Summary: In a totally unprecedented move in the history of ufology, the Belgian Air Force and government has not only carefully documented the great UFO wave over Wallonia, but shared its results with civilian investigators and the public, in effect literally breaking down "The Wall" of UFO Silence that still stands in the western world.
Article as it appeared in UFO Universe, June/July 1991.
FOR THE LAST SIX MONTHS, ALMOST THE ENTIRE EUROPEAN CONTINENT HAS BEEN PLAGUED BY A WAVE OF UFO SIGHTINGS UNSURPASSED IN HISTORY, PERHAPS MOST PUZZLING HAVE BEEN THOSE OF A GIGANTIC "FLYING PLATFORM" SIGHTED NEAR THE GERMAN BORDER IN BELGIUM.
In a totally unprecedented move in the history of ufology, the Belgian Air Force and government has not only carefully documented the great UFO wave over Wallonia, but shared its results with civilian investigators and the public, in effect literally breaking down "The Wall" of UFO Silence that still stands in the western world.
For the past year, citizens in the French-speaking region of Wallonia in Belgium have experienced an extraordinary UFO wave. Thousands of witnesses, including dozens of gendarmes (national police) and officers of the Belgian Air Force, have described triangular-shaped vehicles flying slowly over rooftops, hovering, shooting searchlights and performing incredible maneuvers. The objects have been captured on some 25 videotapes and tracked on both ground and airborne radar by the military.
Few, if any, will doubt that the triangular UFOs have been seen all over Wallonia since November of 1989. According to a front page story in The Wall Street Journal published on October 10, 1990 and entitled "Belgium Scientists Seriously Pursue A Triangular UFO," "since the rash of sightings here began almost a year ago, more than ]2,600 have been reported of a triangular object with three huge lights hovering in the night sky over Wallonia."
The question that some are asking is whether these objects could be explained by the testing of a new top secret military aircraft. Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPVs), AWACS, the F-117 Stealth Fighter, and a modified version of the B-2 Stealth Bomber, are some of the options that have been suggested. Besides the large amount of well documented data gathered by the Gendarmerie, the Air Force and civilian scientists from the Belgian Society for the Study of Space Phenomena (SOBEPS), the Belgian Map has broken another record.
For the first time ever in the controversial history of UFOs anywhere in the world, the Belgian Minister of Defense, Guy Coeme, has authorized the Air Force to fully cooperate with SOBEPS, forwarding their reports, and even putting at their disposal a Hawker Sideley aircraft equipped with infrared cameras and sophisticated electronic sensors.
As the well known French physicist, Jean Pierre Petit, explained to Paris Match magazine, "we are living in a time that is the beginning of a period of openness. First the Berlin Wall crumbled, now the wall of silence about UFOs is falling. Concerning the UFOs, we are entering a phase completely different from the earlier ones. It is the end of commercialism and fakery. The true scientists are finally making their appearance."
Dr. Petit is a senior physicist and director of research with the National Center for Scientific Research of France. An iconoclast and a world class expert on magnetohydrodynamcs (MHD), Dr. Petit has also conducted some rather interesting UFO research of his own, publishing recently his results in the book, INVESTIGATION OF UFOS.
Unlike many other UFO groups around the world, the SOBEPS has a team of respected scientists, including Leon Brenig, a nonlinear dynamics theorist at the Free University in Brussels, and Professor August Meessen, a physicist from the Catholic University at Louvain. Among the numerous UFO witnesses, in fact, were Lucien Clerebaut, Secretary General of SOBEPS, Patrick Ferryn, a film producer and founding member, and Jose Fernandez, another SOBEPS investigator. "Here is an opportunity where we can apply the scientific method," remarked Professor Brenig. SOBEPS files show that the first sightings occurred on the night of November 7, 1989, when two gendarmes from Esneux observed a silent huge craft "with two very powerful white lights directed downwards and 'a sort of green and red garland.'"
The flap, however, gained momentum and notoriety on the evening of November 29 when 41 witnesses, including six gendarmes, observed the huge triangle - sometimes referred as "a stationary platform " - in Eupen, Verviers, and several other locations in Wallonia near the border with Germany. As the press speculated with AWACS and Stealth aircraft on the following days, the Defense Minister Guy Coeme dismissed these rumors, stating that "all hypotheses involving the presence of military aircraft in our air space are definitely to be ruled out. "
It is perhaps because the objects are so far unidentified, that the Belgian Air Force has undertaken the task of chasing and investigating the intruders. As Col. Wilfried de Brouwer, the Chief of Operations of the Belgian Air Force who is coordinating the UFO investigation, told The Wall Street Journal, "Our approach is that it's our job to see what's going on."
Indeed, the UFO flap climaxed on the night of March 30-31 of 1990, when unknown targets were tracked by two radar installations. The one at Glons, located southeast of Brussels, belongs to the NATO defense group - NATO Headquarters is in Brussels - while that at Semmerzake, west of Brussels, is in charge of controlling all military and civilian traffic in the entire Belgian territory. At that point, the master-controller at Glons ordered the scramble of two F-16 interceptors, which also locked the UFO on their onboard radars.
We have obtained, courtesy of French researcher Jean-Luc Rivera, a copy of the complete report of this incident, which was prepared by Air Force Major P. Lambrechts, from the Air Force General Staff in Brussels, and which was forwarded to the SOBEPS following the instructions of full cooperation with that group. The "Report Concerning the Observation of UFOs During the Night of March 30 to 31, 1990," includes a full chronology of the events, as well as a thick dossier of enclosures with eyewitness' descriptions from several gendarmes and maps of where the sightings took place.
Major P. Lambrechts explains at the inception that, "the observations both visual and by radar were of such nature, that it was decided to order the scramble of two F-16 aircraft with the goal of identifying these UFOs." The report also indicates that "the presence or testing of B2 or F117 (Stealth Bomber), RPVs (Remotely Piloted Vehicles), ULMs (Ultra Light Motorized) and AWACS at the moment of these events in the Belgian airspace, can be excluded. "
According to the Chronology, the Sequence of events began at 22.50 hours, when the "master controller at Glons " received a telephone call from gendarme Renquin, who reported he was seeing from his house in Ramillies, "three unusual lights. . . forming an equilateral triangle, and with changing colors of red, green and yellow." At 23.05, the Gendarmerie at Wavre sent a patrol, which confirmed the observation. At 23.15, Renquin called again to inform that he was seeing a new set of three lights, while the radar screens at Glons detected " an unidentified contact moving at a speed of around 25 knots." (A knot is equivalent to one nautical mile - 6,080 feet - per hour. )
For the next two and a half hours, an increasing number of gendarmes and other witnesses continued to observe the strange maneuvers of up to three sets of triangular lights in the outskirts of Brussels. By 23.49 hours, the radar screens at Semmerzake confirmed the targets and the order to scramble two F- 16s was given at 23.56 hours, taking off at 00.05 on March 31. According to the report, "the aircraft had brief radar contacts on several occasions." However, each time that "the pilots were able to secure a lock on one of the targets for a few seconds, this resulted each time in a drastic change in the behavior of the UFOs."
During the first lock on at 00.13, continues the report, "the speed of the target changed in a minimum of time from 150 to 970 knots and from 9,000 to 5,000 feet, returning then to 11,000 feet, in order to change again to close to ground level; this resulted in a 'break lock' in a few seconds and the pilots lost the radar contact." In another lock on at 00.30 hours, the "break lock" was achieved by what the report calls "a jamming signal on the screen."
Col. de Brouwer explained to Paris Match reporter Marie-Therese de Brosses, that the change of velocity from 280 KPM to 1,800 KPH while descending from 3,000 meters to 1,000 meters in one second, was a fantastic acceleration equivalent to 40 Gs. This would exclude any human pilot onboard the UFO, since humans can only withstand 8 Gs. (A "G " is a unit of acceleration equivalent to the gravitational pull of the earth, 9.81 m/sec/sec.) When the UFO approached the ground level, continued Col. de Brouwer, "it was out of the question for the F-16 to catch up with the object at this low altitude, where the density of the air limits the speed to 1,300 KMP. Above that speed, the temperature in the compressors of the jet turbines would cause the engines to burst. There was a logic behind the motions of the object," added the Colonel.
In any case, the cat and mouse game went on until shortly after 1 am, when the F-16s were ordered to return to their base. On the ground, however, Captain Pinson and other gendarmes continued to observe "four white luminous spots forming a square" until around 1.30, when "the four UFOs lost their luminosity and seemed to disappear in four different directions." Significantly, the weather conditions on that night were very clear, allowing ground witnesses to observe the objects in detail, as well as the pursuit by the F-16s. The pilots, however, did not observe the objects visually.
Major Lambrechts finally excludes a number of alternative hypotheses for the UFOs, such as "optical illusions, confusion with planets or other meteorological phenomena... weather balloons. . . or meteorological inversions. . . holographic projections," etc. More importantly, he writes that "the speeds measured at he moment of the change of altitudes, exclude the hypothesis that the UFOs observed could be confused with aircraft. " Still more puzzling was the fact that, "despite that on several occasions high speeds above the speed of the sound barrier were measured, the shock wave was never observed. Here, no explanation can be given."
The French physicist Jean Pierre Petit concurred: "In reality," he told Paris Match, "there is no machine made by man, either an airplane or a missile, that is capable of such performance. Specifically, flying at the speed of sound without making a sonic boom."
Although the Belgian military authorities have insisted that the UFOs in Wallonia are no secret aircraft, the similarities between the triangular craft seen in Belgium with the boomerang- shaped objects reported throughout the last decade in the Hudson Valley in New York and Western Connecticut, as well as other triangular UFOs observed in Wytheville, Virginia, Fyffe, Alabama, and Puerto Rico, among other places, have led some researchers to suggest that the technology behind all these observations is terrestrial and not extraterrestrial.
The similarity between the Belgian and Hudson Valley flaps was noted by SOBEPS investigator Patrick Ferryn. Commenting on the book Night Siege by the late Dr. Allen Hynek, investigator Phillip Imbrogno and reporter Bob Pratt, which documented the Hudson Valley cases, Ferryn wrote that "changing only a few words, exactly the same could be written to give an account of the position of affairs here! [in Belgium] The same goes for many entire pages and excerpts elsewhere in the book."
While nobody doubts that people have been seeing something in both upstate New York and Wallonia in Belgium, the big question is whether these sightings are caused by true UFOs or by some kind of new revolutionary secret military aircraft. Foremost among the proponents of the secret weapon theory is Tony Gonsalves, a researcher from East Providence, Rhode Island, who served as a jet mechanic and plane captain for the U.S. Navy on three aircraft carriers between 1959 and 1963.
In a number of papers written during the last two years, Gonsalves has developed his theory of "The American made UFO" - that the boomerangs of Westchester and Duchess counties, as well as the triangular UFOs of Belgium, Virginia and Puerto Rico, are actually a modified covert version of the B-2 Stealth Bomber. Gonsalves believes this craft has been fully operational since the early 80s, while the official B-2 bomber that was unveiled in 1988 is a "decoy" to deceive the American public, the media and the Congress. Furthermore, Tony Gonsalves and a few other ufologists speculate that this secret aircraft may even incorporate some alien technology obtained from UFO crashes decades ago.
Gonsalves' theory seemed to gain some credibility when Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine reported in its October 1, 1990 edition that, "large, triangular wing-Shaped aircraft" are indeed being tested out of the Nellis Air Force range in Nevada and the Tehachapi Mountains near Edwards AFB in California. The well known aerospace magazine mentioned several sightings by engineers of "triangular-shaped aircraft, " possibly prototypes for the A- 12, the Navy's new Stealth attack plane, and one or several versions for reconnaissance aircraft cloaked under the top secret code of Aurora, to replace the old Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird" which was recently mothballed. Aviation Week (sometimes referred by the nickname of "Aviation Leak") also quoted Air Force sources who "acknowledged that diamond and triangular-shaped vehicles are 'the trend now,'" as well as unconfirmed reports that some of these aircraft "were designed to operate at speeds around Mach 10 or higher."
Because he worked for over 30 years as senior editor of Aviation Week, where he is still a contributing editor, we sought the opinion of well known UFO debunker Phillip Klass as to whether there could be any validity to explain the Hudson Valley and Belgian flaps with Secret military aircraft, Stealth or otherwise. "In my opinion the answer is absolutely not," responded Klass, adding that only those sightings "in the vicinity of Nellis Air Force Base" in Nevada could be caused by military aircraft tests. "If there were a secret airplane," continued Klass, "for goodness' sake, the last place in the world you'd want to fly it is in Duchess County, where people have been alerted to look for objects."
Although they certainly disagree on the final cause of the sightings, Klass and Phillip Imbrogno seem to be in full agreement in their rejection of Tony Gonsalves' Stealth theory. "l can't see the government testing a top secret device in an area like this, " said Imbrogno. "Number one, what if they have a problem, what if they crash?" Imbrogno said he had considered this possibility when he first looked into the boomerang sightings, but that "I am convinced right now that the Hudson Valley UFO is not an aircraft, Stealth or otherwise. Number two, I am not totally convinced that it's from outerspace. Number three, I don't know what the hell it is."
Meanwhile, sightings continue to pile up in Europe. The latest case before we go to press was reported in early November, when "mystery shapes in the sky, variously described as orange balls, triangles and points of light," were reported in France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, according to a newswire report from the Reuter's news agency. Police phone lines were flooded across the continent with calls about unidentified flying objects. Experts in Munich speculated the sightings could have been triggered by the explosion of a meteorite.
However, this explanation could hardly satisfy the familiar sightings in Belgium, where "dozens of people reported a triangular object with three lights flying slowly and soundlessly to the southwest," according to the Reuter report. The Belgian Air Force was studying once again the case, and so was France's Service for the Investigation of Re-entry Phenomena (SEPRA), which is attached to the French National Space Agency in Toulouse and was formerly known as GEPAN. One Air France pilot told a radio interviewer: "We were on a flight to Barcelona (Spain) at about 33,000 feet at about 7 pm when we first saw the shape. It couldn't have been a satellite because it was there for three or four minutes."
If the sightings in Belgium and elsewhere turn out to be secret aircraft, the mystery will become pubic sooner or later, but if they are indeed caused by true UFOs, then we may be debating them for a long time to come. Perhaps a summary of the whole Belgian flap and its meaning was best expressed by SOBEPS Scientist August Meessen, Professor of Physics at the Catholic University at Louvain. He told the French magazine Paris Match: "There are too many independent eyewitness reports to ignore. Too many of the reports describe coherent physical effects, and there is an agreement among the accounts concerning what was observed. If all of these witnesses are lying, then it is a mental disease of such novelty and proportions that it must be studied."
"But of course," continued Prof. Meessen, "there are also physical effects. The Air Force report allows us to approach the problem in a rational and scientific way. The simplest hypothesis is that the reports are caused by extraterrestrial visitors, but that hypothesis carries with it other problems. We are not in a rush to form a conclusion, but continue to study the mystery." The last word about the UFO flap that has brought down "The Wall" of UFO Silence has yet to be uttered.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Chilean-American journalist Antonio Huneeus was born in New York in 1950, the son of a Chilean diplomat and United States official. After studying French at the Sarbonne University in Paris in 1970 and journalism at the University of Chile, he worked as science editor for a weekly magazine in Santiago and was a contributor for a number of newspapers. Huneeus' UFO investigation began in 1977 with the bizarre "time warp" incident of Chilean Army Corporal Armando Valdes. Since then, he has written hundreds of articles on UFOs and related subjects for such publications as Omni, UFO Report, and the MUFON JOURNAL in the U.S., as well as for magazines throughout South America and Europe. Last year he won the UFOlogists of the Year Award given by the National UFO Conference. The photographs and art that accompany this article are part of Antonio's UFO CHRONICLE lecture and slide presentation. Readers may reach the author directly at Box 1989, New York, NY 10159.