Cloud cigars can be deservedly regarded as one of the most important aspects of the UFO phenomenon, one that will be central to obtaining any meaningful answers as to what this enduring mystery is all about. Despite their relative small numbers in comparison to other UFO categories, cloud cigars are often dramatic and spectacular sightings that are very difficult to attribute to mundane causes. They have several features that set them apart from other UFO cases. These include the observation of multiple objects, including the cigar-shaped UFO itself, as well as other smaller UFOs that often are ejected from it; an odd cloud or haze that often masks the central UFO; the large number of witnesses to the event; and a high percentage of daylight cases. Putting all of these together shows how distinctive cloud-cigar incidents are and why they deservedly occupy their own category in the UFO phenomenon.
There is no better place to begin a detailed examination of these cases than with a comprehensive account of an extraordinary report that occurred during the French wave of late summer and early fall of 1954. (It was mentioned only briefly in "Satellite Objects and Cloud Cigars," in IUR, 29: 1, Spring 2004.) Note that the following account is taken verbatim from Aimé Michel's book on the French wave, Flying Saucers and the Straight-Line Mystery (1958), which many people today have not read (Herbert Taylor):
The phenomenon was observed again just three weeks after Vernon on Tuesday, September 14, 1954. This time the spectacle took place in full daylight and was observed by hundreds of witnesses scattered through half a dozen villages in the department of Vendée, about 250 miles southwest of Paris. Nevertheless only one local newspaper mentioned it and this sighting is completely unknown except in the region where it happened. The witnesses were mostly farmers, and a few priests and schoolteachers. A reader in a nearby village heard of the matter and wrote to me, and thanks to that reader and his letter, an investigation was made. (How many extraordinary sightings must be still unknown for want of such good luck!)
One witness was Georges Fortin, then 34 years old, who operates a farm at a place called La Gabellière, near St.-Prouant, a little village of 300 inhabitants. He reports:
"It was about five in the afternoon. I was working in the fields with my men when all at once, emerging from the thick layer of clouds that looked like a storm coming up, we saw a sort of luminous blue-violet mist of a regular shape something like a cigar or carrot. Actually, the object came out of the layer of clouds in an almost horizontal position, slightly tilted toward the ground and pointing forward (like a submerging submarine).
"This luminous cloud appeared rigid. Whenever it moved (and its movements had no connection with the movement of the clouds themselves) it did so all of a piece, as if it actually were some gigantic machine surrounded by mists. It came down rather fast from the ceiling of clouds to an altitude which we thought was perhaps a half mile above us. Then it stopped, and the point rose quickly until the object was in a vertical position, where it became motionless.
"During this time the dark clouds went on scudding across the sky, dimly lighted from underneath by the violet luminosity of the object. It was an extraordinary sight, and we watched it intently. All over the countryside other farmers had also dropped their tools and were staring up at the sky like us.
"All at once (by now we had been watching for several minutes) white smoke exactly like a vapor trail came from the lower end of the cloud. At first it pointed toward the ground, as if spun from an invisible shuttle falling free, then it gradually slowed down while turning around, and finally rose up to describe around the vertical object an ascending spiral which wound it up in its coils. While the rear of the trail was dissolving rapidly in the air, carried off by the wind, the beginning got sharper and finer all the time, as if it were gradually drying up at its source, but without any slowing down of the unseen object that was continually spinning it into the air.
"It thus went on up, turning around, up to the very top of the vertical object, and then started to come down again, turning in the other direction. Only then, after the smoke trail had vanished entirely, could we see the object that was 'sowing' it, a little metallic disk shining like a mirror and reflecting, in its rapid movements, flashes of light from the huge vertical object.
"The little disk almost immediately stopped turning around the luminous cloud and went down toward the ground again, this time moving away. For quite a few minutes we could see it flying low over the valley, darting here and there at great speed, sometimes speeding up, then stopping for a few seconds, then going on again. In this manner it flew in every direction over the region between St.-Prouant and Sigournais, villages about four miles apart. Finally, when it was almost a mile from the vertical object, it made a final dash toward it at headlong speed, and disappeared like a shooting star into the lower part where it had first come out. Perhaps a minute later, the 'carrot' leaned over as it began to move, accelerated, and disappeared into the clouds in the distance, having resumed its original horizontal position, point forward. The whole thing had lasted about half an hour."
Standing next to M. [Mr.] Fortin was his farm hand, Louis Grellier, 36 years old, also from La Gabellière. Questioned separately, he gave an identical account, with further details about the gyrations of the disk.
Mme [Mrs.] Pizou, a 67-year-old widow, of St.-Prouant, was working in a cabbage field about a mile away from MM. [abbreviation of Messieurs, plural of Mr.] Fortin and Grellier.
"My attention was first attracted about five o'clock," she said, "by the arrival of a strange carrot-shaped cloud that seemed to have detached itself from the ceiling of clouds that were moving fast, carried by the wind. It came near us, pointed downward, and then straightened up. It looked to me as if another, smaller cloud then formed above the carrot, making a kind of hat for it.
"Then white smoke came out like a thread from the base of the vertical carrot and began to draw designs all around it. Then the trail went away toward the valley, where trees hid whatever happened next; I was told that a disk came out of the trail, but I cannot say that I saw it, because from where I stood the treetops reached almost to the base of the vertical cloud. In my opinion it was not a real cloud, for it stayed motionless and kept its shape while other clouds were gliding away very fast above it, toward the horizon.
"Finally, when I had been watching for about half an hour, it moved down into a horizontal position again, and went away rapidly in the direction toward which it was slanted."
With Mme Pizou were a daughter and a farm hand, who confirmed the old lady's story in every detail; the object's maneuvers, the complicated designs drawn by the trail, the duration of the affair.
At the same time ten or twelve people were in the streets and farmyards of St.-Prouant. All saw the same sight, the arrival of the horizontal "cloud," its rising to a vertical position, the smoke trail, the fantastic lines it drew, and its winding around. But these witnesses in the village could not see what took place close to the ground any more than Mme Pizou could, because of buildings and trees.
Other farmers in the fields and villages in the river valley or between St.-Prouant and Sigournais all gave accounts that confirmed one another and the stories of the first witnesses. Some of them saw the cigar leaning toward them, others saw it slant toward the right or to the left, according to where they were. We may mention M. [Mr.] Daniel Bornufart [another source says Bonifait-HT], an electrician who was at La Gabellière at five p.m.; M. [Mr.] Tissot at La Legerie, and several others working with him; finally many farmers at La Libaudière, Chassay, Le Coudrais, La Godinière, and elsewhere in all, several hundred witnesses."
[Michel mentions the Nantes newspaper La Résistance de l'Ouest of September 20, 1954, but not the national weekly newspaper France-Dimanche, which also carried some drawings as well.-HT]
Reference for the above text is: Flying Saucers and the Straight-Line Mystery by Aimé Michel, p. 23, © 1958; as presented in IUR (International UFO Reporter), Vol. 30, No. 3, May 2006, pp. 10-12 by Herbert S. Taylor, under the title “Cloud cigars: A further look.”
UFOCAT PRN – 96143
Europe – France (General)
Europe – France, Pays de la Loire
Département of Vendée Latitude 46-40-00 N, Longitude 001-20-00 W
La Legerie Unable to locate
La Libaudière Unable to locate
La Gabellière Unable to locate
Saint-Prouant Latitude 46-46-00 N, Longitude 000-58-00 W
Sigournais Latitude 46-42-00 N, Longitude 000-58-00 W
Chassay Unable to locate
Le Coudrais Unable to locate
La Godinière Possible misspelling of Gaudiniere
La Gaudiniere Latitude 46-58-00 N, Longitude 002-14-00 W [La Guérinière (approved)]
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