1790 June 12, France, CE3 223

    “It crossed the dawn-lit French countryside in eerie silence, and the early-rising farmers stood in their fields and stared at it with wonder. At first they thought it was a giant hot-air balloon on fire and about to crash. As it swooped low over the skies near the village of Alençon, it begain to whistle. It slowed, rocked up and down as if it were out of control, and then plummeted down onto the top of a high hill. The grass and shrubbery burst into flames from the heat of the object. Crowds of farmers and villagers rushed up the hill to fight the fire. 

    When they reached the summit, they stopped. The fiery sphere appeared to be some kind of mechanical contrivance. A door on its side suddenly flew open. A man stepped out and looked around uneasily at the gathering crowd. Later, the witnesses described him as looking “just like us, except that he was dressed in strange clothes - very tight-fitting garments.” The man mumbled something no one could understand, and then he ran into some nearby woods and disappeared. He was never seen again. A few minutes later, his odd vehicle exploded in complete silence. Nothing was left except granules of metallic powder. 

    A few days later, Paris sent a police inspector named Liabeuf to the site to investigate. He found that the eyewitnesses included two mayors, a physician, and three other local authorities, in addition to dozens of peasants and farmers. All of their stories matched, detail for detail. Something very unusual had apparently happened at Alençon, but it was never reported to the French Air Force. And for very good reason...

    The incident occurred 178 years ago, at 5 a.m. on the morning of June 12th, 1790. There were only three or four hot air balloons in the entire world at the time. (The first balloon had been set up by Montgolfier brothers only eight years earlier.) What and who did these Frenchmen view on that distant date? Many of the details in Inspector Liabeuf’s report are uncomfortably similar to modern “flying saucer” accounts.”

- Flying Saucer to the Center of your Mind, p. 149