It's a familiar and intriguing story: A strange craft appears in the sky, performs seemingly otherworldly aerobatics, baffles onlookers, and then is gone as quickly as it appeared, leaving us to question our eyesight and sanity. But the reality is, many foreign things seen in the sky — also known as unidentified flying objects, or UFOs — are revealed to be anything but extra-terrestrial.
Most of these sightings turn out to be experimental planes, atmospheric phenomena, or merely everyday objects that slip from our hands and head skyward. By definition, UFOs are enigmatic, which is why people love to speculate about what strange sights in the sky could be.
But just because an airborne object's origin is mysterious does not mean that it comes from another planet. An airliner that doesn't announce itself to a control tower qualifies as a UFO, for example. The first operational aircraft built around stealth technology, the Lockheed F Nighthawk doesn't look conventional, and for good reason. The F's design is characterized by sharp angles and a low aspect ratio small wings in relation to the plane's body.
This strange shape allowed the craft to deflect and absorb radar signals, essentially becoming invisible to the high-tech systems used to detect enemy aircraft. Because the F was meant to fly undetected, its development was cloaked in secrecy. So after one of the aircraft crashed in a remote, mountainous area outside of Bakersfield, California in , the Air Force closed the crash site and surrounding airspace to the press and public.
They deemed it a "national security area," according to the Los Angeles Times. This led to public speculation about what the government was hiding, eventually forcing the Air Force to go public in about its long-rumored but never confirmed F, according to the New York Times.
Similar to the F, the B-2 "Spirit" bomber — commonly referred to as the " stealth bomber " — was also designed around evading detection. The B-2 is essentially designed as one, smooth, uninterrupted wing — its shape is known as a "flying wing. Given the B-2's smooth, uniform shape, it's easy to see why people on the ground could think this hulking black triangle is from another world.
Plus, flying-wing aircraft were first conceptualized but not utilized in Nazi Germany at the end of World War II, so the design is sometimes associated with evil scientists and other sci-fi antagonists. Natural phenomena on Earth sometimes create sights and sounds that get misinterpreted as proof of visitors from beyond our planet. Mysterious ball lightning sightings are a fascinating example. Ball lightning is the name for a localized but intense explosion of energy.
Like the long-fingered, ground-punching lightning strikes we're used to, ball lightning is caused by electrical discharges during thunderstorms. But unlike conventional lightning, ball lightning comes in the form of a fireball that can bounce around chaotically, hover in place, and even travel through walls.
The causes and mechanisms behind ball lightning have long eluded scientists, though reports of it have popped up for centuries. However, scientists have recently started to note the similarities between the structure of ball lightning and a bizarre quantum structure known as a "Shankar skyrmion. The idea — which was first proposed in a paper in Nature — is that ball lightning lasts so long because it involves a kind of electromagnetic knot.
This type of knot is also seen in a Shankar skyrmion: a quantum structure that was first theorized in and created in a lab for the first time earlier this year. A large spiral appeared in the winter sky in Norway in December Blue-green plasma appeared to shoot from its center. The source of this awe-inspiring display was a failed experimental Russian space launch. A Bulava missile, an intercontinental weapons system designed to deliver atomic bombs, malfunctioned shortly after liftoff. The missile launched from a submarine in the Arctic White Sea, but a glitch caused the missile's rocket motor to lose control, creating the dramatic spiral design seen across the Nordic sky.
The aircraft is a testament to the extreme measures the United States took during the Cold War. Designed to outrun anything, the Blackbird is a reconnaissance plane. Its mission: fly to a target, take pictures, then leave. So imagine you're a casual movie-fan on a starlit night in the Mojave Desert, and a large black mass streaks across the sky at unbelievable speeds. You'd probably think it was otherworldly, too. Satellite arrays are becoming increasingly common. But viewed from the ground at night, these arrays can look like the outline of a shadowy alien spacecraft.
In , four NASA satellites set a new record for satellite formation flying — they orbit our planet in a tetrahedron shape only 4. This group of satellites, called the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission MMS , was launched to fly within the Earth's magnetosphere. They're designed to observe magnetic reconnection, a phenomenon that occurs when magnetic field lines break apart and reconnect, sending energy and charged particles toward Earth. This is what creates colorful auroras. Soon it became clear that other particularly large satellite reentries, under good nighttime viewing conditions, were sparking almost identical misperceptions all over the world France, Estonia, Zimbabwe, Yukon, Florida, all over.
But this interpretation depends on the reliability of the detailed reports that had originally been written based on witness interviews near the time of the events. The existence of such data, and its ready accessibility via smart indexing schemes, was crucial to the development and validation of this profoundly important insight. The theory remains controversial among serious UFO investigators. But that it exists at all is a tribute to the original chroniclers AND to the kind of data gathering and documentation that this current book demonstrates. The newfound power of combining GOOD records keeping with Internet tools and search engines can be seen in specific cases discussed by the authors.
The Faymonville photos pages , together with witness testimony and post-event questioning, is a good example. The current report proposes an astronomical explanation that is plausible in the cultural context that surrounded this period in the country. THAT theory is not disproven but in terms of scientific proof is shown to be unnecessary to account for the testimony and photos. So it fails to attain confirmation. I was also impressed with similar dogged investigations and plausible reconstructions of other sightings and photos [such as the PAGEOS balloon over Mariakerke pp.
In while observing a known satellite, EXACTLY the same experience struck me so vividly I was overwhelmed with vertigo and stumbled, almost falling to the ground. No wonder, then, that not ALL such prosaic explanations can be found, however dedicated and diligent may be the amateur investigators. The question of alien visitors [who could remain as detectable or not, as they desire, or even disguise themselves as weather balloons as needed] remains unresolved, but the satisfaction of seeing good detective work is worth the reading.
The implication of this work is that the body of existing reports and photographs does not unambiguously require the existence of ANY new phenomenon. But there are plenty of HUMAN and natural phenomena of great interest to science, to national security, to psychology, to sociology, that are wrapped up in these reports which makes them worth studying, and they deserve study at the level of this book. He had a year career as a space engineer in NASA specializing in orbital rendezvous.
He gave many explanations of UFO phenomena in the popular press. He is also a consultant in spaceflight operations and safety. While such flight maneuvers can be accomplished by every multirotor drone of today, they were still an exclusive feature of imaginary craft in SF novels and comics in , the year in which actual reports of these Flying Discs or Flying Saucers, as they were then called, started to emanate from the U. Official and unofficial, scientific and not-so-scientific investigative probes were set up to deal with what several years later would be more neutrally designated as Unidentified Flying Objects.
But what do these UFO pictures really show? Are they offering us a glimpse of spacecraft from another world? Did these photographers capture intruding high-tech spy devices from enemy countries? Nowadays, it is pretty obvious to most that the majority of these flying saucer photos do not show meters-wide craft, but merely models on strings, hand-thrown kitchenware, birds and insects, lens flares, film defects, and paper cutouts pasted on windowpanes.
The million-dollar question, of course, is to know if there are any images left that are not explainable as hoaxes or misinterpretations? It is the main goal of our project to find that out. The present study examines the history and veracity of the photographic evidence for unidentified aerial phenomena by assessing the images themselves.
In doing so we opted to focus on Belgian UFO reports that are backed up with photographs, slides, films, or videos. By selecting a subset of reports from one country, we ensure that the local interactions that can influence the reporting process like press coverage and the location of popular UFO groups are not neglected. Not all collected images show classic saucer-shaped objects. A great many contain little more than fuzzy dark- or light-colored blobs that may or may not relate to an actual visual sighting, not necessarily anything strange.
The types of UFO reports we have studied are of a great variety. As such, our case evaluations can be extrapolated to similar scenarios encountered from other countries. In this way, we hope our study will benefit current and future researchers with their own analyses of UFO photos and videos. As of August , it listed cases for Belgium dating from between and We have spread them over two volumes. From that year on, the number of UFO photos and videos skyrocketed due to the rise of digital imaging that made the taking and distributing of images easier than ever.
A mere look at the number of photographically-substantiated UFO reports from after — a list of Belgian UFO photo cases from between and will be published in an appendix to Volume 2—testifies to this. Belgian UFO groups that have been in the business of collecting UFO reports since the s and 70s were willing to collaborate with our project. Without their help our work would have been severely handicapped. Private investigators also freely cooperated.
When the only source was a news- paper article, the authors tried to locate the best possible prints through library searches. In several instances we tracked down the photo- and videographers themselves and asked them to provide a current position statement on the images they had taken. In cases where complex visual information was encountered, the authors relied upon international experts in image evaluation for a professional assessment. Besides to painting the evolution of the phenomenon and weighing the evidence, the authors probed the case material for any anomaly that could hint at a phenomenon not yet fully understood by science.
In a similar vein, we paid attention to photos of eccentric meteorological phenomena that ended up in the Belgian UFO archives. The present volume is divided into two parts. Part 1 is the main catalog in which all known reports are brought together chronologically. Part 2 reviews the ensemble of reports and provides statistics and conclusions. Projects like these are never exhaustive and complete. Images included in the catalog concern events that occurred up to December 31, This is the end date for the period covered by the catalog.
The volume at hand deals with the first four decades of UFO photography in Belgium, more precisely the period from until The second volume will cover the period from until , with a major wave of reports hitting the country in Case summaries usually begin with a description of the circumstances in which the images were taken and a summary of any examinations already carried out on them. Then follows our own discussion and conclusions. Each entry ends with a list of references to the sources where the original information resides.
Translations of quotes—almost all sources that were used are either in Dutch or in French—were kept as literally as possible, though slight alterations were sometimes introduced for ease of readability. Text between square brackets is not part of the initial quote and has been added by the authors. Unless credited otherwise, diagrams, as well as graphics added to photos are by Wim van Utrecht. The map on the next page will help readers to find the principal locations referred to in the catalog. At the same time, stories of strange contraptions in the skies of our planet worked themselves loose from the science fiction pulp zines and took root in the real world in the form of actual eyewitness reports.
One year later, the flying saucer craze swept the United States. While some attributed the sightings to experimental spy planes from enemy countries, others wondered if we were being watched upon by scout ships from another world. Most European countries discovered the saucers in , when a flurry of reports hit Spain. This section covers the first two decades of photographic evidence for flying saucers in Belgium.
The article was found in the March 31 issue of the journal. It measures about 45 meters. Fortunately nobody got hurt and only one truck was destroyed. Nobody is allowed to approach the saucer. Only on Saturday, when the experts and authorities will be on the site, the public will be able to have a glimpse of the activities. Specialists will arrive by airplane at the Lombardzijde airfield and will continue the journey by car. In the saucer we spotted twenty-one living creatures and we were able to photograph one of them. Due to the efforts of the authorities they were interned in Camp Sint-Kruis, where professors are trying to question them.
They are being fed with a kind of food that nobody is familiar with. The concourse of people was so great that the police and gendarmerie had to take measures. The morning meeting of the city council is off, but the budget will be discussed in open session at in the afternoon. It is not excluded that the Opposition will request the suspension of this meeting.
At the last moment we learn that the living beings that were found in the saucer are inhabitants of the planet Mars. In early , the authors found the Bruges library prepared to track down this long-searched item. The scan we received is of poor quality, but the article contains a picture below that gives a good enough idea of the size and shape of the "landed" disc. March 31, , Bruges. Accidentally or not, at about the same time, the Brussels paper La Lanterne reported that a flying saucer had crashed in the heart of the capital during the night. Photo by Hans Scheffler.
December 28, , Havana Cuba. The Echo Liverpool, U. Others, as noted. Suddenly, his attention was drawn to a strange noise that reminded him of the prolonged vibration of a metal sheet. Our reporter had the time to trigger his camera a first time when the object, which had immobilized itself in the sky, turned round and presented what seemed to be its face: a resplendent sphere surrounded by a whitish halo and satellites that appeared to go in all directions.
This phenomenon lasted about ten seconds before the disc returned to its initial position and disappeared completely from sight. The long trail in the sky slowly dissipated due to the effect of the wind. May 16, , Bouffioulx. A closer look at the photos in Le Peuple. The rotational motion of the smoke caught his attention.
He stopped and got out of the car to get a better view. Looking for an original subject for an inter-national photo competition in Paris, he had his camera ready in the car and hurried back to get it. Then the thing began to oscillate, making a rumbling sound similar to a piece of sheet iron that is shaken to imitate thunder behind the scenes of a theatre, but softer.
It was at this moment that Chermanne took a first picture. Next, the object turned round and revealed a smooth surface. Chermanne had the time to take a second shot before the bizarre apparition suddenly disappeared without leaving any trace other than a bit of smoke that quickly dissipated. The article further quotes Chermanne as having said that he spoke to several other witnesses in the days following the incident. No names are given. The pictures as published in Humoradio. The photos as published by Jimmy Guieu. For several minutes, it remained like that, its brilliant surface, a perfect circle, facing the witness.
Then a big detonation was heard and the object started to vibrate. It lasted for ten seconds after which the object made a blistering takeoff, leveled out and rapidly disappeared. Like with most spectacular-looking flying saucer photos, the story and the pictures have been published in articles and books around the world.
In preparing the present summary, we consulted most of these sources, finding that the information supplied was always brief, third-hand and added nothing new to what we already knew. Borrowed from Tekhnika-Molodezhi, No. Ferryn interviewed Chermanne in person. This is almost three hours in advance of the time mentioned in Le Peuple.
Probably Chermanne erred, because at p. At , however, the Sun was 0. This is the description of the event given to Ferryn: after hearing a dull, heavy sound like a rattling metal plate, and a series of detonations like the firing of a machine gun, Chermanne spotted in the Northwest a large shining object surrounded by a whitish halo. It was rising into the blue sky with white particles falling down, followed by a twisted trail of smoke of blue and white color.
Next, it halted for about 20 seconds, during which time the sound it produced diminished and it suddenly ceased completely. At that time, the object accelerated and disappeared at the speed of a shooting star, without any noise, off to the Southeast. According to Chermanne, the twisted trail had already disappeared by the time the object disappeared from view. Ferryn later informed us that it was actually the Military Judicial Police who interrogated Mr.
According to the initial article in Le Peuple, Auguste Piccard, the noted Swiss inventor and balloon explorer, who was a professor of physics at the Free University of Brussels, defended the same idea. It is not entirely clear though if Piccard was referring directly to the Bouffioulx pictures or to flying saucer reports in general. At present, Hallet no longer believes the meteor theory is valid. Courtesy of Marc Hallet. When fired with a hand or mortar gun, flares may indeed leave a visible trail of sparks behind them, but these upward trails always dissipate very rapidly.
It is only when these pyrotechnic devices "explode" in midair and deploy a small parachute to slow down their descent that they become visible as a brilliant light with a smoke trail visible above the light, not below as in the Bouffioulx pictures. Back in , the idea of an explosion was already explored by one of the authors WVU who pointed to the many mining sites in the area and to similarities with pictures of black, meters-wide smoke rings that linger in his photo archives.
In isolated cases, small whitish cumulus-like clouds develop inside these rings, like in these two shots of a simulated atom bomb explosion carried out at the military base of Holstebro, Denmark: Fig. Photos taken by Birthe Jensen. September , Fort Belvoir, Virginia. A hoax? It was the noted UFO author Dr.
The Bouffioulx photograph. Besides the many reproductions published in books and magazines, the authors also possess what is believed to be a first-generation print of this second picture the print was part of a set of SOBEPS image files donated to the FOTOCAT project by Ferryn. On the next page readers will find a scan of this presumed first-generation print that Chermanne handed to Ferryn in It was especially after viewing this print that the enigmatic photos revealed their true nature.
A close look makes it overwhelmingly clear that the omelet- like object in picture 2 is not a true physical object in the sky, but a roughly circular stain on the image carrier caused by what appears to have been a violent chemical reaction. The figure on top of page 23 zooms in on these three distinct effects. May 16, , Bouffioulx, picture 2. Photo by Herman Chermanne. Courtesy of Patrick Ferryn. Image characteristics typical of film defects Pouring flammable fluid on an image carrier and then setting fire to it can produce dark granular patches and white halos like in the Bouffioulx pictures.
We got the following results from burning a negative with a cigarette photo on the left and from pouring methylated spirit on a negative and then scorching it with a lighter image on the right. Of course, no two stains are identical and the negative films that can be purchased today are not the same as those used in the early 50s.
Still, the overall similarity is clear. Burn marks on color negatives produce unusual and unpredictable effects in prints. Photos by Wim Van Utrecht. This is not what one would expect from distant subjects that are all imaged with a lens focused at infinity. This magical effect is particularly notable with picture 2: Fig. A shape-changing saucer? One of the things that immediately strikes the eye in the above montage is that the cloud-like structure around the disc looks whiter in images A and B. One way this could have been achieved is by manually retouching the image maybe to make the overall aspect match better with what can be seen in picture 1.
In the pictures published in Le Peuple, white paint was used to highlight the trail, white and black paint to add contrast to certain parts of the cloud. But to what purpose? None of the other reproductions in the news- paper shows any evidence of retouching. If this is the case, such an unevenness may have been illuminated differently dependent on the type of enlarger that was used to reproduce the image. In the latter images, the outline of the halo is identical on the right-hand side of the disc, but different on the left.
Yet, small details in other parts of the pictures film flaws and shape of the white trail confirm that both images are reproductions from the same original.
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As for the white trail, in order not to be distracted by what is going on in the upper part of the images, we cropped the two photos in such a way that only the trail remains visible: Fig. To the left is the trail as it appears in picture 1 Guieu. On the right is the same trail in picture 2 Ferryn. For ease of comparison, we have slightly rotated the image on the left. The image above shows that the shape of the trail is nearly identical in both pictures. Even if only seconds have elapsed between the two shots, this is not what one would expect from a trail of smoke that emanates from a fast- spinning object relatively close by.
It is much more likely that we are looking at a sunlit contrail very high in the sky. In fact, airplane exhausts and condensation trails can present the same aspect and structure as the trail in the Bouffioulx pictures. The denser, twisted lower part of the trail is the farthest point in the wake. Wind currents produce the helical look. Dissipation occurs in the older part of the trail, here the part that is closest to the upper picture frame, suggesting that the source of the trail is on the other side, close to the horizon.
Contrails like these are far from exceptional, as is illustrated in the examples below. But in a sunlit, twisted and isolated contrail would indeed have been a much rarer sight, worthy of immortalizing in a picture. Four examples of contrail contortion. Perspective simulation of an airplane contrail. Courtesy of Manuel Borraz. A simulation of how this observer will view this contrail appears in the lower image, which compares nicely with the trail in the Bouffioulx pictures.
Much to our surprise, an astronomical verification revealed there was something else in the sky that evening that may have inspired Herman Chermanne to take a flying saucer-like picture. At p. A Moon with a coincidental airplane contrail apparently coming down from it, must have been a strange sight and may well have prompted Chermanne to take his two shots hoping, perhaps, that the result images would yield convincing flying saucer pictures. Even though the scenery may have looked impressive to the naked eye, the crescent Moon would have shown up as merely a small white speck in the photographs.
Google Earth aerial view of the sighting location. Stellarium view of the NW sunset sky as it would have appeared to an observer in Charleroi on May 16, at Moon not to scale. The pieces seem to fall together, but what about the other witnesses? Three original sources mention that other people in the area also perceived the phenomenon, either visually or auditory. Conclusion Objects in photographic images that change their appearance in between prints evidently point to something external, something that was not part of the photographed scene. But why would a hoaxer or a photo editor of a newspaper or magazine alter one amorphous shape into another, knowing that such an action would raise immediate suspicion?
The photojournalist may then have submitted the photos to his newspaper together with a corresponding UFO tale. Detail of picture 2 Maybe we are stretching things a bit here, but could this be an emoticon avant-la-lettre, planted by Chermanne as a hidden clue to the solution? We quote from a short case summary Bonabot sent us: The witness was at home listening to the radio when a continuous signal interfered with the broadcast, prompting him to change to another station, but the same whistling sound also affected the other frequencies. Well informed about UFOs and the way they manifest themselves, he went outside to locate any abnormal phenomenon.
The object disappeared behind the roofs of the neighboring houses. Bonabot specifies that the time given by the unnamed witness was 8 p. The same probably also goes for the date. Dates are almost never remembered correctly with incidents reported years after. Other points of difference are that no mention is made of any explosion or loud noise that typified the Bouffioulx report. Nor was there any trail reported in the Gosselies case. In summary, we do not think this additional piece of information in any way substantiates the reality of the Bouffioulx photos.
Patrick Ferryn, Inforespace No. Wim van Utrecht, Skepter, Vol. Still from the first sequence of the video. Still from the second sequence of the video. As for the video, it contains two separate sequences, both showing an aerial view of a landscape with a spinning top-like object hovering over it. Small satellite objects white discs in the first sequence, metallic-looking balls in the second accompany the larger objects. Likewise, in the second sequence, the camera centers first on the gothic church tower and then, as the plane continues its flight, on the village houses in front of the tower.
The UFO does not appear to be the initial target. Anyway, the hoaxer was not lying about the location of the video. Going through aerial photos and videos of the Meuse valley, which is located in the mountainous southern part of Belgium, we found a match with the landscape in the first sequence. As for the second sequence, it was Flemish historian Gui van Gorp who put us on the right track: the tower in the video is the Gothic church from Oostkerke, a small community in West Flanders, km NW of the first location.
Lives-sur-Meuse, Namur. Location of the first sequence. The Church of Oostkerke. Location of the second sequence. Jules Bastin, who ran a bakery in the Rue de Jumet, was getting ready to drive his parents home when something blinded him. At the same time, he felt a sensation of heat on his cheek.
He looked up and saw a big ball of fire, high in the sky. He called his neighbor, Mr. Paulin Gomy, who was stupefied to see that there was not one but two suns in the sky. Soon thereafter, other witnesses noticed that the false sun had positioned itself in front of the true one, which now seemed to have doubled in size and started to spin, changing color from red to green, to blue and then to brown, while showers of sparks darted around in all directions.
It then moved away so fast that it was lost from sight. Several minutes later it disappeared, this time for good. Bastin himself. October 26, , La Docherie. Moreau, astronomer at the Royal Observatory at Uccle, expressed his opinion that the phenomenon was an atmospheric optical phenomenon. After that, the film never saw the light of day again. The results of Poncelet's inquiries were published in a six-page article in Ciel et Terre, a Belgian journal that focuses on meteorology and astronomy.
Alas, no stills are included in the article. According to a footnote, the prints that were obtained from the film were not distinct enough to be reproduced. Which, together with the fact that a still image was published in La Meuse, contradicts the claim of the film having been confiscated before it was processed.
The meteorologist points out that the meteorological conditions on the day in question and in particular the presence of layers of cirrostratus and cirrocumulus preceding a warm front coming from the NW were favorable for the creation of halo phenomena. Poncelet further concluded that the rotating "false sun" that had positioned itself in front of the Sun, and was described to him as a "grey-blue disc around which glowed a brilliant corona", that changed size and emitted a wide variety of colors, was actually a physiological phenomenon, a combination of superimposed after-images, eye fatigue and spasmodic contractions of the retina caused by prolonged staring into an extremely bright light source.
An experiment conducted by Poncelet under comparable weather conditions on November 21, produced similar visual effects when staring into the Sun. In fact, identical descriptions are frequently encountered in claims of so-called 'Miracles of the Sun', published in connection with religious apparitions. Poncelet also emphasizes that the film was taken when the "second sun" had already extinguished and that it showed no evidence of any of the above-mentioned effects. Important in this regard is Poncelet's mention that, around 5 p. This incident too was captured on film.
March 15, , Reinosa Spain. A sundog appears to the left of the real sun.
A blow-up of the colorful sundog as it appears in the Reinosa video. Below is a photograph of this very common optical phenomenon as imaged by one of the authors WVU. Photo by Wim van Utrecht. De Volksgazet, Antwerp, October 27, Het Volk, Ghent, October 28, Poncelet, Ciel et Terre, Vol. SPW Tijdschrift, Vol. Do the photos, published on this double page, constitute the long-searched proof of the existence of flying saucers?
Muyldermans, then in his early 20s, described what happened as follows: The sky was uniformly blue when, suddenly, my attention was drawn to a very bright spot moving at a very high speed. I immediately got off the bike to better observe the phenomenon. It appeared out of nowhere, very distinctly, a disc, flying noiseless, at around 1,m altitude. Without losing a second, I took my camera, fortunately charged, aimed it as best as I could, and pushed the shutter.
As soon as the picture was taken, the saucer began a descent of about two or three hundred meters, then it rose again for a few seconds emitting a cloud of white smoke. I had enough time to take two more photos before the vision disappeared. This is the basic story. As for the smoke, it dissipated immediately. This smoke was also luminous. I also think I saw, underneath the saucer, four to five pretty big legs. LSI adds that he spent so much time there trying to convince the latter of what had happened that he only got home by midnight.
The magazine reproduced not only the three photographs but also a contact print showing the three uncut negatives. We publish these four images below in the same way they were printed in LSI and scanned by a university librarian from an original copy of the magazine. June 5, , Saint-Marc Namur. This scanned image from LSI was partially cropped by the authors to leave out overlapping magazine inserts.
Full image as published in LSI magazine. Composite image of the picture, printed on two adjacent pages of LSI magazine. A positive contact print of the filmstrip with the three negatives as printed in LSI. Visible on the left is a portion of the preceding photograph. The white boxes were inserted by the magazine and represent the areas shown in the larger images. A closer look at he filmstrip reveals that the enlargements were printed differently with respect to the orientation of the negatives. We will cover this in detail in the analysis section. LSI reports that the prints and the original negative strip were examined in their laboratories where it was found that the photos had not been not tampered with.
Aeronautical experts, too, were consulted. They concluded that, at the time of the sighting, no aircraft had flown over the region. As for the weather conditions that evening, another expert, alluding to the cloud of white smoke, stated that no condensation cloud could have formed at altitudes lower than 3,m, thus elevating the ceiling of flight of the alleged UFO from 1, to—at least—3,m. Years went by before one of the sensational documents surfaced again. Pictures 1, 2 and 3 as scanned from Science et Vie No. June 26, , Boianai, New Guinea.
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Courtesy of Luis R. Ferryn visited the witness in his studio in Brussels that year. It then started to slow down in such a way the witness thought it was going to land, until it stopped completely this is when picture 1 was taken , a few seconds later the object descended, during which maneuver it produced a white trail, resembling an aircraft condensation trail; it then described a curve in the horizontal plane and ascended again through the vapor trail picture 2.
A Leica camera. The standard orientation for this camera type was the landscape mode. This sensationalist weekly had announced a reward of one million French Francs for the person who could supply them with an authentic photograph of a flying saucer. The magazine acknowledged receipt of the negatives but when Muyldermans requested them back a month later, the editors replied that they had already been returned by mail.
He initiated a lawsuit and an investigation was conducted, with no results. The negatives were never found. Ferryn was handed a cropped enlargement of each photograph. It is not known if these were first-generation prints or magazine reproductions. Muyldermans was convinced that the original negatives were lost for good.
In the end, Radar magazine never published the pictures or an account of the event. On the cover of its October 17, issue, Radar announced a prize of 1. Courtesy of Patrick Gross. This in itself is not a reason to suspect a hoax, but it does tell us that we are dealing with someone who at least knows how to handle a camera. Piens refers to the initial article in LSI and says she talked extensively with its author, Roger Vervisch.
Since the Leica camera uses the 24x36mm negative format, it is not clear what Vervisch meant by this. Oddly, two days before Piens had called Vervisch on the phone, the latter had received a visit from Muyldermans. Muyldermans had told him that his pictures were being re-investigated by whom we do not know. As for the military authorities to whom Vervisch had submitted the pictures, the reporter told Piens that he had shown them to a colonel of the Belgian Air Force. A name is not given, but Vervisch stated that he worked at Dailly, a now-defunct military administration center in the heart of Brussels that—still citing Vervisch—was commissioned to deal with flying saucer reports in those days.
As for the consulted meteorologist: Vervisch only recalled that he worked at the Royal Meteorological Institute in Uccle, Brussels. Piens reviews a telephone conversation she had with Muyldermans on June 1, , and which she recorded on cassette tape. She then decided to go to his house. Muyldermans was not there, but his twin brother was and he invited her in. Over a cup of tea, he told Piens of his career as a healer. It turned out that he was well acquainted with Roger Lorthioir, a locally well-known ufologist and author of many esoteric books.
The woman got pregnant and the person was arrested. Piens reckons that Muyldermans, too, was acquainted with these two individuals. She reports that Muyldermans was already interested in flying saucers before Radar established a prize for a picture of a genuine soucoupe volante in October In fact, journalist Vervisch was unaware of this new analysis.
According to a weather report she obtained from the Royal Meteorological Institute, the overall weather was stormy with rain and bright intervals on June 5, Without giving the source of her information, Piens writes that Muyldermans arrived at his brother's house in Waterloo by 9 p. Considering that, in , there were only secondary roads connecting Namur to Waterloo, that the sighting allegedly occurred at p. He also speculated that the exact appearance of the white trail in picture 2 is easily reproduced by pouring albumen in hot water and then adding a small model to it.
Actually, photos of egg white in hot water show solid looking, smoothly shaped strings, whereas the white trail in picture 2 has a smoke- like appearance. On June 16, , Christiane Piens called Muyldermans again. This time he appeared less excited than 15 days earlier when he elaborated on the new photo analysis that was in progress. Thus, as far as I am concerned, I am not interested anymore. I have taken my distance from all this. There is no evidence that the negatives are no longer in his possession. It concerns the following print of picture 1, but the quality is not better than what was already available.
The only surviving print from the LSI archives. Analysis This classic flying saucer story deserved more and better investigation shortly after the photos surfaced. We have strived to obtain first-hand copies of the photographs, to no avail. Many Belgian and French researchers were contacted for this purpose, but no one possessed high-quality copies. But before we assess the photos themselves, let us examine the alleged circumstances in which they were taken. Thanks to Dr.
Ronny Blomme, astrophysicist at the Royal Observatory at Uccle, Brussels, we obtained scans from the climatological and synoptic data stored in the archives of the Royal Meteorological Institute. Contrary what Piens wrote, there is no evidence of stormy weather or precipitation near Saint-Marc on June 5, Instead, there was a light to gentle breeze blowing from the East to the East-Northeast.
Even though the majority of the lower cumulus clouds may already have dissipated by p. To photograph a considerable part of the sky under these circumstances and have no clouds appear in the pictures would have been hard to realize. So, whether the photos were taken in the afternoon or in the evening has no bearing on this issue.
One way out of this problem would be to assume that the reproductions are just not clear enough for the clouds to show up in the pictures, or that the photos themselves are overexposed, washing out any color nuances in the sky. The fact that Muyldermans mentions a uniform blue sky should then be regarded as an exaggeration rather than a literal description. Another element that was checked is the relationship between the position of the Sun and the bright reflection on the right-hand side of the object in picture 1.
Using Stellarium, an astronomical software to calculate the position of celestial bodies for any given time or place, we find that on June 5, at p. This would place the unidentified object in picture 1 roughly in the South with the Sun illuminating it from the West. In an attempt to determine the angle needed for a reflection to hit the top structure in this way, we asked an expert in visual effects to create an animation that shows a computer generated model of the saucer illuminated by a light source that circles the disc in a horizontal plane.
A second simulation was made with the top structure of the object tilted slightly away from the camera showing a segment of the bottom side the object in picture 1 is not sharp enough to tell exactly how the object is tilted with regard to the camera. If the photo was taken on June 5, the incident must have happened much earlier in the day. Frame 99 of a 3D computer simulation of the photographed scene. Computer graphics by Jan van Eetvelt. Photo by George Adamski.
Courtesy of Joel Carpenter. Not only the timeframe was right only about half a year after a wave of spectacular flying saucer reports hit France and a popular magazine had announced it would pay a substantial sum for the first authentic photo of a flying saucer , also the setting was favorable it turned out that Muyldermans was acquainted with fringe individuals from the flying saucer community and the paranormal scene. In addition, we noted several discrepancies in the narratives given by the witness to different investigators e. As a young man with an interest in flying saucers and photography, Muyldermans would have been the right man at the right time to fabricate an authentic-looking photo series of a flying saucer.
Exploring this idea further, the question is, how he set out to create pictures of what looks like a flying disc engulfed in smoke and spewing a trail of fire behind it? Trick photos with such particularities would have been hard to accomplish in the s. Perhaps Muyldermans did not resort to trickery in the literal sense of the word. One theory would be that he photographed a true but not extraordinary event and then invented a false story to go along with the photos.
A closer examination of the photographic evidence revealed a couple of particularities that seem to point in that direction.
Project BLUE BOOK - Unidentified Flying Objects
A first particularity—one that was noticed independently by skeptic author Marc Hallet and visual effects expert Jan van Eetvelt—concerns an unusual blur of the film grain in the pictures, especially in pictures 1 and 3. The fourth picture extreme right shows the grain in a normal print. In direct prints from a negative, the film grain i. One way to explain how film grain can be affected by motion blur is that we are not looking at prints made directly from the negatives, but at photographs taken from printed positives.
With the negatives in their possession, one may ask why the people from the photo lab at LSI, instead of making reproductions directly from the negatives, would have resorted to re-photographing printed images with an unsteady hand or a wobbly tripod. We are not entirely sure how to interpret this singularity. The larger rectangle represents the size of a 24x36mm negative.
Note already how all the relevant crops of the three images are grouped together on the left-hand side of the frame. The exact orientation of the motion blur for picture 2 could not be determined because the crop reproduced in LSI is less enlarged than the other two crops. Because of this, the grains appear much smaller, making an eventual pattern difficult to distinguish from the fibrous texture of the paper and the halftone dots.
The way in which the grain is distorted seemingly following concentric ellipses centered nicely within the picture frame may also point to a more innocent cause. In correspondence with one of the authors, British researcher and former photolithographer Martin Shough rightfully noted that there is also the enlarger state to consider.
Shough writes: The magazine printer would certainly have been working from enlarged paper prints. One possible explanation for this type of grain distortion is motion or curl of the negative during exposure.
It happens in glassless negative carriers due to overheating in the lamp housing. The common diffusing lamps had to have very bright lamps, which could get very hot. The negative strip might curl during exposure, moving in such a way that grain is blurred. The pattern and extent of the blur would depend on several factors and whether it is an intact strip or cut negatives.
Position of the targeted subject for the three pictures and orientation of the motion blur thin yellow lines for the grain in pictures 1 and 3. Another possibility perhaps is a non-flat defect in a cheap or faulty enlarger lens. If it suffers from barrel distortion then details towards the periphery of the field could be stretched slightly. In this case, the radius of curvature of the defect ought to point towards the center of the field. I am not very keen on this idea.
A third possibility is vibration of the enlarger. By no means all enlargers in —or buildings, indeed—were as robust as they might be. Traffic vibrations, or footfall and other impacts on sprung suspended flooring, etc.
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Usually this is stuck out on rods from a sleeve that slides up and down the main support with the inevitable possibility of some play in the mechanism. This might happen with a rotating negative carrier or a fixed carrier. This type allows you to change the orientation of the image on the paper. If the carrier is not perfectly locked in place then I can imagine that vibration during exposure might cause the carrier to rotate fractionally.
Like the previous causes, this would predict blurring most noticeable towards the edge of the field, with a curvature whose radius points to the optical axis. Looking at your excellent reconstruction of the positions of the images within the negative field, I could argue that this is so. With a fixed carrier, presumably most vibration in these circumstances is likely to be transverse to the axis of the negative carrier, which is anchored only at the support end.
If the filmstrip was printed intact it would probably be fed through with the long side of the negative parallel to the expected vibration direction, whereas in the present case the blur appears to be perpendicular. On the other hand the strip may have been cut. The off-centeredness of the targeted subject in each picture seems deliberate and suspicious, but Shough wonders if this systematic effect could not be due to a viewfinder parallax error occurring with a non-single-lens reflex camera of this vintage i.
Martin Shough: A small parallax error was inevitable even in properly aligned cameras and usually accepted and allowed for although, interestingly, it would become much more significant for unusually close subjects. A bad error might be caused by misalignment of the viewfinder. Some cameras had adjustable parallax com- pensators, fixed with a setting screw somewhere, or could be used with separate finders fixed to a shoe on top of the camera body. I do not know the possible extent of any such error on the camera in question, but any mechanical thing has the potential to go adrift, especially the latter type perhaps, being vulnerable to impacts.
Is it possible that such a misalignment existed in the camera without the photographer realizing, or bothering? Another factor is that the viewfinder would presumably need to be recalibrated when a lens is changed, or else the negative image would be off-center. What possibilities existed in this case? More importantly, of course, if a longer lens was fitted the negative FOV would obviously reduce so the centering judgment made by the photographer using the viewfinder becomes much more sensitive to error.
Unfortunately, It is no longer possible to verify if the other images on the film roll were also systematically off-center. The authors feel that the fact that the unknown object is off-centered in such a glaring manner remains one of the most incriminating factors in this entire story. Muyldermans was only in his 20s when he took the shots. So this may have been his first camera and, perhaps, he was totally unaware of these parallax issues.
The Leica cameras from the s—we are probably dealing with an IIIc model— had no parallax adjustment or parallax indications. However, the viewfinder was very close to the lens, right on top of it and so close that some lenses might even have blocked its view. Like Shough points out, the parallax problem with those early cameras was most noticeable for subjects close by. Another problem with the Saint-Marc photos is that nowhere it is specified how the camera was held when the pictures were taken. Three different ways to take a photograph.
UFO Photographs Around the World
Borrowed from a Pentax Asahi 51a manual. Considering the nature of the photographed scene a small object in an otherwise featureless sky , changing the way the camera was held would be pointless and highly unorthodox for someone who is confronted with a very unusual and possibly short-lived event. So we need to find out if Muyldermans did indeed change the position of his camera for each shot, or if the magazine—and consequently all other journals and books that published the shots afterwards—messed up the orientations of the cropped enlargements they printed.
If the order of the shots as shown in the contact print is correct, then we have no less than 64 possible combinations for the way in which the camera was held during the making of the three shots. We can further narrow down this number by establishing the position of the sun for each scene depicted. There are two ways to find out more about this: the first is by looking for sunlit parts and shadows on the physical objects in the picture the saucer and the white smoke ; the second is by assessing the gradation of the sky brightness in the pictures.
We will first look at sun glints and shadows. One thing that stands out immediately is the bright reflection in picture 1, already discussed. Since we have eliminated all combinations that show picture 1 in an upside down fashion, i. This would only be possible if the Sun was below the horizon. Since the pictures were taken in daylight, we can therefore safely exclude all combinations that have picture 1 in the A and B orientation.
This leaves us with only those combinations that have picture 1 showing the object in a horizontal position with the widest part closest and almost parallel to the bottom edge of the picture. We now have nine combinations left, i. Picture 3 is much more informative in this regard. It shows that the upper part of the object—assuming this is the same highly reflective object as in picture 1—is completely dark and not illuminated, thus suggesting that this side was turned away from the Sun. With the sunlight coming from the right, this would match the orientation shown in B-E-G.
With the Sun in the bottom half of the sky, the sky should appear brighter in the lower part of each image. Still assuming that the pictures were taken within a short period of time and with the camera pointed in more or less the same direction, this should be the case for all three shots. A look at combinations E and G tells us that G is the only combination in which all the shots display a noted gradation from grey at the bottom to darker grey at the top. The effect is clearly visible in the large prints from the LSI article see also our contrast enhanced composite image below.
The contact prints, however, seem to show a reversed gradation, which is probably an artifact due to the reproduction technique that was used. The most likely orientations for pictures 1, 2 and 3. This in itself is a strong argument that the found combination is the right one, as it is the only one from the nine remaining combinations that does not require a change in camera position between shots. If our reasoning is correct, this would mean that both picture 2 and picture 3 were printed with a wrong orientation in the original article and in all articles that came next.
Whilst it is not clear why this is so, it seems to be too much of a coincidence for the motion blur to follow such a smooth continuous path. This can also be inferred from the fact that in picture 2 the trail is wider at the bottom and smaller at the top. He based his calculations on the assumption that the object was at a minimal altitude of 3,m, which he found to be the required altitude for contrails to form on that particular day and time . Unfortunately, we have no balloon soundings that enable us to verify this statement. Still, anyone who regularly contemplates the sky will agree that the white trail in picture 2 looks more like white smoke than a condensation trail.
Since no background details appear in the picture, nothing can be said about the distance of this trail to the camera. It can be several thousands of meters or only a couple of meters away. Images of saucer-shaped objects going upward and producing a trail of white smoke are fairly unique in the world of flying saucers but they are not uncommon in the world of model rocketry. In fact, there exists a special discipline among rocket hobbyists, in which not miniature space rockets but flying saucers are fired into the sky.
The telling images below are from a site maintained by the Dutch Amateur Society for Rocket Research. LEFT: a model flying saucer just above the launch pad. RIGHT: the saucer in full flight. Saucer-shaped rockets with white smoke trails. This is nicely illustrated by the following stills from videos taken at different U. Again, the similarities with picture 2 are obvious. Descending rocket saucers. It shows a saucer of nearly 1m diameter propelled upward with a rocket motor. Rocket saucer shortly after launch.
This photo shows a saucer in a horizontal position with no trail of smoke or fire behind it. Also, to take clear pictures of a rocket launch, a photographer should be standing relatively close to the launch pad, meaning that he would be viewing the saucer from below during most of its ascend. Yet, in picture 1 the saucer is seen in profile.
Saucer-shaped rockets tend to flip during their downward trajectory and fall to the ground upside down with a smack. Exceptionally, lightweight saucers made of cardboard or thin plastic can drift to the ground in a gentler manner but will usually do so under a distinct angle as can be viewed in the videos mentioned above. Waiting for the saucer to sail down could be a way to capture it in a more or less horizontal position, but in the Saint-Marc photos the thick body of the object and the sun glints suggest a more solid construction, and therefore an object that would have fallen down with considerable speed and not in an horizontal fashion.
There is a way out though: the photos below illustrate how even a heavyweight saucer rocket can appear nearly horizontal in a picture. In the left photo, the saucer has reached the highest point of its trajectory where it remains horizontal for a second or two before flipping over and falling to the ground. When photographed from a distance, and with the shutter button pushed at the right moment, this may produce a convincing shot.
Another possible explanation for the more or less horizontal position of the saucer in picture 1 is shown in the photo on the right. Here the saucer is still moving upward but the trail is barely visible because of the lighting conditions. A third option would be that, for his first picture, Muyldermans simply suspended the model from a thin wire but, considering the great amount of sky above the object, this seems unlikely.
The saucer rocket explanation implies that at least two different launches were photographed, namely: - Picture 1: saucer at the pinnacle of its trajectory or suspended on a wire; - Picture 2: saucer descending into the smoke trail; - Picture 3: new launch with visible fire exhaust. With regard to the availability of miniature rockets in the s, Geoff Quick, U.
There were also helicopters, rockets and even speedboats available as kits. The most popular was the little Jetex "50". The rocket motor although called a "jet" it was a miniature solid fuel rocket motor was a small hollow metal cylinder about 5cm long with a cap with a small hole in its center, held on to the main cylinder by a clip. The whole motor came itself with a clip for mounting on the main vehicle. To load the motor you took the end cap off and inserted one or two solid propellant tablets, which were small cylinders of solid fuel.
On top of these you put a small circular piece of metal gauze. Just before putting the top cap on you inserted a short length of a metallic centered chemical fuse wire through the hole so that the inside end would touch the gauze well, leaving enough on the outside to enable you to light the fuse. The whole assembly was then clipped in to the model. The fuse was then lit before launching and a pair of tweezers held ready to pull out the burning fuse once the main engine ignited.
In fact, the fuse wire was usually "spat out" by the rocket anyway when it ignited. You then launched the main model. The engine ran for about seconds depending upon one or two fuel tablets being loaded. The sound was a quiet hiss, rather like a car tire being let down. There was a very faint smoke plume, but by memory this was almost invisible. On landing the engine was VERY hot, most of us leaning the hard way by burning our fingers.
Hopefully this, with the Google reference, should give you a bit more information on the Jetex motors there was also the bigger and motors but these were uncommon and I never saw one. Jetex powered models in the shape of flying saucers and plans on how to build them were available to all hobbyists.
Most of these early models were lightweight craft made of balsa wood and cardboard, but in the aftermath of the big French saucer craze of , any disc-shaped object may have been considered a tempting candidate to fire off into the sky. The procedure was to attach the Jetex motor to the bottom of the model. Rockets and saucer rockets from the s. Even though small rockets became a popular toy in , we found no photographic evidence from the fifties that documents rocket launches with saucer-shaped models.
Still, placing a small rocket in a disc-shaped object that has a hole in the center, does not take great expertise. Perhaps he used a combination of high-tension insulators of different sizes to create his famous flying saucer shots. The hole in the center of these discs would suit well for inserting a small rocket. On the other hand, these glass discs are quite heavy and it is difficult to conceive that they will maintain a horizontal position for more than one or two seconds. Take a look at these vintage metal desk lamps for example: both the shades and the bases of these lamps would make convincing flying saucers when detached from their stand and photographed against a sky background.
One is the very unusual composition of each shot. When confronted with an extraordinary event, even an amateur photographer will be inclined to also include a part of the landscape in the picture. In the case of an unidentified flying object, it may give investigators an idea about the size of the object and its distance to the camera.