The National Centre for Space Studies, the French equivalent of Nasa, opened the website on Thursday, unveiling an archive of documents about hundreds of unidentified flying object sightings in France over the past 50 years.
Such was the excitement and scramble to pick through this treasure trove that the website was overloaded and “crashed” - but it should have been restored by now some observers say.
The archive includes photographs, police records of interviews with witnesses and even video recordings.
“It is a world first,” said Jacques Patenet, an aeronautics engineer in charge of the space centre’s “study of nonidentified aerospatial phenomena”.
Of the 1,600 cases registered since 1954, almost a quarter are classified as “D”, meaning that “despite good or very good data and credible witnesses, we are confronted with something we cannot explain”, said Patenet.
For example, in 1994 the crew of an Air France flight from Nice to London saw a giant disk that seemed to keep changing shape and colour. After a minute or so it disappeared.
On January 8, 1981, in southern France, a man working in a field reported hearing a strange whistling sound. He saw a saucer-like object about 8ft in diameter land in his field about 50 yards away.
The object took off almost immediately, leaving burn marks. Investigators took photographs and collected and analysed samples, but they have not been able to explain the phenomenon.
Nearly 1,000 witnesses said they saw flashing lights in the sky on November 5, 1990, but this was just rocket fragments falling back into the Earth’s atmosphere.
Perhaps the best documented European incident involved the scrambling of two Belgian air force jets in March, 1990, to investigate an aircraft flying over the south of the country in a manner “outside the normal performance envelope of any air-plane”, as the chief of Belgian air force operations described it afterwards.
The new French website, once reactivated, will be updated whenever there is a new sighting, see www.cnes-geipan.fr Rate this posting: