November 7, 1990
Edition: FIVE STAR SPORTS FINAL
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Author: Gerard Bon; Reuters
PARIS Mystery shapes in the sky - variously described as orange balls, triangles and silently moving points of light - were reported Tuesday over France, Italy, Switzerland and Belgium.
French police and fire departments from the German border to the Atlantic coast were flooded with calls about the "unidentified flying objects." A Geneva Reuters technician reported seeing a large orange-colored ball streaming across the night sky from the Jura mountains toward the Alps.
In France, Belgium and Italy, witnesses talked of a moving shape composed of three, five or six brilliant points of light. The timing and dispersal of the sightings suggested a large phenomenon at very high altitude.
Experts in Munich said a meteorite might have exploded.
But Belgium, where dozens of people reported a triangular object with three lights flying slowly and soundlessly to the southwest, said its air force was studying the reports with observers of neighboring air forces.
The French government appeared to take the reports most seriously. Jean-Jacques Velasco, director of the Service for the Investigation of Re-entry Phenomena, said the country was launching an investigation.
He said several airline pilots had reported sightings. But no radar contact was recorded in French air space.
An Air France pilot said, "We were on a flight to Barcelona (Spain) at about 33,000 feet at about 7 p.m. when we first saw the shape.
"It couldn't have been a satellite because it was there for three or four minutes."
A French yachtsman off the coast of Brittany said, "We saw this geometric shape . . . with five or six twinkling points of orange light with white trails behind them."
In Italy, six airline pilots reported "a mysterious and intense white light" southeast of Turin. Pilots also reported five white smoke trails nearby.