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ALSACAT:

As its name suggests, ALSACAT is my comprehensive catalog of UFO sighting reports in Alsace, the region is the North-East of France, whether they are "explained" or "unexplained".

The ALSACAT 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. A general index and thematic sub-catalogs give access to these Alsatian case files.

Case of Entzheim, on February 23, 1961:

Case number:

ALSACAT-1961-02-23-ENTZHEIM-1

Summary:

Three foreign catalogs of UFO sighting reports note that on February 23, 1961, in the afternoon in Entzheim, Alsace, France, "a disc was seen".

I then found a very different contemporary version in the ufology magazine Ouranos #26 of July 1961, a report saying that on February 23, 1961, in Entzheim, near the airfield, in the afternoon, "a ball of fire the apparent diameter of an orange explodes on the road and shatters the windshield of a car, emitting intense smoke. The motorist finds no trace of the "projectile" (Meteorite? but the damage would have been more serious, says the Strasbourg observatory; ball lightning? But it is not established that the weather was locally stormy. So windshield cancer)."

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: February 23, 1961
Time: Afternoon
Duration: ?
First known report date: ~1990?
Reporting delay: Minutes, 5 decades?

Geographical data:

Department: Bas-Rhin
City: Entzheim
Place: ?
Latitude: 48.53139
Longitude: -7.63389
Uncertainty ratio: 5 km

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: ?
Number of known witnesses: 0
Number of named witnesses: 0
Witness(es) ages: ?
Witness(es) types: ?

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: ?
Type of location: ?
Visibility conditions: Afternoon
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: ?
UFO departure observed: ?
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): ?
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): ?
Witness(es) feelings: ?
Witnesses interpretation: ?

Classifications:

Hynek: DD
ALSACAT: Totally insufficient information.

Sources:

[Ref. ous1:] UFOLOGY MAGAZINE "OURANOS":

Scan.

February 23 [1961]. ENTZHEIM, near Strasbourg (Bas-Rhin), afternoon. - Near the airfield, a fireball the apparent diameter of an orange exploded on the road and shattered the windshield of a car, emitting intense smoke. The motorist does not find any trace of the "projectile" (Meteorite? But the damage would have been more serious, says the Strasbourg observatory; ball lightning? But it is not established that the weather was locally stormy. So, windshiedl cancer?).

[Ref. uda1:] "UFODNA" WEBSITE:

23 February 1961 Afternoon

Entzheim, Alsace, France

A daytime disc was reported.

Hynek rating: DD

Vallee rating: FB1

The sources are indicated as: Schoenherr, Luis, Computerized Catalog (N = 3173)."

[Ref. ubk1:] "UFO-DATENBANKEN" WEBSITE:

Case number: 19610223
New case number: /td>
Sighting date: 02/23/1961
Sighting hour: Afternoon
Zip code:
Sighting place Entzheim
Coordinates:
Length:
Width:
Region:
Sighting country: France
Witnesses:
Classification: DD
Assessment:
Identification:
Investigations:
Investigation status: [WRITTEN] Reproduction/td>
Investigator:
Source: DUFOA-Deutschland - SiDat - 1996-2002/td>

[Ref. ubk2:] "UFODATENBANK":

Case ID19610223
Global case number:19610223-0002-UDB
Date of observation (Day)23
Date of observation (Month)2
Date of observation(Year)1961
Hour of observationAfternoon
Zip Code
Place of observationEntzheim
County
Federal state
CountryFrance
Witnesses
Hynek ClassificationDD
Vallee Classification
Ruthledge Classification
Henke Classification
Evaluation
Identification
Investigations
Status of the investigation
DomainUFO-Datenbank
Case added by
Latest change by:
Investigator in charge of the case
SourceDUFOA-Deutschland - SiDat - 1996-2002
State of the information25.04.2015 22:16
Accesses to this record2
Link to Openmaphttp://nominatim.openstreetmap.org/search?q=Entzheim,France
Link to the observationhttp://www.ufo-db.com/WfrmSetupSichtung.aspx?uid_Sichtung=cda1d6aa-6e30-45b9-8529-43e68d8fc5a7
Summary for guestsThe facts and other possible documents will be published progressively. We thank you for your patience.
Preview image

Discussion:

Map.

Entzheim is a small village of about 1800 inhabitants in the 2010s, located ten kilometers from Strasbourg. Entzheim extends over 817 hectares, of which 300 are occupied by the Strasbourg-Entzheim International Airport.

At the time, Entzheim is also the Air Force Base 124 Strasbourg-Entzheim, hosting the Escadron de Reconnaissance 1/33 Belfort, using US reconnaissance jet planes RF-84 Thunderflash (image below, a Thunderflash at the Entzheim Air Force Base).

The "windshield cancer":

The outbreak of windshield "explosions" in 1954, known as "windshield cancer" or "glass cancer" or "pare-brisite" in France, has become an oft-cited example of "collective delusion" or "mass hysteria". Sociologists and psychologists refer to these incidents in France, in the United States to ensure that "crowds" can easily fall prey to unfounded collective myths.

And of course, some "skeptical" ufologists explain that the "pare-brisite" which preceded the wave of the "flying saucers" of 1954 proves that the saucers too are only illusions.

None put forward the following point: "collective hysteria" here would in any case only concern the interpretation of the facts, not the facts themselves. And the interpretations weren't really "hysterical," they were quite understandable and sensible attempts at rationalization in the context of the time.

All kinds of explanations had been put forward at the time for "glass cancer", such as an effect of "atomic experiments", an activity of Martians, or that of "vandals". In the United States, police had found that the epidemic mainly affected older cars, and it was thought that the windows would explode as a result of their wear.

In the windshield explosions reported in France in 1954, we find "constants": the mention of a light or a flash, blue when the color is mentioned, the lack of meaning of an explanation by the vandals, the Martians, the atomic tests, the assurance of the witness(es) that no pebble had struck the windshield, the hearing of an explosion sound, the opacity of the glass after the explosion.

Some of these aspects are not strange: the sound of an explosion is perfectly normal when a windshield bursts. The glass becomes opaque because the anti-shatter protection layer produced this. The lack of observation of an impact by a pebble or other can also be explained: the windshield may have been split by a shock a long time before, and explodes later therefore without any noticeable impact.

The pioneering - and whimsical - ufologist Jimmy Guieu linked this mystery to aliens in 1954, but few ufologists have followed him down this path. The press had done it sometimes, but without claiming the seriousness of this "explanation."

The case:

Here the situation is quite different since we are talking about an exploding "ball of fire", and intense smoke.

If the incident is true - which does not seem guaranteed to me - I do not see the explanation.

Ball lightning seems unlikely because these plasma balls usually do not do such damage.

A meteorite seems unlikely because after passing through the atmosphere, a small meteorite is just a falling pebble, not a ball of fire anymore. If it is big, an impact trace or crater is found.

Perhaps it was an incident of "military" origin, such as an accidental flare explosion from the nearby air base...

Evaluation:

Unexplaianed.

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
Editeur: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross April 20, 2014 Creation, [uda1], [ubk1].
1.0 Patrick Gross April 20, 2014 First published.
1.1 Patrick Gross January 25, 2018 Addition [ubk2].
1.2 Patrick Gross June 6, 2021 Addition [ous1]. In the Summary, deleted "I found no other information so far." In the Discussion, deleted "The report is obviously so meager for now that any explanation is worth another." and addition of "The windshield cancer" and what follows.

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This page was last updated on June 6, 2021.