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The 1954 French flap:

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

January 9, 1954, Poligny, Jura:

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

Summary:

The newspaper La Republique for January 12, 1954, reported that on January 9, 1954, in Poligny, three young hunters hunting near the bridge of La Ferté suddenly saw a red fireball seeming to rotate on itself while projecting sparks and leaving a bluish trail. This "craft" coming from the direction of Mont Sous Vaudrey went towards Saint-Cyr. The three hunters had time to observe the phenomenon for 5 to 7 seconds without hearing any noise.

Charles Garreau, then journalist of La Bourgogne Républicaine and already a flying saucers enthusiast, had put 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 granted the hours quoted, giving 07:50 a.m. to the Poligny sighting, whereas most of them were, of course, only approximate hours. It is because of this that some still speak of a "sudden change of course" of phenomenon, but it was not so.

In his 1956 book "Alerte Dans le Ciel", Garreau indicated that in Poligny, the "Mysterious Celestial Object" had been described as a disc of red-yellow color, seeming to turn on itself, and followed by a bluish streak.

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. lre1:] NEWSPAPER "LA REPUBLIQUE":

[...]

In Poligny, three young hunters hunting near the bridge of La Ferté were surprised to suddenly see a ball of red light seeming to rotate while projecting sparks and leaving a bluish trail. This machine coming from the direction of Mount Sous Vaudrey moved towards Saint-Cyr. Our three hunters had the time to observe the phenomenon during 5 to 7 seconds without hearing noise.

In addition, Mr Formet, a salesman, who was being among the group of hunters, reports that by delivering a cooker to Molain, Saturday afternoon, the residents told him about the same phenomenon observed the morning towards 8 a.m.

[...]

[Ref. bre1:] 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:

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 according to him a sighting of some sort occurred on January 9, 1954, at 07:50 a.m. in Poligny.

[Ref. cgu2:] 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.

He indicated that in Poligny, the "Mysterious Celestial Object" was described as a red-yellow disc, seeming to turn on itself, and followed by a bluish streak.

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. bbr1:] GERARD BARTHEL AND JACQUES BRUCKER:

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 testimonys coming from other countries.

[Ref. lgs1:] LOREN GROSS:

[... Other cases...]

France too.

Similarly, a UFO was reported wandering about over the countryside of France. The thing put on quite a show for two hours 6-8 a.m. on January 9th.

According to an investigator of the French civilian UFO group Ouranos, Charles Garreau, the sky object in question appeared first over the community of Luneville where it was seen glowing a brilliant scarlet. The same object was then over Nancy glowing yellow, and then above Montigny-le-Roy and two other towns, Langres and Gemeaux, where the object appeared red with green stripes. Finally, the thing was visible moving over Poligny showing a yellow-red color and leaving a blue trail behind it. Garreau makes no mention of the color of the UFO when it passed over two more towns but did say something about the object's maneuvers. As the thing sped over Chaumont it changed course while under observation, making a sharp turn and when arriving at Lons-le-Saulnier the thing hovered for a bit before speeding away leaving behind a huge red plume of smoke. Generally, the UFO's speed varied as did the altitude as indicated by witnesses statements, and the apparent size ranged from an orange to the full moon. 43.

[... Other cases...]

[Ref. lcn1:] LUC CHASTAN:

Luc Chastan indique que dans le Jura à Poligny on January 9, 1954, at 07:50 "Observation of a discoïdal object of a dazzling red yellow luminosity with trail. Direction North South."

The source is indicated as "Les soucoupes volantes viennent d'un autre monde by Guieu Jimmy ** Fleuve Noir 1954".

Explanations:

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

Map.

Keywords:

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

Poligny, Jura, multiple, la Ferté, hunters, ball, fire, red, rotation, sparks, blue, trail, duration, fast, silent

Sources:

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

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross October 5, 2005 First published.
1.0 Patrick Gross January 10, 2010 Conversion from HTML to XHTML Strict. First formal version. Addition [lcn1].
1.1 Patrick Gross November 2, 2016 Addition [lgs1].
1.2 Patrick Gross January 26, 2019 Addition of the Summary.
1.3 Patrick Gross February 4, 2020 Addition [cgu2]. In the Summary, addition of the paragraph "In his 1956 book..."
1.4 Patrick Gross January 9, 2020 Addition [bre1].

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