1978 June 19, France, FB1 443

    “The third case we should review in this study of energy levels associated with UFOs took place near Arcachon in France on June 19, 1978, and was also investigated in depth by GEPAN. While the Grenoble case was remarkable for the convergence and the high quality of the observations, the events we are going to relate introduce another exceptional parameter: the UFO triggered the photocells that control the lights for the whole town. From the distance and the threshold level of the cell it is possible to derive another estimate of the energy of the object.

    The town where the sighting took place is Gujan-Mestras, and there were independent witnesses near Creon and La Reole. A local newspaper described how two frightened young men, an eighteen-year-old cook named Franck Pavia and a seventeen-year-old butcher’s apprentice named Jean-Marc Guitard, knocked on the door of a baker, Mr. Varisse, who was preparing the next day’s bread, at 1:30am.

    The teenagers had stopped on the side of the road to repair the turn signal of their car when all the lights of the town were suddenly switched off. At the same time, a powerful rumble like an earthquake made them jump. Then they saw the object. It was, by their descriptions, oval, red, surrounded with white “flames,” and it flew toward them at an alititude of 11,000 feet.

    At this point Jean-Marc became unable to breathe and fainted. The object then changed direction and flew away.

    While telling their story to the baker (who reportedly laughed at them), both witnesses were obviously terrified, had trouble speaking, and Jean-Marc had red, teary eyes.

    At approximately the same time of night a third-five-year-old restaurant manager named Mr. Bachere, who was driving toward Bordeaux, saw “a large orange ball, very bright” that hovered over La Reole at about 1,000 feet before disappearing. It reappeared at the same spot one minute later. Mr. Bachere’s wife confirmed his observation.

    Given these reports, which were transmitted by law enforcement officials to the space center in Toulouse, the GEPAN taks force decided to investigate immediately: three of their scientists were at the site the very next day. They interviewed the witnesses at great length, took them to the actual location, and had them point a theodolite to the places where the object had appeared and disappeared. Finally, the witnesses were given a set of standard color samples from which they made a selection corresponding to the phenomenon they had seen.

    This investigation brought to light the testimony of additional witnesses who had previously remained silent. For instance, Mr. B, a student who lived in Gujan, confirmed that he was outside when the town lights died half an hour past midnight; concurrently, he had heard a strong, low rumble that scared him. Mr. B. saw orange flashes above the pine trees, below the cloud ceiling.
    The series of measurements made in the field established (within the expected errors of human recall) that all the witnesses had observed the same object. There was agreement on time, duration, distance, trajectory, sound, and luminosity parameters. There were discrepancies, however, regarding the altitude and the apparent diameter of the object. One of the witnesses who gave the mor consistent measures was used as the primary source for these estimates.

    The manager of the town utility department was also interviewed. He showed the investigators the location of the photoelectric cells that control the street lights. Naturally, when these cells are exposed to a light that exceeds their threshold, they assume that daylight has arrived and they turn off the system. The results of the analysis bracket the distance between the cell and the UFO as 135 meters and 480 meters, or roughly between 400 and 1,500 feet. This yields an energy level between 160kW and 5MW.”

- Confrontations p. 35-37