1989-1990: UFO SIGHTING WAVE IN BELGIUM
The Chief of Operations of the Royal Belgian Air Force, Colonel Wilfred De Brouwer (now Major General and Deputy Chief of the Belgian Air Force), set up a Special Task Force Unit to work closely with the Gendarmerie to investigate the sightings as soon as they were reported. Among the thousands of witnesses were many military and police officers, pilots, scientists and engineers. The wave was documented by the Belgian Society for the Study of Space Phenomena (SOBEPS), a private organization from Brussels, which published two thick volumes on the UFO wave. 133 (see montage)
The first important case was a multiple-witness observation of a strange aircraft, reported by gendarmes on patrol near the town of Eupen, not far from the German border. Auguste Meessen, professor of physics at the Catholic University in Louvain and a scientific consultant of SOBEPS, summarized the case:
Sightings continued to be logged by SOBEPS and the Gendarmerie during the fall and winter of 1989-1990. Most witnesses described seeing dark, triangular objects with white lights at the corners and a red flashing light in the middle. Many of the objects were said to have hovered, with some of them then suddenly accelerating to a very high speed. Most of the objects made no sound, but some were said to have emitted a faint humming like an electric motor.
Public interest in the wave reached its peak with a radar/visual and jet scramble incident on the night of March 30-31, 1990. This scramble was seen and reported by hundreds of citizens. A preliminary report prepared by Major P. Lambrechts of the Belgian Air Force General Staff was released to SOBEPS. The "Report concerning the observation of UFOs during the night of March 30 to 31, 1990," includes a detailed chronology of events and dismisses several hypotheses such as optical illusions, balloons, meteorological inversions, military aircraft, holographic projections, etc.
The incident began at 22:50 hrs. on March 30 when the Gendarmerie telephoned the radar "master controller at Glons" to report "three unusual lights forming an equilateral triangle." More gendarmes confirmed the lights in the following minutes. When the NATO facility at Semmerzake detected an unknown target at 23:49 hrs., a decision to scramble two F-16 fighters was made. The jets took off at 0:05 hrs. from Beauvechain, the nearest air base, on March 31 and flew for just over an hour. According to Major Lambrecht's report:
The Electronic War Center (EWC) of the Air Force undertook a much more detailed technical analysis of the F-16 computerized radar tapes, led by Col. Salmon and physicist M. Gilmard. Their study was completed in 1992 and was later reviewed by Professor Meessen. (See below.)
Apparent trajectory of the UFO, from the technical Gilmard-Salmom study of the Royal Belgian Air Force.
Trajectory of the two F-16's.
Courtesy of RBAF/SOBEPS.
Although many aspects of this case still remain unexplained, Meessen and SOBEPS have basically accepted the Gilmard-Salmon hypothesis that some of the radar contacts were really "angels" caused by a rare meteorological phenomenon. This became evident in four lock-ons, "where the object descended to the ground with calculations showing negative [emphasis added] altitude... It was evidently impossible that an object could penetrate the ground, but it was possible that the ground could act as a mirror." Meessen explained how the high velocities measured by the Doppler radar of the F-16 fighters might result from interference effects. He points out, however, that there is another radar trace for which there is no explanation to date. As for the visual sightings of this event by the gendarmes and others, Meessen suggests that they could possibly have been caused by stars seen under conditions of "exceptional atmospheric refraction."136
In a recent interview, Major General De Brouwer summarized his reflections on this complex case:
The Belgian UFO wave yielded a rich volume of good quality cases and many videos and photographs. One strikingly clear photograph of a triangular-shaped craft was taken at Petit-Rechain in early April 1990. As of 1994, it remained unexplained after numerous analyses, including a thorough computerized study at the Royal Military Academy. (see below)
Although public interest in the Belgian wave reached its peak in the 1990-91 period, SOBEPS was still documenting cases in late 1993. Marc Valckenaer listed the main characteristics of the Belgian UFOs in the latest SOBEPS study. Various shapes such as round, rectangular and cigar were reported, but the wave was dominated by triangular objects. Some of their characteristics included:
Because the bulk of the Belgian sightings described triangular-shaped objects, many European and American researchers and journalists speculated that these were caused by either F-117A stealth fighters or some other revolutionary U.S. secret military aircraft. However, the only truly unusual characteristic of the F-117 is its near-invisibility to radar and infrared detection - it looks, flies and sounds like any other sub-sonic jet airplane. Similar claims about the presence of other American advanced airplanes are even harder to substantiate: the A-12 Avenger II was never built, and the existence of the TR-3A "manta" is unconfirmed. Neither has even been rumored to be able to fly in the manner reported for the Belgian UFOs.
Despite the fact that the secret military aircraft hypothesis has been denied officially over and over again by the Belgian Ministry of Defense and Air Force, as well as by the U.S. Embassy in Brussels and the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, some publications continue to champion the stealth fighter theory.
In a letter to French researcher Renaud Marhic, the Minister of Defense at the time of the UFO wave, Leo Delcroix, wrote:
133. SOBEPS, Vague d'OVNI sur la Belgique - Un Dossier Exceptionnel, Brussels 1991; Vague d'OVNI sur la Belgique 2 - Une Enigme Non Résolue, Brussels, 1994.
134. Meessen, Auguste, "Observations, analyses et recherches," Chapter 10 in Vague d'OVNI 2, ibid.
135. Lambrechts, Major P., "Report Concerning the Observation of UFOs During the Night of March 30-31, 1990," preliminary report dated May 31, 1990.
136. Meessen, A., ibid.
137. Huneeus, A., telephone interview with Major General De Brouwer, October 5, 1995.
138. Valckenaers, Marc, "Etude des particularités remarquables," Chapter 2 in Vague d'OVNI 2, ibid.
139. Marhic, Renaud, "Ovnis belges: nouvelle rumeur," Phénomèna No. 13, Jan./Feb. 1993, SOS OVNI, Aix-en-Provence, France.
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