French Space Agency Releases Information About UFOs: 600 Cases Over 64 Years

A drawing from the files at the French UFO department

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The French counterpart of the UAP Task Force who reports to the France's Space Agency offers a detailed analysis of 600 UFO cases over 64 years.

  • Reflect On:

    Why, after decades of study, encounters and what seems to be an official ridicule campaign are governments admitting that the phenomenon is very real?

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Reporting to France’s Space Agency (CNES) is a little-known unit that investigates the unidentified aerial phenomenon and makes its findings public. GEIPAN stands for Groupe d’Études et d’Informations sur les Phénomènes Aérospatiaux Non-identifiés (unidentified aerospace phenomenon research and information group)

While everyone is focused on the American version of the study, which will contain over 120 events, GEIPAN has released a report that covers over 600 recorded incidents by pilots over a 64-year period. The paper concentrates on 290 of these incidents when the unidentified aerial device had (or may have had) an impact on flight safety.

While the study has received little attention, there are several data points that are essential in establishing or verifying particular aspects of the phenomena. It will be fascinating to see if the DNI’s report to Congress has comparable results, or if they will disclose these findings in the public realm.

1952 & 1954 — The Peak Years

The distribution of the 600 cases by year reveals that 320 instances (53%) occurred over a 16-year period (from 1946 to 1960), with 275 cases (46%) occurring between 1950 and 1957. The year with the most instances (83 cases) was 1952, followed by 1954 with 40 cases. The years 1952 in the United States and 1954 in Europe are regarded as the two peak years for UAP sightings.

There is no discernible seasonal trend in the distribution of these 600 cases per month. July has the most instances (75) compared to the other months, and April has the fewest cases (29). The remaining 10 months had between 42 and 56 instances, which does not appear to be a substantial difference.

Witnesses failed to indicate the time of day in 38 cases (6 percent). Out of the remaining 562 occurrences, 305 (54%) occurred at night and 257 (46%) occurred during the day.

A Global Phenomenon

The 600 instances are almost universally dispersed. They are positioned over continental zones (564 in total), encompassing 56 nations, as well as above marine zones (36 cases). The American continent (North, Central, and South America) had 376 cases (58 percent), with North America having 298 instances (Canada and USA). 108 instances have been reported above Europe, with 33 of them occurring in French airspace.

Witness Credibility — Pilots Only

The UAP sightings recorded by military pilots are the most common among the 600 occurrences documented during a 64-year period: 251 instances (42 percent ). Commercial pilots reported 233 instances (39%), while private pilots recorded 105 cases (18 percent ).

When the latter section of the time range investigated (1990 to 2010) is included, the outcome is completely different. The commercial aircraft instances are the most frequent of the 70: 49 in total (70 percent ). Military pilots reported 12 instances (17 percent), while private pilots reported 9 cases (13 percent ). This, I believe, is related to the secrecy that armies throughout the world have taken when it comes to disclosing UAP sightings.

A thorough study of the distribution of military aircraft cases by year reveals that 75% of them (189 instances) happened during a 14-year period (from 1946 for 1959). The majority of these instances were military cases from the 1950s, and numerous official records from that time period were declassified in the years that followed (U.S. Air Force Projects Sign, Grudge, and Blue Book).

In 141 cases (24%), almost a quarter of the 600 cases, the phenomenon was observed from two or more aircraft in flight.

There were two or more eyewitnesses in 415 incidents (69 percent). The pilot or co-pilot was the lone witness in 185 incidents (31%). The findings reveal that in more than two-thirds of the 600 cases, there were two or more witnesses.

Flight Characteristics & Radar Detection

The distribution of incidents by flight phase reveals that the vast majority of sightings happened when the aircraft was in cruise flight. It should be noted that the pilot has more time to look at the sky during this phase of flight because the aircraft is frequently on autopilot. Pilots, on the other hand, focus their attention on flying and flight instruments throughout the other four phases of flight.

Radar-Visual (RV) sightings are classified into three types: (1) detection by ground radar, (2) detection by airborne radar (AR), and (3) detection by both ground radar and aerial radar (AGR). When ground control checks but does not detect any targets on the radar display and cannot corroborate the visual sighting, a fourth category (NR) occurs.

Among the 600 cases chosen, a radar check (positive or negative) was performed in 278 (46%) of them, and the findings are as follows:

Positive radar detection (GR+AR+AGR) 162 cases (27% of 600 cases)
Negative radar detection (NR) 115 cases

It’s worth noting that the proportion of positive radar detection (27%) is precisely the same as the result of a prior research of 300 instances.

The visual observation of the event was verified by both airborne and ground radar in 34 (21%) cases.

Example: On a landing approach, the co-pilot of a Caravelle spotted five or six lights off the right wing tip that followed the aircraft on a parallel track. He inquired with the air traffic controller if there were any other planes on final approach. ATC provided a negative response but confirmed that there was a radar echo on the right of the aircraft that followed it. The lights vanished off the right wing tip and reappeared off the left wing tip. The pilot activated the autopilot and examined the on-board radar, which revealed an echo to the left.

Simultaneously, the air traffic controller reported that the unknown echo had moved to the left of the Caravelle. (Case: 1352, France 1979)

Radar-visual cases are very important and interesting for two reasons: (1) they confirm the visual testimony of the pilot and/or the crew by a technical record of the phenomenon; (2) and sometimes they give technical measures like speed, altitude or trajectory of the UAP.

Example: The crew of a B-757 noticed a black cigar-shaped wingless object below their aircraft off to the right, around 15–20 miles away. Tacoma’s NORAD/WASD (Western Air Defence Sector) HQ has an unclear track. It looked to be motionless at first, then surged in a burst of speed for 20 to 30 seconds before coming to a complete halt. It lingered for one and a half minutes before accelerating again in a burst of speed. This was done many times during a four-minute period, after which the target vanished. The calculated speed was between 1000 and 1400 mph.

(Case:1266 USA 1995)

The Phenomenon

Pilots classify the things they see into two categories: “light” points and “objects,” which have a “solid” appearance. UAP reported by pilots and crews is described as having a material or three-dimensional, solid aspect in over three-quarters of the instances (74 percent). UAP is described as solid, although it is most commonly reported as “objects,” which come in a variety of forms. The most commonly reported forms are round (or elliptical) with a metallic appearance (sphere, silvery disc, etc). Meanwhile, several additional forms were noticed, some of which were quite odd and contradictory to traditional aerodynamic designs.

Examples: Two yellow objects shaped like hamburgers (Case 1149, USA 1980); a black cylindrical object 24 feet long and nine feet wide (Case 1123, Italy 1979); a giant triagle-shaped with intense lights joining the edges (Case 1113, Chile 1978); a long brown cigar-shaped object (Case 1050, Portugal 1976); an airliner fuselage without any wings or tail and with potholes lighted from inside (Case 1347, France 1985); an elliptical shape, flat below and slightly domed on the upper part (Case 1245, Sahara 1965); a large elliptical object looking like a metallic mushroom, which at times appeared to be translucent and seemed to have a transparent glass-line dome (Case 556, Australia 1954).

In more than two third of the 600 selected cases (474 cases — 78%) the witnesses have reported only one UAP.

In 117 cases (20%), pilots reported sightings of two or more UAP. In 12 cases, groups of more than 10 UAP were observed at the same time.

A pilot recorded the lowest estimated altitude as 500 feet. Major Joe Walker, who was piloting the X-15 rocket propelled aircraft on a test flight at more than 2000 mph when his rear view movie camera caught five disc-shaped cylindrical objects flying in echelon formation, reported the greatest UAP height of 246,000 feet. (Case 854, April 1964).


Interaction cases are those in which the UAP appears to react to the presence of an aircraft. Interactions between UAP and aircraft were observed in 299 instances (almost 50%). These cases are about the following events: (1) UAP conducts manoeuvres to approach, chase, or escape from the aircraft; (2) dogfights with military aircraft; and (3) UAP circles or performs manoeuvres near to the aircraft. This category includes reports of electromagnetic impacts on aviation systems.

The phenomena approached the aeroplane on a collision path in 78 occasions, and there was a near-collision with the aircraft in six more. The pilot was required to take evasive action in 31 occasions to avoid colliding with the UAP, including three cases (all commercial aircraft incidents) in which passengers were wounded during the move.

In 59 of the incidents, the UAP circled or moved close to the aircraft. This sort of occurrence has the most reports (20 cases) of suspected electro-magnetic impacts on aviation equipment, particularly for commercial (8 cases) and private aircraft (8 cases).

Aggressive Tic-Tacs

In terms of events that may have an influence on flight safety, the most common kind reported by commercial pilots is “UAP approaches aircraft on a collision course,” with a total of 38 instances. The pilots claimed that the “UAP circles aircraft and/or moves close to aircraft” in 24 occasions. Pilots most commonly reported claimed electromagnetic impacts on their aircraft systems during this sort of occurrence. In 15 cases, the pilot had to take evasive action to avoid a collision with the object that resulted in passengers injured in three cases.

Example: The three crew members of a B747–300 saw an extremely rapid white rocket-like object overflowing their plane between 200 and 400 feet above in the opposite direction. The item, which they characterised as cylindrical, lacked a wing. There was no TCAS warning. The object flew just above their head. It was close enough that the flight officer lowered his head, fearing it might strike them. It was white and spherical in form. There was no apparent smoke or flames coming from the item. ARTCC observed no radar echo in the aircraft’s opposite direction. The National Transportation Safety Board has reached no judgments on the identify of the object, but the matter is considered closed. (Case 1293, USA 1997)

Private aircraft instances with potential influence on flight safety account for the majority of the cases, accounting for 34 of the 65 cases in which pilots reported claimed Electro-magnetic impacts on aircraft systems: Instances involving private aircraft account for 54% of all cases (compared with commercial aircraft cases: 15% and military aircraft cases: 27%).

Electro-Magnetic Effects

The most troublesome element of UAP contacts appears to be situations in which permanent or transitory electromagnetic impacts occurred on aircraft systems during flight, either directly or indirectly as a result of the relatively close presence of one or more UAP.

In 81 of the 600 chosen cases, claimed electromagnetic interference was seen and reported (14%). Everything from radios to weaponry was impacted.

Readers should remember this information and realise that studies that have gone to great efforts to assist us in figuring out the nature of the UAP enigma already exist.

They’ve been studied by reputable organisations staffed by qualified scientists and professionals.

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