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40 years of unidentified aerospace phenomena in the Var: diving into the archives of the investigators

For the first time in over 50 years, the US Congress recently addressed the “unidentified aerial phenomena”, which would be more and more frequent. Already last year, American intelligence had already affirmed in a long-awaited report that there was no proof of the existence of extraterrestrials, while acknowledging that dozens of phenomena observed by military pilots could not be explained.

In the Var, no military pilots, and no extraterrestrials either, but phenomena that rhyme with mysteries. At least for a while.

The last phenomenon studied by the Geipan in the department dates back to February 2020, in Saint-Mandrier. It alone symbolizes a large part of the UAPs – the unidentified aerospace phenomena – on which the experts of the team of the group based in Toulouse are led to look.

“The Four Lights Arranged in a Square” of Saint Mandrier

“On Friday February 28, 2020 at 7 p.m., the witness returned to his home, when a circular or spherical object of nuanced orange color appeared in the sky with four lights arranged in a square”reports the testimony.

“Its outline is not perfectly clear, its apparent size is that of the Moon, with a displacement from west to east. The witness estimates its angle with the horizontal at 60°. The duration of the journey was approximately 3 minutes, after which the object gradually faded passing through the gray color until it vanished in midair. The witness mentions that “Thai lanterns don’t seem to match”. Only one testimony was collected.”

On its website, the Geipan compiles all the cases and testimonies collected since 1977, the date of the creation of this Cnes service, unique in the world. Above all, he delivers his analysis each time before classifying the cases into four categories. (A for perfectly identified phenomenon. B for probably identified phenomenon, C for phenomenon not identified due to lack of data and D for phenomenon not identified after investigation).

Careful investigation and often rational explanations

Aspect of the phenomenon observed, analysis of the cloudiness of the sky that evening, the speed and direction of the wind based on the Météo France stations, etc…. The disappearance of the phenomenon is also deciphered: “Passing through the gray color is typical of a lantern extinguishing, and a witness’s experience of extinguishing is either ascending at breakneck speed or fainting”say the Geipan experts.

In the case of Saint-Mandrier, the Geipan comes to this conclusion: “The sighting has features consistent with the Thai lantern hypothesis. The origin of the release not having been found, the Geipan classifies the case as “B”: probable mistake with Thai lanterns.”

The reconstruction of the UFO seen by a witness in Saint-Mandrier in 2015.

As we can see, the investigation is meticulous. And it makes it possible to arrive, in a very large majority of situations, at a rational explanation.

“The rapid and silent movements of a flat circular object in the sky” observed in Cuers on Sunday April 27, 2008 at 4:17 am? The laser of the Fashion Room, the nightclub located nearby.

Observing “a slow and silent passage of a large luminous ball” in the skies of Draguignan on August 22, 2012? The passage of the ISS.

A luminous phenomenon above the sea at Six-Fours-les-Plages”? The “Mol Marvel”, a container ship heading south of Toulon…

When the Geipan stumbles on the explanations

More surprisingly, in 2015, the Geipan went so far as to look into an observation reported in September… 1967! In Seillons-Source-d’Argens, while waiting outside for a friend, a witness notices a yellow-orange point of light just above the trees that moves from left to right for a short distance. Before each change of direction (there will be four) the point stabilizes for two to three seconds. No particular noise is heard. The observation lasts about 30 seconds then the point disappears in the distance quickly. No trail is observed.

For Geipan, “this rather strange sighting of a luminous ball moving very quickly in a zigzag pattern recalls certain reports of ball lightning sightings”. But for lack of information, the file will be classified in C.

Nearly fifty years after the facts, the witness looked back on his observation made via this sketch in particular.

Another Var file will be classified as C. Exhumed from the mid-1970s, thirty years later, following a television broadcast, the case relates the story of a person walking alone at the end of a country road in Carcès.

“An aircraft of white color, stationary a few meters from the ground. No engine noise is heard. Approaching the aircraft, the witness sees flashes then intense lighting around the aircraft which takes off with noise and takes the altitude quickly The place where the machine was parked is burned, black but without fire.

The Geipan then contacts the witness of the phenomenon, but for lack of details, and faced with the refusal of the person to communicate the names of his entourage aware of the observation, the investigation is impossible. A track of explanation is submitted: the proximity of the Canjuers camp, “the largest shooting range in Western Europe”.

The mystery of Trans-en-Provence classified as an “unidentified phenomenon”

Unsurprisingly, the mystery of the UFO of Trans-en-Provence also appears in the archives of Geipan. On January 8, 1981, Renato Nicolaï claims to have found himself face to face with a flying saucer, traces on the ground attesting, according to him, to the phenomenon.

The case will be taken seriously and will cause a lot of noise, the Gepan (the name of the group at the time) going in particular on the spot, “forty days after the sighting” criticize some today.

On its site, the Geipan shares the results of the various analyzes carried out at the time, the climatological information of the National Meteorology or the exchanges of mail with the command of the light aviation of the army… Despite this, “the analyzes carried out have hardly made it possible to provide a quantitative estimate of the phenomenon”indicates the Geipan.

“An unusual significant phenomenon occurred that day, and the investigation could not determine its origin”however concludes the Geipan, for what represents one of the only two files classified D in the Var: unidentified phenomenon.

During the investigation, Gepan studied the land of Renato Nicolaï located at the end of the road to La Motte. Photo DR..

“The Fear of Ridicule”

The Geipan archives are teeming with analyses, stories, details, and sometimes anecdotes that make you smile. This is particularly the case of this correspondence form from the National Gendarmerie of Toulon dating from February 1981, the subject of which is: “study of the UFO phenomenon”

The Toulon gendarmerie reports an observation made on February 1, 1981 at 2:40 a.m. by a night watchman. The latter, during his service, sees above the sea three large pinkish and dull balls forming an isosceles triangle. No flashing light is learned, no noise is heard when moving. No other testimony will be collected.

At the time, the investigation will not go further. And the Geipan will not be able to intervene. And for good reason. As we can read in the PV: “The fear of ridicule from his entourage and in particular from his wife and his family, confines Mr. XXX to a discreet and cautious attitude.

The report of February 2, detailing the observations made by a witness a few hours earlier in the sky of Toulon. Geipan screenshot.

How to explain so many cases in the Alpes-Maritimes and in the Var

Astrophysicist and CNRS researcher at the Côte d’Azur Observatory, Pierre Cruzalebes responds to calls from individuals on the Côte d’Azur concerning observations of unidentified phenomena. Calls that remain rare, “about ten a year”but which go in the direction of the cases noted on the Geipan.

“We act as a first filter, we sort with them, we ask them questions about their observations and, if necessary, we then refer them to the Geipan which has put a form online”he explains.

In most cases, the calls ultimately concern the observation of the planet Venus, which is particularly bright at sunset and sunrise, but also on satellites. With local particularities. “With summer, the huge projectors of nightclubs will illuminate clouds yet invisible to the naked eye, giving the impression that a round thing turns”.

“We are in departments where the weather is nice and where it is hot, so people are led to look at the sky more often. We are the second region of France with the most astronomy clubs”, he points out. While noting that here lives a more affluent population, which has good equipment (glasses, binoculars, etc.), “without necessarily knowing how to use it very well” “Hence the importance of astronomy clubs”slips the one who chairs the association Provence Sciences Techniques Youth

“We are here to provide explanations, to explain that what people see are natural phenomena, we draw up hypotheses. Via various sites, which establish the passages of satellites, he and his colleagues manage to establish hypotheses based on facts . More and more satellites.”

But it also happens that the expert may be confronted with disturbing phenomena. Rarely, but this was the case with these white dots that moved simultaneously and perfectly coordinated in the sky and without making any noise. “With a laser beam, we were finally able to determine that they were white-bellied birds, illuminated… by the lights of the city”.

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