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The 1954 French flap:

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October 6, 1954, Bois-Colombes, Hauts-de-Seine:

Reference for this case: 6-Oct-54-Bois-Colombes.
Please cite this reference in any correspondence with me regarding this case.


In the fall of 1954, the Parisian magazine Radar had launched a contest: the first person able to send them a flying saucer photo that their jury would accept as authentic, would win a million Francs of the time.

Among the shipments that followed, there was this photo that the magazine published on October 31, 1954:

The magazine said it was one of three they had chosen for this week, and captioned the photo like this:

"Mr. Dahin, from Bois-Colombes, sends this photo he made on 10/6/54. The disc was passing on the Mont Valérien."

In the next week issue of Radar, the decision of their jury was given: the photo was discarded.

The jury's arguments were very light. General Lionel Max Chassin, commander-in-chief of the Territory's Air Defense, apparently just said: "It's a joke. In my humble opinion, this photo cannot be taken into consideration." Louis Chéreau (or Jules?), general delegate for the "congress for scientific progress" and president of the "jury of the science-fiction novel", was off-topic, first eliminating any photo by demanding "a piece, so small be it", of saucer, then ensuring that the picture "is a small drawing made with care."

Paul Montel, director of Le Photographe magazine, would have had "a doubt but is formal", starting by ensuring that the photo "presents a defect of the plate or the gelatin..." but making this apparent discovery questionable since he added "Unless it is slightly hoaxed..."

Alexandre Ananoff, astronautics magazine, reminded that "fraud is easy" but conceded that the photo would be the most interesting of the three they checked out that week. He noted that the object "appears clearly." He thus demonstrates that the shooting hours was not even asked since he declared "I believe that Mr. Dahin operated at dusk", and then wondered if it would be "a setting sun phenomenon? No doubt yes." He finally declared that "only a triangular object" would convince him, on the grounds that the saucers photos too often show the shapes of "saucer" just because this shape "appears here and there in various publications."


[Ref. rdr1:] "RADAR" MAGAZINE:

Mr. Dahin, of Bois-Colombes, sends this photo he made on 10/6/54. The disc was passing over Mont Valérien.


The hunt for saucers and the "Radar" million continues. Among the many submissions that have reached us, our jury will indulge this week in in-depth examination of three of them. Here they are. General L. Max Chassin, Chief Commander of the territory's air Defense, and Mr. Audoin Dolfus, aeronaut, attached to the Meudon Observatory, agreed to join MM. Gabriel Voisin, Louis Cheneau and Marcel Natkin whom we introduced last week to our readers. Remember that all documents must be accompanied by the necessary supporting documents. In addition, this document must never have appeared in any other publication.

[Ref. rdr2:] "RADAR" MAGAZINE:


With a delay of eight days, our jury examined the three shipments retained last week. The group of jurors chaired by General de l'Air Chassin, Commander-in-Chief of the Territory's Air Defense, was joined by MM. Paul Mendel, director of "Le Photographe" magazine, and Ananoff, pioneer of astrophysics. We thought that the candidates for the "Radar" million would have likely captured the rare bird which has the name flying saucer. After examination, our technicians could not crown anyone...

Here is the opinion of General Chassin and MM. Chéreau, Montel and Ananoff on the first document sent by Mr. Dahin, from Bois-Colombes. Recall that the craft had been photographed on 10/6/54 at the time when it flew over Mt-Valérien. "It's a joke. In my humble opinion, this photo cannot be taken into consideration" affirms general Chassin. Louis Chéreau is no less categorical: "Photos are often misleading, I, what I want is a piece, however small, of the saucer. However this picture is a small sketch made with care." Mr. Montel has a doubt but is formal: "The photo shows either a defect in the plate or gelatin... Unless it is slightly hoaxed...". And it is Mr. Ananoff's turn: "Fraud is easy. However, this document is the most interesting of the three. The object appears with clarity. I believe that Mr. Dahin operated at dusk. Is it not a setting sun phenomenon? Yes, no doubt. But only a triangular object would convince me. We are struck by this general observation: the photos have too much tendency to reproduce the drawings of the saucers which appear that and there in various publications."



Let me be clear: any UFO photo is a possible fraud. There is just no way to prove a photo is not fraudulent.

This being said, what this case reveals again is the total lack of expertise of the Radar jury.

To be fair, we do not know exactly what the jury members sais; we only have what Radar told us they said.

However, many thing stand out as prrog of incompetence, or at least, of total disinterest.

For example, Alexandre Ananoff (introduced as a pioneer of astrophysics in the magazine, but actually a pioneer of astronautics) suggests and then emphasizes that it must be "a phenomenon of setting sun", indicating that he believes the witness took the photo at dusk. this shows that the jury members did not even bother to ask the witness at what time he took his alleged saucer photo... despite the promise of Radar magazine to leave no stone unturned and to question witnesses as much as needed...

For example, Paul Montel "has a doubt but is formal"... But either you have a doubt, or you are formal, it cannot be both.

He also reveals that he did not really check the film and only supposed "a defect of the plates or the gelatin". It is either a plate, or a "gelatin" film, not both. And yet Radar was supposed to have asked for the original film, not just prints.

I agree with Alexandre Ananoff on two things fraud is easy, and this photograph is the "best" of the three he then checked out. But the argument "I want so see a triangle" under the pretext that saucers photos must be inspired by saucers sketches in the media is really silly. If visual only reports were of saucers and photos would show triangles, what would he have said? Well, he certainly would have said that the triangle on the photo does not match the visual reports... His argument was reversible, hence of no scientific utility. Of course, I may add that the visual reports of all of "saucers" were very diverse, the term being used more as a label than a description, many reports were caused by meteors and thus mention a trail which does not appear on the photo, etc. etc.

But... a "setting sun phenomenon"? Certainly not, inasmuch as if this was the sun, it would have been high up was thus not setting. And of course, the "object" is elliptical, showing a shape incompatible with the Sun even if clouds intervened.

Now, all that can be said about this picture is:

The object might have been a luminous advertising blimp; but there were no such things in France in 1954 as far as I know. It could have been a handcrafted fire balloon (aka Chinese lantern), but it would have apparently been the only one in that area that year. It could be something painted on a window pane, or a defect on the negative, a hoax in this case. Maybe it was an extraterrestrial spacecraft, but this remains to be proven.


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

Bois-Colombes, Hauts-de-Seine, Dahin, photograph, photographic hoax, Mont Valérien


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

Document history:

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1.0 Patrick Gross April 26, 2020 First published.

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