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ALSACAT:

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.

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Case of Herrlisheim-près-Colmar, on August 22, 1981:

Case number:

ALSACAT-1981-08-22-HERRLISHEIMPRESCOLMAR-1

Summary:

The regional newspaper Les Dernieres Nouvelles d'Alsace of August 23, 1981, reported a UFO seen "in the sky of Colmar" by two motorists who said that a ball of light had followed them for several kilometers.

The newspaper indicated that the day before, Mr. Xavier Bacqué, 20, from Mulhouse, had agreed to reveal his name and said that he intended to tell the gendarmes about his adventure.

The newspaper gave this account by Mr. Bacqué: shortly after midnight, with a female friend, coming from Mulhouse, they were driving towards Colmar on Route Nationale 83. It was the friend who was driving the car, a Renault 4.

In Herrlisheim, on the dual carriageway, Mr. Bacqué saw an orange-pink ball following the car, to the right of the road: he estimated that it must have been 500 meters away and at a height of about 30 meters, its diameter was about twice that of the moon, which was also visible.

He had had plenty of time to observe it: they stopped, and the ball immediately stopped moving; when they left, it had followed them again.

When they arrived at the crossroads with the road to Wintzenheim, they took the CD 417 in the direction of Munster, and above Wintzenheim the ball decreased in volume and intensity, "closing in a bit like the diaphragm of a camera", before "disappearing completely".

But on leaving Wintzenheim, the phenomenon reappeared: "It was then two balls side by side, located much lower, behind us, about 50 meters from the car (it was not of headlights: the balls were about fifteen meters high). The luminous phenomenon still followed us for a few kilometers before disappearing."

The newspaper asked to beware of hasty conclusions, because it was for the moment an unidentified flying object. The newspaper assured that it was "perhaps even a phenomenon of refraction of light on any damp mass suspended in the air". The newspaper considered that this was of sufficient interest "to appear in the archive of the specialized service of the gendarmerie which, in Paris, centralizes this type of testimonies."

As of 2022, there is no Gendarmerie report made available on this observation, either because it has yet to be published, or because the witness did not contact the Gendarmerie after all.

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: August 22, 1981
Time: Shortly after 00:00.
Duration: ?
First known report date: August 23, 1981
Reporting delay: 1 day.

Geographical data:

Department: Haut-Rhin
City: Herrlisheim
Place: Route Nationale 83 then Chemin Départemental 417.
Latitude: 48.729
Longitude: 7.905
Uncertainty ratio: 3 km.

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 2
Number of known witnesses: 1
Number of named witnesses: 1
Witness(es) ages: 20
Witness(es) types: Young adults, department residents.

Ufology data:

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

Classifications:

Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: ?

Sources:

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

Scan.

A UFO in the sky of Colmar?

The story of two motorists

COLMAR. - "A ball of light followed us for several kilometers ..."

The adventure told us yesterday by Mr. Xavier Bacqué, a 20-year-old man from Mulhouse, must be taken seriously: Mr. Bacqué agreed to reveal his name and said he intended to tell the gendarmes about his adventure.

"It was a little after midnight, explains Mr. Bacqué. Coming from Mulhouse, we were driving, a girl friend and I, towards Colmar, on the RN 83. My friend was driving the car, a Renault 4. In Herrlisheim, on the four lanes road, I saw a pink orange ball following the car, to the right of the road. It must have been 500 m away, at a height of about thirty meters. I had plenty of time to observe it. The diameters were about twice that of the moon, which was also visible. "

Intrigued, Mr. Bacqué and his friend stopped. "The ball stopped advancing immediately. When we left, it followed us again..."

Arrived at the crossroads with the road to Wintzenheim, the Renault took the CD 417 towards Munster. "Above the village of Wintzenheim, the ball decreased in volume and intensity, closing a bit like the diaphragm of a camera, before disappearing completely."

On leaving Wintzenheim, the phenomenon reappeared: "It was then two balls side by side, located much lower, behind us, about 50 meters from the car (it was not headlights: the balls were about fifteen meters high). The luminous phenomenon followed us for a few more kilometers before disappearing."

One should beware of hasty conclusions. This is, for now, what is called an unidentified flying object. Perhaps even a phenomenon of refraction of light on some moist mass suspended in the air. But the observation should be of sufficient interest to appear in the archives of the specialized service of the gendarmerie which, in Paris, centralizes this kind of testimony.

Mr. T.

Discussion:

R4.

Above: a Renault 4 car.

Carte.

Carte.

Above: maps of the mentioned towns.

The "Herrlisheim" mentioned in the newspaper [dna1] is obviously not the Herrlisheim in the Bas-Rhin department, but Herrlisheim-près-Colmar.

The path of the witness is quite clearly documented. They left Mulhouse, drove on the RN83 to the north towards Colmar. It was in Herrlisheim-près-Colmar that Mr. Bacqué saw the UFO for the first time. At this time, the UFO was following the car "on the right of the road" thus in their East, or at least, between their South and their East.

We are told that they then stopped, and so did the ball, and when they drobe again, the ball had followed them again. This obviously makes one think of the famous "following moon", a well-known illusion; but a first difficulty is that the witness specifies "its diameter was about twice that of the moon, which was also visible." The only escape here would be that he would have noticed the Moon much earlier, for example when leaving Mulhouse, and, arriving at Herrlisheim-près-Colmar, he would have "forgotten" the moon and would have mistaken it for a UFO.

There, they drove in the direction of Wintzenheim, either on the current D83 which heads north-north-east then north-north-east then west via the D417 towards Wintzenheim, or on the current D1 bis which heads north then the D417 which heads west towards Wintzenheim (the road network has since slighty changed names). It is in any case certain that they went to Wintzenheim, a necessary passage to enter the Valley of Munster, their destination.

The journey between Herrlisheim-près-Colmar and Wintzenheim is approximately 5 kilometers.

They therefore found themselves "at the crossroads with the road to Wintzenheim" going towards Wintzenheim, towards the West, with the UFO at that moment above Wintzenheim. There are several possible crossroads, but the possible directions in which the UFO is seen cannot be East. It can be North-North-West, or North-West, or West:

Carte.

When they exited Wintzenheim, still heading west, the phenomenon reappeared but this time behind them, therefore in their east, becoming "two balls side by side, located much lower, behind us, at about 50 meters from the car (it was not headlights: the balls were about fifteen meters high)". There the UFO followed them for a few more kilometers "before disappearing."

It is now a question of verifying where the Moon was during the observation, while noting already that it could not have been both in front of them when they went towards the northwest or the west before Wintzenheim and behind them once they passed Wintzenheim still going west. Here the only escape would be that what they had called a UFO would have been two different phenomena, the Moon first, then something else, then after Wintzenheim, the Moon and something else (they see "two balls" then).

At 10 past midnight rom Herrlisheim-près-Colmar on August 22, 1981, the Moon was in the direction of 85°, and the low height of 12°; it had risen at 11:23 p.m.

It is therefore at the start of the observation, on the right of the road of the witness, the East. But there is still a problem: the moon is in its first quarter, that is to say with 57.4% of its surface illuminated, that is to say, a "half-moon" and not a "ball". This, in addition to the fact that the witness said he also saw the moon, allows me to say, at least, that it is not obvious that the UFO was the Moon.

The second problem, as we have seen, is that when they drive from Herrliseim-près-Colmar towards Wintzenheim, the UFO is said to be above Wintzenheim, therefore North-North-West, North-West and/or West, in any case not to their right, East, at all. There, it becomes hard to believe that observing the Moon on their right, they would have suddenly "stopped seeing it" to start seeing something else in front of them, while taking this other thing for the same UFO.

If the UFO had been the Moon, the witness should have, on arriving at Wintzenheim, turning from North to West, stated that the UFO had passed from their right to their rear, "following" the car, and certainly not that it was above Wintzenheim.

Finally, exiting Wintzenheim, entering the Valley of Munster, they still see the UFO, behind them. It could then be "the Moon again", except for one big problem: the "several kilometres" take them to the valley of Munster, a valley sufficiently deep for its southern flank to hide the Moon, from 1.5 kilometers and on Photo below, beginning of the valley side on the right, seen as looking back from the car.

Photo.

In the end, the moon could have been a good candidate, but it remains so only if we consider a certain number of information in the report to be inaccurate.

Perhaps the possible Gendarmerie report will surface, and will help to better decide one way or the other... In the meantime, I consider the case as "unidentified".

Evaluation:

Unidentified.

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 July 30, 2022 Creation, [dna1].
1.0 Patrick Gross July 30, 2022 First published.

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This page was last updated on July 30, 2022.