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The 1954 French flap:

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October 16, 1954, Paris:

Reference for this case: 16-Oct-54-Paris.
Please cite this reference in any correspondence with me regarding this case.


The national weekly France-Dimanche for October 17, 1954, reported the passage of a "craft" over the Paris region on October 16, 1954; they indicated that this "craft was also observed by many Parisians and suburbanites who located the passage de la Bourse in Neuilly."

Contrary to what France-Dimanche said, it was not a "craft" but a widely seen and reported meteor on at least 15 departments that night around 08:20 p.m.

But the ufologist Aimé Michel, in an American saucerist magazine in 1956, said that "the craft" had "changed course towards the west", that one of the last known witnesses, "a scientist worthy of trust who chose to remain anonymous (psychosis?) reported it was flying low over southwestern Paris, heading west."

In 1958, in his book "Flying Saucers and the Straight Line Mystery", Aimé Michel presented these observations as indeed those of a meteor.

Others would ignore this explanation.




A luminous and silent "bottle bottom" above Orly and in the sky of Paris

The most disconcerting testimony, this week, on the flying saucers, comes from the Paris area: from Orly. Saturday October 16, Misters Raymond Capelle and Charles Birest, after dining at 09:35 p.m., came out from Mr. Capelle's, 8, street of the Puy-de-Dome in Orly, when they saw in the sky a mysterious machine. Slipping by from East to West, this machine, in the shape of a "bottle's bottom", rotated and left behind a luminous orange, yellow and blue trail, long of thirty times approximately the diameter of the machine. At its passage, this luminous trail entirely lit the street. After a few seconds, the machine disappeared behind a house. Mr. Capelle is employed with the "traffic" service of Air France in Orly. During five years (four years in Indo-China, one year in Orly), he belonged to the gendarmerie of the air. He identifies any type of apparatus with the noise of its engine. "I cannot be mistaken, he said. It is not a jet plane, this machine did not make any noise, it is what gives it its supernatural character". Mr. Birest, employee with the U.S.A.F., worked at the Orly airfield for thirty years. He confirms in all manner Mr. Capelle's testimony. This machine was also observed by the many Parisians and suburbians who located the passage from the Stock Exchange to Neuilly. Three C.R.S. also saw it above Lagny.

[Ref. aml7:] AIME MICHEL:

[... other cases...]

Above Paris the object [of the night of October 16, 1954] changed course to the west. One of the last known witnesses, a trustworthy scientist who chooses to remain anonymous (psychosis?) reported it flying low over Southwestern Paris, heading due West.

[... other cases...]

The French Air Force Inquiry Commission, after studying the case [of the October 16, 1954 sightings in the night], concluded that the object was a "slow meteor." The Commission did not take into account the change of direction of the last Paris sighting. To the several witnesses who saw the UFO halt in the sky, the Commission answered: "Optical Illusion," and since this time differentials reported suggested a meteor traveling at an impossibly slow speed (2400 miles per hour), the Commission supposed that the witnesses' watches had broken.

[... other cases...]

[Ref. aml1:] AIME MICHEL:

Aimé Michel wrote about the October 16, 1954, 09:30 p.m. meteor:

THE TEST OF THE METEOR. October 16, as if it was purposely, a splendid meteor crossed the north of France towards 09:30 p.m.. It was observed on a score of departments by thousands of people, from the Allier to Lorraine and from the Swiss border to Paris. Naturally many witnesses believed to have seen a Flying Saucer and said so. The newspapers printed "Flying Saucer in Orly", or "in Montididier", or "in Metz." But once again the description made by all these weak brains appeared of a remarkable honesty.


The innumerable gathered testimonys show indeed that even when the witnesses called "Flying saucer" the observed object, their description is identical on 200.000 square kilometres where the visible phenomenon was visible: an "orange ball followed by a trail", a "large luminous ball with a tail", a "flying egg followed by a trail", a "bottle's bottom with a trail of thirty times its diameter", etc. The same phenomenon is uniformly described.


[Ref. lgs1:] LOREN GROSS:

October 16th [1954]

[...other cases...]

More "meteor" sightings

[...other cases...]

At 9:25 p.m. residents of Salins, France, noticed something coming out of the southeast sky from the direction of northern Italy. As the thing passed overhead it appeared as a dull-glowing lenticular shape trailing a luminous stream of smoke. Moments later the lenticular body passed over the cities of Dole and Montmirey still on a northwest trajectory. The elongated form was then spotted at Damparis and Dijon. The object was at a high altitude since observers some distance to the right and left of the object's course could see the thing travel from horizon to horizon. At 9:35 p.m., continuing in a straight line, the lenticular body appeared over Paris, causing some concern at Orly airport which put all air traffic on hold while the phenomenon was in sight. Some people in the French capital claimed they saw the object come to a stop while others even asserted the object made a turn to the west.

The French Air Force Inquiry Commission looked into the case and concluded that a "slow meteor" was responsible, and that those who said they had seen a course change had merely suffered from an optical illusion. To explain the duration of the object's passage, the French Commission suggested that witnesses' timepieces were not set properly.

Aime Michel thought more of the case than the military because he had knowledge of a sighting near St. Malo, a town that lies west of Paris on the coast of Brittany. The time of this sighting was not known but there may have been a connection with the "slow meteor." What was seen at St. Malo, however, did not resemble the supposed meteor. According to the witness two objects raced across the sky and a third object was seen intercepting the first two at a right angle. This new formation of three objects sped away leaving a thin vapor trail behind them. 138.



Obvious description of the October 16, 1954, meteor.


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

Paris, Raspail, globe, orange, trail


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

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
1.0 Patrick Gross March 8, 2010 First published.
1.4 Patrick Gross December 12, 2016 Addition [fde1].
1.5 Patrick Gross March 3, 2021 Additions [aml7], [lgs1], Summary.

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