By Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos Research Director, Anomaly Foundation Apartado de Correos 12140, 46080 Valencia, Spain
When the Project 1954 e-List was started, by the initiative of two noted Italian researchers, Roberto Labanti and Edoardo Russo from the CISU organization, I decided to use it as a means to report the photographic cases contained in FOTOCAT for year 1954, in order to stimulate discussion on this genre of cases and to collect additional information. FOTOCAT is a worldwide catalog of UFO photographic records, a project of the Spanish Anomaly Foundation under my management. http://www.anomalia.org/fotocat1.htm
Over a few months, all the cases I had on store were displayed in an abstract form to the List members, thus generating some interesting discussions, whereby local researchers from both Europe and America provided additional input. Not only this process incremented the number of reports, but over and above it refined the catalog content, several duplications were identified, references become richer, and proper explanations were entered to previously unexplained events. As a result, the subcatalog covering cases for 1954 year have been certainly improved.
The intention of the present article is to report a brief summary of all photographic cases for the wave year of 1954 as per the FOTOCAT archives. This disclosure may assist other colleagues, I feel, in better analyzing the scope, evolution and motifs of the alleged UFO observations during this peak year. Another purpose of this report is to demand both detail corrections and additions to the current list of cases. The author is fully available for data exchange and discussion on any aspect of the cases below.
Explained events or IFOs (identified flying objects) are also included, for comparison purposes. The present FOTOCAT tally of photo-cases for year 1954 is 101.
The data structure for every case to follow will be simple, just the date, the location and country, the photographer’s name, the image’s format, any available explanation, any known references, and remarks (if any). The intent is not to present summaries of tales but a list of events for any researcher to pursue and follow-up. I know this may be understood as a deficiency (other colleagues advised that the hour should be included as well), but the plan was to include just the information that FOTOCAT shows in its proper Excel file. Basically, it is a source of sources.
Finally, this paper is closed with some basic statistics and graphs to visually view the magnitude of the UFO phenomenon during 1954, as far as photos and films are concerned.
Cases as old as those from this period pose a problem to the compiler. Existing information is poor in many instances and the role that local investigators can play in the documentation process is vital. We therefore request the assistance of ufologists from the regions where the cases occurred in order to improve the quantity and quality of the information. Even “counter-inquiries” (a term coined by Aimé Michel meaning to revisit the event to find fresh details) are desirable, as well as any contemporary analysis of the pictures or films with state-of-the-art technology. The
challenge is there to be taken.
Catalog developing is a part of the scientific method. Naturalists and others scientists have been doing so for centuries, after collecting samples of new creatures, specimen, processes, objects or phenomena. As far as ufology is concerned, catalogs can be passive (mere sequence of reports without committing any judgment) or active (the compiler shows an indication on the possible nature of the phenomenon). Active catalogs are uncomfortable and have a higher complexity because they involve the own author’s commitment (and therefore attain potential criticism). To create a postured catalogue may be an easy way to lose friends, in a field plagued with belief, because when you support a negative evaluation for a given event (a case can be explained in conventional terms), you risk finding a hard opposition from those who think otherwise. I sincerely hope this does not happen with colleagues who disagree with my viewpoints. At the end of the day, we are only talking about UFO cases. In the present catalog, when a report is considered explained it is because the compiler has weighted the pros and cons of the various proposals being aired both and intellectually and honestly I tend to support as plausible the possible explanation of the occurrence. Yet, as an ever-evolving entity, this catalog (and FOTOCAT in general) is always ready to change a given position on one case, provided new evidence makes this necessary. As a compiler, I have no sentiments on the entries.
REMARKS: Poor information.
FORMAT: Picture EXPLANATION: Not available REFERENCES: Flying Saucer Review, Volume 29, Number 4, 1984, pages 5-6. Dr Richard F Haines. Loren Gross, UFOs: A History. 1954: January-May, 1990, page 24. Blue Book files. REMARKS: Nil
by a Peter Davies under the pseudonym of Cedric Allingham, ghosted from a book manuscript written by astronomer Patrick Moore.
LOCATION: 14 miles from Eucla, Western Australia (Australia) FORMAT: Pictures (5 cameras used, 92 exposures taken!) PHOTOGRAPHER: ¿Max Clow, Alex Rose and Peter Johnson? EXPLANATION: Not available REFERENCES: Bill Chalker, http://www.project1947.com/ forum/bcoz2.htm
Main source is the Australian Saucer Record, Volume 5, Number 3, 1959, page 13. The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) of August 2, 1955 provides the names of the witnesses of a weird story of an alleged UFO landing and photos taken to a humanoid-like figure in the same area and time period. Same event? Stan Seers and William Lasich in Flying Saucer Review, Volume 15, Number 3, May-June 1969, page 5, mention “some 200 photographs, cine and stills” were taken. Keith Basterfield catalog of photographic cases in Australia, quoting from UFO Photo #2 records a movie film case in Australia (no more geographical details) during Easter Sunday as well, that I guess is the same occurrence as above. REMARKS: In UFO Photographs from Around the World by Wendelle Stevens and August Roberts, citing a “confidential report”, a movie film case occurred in New Zealand in April 1954 is reported. Michael Hervey in UFOs over the Southern Hemisphere (Robert Hale, London, 1975, page 220) very briefly reports that “during April, 1954, the New Zealand Air Force received several movie films taken by civilians”. No Australian/New Zealand source has ever documented this; therefore it can be believed to be a rumor related to the original Easter case above.
Printing Office, 1968), page 15. Dr James McDonald in Symposium on Unidentified Flying Objects (U.S. House of Representatives, 1968), page 28. Saunders and Roger
R. Harkins, UFOs? Yes! Where the Condon Committee Went Wrong (World Publishing Company, New York), 1969, pages 69-71. Allan Hendry, The UFO Handbook (Doubleday, 1979), page 67. Barry Greenwood. Larry Robinson. REMARKS: Nil
Photographs Around the World, 1986, quoting “IRC printout, source 7 40HF 45+” REMARKS: Loren E. Gross in UFOs: A History. 1954: June-August, Supplemental Notes, 2002, pages 7-8, includes a Danville (Vermont, not Illinois) sighting dated June 24, released in the Independent Republican (Sr. Johnsbury, VT), July 1, 1954, but no photos were mentioned. Poor information
Robinson) REFERENCES: Flying Saucer Review, Volume 4, Number 3, May-June 1958, page 7 (not consulted). Wendelle Stevens and August Roberts, UFO Photographs Around the World, 1985 (Volume 2), pages 12 and 20-21. Ole Henningsen corrected some book’s errors, like that it had occurred in Iceland. REMARKS: During the solar eclipse
Review, Volume 36, Number 2, summer 1991, pages 11-13. Richard Hall, The UFO Evidence (NICAP, 1964), pages 5, 7 and 89 quoting the RAF Flying Review, July 1957. Loren E. Gross, UFOs: A History. 1954: June-August, 1990, pages 44-45, quoting Max Miller’s Flying Saucers, fact or Fiction?, page 82, and Oslo newspaper Aftenposten, October 14, 1954; and page 68, quoting Blue Book files. Julien Hennessey. Dave Clarke. Clas Svahn. Gary Anthony. REMARKS: During the solar eclipse
(CRIFO), Volume 1, Number 5, page 3. Harold T. Wilkins, Flying Saucers Uncensored (Arco, 1956), page 89. All references quoted from “A Provisional Catalogue of UFO Photographs”, by J.B. Delair, E. Cox and R. Twine, The UFO Register, Volume 6, Part 2, November 1975. REMARKS: Sources not consulted. Poor information.
LOCATION: Albuquerque, New Mexico (USA) FORMAT: Picture PHOTOGRAPHER: Not known EXPLANATION: Not available REFERENCES: Telonic Research Bulletin, Volume 2, Number 1, 1957, pages 4-5, as quoted in “A Provisional Catalogue of UFO Photographs”, by J.B. Delair, E. Cox and R. Twine, The UFO Register, Volume 6, Part 2, November 1975. REMARKS: Primary source not consulted. Poor information.
REFERENCES: Flying Saucer News, spring 1955, page 16, quoting Outspan, December 3, 1954. Loren E. Gross, UFOs: A History. 1954: November-December, 1991, pages 44 and 86. REMARKS: Nil
23:00 hours in an unidentified location, a Miss Paula Brite “photographed a circular disc-shaped flying object hovering overhead”.
(46) DATE: 3 September 1954 LOCATION: Dallas, Texas (USA) FORMAT: Picture (32 frames) PHOTOGRAPHER: Robert J. Waste EXPLANATION: Not available REFERENCES: International UFO Reporter, Volume 8, Number 5, September-October 1983, pages 6-7. Paul Cerny. REMARKS: This episode, narrated by the widow of the
alleged witness, is not in the Blue Book files. A FOIA’s opportunity?
REMARKS: Poor information
(49) DATE: 22 September 1954 LOCATION: Paris (France) FORMAT: Non-event PHOTOGRAPHER: Not known
EXPLANATION: Not available REFERENCES: Wendelle Stevens and August Roberts, UFO Photographs Around the World, 1986. An alleged weird case from a “writer living at the foot of the Eiffel Tower” who became “depressed about the insensibility of humanity” who did not notice the Saturn-shaped UFO he had photographed. REMARKS: French sources are not aware of any UFO photo being taken that date at the France capital. In Loren E. Gross, UFOs: A History. 1954: September, 1991, pages 38, 43 and 49, some sightings in the area are included. Quoting from Paris journals France-Soir, September 24, 1954 and Le Parisién Liberè, October 1, 1954, it is told that “near the Champ de Mars, a writer spotted a mysterious ball of light...the intellectual walked the streets to study the curiosity of the typical Parisian (to discover that) no one seemed to pay any heed to the motionless spot in the heavens”. Further, the writer contacted Aimé Michel “marveling at the indifference of the crowds”. It seems it refers to the individual above and the added photographic story is spurious.
(50) DATE: 24 September 1954 LOCATION: Grenoble (France) FORMAT: Picture PHOTOGRAPHER: Jacques Baccard EXPLANATION: Not available REFERENCES: Harold T. Wilkins, Flying Saucers Uncensored (Citadel, 1955), plate. Jimmy Guieu, Black out sur les soucoupes volantes (Editions Fleuve Noir, 1956), pages 128-130 and plate 12. Gianfranco de Turris and Sebastiano Fusco, Obiettivo sugli UFO. Fotostoria dei Dischi Volanti (Edizioni Mediterranee, Rome, 1975), page 115. See the gallery of UFO photos by Stéphane Bernard:
(51) DATE: 27 September 1954 (approximate day) LOCATION: Savigny, Rhone department France) FORMAT: Movie PHOTOGRAPHER: Bene Valery EXPLANATION: Not available REFERENCES: Italian newspapers: Il Mattino (Naples) and Corriere di Sicilia (Catania), September 29, 1954, Giornale di Trieste (Trieste), Giornale del Mattino (Florence) and La Nazione Italiana), September 30, 1954, Il Gazzettino (Trento) and Il Mattino, October 1, 1954, and Milano Sera (Milano), October 1-2, 1954. Harold T. Wilkins, Flying Saucers Uncensored (The Citadel Press, 1955), pages 229-230. Donald Johnson’s UFOCAT. REMARKS: Nil
DATE: 12 October 1954 LOCATION: Arroyo de los Ángeles, Málaga (Spain) FORMAT: Picture PHOTOGRAPHER: Juan Coll and José Antonio Baena EXPLANATION: Most probably a fake REFERENCES: Madrid (Madrid), November 10, 1954. Ya (Madrid), November 11, 1954. W. Girvan, Flying Saucers and Common Sense (F. Muller, 1955), plate opposite page 97. The APRO Bulletin, November 15, 1954, page 7, quoted in case card of Civilian Saucer Intelligence (New York). See: http://www.rense.com/FSM/overseas5.htm REMARKS: As usual with events from non-English-speaking countries, the case has appeared in press under several different dates.
REFERENCES: L’Ardennais, October 19, 1954, released in Jean-Michel Ligeron’s O.V.N.I. en Ardennes, 1981, page 134. Eric Maillot. REMARKS: Nil
(61) DATE: 16 October 1954 LOCATION: Haute-Provence Observatory, Alpes de Haute- Provence (France) FORMAT: Picture PHOTOGRAPHER: P. Berthier and R. Mévolhon EXPLANATION: Balloon, launched by the Padua University (Italy) for the study of cosmic rays REFERENCES: P. Berthier and R. Mévolhon, Revue de la Société Astronomique de France, November 1954, page 416. Aimé Michel, Los misteriosos platillos volantes (Pomaire, Barcelona, 1962), pages 261-266; Mystérieux objets célestes (Planète, Paris, 1966), pages 218-224; and Flying Saucers and the Straight-Line Mystery
(S.G. Phillips, New York, 1958), pages 178-180. Loren E. Gross, UFOs: A History. 1954: October Supplemental Notes, 2002, page 42. Giuseppe Stilo. Eric Maillot. See: http://ufologie.net/1954/16oct1954hauteprovencef. htm
(62) DATE: 17 October 1954 (approximate day) LOCATION: Monte Mario, Rome, Rome (Italy) FORMAT: Picture PHOTOGRAPHER: Turi Mattarella EXPLANATION: Probable bird (as per Giuseppe Stilo)/ Graduation cap thrown to the air (as per Larry Robinson)/ Dubiously authentic (as per Solas Boncompagni et al) REFERENCES: Solas Boncompagni et al, UFO in Italia. L’Ondata del 1954 (Corrado Tedeschi Editore, Firenze, 1980), pages 58-60, quoting daily newspapers Il Messaggero (Roma), October 20, 1954, La Gazzetta Padana, October 21, 1954, and Il Corriere Lombardo, October 20 and 21, 1954. Flying Saucers, Cowless and UPI editors (Cowless Education Corporation, 1967), page 105. Gianfranco de Turris and Sebastiano Fusco,
Obiettivo sugli UFO. Fotostoria dei Dischi Volanti
(Edizioni Mediterranee, Rome, 1975), page 116.Giuseppe Stilo. UFO Forum, July 1998, page 25. REMARKS: Given as November 6th by Cowless and UPI, an error. The Italian press disclosed the photographer being a member of a “Martian Club”.
(63) DATE: 18 October 1954 LOCATION: Salerno, Salerno (Italy) FORMAT: Picture
PHOTOGRAPHER: Benito Silano EXPLANATION: Not available REFERENCES: Solas Boncompagni et al, UFO in Italia. L’Ondata del 1954 (Corrado Tedeschi Editore, Firenze, 1980), page 146, quoting Il Mattino, Il Resto del Carlino and Il Lavoro, dated October 19, 1954. REMARKS: Nil
in Italia. L’Ondata del 1954 (Corrado Tedeschi Editore, Firenze, 1980), page 231. Giuseppe Stilo. REMARKS: Poor information
as October 15th. Skylook, April 1974, page 10. Joe Brill. Loren E. Gross, UFOs: A History. 1954: October, 1991, pages 54 and 103 (and page 85, the meteor was also seen from Yugoslavia). OVNI Presence, 33-34, December 1985. Richard Hall’s The UFO Evidence (NICAP, 1964), page 123, reports sightings took place also in Austria and Italy. REMARKS: Nil
October 29, 1954. Giuseppe Stilo notes that the case was labeled a hoax created by a professional photographer by newspapers L’Unita (Communist Party’s daily newspaper) of October 30th and Il Nuovo Corriere of October 31, 1954. REMARKS: Nil
LOCATION: Rome, Rome (Italy) FORMAT: Picture PHOTOGRAPHER: Not known EXPLANATION: Not available REFERENCES: Paese Sera, November 3, 1954, quoted in Giuseppe Stilo’s “A Catalog of Alleged Italian UFO Photos 1900-1954”, April 18, 2004. REMARKS: Nil
FORMAT: Picture PHOTOGRAPHER: Raymond R. EXPLANATION: Non-event REFERENCES: Jacques Vallée, Passport to Magonia (Henry Regnery, 1969), page 242, case #329. Lumières Dans La Nuit, 125, May 1973, pages 22-24. Ouranos, Number 9, th quarter 1973, page 8. GABRIEL. Charles Garreau and Raymond Lavier, Face aux extra-terrestres (Jean-Pierre Delarge, 1975), pages 47-52. Michel Figuet and Jean-Louis Ruchon, OVNI: Le premier dossier complet des rencontres rapprochées en France (Alain Lefeuvre, 1979), pages 207-210. Gérard Barthel and Jacques Bruker, La Grande Peur Martienne (Nouvelles Éditions Rationnalistes, Paris, 1979), pages 40-45 and plates. VLJ, April 1985, pages II-III. Jan Heering. Eric Maillot. Loren
E. Gross, UFOs: A History. 1954: November-December Supplemental Notes, 2002, pages 10-11. For a complete overview of this episode, see: http:// ufologie.net/1954/5nov1954larochef.htm (Patrick Gross). REMARKS: UFO landing and humanoid presence. The French UFO group GABRIEL qualified the case as “a doubtful affair”. Jan Heering found a discrepancy in the report from the Vallée’s summary to the larger Garreau/ Lavier’s text on the source of the paralyzing beam of light. In a personal communication, Eric Maillot informs that the alleged witness Raymond R. “seems not to have ever existed” and that “(none) has ever seen this photograph”.
EXPLANATION: Not available REFERENCES: Personal communication from Ray Stanford. REMARKS: David was a member of the Ray and Rex Stanford’s crew (see above). The film turned blank. Exactly so described by cameraman: “I took it out to view it, and when I arrived at the place where the picture of the saucer should have been, I noticed that the film has changed texture...it seems to be turning clear. This is only happening to this particular section of the film.”
FORMAT: Picture PHOTOGRAPHER: Not known EXPLANATION: Kite REFERENCES: Il Messaggero, November 12, 1954, quoted in Giuseppe Stilo’s “A Catalog of Alleged Italian UFO Photos 1900-1954”, April 18, 2004. REMARKS: Nil
page 680. Solas Boncompagni et al, UFO in Italia. L’Ondata del 1954 (Corrado Tedeschi Editore, Firenze, 1980), pages 370-371, quoting local newspapers dated November 21, 1954: Giornale di Sicilia, Il Messaggero, Giornale del Matino and Voce Adriatica. Margaret Sachs, The UFO Encyclopedia (Perigee Books, 1980), pages 318-319. Loren E. Gross, UFOs: A History. 1954: November-December, 1991, pages 41 and 53, quoting The New York Herald Tribune, December 19,1954. UFO Forum, July 1998, pages 22-28. Giuseppe Stilo. UFO Forum, March 1999, pages 39-43 and 47. Antonio Blanco. Edoardo Russo. UFO Forum, July 1998, pages 22-25. REMARKS: Nil
Flying Saucers (Fawcett Gold Medal Books, Greenwich, Connecticut, 1967), plate page 175. Not consulted: Flying Saucers: UFO Reports (Dell), 2, 1967, page 31 and rear cover. Flying Saucers Magazine, page 50. Flying Saucers (Ray Palmer), Number 81,1973,page 41. See: http://www.rense.com/FSM/they6.htm REMARKS: Nil
company EXPLANATION: Not available REFERENCES: The APRO Bulletin, Volume 3, No. 4, January 15, 1955, page 4. Coral E. Lorenzen, Flying Saucers. The Startling Evidence of the Invasion From Outer Space (Signet Books, 1966), page 50. REMARKS: Poor information
(99) DATE: 16 December 1954 LOCATION: Victorville, California FORMAT: Picture PHOTOGRAPHER: Not known EXPLANATION: Not available REFERENCES: The Flying Saucer Review (R.J. Gribble, editor), Volume I, Number 8, page 4, quoted in Loren E. Gross, UFOs: A History. 1954: November-December Supplemental Notes, 2002, pages 58-59. REMARKS: Nil
(100) DATE: 25 December 1954 LOCATION: Cape Province (South Africa) FORMAT: Picture PHOTOGRAPHER: Not known EXPLANATION: Aircraft? (A cigar-shaped object producing a heavy vapor trail) REFERENCES: Flying Saucer News, spring 1955, page 16. Loren E. Gross, in UFOs: A History. 1954: November-December, 1991, pages 74-75, quotes (Australian) Flying Saucer Review, ed. Richard Huges, Spring 1955, page 16 (probably a mistake with the F.S.N. above, in reality). REMARKS: Poor information.
(101) DATE: 28 December 1954 (or 29) LOCATION: Wednesfield, Staffordshire (UK) FORMAT: Picture PHOTOGRAPHER: Harold J. Cummins EXPLANATION: Not available REFERENCES: Daily Sketch (London), March 1, 1955. Flying Saucer News, No. 8, 1955, pages 5-6. (Not consulted).
M.K. Jessup, The UFO Annual (The Citadel Press, 1956), pages 102-103. The APRO Bulletin, January-March 1956, page 11. REMARKS: The APRO publication dated it 1955 and placed it in Canada!
The following first entry is, actually, a failed attempt by a USMC jet aircraft to fix gun cameras on a UFO. It is included here merely as an anecdote.
DATE: 25 March 1954 LOCATION: Cape Canaveral, Florida (USA) FORMAT: Gun camera movie (not finally achieved) PHOTOGRAPHER: Dan Holland EXPLANATION: Not available REFERENCES: Donald E. Keyhoe, The Flying Saucer Conspiracy (Henry Holt, 1955), pages 115-116. Richard Hall, The UFO Evidence, 1964, page 31 (it gives the date of March 24th). Loren E. Gross, UFOs: A History. 1954: January-May, 1990, page 61. Brad Sparks, “Comprehensive Catalog of 1,500 Blue Book Unknowns: Work in Progress” (version June 18, 2003). Last source cites as references to Dominique Weinstein, Dr Richard Haines’ NARCAP, and Blue Book files. REMARKS: Nil
This is another failed attempt to photograph a UFO in 1954. In this case the witness was not familiar with his new camera’s mechanism and although “he quickly centered the object in the viewfinder and pressed the button, nothing clicked in the camera”. When he got it working, it was too late.
DATE: 19 July 1954 LOCATION: New Orleans, Louisiana (USA) FORMAT: Picture (not finally achieved) PHOTOGRAPHER: Paul Sepas EXPLANATION: Not available REFERENCES: Loren E. Gross, UFOs: A History. 1954: June-August, 1990, pages 55-56, quoting Fate, Volume 8, Number 3, Issue 60, pages 34-37. REMARKS: Nil
The following is considered to be a famous case that is not an actual 1954 case, but it is reported here as well because it is frequently attributed to year 1954.
DATE: 5 March 1954 (non-event) Actual DATE: 5 March 1957 LOCATION: Rouen, Seine Maritime (France) FORMAT: Picture PHOTOGRAPHER: Not known EXPLANATION: Probably a reproduction of the May 11, 1950 McMinville, Oregon UFO photograph. REFERENCES: The first source to this photo seem to be the Bolton (UK) Observer of April 1957 (mentioned by J.B. Delair, E. Cox and R. Twine in their “Provisional Catalogue of UFO Photographs. Part One: 1883-1957”, The UFO Register, Volume 6, Number 2, November 1975). No one else seems to have taken access to the primary source, which is probably the key to this issue. Second source is the Flying Saucer Review, Volume 3, Number 3, May-June 1957, page 2. Just an illustration to an article on a RAF radar picking up a UFO, the photo appeared with the sole following caption “UFO photographed over Rouen, France, at 08.13 hours on March 5”. The third initial source was a Geoffrey Norris article entitled “Something in the Sky” printed in the July 1957 issue of the Royal Air Force Flying Review, Volume 12, Number 11, page 15. The mere few words devoted to the photo follows: “UFO photographed over Rouen in March, this year. Photos of UFOs are rare, never very clear. This is one of the few which seems authentic”. The next published reference to this photo was Richard Hall’s The UFO Evidence (NICAP, 1964), where the year 1954 was first mistakenly introduced. From this onwards, the photo has been reproduced in hundred of places, dated either 1957 or 1954. Deep historical and bibliographical research on the photo has been contemporarily made by investigators like Claude Maugé in France and Dr. David Clarke in the United Kingdom. REMARKS: Dr. Willy Smith, in a unreleased paper dated June 20, 1990, reviews part of the above and concludes that both the 1950 McMinville and the 1957 Rouen photos “are one and the same, i.e., the Rouen photo (which lacks any background details) is only a copy, many generations removed, of the Trent photo”. The paper’s last sentence reads: ”As it stands now, the Rouen incident is only a phantom”. I support that as well. In a January 7, 2004 discussion in the SHG e-List, Dr Bruce Maccabee wrote that the “aspects (of the two photos) are different”. Next, forum member Mary Castner replied that a comparison performed two years ago “concluded they were one and the same object”. Similarly, Loren E. Gross, in UFOs: A History. 1954: October,1991, page 68, writes: “...the Rouen photograph which bears such a strikingly compatible profile with the famous 1950 McMinville, Oregon, picture”.
The following event generated six radarscope photographs, not actual UFO pictures. A book on UFO photos included this case (under a wrong date) in its collection.
DATE: 4 July 1954 (actually, 3 July 1954) LOCATION: BA (by the first source). Bermuda (by the second source) FORMAT: Picture PHOTOGRAPHER: Not known EXPLANATION: “Returns definitely identified as USS Mindora in company with six destroyers and one submarine en route Naples to Norfolk”, as per USAF REFERENCES: Wendelle Stevens and August Roberts, UFO Photographs Around the World, 1986, page 232, citing “IRC printout, source 9 40HG 04x”. Dr Richard F. Haines, Project Delta: A Study of Multiple UFOs (L.D.A. Press, Los Altos, California, 1994), pages 171-175. REMARKS: The second source documents the real event in a detailed manner, and thanks to this the wrong entry was clarified.
The following two cases from Australia are dated 1953 but you can find them repeatedly in the literature as if occurred in the year 1954. It is with educational intention that these cases are included in this monograph.
DATE: 1953 LOCATION: Wilcannia, New South Wales (Australia) FORMAT: Picture PHOTOGRAPHER: John Gregory and Kevin Power EXPLANATION: Not available REFERENCES: Keith Basterfield quotes the Australian Flying Saucer Review, Volume 5, July 1966, page 15, taken from the Barrier Truth newspaper (Broken Hill), June 9, 1966. REMARKS: This case appears (even under the same sources) as dated both 1954 and 1956. In Flying Saucers Uncensored (The Citadel Press, 1955), page 238, Harold
T. Wilkins has a November 9, 1954 case in Wilcannia that may be also this one.
DATE: October 1953 LOCATION: North Queensland (Australia) FORMAT: Picture PHOTOGRAPHER: W.C. Hall EXPLANATION: Fake (as per Flying Saucer News, Bill Chalker, Luis Ruiz Noguez, and Larry Robinson) REFERENCES: According to Keith Basterfield, the initial source was Sir magazine of February 1955, which is quoted in Flying Saucer News, spring 1955, page 17. REMARKS: This is a standard UFO photograph of the Fifties and Sixties and it was dated innumerable times either as simply 1954 or as July 18, 1954 (even quoting the primary source as well).
1954 was a special year in the history of reports of UFO occurrences. This effect is plainly seen when collating the annual number of all-category cases in the world. However, FOTOCAT records also a significant increase in the magnitude of events for this period. Figure 1 shows the cases we have in the catalog for the decade of the fifties. Excluding 1954, the average number of reports collected by year is 40. 1954 contributed 101 cases, over 150% more, followed in intensity by 1952 with 83 cases, still 22% less than 1954.
101 reports is a small universe of data. Yet in spite of its size it can convey some significant conclusions. Figure 2 shows the monthly distribution of cases and the first observation to do is that the trend of IFO cases practically mirrors that of the UFO cases. There is a first peak in June (mostly centered on the 30th, the day of the solar eclipse, where most photographs were due to lens flares or solar reflections by sunlight input on the cameras), immediately followed by a worldwide peak in July (most cases unexplained or not properly investigated).
Then we have the October-November wave. Figure 3 splits the monthly cases between origin, with a tally of the two continents which are the major contributors, Europe
(58) and USA (29). (A residual 14 cases from the rest of the world are excluded from the table). Those whose date is known are distributed by month, and we see that no notorious peak is evident in the USA data. Therefore, the October-November wave is exclusively a European phenomenon. Specifically, most of the cases of this wave were provided by France (8) and Italy (23).
The 1954 wave is associated to France, as far as general, landing and occupant events is concerned. This paper shows that Italy probably paralleled France in the magnitude of UFO reporting. I feel the thrust started in France and the furor (either real or media-stimulated) continued to Italy. In the month of September there was a prelude of 3 photographic cases in France that attracted considerable publicity in the old continent. There are grounds to affirm that Italian media was especially sensible to this type of news, by the wide coverage granted to the stories of flying saucers.
Be real, figments of the public’ s imagination or misperceptions of conventional stimuli, lots of reports of French soucoupes volantes peaked in September (not in photographs, unfortunately) and the media in other countries collected the news and expanded the knowledge of the phenomenon. Again, either flying saucers actually crossed frontiers or simply copycat effects were produced, because the two following months produced many UFO reports in other countries, yet in different levels of intensity.
In terms of the geographical distribution of the 101 contributor, with 29 reports scattered throughout the whole
photographic cases of year 1954, 21 different countries year, followed by Italy (25 cases) and France (11 cases), are involved in total, with 12 nations contributing 3 cases basically centered on the September-November period. or more. As Figure 4 depicts, the USA is the largest
By reviewing the actual cases on record for this period, we find that there are not photographs that in the unison are important (real occurrences beyond any reasonable doubt) and unexplained (high strangeness, anomalistic images). We just happen to have either important events with explained images or unimportant events (doubtful and poorly documented) with (supposedly) unexplained images. If we add to this, the lack of simultaneous sightings in some nearby countries (at the same wave level), it gives us an indication that the 1954 wave in Europe may have had a sociological nature. The research conducted by Giuseppe Stilo over the Italian wave of 1954 will disclose how much this assertion is true or not.
Out of 101 reports in the year, 47 cases have been solved
(i.e. potential explanations have been found) and the remaining 54 have the UFO brand on (i.e. the available information does not indicate any possible solution to the event). Figure 5 shows the diversity of explanations for IFO photography.
As expected, most explanations have to do with fakery and non-events (47%). This is probably a conservative estimate, to be assessed when a full analysis of the wave is finally done. The rest represents camera artifacts (23%) and misidentification of actual flying objects or phenomena (30%).
A final word on the preparation of UFO catalogs. Failure
of past catalogs has been, in my judgment, that compilers
have basically based their entries just on literature items (books or UFO journals). If the compiler cares to check cases with local researchers and has access to the original sources, it is achieved what I call the second level catalog and many surprises can be found. Normally, those important features were missing or distorted from the initial published accounts and those conventional explanations exist for most events. But this should not really surprise us; on the contrary, it is what we should have expected in the first place, as the consensus of experts is that most UFO photographs are hardly valid pieces of evidence to support the UFO reality because of their ambiguity and hoax risk.
I understand that this is a difficult task, especially for those English-speaking ufologists who cannot manage any other language. In our case, we can handle, in addition to our maternal Spanish (which covers not only Spain but most Latin-American countries), Portuguese (Portugal and Brazil), Italian and French, which grants us a large potential for communication and access to foreign materials other than US, British, Canadian and Australian. It has allowed creating the largest photographic databank on the 1954 UFO wave to date. I hope to hear soon from other UFO researchers so that this sample is further enlarged and corrected. The ultimate goal is double: (a) to have a full picture of what really happened in 1954 regarding UFO photography, and (b) to discern if there was any UFO image and observation that year defying any conventional explanation.
In addition to the many colleagues named in the text as source of information or comments, I want to specially highlight the valuable cooperation provided by the UFO researchers Larry Hatch, Larry Robinson (United States) and Claude Maugé (France). I am indebted to Loren E. Gross for having contributed generously the full series of his outstanding collection of UFOs: A History monographs. Also, my thanks go to the members of the Sign Historical Group (SHG) and Project 1954 lists for assistance and advise.
Finally, the Italian UFO student and author Giuseppe Stilo, who has made a worthwhile addition as well, has kindly included this paper in one of the 2 volumes he has written on the 1954 wave.
© Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos, Fundación Anomalía (Spain), 2004.