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 Case summary

November 7, 1990. It's about 7:15 in the evening. An American woman tourist is swimming in the outdoor rooftop pool on the 17th floor of the International Hilton Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Montreal, when she notices a strange lighted object in the night sky. The object is directly overhead and looks like "an oval shape with a yellowish colour". She notifies the hotel's pool lifeguard, Mrs. L.S.P., who in turn alerts the hotel's security officer, Mr. A.S. Intrigued by the stationary unknown object, the security officer telephones the MUCP (Montreal Urban Community Police) for assistance. Meanwhile the pool's lifeguard has urged guests to come outside to look at what she herself later described as "a lighted object with six lights on the perimeter of a large circle with a ray of light emitted from each one". Mrs. L.S.P. then notifies La Presse, one of Canada's major newspapers. La Presse takes the story seriously and sends out reporter Marcel LAROCHE to investigate.

Some five minutes before Mr. LAROCHE arrives at the hotel, the object had become brighter, prompting the security officer to contact the police station a second time. Officer François LIPPE of the MUCP is dispatched at 8:07 and arrives at the hotel about five minutes later. In his report, Officer LIPPE describes the object as "three yellowish lights from each of which a single beam of light emanated". He added that "the object itself was luminous and round and did not appear to move".

Meanwhile several other people in and around Montreal are witnessing unusual lights in the sky. Among them is Bernard GUENETTE, a computer graphics expert and member of the then Texas based Mutual UFO Network (MUFON). GUENETTE later compared what he saw to "a small greenish Aurora Borealis-like phenomenon with long streamers extending out from it". The time is circa 7:30 p.m.. He watches the luminous phenomenon for 30 to 60 seconds from a spot in Old Montreal, about a mile ("ten city blocks") east-southeast from the hotel. GUENETTE is accompanied by a second witness. Both men agree that the phenomenon is at a very high altitude and not moving.

Back on the rooftop, Officier LIPPE, the security officer and the pool's lifeguard notice a small private aircraft flying directly beneath the clouds and much farther below the object.

At 8:20 Officer LIPPE telephones Sergeant MASSON of the MUCP for backup. Overwhelmed by what he sees when he arrives at the 17th floor, the Sergeant calls the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The time is now 8:44. An investigator, Officer Luc MORIN, is assigned to handle the case. The RCMP investigator arrives at the hotel at approximately 9:30 p.m. and informs the other witnesses that contact has been made with the Commander of Military Operations of the country's Department of National Defence. The latter has assured him that no military operations are being held in the area. Officer LIPPE then calls the MUCP's District Director, who in turn also telephones the RCMP for immediate "in situ assistance".

Also contacted is Montreal's international airport at Dorval. The operators at the control tower confirm that there have been other calls by people seeing a strange object over the city, but they emphasize that nothing has appeared on the airport's radar screen.

About half an hour earlier, at 9 o'clock, two more journalists from La Presse (Mr. J. BELIVEAU and Mr. R. MAILLOUX) arrived at the hotel. It was at about that time that their colleague Mr. LAROCHE started taking pictures of the object. Not being a professional photographer himself, he telephoned a photographer at the newspaper and asked for advice. Mr. LAROCHE was told to stabilize his camera on a bench nearby and use a 30 second exposure.

Pictures Montreal

The two pictures taken by La Presse reporter Marcel LAROCHE on November 7, 1990. LAROCHE used a Nikon FS 35 mm single lens reflex camera, fitted with a 50 mm lens and set to infinity focus with aperture at f /1.8.
[images were scanned from colour copies included in the HAINES/GUENETTE report]

An MUCP officer who arrives at the scene at 9:45 in the hope of gathering more photographic evidence, finally decides not to take any pictures "because the clouds were too thick".

According to investigator MORIN the object disappeared from sight at about 10:10 "due to increasingly dense cloud cover".

The day after the sighting, and after the incident had been covered by La Presse, journalist BELIVEAU received a letter from someone claiming that his friend had witnessed the object from his small airplane. Although the pilot/witness completed a MUFON sighting form, no useful details surfaced. The pilot himself declined any further interviews and a direct link with the plane spotted during the sighting could not be made.

In 1992 GUENETTE, together with Dr. Richard F. HAINES (a well-known ufo researcher and psychologist formerly employed by NASA), published a 25 page report of the sightings. The report concludes that "the evidence for the existence of a highly unusual, hovering, silent large object is indisputable". Basing themselves on the available eyewitness testimonies, they add that "a reasonable lower bound for the angular size of the object's central 'oval body' as seen from the roof of the B(onaventure) H(otel) is 27 degrees arc". Having established this angular size, the authors calculate the actual size for the "main body of the object" to have been no less than 1,783 feet (585 m) across if it was at 3,500 feet (1,148 m) altitude, or 4,586 feet (1,504 m) if it was at 9,000 feet (2,953 m).

We end this case summary with a compilation of six sketches made by some of the principal witnesses.

sketch A sketch B
 Sketch by the hotel's pool lifeguard,
 Mrs. L.S.P.
Sketch by the hotel's security officer, Mr. A.S.
sketch C sketch D
 Sketch from the RCMP files, possibly drawn
 by Officer François LIPPE of the MUCP.
Sketch by Officer Luc MORIN,
investigator for the RCMP.

sketch E sketch F
 Sketch by journalist Marcel LAROCHE,
 author of the two pictures shown above.
Sketch by journalist J. BELIVEAU.
  [all reproductions © 1992, HAINES/GUENETTE] 

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- HAINES, Richard F. & GUENETTE, Bernard, Details Surrounding a Large Stationary Aerial Object Above Montreal, private publication, 1992.