes its maximum manifestation, that is to say developing all its sub-phenomena. Therefore the classification of Vallée foresees several subclasses (II A, B, C), according to the observed sub-phenomena (Phen. Insol. de l'Espace, p 286, etc.) Eleven years after my book, I have only one modification to make to my definition: "vertical or not at a standstill." Oblique immobility has indeed been observed since.

"2) It seems, rading you, that I've been the only one to describe this type of phenomenon, did you not read either Vallée or McDonald" (Bloecher and McDonald: Report of the 1947 UFO wave, introduction, page IX, last paragraph). I was only the first.

"3) The counter-investigation fifteen years later may be interesting, but the experienced investigator is careful not to rush to any conclusions that would have resolved the problem of knowing, in case of variation of the witnesses after a 15-year interval, if and when they say true, it's an elementary precaution that is part of the basics of the investigator's job. You will be surprised, in 15 years, to discover what the witnesses interviewed by you are saying now, ot to learn what, sometimes, they already said.

"4) The witness is our most precious asset, he is also the most delicate to use, by definition, he is statistically a man of some kind, with his weaknesses, we must be attentive to everything he says, note it carefully, and not to believe a word: the fact that Mr. Fortin remembers only a "tall, unpleasant and ill-tempered reporter" and the questionnaire of another journalist of La Rochelle should have remembered your methodical doubt must be aimed at the investigator himself as well as to the witness:

"Mr. X ... said Mr. Y .. told him".

"5) Why did your collaborators interview only one of the witnesses in my book?

"6) In any case, the differences between the two testimonies at 15 years away does not change the classification of the Saint-Prouant case: it is a II B of the Vallée classification. As of the foo-fighters, nocturnal phenomena, they were not associated with a nebulous phenomenon."

"I ask you to publish this update in your next Bulletin.

"Please believe my best feelings"

"A.M."

"(End of quote)

We admit that reading this letter left us speechless and sorry. Aimé Michel lends us derogatory intentions that have never been ours. We do not have any taste for innuendo, let alone that of

our correspondent lends and that would be, on reflection, absurd.

How could we indeed have thought and, moreover, suggested - in a magazine read by a number of his friends or people who personally approached him - that he could be this "journalist" described as "tall, unpleasant and ill-tempered" by Mr. Fortin? Who could recognize Aimé Michel in such a portrait?

It is precisely because we did not think for a moment that he could be this journalist that we did not expressly say it! What Aimé Michel has the right to reproach this to us. For those who have not seen him cannot know that his physical appearance does not match the description of the witness. We should have specified this, and since Aimé Michel was able to suspect us of deliberately letting a doubt slip away, we preferred to quote his entire letter and to dispel any ambiguity, in the event that others might have made this mistake of interpretation.

In writing our article, we did not have the presence of mind, and we regret it, to advise us that what was obvious to us might not be obvious for others. We have fallen into an ordinary psychological illusion, but we have sinned only by omission and have never had the treacherous intentions Aimé Michel lends us so unpleasantly.

We also said that Michel did not mention the name of the investigating journalist - and this could, unbeknownst to us, accentuate the ambiguity, but who would be surprised that after having read the account of Mr. Fortin's remarks, we tried to discover in "Mystérieux Objets Célestes" the name of this journalist? At the very moment of conducting this research, and not doubting the sincerity of Mr. Fortin, we even thought that Aimé Michel must have been abused by the clumsy investigation of this journalist and that it was a shame. Having found no name in the book, we simply reported this gap. Period, that's all.

Let us say here that frankly, we do not think we need lessons, and those who have followed from year to year our articles will grant us that, in this magazine, we have awarded Aimé Michel much more with praise than criticism, especially critics aiming, not at this or that of his ideas, but at his person.

We may be sensitive to criticism, but it seems that our correspondent himself has read our text with some irritated haste, because he has made interpretations that a careful and impartial reading of this text does not seem to justify.

We have undoubtedly written that it was Aimé Michel who called "vertical cigar of clouds" a certain type of unusual object which, we said textually, "seems to be a gigantic disc carrier". But we did not say "who seems to be for him". Reading our text carefully, one is not entitled to say that we have formally lent this opinion - moreover by no means categorical, as evidenced by the use of the verb "seems" - to Aimé Michel. He cannot, strictly speaking, accuse us of having wished to confuse him with Adamski. As if Adamski had been the only one to formulate this hypothesis!

On the question of whether the famous "cloud-cigar" is made or not of dense matter, Michel seems to have himself questioned this since, in his book "A Propos des Soucoupes Volantes", he writes, on page 36: "What can these clouds around (or forming) the cigar mean?".

Anyway, in the offending text, it is our view of the "cloud-cigars" that we cautiously expressed, and it seemed to us, rightly or wrongly, to be a plausible and natural interpretation of reported facts, an interpretation which we do not intend to forbid ourselves on the pretext that Adamski himself presented it as a fact. To impose such a restriction on our thought seems naive to us: an idea is worth what it is worth, whatever the use that others could make of it.

In Vernon, Mr. Bernard Miserey ("A Propos des Soucoupes Volantes" page 30) sees five discs coming out of a luminous cigar (1) that Michel assimilates to the cigars of Gaillac and Oloron - for which, without objection on his part as we know, Plantier envisages a solid structure (2), Saint-Prouant (32) and Ponthierry-Fontainebleau (82). However, during her observation of Fontainebleau, Ms. Gamundi sees, like Mr. Miserey in Vernon, smaller luminous objects coming out of the main object.

Faced with these facts, and other similar ones, is it not natural to wonder, without

supporting Adamski, if these nebulous phenomena with relatively stable contours would enclose structures in which saucers are housed or stored? Especially if the "visitors" of our planet come from far away, one can imagine without excessive anthropomorphism, that large craft carrying out the travel could contain smaller local exploration craft.

Let's add that we do not understand why Aimé Michel refers us to other authors about the cloud-cigar. We have never denied the existence of this object, we limited ourselves, after reading the report of the investigation of MM. Jay and Métayer, to think, like these investigators, that in the particular case of Saint-Prouant, the object observed did not appear to be such a cigar. On the other hand, if we said that Aimé Michel had baptized the phenomenon, we did not claim that he was the only one to report it.

We also note that our comments about the interviewer who came to interview Mr. Fortin far exceeded his particular case. We have spoken, it seems to us rightly, of a very serious danger, which we have said that to some degree, "all the investigators" are facing. We did not intend to exclude in any way the number of potential victims, and we think we have highlighted in our commentary a number of points that all investigators should pay the most attention to.

We were also concerned about defending witnesses. From this point of view - and whatever may be our admiration for Aimé Michel, the praise we can make of his eminent contribution to the position and global study of the problem of flying saucers - we must say that the terms used by the author of "A propos des soucoupes volantes" about the witnesses, somewhat personally shocked us.

For our part, we would not like to write: "The witness is our most precious asset, it is also the most delicate to use". Such language seems to us regrettable and somewhat inhuman. In our eyes, the witness is not a "good" that would be given to us and that we would have to "use". He is primarily a human with whom we strive to build human relationships, not a machine to detect and describe flying saucers, an instrument of our research that would be devoid of intimate reality and self-awareness.

Receiving no salary for our work and seeking no advertising resources from the journal we publish, we believe that we cannot deny ourselves the right to say what, sincerely and honestly, we think. And, even without putting any mischief, we can, on such or such point, disagree with the views of a friend. But can we force others to see exactly the world as we do, and what friendship would resist such an enterprise?

We are conducting an investigation with all those inside and outside of the G.E.P.A., who have the same concern for the truth as we do. We do not seek to give ourselves a privileged role, to make us the master of thinking of whoever, but to perform as accurately as possible the task entrusted to us. We do what we can, with our merits and demerits.

We seek a truth that is difficult to access and we do not claim any infallibility or exclusivity. We propose, but we do not impose on anyone an interpretation of the content of this or that sighting report and, conversely, we refuse to adopt systematically, to accept blindly, as a truth of faith, the divergent interpretation that the other would give to the same facts. Cooperation is not abdication.

We believe that in such a new and disconcerting subject, classification criteria can be difficult and uneasy to apply, often uncertain, and that it is careful to keep our assessments open and provisional.

[Photo caption:] (Reproduction of the illustration published in "France-Dimanche", #5 of Sep. 11. 1954)

We communicated the letter of Aimé Michel to our friend Dominique Jay and we received from him an answer which is essentially:

La Rochelle, January 31, 1969.

Dear friend,

Thank you for giving me the letter of Aimé Michel. I admit that I am very surprised by his reaction and his interpretation of our report.

You know how much admiration I have for Aimé Michel, whose books were my first serious reading on the flying saucers topic. Subsequently, I worked on orthotenia, which he was the first to discover, which I personally checked and tried to interpret by probabilities with the help of François Toulet.

It was not my idea to denigrate in any manner Aimé Michel whom, I admit, I did not recognize either in this "tall, unpleasant and ill-tempered" journalist... These were the exact words of Mr. Fortin.

Back to this investigation: Mr. Fortin is a simple man, a farmer, whose vocabulary is very limited. My investigation report is a formatting of the notes I took while he was talking to me, you realized it.

The exact words are quoted in quotation marks, and unfortunately there is only the previous sentence...

To re-read the book "MOC", page 32 and following of the new edition, where we find "But let's hear a few witnesses talk" and where the following paragraphs are devoted to the story of Mr. Fortin, one could believe that it is the very words of the witness that are quoted, by the use of the "I" that is made there. However, Mr. Fortin could not have expressed himself like this: there are too many words whose meaning he does not know ("ascending spiral that encloses it in his orbs") and a construction of sentences that cannot be his own. Just talking to him makes it obvious.

Before the investigation, I had thoroughly re-read the passage in question, and I did not fail to make him specify to me all the differences that I noticed: the distance between the witness and the "carrot", the size of the disc (poorly specified in the book), the disappearance of the cloud that dissipates like a smoke and reveals the disc, the jerky movements of the disc, its rapid departure at altitude.

Again, the witness has a negative memory, not only of the journalist, but also of a person who wanted him to say that he had seen little beings on the disc... He told us again several times: "I only saw what I told you."

He was questioned 2 or 3 years ago by a letter by a journalist from La Rochelle, and only answered six months later. Obviously, writing a letter is very unusual for him.

You certainly guess that we did look for the other witnesses. Mrs. Pizou is dead and her daughter is no longer there. Mr. Tissot is dead and his son, who lives in his former farm, is not a witness to this case. Worker Grellier is no longer there, we only found Daniel Bonifait. He was young at the time and remembers only the cloud, as stated in the report. However, I have to see his brother who is now Reims and saw the display too.

My conclusions seem fair to the extent of what I learned from the witness. The phenomenon of Saint-Prouant is not related to the large vertical cigar, following the name of Aimé Michel, since it dissipates under the eyes of the witness. I compared it to foofighters for size.

I know that stories can vary fifteen years apart. I believe I have honestly reported the words of Mr. Fortin, in the presence of Father Metayer, to whom I have shown your letters and countersigns mine.


We sincerely thank our friend Dominique Jay for his letter, which is indeed countersigned by Father Métayer.

Dominique Jay gives a reason why, in his opinion, the object observed at Saint-Prouant would not be classified in the category of cloud cigars. The witness compared the size of the Saint-Prouant cloud to that of a power transformer station. Measuring some 10 m in height, one can, assuming this correct estimate, also wonder if, in the circumstances, one can speak of an object "of vast dimensions". We will be careful to avoid any definitive conclusion!

We could say, transposing an old proverb: "To something, misunderstanding is good". And this one will have given to our readers the opportunity to obtain, from Aimé Michel's own pen - to which we remain indebted to the favorable appreciations that he has kindly brought in public or in private about our group - a exposé of his most recent views on the cloud-cigar.

[Ref. jve1:] JACQUES VALLEE:

Jacques Vallée indicates that on September 14, 1954, the phenomenon that started with the sighting by Mr. Miserey in Vernon reoccurred in broad daylight and was observed by hundreds of witnesses in a half-dozen villages 250 miles southwest of Paris, and that only one newspaper mentioned it. It was investigated only by chance, because the story came to Aimé Michel's attention.

Vallée indicates that the witnesses were mostly farmers and a few priests and schoolteachers, and provides the same statement of one witness that Aimé Michel provided in his book.

It was about five in the afternoon. Emerging from the thick layer that looked like a storm coming up, we saw a sort of luminous blue violet mist, of a regular shape something like a cigar or a carrot.

Actually, the object came out of the layer of clouds in an almost horizontal position, slightly tilted toward the ground and pointing forward, like a submerging submarine.

This luminous cloud appeared rigid. Whenever it moved, its movements had no connection with the movement of the clouds, and it moved all of a piece, as if it were actually some gigantic ma-chine surrounded by mist. It came down rather fast from the ceiling of clouds to an altitude which we thought was perhaps a half-mile above us. Then it stopped, and the point rose quickly until the object was in a vertical position, where it became motionless.

During this time the dark clouds went on scudding across the sky, dimly lighted from underneath by the violet luminosity of the object. It was an extraordinary sight, and we watched it intently. All over the countryside other farmers had also dropped their tools and were staring up at the sky like us.

All at once white smoke exactly like a vapor trail came from the lower end of the cloud. At first it pointed to the ground but finally rose up to describe around the vertical object an ascending spiral. While the rear of the trail was dissolving in the air and being carried off by the wind, the source of the trail went up to the very top of the vertical object and then started to come down again, turning in the other direction. Only then, after the smoke trail had vanished entirely, could we see the object that was sowing it - a little metallic disk, reflecting in its rapid movements Rashes of light from the huge vertical object. The little disk then stopped turning around the luminous cloud and went down toward the ground again, this time moving away. For quite a few minutes we could see it flying low over the valley, darting here and there at great speed, sometimes speeding up, then stopping for a few seconds, then going on again, flying in every direction between villages that were four miles apart. Finally, when it was almost a mile from the vertical object it made a final dash toward it at headlong speed and disappeared like a shooting star into the lower part, where it had first come out. Perhaps a minute later the carrot leaned over as it began to move, accelerated and disappeared into the clouds in the distance. The whole thing lasted about half an hour.

The source of this report is given as Aimé Michel's book in English and French version.

[Ref. psx1:] "PHENOMENES SPATIAUX" MAGAZINE:

The Saint-Prouant case, Vendée,
on September 13, 1954

Testimony by M. Georges Fortin, farmer at "La Gabellière", at Saint-Prouant, Vendée.

We meet the witness on the road of Gabellière, and he initially answers us with a certain reserve. At the sight of our G.E.P.A. membership card, he realizes that we did not come to turn ridicule him. He then tells us of his observation, quite vivid in his memory after more than ten years.

Working in a bean field, at the end of the afternoon, under a not very cloudy sky, the witnesses has his attention drawn by an odd cloud in the shape of a carrot, white-yellow, which goes down slowly from the sky, tilted with 45°, pointed to the bottom, and which stops at about fifty meters of the witness and at approximately 6 or 8 meters above the ground. The size of this cloud is compared with that of a powerhouse of EDF [state power co.] which the witness shows at the edge of the road (a concrete building of 3 by 3 meters square base of 10 meters height roughly).

During the descent, some kind of smoke escapes and is rolled up while going up around the cloud, in the manner of a corkscrew. After its immobilization, the cloud is dissipated little by little and it lets a brilliant ball appear (or a disc which would have always shown the same side towards the witness) from 35 to 40 cm in diameter. Then this ball carries out a impressing number of fast and jerked operations, consistent in a rectilinear way in another direction, movement going as well from the left to the right as upwards, following a non-flat broken line (1). Lastly, the ball goes up abruptly to the vertical and is lost in the altitude. The whole thing lasted twenty minutes.

The witness has a negative memory of the investigation of the time, carried out by a journalist "tall, rude and unfriendly," whom questioned him only superficially and seemed to know better than him what he had seen. He is furious that one wanted to make him say things which he did not see, and that his statements were altered. Since, then, he has been interviewed only once, by letter, from a journalist of La Rochelle. His sighting is confirmed by other people, who were in very nearby places.

Mr. Bonifait, electrician, did not see the disc, but only the odd cloud, which he saw coming by far as he was working on the top of a power pole. This cloud made him believe a sudden storm [sic], but he had been intrigued by the behavior of this cloud, completely unusual. He only witnessed its descent towards the ground, after what the cloud disappeared from his sight, hidden by trees.

This observation of Saint-Prouant is thus not to be attached to those of the type of the large vertical cigar, as in Aimé Michel's denomination, but to that of small similar discs or to the "foo fighters" (2).

(1) Geometrically, a non-flat figure is a figure of which all the points are not contained in the same plane, i.e. nonplane (note by the editors)

(2) Let us recall that the "foo-fighters" or "ghost fighters" or "Kraut fireballs" were small luminous objects of spherical or discoid shape whose disconcerting manoeuvres were reported by pilots of the two sides towards the end of the second world war (see "les phénomènes insolites de l'espace", pp. 147 to 149) - note by the editors

[Ref. afr1:] ALAIN FAVROU AND RENE ROBERT:

[... Other cases...]

... that of the great "cigar of Saint-Prouhant" observed on September 14, 1954 by Mr. Fortin at La Gadebillière, 3 km in straight line from Saint-Prouhant.

[... Other cases...]

[Ref. ldl1:] "LUMIERES DANS LA NUIT" UFOLOGY MAGAZINE:

[... Other cases...]

Messrs. Favrou and Robert are perfectly right to mention the observation of the cigar of Saint-Prouhant which is pointed out in particular in "Ouest-France" for September 22, 1954, in the sky of Saint-Prouhant and ... Montsireigne. Another, without reference other than Mr. Samson, is reported ten days later, September 24, 1954 in Sigournais (7 km), [...]

[... Other cases...]

[Ref. jgd1:] JEAN GIRAUD:

Jean Giraud indicates that the "cloud cigar" is one of the most interesting elements of the "flying saucers" phenomenon and that it was observed inter alia in Saint Prouant on September 14, 1954.

He indicates that around 5 p.m., dozens of witnesses had been able to observe a luminous cloud in the shape of a carrot which emerged below the layer of clouds in horizontal position, slightly tilted downwards.

This blue-purple luminous cloud had a rigid aspect. It descended quickly towards the ground and stopped when its point rose towards the sky. When it reached the vertical position, it immobilized.

The source is given as "A. Michel".

[Ref. mcs2:] "MICHEL CARROUGES":

Michel Carrouges recalls that in Saint-Prouant, in 1954, there was a very striking case because the relationship between the two elements, "balls" and "pipe" appears clearly: the witnesses saw a single small disk come out from the bottom end of the cigar, go capriciously 7 kms away and return to its starting point to enter the cigar by the same lower end.

[Ref. bbr1:] GERARD BARTHEL AND JACQUES BRUCKER:

In their 1979 book "La Grande Peur Martienne" ("The Great Martian Scare"), these two ufologists who became "skeptical" defend the idea that there is not a single case in France in 1954 which, after their investigations, would not be an invention or a misinterpretation. At the end of their book, they published a list of witnesses they thanked. There is "Mr. Georges Fortin" here. There is, however, not a word of what he would have testified to them in their book.

[Ref. ldl2:] MAGAZINE D'UFOLOGIE "LUMIERES DANS LA NUIT":

The magazine notes that the "skeptical" ufologists Gérard Barthel and Jacques Brucker, who claimed to have found no interesting testimony for the 1954 wave in France, had published at the end of their book a list of witnesses they thank, but do not speak at all about them in their book, while they are witnesses who confirmed their observations. In this list appeared the name of Georges Fortin, the case of Saint-Prouant.

[Ref. lhh1:] LARRY HATCH - "*U* COMPUTER DATABASE":

3772: 1954/09/14 17:00 30 0:58:00 W 46:43:40 N 3333 WEU FRN VND 7:A

nr St.PROUANT,FR:30+OBS:CARROT-CLOUDS SPEW WHT SMOKE:DISK >> OUT+BACK:/r138#8

Ref#193 PHENOMENA SPATIAUX Quarterly, Paris Issue No. 18 : PASTURE

[Ref. lgs1] LOREN GROSS:

The French newspaper France Dimanche published brief accounts of various UFO sightings accompanied by drawings in its October 10, 1954 issue. These were included in the monograph UFOs. A History 1954 September, pages 31-33. Translations by "ADNf' of the French text exist in NICAP files and are provided here for the reader's perusal. (See below)

No. 1 Vendee.

This is what M. Georges Fortin, a farm worker, saw on September 14th at 5 p.m., between the villages of de Libaudieres and de La Gaudiaiere, in Vendee. (1.) A carrot-shaped 'cloud' emerged from other clouds. (2.) A trail of white smoke jetted out from the base of the cloud, then a brilliant disc emerged, and reentered the cloud, which (3.) then rose up and disappeared. 30 other people saw this together with M. Fortin.

[... Other cases...]

These French cases can be found on page 75 of the monograph UFOs: A History 1954 September. Translations of the French text were also done by NICAP's "ADM." [Alexandre Mebane]

[Ref. goe1:] GODELIEVE VAN OVERMEIRE:

The Belgian ufologist indicates that in 1954, on September 14, in France in Saint Prouant in the Vendée, "Around 17 hours George Fortin worked in the fields when from the thick vapor cloud came out a luminous purple blue cloud whose regular forms evoked those of a cigar or a carrot. This form had a rigid aspect and its movements took place in block: like a gigantic machine surrounded by vapors, at 400 or 500 m of altitude. Everywhere in the countryside the other peasants had to drop their tools to look at it. Suddenly, the thing had been motionless for several minutes, a lower white smoke spouts out of the end which pricked initially towards the ground, as in free fall, then slows down gradually by starting to get level to follow an ascending spiral around the phenomenon. After other operations a small shining metal disc appeared which reflected like a mirror the glares of the large object (...) total duration: more than one half an hour. Other witnesses: Louis Grellier, Mrs. Vve Pizou, Misters Pérochau, Draper and their wives, Daniel Bonifait (follow-up on 24-7-67: Simon la Vineuse) etc."

The sources are indicated as "Aimé Michel: 'M.O.C.' Seghers pub., p. 33 à 35" and "Aimé MICHEL: 'Apropos des Soucoupes Volantes', PLANETE pub., 1966, p. 29."

[Ref. htr1:] HERBERT S. TAYLOR:

CLOUD CIGARS IN THE 1954 FRENCH WAVE

[...]

Another cloud-cigar event of considerable importance occurred in the late afternoon of September 14 near Saint-Prouant (now Talmont-Saint-Hilaire in Vendée Department) on the Atlantic coast, about 250 miles southwest of Paris. Due to the rather lengthy nature of the account, I will mention just a few brief details here. The primary object was cigar-shaped (some likened it to a carrot) and when in a vertical position it discharged a small disk. After maneuvering over a wide area, it returned to the cigar and reentered it. There were hundreds of witnesses scattered through half a dozen villages and surrounding fields. Despite only one local newspaper mentioning it, a reader informed Michel by mail of this event and an investigation was made.

[...]

[Ref. lcn1:] LUC CHASTAN:

Luc Chastan indicates that in the Vendée in St Prouant on September 14, 1954 "Around 17 hours the witness worked at a fields when from the thick vapor cloud came out a luminous purple blue cloud whose regular forms evoked those of a cigar or a carrot. This form had a rigid appearance and its movements took place in block: like a gigantic machine surrounded by vapors, at 400 or 500 m of altitude. Everywhere in the countryside the other peasants had to drop their tools to look at it. Suddenly, the thing had been motionless for several minutes, spouts out of the end a lower white smoke which initially dove towards the ground, as in free fall, then slows down gradually by getting level to start an ascending spiral around the phenomenon. After other operations a small shiniy metal disc appeared which reflected like a mirror the glares of the large object. Total duration: more than one half an hour. Seven other witnesses."

La source est indiquée comme "M.O.C. par Michel Aimé ** Arthaud 1958".

[Ref. wvu1:] WIM VAN UTRECHT:

The belgian ufologist indicates that some reports of nocturnal cloud cigars can be explained as misperceptions [misinterpretation] of the crescent Moon seen through semi-transparent clouds, but he suspects that many of the reported vertical cigar-shaped lights were actually triggered by artificial light pillars created by gas flames, fires and searchlights, and the dozen or so daylight sightings have another explanation.

As example of these, he says the most intriguing is from Michel's second UFO book Mystérieux Objets Célestes, published in 1958, in which hundreds of witnesses, scattered through half a dozen villages in Western France observed a "cloud cigar" over some fields in the afternoon of September 14, 1954.

Van Utrecht explains that Aimé Michel talked of a peculiar type of unidentified aerial phenomena which has since become known as "the cloud cigar" (in French: "le grand cigare des [de] nuées"). Michel meant: a big, cigar-shaped object or light, often in a vertical position, and either cloud-like in appearance or surrounded by cloud-like structures. The idea is that the UFO produces these clouds in order to camouflage itself, a technique that, considering the large number of such incidents, does not seem to work very well... Cloud cigars are sometimes accompanied by small, disk-shaped lights - the so-called "scout-ships" - that either seem to emerge from or enter into the parent object - the so-called "mother-ship".

He says that one of the witnesses to the Saint-Prouant event was Georges FORTIN, then 34 years old. At the time, FORTIN operated a farm at a place called La Gabellière, a little village of 300 inhabitants near Saint-Prouant in the department of Vendée, about 400 km (250 miles) southwest of Paris. Fortin is quoted:

"It was about five in the afternoon. I was working in the fields with my men when all at once, emerging from the thick layer of clouds that looked like a storm coming up, we saw a sort of luminous blue-violet mist, of a regular shape something like a cigar or carrot. Actually, the object came out of the layer of clouds in an almost horizontal position, slightly tilted toward the ground and pointing forward (like a submerging submarine)."

"This luminous cloud appeared rigid. Whenever it moved (and its movements had no connection with the movement of the clouds themselves) it did so all of a piece, as if it actually were some gigantic machine surrounded by mists. It came down rather fast from the ceiling of clouds to an altitude which we thought was perhaps a half mile above us. Then it stopped, and the point rose quickly until the object was in a vertical position, where it became motionless."

"During this time, the clouds went on scudding across the sky, dimly lighted from underneath by the violet luminosity of the object. It was an extraordinary sight, and we watched it intently. All over the country-side other farmers had also dropped their tools and were staring up at the sky like us."

"It thus went on up, turning around, up to the very top of the vertical object, and then started to come down again, turning in the other direction. Only then, after the smoke trail had vanished entirely, could we see the object that was "sowing" it, a little metallic disk shining like a mirror and reflecting, in its rapid movements, flashes of light from the huge vertical object.

"The little disk almost immediately stopped turning around the luminous cloud and went down toward the ground again, this time moving away. For quite a few minutes we could see it flying low over the valley, darting here and there at great speed, sometimes speeding up, then stopping for a few seconds, then going on again. In this manner it flew in every direction over the region between St-Prouant and Sigournais, villages about four miles apart. Finally, when it was almost a mile from the vertical object, it made a final dash toward it at headlong speed, and disappeared like a shooting star into the lower part where it had first come out. Perhaps a minute later, the "carrot" leaned over as it began to move, accelerated, and disappeared into the clouds in the distance, having resumed its original horizontal position, point forward. The whole thing had lasted about half an hour."

Van Utrecht says that during a follow-up inquiry carried out in 1968 by two members of the then highly rated French UFO group GEPA (Groupement d'Etude de Phénomènes Aériens), Mr. FORTIN provided the investigators with a slightly different version of the facts: the "object" was now described as "a bizarre cloud, the shape of a carrot, white-yellow in colour, descending slowly from the sky, inclined at 45°". The description of the "white smoke" is the same, but the disappearance of the object and the small disk is described somewhat differently, Mr. Fortin saying:

"After it immobilized, the cloud dissolved bit by bit and a brilliant ball of light, 35 to 40 cm across, became visible (...) At the end, the ball rose brutally in the air were it disappeared from sight".

Van Utrecht says that testimonies from other witnesses were also collected, and all give a similar account except for the detail of the shiny disk; which was observed only by Mr. FORTIN and his farm hand.

The sources are indicated as MICHEL, Aimé, A propos des soucoupes volantes - Mystérieux Objets Célestes, Editions Arthaud, Paris, 1958, pp. 32-37, published in the U.S. in 1958 under the title Flying Saucers and the Straight Line Mystery; JAY, Dominique and METAYER, R.P., "Le 'cigare' de Saint-Prouant n'était-il qu'un nuage ?" in Phénomènes Spatiaux No. 18, December 1968, pp. 26-28. Phénomènes Spatiaux was published by the now defunct GEPA; TAYLOR, Herbert S., "Cloud cigars: A further look" in International UFO Reporter Vol. 30, No. 3, May 2006, pp. 10-12.

Wim van Utrecht then explains the case by noting that all witnesses that were interviewed describe a cigar or carrot-shaped object emerging from a thick cloud layer, a perfect description of a funnel cloud, a term used to designate a tornado that is not in contact with the ground.

He notes that Aimé Michel rejects this obvious explanation by arguing that "il n'y a pas eu de cyclone dans cette région le 14 septembre 1954, ni nulle part en France" ("there was no cyclone in that region on September 14, 1954, nor in any other part of France"), but that Michel confuses a cyclone with a tornado: A tornado is a localized rotating column of air emerging from the base of a cumulonimbus cloud, whereas the term "cyclone" is used to indicate a much larger area of low atmospheric pressure characterized by inward spiraling winds. There may not have been a cyclone over Western Europe that day, but a local tornado or land spout is never to be excluded.

Van Utrecht says the white smoke, "exactly like a vapor trail" was probably just that: the typical, rope-like cloudlets of water vapor that are often seen swirling around the main condensation funnel of a tornado. He notes that such vapor trails, also referred to as "satellite tornadoes", have been filmed and photographed on numerous occasions, that the downward and then upward motion of the white smoke is explained by the fact that the air flow inside the funnel is directed downward, while in the - often transparent - outer shell, the air is spiraling up.

He notes that the "luminous blue-violet mist" that surrounded the object is explained because there exist several descriptions of nocturnal [this case is by day] tornados either having a distinct bluish or blue-white appearance or having a blue aura around them.

He notes that the "flashes of light" that came from the object or cloud are another element in favor rather than against the tornado hypothesis. In close encounters with tornados, witnesses have often described streaks or flashes of lightning inside tornados.

He notes that the "little metallic disk" that shone "like a mirror" and is described as "a brilliant ball of light" in the 1968 interview, points to a rare but not unprecedented phenomenon that sometimes accompanies tornados, namely ball lightning and that the scientific literature mentions several cases in which witnesses describe "flames" or "balls of fire" that are ejected from the base of tornado funnels.

He notes that it must not be forgotten that the incident at Saint-Prouant took place in the midst [no] of a major wave of "flying saucer" reports that hit France in September and October 1954, and that "Grotesque misidentification of natural phenomena and common airborne objects were a daily matter in that period."

And: "In those circumstances, a rare and impressive meteorological phenomenon is bound to stir the imagination. In this case not so much the imagination of the witnesses (who seem to have described what they saw truthfully and to the best of their abilities), but rather the imagination of the journalists and flying saucer writers who reported on the events."

He concludes:

"Our opinion: A luminous funnel cloud, accompanied with a rope-like condensation trail and ball lightning."

Images and further readings are provided: a sketch of the twin tornado seen in Toledo, Ohio, on April 11, 1965, from the September 9, 1966 issue of Science According to the witness who made the sketch, fireballs and orange streaks of lightning were ejected from the base of the funnels. The funnels themselves were surrounded by "a beautiful electric blue light". Pictures are also to be found in references given: VONNEGUT, B. & WEYER, James R., "Luminous Phenomena in Nocturnal Tornadoes" in Science, Vol. 153, 9 September 1966, pp. 1213-1220; VAUGHAN, Otha H. Jr., & VONNEGUT, Bernard, "Luminous electrical phenomena associated with nocturnal tornadoes in Huntsville, Ala., 3 April 1974" in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 57, No. 10, October 1976, pp. 1220-1224. A fine example of an impressive cigar-shaped funnel cloud that persisted some 40 minutes and had rope-like condensation funnels (waterspouts) developing and decaying around it, was photographed in the Skagerrak waters, south of Norway, on September 8, 1986. See Weather Vol. 42, No. 8, August 1987, p. 241.

Wim van Utrecht provides this artist's impression of the object observed by Georges FORTIN and the comments: "In (1) the carrot-shaped cloud that emerges from the clouds, in (2) the trail of white smoke that is jetted out from the base of the "cloud", and in (3) the cloud back in a more horizontal position before it disappears." He specifies that the drawing is scanned here from the May 2006 issue of International UFO Reporter, and was originally published in the French paper France-Dimanche not long after the events.

[Ref. jcx1:] "LES MYSTERES DE VENDEE" WEBSITE:

In his case listing "UFOs in the Vendée", the author notes this case:

Saint-Prouant, 14 September 1954

[Ref. mve1:] "MA VILLE" WEBSITE:

Jérôme Choloux found the trace of the flap of observations in the newspapers of the time, such as La Résistance de l'Ouest who, in an article dated September 20, 1954, tells of an apparition of flying saucer, or more exactly of "flying cigar" in the sky of Saint-Prouant and of Sigournais, on September 14, 1954. The newspaper states there were thirty witnesses.

[Ref. jsr1:] JEAN SIDER:

Jean Sider discusses the case of Saint-Prouant, the Vendée, France, September 13, 1954. He indicates that the witness is George Fortin, that the in investigation is by Dominique Jay and the Métayer abbot, for the GEPA group.

He indicates that in the hamlet of La Gabelière at the end of the afternoon under a not very cloudy sky, the witness worked in a bean field when his attention was suddenly attracted by a small yellow white odd cloud in the carrot shape going down slowly from the sky, tilte 45° with the pointed end downwards.

The phenomenon stopped at 50 meters of the witness and approximately 6 to 8 meters of the ground, details already showing that it could not be a a natural cloud.

The size of the small strange gas mass is compared with that of a powerline transformer that the witness showed the investigators, a masonry out of concrete with a square base of 3 by 3 meters, and 10 meters in height approximately.

During the descent a smoke escaped from the pointed end and circled up around the phenomenon while going up corkscrew-wise.

Shortly after its immobilization, this small mass gas dissipated little by little and let appear a ball or a disc, shining, which always showed its same side opposite the witness, estimated from 35 to 40 cm in diameter.

This object carried out a significant number of fast maneuvers and jerks, which consisted of a rectilinear move in another direction, with movements on the left, on the right, upwards, downwards, on a nonplane broken line. At the end the object climbed suddenly vertically and was lost of sight in altitude.

The observation lasted about twenty minutes and was confirmed by other people who were in different places in the vicinity.

Mr. Bonifait, electrician, did not see the disc, only the odd cloud which he noticed coming from the distance for he was working in height on a powerline. This cloud made him believe that a storm was going to burst, but he was very intrigued by the behavior of the phenomenon, completely unusual. He was only able to see its descent towards the ground, after that it disappeared from his sight, hidden by the trees.

Jean Sider indicates that the source is Phénomènes Spatiaux, GEPA magazine, #18, 1968, pp. 26-28.

He comments on that "Here there was no abduction, at least seemingly, for at that time nobody suspected that this type of incident can happen", and he wonders consequently what the purpose of the display offered to the witness was.

[Sider's book is about "alien abductions" and this case is in a chapter about "paranormal gaz fluids" he claims to be linked to what one calls "alien abductions".]

[Ref. nip1:] "THE NICAP WEBSITE":

*Sep. 14, 1954 - At 5:00 p.m. over 200 witnesses in St.-Prouant, Vendee department, France watched a cigar or carrot-shaped UFO as it emerged from a cloud, tilted toward the ground, hovered, and then elevated its front end quickly into a vertical position. It emitted vapor from its lower end. Next, a metallic disc-shaped object flew out, spun around the cigar, and then re-entered the mothership. (Sources: Aime Michel, Flying Saucers and the Straight Line Mystery, p. 23, Richard Hall, The UFO Evidence, p. 16; Thomas M. Olsen, The Reference to Outstanding UFO Reports, case # 44).

[Ref. ubk1:] "UFO-DATENBANK":

This database recorded this case 12 times instead of one:

Case Nr. New case Nr. Investigator Date of observation Zip Place of observation Country of observation Hour of observation Classification Comments Identification
19540913 13.09.1954 St. Prouant France
19540913 13.09.1954 St. Prouant France
19540914 14.09.1954 St. Prouant France End of day DD
19540914 14.09.1954 St. Prouant France 17.00
19540914 14.09.1954 Vendee France
19540914 14.09.1954 Dep. Vendeé France
19540914 14.09.1954 Departement Vendee France
19540914 14.09.1954 Vendee France
19540914 14.09.1954 Sigournais France 17.00
19540914 14.09.1954 Sigournais France 17.00
19540914 14.09.1954 Libaudieres France 17.00
19540914 14.09.1954 Gaudihiere France 17.00

Explanations:

Not looked for yet. Tornado.

About "ball lightning" in tornados:

"Ball lightning" phenomena is not the usual case for lights seen in tornados. Numerous recent weather phenomena documentaries (tornados are now a quite popular subject), the very simple cause for these lights appears quite clearly: the tornado rips of the power lines, power transformers, cause gas explosions, and this appears as flashes of light.

In the Saint-Prouant case however, there is no mention at all of any such damages or any damages at all. So the tornado vortex must have hit grounds with no inhabited houses. "Minor" damages on power lines could well have gone unreported in the newspaper - the spectacular features of the "cigar" and "disc" were only late reported after all.

Tornadoes and flying debris:

Additions on September 14, 2019:

Michel said no word of his sources; however, it seems obvious that what he quotes matches the newspaper version quite closely, with some additions. I think the letter he said he received from a reader came form the newspapeman who wrote the original article.

Below: mentioned places. The yellow line shows 10 kilometers. The straight line distance between La Libaudière and Sigournais is almost 18 kilometers.

The reports published are unfortunately of a glaring incompleteness, notably on the locations of the witnesses. No map has been prepared, no triangulation has been done, there is no observation direction indicated. Places called "villages" by Aimé Michel are only farms or hamlets.

On my map, for example, I noted "La Légerie". But 14 km further west, there is "La Lègerie". My spot is therefore probably the correct one, but it is not certain. Some places names are matching several localities or hamlets of the region, like La Libaudière, La Gaudinière, both also found about 30 km northwest of Saint-Prouant, whith the second "La Libaudière" at just 12 kilometers.

I ended up finding what I think is the essential and composed the map as follows:

I see that from Saint-Prouant to Coudrais, there are 3.6 to 2 km in straight line. The diagonal La Légerie to Le Coudrais is about 2 km. My yellow line represents 1 km, the photo is not taken vertically and haa a perspective effect.

That leaves me with an area of ??observation that would be a circle of about 4 to 2 km radius, which is quite compatible with a tornado (and certainly also with an extraterrestrial craft, of course). The "tuba" of a tornado ranges from a few dozen meters to several kilometers long. Here, it would be a small one, of course.

(Note: in the strict sense this would be a "cloud funnel", it is called a "tornado" only if the cloud funnel touches the ground.)

Tornadoes are not common in France, but the most affected area is the north-west quarter of the country.

Note in passing the errors of Aimé Michel in meteorology:

The first is that reported by Van Utrecht, that of talking about an explanation by a cyclone instead of a tornado. But perhaps it is the word that was told to him, or that the - unknown - proponents of this explanation of the time, used; his mistake then would be not to have understood that it was necessary to think of a tornado and not of a cyclone. Cyclones, by the way, are often conducive to tornadoes.

The second error may result from this: Michel assures us that a cyclone "occurring under a uniform layer of cumulonimbus" would amaze meteorologists... But precisely, what meteorologists know is that tornadoes usually occur under a cumulonimbus cloud.

The poor documentation of the case is extremely frustrating, but it seems obvious, given the descriptions, given the location, my map, that it was a tornado.

I do not think farmers in the area would have known what a tornado was. They are not so frequent, rather localized, do often mentionned, most of the rare "tornado witnesses" see only one in their entire life, in France. The 1954 witnesses may all have been dealing with the first and last tornado of their lives.

What might seem incomprehensible is that not one of the witnesses would have said a word about the least damage in the goods or the fields, not a single allusion is made to wind or lack of wind. Not a single hint of the slightest noise. (We have just Mr. Fortin who in 1954 evoked a rise of a storm).

But this may be due to an inability, likely, of the original journalist to just ask the appropriate questions about it. This would have been repeated with GEPA, whose investigators do not seem to have asked any of the relevant questions that would have made it possible to settle the case definitively. As for the "silence" mentioned by Michel, where did this information come from?

Keywords:

(These keywords are only to help queries and are not implying anything.)

Saint-Prouant, Vendée, multiple, carrot, cigar, disc, cloud, smoke, La Gabelière, Georges Fortin, Louis Grellier, storm, Pizou, Mercier, Jean Perrocheau, Daniel Bonifait, manoeuvres, Tissot, Libaudière, La Godinière, La Lègerie

Sources:

[----] indicates sources that are not yet available to me.

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross July 2, 2004 First published.
1.0 Patrick Gross May 25, 2009 Erratum: I indicated as a note that "The community of Saint-Prouant was renamed Talmont-Saint-Hilaire on January 1st, 1974". A reader informs me that "the community of St Prouant, in the Vendée, still bears this name. Talmont-saint-Hilaire does exist, but this village is located on the Atlantic coast, still in the Vendée, at at least 70 kms in straight line from St Prouant."
1.0 Patrick Gross May 25, 2009 Conversion from HTML to XHTML Strict. First formal version. Additions [goe1], [lcn1], [wvu1].
1.1 Patrick Gross March 2, 2010 Addition [jcx1].
1.2 Patrick Gross June 17, 2010 Addition [jve5].
1.3 Patrick Gross October 22, 2011 Addition [jsr1].
1.4 Patrick Gross November 2, 2014 Addition [nip1].
1.5 Patrick Gross December 16, 2016 Additions [lgs1].
1.7 Patrick Gross September 14, 2019 Additions [aml2], [mcs2], [gep2], [bbr1], [ldl2], [lhh1], Summary.
1.8 Patrick Gross December 5, 2019 Additions [afr1], [ldl2], [mve1].
1.9 Patrick Gross January 8, 2020 Addition [ppe2].
2.0 Patrick Gross February 3, 2021 Addition [ppe2].

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