A book by GEIPAN Chairman, Xavier Passot

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Xavier Passot‘s book has now been  published, about his five years direction of GEIPAN (Groupe d’études et d’information sur les phénomènes aérospatiaux non identifiés), the UFO sightings collection and analysis office within French “Center National d’Etudes Spatiales” (CNES), the only non-military government UFO office active for over 40 years all over the world.

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We have often written about GEIPAN, and Mr. Passot himself was a guest and speaker at CISU national conference in Torino, in October 2017, where he presented us his experience in such unique position as an “official ufologist”.

The book is titled “J’ai vu un OVNI: Perceptions et réalités” (“I saw a UFO: Perceptions and Realities”, Cherche Midi Pub., 142 pages), with a foreword by sociologist Pierre Lagrange.

 

It is not the first book written by a former GEIPAN director: he was preceded by Jean-Jacques Velasco (“Ovnis: La science avance”, 1993; “Ovnis: L’évidence”, 2004 ) and Jacques Patenet (in the collective book “Phénomènes aérospatiaux non identifiés, un défi à la Science”, 2007). In fact each director of the GEPAN (later renamed SEPRA, finally GEIPAN) has given his own mark to that office, and it is therefore interesting to know each one’s perception “from within”.

Following on the footprints of his predecessor Jacques Patenet, Passot’s  years marked the phase of GEIPAN’s maximum openness both to the public (with the gradual publication of its whole archive of UFO reports) and to private ufologists (at least to those of scientific orientation), culminating with the Paris congress CAIPAN (Collecte et l’Analyze des Informations sur les Phénomènes Aérospatiaux Non-identifiés) in July 2014.

The book is not addressed to ufologists but to a general public, it is written in simple language, with a pedagogical intent, and is divided into three parts.
The first section (“GEIPAN Files”) reports a dozen significant case histories investigated, also reporting the conclusions where it was possible to reach one.
In the second part (“Investigation Complements”) the author delves into the complexity of UFO investigation, by quickly reviewing conceptual components of the problem: what is (and can be seen) in the sky, the weight of cultural factors, the role of the witness at the heart of the investigation, the concept of evidence and the role of photographs, the role of the investigator.
The third section (“The UFO Challenge”) examines the most widespread interpretative hypotheses, the interaction with the tools of science, the relationship with the mass media, the aspects related to defense, the role of beliefs.
The book ends with a chapter of conclusions, a critical analysis of the “COMETA Report” and an annotated essential bibliography.

If Passot’s purpose was to resume his five years in chair of GEIPAN and report his personal experience in the UFO world, even if brief his text makes an effective synthesis of the UFO problem and of its study today.

CNEGU 40 years

cnegu-logoby Bruno Mancusi

On May last weekend, the Comité Nord-Est des Groupes Ufologiques (CNEGU) celebrated its fortieth anniversary at its 120th quarterly meeting held in Chaux-la-Lotière (near Besançon).

CNEGU was indeed create in October 1978 in Nancy, as a federation of UFO associations from north-eastern France and Luxembourg. The founding groups were GPUN (Groupe Privé Ufologique Nancéien), CVLDLN (Cercle Vosgien Lumières dans la Nuit), Groupe 5255 (52 = Haute-Marne, 55 = Meuse), CLEU (Commission Luxembourgeoise d’Etudes Ufologiques). Other associations active in that northeastern quadrant of the “Hexagone” joined the committee in later years.

Over the years all those groups have disbanded and no longer in activity, but the Comité Nord-Est des Groupes Ufologiques is still well and alive (without a real formal structure) as a committee formed by individual ufologists who survived the dissolution of each one’s groups.

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Among the main achievements of CNEGU, beside many field investigations, archival research, catalogs and several monographic publications, a special mention goes to the annual magazine Les Mystères de l’Est (published between 1996 and 2012) and the  VECA (Voyage d’Etude des Cercles Anglais) initiative to investigate crop circles in the UK.

 

Members of the Committee took part in almost all the most important initiatives of French ufology in these 40 years, from the European coordination (CECRU, EuroUfo) to the establishment of SCEAU (the Association for the Safeguarding and Conservation of UFO Studies and Archives), from the first intervention team on behalf of GEIPAN to the participation in the CAIPAN colloquium, keeping on a serious and real activity, preserving a wealth of skills and experience matured in four decades, based on the commitment and work of dozens of people. cnegu-partecipanti

In the top picture: the 3rd meeting of CNEGU, held in Luxembourg in May 1979.

In the bottom picture: the main activists celebrating CNEGU forty years (from left: Raoul Robé, Michel Piccin, Gilles Durand, Thierry Rocher, Gilles Munsch, Jean-Claude Leroy, Eric Maillot).

Francine Fouéré (1927-2018)

The doyen of French ufology, Francine Fouéré, died in Paris on May 26, 2018. She had just turned 91 years old.

foueresA high school teacher, interested in ufology since 1954, in 1962 she and her husband Réné Fouéré were among the founders of the Groupement d’Etude de Phénomènes Aériens (GEPA), an association of technicians, scientists, military representing for 15 years the main attempt in France to make ufology a scientific study, clearly separating from “flying saucers” sensationalism. For their joined involvement as a married couple in that UFO organization, they were considered “the French Lorenzens“.

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After her husband’s death in 1990, Francine had remained actively engaged in studies on the subject, attending meetings and conferences, editing the re-publication in five volumes of the complete collection (and supplemented by various unpublished articles) of GEPA magazine “Phénomènes spatiaux”, in 2008.

 

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In 1982 I had the opportunity to meet her at GEPA headquarters in Paris, and in 2005 we had the surprise to find her at the Chalons-en-Champagne UFO Congress, where she ran a stand with the old publications of her association [photo SPICA].
An autobiographical interview of her was collected by Gilles Thomas in 2009 and can be heard here.

[Communication by Pierre Lagrange]

Geneviève Béduneau (1947-2018)

by Bruno Mancusi
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French researcher Geneviève Béduneau died on April 5 for a heart attack in the Paris subway, a few days after she turned 71.

Doctor in orthodox theology, teacher of the history of religions, an expert on esotericism and secret societies, history and altered states of consciousness, she joined ufology in the early 1980s, participating in the activities of the CIGU (Comité Île-de-France des Groupements Ufologiques), writing on Annuaire du CIGU, Lumières dans la nuit and Ovni-Présence magazines, attending meetings and UFO congresses under the pseudonym of Anne Véve.

In the following years she came out into the open with her real name, publishing articles in magazines such as La Gazette fortéenne and UFOmania and participating in conferences and mailing lists, with interventions combining her great erudition with an unconventional approach to the subject.

beduneau-livresAuthor or co-author of several books, she had also signed the post-face to the collected letters by Aimé Michel “L’apocalypse molle” (2008), was editor of the magazine Historia occultae and kept the blog Réflexions sur les temps qui courent peut-être .

Another UFO Thesis in France

by Bruno Mancusi
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A new French thesis on UFOs: the dissertation entitled “Le soucoupisme français: 1945-2012″ (French Saucerism: 1945-2012), by Thomas Margout, who obtained a doctorate in history at the University of Western Brittany in Brest (France), on December 8th, 2017.

Just a year after that of Manuel Wiroth, this is the second university thesis on the history of the UFO movement in France.

Margout is not unknown in the UFO environment, since for the writing of his thesis he had asked the help of our colleagues from the SCEAU (Sauvegarde et Conservation des Etudes et Archives Ufologiques) and had also attended GEIPAN scientific conference on UFO CAIPAN in July 2014, with a poster illustrating his work.

So it was a surprise to read an interview he gave to daily newspaper “Le Télégramme de Brest” on 11 December 2017, in which he stated, among other things: “The overwhelming majority of ufologists are perfectly serious people, who saw a phenomenon that they cannot explain”, thus confusing ufologists and witnesses.

From the text now available it has been possible to understand that the confusion between ufologists, witnesses, contactists and sect followers was not a mistake but a choice of his. In fact, Margout himself explains: “In most cases, these investigators were also witnesses, they are here in the role of gathering and collecting testimonies similar to theirs”. So an ufologist would simply be a witness who questions other witnesses, although the author is not giving any statistics that prove his statement.

Thomas Margout’s thesis is divided into two volumes, available for free from here: vol. 1 and vol. 2. The first contains the thesis itself and the second contains data and statistics largely obtained from the UFO journal “Lumières dans la nuit”. The first volume is divided into four “generations”:
1. the birth (1945-1977)
2. the new ufology (1977-1993)
3. the X-Files generation (1993-2000)
4. independence (2000-2012).

Some choices of data and interpretations by the author are indeed questionable, and that is worthy a more detailed review.

[Pictured above: Thomas Margout during his speech at CAIPAN 2014]

Goodbye to J. Costagliola and J. Tomlinson

Two French ufologists died within few days in February.
On February 16, Jacques Costagliola died in the Paris region. Born in Algeria in 1927, a doctor and biologist, he had long been animator of the so-called “Groupe de Science Ouvert” (Open Science Group) in Versailles, France.

Expecially interested in the potential health risks of what he called “toxic close encounters”, he was best known for his 1988 book “Epistémologie du phénomène ovnien” (Epistemology of UFO Phenomenon).

Together with former Admiral Gilles Pinon, in 2008 he was among the promoters and signers of an open letter to the President of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, asking him to apply the precautionary principle to UFO phenomena and thus to order “an exhaustive study of the UFO phenomenon in application of a hypothetical-deductive method, bringing together competences in the political, military, scientific, sociological, philosophical fields, having as its object to confirm or deny the extraterrestrial interpretation”.

On February 21st, at the age of 50 years, John Tomlinson died in Nice, France, after a long illness. Born in the USA, he had grown up and lived in France. In 2008 he was appointed MUFON representative in that country and soon began an active role in establishing contacts for a better international UFO coordination.

tomlinson2013At the same time Tomlinson he worked on setting up a French branch of the Mutual UFO Network, finding a hand in veteran French ufologist Gerard Lebat, at that time coordinator of “Repas ufologiques” (UFO dinners) network. Thus MUFON-France was born and after Dave MacDonald was elected as MUFON International Director, John organized MacDonald’s trip to Paris in January 2013, for a conference and meeting with several MUFON representatives in Europe, as well as the signing of a cooperation protocol between the Mutual UFO Network and the GEIPAN (the UFO study group within the French space agency).

The ambition to create a MUFON-France that overcame the long-standing rivalries and envies among the various ufologists and associations of that country unfortunately collapsed in a short time, despite both Tomlinson and Lebat stepping backwards and leaving group management to others. Disappointed by the UFO people, John left active ufology shortly before discovering the disease that killed him in a few years.

[In the above photo: Jacques Costagliola (right) with Claude Lavat and Gilles Pinon.
In the lower picture: John Tomlinson in Paris in 2013, with MUFON director Dave MacDonald, GEIPAN director Xavier Passot and MUFON-France director Jacky Kozan.]

Cataloguing Local Reports, in Austria and France

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In December and January two books were published in two different European countries, notably standing out from the average of what may usually be found about UFOs in bookstores: in both cases it is a collection of case histories, a catalog of UFO sightings in a specific area.

The first book is titled “UFOs über Österreich” (UFO over Austria) and the author is Mario Rank, since 2012 director of the Austrian branch for the German organization DEGUFO (Deutschsprachige Gesellschaft für UFO-Forschung).

In 200 pages, Rank presents a quick overview of both the UFO problem in general, and especially the specific situation in his country, with chapters dedicated to the history of Austrian ufology, the role of the authorities and the most interesting sightings in Austria. As with many European countries, the problem of the language barrier unfortunately remains, but it is not excluded that this book may come to have a version in English, as was recently the case for similar works on UFOs in Poland and in Romania signed by two members of the EuroUfo.net collective, respectively Piotr Cielebiaś and Dan Farcas.

While Rank’s book is only partially a national case catalog, Les Ovnis du Centre – Val de Loire is exactly a regional catalog of UFO reports, collecting and systematically presenting all known case histories (470 sightings in 380 pages) from the six departments of France central region, along the same line already expressed in the past for other French regions.

The curious fact is that, unlike other similar works published in that country, the author is not a long-time ufologist, but an enthusiast who only recently (under the pseudonym Jean de Quercy) took the initiative to write this catalog in book form and publish it by himself: the usual format of a chronological presentation for each case with a detailed summary and an analytical indication of known sources, is just the same for regional catalog publications published by CISU in Italy.

A University Thesis on the History of French Ufology

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European UFO historiography is enriched with an important piece.

After the first volume (of 513 pages) published in June, the second volume (209 pages) was published in October 2017 of the book “Ovnis sur la France, des années 1940 à nos jours” (Ufo on France, from the 40s to today”), which is a revised and abridged version of a dissertation in contemporary history.

The author is Manuel Wiroth, which graduated in October 2016 at the University of Lyon, France, with a thesis titled “History of ufology in France (from the first individual research on the discs flying to the constitution of UFO study networks, from the 40s to the present”), before a commission that included among others scientist-ufologist Jean-Pierre Rospars.

For years a UFO buff Wiroth was able to base upon the impressive documentary collection of the French archive UFO group SCEAU ( Sauvegarde et Conservation des Etudes et Archives Ufologiques), directed by Gilles Durand.

The big dimensions of the dissertation forced JMG publishing house to divide it into two volumes, the first dedicated to “Testimonies and private researchers”, the second to “The scientific and military investigation”.