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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 Illkirch-Graffenstaden, on November 22, 1996:

Case number:



On November 22, 1996, a 48-year-old man wrote a letter to the local gendarmes informing them that on the same date, at 5:59 a.m., in Illkirch-Graffenstaden, looking on the west side towards the highway, he saw in the sky a glow that looked like a ball followed by a trail that moved at a brisk pace in a north-south-south-east course for a second.

He thought it was not an airplane because of the speed and the short duration.

The gendarmes contacted him and interviewed him. He told them that while he was finishing his newspaper distribution tour, like every morning, in the northern district of Illkirch-Graffenstaden, at exactly 05:59 a.m., he was not specifically looking at the sky, but his attention was attracted by a round glow with intense luminosity moving in the sky from the north and heading south-east. He said that it was a round shape with a diameter of about 5 centimeters, that the emitted light was white, a bit like the headlights of a car. The object was moving extremely fast, and he only saw it for a second, as his view was then blocked by a building.

He was not totally sure anymore whether there was a trail of the same color as the ball at the back of it.

He remembers that it was still a dark night, it was not raining, and there was no fog. He thinks that the sky was clear, and that there was no wind, he cannot remember whether the stars were visible in the sky, but he remembers well that the object had made no noise.

The gendarmes simply collected weather data and transmitted the file. In the 2000s, the GEIPAN, in charge of the study of such phenomena, published the witness letter, the gendarmes report, and emitted the quite obvious probable explanation: that of a meteor.

I realized that in the Haute-Savoie, further south, there was a case of bright red balls exploding in the sky "around 5 am" on the same date; the authorities had thought of a plane that crashed but the search operations organized from Dingy-Saint-Clair did not find anything.

However, this event, which was probably the end of the meteor seen from Illkirch entered the UFO literature via two websites, with the wrong date of November 21, 1996, and a story of "Men in Black", nobody apparently realizing that the so-called "Men-in-Black" could have been simply intelligence officer trying to find the crash site by questioning the witnesses (the authorities thought at that time that it was a Russian Antonov plane that crashed), and nobody seeming to realize that a meteor burst was the plausible explanation.


Temporal data:

Date: November 22, 1996
Time: 05:59 a.m.
Duration: 1 second.
First known report date: November 22, 1996
Reporting delay: Hour, hours.

Geographical data:

Department: Bas-Rhin
City: Illkirch-Graffenstaden
Place: From a street, UFO in the sky.
Latitude: 48.528
Longitude: 7.709
Uncertainty radius: 2 km

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 1
Number of known witnesses: 1
Number of named witnesses: 1
Witness(es) ages: 48
Witness(es) types: Newspaper delivery man.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Officially reported to the local gendarmes.
Type of location: From a street in urban area, UFO in the sky.
Visibility conditions: Dark night.
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: No
UFO departure observed: No
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: Very surprized.
Witnesses interpretation: Not a plane.


Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: Probable meteor.



ILLKIRCH (67) 1996
Observé le: 11/22/1996
Region: lsace
Department: Rhin (Bas)
Class: B
Summary: Probable observation of an atmospheric re-entry
Description: On November 22, 1996, around 6 o'clock a witness observed the very fast passage of a luminous ball with a trail. The phenomenon described is probably an atmospheric reentry
Report: None.

Details of the testimony
Date of the observation 11/22/1996
Document number
Age Adult (more than 18)
Profession Employees, Workers
Sex Male
Reaction Active Curiosity
Credibility Normal Credibility
Weather conditions Clear sky
Hour of the observation Numbered: 4 a.m. - 6 a.m.
Reference frame Sky or clouds
Distance between phenomenon and witness Not-specified
Start of the observation Start of observation by witness
End of the observation End of observation by phenomenon
Angle of the site Not-specified
Direction of observation North
Heading South-East
Trajectory Not-specified
Nature of the observation Phenomenon
Characteristic of the observation With trail, tail, sparkles, beam
Global shape Round, circular, ball
Color Luminous (shiny)
Apparent size Numbered
Apparent speed Fulgurating
Noise No noise
Effect on the environment Not-specified
Number 1


November 22, 1996



Hereby I am sharing with you what I have seen today on November 22, 1996.

I was this morning at the level of the building at [-] in [Illkirch-Graffenstaden] and looking from the west side towards the highway I saw in the sky a glow that looked like a ball followed by a trail that was moving at a brisk pace in a north south-south-east path for a second. This finding was made at 5:59 a.m.

I think I can say that it was not an airplane given the speed of travel and the short time during which I could see the phenomenon.

I thought it is my duty to point out to you what I have seen and I am at your disposal if you need more information. Be assured of the veracity of my remarks.


B.T. [-]
Nr 1289
Date 25 NOV 1996
Followed by: [-]


Compagny : [-]
Unit: [-]
BT [-]


C.U. [-] - PV 01558/96

01 1


Written letter of Mister H[-] R[-] residing [-], following appearance of unidentified flying object.

Letter of 11/22/1996

We the undersigned: gendarme J[-] M[-], APJ, in residence at [-]
In conformity with the articles 20, 21-1 et 75 of the Civilian Penal Code
Repport the following operations:

Being at [-], at the office of our unit, we hear:

H[-] R[-], 43, born on [-] at [-] residing [-] single, chief of wharehouse traffic, French nationality, who states on fifteen december one thousant nine hundred and nintey six at nine hour and thirty threee minutes: ---

--- I wanted to tell you what I saw on November 22, 1996, when I was finishing my newspaper distribution tour, street [-], at number [-].

Every morning, I get up at 4:30 a.m., and I do a newspaper distribution tour in the northern district of [Illkirch]. My area includes [-] street, [-] street and [-] street. I always finish my tour by the [-] street. That day, November 22, 1996, it was exactly 5:59 a.m., when I saw in the sky a round glow with intense light moving from the north and heading south-east. It was a round shape with a diameter of about 5 centimeters. The light that was emitted from this object was white, a bit like the headlights of a car. This object was moving at an extremely fast speed. This phenomenon was very brief. It lasted a second. If I remember correctly, it seemed to me that there was a trail of the same color as this object in the back of the latter, but I am not sure anymore.

This object skirted the [-] canal, and slightly branched off at street level [-] towards the roundabout [-]. Then I did not see it anymore, because there was a building at [-] street of [-] that blocked my view. ---

I remember it was still a dark night, it was not raining, and there was no fog. It seems to me that the sky was clear and there was no wind. I cannot tell you anymore if I saw stars in the sky. I want to stress that this object made no noise

The heard person


The Judicial Police Agent


Date of closure 12/25/1996

1 - M. le Préfet
1 - M. le Général, commander of the aerial region at [-].
1 - M. Le Directeur DGGN operation defence office
1 - M. Le Directeur DGGN-Intelligence section.
1 - Archive


Compagny : [-]
Unit: [-]
BT [-]


C.U. [-] - PV 01558/96

01 2

the time of his passage. It seemed to me that it was relatively close to the ground. ---

--- This is the first time I see this kind of thing. I am sure I did not confuse it with a plane. I also saw comets, it did not look like this at all. I wanted to point this out to you for information. I was very surprised by this vision. ---

--- I also say that I was not looking at the sky when this flying thing passed in the sky, but it was the glow it emitted that caught my attention. ---

- I have nothing else to add. ---

At [Illkirch-Graffenstaden], on the fifteenth day of December, one thousand nine hundred and eighty, at ten minutes past five.

Having read the civilian status information and the statement above, I persist in it and have nothing to change, add to or delete from it."

The heard person


The Judicial Police Agent


I N V E S T I G A T I O N:

We went to the departmental center of [-], METEO-FRANCE. They gave us a certificate certifying the weather situation of 22 November 1996, from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

We attach to this procedure a map, tracing the itinerary of the object viewed by Mr. H [-] R [-].



Gendarmerie of [-].

Subject: request for information on the 11/22/96

December 27, 1996.

Following your visit on December 27, 1996, here is the certificate concerning the weather on November 22, 1996 at [-]:

November 22, 1996:

Very cloudy in the morning then slightly cloudy during the day.

Temperatures: minimum of -0.9 degrees and maximum of 6.2 degrees.

No rain.

Mist then fog at night from 10 p.m. on.

The departmental center of [-].


[Ref. uda1:] "UFODNA" WEBSITE:

22 November 1996 :

Illkirch, Alsace, France


Hynek rating: DD

The sources are indicated by a link to the GEIPAN home page at

[Ref. jbu1:] JEROME BEAU:

November 1996

Friday 22 at 06:00 In Illkirch (Bas Rhin), 1 witness observed the very rapid passage in 1 luminous ball with a trail. The phenomenon described is probably a re-entry 2.

The source is indicated as "GEPAN : UAP classified B".


City Date and hour of observation General shape
General color
ILLKIRCH-GRAFFENSTADEN Friday 22 November 1996 at 06:00 ball, balloon or melon (3D)
information not communicated
Naturel reentry
Strong hypothesis



There is absolutely nothing here to discard that the witness simply saw a meteor.

The duration of 1 second may seem short for a meteor, but there is nothing really strange here since the witness indicates that his sight was hidden after this one second by a building.

A meteor is often seen on a wide area. I find, for example, that the newspaper L'Essor Savoyard for January 1, 2015, recalled "unexplained phenomena: 18 years later, Parmelan did not deliver all its secrets." Extract:

"On the night of November 22, 1996, many witnesses saw a red ball exploding on the Parmelan. The town of Dingy-Saint-Clair is in the front row.

Monique Zurecki, then young mayor, recounts this turbulent episode of her first office.

"What happened on Parmelan on the night of November 22, 1996. At about 5 am, a police patrol from Thônes reports a big glow that rips the sky over Parmelan. I was awakened by firefighters who told me that there was a problem at the Parmelan, that I had to go to the town hall, and when I arrived there were already gendarmes and firefighters. There are also people who called saying that they had heard big noises of scrap," recalls Monique Zurecki, then young mayor of the municipality of Dingy-Saint-Clair.

It is therefore in the Haute-Savoie department that this meteor likely finished its course. Note that this case is presented as a UFO, unexplained, and misdated November 21, 1996, on the "Base OVNI France" website at:

It says:

The gendarmes patrolling at Thônes observe red lights, at the same time several residents of the Annecy area observe balls of fire. All this in any case goes to the Parmelan and a strong explosion sounded. The searches will not find anything. MIBs would have been seen in Dingy not far from the operational PC.

It is also misdated on the "RR0" website at:

It says:

21 [November 1996] A violent explosion shakes the Parmelan mount, above the municipality of Dingy-Saint-Clair (the Haute-Savoie). The few witnesses evoke a flash, which would suggest that a plane could crash. A search party is called immediately and Dingy became a base for the research teams (more than 200 men). Journalists, ufologists and curious crowd in the small town. It is then that several witnesses notice the presence of two men dressed in black, who keep asking questions. When Jean-Pierre Troadec questions them about the reasons for their curiosity, they cut short any discussion, turn on their heels and leave the scene. Were they MIBs?

The "MIB" theory is easily explained. The authorities at the time suspected that a Russian Antonov plane had crashed, the MIBs were just intelligence officers who tried to get a location for the crash from the witnesses.


Probable meteor.

Sources references:

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

File history:


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

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross March 15, 2018 Creation, [gei1], [uda1], [jbu1], [spa1].
1.0 Patrick Gross March 15, 2018 First published.

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This page was last updated on March 15, 2018.