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The 1954 French flap:

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January 9, 1954, Neuvelle-lès-Champlitte, Haute-Saône:

Reference number for this case: 9-Jan-54-Neuvelle-lès-Champlitte. Thank you for including this reference number in any correspondence with me regarding this case.

Summary:

The regional newspaper La Bourgogne Républicaine, of Dijon, reported on page 6 for January 11, 1954, that "the craft", saucer or not saucer, which had been seen on the morning of January 9, 1954, over eastern France, had been over Neuvelle-les-Champlitte at 06:10 a.m.

The newspaper La République for January 12, 1954, indicated among other observations in the region on January 9, 1954, that several residents of Neuvelle-lès-Champlitte, all serious people, had "noticed in the sky a kind of fantastic machine of the kind of the one seen in the northern region these past few days."

Charles Garreau, then journalist of La Bourgogne Républicaine and already a flying saucers enthusiast, had plotted the observations of this day on a map to show that since the thing had zigzagged, it was not a meteor. He had naively taken for exact hours the mentioned hours - 07:20 a.m. for this sighting - whereas for the most part they were, of course, only approximate hours. It is because of this that some then claimed there was a "sudden change of heading" of the phenomenon, but it was not so.

Garreau spoke, without indicating his source, of a red glow which "cast a reflection of blood on the countryside snow." Very high, a rather long object, followed by an incandescent trail, "follows a huge arc of circle, and rushes towards the North" whereas by coincidence, at the same hour, the area was deprived of electric power.

This obvious meteor was explained as such by the "skeptical" ufologists Gérard Barthel and Jacques Brucker in their 1979 book, but some continued to cite the observation as if it were "unexplained".

Reports:

[Ref. bre1:] NEWSPAPER "LA BOURGOGNE REPUBLICAINE":

Scan.

SAUCER OR NOT SAUCER?

A mysterious craft
was observed
over the East of France

Saucer or not saucer? A mysterious craft flew over eastern France on Saturday morning. We give below - for the sake of impartiality - the dispatches received from our correspondents. Note that while some observations are consistent, others differ significantly.

We leave it to our readers to draw the conclusions...

IN THE COTE-D'OR

Gemeaux (from our C.P.). -- It had to happen! Since our city was visited by the stars of the music hall, Misstinguett, and the stars of advertising, "Miss Lux", we expected the arrival of the flying saucers!

Saturday morning, around 7:45 a.m., a strange phenomenon occurred in the sky of Gemeaux. Several observers saw for a few seconds a red ball coming from the direction of Is-sur-Tille, at a vertiginous speed, absolutely silent and leaving no trace behind it. Suddenly, the ball immobilized, a quarter of a second said a young observer, then it set off again, still as quickly, in the direction of Tilchâtel and disappeared.

The children who saw "the saucer" were surprised by the bright red glow and the speed of movement which scared them somewhat.

Saucer or not saucer? Mystery. Still, this is a strange thing, different from a shooting star, if only by the change of direction!

IN THE HAUTE-MARNE

Langres (from our C.P.). - A mysterious craft flew over the Langres region on Saturday morning and the south of Haute-Marne. It was seen by many witnesses at different times and places.

At 6:10 a.m., it was above Neuvelle-les-Champlitte; at 8:10 a.m., near Langres. The residents of Jorquenay, Lannes, Champigny-les-Langres and station employees in Langres-Marne were able to observe it. It flew above the clouds, that is to say at a height greater than 1500 m., and shed an intense red light in the front and clearer in the rear, with greenish reflections arranged in a triangular beam. The pace was roughly equal to that of a jet aircraft and the direction of travel at that time was in a north-west-east direction. This machine did not make noise.

According to Mr. Baudot, technical agent at the S.N.C.F., who had time to follow the phenomenon with his eyes for several seconds, the craft's advance was jerky. It could not have been a jet airplane moving with navigation lights on, the light produced being in fact far too intense. Despite the already very clear sky, it was impossible to distinguish the shapes of the craft itself. Its capricious march as to the direction followed and its fairly low speed suggest that it could not be a meteorite.

IN LUNEVILLE

Nancy (A.F.P.). -- three residents of Lunéville claim to have seen, on January 9, around 6 a.m., a round-shaped craft, moving from north to south.

The craft, they say, flew slower than a jet plane and left behind a luminous trail of yellow color. It was moving silently, although it appeared to be moving at low altitude.

In addition to these three eyewitnesses, including a professor of literature, several students from the college of Lunéville also saw this craft.

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

Scan.

Series of fireballs
in the sky of France

Since last week dockers in Dieppe saw a "fireball" cross the sky, similar phenomena are seen everywhere.

Scientists believe that it is a series of aeroliths which pass close to the earth.

Witnesses state that they saw these phenomena in the north of the Rhône department where the "ball" was yellowish in color, in the Langres region where it was advancing by saccades and in the region of Is-sur-Tille (Côte-d'Or), where it was red and surmounted by a triangle.

[Ref. lre1:] NEWSPAPER "LA REPUBLIQUE":

[...]

Neuvelle-les-Champlitte. -- Several residents of the locality, all serious people, noticed in the sky a kind of fantastic machine like that seen in the area of north these last days.

[...]

[Ref. bre2:] NEWSPAPER "LA BOURGOGNE REPUBLICAINE":

Scan.

CHANGES OF DIRECTION, VARIATIONS IN PACE,
DIFFERENT ASPECTS DEPENDING ON THE VIEWING ANGLE

The aerial object observed on January 9 is not a meteor

Could it actually be a flying saucer
that flew over our region for a long time?

PRECISE REMARKS, SERIOUS ARGUMENTS WOULD LEAD TO ASSUME THIS...

After the celestial phenomenon of August 12 which, from the Jura to the Morvan, had thousands of witnesses, the appearance of November 9 [sic] seems to be a date, in turn, in the voluminous file of "non-identified aerial objects."

Information has poured in from all over the region.

Our correspondents, our readers have communicated to us the observations they have gathered.

Observations which cast a strange light on the extraordinary object which, on Saturday morning, moved for nearly two hours over eastern France.

The first reports left the door open to all hypotheses: meteor, balloon, jet plane... or saucer!

Those that we have since collected allow us to reject outright the hypothesis of a meteorite [sic], whose trajectory is perfectly regular in direction and speed, always very high: around 40,000 km. per hour.

They also make it possible to reject the hypothesis of the balloon, as its apparent speed cannot exceed those of the most violent currents: 300 km.-hour.

Indeed, what did we see on Saturday?

AT THE SPEED OF A BURGUNDY SNAIL...
THEN LIKE A BOLID
THE OBJECT MADE
AN EXTRAORDINARY PERIPLE

Saturday morning, 6:15 a.m. With a flash of blinding light, a craft of round shape tears the sky of Lunéville. It flies from North to South. No noise.

7:20 a.m.: in Neuvelle-les-Champlitte, a red glow casts a reflection of blood on the snowy countryside. Very high up, a rather long object, followed by an incandescent trail, describes an immense arc of a circle and heads north.

From Lunéville to Neuvelle: 130 km, in straight line, that the craft covered in one hour.

7:40 a.m.: in Nancy, a yellowish disc spins in the low sky, trailing behind it, a beam of light. Its size seems approximately that of a quarter of the moon.

From Neuvelle to Nancy: 125 kilometers, covered in 20': the pace, although still reduced, increases: 375 km per hour.

7:45 a.m. Chaumont-Montigny-le-Roy-Langres-Gemeaux. In a few tens of seconds, at an altitude which seems relatively low to the witnesses, a dazzling craft, with a capricious trajectory, splits the emerging day with its intense light, red at the front, clearer at the rear, with greenish reflections forming like a triangular bundle.

In Gemeaux, change of direction: the craft veers clearly towards the east. We see it in Oisilly, Vesoul, where a witness gave the exact time of his passage: 7:46 a.m.

Watch mismatch or temporary slowdown? It was not seen in Besançon until 4 minutes later.

New change of direction, less accentuated: Dole is overflown. From Chaumont, the object traveled about 250 kilometers, in 5 minutes. The morning snail has given way to a real racing car: 3,000 km.hour! (approximately).

And the extraordinary journey continues: Poligny, where it is seen as a disc of red yellow color, seeming to spin on itself, and followed by a bluish trail. Lons-le-Saulnier, where it moves slowly, stopping almost completely for ten seconds, before starting abruptly towards Switzerland, leaving behind it, as it accelerates, a huge glowing plume.

Which meteorite, which balloon would have indulged in such astonishing maneuvers, and, for a balloon, at such speeds?

However, to leave no doubt, we questioned the various weather stations in the region.

"No ballon was released" we were told.

Same answer at the American base in Semoutiers: it was neither one of our planes, nor a balloon launched by us!".

The Besançon observatory saw nothing, and for good reason: employees do not take service until 8:30 a.m.!

So, no question of balloons, even if we tried to admit an error of approximation of speed, speed otherwise confirmed by the figures.

OTHER HYPOTHESES

These two hypotheses being eliminated, what remains?

There are only two possible explanations left: unmanned earthly vehicle... or a saucer.

However, to our knowledge, since the removal of the Mailly test station, there is no longer either in France or in Western Europe any launching base for such devices.

So here we are, once again, in front of a beautiful question mark: what was it then?

DID FLYING SAUCERS
OVERFLY THE REGION?

Another troubling point adds to the problem. At the same time as Haute-Marne, Doubs, Côte-d'Or, Jura were flown over, the region of Beaujeu and Mâcon also saw a circular, yellowish object moving quickly in the NNW-SSE direction, and seeming to move at a fairly low altitude.

It seems unlikely that this is the same object. Indeed, a simplified triangulation determines fairly approximately the "necessary and sufficient" conditions for the craft to have been seen from both Nancy and Beaujeu, 350 kilometers away in straight line!

Required altitude: 30,000 meters, in formal contradiction with the estimates given by witnesses, and which vary between 1,500 and 3,000 meters.

Minimum diameter so that the object has been seen as a single point (assuming that the separating power of the eye is equal to 1°) and not as "a large tangerine" or a disk as big as a quarter of the moon: a hundred meters.

And these conditions are all theoretical. They require, indeed, perfect visibility, which was not the case, many nebulous clusters covering certain places of the region.

In Dijon, and its surroundings, for example, there were two eighth covers, at 1,000 meters, at the time of observation. In Besançon: five eighths at 400 meters. In Nancy, no ceiling. The wind was calm everywhere.

We can therefore reasonably assume that it is not just one, but several unidentified objects, which furrowed the sky on Saturday morning.

[Map caption:] From Lunéville (top, right) to Lons-le-Saulnier, here is, roughly reconstructed from the testimonies collected, the extraordinary journey of the strange "unidentified object." Better than long comments, this sketch highlights the changes of direction and the variations in pace noted by the witnesses. A question mark: was it another craft that was seen at the same time in Saône-et-Loire?

And these objects were not optical illusions. Too many reliable witnesses (among them professors, school directors, engineers) in too many different places, gave details which clearly locate a material object:

What remains then as an explanation?

Those who have seen have their opinion more or less fixed: they saw one of these mysterious saucers, whose appearances in all parts of the globe have unleashed the most heated controversies.

To the others, I leave it to them to draw the conclusions that they find most satisfactory.

Anyway, here's a nice extra piece to the bulky "unidentified aerial objects" file!

Ch. GARREAU.

What does the
U.S. Air Force knows

After America, France increasingly sees strange objects appear in its sky...

What are they? Where do they come from? The question, so far, has remained unanswered.

But the United States Air Force, the first, has opened an investigation that has dragged on for seven years.

Very soon, under the signature of an American expert [Donald Keyhoe] our journal will start publishing a fascinating series of articles; which will reveal to our readers some of the secret files of the US Air Force.

[Ref. cgu1:] CHARLES GARREAU:

The journalist, author and pioneer ufologist indicated that on Saturday January 9, 1954, at dawn, there was a "flash invasion" on the east of France; which according to him "seems to be a highlight in the voluminous 'flying saucers' file."

Garreau indicated that from "all places" in the region, information flocked to his desk, about an object that "flew for almost two hours above the East."

He said that the first reports left the door open to all hypotheses, meteor, balloon, jet plane, "or saucer!", but that the reports which reached him later would eliminate all these hypotheses except that of the flying saucer.

He recalled that meteors always have a perfectly rectilinear trajectory, a relatively high constant speed of 30.000 to 40.000 km/h, and that balloons have an apparent speed which cannot exceed that of the strongest stratospheric currents, from 300 to 400 km/h.

Among the cases he mentioned, there was that of 7:20 a.m. in Neuville-les-Champlitte [sic] in the Haute-Saône, a red glow which "cast a reflection of blood on the countryside snow." Very high, a rather long object, followed by an incandescent trail, "follows a huge arc of circle, and rushes towards the North" whereas by coincidence, at the same hour, the area was deprived of electric power.

He assured that between the place of the previous observation of Lunéville to this one, there are 130 kilometers as the crow flies, that the "Mysterious Celestial Object" traveled in an hour.

He explained that no meteor or balloon could have engaged in the "zigzag" shown according to him by the observations of this morning, and that no plane of the time could have been able "to stop then accelerate at more than 3,000 per hour", performances which he deduced from some of the observations and distances between observation spots relative to the reported observations hours.

Garreau added that "to leave no doubt", he had questioned the various regional weather stations, and that he had been told that no balloon had been launched.

At the American base in Semoutiers, near Chaumont, he was told "It was neither a balloon, nor a plane, from here."

He added that the Besançon observatory had seen nothing, and that the Contrexéville and Dijon radar sets as well as the Perrogney goniometer in Haute-Saône had seen nothing, since their specialists only took their duty at 8 a.m..

He added that the "Scientific bureau" had hesitated to take a position, saying that the only possible "natural" explanation would be that of a meteor, but "the journey described by the object is such that it could not have been a single meteor. It would therefore have to be admitted that it was a swarm of meteorites which crossed "(under the clouds!!!)" the sky of eastern France following different trajectories."

[Ref. cgu2:] CHARLES GARREAU:

French journalist and pioneer of French ufology Charles Garreau drew the map underneath to plot sightings which all occurred on January 9, 1954, between 06:15 a.m. and 7:50 a.m. in the East of France.

Though no narrative is joined, it is visible on the map that a sighting of some sort occurred on January 9, 1954, at 07:20 A.M., from the city of Neuvelle-les-Champlitte or near to this city.

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

The authors indicate that the Dépêche du Berry for January 11, 1954 said of the case of Gémeaux at 7:21:

"Several people saw in the sky, during a few seconds, a red ball, surmounted of a triangle. The object, which came from the area of the Is-sur-Tille, passed without leaving of trace and was immobilized on the village before starting out again like a flash in direction of Til Chatel, to disappear at the horizon. About the same hour, the same phenomenon was observed in Neuvelle-les-Champlites and Langres."

The authors give two sketches, the one on the left is the trip of the flying saucer according to Charles Garreau, the one on the right is the trajectory of the meteor according to them:

The authors fustigate [rightly] the ufologists who like Charles Garreau took the hours of observations given in the newspapers literally [as if people were then provided with stop watches! These hours are generally only approximations made a posteriori] and then believed in a complicated flying saucer travel where a meteor had actually passed.

Barthel and Brucker specify that the North-West to South-East trajectory of the meteor of 7:50 is confirmed by testimonies coming from other countries.

[Ref. via2:] "VIMANA 21" UFOLOGY BULLETIN:

THE METEORS

[...Other cases...]

JANUARY 9, 1954

The aerial object that flew over the Côte d'Or left the door open to various assumptions: meteor, balloon, jet plane or saucer, according to the newspapers! The witnesses describe it as an object at the speed of a (Burgundian) snail, then as a fireball describing an extraordinary journey: Nancy, Neuvelle les Champlittes, Chaumont, Langres, Gemeaux, Besançon. It was reportedly also seen in Dijon, Oisilly and Auxonne. It was also described as a reddish trail or yellow disk, depending on its speed and angle of observation (ref. 21)

[...Other cases...]

The source "ref. 21" is indicated further on, as "21 - Bourgogne Républicaine for 1/13/54, Mystérieux objets célestes by Aimée [sic] Michel, page 96 to 99 -"

[Ref. lgs1:] LOREN GROSS:

[... Other cases...]

"Celestial Phenomenon."

We have no date and time concerning the case, but there was a curious story in a Swiss paper dated January 10, 1954. The CIA collected the following clipping and translated it into English. It read:

"For a few seconds, inhabitants of Gemeaux, Cote d'Or Department, recently observed in the sky a red ball surmounted by a triangle. The phenomenon moved on without leaving a trail. The same observation was reported by several witnesses from Nouvelles-les-Champlitte [sic] and Langras. [sic]" 46.

[... Other cases...]

[Ref. goe1:] GODELIEVE VAN OVERMEIRE:

Godelieve van Overmeire indicates that in 1954, on January 9, in France, à Neuville les Champlitte, "At 07:30: a red gleam throws a reflection of blood on the snow-covered countryside. Very high a rather long object, followed of a glowing trail, flew in a huge arc of circle, it slipped away towards the north. Coincidence: at the same time the area is deprived of electrical power. (Charles GARREAU: 'Alerte dans le ciel: le dossier des enlèvements' Alain Lefeuvre pub. 1981, p. 101)"

[Note 1: this summary is not about the observation in Neuvelle-lès-Champlittes, it describes the sighting in Besançon!]

[Note 2: this Belgian "skeptical" ufologist has the wrong reference: this is not the 1981 book "Alerte dans le ciel: le dossier des enlèvements" by Garreau, but his 1956 book "Alerte dans le ciel".]

[Ref. lcn1:] LUC CHASTAN:

Luc Chastan indicates that in the Haute Saône in Neuvelle les Champlitte on January 9, 1954, at 07:20 "Observation of a discoidal object of a dazzling red luminosity, throwing reflections of blood on snow-covered countryside and leaving a long red trail. Coming from the North East it leaves towards the North. While the object flies over this area, a general power breakdown occurred. The power restored itself at its disappearance."

The sources are indicated as "Les soucoupes volantes viennent d'un autre monde by Guieu Jimmy ** Fleuve Noir 1954" and Alerte dans le ciel by Garreau Charles ** Alain Lefeuvre 1981".

Explanations:

The January 9, 1954, 07:48 a.m. meteor.

Charles Garreau assured that between the place of the previous observation of Lunéville to this one, there are 130 kilometers in straight light, and calculated that the "object" had crossed it in an hour.

But the hours of the Lunéville observation was given as "around 06:00 a.m." by Nice-Matin, as 06:10 a.m. by La Bourgogne Républicaine, as "a little" before "07:55 a.m." by L'Est Républicain, and "06:15 a.m." by Garreau. How can anyone believe that there was a reliable hour there?

As for the "power outage" invoked, Guieu and Garreau do not explain why, if it were caused by a "flying saucer", it would have occurred only for this observation, and for none of the 35 others that I was able to document for that morning at these hours and in that region.

Map.

Keywords:

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

Neuvelle-lès-Champlitte, Haute-Saône, sky, gleam, red, reflection, high, object, craft, long, trail, incandescent, arc of circle, power failure

Sources:

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

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross September 25, 2005 First published.
1.0 Patrick Gross January 10, 2010 Conversion from HTML to XHTML Strict. First formal version. Additions [goe1], [lcn1].
1.1 Patrick Gross November 2, 2016 Addition [lgs1].
1.2 Patrick Gross January 26, 2019 Additions [via2], Summary.
1.3 Patrick Gross February 2, 2020 Additions [cgu1]. In the Summary, addition of the paragraph "Garreau spoke..." Explanations changed, were "The January 9, 1954, 07:48 a.m. meteor."
1.4 Patrick Gross January 3, 2021 Additions [bre1]. In the Summary, addition of the information from [bre1]. In the Explanations, addition of "as 06:10 a.m. by La Bourgogne Républicaine,"
1.5 Patrick Gross January 8, 2021 Addition [ppe1].

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