This article was published in the daily newspaper The Washington Post, USA, July 5, 1965.
Frenchman sees 'Flying Object'
By Waverley Root
PARIS. -- An unidentified flying object landed at dawn Thursday on the plateau of Valensole, in the southeastern department of the Basses-Alpes, put one passenger aground, but scooped him up and took off again when disturbed.
Anyway, that's what farmer Maurice Masse, 41, the sole witness, says.
On the basis of Masse's description to the local gendarmerie, [unreadable] scientists said [unreadable] myths of Loch Ness and [unreadable] down from the skies during the season when news is scarce and temperature high. It was a sultry oppressive day Thursday [not at 5 in the morning].
However, the gendarmes took the story seriously enough to make an official investigation and report on the traces left by the supposed landing. They described Masse as a sober, level-headed person, unlikely to deceive himself or other, and unlikely also to want curious crowds to be tramping down the lavender of his fields.
The general opinion among those in the region who don't know Masse is that he saw a military helicopter in the uncertain 5 a.m. light, since several of them are known to be manoeuvering in the region. Masse apparently thought that's what it was, at first.
Then he saw it wasn't a helicopter. When reporters caught up with him today, he corrected the gendarmes' earlier report of his testimony. The corroborated version is like this:
Six crutch-like legs
The flying object was the size of an automobile, shaped something like a rugby ball, supported on six crutch-like legs and a central pivot. A door [unreadable] (Masse was 60 or 70 yards from the object - far enough to account for error in judging the height of the picture he saw.
As he approached, the figure on the ground scuttled back into the object, and it took off obliquely with a whistling sound.
Masse insisted that the object had no rotor and "looked like a spider". On the basis of this description, it is suggested that what Masse saw was an improved version of the Coleoptere [impossible], a vertical landing plane with which the French Army is believed to have been experimenting in deep secrecy [untrue] for several years. Coleoptere means beetle and the craft, which lands on thin spider-like legs [untrue], does look something like an insect [untrue].
Military authorities silent
There may be some discrepancy, since the gendarmes reported that the ground where Masse said the the object landed had been scooped out in a shallow depression for four cross-shaped prints and a central hole. The gendarmes said Masse had earlier reported four crutch-like legs instead of six.
But it may well have been the Coleoptere. The Army had reported having difficulty with the craft [it crashed and was destroyed], but if this is what Masse saw, success might seem to be closer [No. The only protoype had already crashed, the project was abandoned in 1959.]
This explanation seems strengthened by the military authorities' refusal to comment. If no military craft had made a landing at Masse's lavender field, it would seem reasonable that the army should say so [no, because people would conclude aliens had landed.] The fact that it refused to talk is therefore being interpreted as evidence that Masse did see some secret military plane, which took off hurriedly [impossible] at his approach because of the hush-hush nature of the craft [hush hush aircraft are not shown in lavender fields near villages. Coleoptere was not hush hush since 1955. No VTOL rugby-shaped secret craft ever existed in France].
More information on this case here.