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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 Nord-Eclair, Roubaix, Nord, France, page 10, on October 6, 1954.

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FROM MYSTERY TO FARCE
PAPER "SAUCERS"
were launched into the air
by a retiree from Beuvry (P.-d.-C.)

Hundreds of locals have seen these strange things

WAS THE mystery of flying saucers, discs and cigars, just been clarified by the discovery made yesterday in Beuvry-les-Béthune of this brave Portuguese man who spent the best of his time making huge balloons in paper for the pleasure of making them go up in space according to the same principle which gave birth to ballooning?

Without doubt the dozens of hot air balloons that he has thus "shipped" in recent times can be counted among those that the inhabitants of our region took for saucers or flying cigars. But they cannot give, it seems, a satisfactory and complete explanation for all the luminous objects which could have been observed in regions other than ours.

Can we say, in fact, that they are everywhere hot air balloons made by the hands of an "earthman".

In any case, a burst of laughter will not fail to resound in the northern region when everyone will read today in their newspaper that some of these saucers or cigars seen by the people of our area, were only vulgar balloons made with great care and art by a Portuguese of Beuvry-les-Béthune.

"I made thousands of them..."

Like many journalists from the Nord and Paris, we ran towards Beuvry when, yesterday morning, the news reached us. In the back of a small grocery store on Route Nationale, we found the friendly and cheerful "responsible" there. He received us with kindness, offering to answer all our questions and willingly agreed to our requests for experiments!

This is Mr. Victor d'Oliveira, 40, former worker at the Beuvry power station. A Portuguese veteran, he participated in the fights of La Couture where each year his compatriots came in number to celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of the Lys. After the war he returned to his homeland and returned to France in 1922 to settle in Beuvry.

Cheerful as all Portuguese are of course, he participated in all the local festivals. He excelled in making paper balloons, which he sent out on ducasses or on the feast day of July 14. Orders poured in.

"I made thousands, he told us and they were never mistaken for saucers... It must be said that one did not talk about saucers at the time. I made them in all sizes, 3 meters and even 6 meters high. One July 14th, I made some superb, blue, white, red, of the most beautiful effect.

In his little "shack" Mr. d'Oliveira shows us a hot air balloon folded like an accordion, almost ready for flight. At our request, he shows us how it works and agrees to inflate it. In a pot of earth, he placed some newspapers which he set on fire and the balloon soon inflated. It quickly took the shape of an oval or a cigar. He stops there his experiments because he did not intend, he told us, to make new ones. There have been enough like that, he says laughing.

At the base of each "saucer" was a small receptacle in which rested a tuft of tow soaked in a flammable liquid. Sufficed to ignite the tow to see the craft rise and disappear with the winds, surrounded by yellowish and orange reflections...

Mystery cleared

We still have to say how the joker was discovered.

A few days ago, Mrs. Hennebelle, residing on rue de Béthune, in Sailly-la-Bourse, saw in the sky, at 300 meters high about a luminous craft on the walls of which loomed three shadows. She called her husband and daughter as well as her neighbor who in turn noticed the presence in the sky of this mysterious craft. They followed it a few moments with their eyes when the fireball having gone out, they saw a dark mass fall vertically in a neighboring meadow. The two men rushed towards the spot of the fall and saw that it was a huge paper balloon containing inside a bundle of three wires to which hung a tow made of rags.

The country keeper was notified and the Beuvry police station informed. There was only one man in the region specialized in hot air balloons, it was Victor d'Oliveira. He will certainly be prosecuted for... dangerous amusements.

J. P.

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