RAF Flying Review Photo
We are doing a service by
re-checking our work time to time, but some things get a little redundant.
Then sometimes new findings come out. For example, the date was found
to be 1957; not 1954. Anyway, I realize we do not have the backup we need
on the Rouen report and we will have to relegate the incident to its proper
location. Those looking for information on it will find what we have learned
on the NICAP site as soon as I post it. Our thanks to Clas Svahn for the
images of the article below:
Please see the link below to get the four pages from RAF
Flying Review. July 1957:
The RAF Flying Review also had other articles and book views of
the more silly aspects of UFOs during the 1950s. I don't think
you can transfer the authoritative aspect of the magazine to the photograph.
If there ever was an insufficient information case, it is this one!
Well, the comparison and
analysis is very interesting, though some of his assumptions seem questionable,
and I don't see how the "mast" can be determined to be a "tail fin"
How de we know what direction the object is headed? If it is a "tail
fin," then it would fit with other early Blue Book reports including BB
Special #14n and cases like Ravenna, Ohio, in 1966 which had a prominent
I got the 1954 date for Rouen somewhere, very possibly from the
editors of RAF Flying Review. Where is the documentation that it was
instead taken on a specific date in 1957? Patrick Gross is still around,
is he not? What is his source, and can it be documented, that a
French AF pilot took the photo while intercepting a radar UFO? That would
certainly strongly increase the value of the case regardless of the date
it was taken.
Based on the various postings from 1999 to 2002 the RAF Flying Review
for July 1957 apparently states "UFO photographed over Rouen in March,
THIS YEAR ." V-J Ballester Olmos has a reference to a publication
in the Bolton Observer (UK) in April 1957 that is earlier than FSR or
RAFFR but I do not know if he or anyone has a copy of the article or knows
what it says. I've emailed asking him. Bruce Maccabee posted
on UpDates in 1999 that in the mid-70's he had written to the RAFFR asking
for more info but they had nothing. Bruce mentioned that Clade Poher
had pursued inquiries with the French AF trying to identify the alleged
pilot and the case but found nothing.
Report: Vicente Juan Ballester-Olmos:
Date: 5 March 1954 (non-event) Actual date: 5 March 1957
Location: Rouen, Seine Maritime (France)
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
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 Maug? in France and Dr. David Clarke in the United
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,
Whoever, Joel, Brad and I did a review on this topic
back in Jan 2002 as VJ mentioned. After much digging and Joel's QuickTime
movie overlaying the two images Rouen and McMinnville, which is impressive,
along with a month long discussion about tracing the source, publication
dates, descreening and other techniques used by newspapers, etc. it comes
across strongly they are one and the same.
Yes, we found all the references VJ refers too (don't have the UFO
Register article just reference) and a few more. I wanted to post yesterday,
but Joel is too busy to write something and Brad told me its all ready
been hashed out on the lists. Well apparently NOT! I wanted a IUR
article out of this even if short.
Here is the full J. Trent reference I found:
Facciamo alcuni esempi: Rouen. 5 marzo 1954. Un pilota francese,
J. Trent, riprende un disco a forma di piatto. La foto è relativamente
nitida. L'osservazione dei dettagli buona. Sulla calotta del disco si scorge
un'antenna, identica a quella scorta sopra un disco volante comparso nel
maggio 1950 sopra la cittadina statunitense di McMinville. All'epoca, Trent
era riuscito a scattare un'immagine. by Claude Poher,
"We make some examples: Rouen. 5 March 1954. A
French pilot, J. Trent, resumes a disc to plate shape. The
photo is relatively clear. The observation of the details good.
On the cap of the disc an antenna, identical is noticed to that supply
over an appeared disc flying in May 1950 over the American citizen of McMinville.
To the age, Trent was successful to release an image. by Claude Poher,
(Just put this thru the translater as in Italian. The a internet
posting no longer there. How acturate this quote by Poher is I can't
tell you. Maybe someone could check that one out.
I thought one of Joel's comments was most telling:
That little movie you made (really cool) and Brad's measurements rather
cinched it I think.
It would even be difficult for a professional SFX person to duplicate
the angles that closely with later models, and why go to the trouble.
Photoretouching was a common art in those days -- I once went through
the photo archives of the former Washington Star newspaper
in DC and was amazed at how many of the prints had been heavily retouched.
The reason was that the quality of reproduction in newspapers was so poor
that they often had to boost the contrast or define edges between
areas of similar contrast in order for things to be visible when actually
printed in the paper. In some cases you'll see major differences between
the _same photo_ printed in different papers because they retouched them
to suit their own
In the case of the Rouen photo, I bet what happened was that
someone wanted to "regularize" the edges of the Trent image because
it sort of fades out to nothing on the edges, especially the right
edge. If they straightened the antenna too, that would explain most of the
Now Joel didn't say 100% it was one and the same rather it was
the most plausible explanation.
VJ do you or anyone else have a copy of the Bolton (UK) Observer
of April 1957 article? BTW: I when thru a NICAP folder of old 1954 French
UFO clippings and nothing was mentioned about Rouen
not even something that could be mistaken for it. You would think
something like that would have been mentioned sometime during 1954.
The only thing I found in the clippings that came close was from
1951. (I did not research beyond the file I had.)
"I was looking at the NICAP file of typed newsclippings and spotted
something that got me to thinking that maybe French sighting was a composite
or distorted and confused, deliberate or otherwise of another sighting
and the photo got tagged to it.
It's from Point de Vue (French weekly), Sept 23, 1954.
Orange, France - 15 June 1951
At 1047 local time, two French pilots, Prie and Gallibert, of French
Airbase #115 at Orange, took off in pursuit of an object "of circular form
and metallic luster." The base at Orange received a minute-by
minute radio report of the chase by Lt. Gallibert.
"I am turning toward the 'engine'. The disc is tilting on itself,
and is movine off at increasing speed. We are pursuing it in the direction
of Aspec-sur-Buech. Impossible to follow the object's climb; it is following
and ascending trajectery at about 1000 km/hour." The chase lasted six minutes."
(Translated by A. Melbane)
If the above was published you would think something on Rouen would
have been found in the French clippings. If anyone out there has a 1954
French collection of clippings maybe you could check thru them for anything
that comes across as the Rouen sighting."
Yes, it is a copy of McMinnville heavily retouched or falsified, filling
in the chopped off left edge, broadening the "pole," and sharpening the
near edge of the bottom of the disk making it seem like it is tilted slightly
more towards the camera -- when it is not. Both pics have the "pole"
off center about 4% of disk diameter to the left, coincidence??
I think not.
What you are saying is that, if this is a fake, then the faker did
not simply photograph the second Trent photo (re-photoraphy) with, perhaps
some defocus thrown in. Instead, someone made a different picture
and photographed it...a more complicated fake. As nearly as I can tell
the Trent pole tilts to the left by about 10 deg relative to thebottom
draw a line connecting the left and right extremeties to get an "average"
of the bottom edge which is slightly curved; it was not photographed
The retouching has filled in the "pole" making it fatter and so it
looks straight instead of tilted 10 degs.
The top of the pole is more distinct. This and other features prove
what I said... it is not simple rephotography...a simple "copy of McMinnville."
The 4% off center comparison does not prove anything when combined with
the difference in poll tilt. The presumed hoaxer had to put some
effort into making a different but very similar Trent-type UFO image.
Obviously, if one allows that the picture could be of a redrawn Trent type
image, or an approximate model (hanging from an electric wire?) then it
could be a hoax, Virtually any single picture could be a hoax.
My bottom line is that the picture is unprovable either way and remains in
limbo since there is no evidence trail. I would not go so far
as to say it is a proven
No what I am saying and said all along is that Rouen is a HEAVILY
RETOUCHED Trent photo. We can see what retouching in 1950 could do
to sharpen the near edge bottom rim of the OTHER Trent photo and sharpen
the point of the "pole" barely sticking op over that edge, in the Philadelphia
Daily News version of the Trent photo on June 12, 1950. When I told
you about the Philly version a few years back you assured me it was simply
newspaper retouching techniques of the day, 1950, nothing more.
I have seen a heavily retouched Trent photo in some junky European
UFO book that looks like the Rouen photo. It is quite possible
some European newspaper in 1950 heavily retouched the Trent photo --
after all it was a German newspaper on April 1, 1950, that fabricated for
April Fool's Day the famed "little alien" between the two tall g-men photo,
so they were not above outright hoaxes.
Quite possibly a poor copy of the Trent drawing in the UFO Evidence
An Italian summary of Rouen on the Internet names the "pilot,
J. Trent." Amusing. Obviously the Italians didn't know
what they were talking about. So what?
It proves that someone in Europe is confusing or fabricating the
Trent case into becoming the Rouen case either unintentionally or deliberately.