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The 1954 French flap:

The index page for the 1954 French flap section of this website is here.

August 22, 1954, Marseilleveyre, Bouches-du-Rhône:

Reference number for this case: 54-Radar01. Thank you for including this reference number in any correspondence with me regarding this case.

Summary:

In the magazines Semaine du Monde and Nord-France for October 1-7, 1954, an article about the flying saucers showed alleged photos of these "mysterious craft."

The magazine indicated that this one like others besides had been "taken by two correspondents of our newspaper", a Mr. L. Alyons and a Mr. J. Ates. The magazine carefully commented: "The fact that they were photographed in the sky of Marseille does not allow us infering anything as to the nature of the phenomenon."

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The photo that interests us here is said to have been taken "on August 22", "this craft, too, like a brother to a saucer, hesitated for a long time, sometimes going down to 100 meters and sometimes going back to the vertical, to land on the hills of Marseilleveyre for the evening pastis. Did the indifference shown by the Marseillais seem suspicious to the mysterious travelers?"

Surprise: the same image will be republished in Radar magazine on November 14, 1954.

But this time, it was within the context of the contest that they had launched, rewarding a million Francs (of the time) to anyone who would be the first to send them an authentic photo, according to their jury, of a flying saucer.

The magazine rejected this photo, saying:

Too much lighted. Mr. Ates, an architectural engineer, already eliminated in a previous shipment, cannot be taken for granted. He belongs to the category of those who cannot accept that their sincerity is questioned. However, the excessive clarity that bathes his document prohibits taking it seriously. It irresistibly evokes a model.

I show in this file that this "Mr. Ates" and his accomplice "Mr. Alyons" had attempted several manifestly fraudulent photographs of flying saucers in the Marseille region during the wave of 1954. This one in particular had was visibly inspired, not by Science Fiction, but by the projects of ring-wing aircraft that France was trying then - none was yet flying in 1954, but their looks were already shown in "artists' views" in popular science magazines the newspapers of that time.

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Reports:

[Ref. nfe1:] "NORD-FRANCE" MAGAZINE:

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SAUCERS IN MARSEILLE

The Martians of the Martigues

THAT'S exactly ten years ago, no one had heard the two expressions which are now the most pronounced in all the languages ??of the world; atomic bomb and flying saucer. But whereas the atomic bomb turns out to be a terrible reality, the least we can say is that unanimity is not made on the existence of the saucers.

Europe, for a few years, seemed curiously untouched by the mysterious craft. Then, from 1950 on, testimonies began to multiply. In 1954, two French "Vampire" pilots began a vain pursuit over the Alpilles. From month to month, the skies of France, Italy, Germany, England, are populated (for some) by dazzling craft. Perhaps favored by our rainy summer, the craft have multiplied for ten days, while the monsoon brought some samples to the Indies.

To the point that a deputy from the Seine, Mr. de Léotard, has just sent a written question to the Minister of Air "Regarding recent testimonies which did not failto intrigue, if not to worry, public opinion"; and calling for a systematic observation of these phenomena "so that it can be established that these are hallucinations or if there is reason to take them into account from the point of view of security and national defense."

So France, in turn, will give the problem a national interest.

But already we are putting into the file the first photos taken in France. All three were taken by two correspondents of our newspaper, MM. L. Alyons and J. Ates. The fact that they were photographed in the sky of Marseille does not allow us to infer anything as to the nature of the phenomenon. The one on the left, taken on May 26, at 6:30 p.m. "enormous, remained motionless at low altitude while vibrating the tiles of the room" before suddenly rush away. Top left: on June 7, this craft lent itself complacently to the telephoto lens. Right: on August 22, this craft, also resembling like a brother to a saucer, hesitated for a long time, sometimes going down to 100 meters and sometimes going up vertically, to land on the hills of Marseilleveyre for the evening pastis. Did the indifference shown by the Marseillais seem suspicious to the mysterious travelers?

More resolved, it seems, were those who in Dizes, near Auxerres, landed: "the time, said our private correspondent, to leave a trace on the road..."

How not to end on this poetic note? But in one of our next issues, we will expose to the French opinion the elements of the problem that will allow them to fear, smile or hope...

[Ref. rdr1:] "RADAR" MAGAZINE:

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MARSEILLES

Too much lighted. Mr. Ates, an architectural engineer, already eliminated in a previous shipment, cannot be taken for granted. He belongs to the category of those who cannot accept that their sincerity is questioned. However, the excessive clarity that bathes his document prohibits taking it seriously. It irresistibly evokes a model.

The photo was published in the context of the the contest organized by the magazine; which explained above on the same page:

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THE "RADAR" MILLION

[Photo caption:] In a lounge at the Drouant restaurant, place Gaillon, next to Georges Pagnoud (far left), representing "Radar", the jury for the Million. From l. to rgt: General L.-M. Chassin, Mr. Ananoff and Mr. Natkin.

THE JURY IS STILL NOT CONVINCED

"Radar" gathered its jury around a table at the Drouant restaurant, in the same lounge where the Goncourt academicians award their prize. Mr. Chéreau, being abroad, had apologized. General Chassin, Mr. Natkin and Mr. Ananoff carried out a thorough examination not only of the photos sent by the competitors, but also of the letters with which they accompany them. They are, in fact, documents whose psychology deserves to be looked at very closely. To the love of legitimate truth, to the taste for science, to the lure of gain, more complex feelings are added. The most curious is, no doubt, the need to mystify oneself before mystifying others. The least unexpected is the bad mood reaction that none of the eliminated competitors escapes. It is as fatal as gravity. However, once all that is technically indefensible is renoved from the mass of the shipment, it is interesting to look at the technique of the skillful ones. Indeed, four hypotheses and only four can be envisaged. 1. The saucer is real and so is the photo. 2. True photo, but false saucer: it is not a trick photograph but hoaxed facts. 3. The photography is very much faked, that is to say that one proceeded, by superimposing two images of the same negative, directly to the shooting. 4. The photo is poorly faked (photo-montage, overprint, etc.).

Fortunately, all these forms of lies are easily detectable for every warned eyes. The naivety of the fakers exceeds the imagination. Yes, it is really they who are deluding themselves and not their judges. Let them be convinced of this before engaging their falsification costs. Because we must not forget that the goal of this contest is to help science unravel an undeniable mystery. Therefore, with equal honesty, it is, as one can easily understand, the clearest document that will prevail. Prudence is therefore the intellectual golden rule of our jurors. They are too aware of all the details of the problem not to use the right to ask questions to candidates whose submissions will be worthy of examination.

[Ref. ort1:] FRENCH NATIONAL TV:

In the TV show "Le Mythe des Soucoupes Volantes", on February 14, 1965, the image of this saucer appeared briefly, without caption, without comment.

[Ref. bes1] ON THE INTERNET:

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The comment of the blog where this picture appeared indicates that it was published in "Semaine du Monde" for the week of October 1st to October 7, 1954 #99."

The article is cited as saying about this photograph:

"Thus France, in its turn, will give to the problem a national interest. But already we pour in the file the first photographs taken in France. All three were taken by two correspondents of our newspaper, Misters L. Alyons and J. Ates. The fact that they were photographed in the sky of Marseilles does not allow infering anything as for the nature of the phenomenon."

"That of the left, caught on last May 26, at 06:30 p.m., "enormous, remained fixed at low altitude while making the window of the room vibrate" before fleeing suddenly. In top on the left: June 7, this apparatus lengthily showed itself to the teleobjective. On the right: August 22, this apparatus, resembling also like a brother to a flying saucer hesitated a long time, sometimes coming down as low as 100 meters and sometimes going up vertically, to land over the hills of Marseilleveyre for the evening pastis. Did the indifférence expressed by the residents of Marseilles seem suspect to the mysterious travelers?"

Explanations:

Weekly magazine "Radar", at the time of the 1954 French saucer flap, started a first contest offering a million old francs to whoever would deliver a Martian to them. The magazine then launched a similar contest to reward any authentic photograph of a flying saucer:

On February 14, 1965, the ORTF national TV channel showed a television documentary about the flying saucers, during which fragments of the Radar article appeared. I have neither the entire radar article nor its date of publication.

The image shown in [rdr1] appeared in this magazine among others, none being accepted as "authentic".

I do not have any other information about the "Radar" version, and it is not entirely certain that the image was said in it to have been taken in France and in 1954. However I can note that the shape of the alleged craft hardly resembles descriptions of the time of the saucers, "cigars" and others, but more resembles projects of the French Air Force which would result in the Coléoptère years later. Although none of these projects were in the air at the time, newspapers in October 1954 had presented these as being perhaps the explanation of the reported flying saucers and cigars, and it may be that this photograph was a forgery manufactured by a clever chap who would have taken as a starting point such a "solution", perhaps guessing that if the saucers then indeed proved to be these craft, his photograph could win him the "Radar's million.

The Semaine du Monde version gives location and date information, and names. It is obviously almost the same image.

The fact that all four "flying saucers pictures" come from the same two people thought at four different dates highly suggests that they are all hoaxed.

See:

On May 26, 1954, in Marseilles;
On June 7, 1954, in Marseille;
On August 9 in Marseille.

Update on April 26, 2020:

I have now obtained and published the Radar article on this photograph - so far I only had the photograph.

I take this opportunity to add this image to the file:

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This is not "Mr. Ates" showing his models, but the German engineer Zborowski, recovered at the end of the war by the French secret services, and main designer of ring wing aircraft projects which will result in the "Coléoptère", the only one that actually flew, in 1956.

Newspapers and magazines, in this year 1954, had repeatedly shown sketches of these projects, explaining that it was the "real" flying cigar that people saw, and that it was French. In reality, I repeat, none of these projects flew in the sky of France in 1954, but journalists wanting to appear "serious" considered them as a "more credible" alternative to Martian spacecraft...

Keywords:

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

Photograph, cigar, annular wing, Coléoptère, L. Alyons, J. Ates, radar, contest, Marseilleveyre, Marseille

Sources:

[----] indicates sources which I have not yet checked.

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
1.0 Patrick Gross March 16, 2010 First published.
1.1 Patrick Gross April 26, 2020 Addition [rdr1] (only the alleged saucer image was available as of March 16, 2010). Addition of the Summary. In the Explanations, addition of the "Update on April 26, 2020" part.

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This page was last updated on April 26, 2020.