A critique of :
The So-Called "Belgian Ufo Wave" -
A Critical View - Skeptic Report

by Jerry Cohen


Suggested Solution for
1990 Belgian UFO Air Force F-16 Incident
is out of Sync with
the Actual Facts Of that Case


Preface: When I first read Marc Hallet's "Critical View" article below, I noticed he mentioned there were ten scientists who disagreed with both SOBEPS (Belgian UFO group) and especially Auguste Meessen's original analyses concerning the Belgium Sightings. Therefore, I asked myself whether it was possible I might have erred concerning my knowledge and understanding of those sightings, specifically the F-16 encounter reported by Belgian NATO Air Defense. Being ready to reverse my thinking if necessary, I decided it was very important to examine Hallet's article thoroughly against what I thought was relevant information I had gathered, to see which portions of either appeared most likely correct and accurate to the situation, in order to determine what actually occurred in March 1990.

To more easily be able to see any case facts provided by Hallet in his article, I removed any character attacks on Meessen and SOBEPS along with unproven statements, generalized blanket statements, general negative statements made by or concerning anyone, and also non-case-related facts. Taking this bare bones approach, I would be able to see what remained concerning Hallet's presentation regarding the Radar signals recorded on board an F-16 on March 30-31, 1990. (Mostly located in paragraphs 8-16 in his critique.) Besides the scant data he provides us with regarding that case, I was surprised to find that Hallet had made, what appeared to be, an apparent critical error concerning SOBEPS' influence on the Belgian Air Force in this regard. He seemed to have missed or ignored crucial information from the case which could easily have affected his view of it, possibly leading him to overlook other extremely important elements within.

Included below comments made by Hallet (bolded by me), are my own comments, quotes, and links to information from two articles which both clearly demonstrate the error mentioned above, and provide us with additional pertinent information unmentioned by Hallet. I have placed Hallet's original article at the end of this analysis and numbered the paragraphs, and used URLs to connect to them where necessary, so that direct reference can be made to each of his relevant statements. If any portion of my analysis is found to be faulty, and most other researchers concur, I will publicly adjust same on this web-site with an explanation as to why I have done so.


Removed blanket statement: Hallet paragraphs 1 & 2: People are leaving Ufology.
Removed negative re SOBEPS: Hallet 3: SOBEPS exaggerates that Belgian scientists are joining them en-mass.
Hallet 4: SOBEPS book "Vague OVNI sur la Belgique" = VOB
Hallet 5: Ten scientists immediately criticized the book and Meessen's work in particular

Removed a general negative: Hallet 6: Because you give lectures at scientific institutions doesn't mean you are recognized as proving factual scientific information.

Hallet 7: Let's look at the hard facts from SOBEPS
Hallet 8: Radar signals recorded on board a F-16 on March 30-31, 1990.
Hallet 9: physicist Meessen studied these for months
Removed following blanket statement: Hallet 10: Hallet says: Meessen wrote: "The conclusion that logically imposes itself is that ANY HYPOTHESIS OTHER THAN THAT OF UFOs IS TO BE EXCLUDED AT VIRTUALY ONE HUNDRED PERCENT (emphasis in original text)." He also wrote: "...I think the only reasonable hypothesis is that of unidentified flying objects, the performances of which indicate an extraterrestrial origin." (5)

Hallet 11: There were several inconsistencies in his analysis and it was filled with contradictions
Hallet 12: Please note: The F-16 pilot saw no UFOs at all.

Hallet then says:

"Had it not been for the SOBEPS team, these so-called mysterious radar returns would have been labeled as ordinary 'angels'."

jc comment: From what I have researched to this point, it does not appear this preceding statement by Hallet concerning SOBEPS and the BAF is accurate to, or representative of what actually occurred. Additionally, unintentionally or intentionally, what he said is a slap at the Belgium Air Force (NATO division) and demonstrates ignorance on his part as to how BAF operates. Hallet's statement contradicts testimony from both Major P. Lambrechts of the BAF General Staff and Col. Wilfried De Brouwer, Chief of Operations of the Belgian Air Force (BAF). It also contradicts BAF's final report. As stated, it would seem to infer that the Belgium NATO is so incompetent, it only relies on SOBEPS analyses to draw its own conclusions concerning its defense of Belgium and NATO. _That_ is quite an accusation. Do Hallet and the scientists he represents honestly want us to believe NATO would chase a mirage for over an hour because they do not know the capabilities and functioning of their own equipment, or what a temperature inversion is and how it affects their mission, or because SOBEPS said it was a UFO?

From what I can tell from my review of the case, it is _not SOBEPS_ who convinced the Belgian AF; it was a combination of BAF's own analysis and cross-analysis of their equipment, (some of which probably hasn't been fully discussed because it could potentially compromise Belgium/NATO defense), combined with a detailed study of reports from police, civilians, etc. When all plane equipment and ground radar was found to be in generally correct working order and all factors were taken into consideration, the BAF, with its own expertise and being charged with NATO defense, found itself in the position of being unable to explain exactly what was seen and chased for upwards of 75 minutes by the F-16's it had put into the air. (bolding has been added for clarity)

How do we know this?

The following two quotes were taken from an August 1993 article by J. A. Huneeus.

"The complete BAF report has not yet been fully declassified, but an abridged version prepared by Major P. Lambrechts of the BAF General Staff, entitled "Report Concerning the Observation of UFOs During the Night of March 30 to 31, 1990," was released to SOBEPS. It includes a detailed chronology of events and dismisses several hypothesis - optical illusions, meteorological inversions, holographic projections, and so on."

De Brouwer addressed the incident's significance again in his "Postface." He wrote,

"We have observed at certain instances a correlation between the data from two on-board radars (F-16s) and at least one ground radar. The detection of identical signals by three different systems in a given moment leads us not to exclude that one or more unidentified device did effectively move within Belgian airspace...in any case, the Air Force has arrived [at] the conclusion that a certain number of anomalous phenomena [have] been produced within Belgian airspace."

Those wishing to view that complete article (courtesy of http://www.ufoevidence.org) can click here. (P.C. users click here if not available)

jc comment: To determine the truthfulness and accuracy of the preceding excerpts from the Huneeus article regarding the F-16 case, and to determine what the sighting was _not_, we also have quotes provided by a reporter who was invited to a meeting with Col. DeBrouwer and posed the following questions to him three years earlier in 1990, immediately after seeing a presentation on same provided by DeBrouwer.

From a July 5th, 1990 Paris Match article by Marie-Thérèse De Brosses: (click here if not available) The following are her questions and Col. DeBrouwer's answers.

jc note: I have bold faced DeBrouwer's answers for emphasis and clarity.

After having seen this dramatic sequence, I posed a number of questions to Col. DeBrouwer. First, could the object have been a radiosonde balloon?

"No, the object acted as if it was totally independent of the winds, and we have done, among other things, a complete review of meteorological conditions. This is why we did not publish the report until now. We wanted to do a complete study to verify all aspects of the case. Our military defense system is not prepared for this sort of thing. We had to analyze and interpret the data from the recording inside the fighters."

Is it a natural phenomenon, or perhaps the debris from rockets or satellites or space junk?

"No, a meteorite or a fragment of a rocket does not enter the atmosphere in a zig zag fashion. The analysis of the radar traces showed numerous changes in direction, and the atmospheric conditions that prevailed precluded any electromagnetic phenomenon as the cause."

But I asked how about the famous F-117 the American Stealth airplane, which many people think may be responsible?

"This airplane is absolutely designed for penetration at low altitude. On the other hand it has a minimum speed of 278 KPH and the UFOs speed went down to 40 KPH. The F-117 does not have engines that can be tilted down for very slow speed flight. Also no airplane is capable of flying at 1,800 KPH or so low to the ground without creating a sonic boom."

Then he gave me a telex sent by the Military Attache of the U.S. Ambassador to the Commander of the Belgian Air Force confirming that the Stealth airplane was never stationed on European territory nor did it ever fly over that territory.

jc comment: Therefore we have confirmation, from a person who met directly with Col. DeBrouwer that those previous quotes from the Huneeus article were basically correct.



Additionally, Because the bulk of the Belgian sightings described triangular-shaped objects, European and American researchers and journalists speculated that these were caused by either F-117A Stealth fighters or other innovative U.S. secret military aircraft, like those sighted near test ranges in Nevada and California. This hypothesis was repeatedly denied officially by the BAF, the Ministry of Defense, and the U.S. Embassy in Brussels. Still, the Stealth angle continues to be championed by some publications.

French ufologist Renaud Marhic analyzed the "new rumors" behind the Belgian UFOs in a recent Phenomena article, in which he published the responses sent by Leo Delcroix, Belgium's Minister of Defense, and De Brouwer. "Unfortunately, no explanation has been found to date," wrote Delcroix. "The nature and origin of the phenomenon remain unknown. One theory can be definitely dismissed, however, since the Belgian Armed Forces have been positively assured by American authorities that there has never been any sort of American aerial test flights."

Additionally, BAF realizing the Stealth fighter could not accomplish the maneuvers recorded, had to eliminate the Stealth as a possible solution.

Now we return once again to Marie De Brosses' Paris Match article and note a more in-depth accounting of the March 30th events, as provided by Colonel DeBrouwer:

On the night of March 30th, one of the callers reporting a UFO was a Captain of the national police at Pinson, and Headquarters decided to make a serious effort to verify the reports. In addition to the visual sightings, two radar installations also saw the UFO. One radar is at Glons, southeast of Brussels, which is part of the NATO defense group, and one at Semmerzake, west of the Capitol, which controls the military and civilian traffic of the entire Belgian territory.

The range of the two radars is 300 KM, which is more than enough to cover the area where the reports took place. In this region the land is fairly flat, rolling country without any prominent hills. The radar has a perfect view of all flying objects with an altitude above 200 meters over the ground. Nevertheless, Headquarters determined to do some very precise studies during the next 55 minutes to eliminate the possibility of prosaic explanations for the radar images.

Excellent atmospheric conditions prevailed, and there was no possibility of false echoes due to temperature inversions. (jc: above boldings added by me for emphasis.)

All military and civilian airplanes are equipped with a device called a transponder which permits their immediate identification on the radar screen in the form of a coded signal. The radar echo received on that night was like that of an airplane that was moving at very low speed, about 50 KPH, and frequently changing direction and altitude. But it did not send any identifying transponder signal.

To sum some important points from the immediately preceding:

1) From what DeBrouwer has said: It was an initial report from a national policeman that evening which got BAF's attention.

2) Additionally, two Radar stations saw the UFO

3) The radars were checked for 55 minutes before the planes were sent up.

4) They were obviously in proper working order or the planes would not have been sent up.

5) Another trigger to sending the F-16s was the fact the UFO did not send any identifying transponder signal.

jc comments: Interestingly, from this we can see the demonstrated reasons BAF (NATO) began its chase appear to have had nothing to do with SOBEPS. SOBEPS' role at this critical time was minimal if not non-existent.

If an adequate solution was not found within the items eliminated by De Brosses' preceding questioning, Colonel DeBrouwer's answers, and BAF's technical analysis to this point, what was left? The only possible thing left was some type of electronic malfunction.

Other Hallet comments regarding this:

"Another important thing is that at one point the "return" remained unchanged on the screen while the plane was manoeuvring, which is indicative of an instrument failure."

"This is . . . what Lieutenant-Colonel Salmon from the Belgian Air Force Electronic War Center remarked when he was interviewed by journalists of Science & Vie Junior in 1992."

jc statement and question: However, Salmon's statement concerning this was contradicted by the above BAF _final_ report: (link reiterates report) For what reason would the heads of Belgium AF (NATO division) want to contradict Salmon if they thought he could possibly be correct, especially on something that would cause their final analysis to be questioned and their reputations, most likely tarnished?

It seems apparent their professional experience, everything they know about their equipment, etc. had to be telling them otherwise. It was because the combined, total instrument readouts from both the ground and the planes demonstrated otherwise.

Additionally, when BAF's technical analysis totally failed to identify what their pilots had chased, BAF began to give consideration to the possibility the "craft-hovering" related in some police reports might then provide a logical explanation for this particular observation, and that BAF might have no other choice but to completely accept what the police were telling them.

jc - Other questions that come to mind: Was the complete, classified BAF final-analysis ever released for Lieutenant-Colonel Salmon's review prior to or during the time Lieutenant-Colonel Salmon was interviewed and if so, was his security clearance high enough to read it and, did he actually read it prior to his interview in 1992? (N.B. Although an over-all assessment was released by July 1990 when De Brosses had her interview with DeBrouwer, as stated in the Huneeus article, it was not the fully-detailed, classified version.


To reaffirm the strength of the registered radar signals and that the planes recorded them too, here is an earlier quote from the same Paris Match article:

. . . the Belgium Air Force has released pictures of the radar images of UFOs intercepted by the pilots of their F-16 fighters. It was the precision and clarity of the pictures that convinced the Defense Minister to order full resources deployed in the gigantic chase of the UFO during the Easter weekend.

jc comment: Those were the dramatic pictures shown to Marie De Brosses. As was stated, "the precision and clarity of the pictures convinced them (BAF) " what was on the radar was no temperature inversion, etc. They were recording rock-solid lock-ons, not temperature inversion signals. Why was BAF positive it wasn't meteorological? BAF felt that since the fact solid contacts had been recorded on more than one radar, this eliminated this possibility, especially after all equipment was checked, re-checked and found to be working normally.

With all of the preceding eliminated, BAF now found itself forced to have to reconsider other non-technical information it had in its possession.



BAF found itself unavoidably having to take into account various detailed reports previously recorded directly from the Belgium National Police, which were still under analysis, and which BAF had been necessarily considering in their process of working towards a complete evaluation.

(Clicking immediately above one can see an important example of a police case which occurred four months earlier, followed by a full outline of the F-16 case. Also click here or here if not available, for another article concerning same from the UFO Evidence web-site.)

The police-case was so dramatic and seemingly conclusive, BAF didn't know what to think. Here were respected national police officers reporting something sounding like absolute science-fiction, and yet BAF could not totally ignore what these people were saying since the experiencers were not only positive about what they had seen, but some of the reports included details acquired at relatively close range and confirmed and expanded upon by more than one group of policemen. The in-depth examination of same was ongoing and BAF was at a loss to resolve it when the F-16 incident occurred.

Although scientists have the luxury of being able to ignore personal reports from individuals by simply calling them "inaccurate", the military has to consider all inputted data when determining cause and action required by it. _Some_ of the more detailed, close-up, verified exotic reports the military received prior to the F-16 event were simply things that defied logic . . . i.e. they were amazing contradictions in themselves. Police shouldn't be reporting things this detailed and yet exotic.

(...and to those people who cite someone's statistics that police are no better at identifying objects than the average person, most rational people should realize: When two large, silent craft exhibit themselves in full-view of observers as reported, the craft become a little more difficult to misidentify. We're not talking about some little, momentary *shooting-star in the sky* here. NB: British case video-clip provided for size-reference only.)




It is also important to note , one person who wrote me mentioned statistics by SOBEPS from their book, Vague d'Ovni sur La Belgique, written by SOBEPS in 1991, which indicated a minimum of approximately 632 total raw reports in Belgium during this "flap." Even if Hallet is correct and SOBEPS had exaggerated somehow in it's final scientific total analysis, there were still a large number of unexplained reports, many of them from police and solid citizens. (many more than the scant few mentioned by Hallet.)


From reading Hallet's comments (which apparently represented the scientists he mentioned), it appears to this researcher that peer-pressure from those ten scientists, and protection of his own scientific reputation from further attack, could well have caused Meessen to re-write his original months-long analysis and conclusions concerning the F-16 case.

Hallet gives us another clue in this regard:

Hallet statement 13: In a second voluminous report issued by SOBEPS: professor Meessen distanced himself from his previous conclusions and admitted that very peculiar atmospheric conditions were probably the cause of the F-16 radar incident. He did it with a lot of verbose explanations, but he did it. (7) (jc: bolding by this researcher for referral a few paragraphs below.)

jc comment (this para. added 12/9/2006): One of Meessen's original conclusions stated: "The simplest explanation is that the indicated movements of the targets were processing quirks. The computer receives signals of the targets positions. The program expects signals to form a chain of increasing points, because airplanes move linear from point of departure to the point of destination. If a target would stop or move backward - which no airplane can do - the algorithm computes incorrect velocities and accelerations of the target. The recorded UFO's probably hovered in the air or swung around in a small area and were not moving the way the computer indicated." - end quote (From: Best UFO Cases - Europe by Illobrand von Ludwiger, published by National Institute for Discovery Science, p. 32)

In the second report, Meessen backed away from this citing very peculiar atmospheric conditions as a possible explanation. However, the Belgium Air Force had to ask itself why it had never previously seen these particular "peculiar atmospheric conditions" that could put _hard_ returns which were recorded moving with such consistent clarity on the radars, which reacted in a specifically evasive manner to the planes radar lock-ons, not to mention which coincidentally occurred in the same generalized time period as some extremely detailed UFO sightings reported by police and other credible witnesses?


Hallet statement 14: Meessen's first conclusion was given world-wide publicity. Not his laborious retractation!

jc comment: Regarding Meessen's retraction, the Belgium Air Force obviously disagreed with him. Is it possible the general public and the media were aware of the scientific attack on Meessen and recognized this at the time? Is it also possible people respected BAF (NATO) and too many credible people had personal experience with the close-up sightings of these things for them simply to be ignored.

This researcher also can't help wondering: Was Meessen's "verbose" retraction and final solution in-line with Occam's razor when examined against the BAF's final analysis? i.e. Which of the proposed solutions was the less complicated, practical formulation? (
"Verbose" quote taken from Marc Hallet's own analysis)

Hallet statement 15: . . . in their press-release, in October 1991, the ten Belgian scientists who had criticized professor Meessen's conclusion had already written : "The analysis made by Mr. Meessen seems to indicate that it could be a meteorological phenomenon whereas the (supposed) occurence of subsonic speeds and sudden accelerations made by material objects is far from convincing." (2)

jc questions: Regarding this possibly being a "meteorological phenomenon": Have those scientists demonstrated their hypothesis via a *practical* demonstration in a laboratory, etc. or just on paper? Who is based more in reality, the scientists or the BAF who had to deal with the practicalities of the actual situation?

We seem to be discussing a speculated meteorological phenomenon capable of putting hard returns on most, if not _all_, BAF's radars as per comments above. As previously stated, the BAF categorically denied this was equipment related malfunction, meteorological, temperature inversions, holographic projections, etc. in their final report . . . and oddly, the dissenting scientists appeared to be using an explanation originally proposed by Harvard astronomy professor Donald Menzel in the United States, but again as noted earlier, which had been refuted many years ago by the U.S. Air Force itself.

Then, exactly what was it the BAF had practical contact with and recorded? Seventy five minutes of chasing a mirage?


Hallet statement 30 Excerpt: (jc: bolding is mine)

Look at the two books published by SOBEPS. In many cases, the objects described were triangles; but in all these testimonies, the only point of convergence is the WORD "triangle." In reality all kinds of triangles were described, not only with very different angles but also with very different general structures and lights. In many cases people saw no triangular objects, but a quadrangle with four lights, a sphere or a disc surrounded with lights or even a rectangular platform as big as a football field reminiscent of science-fiction movies. People have also seen flying discs with cupolas, cigar or boomerang-shaped contraptions, symmetrical or asymmetrical complex geometrical shapes, and even something like an oval ship with paddle. That's what SOBEPS calls "COHERENCE"!

jc comment: Whether Marc Hallet will acknowledge it or not, some specific, extremely _similar_ things _have_ been seen in many of these cases. When some of the details from the above described sightings by police and citizens, are taken into account with the BAF analysis and analyses from sightings in the United States, this researcher believes the answer to that question is a solid yes. (Please see links)


Hallet 12: Please note: The F-16 pilot saw no UFOs at all.

Hallet is correct. The F-16 pilot saw no UFOs at all. Therefore, at first glance, one would be led to believe that it was impossible for any real, unknown craft to have been there during the chase. Yet, the BAF's summated analysis concerning radars, meteorological, etc., when coupled with at least one amazing report received from the national police (there were others) and other respected persons led them, as strange as they knew it was going to sound in their final report, to consider that a reconnoitering may be taking place in Belgium air space, and that someone may actually have the stealthing capability to completely hide an aircraft from view. (i.e. possibly bend light around a craft or hide it by some other means so that it cannot be seen by the human eye. N.B. As far as is known, we cannot do this as of yet. Experiments to auto-change the skin of an aircraft's exterior to match its surrounding environment is not the same as completely hiding it from view.)


If one country were to reconnoiter and study another country, and a large number of people in the country being reconnoitered claimed they had seen triangular jets, rotary type aircraft (i.e. helicopters), VTO planes, large aircraft unloading other aircraft from their midst, the invaded people's military would most likely examine those claims for authenticity and accuracy. They have to . . . this is how you defend a country.

Concerning the Belgium sightings, the BAF would have been called incompetent and would have set a dangerous precedent had they totally ignored reports coming into them. They had to give them fair analysis. Others completely ignoring those reports by claiming this was impossible because the reports were supposedly "non-cohesive" could possibly be burying their heads in the sand, thus missing a legitimate reconnaissance taking place in clear view of all; especially since, in the Belgium cases, their comments regarding *non-cohesiveness* and *point of convergence* may not have been entirely accurate. Although we can understand the scientists' viewpoint and need for total isolation of details concerning the reports, the military does not have this luxury. The defense of their country is their job. Their method of accomplishing this, identifying true threats, etc. has evolved over many years. It includes a total, over-all analysis via a combination of the above.


Something exceedingly "out of norm" was repeatedly seen in Belgium air-space in 1989/90. At least one other similar vehicle, as reported by Belgian Police and others (shown in previous links above) has also been verified seen in other countries (jc: link added 9/14/2007) as well. When some of the more detailed cases by various highly credible witnesses in Belgium were closely examined by the BAF and considered along with the F-16 case, the BAF finally decided the summation of the types of reports, quality of observers, detail of the reports, when combined with their own technical analysis. pointed to a reconnaissance of some type by someone possessing technology unknown to them at this point.

This researcher believes the reason Marc Hallet has missed the point here is because his focus was too narrow. The word "triangle" was _not_ the only "point of convergence." If Hallet and challenging scientists had selected the point of convergence as - devices which are capable of silently floating large masses in the air and maneuvering them freely through Belgium air space - the "coherence" would become apparent to all. This is what masses of people, including police who are trained observers, have seen and reported.

What Hallet has actually highlighted in his article is what serious UFO researchers have known for years; that when there is a UFO wave or flap, there is usually a large percentage of cases which are misidentifications, meteorological events, hoaxes, etc. However, these misidentifications are often triggered by an initial, solidly-verified event. Hallet has conveniently ignored two such events; the F-16 case one of them, the police report from four months prior, another.

Furthermore, many times within that wave, there are other cases which are also not so easily explainable. Serious researchers are interested in those *extremely difficult, if not impossible, to explain* cases. They are the _true_ UFOs. Definite examples of these exist in the Belgium sightings. The numbers of these unexplainable cases have been steadily growing throughout the world.

What Hallet has really given us in his critique is an attack on SOBEPS' and Meessen's methodology, but as far as actually dealing with the nitty-gritty of the cases, he mentions a total of three or four from the Belgium series, out of a minimum of 632. (i.e. 1/158th of the cases, and I believe I am being _extremely_ conservative) Regarding the Alfarano video from Bruxelles, he gives us virtually nothing, completely dismissing it because he says the man also claimed to be in telepathic contact with alien entities. Hallet also mentions a case evidently written up by Meessen from 1987, which was not directly part of the actual 1989/90 series (wave). . . . but, what about the ones not this easy to dismiss?. Hallet then, via footnotes, directs us to some other studies which have been performed. This researcher only hopes that more people will examine this wave in depth and report as to whether they feel the explanations given for the more difficult cases truly solve what has been reported.

Concerning Hallet's statement regarding contradictions appearing within Meessen's original study: If one looks closely, one can notice _some_ of the contradictions by Meessen, which Hallet used as demonstrations, appear to be derived from Meessen's awareness of the BAF's thorough analysis of the over-all situation, something virtually ignored by Hallet. Meessen considered them in his original analysis, Hallet did not.

Some important points Hallet fails to address in his analysis are answers to the following questions: Why would the Belgium National Police make up such a bizarre story? Were they in collusion on a hoax, lying, hallucinating concerning these incredibly close observations. . and why would they do this? Why are there other verified cases in other countries of extremely similar sightings, in some cases actually admitted to by certain militaries , with only weak explanations to deny them? (see Brazil and Rendlesham England)

It is extremely important to note, the BAF's study regarding the F-16 case has nothing to do with cult beliefs on the part of UFO believers, mass hallucinations, etc. The BAF was not a UFO "believer" during the F-16 incident , but rather, a professional analyzer of _all_ the available data from cases that, to the best of BAF's expertise, not only defy a proper explanation but appear to be possibly connected in an overall distinct pattern. That's why they felt they had to write their conclusions as they did.

Incidentally, regarding Hallet's claim concerning SOBEPS' influence on the BAF, it is also important to note, in his "Critical View" article analyzed herein, Hallet never demonstrates (or proves) which *specific* data he believes BAF took only from SOBEPS to use to arrive at their final conclusions.


My analysis has covered some items Hallet has completely overlooked regarding the sightings in Belgium. Whatever faults Hallet has found with Meessen and SOBEPS, even if he were 100% correct in the majority of them, the undeniable facts as presented still stand for the F-16 case and the national police case four months earlier, not to mention other not so easy to dismiss cases analyzed by the BAF. If a definitive resolution of these, acceptable to most researchers, is truly impossible (scientific or otherwise), then just these few cases are certainly excellent reason to stimulate a review of all cases in the Belgium series. When examined in detail, one can see _some_ of those cases appear to support some of the more extremely detailed exotic reports by police, and conclusions arrived at by BAF. The rub may be that, with its required self-imposed limitations, "Science" may not be able to deal with and solve this for us at this time; an extremely frustrating dilemma indeed.

Respectfully submitted,

Jerry Cohen

jc 7/30/2008: What is De Brouwer doing now? Has he changed his opinion? Click HERE (at 0:04:55) to see an amazing November 2007 press conference in Washington, D.C., USA. Also see his account of the sightings at Google Books HERE

jc 5/11/2013: The following is taken from a 4/19/2012 video titled "Secret Access: UFOs on the Record." At this time I have not run my own personal check on this information, but I believe that if one were to contact any of these people, you would most likely find this correct. It explains some of the early motivation concerning SOBEP and De Brouwer with regard to the Belgium UFO flap.

- - - Begin Excerpt - - -

From Patrick Ferryn, SOBEPS cofounder:

The day after UFOs were first seen in Eupen (11/29/89), representatives from SOBEPS went to Eupen to interview people who saw them. Evidently, the UFOs had actually followed people. The representatives collected 150 different sightings from the same area, describing almost the same thing. It was a huge triangular, dark object, 3 white lights, one in each corner, and a blinking red light in the center. Triangular objects were brand new at the time.

So many people called in , the military assigned Major De Brouwer to be point-man for the Air Force. He was the head of operations for Belgian air staff. He said there were a total of 143 sightings in the area of Eupen.

Belgium was hosting NATO, but they didn't (and don't to this day) know what caused the sightings.

A Sighting That Impressed Major Wilfried de Brouwer

A sighting by Colonel Andre Amond (civil engineer, Belgium Army), that occurred approximately two weeks after the initial Eupen sighting. (Sighting: December 11, 1989 Boise de Sart ERNAGE)

Amond was driving with his wife and saw "a flying craft with three yellow panels moving parallel with this car. Under the panels was a pulsing red light." When he slowed down, the object stayed with his car. He accelerated 2-3 more times, and the object kept pace with him.

The UFO came from behind a forest, and he saw a huge bright-white beacon come over until it was 100 meters in front of them. You could hear the noise from the traffic on the main road, and a train going by approximately one kilometer away, but at no point could you hear any noise coming from the object. They observed it for 6-8 minutes. The object left the area in the time it took to exhale a breath.

Amond said, "There is no man-made object able to do what I saw that object do that day . . . both then, and still not now. It's impossible."

Amond was one of the many military professionals that convinced De Brouwer that action was necessary.

- - - End Excerpt - - -

Now, is there any doubt left in anyone's mind that this whole thing is real? If there is, you obviously haven't carefully absorbed all the testimonies at the link above from the representatives of the various countries, or double-checked any of this material for yourself. Also note, a portion of these testimonies have also demonstrated that at least some of the material in the U.S. FOIA releases is no longer just hearsay. Anyone want to place bets on the rest of it?



For additional information concerning the F-16 case, one can click here for an unofficial discussion concerning some of the data from the radar readouts, Martin Shough's comments, and other general discussions on the UFO Updates mail-list concerning various suggestions as to what might have caused some of the sightings, and what the sightings were definitely _not_. Readers are encouraged to formulate your own thoughts in this regard.


Reproduction here of Hallet "Critical View" article for "ease of analysis" only.
Original version is located here.

The So-Called "Belgian Ufo Wave"
A Critical View
by Marc Hallet

Many people who once believed in UFOs do not believe in them any longer. In contrast with a vast number of credulous people who believe in anything that gets into print, these former-UFO believers have started to check, systematically, the validity of the testimonies and of the literature that constitute the "UFO phenomenon". Their doubts have increased constantly. Indeed, as soon as one starts digging a little deeper into this matter, it becomes clear that ufology is unsubstantiated. Consequently, each year, more and more reputed ufologists admit that they have erred or were on the wrong track; after what they join the rank of the ex-ufologists. This important fact is generally ignored by those who believe in extraterrestrial UFOs and is often censored or falsely explained by the ufologists themselves.

One enters and stays "in" ufology just as if it were a cult, sheltered from any hard facts that could trigger a process of disbelief. Ufology is scientific neither in its methodology nor in its achievements. The so-called "Belgian UFO wave" is a fine example of that...

During quite a few years, SOBEPS, a private Belgian UFO organization, tried to convince the academic world that it had adopted a scientific attitude concerning the study of UFOs. In 1991, a few dozen Belgian scientists accepted to listen -without prejudice- to the "evidence" put forward by the main promoters of that group. These scientists came out both disappointed and unconvinced that UFOs haunted Belgian skies. Yet, three months later, the secretary-general of SOBEPS claimed on a French television channel: "scientists are joining us en masse ." It was of course more than an ordinary exaggeration! (1)

In October 1991, SOBEPS published a first book about the alleged Belgian UFO wave; this book was entitled "Vague OVNI sur la Belgique" (UFO wave over Belgium). It will be refered to as "VOB" further in this article.

Ten Belgian scientists from the Universities of Liège and Bruxelles reacted very rapidly to the book and issued a press-release in which they criticized its content and professor Meessen's work in particular. Undoubtedly, there would have been many more than ten, had it not been for the urgency of drafting this rebuttal. (2)

In spite of this, SOBEPS leaders continued to claim that Belgian scientists took their work seriously. The crude fact is that, since the publication of their first report, SOBEPS collaborators have never been invited by any university in Belgium to defend their point of view and no highly respected Belgian scientist has joined the SOBEPS team or approved its conclusions. Yes, sometimes SOBEPS collaborators have lectured in university auditoria, but it was because they had hired these places as some private groups can do it and not because they had been invited by academic authorities. Yes, SOBEPS has kept in contact with the "gendarmerie" (a police force having then a military status) in order to get information about UFO sightings, but, in Wisconsin for example, a UFO organization founded by contactee Charlotte Blob has the same "privilege." Evidently, this is not a reason to recognize a UFO organization as a serious research partner. Authorithies accept to collaborate with UFO organizations because they realize now that the information they supply has little value. (3)

7 Let us examine the "hard facts" which received international publicity through SOBEPS...

First of all there are the "mysterious" radar signals recorded on board a F-16 on March 30-31, 1990. An incident which received world-wide publicity.

A physicist, Professor Meessen (now retired), who joined SOBEPS when it was founded in 1971 and who was convinced from the start that UFOs are from another world, has spent several months studying these recordings (4)

In VOB , professor Meessen wrote: "The conclusion that logically imposes itself is that ANY HYPOTHESIS OTHER THAN THAT OF UFOs IS TO BE EXCLUDED AT VIRTUALY ONE HUNDRED PERCENT (emphasis in original text)." He also wrote: "...I think the only reasonable hypothesis is that of unidentified flying objects, the performances of which indicate an extraterrestrial origin." (5)

This is what ten Belgian scientists referred to in their press-release as an extravagance. According to them, there were several inconsistencies in the analysis conducted by this physicist and one of these scientists even told me that no university student would ever pass with honours for such an ambiguous work, full of contradictions.

It is important here to underline that the F-16 pilot saw no UFOs at all. I spoke with some of his friends who had laughed with him about the UFO hypothesis. Had it not been for the SOBEPS team, these so-called mysterious radar returns would have been labeled as ordinary "angels". Another important thing is that at one point the "return" remained unchanged on the screen while the plane was manoeuvring, which is indicative of an instrument failure. This is also what Lieutenant-Colonel Salmon from the Belgian Air Force Electronic War Center remarked when he was interviewed by journalists of Science & Vie Junior in 1992. And this is also what I had written in an article that the ten scientists had chosen to add to their press-release in October 1991. (6)

Now, SOBEPS has published a second voluminous "report" about the so-called "Belgian UFO wave". Not very surprinsingly for those who were well informed, compelled as he was by the hard facts, professor Meessen distanced himself from his previous conclusions and admitted that very peculiar atmospheric conditions were probably the cause of the F-16 radar incident. He did it with a lot of verbose explanations, but he did it. (7)

Meessen's first conclusion was given world-wide publicity. Not his laborious retractation!

May I add that in their press-release, in October 1991, the ten Belgian scientists who had criticized professor Meessen's conclusion had already written : "The analysis made by Mr. Meessen seems to indicate that it could be a meteorological phenomenon whereas the (supposed) occurence of subsonic speeds and sudden accelerations made by material objects is far from convincing." (2)

One should take into account that these mysterious signals (from a supposedly 100 % real extraterrestrial UFO!) constituted the ONLY "physical evidence" (not counting the Petit-Rechain picture I shall speak about later) that SOBEPS had gathered for its famous first book which journalists were influenced to announce as the "new bible on UFOs."

In scientific circles, when someone discovers something of interest, a report is drafted and submitted to a scientific publication. Then the article is checked by several referees, returned to the author and proofread until it stands up to stringent scientific standards. Why did professor Meessen choose another way of publication? Why does he prefer always to publish his "scientific UFO studies" in privately published books and magazines or through Internet? Maybe he knows that scientific publications would reject his "demonstrations"...

Here is a sad story about this now retired physicist. In September 1987, in France, a 10 year old boy claimed that he had tape-recorded sounds from a UFO. In what appeared at first sight to be a rigorous scientific study published by SOBEPS, professor Meessen concluded that the sound had such strange characteristics that the child's testimony had to be accepted. But professor Meessen is neither an expert in acoustics nor a radar expert. A CNRS researcher from the Acoustics Laboratory of the University of Provence , France, established that the sound was nothing more than a parasitic sound familiar to radio hams. This researcher commented on professor Meessen's conclusions in the following terms : "a façade of seriousness", "subjectivity" and even "an accumulation of clashing and ill-digested knowledge". The severety of these comments and those of the ten Belgian scientists is such that it should force anyone to question the way in which professor Meessen really conducts his research on UFOs.

Let us now look at the famous picture taken at Petit-Rechain. It was internationaly distributed by the SOBEPS team and was used for the covers of the two books which this private oranization published about the so-called Belgian UFO wave.

The document depicts a black triangular silhouette against a bluish background supposed to be the night sky. One irregular illuminated surface appears in each corner of the triangle. In the centre there is a luminous spot surrounded by a reddish aura.

There are discrepancies between the photo itself and the testimony of the young man who claims to have taken it. The picture was reportedly taken with a reflex-camera equipped with a 55-200mm zoom lens set at a minimum of 150mm. The photographer alleges that he used a long time exposure (between one and two seconds) and pressed the shutter release button for approximately two seconds. But he also said he simply held the camera with his hands against the corner of a wall. Even if he exaggerated, and the shutter button was pressed only for one second, the object photographed could not have had sharp edges; it would have been completely blurred. On the contrary, the triangular object shows at least one sharp edge. The young man said he saw the enormous object in the company of his girl friend. This second eye-witness was so little impressed by the extraordinary apparition that she didn't even keep her eyes on it! At one instance she said the object left instantaneously and at another time she admitted that she actually never saw it leave. More important: Pierre Magain, an astrophysicist from the Astrophisics Institute of Liège has mathematically demonstrated that the size attributed to the object by the young photographer is completely different from what the camera captured. So, one can conclude that the testimonies of the two witnesses are completely irrelevant to the picture.

In this case, SOBEPS "researchers" have conducted a rather strange analysis. First, they tried to obtain a similar picture by using a wooden model. When this failed, they abusively concluded that if the document was a fake, it could only have been obtained by highly sophisticated means. This completed their "analysis". A strange way to do a photographic expertise isn't it?

Later, professor Marc Acheroy, from the Royal Military School , Bruxelles, authorized one of his students to use a digitalized version of this slide to test and increase its skills in computer processing and image enhancement techniques. As professor Acheroy explained to me in a personal letter, he never tried to judge what kind of object had been photographed (a sophisticated plane, a UFO or a model); the main reason why he accepted his student work on this picture was to achieve a better know-how of electronic data system. (9)

Professor Acheroy and SOBEPS have spoken abundantly about that work but few people have seen it. I have made a copy of it and asked for a scientific appraisal from two independant astrophysicists who are expert in image enhancement techniques. Thus, I learned that the digitalization had been so badly made that artefacts had appeared and that the cosine transform technique used by the student had also generated its own artefacts! The whole study was a poor one on a strictly scientific point of view but nevertheless some interesting characteristics emerged. For example, the object appeared to be surrounded by a luminous aura and this aura seemed to emit infrared light, just as if the object had been illuminated from behind by an ordinary spot light. (10)

At the beginning, the testimony of the young photographer was considered unbelievable by the SOBEPS team (11). After having failed to produce a comparable document, their conclusions evolved into a kind of credo that obscured the rather dubious origin of the document. This credo was so strengthened by the analysis conducted by a non-expert in image enhancement technique that they concluded the Petit-Rechain picture showed a real vehicle and that professor Meessen suggested the luminous spots on the slide were true plasma jets created by the magnetohydrodynamic propulsion mode used by the aliens! (12)

Far from sharing this enthusiasm, using very simple technique, astrophisicist Pierre Magain and his colleague Marc Remy from Liège University produced a picture that presented most of the characteristics of the Petit-Rechain slide. Moreover, former-UFO believer Wim Van Utrecht, from Antwerp, obtained also a similar picture with another simple photo-trick technique. These three men have at least proved the lack of imagination and knowledge SOBEPS collaborators have in photo faking.

Even ufologists admit that it is not always possible to prove that a picture has been faked. In this case, several elements seem to indicate a deliberate hoax. But SOBEPS knows there is no definitive proof of trickery and takes advantage of it. This is not a scientific attitude because contrary to what the facts seem to indicate, SOBEPS clearly tries to lead the public to believe that a UFO has really been photographed. This is the kind of argumentation that these UFO believers propose as "scientific evidence".

During the Belgian UFO saga many people observed strange triangular formations in the skies. Some captured them with video cameras. Mr. Alfarano, from Bruxelles, took the most famous one but it is generally unknown that he also claimed to be in telepathic contact with alien entities. Even the SOBEPS now admits that none of these films shows anything strange or inexplicable. Most of them depict ordinary aircraft lights in a triangular configuration. Nevertheless, most of these people were convinced that they had seen the Belgian triangular UFO. In these cases their testimonies could be checked by examination of the filmed images. What about all those cases in which witnesses claimed to have seen a UFO but weren't fortunate enough to capture it on film? Is there any reason to accept that they saw something else than those who filmed ordinary aircrafts? In the absence of relevant data it is often very difficult or impossible to identify what people have seen. SOBEPS takes advantage of this ambiguous situation and concludes that all unexplained observations are related to real UFOs, probably from an extraterrestrial origin. This is unscientific.

One can also doubt about the personnal qualifications of the numerous improvised investigators SOBEPS worked with. Some of them were so blinded by their beliefs in UFOs they couldn't even see the most evident things. For example here is a drawing made by a witness and which was published in Inforespace 86 as a true UFO. The testimony and the drawing show evidently it was an ordinary helicopter.

SOBEPS claims that thousands of people saw the Belgian triangle and maintains there is a remarkable COHERENCE in these numerous sightings. This magic word "COHERENCE" introduced by prof Meessen as soon as he worked with SOBEPS has been used again and again by SOBEPS collaborators to try to persuade us that identical objects were seen in Belgium by thousands of people. Look at the two books published by SOBEPS. In many cases, the objects described were triangles; but in all these testimonies, the only point of convergence is the WORD "triangle". In reality all kinds of triangles were described, not only with very different angles but also with very different general structures and lights. In many cases people saw no triangular objects, but a quadrangle with four lights, a sphere or a disc surrounded with lights or even a rectangular platform as big as a football field reminiscent of science-fiction movies. People have also seen flying discs with cupolas, cigar or boomerang-shaped contraptions, symmetrical or asymmetrical complex geometrical shapes, and even something like an oval ship with paddle. That's what SOBEPS calls "COHERENCE"!

A valuable piece of information that SOBEPS chose not to publish is that Jean-Luc Vertongen, head of investigations at SOBEPS since its birth, left the group in December 1993. Since, we became friends and I can state that he now says that there was NO COHERENCE AT ALL in the testimonies that SOBEPS collected from our country over the years. But there is more: according to him, SOBEPS operates like a sect whose collaborators are devoted to the extraterrestrial hypothesis which, for them, offers the only logical explanation for the UFO phenomenon. (14)

Genevieve Van Overmeire succeeded immediately Jean-Luc Vertongen at the head of SOBEPS investigations department. Not for a long time: she left the group soon after and claimed also it worked just like a sect and didn't do a scientific or even serious job. At SOBEPS headquarter, a loud silence answered these grave charges.

I would like now to give you two kinds of examples showing how little serious SOBEPS work was in the case of the so-called "Belgian UFO wave".

On page 74 of VOB one can read the following about the sighting of a strange flying thing which looked like a bird : "It was devoided of lights." Four sentences later we read : "Under the wings there were two big white lights and one fixed white light on the nose." Surely, this text was checked more than once before it got into print. But, apparently, at SOBEPS headquarter they were unable to see this INCOHERENCE. Other examples of the same kind can be found in SOBEPS magazine Inforespace . In issue number 90, published in 1994, the following can be read about a man who was paralysed by a UFO : "he was unable to make a gesture." Yet, on the next page we read: "To convince himself he was not dreaming, he pinched himself..." On the same page (page 9) we are being told that the man though it was impossible to take a picture of the object against the starry sky. Whereas, on page 8, it is said that "not a single star was visible."

Another kind of INCOHERENCE is found in VOB on page 411, where Patrick Ferryn (who is SOBEPS photo-expert) explains that a UFO filmed with a video camera was nothing more than a street lamp. But, on page 280 and 281, in another chapter entitled "The March 12 mini flap" THE SAME UFO RESEARCHER uses this false UFO case as a real one to strengthen his conclusion that there were two real UFOs in the sky that night! And, on page 347 of the same book, physicist Leon Brenig writes about these March 12 sightings telling us that the testimonies "corroborated each other perfectly"! Last but not least, on page 290, speaking about two alleged UFO videos, Michel Bougard wrote : "These documents are really astonishing." The distinguished SOBEPS President too seemed to ignore that one of these two films showed the now famous street lamp identified by the photo expert of his own organization.

That's how SOBEPS worked with ITS so-called "Belgian UFO wave". Surely, that's why they found it necessary to print with striking letters on the back cover of their first book: "An objective, rigorous and complete approach: a reference book."

That's how thousands of reader of SOBEPS books and magazines have been deluded. References

  1. TF1 during a talk-show hosted by Patrick Sabatier, May 24, 1991 La Wallonie , Oct. 26 and 27, 1991 page 9 (+ other Belgian newspapers and radio) Personal communication from US UFO researcher Richard W. Heiden SOBEPS : Vague d'OVNI sur la Belgique (VOB), Bruxelles, 1991, p. 358-359 VOB , Bruxelles, 1991, p. 394 Science & Vie Junior , Paris, January 1993, p. 14 VOB 2, Bruxelles, 1994, p. 387-413 OVNI-Présence , Aix-en-Provence, n°40, August 1988, p. 19 Personal letter from Marc Acheroy dated from September 24, 1992 Prof. Acheroy during an interview, RTBF (Belgian public television) June 17, 1992 + VOB 2 , Bruxelles, 1994, p. 234-240 VOB , Bruxelles, 1991, p. 414-415 Science & Vie , Paris, March 1976, p. 49 Personal communication from Pierre Magain and Marc Remy + VOB 2 , Bruxelles, 1994, p. 229-233
  2. Personnal interviews with Jean-Luc Vertongen + Personal communication from G. Van Overmeire to W. Van Utrecht
The author has published, in French, several more detailed studies on this subject:
  1. La vague OVNI belge ou le triomphe de la désinformation , Liège, privately published, Sep. 1992 L'art de la désinformation , Liège, Privately published, June 1992
  2. La prétendue vague OVNI belge , in Revue Française de Parapsychologie , Toulouse, Vol 1, n° 1, p. 5-24
Also useful:
  1. Magain (P), Le rapport de la SOBEPS , Liège, 1992 (Chapter 5 of an unpublished collective book) VAN UTRECHT (W), Triangles over Belgium - A case of Uforia? , Antwerpen, Privately printed, September 1992 VAN UTRECHT (W), The Belgian 1989-1990 UFO wave , in UFO 1947-1997 edited by Hilary Evans and Dennis Stacy, London, John Brown Publ., 1997
  2. HENDRICKX (P) : Bepaling van de impulsresponsie van een optisch systeem met als doel de restauratie van gemaakte beelden , Afstudeerwerk voorgelegd tot het bekomen van titel van burgerlijk ingenieur, Brussel, Koninklijke Militaire School, akademiejaar 1991-1992 + Personal communications from Pierre Magain (Astrophysics Institute of Liège) and Ronny Blomme (Royal Observatory of Brussels)

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Marc Hallet

Marc Hallet has had an interest in UFOs for more than thirty years. During the first ten years he was convinced of their existence and of their extraterrestrial origin. In 1977 he expressed his first doubts by publishing a paper based on the methods of historical criticism, a methodology no ufologist had used till then. Later, through his books and papers, his readers were able to follow the slow but steady development of his skepticism. Finally, in 1989, he published a penetrating study, appreciated by astronomers, in which he concluded that extraterrestrial UFOs do not exist.

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