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October 7, 1954, Vizille, Isère:

Reference for this case: 7-Oct-54-Vizille.
Please cite this reference in any correspondence with me regarding this case.


In the aviation magazine Les Ailes of 23 October 1954 on page 13, a report told of the successful high altitude flight by the glider pilot Ugo Bertoncelli, of the Grenoble flying club, above the Alps:

On October 7, 1954, at 02:30 p.m., he took off by winch, reaching an altitude of 4.300 meters. Not having an oxygen mask in his "Air-102" glider, he began the descent when evening fell.

During the descent, he had overflown Bourg-d'Oisans around 5:30 p.m., then a little later Vizille.

According to the magazine, he was spotted above these two villages by the residents, appearing to them as a bright dot, very high, almost motionless at first, then suddenly and very quickly disappearing. The people thought it was a flying saucer, "obviously piloted by a Martian! And the news spread like wildfire..."


[Ref. lai1:] "LES AILES" MAGAZINE:



The "Martian" Ugo BERTONCELLI
at 4.300 m., on the Oisans range

This is a new phase in the systematic exploration of the possibilities of gliding in the Grenoble region, from the Jean Mermoz aerodrome. The performance of Ugo Bertoncelli, coming after others, confirms the interest of continuing this prospecting with appropriate means.

A new performance has entered the list of pilots at the Dauphiné aero-club.

One of them, Ugo Bertoncelli, rose to 4,300 meters in the Meije mountain range, aboard an Air-102 glider.

On October 7, Ugo Bertoncelli left the Grenoble field at 2 p.m. 30, launched with the winch, and achieved a "low point" at some 100 meters of altitude from where ascents allowed it to rise gradually and to cross in turn the plateau of Champagnier, the Montevie, the Fort-des-Quatre-Seigneurs. Ugo Bertoncelli reached the summit of Conex, at 1,300 m. A new ascent to the Grand-Serre brought him to pass the summit of Taillefer, at more than 2,800 m.

It is, it seems, at this moment that the pilot of the Air-102 encountered the famous "wave" which, skilfully used, although it was entirely cleared of the dynamic updrafts, allowed him to continue to climb regularly at + 1m./sec. above the Romansh valley, reaching an altitude of 4.300 meters.

Successively, during a climb that lasted 30 minutes, the glider rose to 3,500 m., 3,700 m., 4,000 m. and 4,300 m. on three occasions, while flying over the Oisans range and its glaciers, it descended but, three times, also climbed to the same altitude of 4,300 m. where it continued to climb at + 1m.

At this altitude, the outside temperature was between -15 and -20°. It was this, and also the coming of the evening, which decided Ugo Bertoncelli to put an end to his alpine hike, although he was convinced that he could have prolonged it further and, if the equipment of the craft had made it possible to climb much higher. He descended and, via Vizille, returned to the Grenoble airfield where he landed 20 minutes later.

This new performance to the credit of a pilot from the Dauphiné Aéro-Club calls for some comments. First, the personality of the pilot. Ugo Bertoncelli is 45. His profession is that of a driver-mechanic at the Pont-de-Claix paper mills. His passion yesterday was skiing; today it is gliding; he successively won the C licence, the D licence and succeeded, last summer, the distance test of the E licence by a course of more than 300 km. His performance of October 7, nade him complete the altitude test of this same licence.

Bertoncelli's performance confirms the very great possibilities of the Grenoble region as it is added to other flights of the same kind made previously. We have not forgotten the story of Jean-Louis Perrier, a young 21-year-old pilot, that Les Ailes published on May 15; Jean-louis Perrier, too, had prospected the Meije range. Since then, other pilots from the Aéro-Club du Dauphiné had renewed this exploration. All his flights took place in the scenery of the Oisans where several peaks approach or exceed 4,000 meters.

- As you think, says the Secretary General of the Aéro-Club du Dauphiné, it is not without respectful caution that our best Grenoble gliding pilots venture into the heart of these high mountains.

"There is no doubt that the Jean-Mermoz field in Grenoble can be the starting point for a systematic exploration of a whole part of the Alps maountains."

At one point during his hike, Ugo Bertoncelli would undoubtedly have had the possibility of heading, via the Briançonnais, towards the Po valley and to achieve, by glider, a sensational link between France and Italy. There is no longer any doubt that the Alps can be crossed by gliding and that the Grenoble-Turin flight is an achievable performance. Ugo Bertoncelli, for his part, is convinced of this, but it would first be necessary to settle administrative questions that are undoubtedly more difficult than technical ones and also, as far as these are concerned, to get the appropriate equipment.

The efforts of the Aéro-Club du Dauphiné and its gliding pilots really deserve attention and support. The competent service should provide the great club of Grenoble with one or two performance gliders, properly equipped for this methodical exploration of high mountain gliding, with, in particular, a complete oxygen supply installation, cabin heating and radio set. The expected results are worth it and justify an effort in this direction.

The performance of Bertoncelli presented a picturesque aspect that it is amusing to emphasize: the glider revolutionized the inhabitants of Bourg-d'Oisans around 5:30 p.m. and, a little later, those of Vizille. He appeared to them as one shining dot, very high, almost motionless at first, then which suddenly disappeared very quickly... What do you expect it to be if not a flying saucer, obviously piloted by a Martian! And the news spread like wildfire...

Big progress: the "Martian" landed, indeed, with his "saucer", on the ground of Grenoble and he was congratulated, complimented as he deserved to be. And this time it was true, palpable, indisputable! Only, the "Martian" was Ugo Bertoncelli and his "saucer", very flying, the Air-102.



Negative case, misinterpretation, plane.


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

Vizille, Isère, negative case, plane, high, brilliant, glider


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1.0 Patrick Gross March 7, 2021 First published.

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