The Belgian UFO Wave – A Truly Unique Display Of The Unknown

First Published: March 12, 2018 Last updated: September 17th, 2020 Written by: Marcus Lowth Estimated Reading Time: 11 minutes Posted in: UFOs, Waves
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The wave of UFO sightings that took hold of Belgium between November 1989 and April 1991 is truly one of the most remarkable moments in UFO history. What’s more, the sightings would result in over 2000 incident reports. Most of these meticulously detailed in nature. Further still, over 650 of these accounts were subject to investigation. 500 remain unexplained.

The Petit-Rechain Photograph

The Petit-Rechain Photograph

Everything about the Belgian UFO Wave suggests legitimate sightings of something completely unknown. So much so, it would be the authorities themselves who would push for such thorough investigations. Indeed, the Belgian authorities showed quite clearly that a country’s populace would, and did, act with calm and rational foresight in the face of events quite irrational and bizarre.

Much like the Cosford Incident three years later, the final determinations of the authorities quietly suggest a phenomenon that desperately requires further investigation. And this particular wave of sightings would produce tangible, albeit small, evidence to not only support its own claims but those of other sightings across the planet.

Eupen, Belgium, November 1989

A little after 5:30 pm on the 29th November 1989 in the town of Eupen, patrolling police would inform their switchboard operator, Albert Creutz, of a huge airborne object hovering over a field in front of them. According to their report, it was “so bright it was lighting up the field like a football stadium!”

Creutz, given that it was almost Christmas, returned with a quip that “it might be St. Nick!” However, the on-site officers urged him to go to the top floor of the building and look out of the window to see it for himself. Realizing the report was not a prank by his colleagues he did as suggested. Once there, he could see the mammoth craft “looking like a boat floating in the sky!”

By the time Creutz was back in position at the switchboard, residents were swamping the system with calls of the strange, bright object. When police officer, Dieter Plumanns, and his partner made their report of visual contact with the craft, Creutz told him to follow it. They did so for several minutes before it came to a stop and hovered over a retirement home.

They too stopped their vehicle and watched the bizarre scene unfold in front of them. The object was a distinct triangle with three orange/brown lights in each corner. In the middle of the underside was a bright red light that flashed at regular intervals. As Plumanns and his partner looked on, a small drone-like object left the main craft, constantly flashing in unison with the middle light above. It surveyed the area, before rejoining the triangle, which then left with great alacrity.

Thirteen reports of sightings would come from police officers alone that evening. Over sixty more would come from citizens.

Mass Media Interest

By early December the sightings were not only national news, the world’s press turned their attention to them. All described the same object – triangular with three orange lights and a middle red light. By the evening of the 11th going into the 12th December, another surge of sightings occurred.

One of these sightings took place over the skies of Ernage. The witness was an experienced army colonel, Andre Amond. While driving to the train station to pick up their son, Amond and his wife would notice three bright lights set out like a triangle with a “pulsating red light” between them. Amond would bring his car to a halt in order to get a better view. As he did so, the triangular craft slowed also. He repeated this several times, each time the craft slowing with him. It then went into nearby woodland.

Amond followed it, eventually pulling his car over near an open field. There from behind the trees, came the brightly lit airborne behemoth. Amond would report that he could hear other traffic and even a nearby train, but no sound whatsoever came from this huge ship. Just as he was about to leave, the craft shot away at speed. Amond would later state that “No man-made object is able to do what I saw that object do that day. Not then, and still not now!”

Other sightings would pour in from the general public.

Numerous residents of Liege and Namur would report seeing a triangular craft over their houses. One particular man in Jupille-sur-Meuse claimed to witness a glowing object over nearby woodland “struggling to free itself” from a spruce tree. He was so close he could see “symbols of electrons” on its side.

The video below is a news report from 1993.

The Apparent Pros And Cons Of SOBEPS

The Belgian Society for the Study of Space Phenomena – otherwise known as SOBEPS – was already the largest UFO organization in Belgium when the waves began. However, as more and more reports continued to come in from the public, they almost became central to the investigation of the wave in general.

For example, after they would interview the witnesses, they would often speak to the local and national media, with quotes from what they had said being carried in various publications. In this way, at least as events were unfolding, they were the mouthpiece of the Belgian Wave.

However, as the reports increased so did the demand for their services. So much so that more and more investigators were recruited by the organization. This, at least in theory and often used by skeptics, perhaps decreased (overall) the competency and accuracy of the investigators somewhat. And, as we shall see shortly, this would make accusations of “leading the media astray” against the organization from some such skeptics a little easier for some to subscribe to.

That said, however, the organization perhaps managed to compile one of the most detailed and documented records of a UFO wave. And although some would accuse the organization of monopolizing the situation, those records may prove to be invaluable.

Official “Reporting” Procedures

The sightings would continue around Belgian airspace. By 21st December, official reporting procedures were communicated to the public. First, they would report the sighting to the police. Once the police had confirmed it, a radar station would be notified. One that had the authority to launch standing-by F-16 fighter jets to intercept.

Although it wasn’t public knowledge immediately, in July 1990 at a NATO press conference, it was revealed F-16 fighter jets had been launched on 30th March of that year. Major General Wilfred De Brouwer would talk the considerable amount of press through the tapes of one of the F-16’s flight. At one point the triangular craft was traveling at over 1000 knots. Further to this, it showed the capability to go from 150 knots to 500 knots in “a matter of seconds!”

Ultimately, the craft vanished at a breathtaking pace. At this point, it is perhaps worth examing the jet chase in a little more detail.

The March 1990 Jet Chase

The incident in question began at 11 pm on the evening of 30th March. A gendarmerie MDL, Mr. Renkin, would place a phone call from his home to the Control Reporting Center. He would claim that he could see a “three unusual lights” which were moving in the direction of Thorembais-Gembloux.

He would report it was clear that the lights were fixed to the underside of a triangular object. And what’s more, they were definitely not stars or planets. He would further claim that the lights were changing color – including green, red, and yellow lights.

The Control Reporting Center would dispatch a patrol unit to Renkin’s property so that they could view the object for themselves. By 11:10 pm, Renkin reported that another set of three lights in a triangular shape had moved into view and joined the first set. At the same time, the Control Reporting Center reported an unknown object on their systems.

A picture of a typical triangular UFO

A picture of a typical triangular UFO

The patrol unit would arrive at the Renkin property just before 11:30 pm. They quickly confirmed the strange lights. One of those present was Captain Pinson. He stated in his report back to the Control Reporting Center that “the color changes continually” although the “prevailing color is red”. The lights would change to blue, white, yellow, and green, although they didn’t appear to follow any particular order or pattern.

As the patrol unit and Renkin continued to observe the lights the Control Reporting Center continued to monitor the strange anomaly on their radar systems. A second confirmed radar sighting came from the Traffic Control Center shortly before midnight. At 11:56 pm, the order was given to launch military fighters on an intercept mission.

Looking Up To The Air From The Ground

During the first seven minutes of the 31st March, a total of nine separate intercepts were attempted by the F-16s. However, during the three times they managed to lock onto their targets they would simply disappear at the ultra-rapid pace mentioned above.

As this was unfolding, the witnesses on the ground looked on. Not only could they still see the triangular lights, but they could, on occasion, see the F-16s passing overhead, even circling the area around the area the UFOs were hovering.

From their perspective they could see the smaller set of the lights disappear when the jets approached, while the larger, brighter triangle ascended at a breakneck pace, obscuring some of the lights, but leaving the brightest visible.

During the course of the next 40 minutes, the F-16s continued to make attempts to lock on and intercept the strange craft. However, each one would fail. By 1 am the craft had vanished completely and left the radar screen. However, only five minutes later, another sighting came from the ground in a different part of the city.

Pinson would continue to observe the lights from the ground and some of the details he would offer are intriguing. Particularly, as we will move on to later when the authenticity of the Petit-Rechain picture is examined.

He would state that the brightest light appeared to move slightly with “jerky and short moves”. In the above picture, it was claimed that there was visible distortion around the lights, with many explanations offered.

By 1:30 am, it appeared that the strange craft had disappeared for good, with no further sightings that evening.

Very Credible Witnesses

One of the pilots that evening was Yves Meelbergs. Due to the other F-16’s tapes malfunctioning, it could not be ruled out that Meelbergs’ tape was displaying some kind of magnetic malfunction. Meelbergs himself would state years later that he “firmly believed there was something in the sky that night!” He would further point to not only his confirmation tapes but witnesses on the ground and the control tower’s own radar system.

The sightings would continue in abundance into the late-spring of 1991. Then, just as quickly as they began, they would cease. Before they did, however, an unsuspecting witness would capture a photograph that could prove to be one of the most important in UFO history.

Before we look at that, the video below features a recent interview with De Brouwers. He also discusses the aforementioned photograph, which we will look at next.

A Most Intriguing Incident In A Most Intriguing Wave

The jet chase of 30th and 31st March is perhaps one of the most intriguing and credible events of the Belgian Wave, not least because of the corroborating sightings of both ground witnesses and radar at the same time.

It is perhaps unfortunate that the ground witnesses did not manage to capture pictures or even video footage of the events. The incident, however, occurred very much on-the-fly, putting them on the backfoot to report what they were seeing. However, rightly or wrongly, the fact that the witnesses were gendarmes perhaps lends a little more weight to their credibility.

Another intriguing detail of the incident is that unlike many of the incidents of the Belgian Wave the sighting occurred at a relatively high altitude. Furthermore, the rapid speeds on display would appear to dismiss the idea that the triangular craft was simply a conventional aircraft that had been misidentified. This also allows us to dismiss the idea that the lights could have been celestial bodies.

Artist's impression of a Belgian UFO

Artist’s impression of a Belgian UFO

A further intriguing observation by investigators regarding the dramatic speeds observed was the distinct lack of noise following speeds that would have obviously broken the sound barrier. Incidentally, for all of the apparent explanations of the sightings from skeptical corners, this aspect of the jet chase has never been addressed.

It is also perhaps interesting to note that only one radar ping registered for the entire triangular formation of lights, suggesting that the lights were indeed part of one solid object. This is another aspect of the incident that is also often overlooked by skeptics.

Essentially, the jet chase of late March would appear to be one of the most important aspects of the overall wave. And one that deserves further study.

The Petit-Rechain Photograph

The evening of 4th April 1991 may prove to be one of quiet importance to UFO researchers, and indeed anyone who seeks the truth to such phenomena. That evening, while walking her dog, a young woman noticed one of the strange triangles overhead. She quickly returned home, informing her boyfriend, who grabbed his camera and headed outside.

There were only two shots left on the film. He steadied himself against the wall of his home to stop his arm from shaking and pressed the button down twice. Upon their eventual development, one of them was blank. One of them, however, was crystal clear.

A typical triangular UFO

A typical triangular UFO

The picture clearly shows the triangular craft complete with the orange/brown lights on each corner and the red light in the middle. The shot would undergo intense investigation, and after a year of scrutiny was declared genuine and with no evidence of tampering.

Furthermore, the out-of-focus edges around the lights would suggest movement of the object. Continued analysis would suggest “magnetic interference” which in turn suggested advanced propulsion. Given the reports of how silently the craft moved, theories of some kind of advanced magnetic propulsion system would develop.

Accusations And Admissions Of A Hoax

For the intense interest and apparent credibility of the Petit-Rechain photograph, there are plenty of people who have declared the picture to be nothing but a hoax. And these accusations would seemingly prove to be accurate when a previously unknown man, “Patrick M” stepped into the limelight to own up to the photograph.

He would late be revealed as Patrick Marachal who would publicly explain to the media how he made the picture, even showing previously unseen pictures of his experiments in order to capture just the right image.

There were questions from some corners before the admission of Patrick Marechal. For example, the fact that the picture took four months to be submitted for public examination was highlighted as being a reason to have suspicions. However, if someone was looking to dupe the public, they would surely have come forward as soon as possible.

Other skeptics argue that there is no actual background in the photograph, again casting doubt on the authenticity of the image.

What should we make of such admissions and accusations? Is it a clear-cut case of someone looking to fool the public? If so, why wait so long to come forward? Or might, as unlikely as it might be, it be a case of a staged admission to draw attention away from the case, at the same time, making it easier to dismiss other similar sightings as nothing more than a mistaken sighting or a manufactured event. We should perhaps keep such thoughts in the back of our minds.

Incidentally, you can view that picture at the top of the article.

A Variety Of Explanations

As we might imagine there have been a variety of explanations put forward to explain the wave of sightings across Belgium. However, while many sightings could very well be explained as the results of misidentified aircraft or even celestial objects, the general thrust of the skeptical viewpoint appears to revolve around the notion of simple mass delusion or hysteria.

Some views state that the UFO investigation group, SOBEPS, who conducted the real-time investigations during the sightings, were guilty of overplaying the reports and, according to Marc Hallet, of spreading misinformation – essentially, fake news. From this apparent spreading of misinformation, it is Hallet’s conclusion that the Belgian Wave was nothing more than a fueled mass delusion.

Philip Klass offered similar views when he claimed that the wave of reports and sightings of UFOs was nothing more than the public being convinced by the Belgian media that “UFOs may be in the vicinity”.

An artist's impression of a triangular UFO

An artist’s impression of a triangular UFO

Brian Dunning of the Skeptoid podcast would echo similar views after his examination of the sightings – that essentially, once reports enter the public arena they encourage further reports of sightings that most of the time people would not think twice to be out of the ordinary.

Such explanations, while certainly plausible, are surely not watertight. Such sightings were spread over many months. And what’s more, many were relatively close-up as opposed to a strange ball of light moving high up in the sky. Further still, the typical crafts reported were distinctly triangular-shaped. As we have examined many times, sightings of triangular crafts exactly like those reported during the Belgian wave have been reported on multiple occasions over the years since all over the world.

Officially Still Unsolved!

So just what was witnessed by the thousands of individuals during the surge of sightings over Belgium? That something was enjoying access to Belgian airspace is beyond doubt. Literally scores of pieces of video footage and photographs – albeit inconclusive – exist of these crafts. A simple search on YouTube, for example, will return many amateur recordings from the era.

Had they arrived here from another world? Perhaps another dimension? The technology on display would certainly suggest it is far advanced to anything currently produced on Earth. And despite assertions from skeptics that “weather balloons” were likely responsible, the wealth of first-hand testimonies on how these crafts move suggest otherwise.

Or might these crafts and the wave of sightings have been tests of top-secret vehicles by shadow governments? Although it is not out of the question, it would raise the question of why such prolonged testing would take place over a (relatively) highly populated area.

Sightings of such definite triangular UFOs were largely unknown before the famous sightings over Belgium. This further suggests that they were authentic. The exact details submitted by the numerous witnesses were too precise in their difference to have been pulled from the cultural collective notion of a UFO – which would have likely been more along the lines of a flying saucer.

The wave over the skies of Belgium in late-1989 and into the early-nineties is certainly a unique moment in history. Whether we see another similar episode only time will tell.

The video below looks at the Belgian Wave in a little more detail.

 

Disclaimer

The stories, accounts, and discussion in this article are not always based on proven facts and may go against currently accepted science and common beliefs. The details included in the article are based on the reports and accounts available to us as provided by witnesses and documentation.

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About Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years experience. Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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3 Comments

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  • Edward says:

    I had encountered a craft very similar as a boy scout in Central NY in summer of 1990 working on my astronomy merit badge (the irony).

  • Paul Cozzo says:

    Interasante.

  • billy barr says:

    ufo belgian

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