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 Case summary

In 1975 several Dutch-language newspapers published the story of a remarkable photograph taken at Pas de la Casa, a holiday resort in Andorra, the tiny Principality in the heart of the Pyrenees, tucked away between France and Spain. We quote from the Belgian Sunday paper Zondagsblad (the translation is from Dutch; the names of the witnesses have been suppressed):

'Flying saucers don't exist', that's what the Dutch couple R. and W.D.M. from Waddinxveen always believed. But since their holiday in Spain this month, their belief received a serious blow, for the couple is now saddled with a photograph depicting an unexplainable object.

On the 1st of July of this year the couple left with their two children for a month-long trip to Spain. On their way to the Costa Dorada, the family had spent the night in Andorra. The weather was excellent, not a cloud in the sky, and the family was enjoying the panoramic view. R.D.M. had brought her old camera with her to make a few holiday shots and it was so beautiful here that she wanted to take a picture for home. She snapped a shot from the moving car. Upon arrival at the final destination of their journey, Calafell, father D.M. took the now full role of film to the local photo shop. The photos would be finished the next day.

Mrs. D.M.: 'When we got there a day later to pick up the pictures, the photographer acted very strange. While searching for our pictures, he told us we had photographed a UFO. We looked at each other and started to laugh. That couldn't be true, we hadn't seen anything. But when he showed us the picture from the Pyrenees, there was indeed a strange contraption in the picture that we could not explain. When I made that picture, I hadn't seen anything special, nor had anyone else in the car'.

W.D.M.: 'We couldn't believe our eyes. In no time everyone in Calafell new about that picture. Everyone wanted to see it, but no one could tell us what it was. In the end we got fed up with all the attention'.

Andorra UFO photo

The "Andorra UFO photo" scanned directly from the cover of the October 1975 issue of De Vliegende Hollander, the official monthly magazine of the Dutch Royal Air Force [text in lower right corner masked using Photoshop].

Back in The Netherlands, the picture, taken with a cheap one year old camera, was shown to friends, family members and UFO experts. Some speculated on the possible reasons why this object had not been spotted visually. Explanations ranged from "objects from outer space that are invisible to the naked eye because they have a magnetic field around them" to "UFO radiation influencing the emulsion of the photographic film".

The document even caught the attention of the Dutch Air Force, who printed it on the cover of its official publication De Vliegende Hollander. In a two-page article the Air Force referred to the unknown object as "a strange phenomenon that appears to have just taken off".

Renown Dutch psychic Gerard CROISET examined the photo and concluded that it depicted a metallic, fast rotating object. He had no idea what the object was, but was confident that there were no living creatures inside. Before his death in 1980, CROISET had build up a solid reputation as a healer, a police consultant on missing persons and a psychometrist (a person who can read information from a held object).

 Sources

- "Op vakantiefilm stond een UFO" in Zondagsblad No. 1400, 1975.

- HOVINGA, Henk, "Raadsels rond UFO-foto" in Televizier, December 1975.

- "De luchtmacht en haar 'UFO's" in Tijdschrift voor Ufologie, Vol. 1, No. 6, November-December 1975.

 Evaluation

Gerard CROISET's intuition was fairly accurate, at least in as far as his statement regarding the metallic aspect of the object and the absence of living creatures on board were concerned. The spinning motion however was way off: an investigation conducted by the now defunct Dutch UFO group NOBOVO [1] revealed that the UFO was nothing more than… a road sign.

Already in August 1975, photo experts of the Kodak laboratories in Rijswijk, The Netherlands, had suggested that the unidentified object was the reflected image of a road sign or, perhaps, a reflection from the top of the half-opened window pane or the right side car mirror. The investigators of NOBOVO were more categorical. To them there could be no doubt: the object was a road sign photographed directly from a slow-moving vehicle (the speed of the car was estimated to have been no more than 35 kilometres/hour or 22 miles/hour) [2]. Mrs. D.M. however was absolutely certain that there were no road signs on the long and winding road from where she had taken her picture. In July 1977 NOBOVO member Roel FRISO travelled to Andorra hoping to put the matter to rest once and for all. And so he did. FRISO discovered that there was indeed a triangular road sign with a red rim and a black curved arrow painted on a white-yellowish surface at the exact spot from where Mrs. D.M. had taken her "UFO" shot.

at the same spot

The culprit! This picture by NOBOVO member R. FRISO leaves no doubt as to the origin of the unidentified object in the photo taken by Mrs. D.M. at the same spot two years earlier. [© R. FRISO/NOBOVO - photo scanned from Tijdschrift voor Ufologie, Vol. 3. No. 17]

Below are four more examples of road signs that were unintentionally photographed from moving vehicles and elevated to "genuine" flying saucers in the UFO literature. The "unknown object" in the fifth picture (Oberwesel, 1964) was identified as a lamp post. More background info on these photos can be found at www.ikaros.org.es.

RoadSign DiamondPeak

Diamond Peak, Oregon, U.S. - November 22, 1966
[for a detailed analysis, see www.scientificexploration.org]

RoadSign BlackForest RoadSign Perpignan

Black Forest, Germany - 1966             Perpignan, France - September 1972

RoadSign BlackForest #2

Black Forest, Germany - August 8, 1983

Roadsign Oberwesel

Oberwesel, Germany - March 8, 1964

 Our opinion

This is a clear-cut case of mistaken identity. The object in the picture was positively identified as a road sign. The shadow in the lower left corner should have made it clear right away that what we are dealing with here is a relatively small, triangular object resting on a solid support.

 Notes & References

[1] NOBOVO stands for Nederlands Onderzoek Bureau voor Ongeļdentificeerde Vliegende Objekten (Dutch Bureau for the Investigation of Unidentified Flying Objects).

[2] FRISO, R., "Verkeersbord-'UFO' in Andorra is er nog..!" in Tijdschrift voor Ufologie, Vol. 3, No. 16, July-August 1977 and Tijdschrift voor Ufologie, Vol. 3, No. 17, September-October 1977.