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Triangular UFOs over Belgium (1989-1991), a short analysis

Lieve Peten

original source |  fair use notice

Summary: An overview and analysis of the Belgian UFO sightings.

Copyright Lieve Peten, 1997

A few dates

September 28th 1989 at Braine-le-Compte (province of Brabant), the first sighting on record of a triangular UFO over Belgium.

November 28th 1989 : 3 sightings in the province of Liege, and one in Perwez-en-Condroz (province of Namur)
November 29th 1989 officially registered sightings :

* early in the morning in Eynatten, Eupen

* Jalhay, province of Liege at 4 pm

* Charneux, province of Liege, 4.40 pm

* Eisden, province of Limburg, 4.55 pm

* Verviers, province of Liege, shortly before 5.20 pm

* Eupen, province of Liege, 5.20 pm - amongst others by two gendarmes (state police officers) von Montigny and Nicoll

* Andenne, province of Namur, 9.30 pm

* Solieres, province of Namur, 11.10 pm
The total of sightings on that day came to over 70 (involving twice as many witnesses). November 29th was a beautiful sunny day with hardly any wind. The sun went under at around 4.45 pm, after which the stars became visible (and no moon).

Description of one of the sightings : The two gendarmes, von Montigny and Nicoll, first notice a bright light and move in closer, then they see the object hovering (stationary) at about 120 meters above the ground. They describe it as a large platform with three enormous circular (conical) beams shining down on the meadows below the craft.

Both gendarmes are amazed at the absence of any sound. There is a little daylight left in the sky and they are also able to observe the triangular shape of the craft as well as bottom of the craft's smoothness (evenness).

The 3 white beams have a diameter of over one meter, and in the middle of the triangle is a red flashing light, flashing on and off about twice per second. They estimate the size of the object at about 30 to 35 meters at the base, 25 meters long, and about two meters high.

Then the object starts to move towards Eynatten, parallel to the road the gendarmes are on, so they drive in the direction the craft is taking, overtaking it and waiting for it at the next crossroads. The gendarmes estimate the object's speed at around 50 kilometers per hour at that time. In the mean time they report the sighting to their barracks (the Gendarmerie is part of the Armed Forces) in Eupen (at 5.24 pm) and suggest to the guard on duty (Albert Kreutz) that he inquire about eventual military 'special' planes at the military base of Elsenborn.

The gendarmes stop at the crossroads and wait for the craft which is moving towards them - then it halts suddenly, and moves off in the opposite direction (back towards Eupen). The two men follow the craft which is still moving slowly.

The craft is now also observed by various other witnesses on its way to Eupen, between 5.25 pm and 6 pm. Some witnesses remark on the altitude of the craft - very low above the rooftops. The sound the craft makes is described by some as 'the hum of an electrical motor'. Some people say they observed rectangular port-holes with a soft orange light shining within.

The guard on duty at the barracks informs the two gendarmes that Bierset and Elsenborn (both military airports) say no military activities of any kind are taking place in the area. After crossing the town the craft flies over 'lake' Gileppe (a lake formed by a dam) and remains hovering there (at a distance of about 4 kilometers from the gendarmes) for about 45 minutes, still observed by the gendarmes.

The gendarmes are too far away to see the 3 lights individually, the beams now appear as one beam. At intervals they notice the emission of two thin horizontal red beams in opposite directions.

At 6.45 pm while the craft is still hovering above the lake, a second triangular craft appears in a flash (i.e. very fast) from over the woods, up and away, turning left and right, towards the motorway (E 40 Ostend-Brussels-Liege-Aachen motorway or highway).

This second craft is similar to the first, but its movements allows the gendarmes to observe the top of the craft as well, and they too notice rectangular (lit) port-holes, as well as the spherical superstructure (dome) on top of the craft.

Back at the barracks, from his office on the first floor, their colleague (Albert Kreutz) has been keeping an eye on a 'ball of light' he sees hovering in the area he knows the two other gendarmes had followed the craft to. The ball of light is stationary for 45 minutes, then, at 6.45 pm he notices this 'ball of light' shooting up into the sky. So the craft Albert observed must have been the second craft, which the two gendarmes saw coming up from over the trees.

Back at the lake, at 7.23 pm the red beams transmitted by the craft they are still observing cease, and the craft moves away in the direction of Spa (another town).
December 11th 1989, 21 sightings over 5 different provinces:

First sighting over Esneux (Liege) at 5.35 pm, the last one at 10.45 pm above Gileppe (Liege), other sightings include ones above La Louviere (province Hainaut), Malonne and Spy (both Namur), Bastogne (prov. Luxembourg), Pietrain (Brabant)
One of the Dec. 11th witnesses is army officer Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Amond. He and his wife were in their car driving from Ernage (prov. Namur) to Gembloux. hey observed a UFO for some 8 to 10 minutes at a distance of about 200 to 300 meters.

The description of the UFO in his report (to the Minister of Defense) tallies with that of the one seen by the gendarmes on Nov. 29th.
The sightings continue over the whole of 1990, then, in the beginning of 1991 they seem to die down in intensity.

(The report of the UFO sighting of March 30-31st is on my other 'UFOs over Belgium' page)
On March 12th 1991 some 20 sightings are noted, spread over a wide area, including the province of Antwerp (Geel and Olen at 9.45 pm) and several of the provinces where sightings took place before.

Over the whole period (Sept. 1989 - March 1991) more than 2000 sightings were noted. Some of the sightings were supported by radar reports (Dec. 5th 1989 and March 30-31, 1990).

The majority of sightings took place in the area between the towns Verviers, Liege and Bastogne. Most of the witnesses were small groups of people who reported the sightings independently of the other groups.

Sightings took place in other areas too, f.i. across the borders into Germany, the Netherlands and France.

On December 5th 1989 unknown objects were registered for over an hour by various radar installations of Bertem, Glons and Bierset in Belgium, as well as Maastricht (Netherlands) and Dusseldorf (Germany).

Sensitivity to radar was variable, some of the UFOs were not detected by radar at all.
Description of sightings

Most witnesses reported a triangular shaped craft if a shape was visible at all, since at night only the lights were visible. The most common description was : three bright white lights in the shape of a triangle (i.e. one light at every corner) with one red flashing light in the middle.

At times a soft humming sound was detected when the craft remained stationary, then in a fraction of a second the craft would 'whizz off' and disappear.

The craft could remain motionless while hovering.

Unusual flight patterns were noted, including immediate changes of course at right angles.

The craft were seen above busy towns and highways.

No effect was noted on animals, nor on engines (as some UFO-reports mention engines are cut when UFOs are close, this was not the case here).
The authorities

Ministers of defense Guy Coeme and (subsequently) Leo Delcroix as well as the Belgian Air Force's positive attitude towards the phenomena were helpful in the investigations by ufologists and 'Sobeps', the organisation that investigates UFOs in the French-speaking part of Belgium.

Because of the media attention for the observed UFOs, the Belgian Air Force organized a press conference (July 11th, 1990) and released the various military reports (to be found on the my other UFOs over Belgium page) concerning the night of March 30-31st 1990.
The various accounts of sightings even prompted the Belgian Air Force to make an Air Force plane (with an infrared camera) available to Sobeps. Radar stations were asked to keep watch manually, by switching off their computers, since our radar systems are designed to only register objects moving at speeds faster than 150 kilometers per hour, to avoid the movement of cars being picked up by radar.

The point of view of the Air Force was that whoever was flying over the Belgian Airspace without authorisation, was violating our airspace - an illegal activity, since every flight after sundown and before daylight starts has to be authorised and registered by the Regie der Luchtwegen (Belgian Air Traffic Control, Regie des Voies Aeriennes)

The Belgian Airforce did contact the American embassy to inquire about eventual test flights of American spyplanes. The Americans denied that any such activities took place above or in Belgium - which would have been an illegal activity anyway, without authorisation of the Belgian authorities. Besides, the American F-117, which had been doing test flights from 1986 onwards, could not even have been responsible for the sightings - its shape is triangular, and it does escape radar detection, but it cannot fly at slow speeds.
UFOs Over Belgium, the book

Extracts of the book 'UFOs above Belgium', written by John van Waterschoot, reknowned mathematician and economist, professor at the University of Leuven.

John van Waterschoot is vouched for as being a serious researcher by Mark Eyskens, former prime minister of Belgium and professor of economy (Leuven University) and General-Major Wilfried De Brouwer, former Adjunct Chief of Staff of the Belgian Air Force.

Publisher : Lannoo, Tielt, Belgium, 1997. Language : Flemish
The following is a text translated from Flemish. I remain as close as possible to the original text, which may not make for the best of English.

Each '(note:..)' in the text is inserted by me for clarification. My translating this text and posting it publicly is probably a violation of copyright - for which I apologise to the author. I can only hope he sees it as a promotion for his book. If he should request this, I will take this text off this page.

Quoting General-Major Wilfried De Brouwer, former Adjunct-Chief of the Belgian Air Force, who wrote the foreword of the book:

Personally I was very sceptical about the sensational press reports of triangular UFOs being sighted above Belgium on November 29th 1989, which was the start of the UFO-flap - I thought the cause of the phenomena were either laser beams or holograms. I was very happy when the pilot of an F-16 was able to determine the cause of a UFO sighted in the beginning of December 1989 - the UFO in question turned out to be the result of the laser beams of a dancing in Limburg (note: province in the North East of Belgium).
My satisfaction at being able to dismiss the subject didn't last long: when I was confronted with the various witnesses on a press conference by Sobeps on December 18th 1989, their descriptions made firewood of my hypothesis. Triangular-shaped craft, larger than a jumbo-jet (note: Boeing 747), that moved at speeds below 60 kilometres per hour (note: roughly 40 miles p.h.), with a slight whirring sound and not the classic reaction-motor noise - cannot be confused with laser projections or holograms. Then there were the three strong beams of light, strong enough to light a soccer field, and these three lights melted into one whenever one of those triangles would shoot off.

The witness accounts were coherent and convincing. The witnesses themselves were credible, even if their stories seemed like something out of science fiction. As the official representative of the AF I could not think of an explanation for the observations made. Then certain members of the press accused us of allowing experimental flights above Belgium.

The days that followed more and more newspapers suggested that F-117 Stealth planes were responsible, planes invisible to radar. This is easily determined as wrong: no permission was granted for such activities in the Belgian air space, on top of which these Stealth planes were incapable of flying at around 60 kilometres per hour, then shoot off at incredible speeds, without any loud noise.

To make absolutely sure, the American Embassy was formally asked about this, which prompted them to issue an official statement to the press which said no such flights had taken place in Belgian air space.
The Belgian AF now had a problem - the multitude of sightings, particularly in the evenings, were an indication certain activities were taking place in Belgian air space. These activities were illegal. Each flight after sundown and before dawn must be requested and registered officially. Neither the Regie der Luchtwegen (note: Air Traffic controlling body) nor the Air Force were aware of any request. If the UFOs sighted were real craft, they were violating our air space and contravening regulations. Both the Regie der Luchtwegen (note: Air Traffic controlling body) and the Air Force needed to find out the origin of the supposed craft.
Radar stations were asked to be alert and give more attention to slow-moving craft. These are very difficult to observe for radars which are set to trace planes and helicopters that fly at speeds of over 150 kilometers (note: about 100 miles) per hour. The fact that the craft moved at very low speeds forced the radar operators to switch off the computer systems and work with so-called 'raw video'. Thereby more signals were bounced back than on a computer-operated screen. Difficult to work this way, while registration of events may become unreliable.

Under normal circumstances all information is stored, which makes it possible to reconstruct certain observations and compare these with other radar stations. This is impossible when working manually, in that case a reconstruction relies on the judgement of the radar operator. Such personal appreciation is subjective and has insufficient scientific value to confirm certain observations.

The F-16s of the Bevekom (Beauvechain) airfield (note: an Air Force airfield), which must be able to lift off within 5 minutes at any time when required, were on permanent stand-by to be able to go and check out suspect air activities. But also the F-16 radars are set to detect vessels that operate at high speeds. This setting has as reason that the F-16 radar screens would pick up cars driving fast and make it difficult for the pilots to discern between planes and cars. So detecting the so-called UFOs was not going to be easy. Which is why visual detection was going to be crucial - on condition this was done by the members of the Gendarmerie (note: state police). We were only going to react to observations made by Gendarmes (note: state police officers) to avoid just anyone's testimony would cause the AF planes to be sent out. This procedure proved to be cumbersome and time-consuming.
It was the F-16 intervention of March 30-31 1990 which made the real huge headlines. The large public interest was due to a coincidence: The analysis of the video-takes of the F-16 was not finished when an article appeared in a French magazine that ridiculed the 'Belgian UFO flap' once again, a UFO-flap which, according to this magazine, was just a cause of F 117 test exercises. Further more the magazine claimed the F-16s which had taken off that night (March 30-31) had not obtained any results at all.

I then agreed to an interview with a French weekly magazine's journalist who was accompanied by the director of the French National UFO research centre. I allowed the latter to take a few photos of the registered F-16 radar locks on a supposed craft that, according to the available data, moved at speeds which were clearly beyond the scope of any known airplane.

I showed him this to prove the AF fighters had not returned without results and that, if indeed real vessels were in the skies, they were certainly not F 117s. I added quite clearly that an analysis of the video takes still had to be completed and that it could not at that point be ruled out that electro-magnetic interferences were at the base of the radar registrations.

The article that was written as a result of this interview had the effect of a bomb! It was pure sensationalism and the hypothesis that the registrations could have been caused by interference wasn't even mentioned.

Since after this publication the Belgian media pressed us for answers, the Air Force felt it was necessary to give a press conference where the same photos were shown and give the same explanation as I had already given the French weekly magazine. The press conference had a snowball-effect which resulted in endless phonecalls to my staff from morning to night! A week later the ministry of defense decided not to give out any more information in order for me to be able to return to my regular schedule.
The Belgian UFO flap has been a unique experience. A large amount of observations were sensational and have not yet been explained. The press reacted in different ways: the French-speaking press was open on the subject, the Flemish press feared ridicule and remained tongue-in cheek. Such a fear was not present amongst the Air Force authorities. The Air Force has as duty to observe and keep safe the Belgian air space, and together with the Regie der Luchtwegen (note: Air Traffic controlling body) it has to check on activities in Belgian air space. The countless UFO observations were taken seriously.
The UFO-issue is a very emotional subject which is treated differently by everyone. The reaction goes from indifference to rejection to disbelief, and to the intense conviction that UFOs are from extra terrestrial origin. The fear of being ridiculed is real and is inspired by the fact that many find it difficult to accept we are visited on a regular basis by extra terrestrial craft, be it manned or unmanned.

Because a lot of people are interested a lot of authors write books merely for money. Valuable information is distorted and mixed up with personal interpretations, with as a result that the UFO-issue becomes unbelievable. But the public has the right to be informed in a correct manner.

I have the fullest trust in John van Waterschoot whose only intention in writing this book (UFOs above Belgium) was to create an objective work. His reputation as professor of university, senator, writer amongst others guarantee his objective method of approach.

The UFO-flap in Belgium from 1989 to 1991 was and is an enigma which remains unsolved.
Wilfried De Brouwer, Gen.-Maj., former Adjunct chief of staff Belgian Air Force.

Further extracts from the book

- The intensity of the observations over Belgium is strengthened by the limitation of the area where UFOs were seen (Southern part of Belgium, John van Waterschoot means if it was mass-hysteria it would have spread all over), the large amount of witnesses, the fact that the witnesses were usually small groups.
- There was a variety of witnesses - all accounts were similar. Triangular shape, or no discernable shape but lights in the shape of a triangle were seen (one light at the edge of each corner, often a less clear light in the middle too).
- The report that hit the press on November 29th 1989 concerned two gendarmes (state police) making the observation. (note: as in 'credible witnesses')
- A member of Sobeps (Mark Valckenaers) studied the characteristics of the flying triangles by looking at what the sightings had in common:

* A variety of speeds, including very slow to hovering over one spot.

* A very unusual flight pattern - with instantaneous changing of direction

* Some witnesses mentioned the craft followed the relief of the countryside beneath

* Quite a few UFOs were seen from busy motorways (note: aka highways) and built-up and densely populated areas.

* In deviation to other UFO sightings, the flying triangles had no discernable effect on engines, nor did they cause unrest amongst cattle, while sensitivity to radar was variable. The objects did not show up well on film or photo.
The reports made by Sobeps included contributions by various known and respected scientists.
The report on the Belgian UFO flap would not have been so meaningful if it hadn't been for the co-operation of the two subsequent ministers of defence, namely Guy Coëme and Leo Delcroix. Afterwards it came out that the Chief of Staff were not exactly enthralled at the ministers of defence's openness on the matter.
Night 30-31 March 1990 (excerpts):

- The two F-16s which lifted off from Bevekom (Beauvechain) were AL-17 and AL-23 of the first wing, their official mission was the identification of the UFOs which had been reported both visually and via radar just south of the axis Brussels-Tienen.

- The operation was a full co-operation between the Air Force and the Gendarmerie (state police) the gendarmerie took care of the ground patrols and the observations of the various gendarmes backed up and complemented the radar reports by Glons radar station in the province of Liege and Semmerzake, a Nato radar station in the province East-Flanders.

- A report by Major Lambrechts, closest assistant of (as he was then) Colonel De Brouwer, was made on the happenings of March 30-31st (note: that's on my second page on the subject). This is one of the only military UFO documents in the world that was ever released to the public in full (be it as a summary of the events), said report was released at the insistance of our press. Another reason for this report being made public was to refute the claims of a few French magazines saying the sightings were F 117s.

- Quote from 'Knack', a Flemish news magazine: "Between 00.07 and 00.54 the 2 F-16 fighters, under guidance of the Radar station in Glons, try to intercept the UFOs 9 times. No success. The pilots did have lots of radar contacts on the targets as the Glons Radar stations gave the pilots the relevant positions.

Three times the pilots succeeded a lock-on, but each time the target showed a drastic change in behaviour: at the first lock-up (at 00.13 hours) the speed of the target went from 280 to 1800 kilometers per hour (miles 180 to 1200 p.h., 150 to 970 knots), while the 'Thing' went from 2700 metres to 1500 metres, then back to 3300 metres, then suddenly, dived down to close to the grund and in doing this escaped the radar of the F-16, Glons and Semmerzake (note: metres to feet: multiply by three)"

- Though speeds greater than the sound barrier have been measured several times, no 'sound boom' has been noticed. No explanation can be given for that.

- Study of the radar tapes did not provide a solution - the occurances remain a mystery.
So far the extracts of John van Waterschoot's book.


ET craft or conventional (but advanced) man-made craft?
(This part by Lieve Peten, owner of this website.)

Our military did not at any time say the craft were ET (extra-terrestrial), but they do say that the phenomenon remains unexplained. Our military have been quite open on the matter. They said that no known aircraft can do what the UFOs over Belgium did. They did a lot of research and came to the conclusion the craft observed were not known craft. What else is left? We are now 8 years later - John van Waterschoot's book came out in 1997, 7 years after the event. The mystery is still there.
Were these craft advanced craft from another country? Anything is possible, of course. The moment whatever Air Force comes up with a craft that can do what the triangular craft did by way of performance AND can demonstrate these 'new' aircraft were already capable of that in 1989-1990, AND give me a valid reason why whatever military project found it necessary to violate our air space rather than practice their fun and games closer to home, I'll be convinced they were not ET craft!

After which I hope our military will go to an international court and fine the crafts in question. That would help our budget along some, particularly in view of there having been some 2000 sighting reports. Hey, the government may lower our taxes as a result!!!
All in all, there may be no evidence of the craft observed in our airspace in the period 1989-1991 being either ET or T (as in Terrestrial) - BUT consider the following: A nation having a technology as displayed by the craft visiting Belgium and wanting to keep it a secret, would be mad in thinking it then still was a secret. If they didn't want their technology to remain a secret, they could have behaved in a conventional way and have their plane fly off at normal speeds. Or stayed on their own territory rather than fly over Belgium at regular intervals for some two years and make everyone wonder what was happening. If this same nation denies that ET craft visit our planet AND deny they have that kind of technology it makes even less sense - in denying UFOs exist they say the craft observed was man-made. In denying they had any craft over Belgium they are saying the craft was ET. Doesn't that sound just slightly contradictory to you???? So again, my question is: why the hell were they here if they were man-made? Over such a long period of time?
Sightings go back many years, many centuries. Belgium has had its share of them. Some sightings involved pleanty of cridible witnesses. An example:

In January 1980 a disk hovered for some seven hours above the Bevekom (Beauvechain) air force base. 35 Belgian military of various ranks observed said phenomenon. The UFO sighting was what is usually referred to as a 'classical case' - hardly any sound, spheric shape, tremendous acceleration from a very slow movement. No radar trace. Could these advanced planes do that in 1980 already? Why are not all planes by now built using that kind of technology? Doesn't make sense. Another power could somehow get hold of that technology, build a load of planes, then strike... and hold the world to ransom!
there were some real UFOs here, whether they were man-made or ET. UFO as in Unidentified Flying Object... Some of the radar traces were later judged to be reflections of other signals. The result (condensed version) of the research is underneath - the problem is, as usual, that because they managed to explain some of the radar traces as not being an ET craft, they pretend that the matter is over with!!

Radar registrations March 31st - result of research.

Research was done by professor August Meessen, professor of physics at the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve and member of Sobeps since its foundation. After a first analyis the professor concluded that 'the only reasonable hypothesis is that it concerns UFOs of which the performance clearly indicate their non-terrestrial origin'.
An analysis done by Colonel Salmon (then a Major still) and by civil engineer Gilmard (former employee Electronic War Centre) concluded that mistakes were made in the interpretation of the radar takes. This official investigation shows that on at least three of the ten 'abnormal' registrations, the radar on board of the one F-16 had taken the other F-16 for a UFO.

The remainder of the non-identified echos was then assumed to be the reflection of the radar waves on temperature inversions and humid masses of air.

The light beams which had been signalled earlier were then dismissed as 'stars'.

- Three out of ten registrations were explained - no word on the others.

- Even if 5 or 7 or even 9 were explained, that leaves one (or 3 or 5 :-) which remains a mystery, doesn't it?

- Strangely enough, at the time the meteorological institute reported there was no significant temperature inversion, that was stated in the original report issued to the press. But for the convenience of explaining the phenomenon away suddenly we do have temperature inversion... Or was the original report wrong?

- Of course, prof. Meessen may have been biased and seen evidence of an ET craft where none was - he was a member of Sobeps and had been involved with UFO research for ages and may have wanted the thing to be an ET craft - but the military would have been biased in the other direction. Conflicting evidence... what else is new? Maybe they should have done a joint research - or present their evidence to a judge and let him decide...
What it comes down to, really and truly, is that something unexplained went on in the Belgian sky that night, and quite a few other nights in that (roughly) 2-year period. No proof - but it's still a far stronger case of the craft (or at least some of them) being ET than most other cases I've looked at...


UFOs above Belgium, book written by John van Waterschoot, reknowned mathematician and economist, professor at the University of Leuven.

John van Waterschoot is vouched for as being a serious researcher by Mark Eyskens, former prime minister of Belgium and professor of economy (Leuven University) and General-Major Wilfried De Brouwer, former Adjunct Chief of Staff of the Belgian Air Force.

Publisher : Lannoo, Tielt, Belgium, 1997. Language : Flemish
SOBEPS, Societe Belge d'Etudes des Phenomenes Spatiaux (I left off the accents because these show up as other characters on different computers), 74 Avenue Paul Janson, 1070 Bruxelles
Military report (on my other UFOs over Belgium page) : by Major Lambrechts, Air Force. The reports were turned over to Sobeps who publicised them.

Read more articles on this topic:

Belgium UFO Sightings