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ACUFO is my comprehensive catalog of cases of encounters between aircraft and UFOs, whether they are "explained" or "unexplained".

The ACUFO catalog is made of case files with a case number, summary, quantitative information (date, location, number of witnesses...), classifications, all sources mentioning the case with their references, a discussion of the case in order to evaluate its causes, and a history of the changes made to the file.

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Bettendorf, France, on February 14, 1945:

Case number:

ACUFO-1945-02-14-BETTENDORF-1

Summary:

In his 2012 book on UFOs and other flying saucers sightings in Alsace, Christian Valentin recounts some observations of the famous "Foo-Fighters" in Alsace in 1944-1945, and found in addition to the "classic" Foo-fighters a tragic event perhaps in connection with the latter.

He says that Captain Pierre Schaufelberger, French pilot, was shot in flight during a reconnaissance mission at high altitude by flak in the afternoon of February 14, 1945. And he is quoted in a commemorative plaque by the AAHAA, Association of Friends of the History of Aviation in Alsace.

He had broken radio silence and had exclaimed: "I see a white ball coming toward me" - which will be his last words. His P-38 Lightning "273" disrupted by the fatal shots he had just received, fell at high speed. In a final effort he avoided the village of Bettendorf, skimming the rooftops. He lost one of the engines and crashed in a field outside the village.

Christian Valentin comments that the "white ball" is a curious description for flak, given the bullets speed. He should have explicitely told about flak rather than of a "white ball coming toward me."

Moreover, the text refers to several "fatal blows" after the pilot announced that only one "white ball" came towards him.

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: February 14, 1945
Time: Afternoon.
Duration: ?
First known report date: 1945, 2012
Reporting delay: Hours, decades.

Geographical data:

Country: France
State/Department: Haut-Rhin
City: Bettendorf

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 1
Number of known witnesses: 1
Number of named witnesses: 1

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Local History association.
Visibility conditions: Day.
UFO observed: Yes.
UFO arrival observed: Yes.
UFO departure observed: N/A.
UFO action: Hits and destroys plane.
Witnesses action:
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: ?
Witnesses interpretation: ?

Classifications:

Sensors: [X] Visual: 1
[ ] Airborne radar: N/A.
[ ] Directional ground radar:
[ ] Height finder ground radar:
[ ] Photo:
[ ] Film/video:
[ ] EM Effects:
[ ] Failures:
[X] Damages: Plane destroyed, pilot killed.
Hynek: CE1
Armed / unarmed: Uncertain.
Reliability 1-3: 2
Strangeness 1-3: 2
ACUFO: Unexplained.

Sources:

[Ref. cvn1:] CHRISTIAN VALENTIN:

Former journalist Christian Valentin published in 2012 a very interesting book telling the story of UFO sightings, flying saucers sightings, in Alsace, from the beginning to 1980.

In this book, he reports some of the observations of the famous "Foo-Fighters" in Alsace in 1944-1945, and indicates that in addition to these "classic" sightings, there has been a tragic event "probably not related to the phenomenon of foo fighters, but whose appearance prompts to brings the facts together."

He says that Captain Pierre Schaufelberger, French pilot, was shot in flight during a reconnaissance mission at high altitude by flak in the afternoon of February 14, 1945. And he is quoted in a commemorative plaque by the AAHAA, Association of Friends of the History of Aviation in Alsace.

He had broken radio silence and had exclaimed: "I see a white ball coming toward me" - which will be his last words. His P-38 Lightning "273" disrupted by the fatal shots he had just received, fell at high speed. In a final effort he avoided the village of Bettendorf, skimming the rooftops. He lost one of the engines and crashed in a field outside the village.

Christian Valentin comments that the "white ball" is a curious description for flak, given the bullets speed. He should have explicitely told about flak rather than of a "white ball coming toward me."

Moreover, the text refers to several "fatal blows" after the pilot announced that only one "white ball" came towards him.

[Ref. dna1:] JOURNAL "DERNIERES NOUVELLES D'ALSACE":

HISTORY

75 years ago, Captain Schaufelberger's plane crashed in Bettendorf

In February 1945, 75 years ago, Captain Schaufelberger's twin-engine plane crashed on the heights of Bettendorf. A village street and a stele recall the story of this officer, already injured in a previous crash, and who returned to combat.

Prosper RUETSCH - February 22 2020 at 3:49 p.m. | updated Feb 22 2020 at 3:53 p.m.

February 1945: after a harsh and snowy January - at the end of the month, nearly a meter of snow had fallen - mildness returned. Sundgau has been liberated since November 28 but on the Rhine and Hardt side, a large pocket of resistance stops the advance of the French army.

"A white ball..."

On February 9, Chalampé was the last Upper Rhine village liberated. However, the Germans are still fighting, French patrols are being ambushed and border villages are being bombarded by German artillery stationed on the other bank of the Rhine.

On February 14, Captain Pierre Schaufelberger assigned to group 1/33 "Belfort", took off from the Nancy-Azelot aerodrome for a very long-range photographic reconnaissance mission in the south of Baden-Baden. On his return from operation, while flying over the Sundgau, the pilot broke the imposed radio silence and exclaimed: "I see a white ball coming towards me."

These will be his last words. Hit by a shot from the Flak, the German AA, the P38 Lightning 273 falls at high speed. In a final burst, the American-designed twin-engine aircraft avoided the roofs of Bettendorf, lost one of its engines and crashed at a place called Breitholz, to the north of the town. Thus ends the aeronautical career of Captain Pierre Schaufelberger.

A first crash

Born on October 5, 1915 in Geneva, but living in Culoz, in the Ain, the man who is familiarly called "Pierrot" studied chemical engineering in Lyon. He took advantage of military preparation to taste the first joys of aviation on the Lyon-Bron base. Incorporated in 1936, he was seconded as a reserve cadet to the BR 127 squadron in Avord (Cher). On February 24, 1940, during the "phony war", his Potez 63-11 crashed near Saint-Omer (Pas-de-Calais), following a failure of both engines. Seriously injured, the war is over for him.

But for Schaufelberger, the fight continued, despite the signing of the armistice of June 22, 1940. Assigned to air group 1/38 in Istres, he left the continent with his plane and a few companions who, like him, refused the defeat, and lands in North Africa where the Americans have just landed.

The training to pilot the twin-engine aircraft then begins. Assigned to the 1/33 "Belfort" group, it will carry out war missions and sorties in the form of photographic reconnaissance on an unarmed and unaccompanied single-seater. Until this beautiful February afternoon when his plane crashed on this land of France that he helped to liberate.

Note: the article was published identically at the same time on the website of the newspaper L'Alsace, the two newspapers having merged.

Aircraft information:

The Lockheed P-38 "Lightning" was an American twin-engine, single-seat fighter plane used at this time of the Second World War, capable of a maximum speed of 666 km/h or even 712 km/h with WEP compressor.

P-38.

It was normally armed with a 20 mm HS-404 cannon, 4 12.7 mm M2 machine guns, and could carry 2 bombs, or a torpedo, or 10 127 mm rockets.

Discussion:

Map.

The memorial stone can be found like this: from the center of Bettendorf (Townhall - Church) 5 km southeast of Altkirch, go up the Captain Schaufelberger street, at the fork of the cross, turn right and go up the whole Bettendorf street. After the last houses continue on the asphalt road that narrows into a farming path. At the fork, take the right path marked with a red triangle, follow it, move past the lower pond on the right staying on the trail. The stone is 30 meters away, surrounded by two cypress trees.

Pierre Schaufelberger was born in Geneva, Switzerland, on October 5, 1915. He was killed with "Died for France" honor while on mission within the Belfort 1/33 Reconnaissance Group which had been reconstituted in January 1945. He had left Nancy-Azelot, flying a Lockheed Lightning P-38; while the GR 01/33 was just reformed.

(Sources: Jean-Loup Frommer; www.er133belfort.free.fr; www.memoiredeshommes.sga; C. Dannau www.memorial-genweb.org; http://francecrashes39-45.net/page_fiche_av.php?id=5434)

Francecrashes39-45.net lists all crashes of aircraft from 1939 to 1945 in France. We see no night fighter aircraft types has never been lost in the Upper Rhine and the Lower Rhine. In cases of "Foo-Fighters" in the Rhine Valley, there has never been one report mentioning "hostility" of these phenomena, rather, avoidance is sometimes indicated. All Alsatian Foo-Fighters the period 1939-1945 seem to have been nocturnal; the reconnaissance mission of Pierre Schaufelberger was necessarily by day. We see that this case does not "fit" with the others on these aspects.

The "white ball" cannot be an engine fire; it would never be described as advancing to the pilot that since the P-38 (picture below) has its two engines on the side beams, left and right of the central pilot pod.

Pierre Armand Marius Edouard Schaufelberger was 29 and ranked Captain when he died.

His plane was No 233, it was named "Elsass", the serial number was 42-68273.

Photo.

Evaluation:

Unexplained.

Sources references:

* = Source is available to me.
? = Source I am told about but could not get so far. Help needed.

File history:

Authoring:

Main author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross April 19, 2016 Création, [cvn1].
1.0 Patrick Gross April 19, 2016 First publishing in ALSACAT.
1.1 Patrick Gross December 10, 2023 Addition [dna1].
1.1 Patrick Gross December 10, 2023 First publishing in ACUFO.

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This page was last updated on December 10, 2023.