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The 1954 French flap:

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

Beg. February, 1954, Homécourt, Meurthe-et-Moselle:

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


The regional newspaper L'Est Républicain for February 13, 1954, published a photograph, explaining that it shows what a resident of Homécourt said he had seen and photographed: a flying saucer:

The alleged witness was Mr. Jean Hofmockel, married, soon a father, residing at his parents-in-law's home.

He claimed that the week before, suffering, he was enjoying around 01:15 p.m., the pale winter sun to walk around the mines wastes of Sainte-Marie-Aux-Chênes, behind the coke ovens of Homécourt, when: "Suddenly, I saw descending towards me, hovering in a dead leaf motion a craft some twenty-five meters in diameter, very close to the ground, I had my camera and I was able to take three shots. I was about to take the fourth one, when the "saucer" went up sharply vertically and disappeared very quickly."

He said he was very scared, not enough, however, to prevent him from taking the pictures, but enough to only poorly making his shots.

The newspaper said some people thought it was a flying saucer, others thought it was a good joke, and that most of the few people he told his story to were skeptical, "Mrs. Hofmockel first, though she also seems convinced later."

The newspaper said that "some people even claim that the saucer photographer used a simple cover to get his snapshots."

(In my Explanations section below in this file, I expose a better and even simpler scenario of what was likely a prank.)



"I saw a craft hovering down dead leaf..."

A resident of Homécourt claims to have seen (and photographed) a flying saucer

[Photo in the newspaper; not available.]

Joeuf. -- Mr. Jean Hofmockel is married in Homécourt, where he lives with his in-laws. This boy, soon father, has just, according to some, had an extraordinary opportunity, while for others, he is the author of a good joke. He claims, in fact, to have photographed a flying saucer. The whole affair took place last week, Mr. Hofmockel, sick, took advantage, at 01:15 p.m. from the pale winter sun to walk on the edge of the heap of Sainte-Marie-Aux-Chenes, behind the coke ovens of Homécourt. "Suddenly I saw coming down to me, hovering with a falling dead leaf motion a craft of some twenty-five meters in diameter, very close to the ground. I had my camera and was able to take three shots. But when I was about to take a fourth, the "saucer" suddenly went up vertically and disappeared quickly."

Our witness confessed that he was very scared, but not enough for him to be prevented from photographing his vision, but enough to succeed only poorly his shots. Most of the few people to whom he told the case remained skeptical, Mrs. Hofmockel the first, yet he seems convinced in his turn. Some even claim that the saucers photographer had used a simple lid thrown into the air to take his shots.


- Nuevas instantáneas de 1954

Dedicamos el Informe FOTOCAT #1 a pasar revista de todas las fotografías de OVNIS conocidas de la oleada del año 1954: [lien brisé.]

Desde la publicación de este trabajo hemos encontrado otros casos más, que voy presentando en sucesivas actualizaciones de este blog. En esta ocasión doy a publicidad dos hallazgos recientes.

El diario francés L'Est Républicain del 13 de febrero 1954 publicó un reportaje sobre un OVNI avistado por Jean Hofmockel, de 26 años, que vivía en Homécourt (104, Cités de la Gare), ambiguamente fechado como ocurrido “la semana pasada" (del 1 al 7 de febrero). Según el testigo, estaba caminando cerca de la escombrera de Sainte-Marie-aux-Chênes a las 13:15 horas, cuando vio un objeto en forma de disco de 25 metros de diámetro que llegó cerca del suelo en un movimiento de caída de hoja. Antes de que ascendiera rápidamente hasta desaparecer, Hofmockel pudo tomar 3 fotografías. Sólo una fue divulgada por el diario. El lector puede juzgar por sí mismo: se parece mucho a un plato lanzado al aire. Sin embargo, para ser justos, este evento muestra algunos signos de interés: ocurrió antes del comienzo de la gran oleada francesa, describe una dinámica peculiar denotada otras veces también (¿fue ésta la primera vez?), y apenas era conocido incluso por los especialistas franceses. Me gustaría que algún colega local se molestara en rastrear el paradero de esta persona (que, si vive, tendrá ya 84 años) o de su familia, para examinar el caso en mayor profundidad.

(Gracias a Franck Boitte, Gilles Munsch y Raoul Robe).

[Photo caption:] Primeros de febrero de 1954, Sainte-Marie-aux-Chênes, Francia. © Jean Hofmockel.

- New shots from 1954

We dedicate the FOTOCAT report # 1 to all known UFO photos from the 1954 wave: [broken link.]

Since the publication of this work, we found other cases that I present in successive updates of this blog. On this occasion, I publish two recent results.

The French newspaper L'Est Républicain for 13 February 1954 published a report on a UFO sighted by Jean Hofmockel, 26-year-old and resident at Homécourt (104, Cités de la Gare), ambiguously dated as "the last week "(February 1st to 7th). According to the witness, he was walking near the Saint-Marie-aux-Chênes wasteland at 1:15 p.m., when he saw a disc-shaped object 25 meters in diameter. It rushed to near the ground in a falling leaf motion. Before rising to disappear quickly, Hofmockel was able to take 3 photos. Only one was revealed by the newspaper. The reader can judge for himself: it looks a lot like a plate thrown in the air. However, to be fair, this event shows some signs of interest: it happened before the start of the great French wave, it describes a particular movement also denoted (was it the first time?) And it was hardly known by specialists. I would like a local colleague to take the trouble of locating the whereabouts of this person (who, if he lives, would be 84-year-old) or his family, to examine the case further.

(Thanks to Franck Boitte, Gilles Munsch and Raoul Robe).

[Photo caption:] Beginning of February 1954, Sainte-Marie-aux-Chênes, France. Jean Hofmockel.



Beginning of February 1954, Sainte Marie-aux-Chênes (57): Photo of UFO

Aerial view of Sainte Marie-aux-Chênes in the years 1950-65. (Source: Geoportal)

As many know, the year 1954 had its unparalleled lot of sightings across France and neighboring countries with a peak between the months of October and November. We also know that it was partly impacted by the adverse effects of the print media leading the population to a certain psychosis on the one hand and the recrudescence of hoaxes abundantly described in the UFO literature. But here, in the middle of all this, real cases can be hidden. This applies to all major waves of French observations (1954, 1990, 1993, 1998, 2010?). The "Drones ufos" episode (fall season 2014, spring 2015) above sensitive sites (nuclear plants), seems to be discarded for other reasons.

Here I come back to a case published on the website Fotocat by Vincente-Juan Ballester Olmos. He will not blame me for having stolen this passage, it is after all a small part of our national heritage in terms of ufology oddity.

Well... This is an acceptable cliché that we owe to Mr. Hofmockel resident in Homécourt (54). The other two shots ended in failure. Despite its very average quality, it is still interesting, because it shows that at the time, the reported facts were not essentially nocturnal.

The other detail that could be important is the proximity of an industrial site, in this case a slag heap. The latter seems to be located north of the town (see aerial photography).

The geological map shows the passage of the fault located south of Homécourt (54) distant just a few kilometers from the site of the observation. It would have been more interesting for the rest, if this hypothetical object had been directly above the fault, except it was not the case.

Early February 1954, Sainte-Marie-Aux-Chênes, France. © Jean Hofmockel.

If it turns out that this shot is really authentic, as it seems to be the case, yet nothing proves the true nature of the object. The author could very well have mounted a hoax with a hubcap, a vinyl record or a lid of trash, all complemented by a story drawn from the UFO literature to tie his case. This may be the case, but since there was never had an investigation properly speaking, doubt will remain...

But if he had wanted to go further in the process and talk about it in the media, or even reap a certain amount of money for the shots (this was negotiating at the time), we would not be there with an isolated case, and little known to ufologists.

The size of this "flying disk" is not really compatible with what is commonly described at the time, this object seems larger than usual (the witness estimates it to 25 meters in diameter). In general the witnesses relatively close to these objects rather describe a size between 8 and fifteen meters at the most, but why not after all...

Descent description in dead leaf is very common at the time and characteristic of objects having a disc shape, plate or saucer.

What seems obvious at first glance in this picture is the black disc, is this the object in question? It looks very small for a machine of 25 meters in diameter. Good, misleading perspective effect we will say, I am not specialist in decryption of images.

On the other hand, perhaps I would bring more importance to the whitish vertical plots that we see on the right. We meet them quite often on the pictures described as real. They are obtained when these "flying disks" take off quickly from the ground and according to the setting of the cameras. But it may just as well be a defect of the film or something else disturbing the shooting.

This is to say that a photo can never be a proof in itself, especially in the absence of a consistent story behind as is often the case on social networks and video platforms. With advantages of data, it is possible to go further, but the possible witnesses are not aware of it and bring very often only the strict minimum, thus preventing us from advancing in an investigation procedure.

Below, the text accompanying the cliché published in L'Est Républicain on Saturday, February 13, 1954, page 7 (Source extracted from the website of Mr. Patrick Gross) [With link to my present page].

"I saw a plane hovering in a dead leaf..."

A Homécourt resident ensures to have seen (and photographed) a flying saucer.

Joeuf. -- Mr. Jean Hofmockel, is married in Homécourt, where he lives with his parents-in-law. This boy, soon a father, has just had, according to some, an extraordinary chance, while for others, he passes for the author of a good joke. He claims, indeed, to have photographed a flying saucer. The whole affair took place last week. Mr. Hofmockel, who was ill, took advantage, at about 1:15 p.m., of the pale winter sun to walk around the shatter-hole of Sainte-Marie-Aux-Chênes, behind Homécourt's coke ovens.

"Suddenly, I saw descending towards me, hovering in a dead leaf manner, a machine some twenty-five meters in diameter, very close to the ground, I had my camera and I was able to take three shots. I was getting ready to take the fourth one, when the "saucer" climbed sharply vertically and disappeared very quickly."

Our witness confesses that he was very frightened, not enough, however, to prevent him from photographing his vision, but enough to succeed only poorly with his shots. Most of the few people to whom he told the affair remained skeptical, Mrs. Hofmockel the first, although she appears convinced in her turn.

Some even go so far as to claim that the saucer photographer used a simple lid toss up for his photos.

So indeed, for who wants to take the trouble and has time in front of him, it would be possible to find the witness or rather these descendants to try to know more about it and to obtain - why not - the original pictures yellowed by the time. But I imagine that the people of the "Vosges Circle Lumières Dans La Nuit", the future CNEGU, had already tried to go back to track...


Note: The [ler1] source was typed from the newspaper article by ufologist of "Cercles Vosgien Lumières Dans La Nuit", a group affiliated to the CNEGU ufology groups group. They include Francine Cordier, Gilles Munsch, Raoul Robé et al. They did not provide a copy of the article, hence the alleged saucer photograph in the newspaper cannot be shown here for now.

Possible photographic hoax.


The fact that relatives of the photographer have doubts does not plead for credibility. We often hear relatives of a witness vouch that he is known for being trustworthy, serious, etc., but that is not the case here.

Only one of the pictures is shown; it should be understood in principle that there would be no saucer at all on the others. It is regrettable, however, that nothing was said about these other pictures.

Since the "saucer" is cut, it seems that the newspaper did not crop the photo; they would have kept the whole saucer.

The "dead leaf motion" were already something that had appeared in ufology books and especially newspapers (eg Spokane USA June 21, 1947, Topcliffe U-K., September 19, 1952, etc.); it is true that it was not a very well-known feature, but it should not be decided that it cannot have been known at all from this alleged witness. And of course, had he been "the first", it would have been easily argued that he was the one who inspired the next such cases, via L'Est Républicain, with for example the case of Kembs in the East of Reance on October 14, 1954.

In the photo, I see more or less vertical "streaks". It is possible that these are reflections of curtains on a window - in any case I do not see too much what else it could be. If this were the case, it would be a contradiction revealing a deception since the witness claimed to have been outside when he took the photo.

The "saucer" is quite clear-cut (sharp edges). This suggests something fixed, like a lid held in the air, not a saucer in flight, not an object thrown in the air. This also suggests a good probability that it was a small and close object, a distant object should have been "brightened" by the imperfect transparency of the air.

The fact that the "saucer" is not complete can either confirm that the alleged witness had a hard time aiming at it with the camera, or that he framed it so that one cannot see a hand, or anything else, that would have held a plate or a lid - But I have a better scenario...

There is a dark "border" on the top of the photo, slightly slanted to the right. And the "saucer" appears as an oval. I therefore propose the following interpretation which accounts for this:

The witness was not outside but behind a window. We see what resembles reflections of curtains on the photo. We see the dark line on the top; which cannot be there if the photo had been taken outside. The window would have been a window called "à châssis à soufflet" in France, i.e. opening horizontally, from its top:

The thin, dark border would be a visible part of the top of the window frame.

The handle would obviously not be a "modern" handle but a vintage handle, called "espagnolette" or "crémone" in France, fixed horizontally on the top of the frame, and in open or rather, semi-open position:

Because what we see is a part of the oval handle, fixed, we see all the signs of something close and fixed. If the "saucer" had been a plate or a cover thrown in the air, there would have been very little chances not get some motion blur on the photo.

To summarize:

  1. Reflections of curtains on the surface of the window.
  2. Small portion of the upper frame of the window that remained visible, without the photographer noticing this, because it is quite thin. A photo paper border is normally white, not dark.
  3. Position of the fixing of the "cremone" handle, horizontally, with oval handle in open position, of which a portion is visible in front of the window pane.
  4. Top of the window frame.

Perhaps Mr. Hofmuller had originally just wanted to photograph the landscape, and had not noticed at the time that the window handle would partly appear on his photo. But after development, he saw it, thought it "looked like a flying saucer" and thus had the idea of the "good joke".

And not only did the idea of the "good joke" come by like that, by pure chance, without "premeditation", but moreover, Mt. Hofmockel likely only intended to fool relatives and friends, but as often, people speak, and the local correspondent of a newspaper hears about it... and it is too late to back down in shame. He probably did not want to "get in the newspapers" or "earn money", he just seized the accidental opportunity to play a good joke to people he knew.

In [jbs1], an address is given: "104 Cités de la Gare" in Homécourt. I do not know where this came from, it did not appear in the newspaper [ler1], and while the "Cités de la Gare" do exist in Homécourt, probably to be considered as the home of parents-in-law where the alleged witness then resided, the "104" of the Cités de la Gare cannot be found. "Cités de la Gare" is not a street name but a neighborhood name, the attached street number thus makes no sense. It could have been "104 rue de Verdun" for example - the longest street in that neighborhood. The 2019 phonebook does not show any "Hofmockel" resident in Homécourt having an annoucned phone, and the name of the parents-in-law is unknown to me. Note that the alleged location of the alleged sighting is elsewhere, near Sainte-Marie-Aux-Chênes, at about 4.5 km southeast of this home.

My idea was to check at the so-called "104 Ciés de la Gare" whether there is a vintage house there with at least a horizontal-opening window. The photographer would obviously have been able to take the picture at his home. Just as obviously, he could have taken it elsewhere.

Since one sees by my supposed window a landscape without dwellings, the window should be that of a house of those years with a back facade overlooking the countryside, on an "edge" of the Cité de La Gare. At the time, anyone with the opportunity to "look around" might have checked for the right house and one or more of these windows. But decades later, I see that although there are many vintage houses, vintage windows, logically, have been largely replaced (PVC frames, double glazing...).



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

Homécourt, Sainte-Marie-aux-Chênes, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Jean Hofmockel, photograph, photo, saucer, falling leaf, manoeuver, day, fast, frightened


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

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
1.0 Patrick Gross November 2, 2016 First published.
1.1 Patrick Gross April 20, 2018 Addition [ovl1].
1.2 Patrick Gross November 23, 2019 Additions [jbs1], Summary. Explanations changed, were "Not looked for yet. Possible photographic hoax" and the Note about [ler1].

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This page was last updated on November 23, 2019.