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UFOs in the daily Press:

The 1954 French flap in the Press:

The article below was published in the daily newspaper Le Courrier Picard, France, pages 1,2, le 6 octobre 1954.


A pensioner from Beuvry-les-Béthine
made "flying saucers":

These were simple, luminous hot air balloons
oval in shape and several meters high

"I certainly haven't done them all" says the inventor
when asked about the mysterious interplanetary machines

LILLE, October 5. -- The discovery, in Beuvry-les-Béthune, of a manufacturer of hot air balloons that were regularly dropped in the skies of the Nord and Pas-de-Calais, triggered a certain hilarity in the region. The author of this good prank, Victor d'Oliveira, is 60 years old. Of Portuguese origin, he settled in the Pas-de-Calais, in Beuvry, in 1922, and created his home there.

It was in a small grocery store run by his daughter that the balloon lover received us in the presence of his wife. In retirement after having worked for many years at the Beuvry power station, the Portuguese is having a happy time.

"I learned to build balloons when I was very young in Portugal, and since then I always continued to do so. I like to see them rise in the sky in the evening. I built them in all sizes, from very small to very large over 6 meters high and 2 meters in diameter."

And the inventor shows us one of them; which he inflates to make us happy, but without letting it go, because the winds, he says, are unfavorable today. It is a large oval, comparable to a gigantic rugby ball, inside which to heat the air and allow the ball to rise, Mr. d'Oliveira places, held by two light wires, a tow made of old rags and sometimes asbestos soaked in petroleum, which he sets on fire.

Continued on the second page under the title:



Manufacturer of flying saucers

(Continuation of the 1st page)

"Before the war," he continues, "I found silk papers of all colors and I made very beautiful ones. For local festivals, I was asked to build them and I hung firecrackers on them that burst into the air. I don't understand why people are surprised today by my activity, because here, everyone is aware of it and it doesn't hurt anyone."

The material used for construction is very simple. Wrapping paper from the grocery store, advertising papers, and even labels for oil bottles stuck together with methodical care.

It takes more than two hours to build medium-sized balloons, to which should be added the long wait necessary for the glue to dry. When the weather is not nice or the winds are unfavorable (because Mr. d'Oliveira is a perfect aeronaut, as he practiced this curious sport for long), the balloons pile up in the hangar where he builds them. When everything is going well, he sometimes drops two or three of these apparatuses in the same day, preferably in the evening, "because that's when we can best see their brightness", he adds, with the utmost seriousness.

"I sometimes tried to know how far the objects of my making were going. For that I put papers with my address, and I thus learned, before the war, that one of my balloons had traveled 17 kilometers. In the sky, they reach varying heights depending on the air currents, but it is common for them to climb 1,000 meters and go much further."

As he is asked what he thinks of flying saucers, a broad smile blossoms on his face happy with his creations and he just answers: "Some are perhaps simple confusions with my balloons... But anyway, I certainly don't make them all..."

As for the number of devices manufactured, Mr. d'Oliveira says that more than 5,000 would have been dropped by him, to which his wife adds: "It is exactly the 5.850th that he just manufactured. Details, we care about order."

This unexpected advertisement does not do little to the curious manufacturer, who receives with good grace many journalists and photographers who shoot him on all angles: "If I had known that I would have so many visits, he is satisfied to say, I would have gone to spend the day somewhere else."

But we do know, however, that man is happy to see many people interested in his little craze. And as we leave him, he smiles again, thinking of the "flying saucer" which, in the sky very close to Sailly, amazed three inhabitants before crashing on the ground, where only paper was found; which is now waiting another fate on the premises of the Beuvry police station.


However, in Le Havre, Mr. André Lefeuvre, taxi driver, who parked yesterday evening around 8 p.m. on the port, saw an incandescent disc which, west of Deauville, rose in the sky, leaving behind it a phosphorescent trail and a slight smoke. This phenomenon, which was visible for ten minutes, was also witnessed by several sailors returning to their boat.

Mr. and Mme Teyssier, from Saint-Etienne, who were camping in Aurec-sur-Loire (Haute-Loire), saw, in the sky, a luminous object giving the impression of a large headlight moving at high speed, at about 2,000 meters above sea level.

The craft emitted a red-orange light beam and followed a North-South trajectory.

When it had disappeared, a second craft, similar to the first one and seeming to follow it, appeared, followed the same direction and also disappeared.

Around the same time, several people saw, above the Aurec steeple, similar craft which, after having stopped for a moment, crossed the sky, at high speed, towards the south West.

Sunday evening, around 11:15 p.m., on the road to Montmoreau-Villebois-Lavalette (Charente), Mr. Jean Allary, 22, saw very clearly in the light of the headlight of his moped, a kind of barrel, about 1 m. 80 high, studded with golden nails, swaying on the side of the road. When Mr. Allary had passed the mysterious craft, he looked back at about ten meters away, but saw nothing anymore.

Witnesses saw, yesterday afternoon, at the very place indicated by Mr. Allary, traces of about seven meters in length, in the grass which borders the road.

Several people said they saw in the region of Epinac-les-Mines (Saône-et-Loire), a kind of big luminous ball moving slowly, in a strange manner, in the sky.

A similar phenomenon was observed in the Ain and in the north of the Rhône department, towards the Echarmaux pass, as well as in the Isère, near Morestel.

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