On August 16, 1954, at 05:00pm, an event stupefied tens of thousands of witnesses at Tananarive, Madagascar (The number of potential witness is an estimated 200.000).
At 05:00pm, Air France’s agency personal awaited the arrival of the air mail, delivered by a Lockheed Constellation. One hour after the arrival of the Constellation, the mail has already been distributed and members of the Air France agency, among which Mr. Edmond Campagnac, former military officer and at that time technical director of Air France in Tananarive were quietly chatting together, close to the Avenue of the Liberation, the largest street in Tananarive.
Sudden somebody sees in the sky a «electric green ball» descending straight towards the ground near the Palais de la Reine. He points at it and everybody watches. The phenomenon disappears behind a hill, and they all expect to hear a mighty explosion when the thing hit the ground.
But the green light does not hit the ground.
The green ball reappears a minute afterwards, bigger. It makes a circle over the higher parts of Tananarive, a city built on and inside a series of hills with a «horseshoe» Configuration.
The thing then proceeds to fly above Avenue of the Liberation, at an altitude of some 50 to 150 meters in front of tens of thousands of amazed inhabitants. When it flew in front of the Air France personnel, they could all get a good look at it.
Mr. Campagnac realized that the «electric green light» looks like a kind of lens shaped plasma, of approximately 40 meters length, the «size of a DC4 aircraft.»
This green lens is closely followed by a flying machine with a distinct silvery metallic aspect and the shape of a football, also 40 meter long, At the back of this metal machine, bluish exhaust flames are seen.
The craft was totally silent. M. Campagnac, in his testimony, which he often publicly offered, explains that the craft did not even make the sound of swishing a flyier would make through the air.
In this case, it is noticeable that the estimate of altitude is not subject to doubts: indeed, while flying above the buildings of Avenue de la Libération, the craft also passed in front of the hills in the background, not with the sky as background.
Several physical phenomena were observed: first of all, the witnesses in the whole city could note that public lights and shop lights died out exactly at the moment the craft passed above them, and functioned again at once behind its passage.
Then the inhabitants quickly noticed that barnyard animals, dogs in the whole city, were howling or barking. At one time during its travel above the city, the UFO flew above the animal park where peasants keep the animals to be sold at daytime at the city’s markets.
All these animals entered a state of total panic when the object flew over them, though when airplanes flew over them as usually, for example the «Constellation» one hour before, the animals did never show any such reaction, although airplanes are noisy and the UFO, again, was totally silent.
After having flown over Tananarive, the machine set out towards the West. Two or three minutes after, the estimate while being with this approximation, a similar machine or the same machine was observed at 150 kilometers South of Tananarive above a farm school. There again, the herds were seized by panic.
The farm director had to call for reinforcements in order to bring back the animals which run away in all directions, risking death in marshes. It is this call to reinforcements which made the witnesses of Tananarive aware of this second observation.
If the craft observed at 150 km South was the same one as that of Tananarive, which its description suggests, although one cannot absolutely prove it, then its speed was to be about 3000 km/h. According to the statements of Air France the personal, General Fleurquin, commander-in-chief of the French Air Force in Madagascar, gathered a scientific team to carry out an investigation of the phenomena.
No trace of this investigation could be found in the Air Force records, however issue #6 of the GEPA bulletin (Group of Studies of the Aerospace Phenomena) in the 2nd half of 1964 described this observation. Mr. Campagnac remembers perfectly that it is a Jesuit clergyman, Revend Coze, director of the astronomical observatory of Tananarive, who has been given the task to carry out the survey and record the testimonies, including those of Air France people and also those of Malgaches peasants.
This gathering of testimonies also brought out that the UFO phenomenon did already manifest itself to the Malgache people on several occasions in the past years, but went ignored as no one cared to ask until now.
Mr. Edmond Campagnac, at the time technical director of Air France in Tananarive, took part in the study of the case for the COMETA committee. He expressed himself repeatedly and very precisely on this case, including of the French TV, and recently again at a televised debate concerning UFOS on the documentary cable TV channel «Planète Forum» in 2001, supported by Jean-Jacques Vélasco, director of SEPRA, the official French UFO investigation team.
Because of this exceptional occurrence, M. Catagnac’s life was not fundamentally perturbated, but indeed as he has a scientific background, he wanted to learn more on the topic of UFOs, and in particular, he wanted to search in the military records of the French Gendarmerie, was granted a clearance to access classified files, and learned about many other significant sightings. But this is another story.
Mr. Campagnac remembers that at the time of the investigation the possibility that it has been a top secret prototype of a new human flying device, for example a Soviet prototype, has been considered. But now as time went by and as we know of the history of aviation development, we clearly can rule out that any such craft was in the possibility of any countries in 1954.
No «secret plane», even as of today, has anything in common with the craft in this event, visually, or by its performances, its operation, its behavior.
Jean Jacques Vélasco has checked and commented the case and points out its interesting features:
The trajectory of the object, descending from a high altitude vertically to the ground, then showing up again instead of crashing and flying above the ground at low altitude over the city.
The physical phenomenon of public and private lightings dying out as the UFO was passing above, and the return to normal lighting when he went further.
Phenomena of the animals reactions.
The possibility of the correct estimate of the size because the object passed in front of the hills in the background. The huge number of witnesses.
The heterogeneous cultural background of the witness: «Mr. Campagnac might have read about UFOs in Science-Fiction literature, but it is rather doubtful that the Malgaches peasants were all under the influence of US Science Fiction pulps.»
The fact that the case does not occur in the United States or a European country, suspected to be a sociological terrain to made up UFO stories, but in a far away Island, is an indication that good UFO cases exist all around the world.
REFERENCES: Observations from the ground. Tananarive (1954); in the COMETA «UFOs and the Defense: what must we prepare for?» 1989. Bulletin du GEPA (Groupe d’Etudes des Phénomènes Aérospatiaux), Issue 6, 2nd semester, 1964.
LDLN Magazine, (Lumières Dans La Nuit — Lights In The Night) (?).
Forum Planète, televised debate, «UFOS», M. Campagnac repeats his account, J.J. Vélasco comments, other such as Pierre Lagrange, Claude Ribes listen, 2001.
Article in the local newspaper Fandrosoam Baovao, January 21, 1955.
«Observation of August 16, 1954 Tananarive (Madagascar)» in Lumières dans la Nuit, #328, pp. 5-15, July-August 1994. VSD Hors-Série n°1, pp. 16-17, july 1998.
GEPA Bulletin (Groupe d’Etude des Phénomènes Aérospatiaux), N°6, 2nd half of 1964.
«Des ovnis survolent Tananarive — 50 ans après, le mystère demeure», article in the newspaper «Le Journal de l’Ile», Ile de la Réunion, August 16, 2004.