A fleeting greenish comet ascending into the French sky

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I recently came across a very interesting, intriguing and puzzling UAP (Unidintified  Aerial Phenomenon) having taken place in France in 1976.

A greenish comet flying across the universe.

A greenish comet flying across the universe.

The sources

COMETA report

Here is the account one can find in the famous (albeit very controversial) French COMETA report. I did not correct some possible grammatical mistakes present in the English translation.


Since this pilot (P) wanted to preserve his anonymity, the following lines are extracted from the written deposition that he wished to send to us (he revealed his name subsequently; he is Colonel Claude Bosc). On March 3, 1976, P, then a student pilot at the Combat Flight School at Tours, was making a solo night flight in a T-33 training aircraft. The mission consisted of navigating at an altitude of 6000 m following a Rennes-Nantes-Poitiers, itinerary, then leading at Tours. Several aircrafts were following the same itinerary at 5-minutes intervals. The night was dark but cloudless, and the towns could be detected very clearly at the flight attitude in question. Visibility was greater than 100 km. While he was flying stabilized at an altitude of 6000 m, at a speed of 460 km/h, P first saw straight ahead, very far off in the distance (at the detection limits of lights on the ground) what he first thought was the launching of a green signaling flare.

In 1 to 2 seconds, this flare exceeded the altitude of his aircraft by 1500 m and seemed to level off in space before descending in his direction. It approached at a dizzying speed on a collision course with the aircraft and filled the entire front windshield of the cockpit. Thinking that an impact was inevitable, P let go of the joystick and crossed his arms in front of his face in a reflex protection gesture. The aircraft was completely enveloped in a very bright and phosphorescent green light. P saw a sphere (S) that avoided his aircraft at the very last moment and passed over his right wing grazing it, all within the fraction of  a second. P retained the following memory of this incident:

– S was not very large (1 to 2 m in diameter)

– S was extended by a tail, which was comparable to that after a comet, its color was also a fluorescent green.

– the center of S consisted of a very bright white light (magnesium-fire type)

– the sighting lasted a total of less than 5 seconds.

P, who was very shocked by this phenomenon, informed the radar controller, ensuring the control of the mission on the ground; the controller had not detected anything on his radar scope. Upon return, two other pilots had followed the same itinerary as P stated that they had seen the phenomenon, but from a distance.


A green comet with its white tail

Another majestic green comet

First hand recounting

I found the following testimony of the pilot elsewhere.

On March third 1976 at 11 pm.

On this evening, I was performing (as a fighter pilot student) a solo flight with several colleagues in the frame of a nocturnal flight exercise.

I took off alone aboard a Lockheed T-33SF, a jet aircraft stemming from America and used for training, in order to follow an aerial itinerary linking Rennes, Poitiers and tours.

At about 23:00, as I was flying over the region of Poitier, at an altitude of 7000m under a dark nocturnal sky, I saw through my windshield something ascend vertically from the ground. It looked like a green rocket.

At once, it leveled off at the altitude of the plane and within 3 seconds it hurtled straight at me at a breathtaking speed. The collision seemed inevitable. I remember having instinctively crossed my arms in order to protect myself.

And then, I distinctly saw a luminous green ball with a diameter between 1 and 2 meters passing by at the same height as my windshield in Plexiglas and roughly 30 cm away from the right wing. This ball was followed by a luminous tail with the same vivid green color. This can be likened to a comet tail with a white central part emitting a light as blinding as magnesium. In the middle, there was something appearing to me as a red lightning.

I can still recall how the cockpit looked like. Everything had become fluorescent!
Then, it disappeared immediately and I didn’t see it anymore. I remember having asked the folks at the radar station which was controlling my flight if they had detected anything. They answered me this wasn’t the case.

At 1 am. I was back in the debriefing room. I learn that a sergeant-pilot who flew ahead of me aboard another T-33 saw from a far distance the departure of this object. Our commander stated that the incident was over. It never gave rise to a written report.

I also found another testimony of the same witness written for a much later book. I mainly translated sentences differing from or complementing his previous account.

At 23:00, as I was flying over Poitier at an altitude of 7000 meters I saw at a far distance a kind of green rocket ascend vertically. In the dark night, this green rocket could be seen very well and very distinctly.

At once, it leveled off at the altitude of the plane and in three seconds it rushed  straight at me at a dizzying speed.

The collision seemed unavoidable. I remember having instinctively crossed my arms for protecting myself. I was under the impression it would be colliding with my face very soon. It was impossible to react differently and to start thinking about what was going on. At the moment, I felt nothing but an intense adrenaline rush.

And then, I saw briefly but distinctly a luminous green ball with a diameter between 1 and 2 m, which passed by at the height of my plexiglas windshield, roughly 30 cm above the right wing.

Between its taking off from the ground and its arrival besides the wing, approximately 3 seconds must have gone by. This ball was followed by a luminous tail with the same vivid green color. This can be likened to a comet tail with a white central part emitting a light as blinding as magnesium. In the middle, there was something appearing to me as a red lightning. I can still recall how the cockpit looked like. Everything had become fluorescent. Such a light stays on the retina, especially at night.

Immediately, the ball disappeared from the wing and I didn’t see it anymore.


I learned that a sergeant-pilot who had been flying ahead of me had also witnessed the departure of this green rocket.


Many years after, I’m still wondering about what the nature of this object might be. I probably will never know….“

A real UFO?

Triangular luminous greenish UFO against a black backdrop

Greenish UFO possibly taken up by NASA.

A careful reading reveals that the second-hand report of COMETA diverges to some extent from the depiction of the pilot himself. He never said that the object first ascended 1500 meters above him before falling back. He was flying at an altitude of 7000 meters and not 6000 meters.

I consider it unlikely that the whole incident lasted only 3-5 seconds while allowing the witness to make so many observations. I rather think that the „adrenaline rush“ might have distorted his perception of time.

It is unclear how the pilot(s) flying ahead of him perceived the green rocket, but it seems pretty unlikely he’d have made up a lie which would have brought him absolutely nothing (the case became known only later on and never reached any level of notoriety).

Now one vital question is whether or not this incident can be explained in a conventional manner, i.e. through already known phenomena.

I strongly doubt this can be done.

Obviously no comet can ascend vertically and it seems incredibly improbable he would have mistaken a horizontally flying meteor for an object rising from an initial position near the land.

A greenish rocket-like object launched vertically from the ground would not have leveled off not far from the pilot before falling back shortly after, thereby causing a very loud and visible impact on the soil.The plane was flying above a populated region at that time, yet nothing was reported.

It is also very hard to imagine how any kind of projectile could have the features described by the pilot.

A conventional earthly aircraft piloted by someone could not have ascended so rapidly. I also know of no vehicle which could even remotely fit the description of Colonel Bosc (a white central part followed by a tail emitting a greenish and very intense fluorescent light). One could also wonder why any reasonable pilot would decide to rush at another plane, thereby uselessly  threatening his own life.

Finally, it seems warranted to expect that the radar would have detected a rocket and almost certainly a putative human aircraft of any kind.

Of course, I would be thankful to any reader suggesting me any mundane explanation not distorting the facts I did not take into consideration.

As far as I am concerned, I have the suspicion that what the apprentice pilot encountered that night cannot be explained through our current knowledge.

And this is my definition of an UAP.

Now can we say anything more about this? Can we use the case, as the French authors of the COMETA report apparently did, as evidence for the reality of extraterrestrial spacecrafts flying about in our atmosphere?

I think this would be pretty premature. The data we dispose of may suffice to cast serious doubt on the possibility to explain the sighting in terms of known phenomena and objects. But our information is very thin and does not allow us to discriminate between the various types of unknown things someone might see in the air.

There is, for example, no compelling grounds for believing that the phenomenon must have been under intelligent control. Mother Nature has surprised us countless times in the past with purely natural processes which seemed at first glance to be the product of a mind.

Ball lightnings (and possibly also many foe-fighters) are nice examples.

White radiant ball lightning hovering over a town.

Puzzling ball lightning above houses.

And even if this was indeed an intelligently controlled object, we can’t be sure this was not a purely earthly military prototype (not known to the public) tested on that night.

But I think we have decent reasons to think that the event cannot be accounted for with our established (and public!) knowledge.

And this, to my mind, shows that UAPs (which by the way are not necessarily a unified phenomenon) are worthy of a serious and honest scientific investigation.

Debunkers systematically explaining them away (like meteorites and ball lightnings were themselves debunked in the past) run the risk of being seen by future generations as obscurantists believing without any good justification that reality could not be much more surprising than what was already known at the time.

Interested readers might wish to take a look at my homepage where I analyzed similar cases.

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2 Antworten zu A fleeting greenish comet ascending into the French sky

  1. lotharson schreibt:

    On facebook, someone provided me with the following hypothesis:

    „First thing I noticed is that this is a training flight at night by this pilot so I have to be wary of the observation skills of the pilot ( shades of the trainee pilot observation of a UFO over Iran in 1976 ) My own observation is that this is descending space debris , something I have witnessed myself at night albeit at ground level and not at 20,000 feet that this pilot is observing … I refer to space debris such as the materials within derelict satellites such as copper which do emit a blue / green colour … we had such an incident over Glasgow in 2012. At such a height the flame would be more intense to the observer.“

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    • lotharson schreibt:

      My response follows.
      Thanks for your answer! The problems are that:
      1) he clearly saw the thing rise into the sky at a huge distance from his plane.
      That’s very different from seeing it descend from a much higher altitude.
      2) no sound of an impact on the ground was reported (he was flying not far from a big city)
      3) no traces of an impact were reported
      4) I’m skeptical that descending space debris can have this intense greenish fluorescent light and above everything else the shape he reported.
      5) During how much time would the debris have remained 30 cm away from his right wing? 0.0004 s? Given the presumed speed of the space junk, it seems really unlikely he would have had enough time to make all these observations.

      So your explanation would only work if one picks and chooses some aspects of the story while leaving aside the others.

      To use a scientific approach, here is the observation one would PREDICT from your hypothesis:

      „I saw an intense green light in the sky above my head. At once it flew by me towards the ground and almost collided with my plane.“

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