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The 1954 French flap:

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October 14, 1954, Albertville, Savoie:

Reference for this case: 14-Oct-54-Albertville.
Please cite this reference in any correspondence with me regarding this case.


The ufology bulletin Vaucluse Ufologie #18-19 of June / September 1980 gave the text of an article they said to have been published in the regional newspaper Le Midi Libre for October 16, 1954; which reported several sightings of what they called a "saucer" seen on OCtober 15, 1954 in the region.

It mentioned, without further information, that "a craft resembling a large star" was seen, among other places, "Thursday afternoon", that is on October 14, 1954, in the Albertville valley.

The newspaper also informed that this or these "saucers" were actually a sounding balloon of the Italian weather services.





Paris October 15 — The Saucer psychosis continues to develop, bringing more negative elements than positive details. And there is soon not a corner of France that cannot claim to have been flown over by some unknown machine, coming from who knows where.

Aveyron and Lozère have also known the "Saucers" since this morning.

In Rodez, it was at dawn that a mysterious craft which changed shapes and colors several times, could be spotted. It moved in this manner until the stroke of eleven o'clock, to disappear in the direction of the South.


We learned in the evening that it was a sounding balloon from the Italian Meteorological Services, from the MILAN Institute. This balloon with a diameter of 28 meters, would be likely to reach an altitude of 50,000 meters. It would include, in its nacelle, devices intended for the study of cosmic rays.


Thursday afternoon, a craft resembling a large star was seen successively in the Briançonnais sky, the Hte-Tarentaise, the valley of Albertville and the region of Chambery.

It was actually a sounding balloon from the Milan region.

Around 5 p.m., workers working on a construction site, about fifteen kilometers from Briançon, recovered the scientific devices from this balloon and handed them over to the Gendarmerie. As for the craft, it continued its route in the direction of Gap, in the evening.

In Avignon, the alert must have been hotter. Around 11 a.m., the secretary of the town hall of Fontaine—de-Vaucluse telephoned the Orange air base to report, among other things, a "Saucer", at the vertical of his town hall. The details were such that the leader of one of the squadrons telephoned the mayor of Fontaine.

The latter, not only confirmed the indications of his secretary, but specified that the Saucer remained motionless 400 meters vertically from the locality.

2 pilots who were taking off for a training flight flew over Fontaine de Vaucluse a few moments later without spotting the slightest Saucer.

In the evening, the Secretary of State for Air indicated that the two airmen from the Orange base, "experienced officers", had not observed any unknown craft during their research and that their report was formal.

It was, again, a sounding balloon, used by the Meteorological Services.

MIDI LIBRE for Saturday OCTOBER 16, 1954 — #3412 —


The Midi Libre articles reproduced here were sent to us by our friend Daniel Vidal. They illustrate in a precise manner the enormous work of archive research carried out by Daniel. An example to follow that should be taken up systematically in each region.



This case ca be considered to be what ufologists call a "negative" case, i.e. a case that found an ordinary explanation without the need for ufologists to provide it - here, the newspapermen solved the case.

The balloon referred to was not exactly from the Italian weather service; it was a high-altitude scientific balloon launched by a team of the University of Padua to study cosmic rays.

As can be seen in my catalogue, this no-so usual balloon caused a large number of sightings in southeastern France on October 15 and 16, 1954.

I was sometimes identified as such, sometimes called a "flying saucer" by the witnesses, or the Press, or even ufologists.

It was photographed at the Observatory of Haute-Provence on October 16, 1954:



(These keywords are only to help queries and are not implying anything.)

Albertville, Savoie, negative case, craft, large, star, afternoon, day, balloon


[----] indicates sources that are not yet available to me.

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
1.0 Patrick Gross May 13, 2022 First published.

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