Belgian Military Jets
This report was prepared by me in 1990 and was based largely on material supplied by Patrick Ferryn, cofounder of the Belgian UFO research organization SOBEPS (Societe Belge D'Etude Des Phenomenes Spatiaux). A similar version was published that year in the MUFON UFO Journal.
For those not familiar with Belgium, it is one of the smallest and most densely populated countries in Europe. It is about a third the size of the state of Indiana and, with a population of more than ten million, has almost twice as many people.
It is bounded on the northwest by the North Sea, on the north and northeast by The Netherlands, on the east by West Germany, on the southeast by Luxembourg, and on the west and southwest by France.
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For at least eight months beginning in October 1989, Belgium experienced almost daily sightings of large triangular-shaped UFOs similar to those reported throughout the United States on countless occasions since the mid-1970s.
late May 1990, the Belgian UFO research group SOBEPS had investigated about six hundred fifty cases, collecting reports from more than nine
hundred witnesses, many of them highly competent professional
(The SOBEPS investigators accumulated an incredible amount of information on the sightings. In 1994 they published their findings in two thick volumes totaling nearly a thousand pages, Vague d'OVNI sur la Belgique, Un Dossier Exceptionnel and Vague d'OVNI sur la Belgique, Une Énigme Non Résolue.)
It is estimated that at least ten thousand Belgians saw the UFOs, described at times as being “as big as or bigger than an aircraft carrier."
many respects the sightings paralleled those reported in the Hudson Valley area
of New York and Connecticut just north of New York city in 1983-1986, as
reported in the book NIGHT SIEGE: The Hudson Valley UFO Sightings (by Dr.
J. Allen Hynek, Philip J. Imbrogno and Bob Pratt, Ballantine Books, 1987, and
the revised and expanded edition published by Llewellyn in 1998).
GOVERNMENT COOPERATES IN INVESTIGATION
In what at that time was probably unique in the history of worldwide ufology, the Belgian government assisted SOBEPS in investigating the sightings.
The Ministry of the Interior ordered the Gendarmerie Nationale (a combination of police and army, many of whose members reported seeing the UFOs) to give SOBEPS copies of all UFO reports and to immediately advise SOBEPS of new sightings.
In addition, the Ministry of Defense, through the Belgian Air Force, authorized SOBEPS to contact radar specialists, pilots and installations. In an unheard of display of cooperation, the Air Force even had two military aircraft and their crews on standby at Bierset Airport, near Liege, to work with SOBEPS during the long, four-day Easter weekend in 1990.
"One of these aircraft, a Hawker Siddeley 748, was equipped with an impressive infrared video camera," said Ferryn, then a television director and producer. "We also had professional video equipment and sophisticated instruments.
“On the ground and in the whole eastern and southern part of Belgium we had teams with CB radios and mobile phones. Last but not least, an important Air Force radar station at Glons was connected with our improvised headquarters in the Bierset Airport."
Briefly, this is what happened:
● The sightings started in October 1989 near Eupen, close to the Dutch and German border, and then progressed steadily westward to Liege, Namur, Wavre (just southeast of the capital, Brussels), Mons and finally toward the French border. The area involved is about a hundred miles long.
● Most of the sightings were at night but a few were in the daytime. Many were CE-I's and CE-II's.
● Among the witnesses were nearly two hundred members and officers of the Gendarmerie Nationale as well as policemen, military and civilian pilots, air traffic controllers, meteorologists, aeronautical engineers and physicists.
● Most of the witnesses reported seeing a dark, triangular-shaped object with three bright lights and a red flashing light in the middle. Often, people saw one or more rows of scintillating lights on the side of the triangle.
● Several times highly competent witnesses used such expressions as "as big as a football field" or "huge" or "massive" to describe the UFO. Some even said it was "as big as or bigger than an aircraft carrier." When seen from the side in profile, the object was described as "very high" with large “windows.”
● One witness said that "while the object was flying slowly directly overhead, one could not see the front part and the end at the same time because it was too big."
● Some triangular-shaped objects were "modest" in size, only about as large as small aircraft.
● Often an object hovered for minutes at a time. When it began moving, it usually moved very slowly, too slow to be a conventional airplane. However, at times it would suddenly accelerate so rapidly that it would be across the horizon in a second or two – and sometimes it would flash right back.
● The object was nearly always noiseless or made only a faint humming sound, like an electric engine or a sewing machine.
● Many times while hovering or moving slowly it would pivot, turning 90 degrees and even 180 degrees.
● In three cases (as also reported by some witnesses in the Hudson Valley sightings), people saw structures underneath "with heavy metal parts, crisscross effects, diamond shape work, and tubular things here and there."
● Some people claimed to have seen triangles that changed shape into a round light which later opened, releasing a great number of small red objects going in all directions, and then change into a triangle again.
● Very often, sightings occurred in densely populated areas and also near illuminated highways and expressways, just as happened in the Hudson Valley sightings. Said Ferryn: "As I visited the Hudson Valley and the Connecticut area two years ago (for archaeological purposes), I can say the landscapes are very similar to what one can see around Eupen, Liege, Namur, etc."
● Some witnesses said they signaled with their car lights and the UFO would respond with a similar light signal or by moving at the moment the signal was made.
One of the biggest nights of sightings was November 29, 1989 when several UFOs were seen by hundreds of people around Eupen. SOBEPS collected nearly one hundred twenty reports from this night alone.
LIGHT BEAM HITS PATROL CAR
The first important sighting that night came from the Gendarmerie. Two officers in their patrol car were lit up by a beam of light coming from a dark triangle equipped with three "projectors" and a winking red light. The object was huge and made a faint humming sound. It was hovering at an altitude of six hundred to nine hundred feet.
One officer said the light was so dazzling "that we could read a newspaper under it."
The object then moved slowly in the direction of the nearby La Gileppe Dam, where it hovered for forty-five minutes. It then moved southwest about thirteen miles and hovered over the city of Spa for thirty minutes before disappearing.
In their investigation, SOBEPS researchers learned that a number of other people had seen the UFO even earlier that evening.
One was a Gendarmerie officer on duty on the third floor of the Eupen station who saw a luminous rectangular object about sixty-five feet long between him and the rear wall of the station six hundred fifty feet away. It was just below the level of his eyes and was moving very slowly.
"It was like a big chamber," he said.
Astonished, he watched it drift slowly out of sight and immediately radioed two officers in a patrol car who were in the area it was heading for. Several minutes later they saw it coming in their direction and they could see the underside of it.
The two officers told SOBEPS it was triangular in shape and that when it moved a "balancing movement" was clearly noted, during which a sort of dome was visible on the upper side.
One of the officers said he had never seen anything so beautiful in his life, and as he spoke he was very affected and seemed about to weep.
EIGHT FAST-MOVING OBJECTS
Another important night of sightings took place on March 30, 1990. That evening, fifteen members of the Gendarmerie on duty in different places around Wavre (about fifteen miles southeast of Brussels) saw eight white luminous objects in the sky that were three to five times larger than a star. The objects moved away and then came back very fast, glowing red as they returned.
The commander of the Gendarmerie station at Wavre alerted the Air Force radar station at Glons and the Air Force base at Beauvechain. Two F-16s immediately came into the sighting area (and later an AWACS aircraft) and were literally guided by witnesses on the ground.
The next day newspapers reported that the F-16s "came home with an empty bag," but that was not true. After weeks of computer analysis, the Belgian Air Force Headquarters reported to the Ministry of Defense that FIVE different military radars (two on the F-16s and three radar stations) had detected unidentified echos at the same moment and in the same place indicated by witnesses on the ground.
Furthermore, the report confirmed that the objects had moved with incredible speeds.
Details of that report appeared on TV and in newspapers on May 19 – coincidentally the anniversary of the 1986 overflights in Brazil when six military jet fighters chased (and sometimes were chased by) twenty to thirty UFOs that were being tracked on radar by air traffic controllers over vast areas of the country.
The sightings in Belgium on November 29, 1989 created a sensation and were heavily publicized by the press, TV and radio. SOBEPS was immediately snowed under with reports and opened a UFO Hotline – just as Philip Imbrogno and his investigative team did in Connecticut during the early heavy sightings in 1983.
"People called literally at all hours of the day and night," Ferryn said. "It is striking to see how, at one and the same time, a great part of the public and the press have reacted to these events exactly in the same way here and in the U.S. (as reported in NIGHT SIEGE)."
Some of those calling did report what later turned out to be conventional aircraft. However, Ferryn said, most of the witnesses were familiar with civilian and military aircraft because there are many bases in the area, and they were certain they were not seeing aircraft.
STEALTH FIGHTER RUMORS
"We all went through the same stages of thinking," Ferryn said. "We first thought of ultra light aircraft, then military aircraft, the mystery plane, the phantom fliers (a kind of 'Black Baron,' as we called it) and so on.
“Of course, some officials and specialists claimed astronomical mistakes, holograms, lasers, temperature inversions and so on. We must admit we also wondered at first if it could be some sort of sophisticated ultra light aircraft. Of course, now, none of these hypotheses make any sense."
There were numerous rumors that the American-built F-117 Stealth Fighter was being flown in Belgian skies. The rumors were partially confirmed by the French newspaper VSV on April 21 in an interview with U.S. Air Force Col. Tom Tolin.
He reportedly told the newspaper: "F-117s are flying in Europe during night missions, sometimes piloted by United Kingdom Royal Air Force pilots, but we are not authorized to tell you where."
The journalist's theory, of course, was that the UFOs that had been seen since October were actually the F-117s. If F-117s were flown over Belgium, that could account for some sightings but not for the reports of huge triangular-shaped objects that hovered or moved slowly, suddenly accelerated and disappeared across the horizon in seconds, or released hundreds of small red objects that flew in all directions.
With so much UFO activity, SOBEPS was able to collect twenty-five different video tapes made during the sightings.
"Three of these are really interesting for they clearly show what is undeniably NOT a conventional aircraft or anything else known," said Ferryn. "As a professional in this field, I have enlarged and treated the interesting sequences in slow motion with sophisticated equipment.
“One film shows three important spots of light forming a big triangle having a red flashing light in the center. It flew slowly low over our capital on March 30, the same date the fifteen Gendarmes of Wavre saw the eight objects southeast of Brussels."
SOBEPS also had some photographs "but they are extremely disappointing because either nothing shows or what is seen doesn't correspond with the sightings," said Ferryn. "Only one of these shows what could be a triangle or a trapezoidal-shaped object, while it was observed as being rounded and ray shaped."
A GLOBAL PHENOMENON
The Brazilian military had a similar experience in 1977 when it was investigating a long series of sightings around the small town of Colares at the mouth of the Amazon River just north of the major city of Belem.
(The sightings are discussed by Jacques Vallee in CONFRONTATIONS: A Scientist’s Search for Alien Contact, Ballantine Books 1990, as well as my own book, UFO DANGER ZONE, Terror and Death in Brazil – Where Next? Horus House Press, 1996.)
A Brazilian Air Force team spent approximately four months in the area, during which they shot hundreds of photographs and motion picture films of UFOs. The officer in charge said he and his men photographed nine different shapes of UFOs, including several that were triangular or like a pyramid.
Other aspects of the Belgian sightings have been reported in other countries as well, proving once again, as we all know, that this is a global phenomenon.
One Belgian witness said that when the UFO was overhead, he could not see both the front and back at the same time because it was so huge. In the Hudson Valley sightings, a security officer at the Indian Point Nuclear Power Reactor at Buchanan, New York, reported much the same thing.
On the night of July 24, 1984, a huge triangular-shaped object hovered over the reactor for ten minutes and the officer, watching it on the monitor of a security camera mounted atop a ninety-five-foot pole, had to pan the camera 180 degrees to scan the entire object from front to back.
Another point of similarity is the incredible acceleration. Some Belgian witnesses said the UFO would shoot off across the horizon in a second or two, and sometimes come back just as fast. In Colusa, California, in 1976 a witness reported seeing a UFO suddenly shoot across the sky to a far away mountain and then return just as quickly.
In 1977 two Memphis policemen watching a large triangular UFO hover over a golf course said it disappeared over the horizon in two seconds. During the Hudson Valley sightings in 1983-86, one witness saw a triangular-shaped UFO vanish across the horizon in seconds, and in another sighting a couple said a boomerang-shaped object "streaked from one end of the sky to the other, and then back again in a split second."
In the United States in the 1970s, a number of people, including military personnel, reported seeing UFOs shoot from near the ground far out into the sky and vanish in seconds.
Similar actions were reported in the small city of Pinheiro, in northern Brazil, where sightings occurred nearly every night for four months in 1977. The mayor said the UFO, a large, fiery red ball of light that often hovered about a thousand feet above the town, would sometimes suddenly shoot so far out into the atmosphere as be lost among the stars, and at times it would shoot straight back down to earth again.
The enormous sizes reported in Belgium have become common and are typical of the triangular or boomerang-shaped objects reported in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Iran and elsewhere.
The Belgian reports are exciting for many reasons, but especially because of the numerous high quality witnesses and the official government cooperation, and because they affirm once again the reality of the phenomenon.
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Members of SOBEPS are very interested in learning about sightings elsewhere in the world similar to those occurring in Belgium. The organization is also encouraging and inviting researchers around the world to join in a greater, freer exchange of UFO data.
"I'm definitely convinced we must exchange and share information," said SOBEPS cofounder Patrick Ferryn. "And this is an encouragement and a warm request to do so. Of course, we already exchange publications and bulletins, but this is not enough."
In addition to printed reports (its reports are in French), SOBEPS is interested in exchanging videotapes, films and photos. Write to: SOBEPS, Avenue Paul Janson 74, 1070 Bruxelles, Belgium. The SOBEPS web site (in French and English) is www.sobeps.org/.