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R e :   E r n a g e   -   D e c e m b e r   1 1 ,   1 9 8 9   
 Received : 10/27/07  Estimates of size and distance - 1   Roger PAQUAY   
 
 

According to your web site, when the craft turned and moved in the direction of the witnesses, it was at a distance of 1 km (0.62 mile or 3,280 feet), a distance that can be measured on the scaled map....  read more 

 
 
 Received : 04/20/08  Helicopter noise - 1   Martin SHOUGH   
 
 

In this case, an Army officer, Lt. Col. AMOND [now retired], and his wife, stopped their car on what Wim [VAN UTRECHT] describes as a "lonely road" and wound down the window with "ears pricked" to try and detect any sound from an object of evidently large angular size showing details of lit "panels" or windows as well as various other separate lights which circled apparently nearby for up to 8 minutes.....  read more 

 
 
 Received : 05/13/08  Helicopter noise - 2   Martin SHOUGH   
 
 

It is correct that an inversion will refract sound towards the surface, and the recommendation to avoid flying in an inversion makes sense therefore. But the inference that flying above the top of an inversion will have the inverse effect of abnormally refracting sound upward is unwarranted I think.....  read more 

 
 
 Received : 05/17/08  Helicopter noise - 3   Martin SHOUGH   
 
 

Re the Ernage case in particular and silent helicopters in general, I looked a bit further into the sound propagation question and helicopter noise sources. Perhaps this will help us decide the merits of the theory. Anyway I've collected some information for future reference - and just because it's interesting.....  read more 

 
 
 Received : 05/26/08  Estimates of size and distance - 2   Martin SHOUGH   
 
 

I'd like to point out that Mr. PAQUAY treats Lt. Col. AMOND's "2x moon diameter" light as relating to the angular size of a light source, when clearly this should be treated as an impression of the circle of glare (overloaded retina) caused by this "huge" and "brilliant" light shining into the witness's face......  read more 

 
 
 Received : 06/05/08  A response from the prime witness   Andrť AMOND, Col. (Ret.)   
 
 

I would like to correct the approach of Mr. PAQUAY who claims that the observation of the "spotlight" was made while the craft was 1,000 m from my observation point. This is COMPLETELY WRONG.......  read more 

 
 
 Received : 06/17/08  Estimates of size and distance - 3   Roger PAQUAY   
 
 

In his response, dated June 5, 2008, Col. AMOND claims that my distance estimation of 1,000 m for the phase during which the craft turned towards him is completely false and that the real distance at that moment was 100 to 200 m. He also disputes my calculations and qualifies them as unscientific.......  read more 

 
 
 Received : 06/22/08  Not a helicopter - 1   Wilfried DE BROUWER, Maj. Gen. (Ret.)   
 
 

The Belgian airspace is surveyed by four powerful radars, two military and two civilian, which are all interlinked, i.e. any duty controller can select the image of any of these radars at any one time. All radar registrations are recorded and these recordings are kept during a well determined period......  read more 

 
 
 Received : 06/23/08  Witness reliability - 1   Jean-Michel ABRASSART   
 
 

A little comment about the strawman argument at the end of Wilfried DE BROUWER's email......  read more 

 
 
 Received : 06/23/08  Witness reliability - 2   Grégory GUTIEREZ   
 
 

In my opinion, the important information in DE BROUWER's e-mail is not in his last paragraph about the reliability of Col. AMOND. Of course human testimony is not always reliable, but Jean-Michel ABRASSART tends to say that it's NEVER reliable. I think he pushes his argument too far here, turning it into some kind of indisputable doctrine.....  read more 

 
 
 Received : 06/23/08  Plasma stealth chopper - 1   Jean-Pierre PHARABOD   
 
 

Now I am beginning to wonder : how could it be that the four Belgian radars did not detect these objects in the sky which were neither aircraft nor helicopters...  read more 

 
 
 Received : 06/23/08  Not a helicopter - 2   Martin SHOUGH   
 
 

Gen. DE BROUWER's first-hand testimony confirms not only that no helicopter should have been flying (as previously reported by Col. AMOND) but that, in point of fact, no illicit helicopter or other aircraft was detected by radars covering the area....  read more 

 
 
 Received : 06/26/08  Plasma stealth chopper - 2 / Map confusion   Prof. Auguste MEESSEN   
 
 

I will try to contribute to this debate by sharing with you that I have the following documents concerning the Ernage case....  read more 

 
 
 Received : 07/02/08  Recapitulating   Martin SHOUGH   
 
 

Re your reply to Prof. MEESSEN, you're right, the statement about flight plans in the Defence Minister's reply to the Parliamentary question is different from what we understood Gen. DE BROUWER to say....  read more 

 
 
 Received : 07/03/08  Estimates of size and distance - 4   Martin SHOUGH   
 
 

Thanks for Mr. PAQUAY's follow-up. I was not (as Mr. PAQUAY believes) suggesting that Col. AMOND was "dazzled" to explain a large image. As he says, an "overloaded retina" is not a very good explanation....  read more 

 
 
 Received : 07/06/08  Not a helicopter - 3   Wilfried DE BROUWER, Maj. Gen. (Ret.)   
 
 

Dear Mr. Van Utrecht

Allow me to clarify a few points.

1. Your statement: "A helicopter is perfectly capable of executing such a manoeuvre".

The report of André AMOND suggests that the object was making a tight turn with a considerable angle of bank (45 degrees?) at very slow speed (20-30 km/h?).

When hovering or flying at such a slow speed, a helicopter has to keep its main propeller horizontal. Indeed, the lift vector should remain opposite to the gravity vector because it cannot generate any lift from the forward speed. If performing a turn at such a slow speed, it should keep the propeller as much as possible in the horizontal plane, using the rudder to action the tail rotor to make the turn. As such it will not take any significant bank; otherwise it would fall out of the sky. In other words, the manoeuvre as described by Col. AMOND cannot be performed by a helicopter.

2. Regarding your close encounter with a helicopter [see "Our reply" to Martin SHOUGHís response received April 20, 2008 - WVU]; during my 39 years in the Air Force, I experienced at least one hundred close encounters. Even after my active flying carrier, in Feb/Mar/April 2000, I was in charge of up to 25 helicopters, including not less than 10 Oryx/Pumas, performing rescue and relief operations during the flooding in Mozambique. I never experienced a helicopter approaching me without making any noise. On the contrary, in most cases, the noise of the propellers is heard before the helicopter is visually spotted.

3. Helicopters were not often mentioned in the BAF reports because they figure under the term "aircraft". Do you really think that we were stupid enough not to consider the helicopter option? At that time, the Air Force had 500 pilots, 300 engineers, 100 air traffic controllers, etc. and, believe it or not; some of them have brains. We were desperate to find an answer regarding the Nov 29 and Dec 11 sightings but, unfortunately, we didnít.

4. Regarding the second part of the answer to the parliamentary question to the Minister of Defence:

"When flying at night, VFR flights [Visual Flying Rules - WVT] are only authorized for helicopters. Other airborne vehicles are obliged to introduce a flight plan according to the IFR (Instrument Flying Rules".

Indeed, I could have been more explicit but I wanted to make a short statement without going into details. Normally flight plans are introduced before take off but, for urgent cases, it is possible to introduce them once in the air. In 1989, in some cases, helicopters were allowed to fly VFR without a preceding flight plan; more precisely in case of military exercises and in emergencies.

- In case of military exercise, helicopters can be given a blanket authorization to operate within a well determined zone. The evenings of Nov 29 and Dec 11, no exercises took place.

- In case of emergency; Search and Rescue, Police and Ambulance helicopters were authorized to take off without previous authorization. Please note that ambulance helicopters were not common in 1989.

Nevertheless, in both cases, once in the air, the pilot has to contact the relevant airspace information/surveillance/controlling authority and communicate the point of departure, point of arrival, intentions, etc. In other words, depending on the case, the military and/or civil aviation authorities are informed of helicopter activities in night flying conditions. In addition, they have to display a well specified transponder code, which makes them visible and easily identifiable on secondary radar.

During the nights of November 29 and December 11, no such helicopter flights had taken place in the vicinity of the area where the sightings were reported.

I would like to clarify one more issue. Helicopters can remain out of the radar line of sight when applying terrain masking tactics such as flying very low in the valleys. However, in 1989 this tactics could only be applied in daytime; doing this in the dark would have been extremely dangerous. Today, better technology is available for military helicopters, but it would still be very difficult or even impossible to make a complete flight without being observed. Once in the line of sight of radar, helicopters are detected because the rotating propellers reflect the radar waves; stealth helicopters do not exist (yet). Knowing this, please note that the region around Ernage is very flat. Any helicopter in the vicinity would have been detected by the surveillance radars and also by the radar of the airfield of Beauvechain which is only 20 km north of Ernage.

5. I am not aware of any letter addressed to me on December 8, 2002; most probably I was abroad.

6. Your paragraph (2) is biased.

You wrote: "Mr. DE BROUWER claims that no aircraft were in the air, not in the night of December 11th and not in the evening of November 29th".

Did I ever claim that no aircraft were in the air?? Can you tell me where you have seen this statement??

There are permanently aircraft in the air over Belgium! The airport of Brussels was active and the airspace over Belgium was used for regular commercial air traffic. Are you claiming that we should have provided a full radar picture of all air traffic over Belgium?

My statement: "None of the four Belgian radar stations had registered any traffic that could have caused this phenomenon".

This statement seems to be meaningless to you. To me, and I hope to the other participants in this debate, this is very clear language.

It is not difficult to plot coordinates on a radar screen and verify whether or not there was low level air traffic in this region around the specified time. Donít forget that during night flying all aircraft (including helicopters) have to display their transponder code which makes it easy to track the individual flights and verify what their flight profile is. All other traffic can be considered as "suspect" and are subject to further investigation. However, no additional other echoes showed up on the primary radar, except a few radar parasites (angels). My staff assured me that there was no correlation with the ground observations. By the way, this was confirmed in the first answer of the Minister of Defence (Ref your email). The recordings were analysed by professional radar controllers who were highly motivated to find an explanation for these mysterious sightings. I fully trusted the assessment of these controllers and I see no reason why this should be questioned.

Before going to the SOBEPS press conference on December 18, I was convinced that we were dealing with laser projections or holograms, mainly because nothing relevant had been seen on the radars. It was only after I had seen the report of Lt. Col. AMOND and listened to the witnesses at the press conference (one policeman, and one Air Force weather forecaster who was stationed at Bierset, a Mirage V unit!) that I realized that these people had seen unexplainable phenomena. The day after the press conference, I asked to double check the recordings of November 29 and December 11, but the conclusions remained unchanged.

Regarding the observations of Mirage jets in the vicinity of the airfield of Bierset; your friend must have a good memory to recall all these details.

But what is the relevance??

The cruising speed of a Mirage V is higher than 750 km/h; the pattern speed is approximately 450 km/h and the final approach speed is 320 to 280 km/h. The latter is also the minimum speed.

I am sure that you must have read the coverage of the November 29 and December 11 sightings in the first book of SOBEPS [Vague díOVNI sur la Belgique - WVT]. Did you find witness reports mentioning such speeds?? I didnít read all the reports, but the vast majority (at least 50) of the Nov 29 and the Dec 11 sightings mention crafts that are immobile or move at very slow speeds, MUCH slower than the minimum speed of a Mirage V. Relating these sightings to Mirage V aircraft? Letís be serious!

Regarding the lights that were seen by your friend on the Mirage V, he must have seen the aircraft in its final approach, or just after take off before gear retraction. The Mirage V has two lights side by side on the nose gear and they only function when this nose gear is down and locked. On landing, the pilot sees the effect of the lights on the runway in front of him once the aircraft is at 15 to 20 m above the ground. In normal flying conditions, these lights donít function because tactical fighter aircraft donít wander around with their gear down and landing lights on; they only do this for take off and landing. Flying around with the gear down is normally not allowed and makes the aircraft very difficult to manoeuvre; it has to fly much slower than its normal cruising speed, needs high power, consumes buckets of fuel and makes a hell of a noise.

The lights on the wing tips are the usual navigation lights which can be seen on any aircraft. Do these navigation lights correspond with the three individual bright lights which have been seen by multiple witnesses? Letís be serious!

Referring to your question regarding publication on your website, please publish any information that you want, but make sure that it is correct. I had a look at your site and some of the information is NOT correct. This is not of my business; except if it becomes personal. Furthermore, I suspect that Colonel AMOND may have some remarks as well. I remember that he told me that he had spoken to Mr. PAQUAY and had given him all the details of his observation, including the fact that the craft came as close as 100 m, before Mr. PAQUAY made his calculation.

Wilfried DE BROUWER
Major General (Ret.)
Lubbeek, Belgium


Our reply :

Our sincere thanks to Gen. DE BROUWER for his valuable and much appreciated input.

Below is, slightly edited, the point-by-point reply which CAELESTIAís project coordinator posted on the forum of the European UFO Network on July 12, 2008.

1. True, but only if you accept Mr. AMONDís statement that the object approached the car to within a distance of "100 to 200 m". The paragraph from which Gen. DE BROUWER extracted my statement referred to the early stages of our inquiries. At that time, Mr. PAQUAY and myself had to rely on a map that indicated that the distance between the parked car and the unidentified object was approximately 1,000 m. Considering a distance of 1,000 m instead of 100-200 m, the 270į turn would have been considerably less tight and the true speed of the object considerably higher than 20-30 km/h. Add to this that witnesses tend to underestimate distances at night, and itís perfectly reasonable to conclude that the flight path described by the witnesses fits well within the manoeuvring capabilities of a helicopter. As pointed out in earlier correspondence, it was only recently that we learned from Mr. AMOND that the map we used was "NOT accurate" and that the distance between the car and the object was in the order of 100 rather than 1,000 m. But more about this at the end of this reply.

2. Well not in my case, and this despite the rural character of the site were my encounter took place. I never understood why I didnít hear any noise (that is until the helicopter had already moved away to a considerable distance). One explanation I proposed was that the sudden confrontation caused some form of psychological shock, a state of paralysis or disassociation that blocked the normal workings of my senses. I explained as much in an earlier post and added that something similar had happened to me when a speeding car hit me two years ago, but these explanations were posted on the EuroUFO list before Gen. DE BROUWER entered the debate. With my own experiences in mind, I wondered if, perhaps, something similar had happened to Col. AMOND and his wife. However, when Martin SHOUGH called my attention to the fact that Mr. AMOND and his wife seemed very aware of what was happening (they stopped the vehicle, turned off the engine, opened the window and listened with "ears pricked), I abandoned that idea.

3. I never implied that the average BAF employee is incompetent, stupid and brainless. I was just trying to find out on which grounds exactly the BAF had concluded that aircraft could not account for the sightings. There were two options: (1) there simply was no low-level air traffic in the area at the time of the sightings, or (2) there WAS low-level air traffic in the area at the time of the sightings, but it was assumed that the shape and flight characteristics of normal aircraft could not explain the shape and flight characteristics attributed to the unidentified objects.

I hope Gen. DE BROUWER does not rank me among those who think that you should never believe a word the military say. In the aftermath of the Belgian wave, I received quite a few letters, emails and telephone calls from people (including reporters) telling me that "the Army" was clearly hiding something and that Mr. DE BROUWER either was used as a pawn or was knowingly a part of the scheme. When replying to these allegations, I always pointed out that this was not my view, and that Gen. DE BROUWER had always struck me as an honest and highly competent man (the general and I met on two occasions).

4. I am most grateful to Gen. DE BROUWER for sending us these long anticipated specifications. They are a serious blow to the helicopter explanation and to Renaud LECLETís work in particular (for Gen. DE BROUWERís information: Renaud LECLET was the first investigator who studied the possibility that helicopters were responsible for some of the key sightings of the Belgian wave).

5. This is painful. Had we obtained all of the above information back in 2002, it would have saved us a tremendous amount of work. (Jus for the record, I still have a copy of the 2002 letter in which I asked Gen. DE BROUWER if he would be willing to assist in verifying the helicopter explanation for the Ernage sighting.)

6. Gen. DE BROUWER says he never claimed that "no aircraft were in the air" and asks me if I can tell him where I saw that statement.

Apologies are in order here as I misphrased this completely. My remark should have read: Gen. DE BROUWERís reply seems to imply that there were no aircraft anywhere near Ernage in the evening of December 11, 1989, nor anywhere near Eupen on November 29, 1989.

Next, Gen. DE BROUWER emphasizes that "There are permanently aircraft in the air over Belgium!" and asked if I was claiming that the Air Force "should have provided a full radar picture of all air traffic over Belgium".

I regret we were not more specific in wording our Parliamentary question. For example we could have asked for the position, flight direction and altitude of every civil and military aircraft within a well-defined radius around the sighting location and within a well-defined time frame. In the months that followed the first series of sightings, normal aircraft (especially helicopters and airliners) caused numerous reports of triangular objects equipped with bright white lights and a red flashing light. It is not uncommon for people to mistake normal air traffic for UFOs. So yes, it was important to have specifications regarding all the aircraft that were in the area at the time of the sightings.

As for the statement: "None of the four Belgian radar stations had registered any traffic that could have caused this phenomenon", Gen. DE BROUWER says it may be meaningless to me, but will be "very clear language" to the other participants in this debate.

I personally think most participants will agree that this statement DOES leave room for interpretation. Going by this one sentence, there was still a possibility that one or more helicopters were in the area that night, but that their presence was considered irrelevant because a helicopter didnít match the descriptions given by the witnesses.

With regard to Gen. DE BROUWER telling us that "The recordings were analysed by professional radar controllers who were highly motivated to find an explanation for these mysterious sightings" and that he "fully trusted the assessment of these controllers and sees no reason why this should be questioned". I wish to repeat that I wasnít questioning anyoneís skills. I just wondered how the BAF reached its conclusion that no air traffic could have caused the phenomenon.

As for the "good memory" of the person who observed the Mirage jets in the vicinity of the airfield of Bierset, I informed the general that the witness to these events was none other than Roger PAQUAY himself. Mr. PAQUAY had written down what he had seen only a couple of days after the incident. He is absolutely certain about the date and remembers the evening very well.

To Gen. DE BROUWERís question what the relevance of all this is, I replied that this seemed rather obvious to me. After all, these military jets were operating only 40 km west of the sighting location at exactly the same time the unknown objects were spotted. Certainly, this raises some pertinent questions, such as: - Did any of the pilots report seeing anything unusual in the sky during these manoeuvres? - Did they observe the luminous display over the lake of Gileppe which lasted about one hour and allegedly involved two lights which repeatedly moved away from a central light over a distance of several thousands of metres? - Where the pilots interviewed at all? - What was the nature of these manoeuvres? - How close did their flights take them to Eupen? Probably not VERY close since none of the Eupen witnesses reported seeing or hearing jet planes that night. Still, I think there are plenty of reasons why the presence of these Mirages can be relevant to solving our mystery.

Gen. DE BROUWER points out that "The lights on the wing tips are the usual navigation lights which can be seen on any aircraft" and asks "Do these navigation lights correspond with the three individual bright lights which have been seen by multiple witnesses?"

I never wrote, nor insinuated, that the Mirages were responsible for the sightings reported from Eupen and surroundings! Mirage jets are, of course, too fast and too noisy (same reason why we ended up rejecting the F-117A explanation). One exception perhaps: the small lights moving left and right of the white ball that was seen over the lake of Gileppe. Could those have been distant jets flying in circles in a horizontal plane? Just a thought.

Gen. DE BROUWER writes that some of the information on our site is "NOT correct". We would appreciate it a lot if the general could tell us where exactly we went wrong, so that we can set matters straight as soon as possible.

One final remark with regard to Col. AMONDís claim that the unidentified object approached his car to within a distance of 100 to 200 m. Gen. DE BROUWER asserts: "I remember that he [Mr. AMOND] told me that he had spoken to Mr PAQUAY and had given him all the details of his observation, including the fact that the craft came as close as 100 m, before Mr PAQUAY made his calculation".

This is incorrect. CAELESTIA received Mr. PAQUAYís calculations of the spotlightís diameter on October 27, 2007. Col. AMOND mailed Mr. PAQUAY his own map with the objectís "correct" flight path only on February 28, 2008. There were several contacts between Mr. PAQUAY and Mr. AMOND, but as far as I know, none of these took place prior to February 2008.

Already in previous correspondence I pointed out that, in 2007 Mr. PAQUAY worked with the only map available at the time. This map is very detailed and was made with the help of a printed map (even azimuth indications are given for the different phases). Prof. MEESSEN explained to us that this map was actually based on another map, one that was part of an investigative report compiled by "a mathematically minded" SOBEPS investigator who interviewed Col. AMOND and his wife shortly after the event. It was only in recent correspondence that Mr. AMOND pointed out that the map we used was "NOT accurate" and that the details in the SOBEPS report that deal with distance, altitude, trajectory and size do not match the information which he provided to the SOBEPS investigator. In short, if this map published in Vague díOVNIs sur la Belgique and in Inforespace is inaccurate, one should blame SOBEPS for publishing a sloppy document, not Mr. PAQUAY or myself for having considered it a useful tool.

Wim VAN UTRECHT.

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 Received : 07/14/08  Helicopters noise - 4 / Banking angles - 1   Joe McGONAGLE   
 
 

I don't claim to have the detailed aeronautical experience of General DE BROUWER, but during my own military service, I did have some exposure to helicopters as a passenger and as an observer from the ground.....  read more 

 
 
 Received : 07/14/08  Helicopters noise - 5 / Banking angles - 2   Martin SHOUGH   
 
 

Thanks for your input Joe. Yes, clearly it can happen that when the conditions for sound propagation and other witness circumstances are unfavourable people can fail to hear helicopters......  read more 

 
 
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