Unidentified flying spiders in southern France?

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I recently came across an interesting case concerning a UFO in two southern French towns in 1952: Oloron and Gaillac.


UFO’S: .II History 1952: September-October
(Loren E. Gross)

UFO activity in France achieved spectacle status with an amazing aerial display over the city of Oloron on October 17th and the city of Gaillac on the 27th.
Both Oloron and Galliac are in the south of France and UFO activity there would be part of the first wave.
Other than that, what happened in the skies of the aforementioned cities is beyond understanding.
H. Yves Prigent was the superintendent of the Oloron high school , and his wife was one of the teachers.
The couple had three children and lived in an apartment that had a good view of the sky to the north of Oloron.
At 12:50 p.m. on October 17,1952 the family was about to have lunch when H. Prigent’s son Jean yelled:“Oh, papa, come look, it’s fantastic!“
The boy had been gazing out the window at a cloudless azure sky, and there in the atmosphere he beheld a marvel.

The family rushed to the window. What they saw was described by the father, Mr. Prigent, to investigators.
Isolated in the clear blue sky was a single small cloud, and above the bit of white vapour at an undetermined altitude was a long lead coloured, cylinder inclined at an angle of 45 degrees.

The „tube“ was very distinct, non-luminous, and had this interesting detail: from the upper end of the cylinder, there appeared to be a plume of white smoke.

The cylinder was moving in a south west direction, and some distance to the south-west was a cluster of some 30 or so „balls“ that seemed to be puffs of smoke.
M. Prigent obtained some opera glasses and peered at the objects which seemed featureless but which, under magnification, proved to be red spheres circled by a tow-coloured band or ring.

Another peculiar characteristic of these small Saturn-like objects was the odd way they travelled about, in pairs and in a rapid zigzag fashion.

Occasionally a whitish streak appeared between the ringed spheres when they separated to any extent, which became a flaky trail that spread into a veil of filaments (subsequently dubbed „angel hair“).

This material fell over an extensive area, not only at Oloron where it draped itself over trees and telephone wires, but also at the village of Geronce and in the Josbaight valley.

Very curious, the teachers at Oloron high school, who by this time had been alerted to the extraordinary phenomenon, collected some of the filaments.

Someone suggested that the material had the appearance of nylon or wool.
They experimented by striking a match and holding the material in the flame. The stuff ignited and flared up in the manner of cellophane.
Unfortunately, more sophisticated tests were prevented by the weird fact that the threads turned into a gelatinous mass and then sublimed into the air, leaving no trace. Experts later lamented the failure to put some of the material into a sealed container .

The information was apparently lifted from the widely read French newspaper France Soir.
Witnesses of the Oloron phenomenon were abundant and some may still be living in the 1980s .

Of those named, we know of: M.Y. Prigent, principal of the school; his wife, Madame Prigent; a son, Jean Yves; the school caretaker, M. Jean Pardies; a passer-by; Mrne Belestin; and the Mayor of Geronce, H. Bordes.

What We Really Know About Flying Saucers
By Otto Binder
[June 29, 1967]

Both cases occurred in France in 1952, within 10 days of each other and only a few miles apart. The verbatim reports alone even in shortened form, can make you, the reader, sit up in bewildered astonishment – because both events had multiple witnesses, up to a hundred people, who could not possibly all be liars, hallucinators, or town drunks. Judge for yourself. First, the report of M. Yves Prigent, general superintendent of the high school at Oloron, France, at 12:50 P.M., on Friday, October 17, 1952:
„In the north a cottony cloud of strange shape was floating against the blue sky. Above it a long, narrow cylinder, apparently inclined at a forty-five-degree angle, was slowly moving in a straight line toward the southwest.
„I estimated its altitude as two or three kilometres [about 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 miles]. The object was whitish, non-luminous, and very distinctly defined. A sort of plume of white smoke was escaping from its upper end.

„At the same distance in front of the cylinder about thirty other objects were following the same trajectory. To the naked eye they appeared as featureless balls resembling puffs of smoke. But with the help of opera glasses [which he had obtained] it was possible to make out a central red sphere [on each small object] surrounded by a sort of
yellowish ring inclined at an angle [apparently Saturn-like UFO’s].
„The(ir) angle was such as to conceal almost entirely the lower part of the central sphere, while revealing its upper surface. These ’saucers‘ moved in pairs, following a broken path characterised in general by rapid and short zigzags.
When two saucers drew away from one another, a whitish streak like an electric arc was produced between them.“
(From „The Reference.“)
Now the report from Tarn, in the Gaillac district, some 12 miles to the southwest, only 10 days later:
October 27, 1952, 5:00 P.M. Many residents, including two police officers and others, totalling over a hundred, were witnesses as a long, plumed cylinder inclined at a 45-degree angle flew over slowly to the southeast.
Surrounding this „mother ship“ were some 20 smaller saucers, which flew two by two in rapid zigzags [sic]. In this case, however, some of the pairs of Saturnlike saucers left the herd and descended quite low over town, estimated to be [at height of] 300-400 meters [900-1.200 feet].
The spectacle lasted some 20 minutes before the „cigar“ and its satellite saucers drifted out of sight over the horizon.

20-th of October 1952


Zigzagging „flying saucers“ and „flying cigar“ in the sky of Olozon.

After the passing of the strange objects, threads fell onto the city where they decomposed themselves.

This time, no doubt is allowed! The sky of Béarn [a Southern French region] has its flying cigars and saucers.
It was 1 pm on Friday when Mr. Pringent, superintendent of the lower High School of Oloron, saw peculiar objects heading from the north-east to the south-west at a height of 3000 metres.

The largest, which had the shape of the „Churchillian“ cigar, was emitting thousands of multicoloured circles which rapidly dissipated themselves.
In front of it, approximately 30 other objects of smaller size moved forward while [colliding?] and almost zigzagging. They had the appearance of a saucer, each of them was made of a clear yellow ring surrounding a red ball.

One after the other, Ms. and Mr. Pringent, who were watching their son, and the keeper of the building, passed on binoculars to each other and observed the weird thing.
At least 10 minutes went by before the disappearance of the „cigar“ and of the „saucers“ which looked as if they were disintegrating.

And just after the strange procession, threads similar to the threads of the Virgin Mary fell.
Mr. Pringent gathered up some entangled ones which quickly turned into a gelatinous mass. He kindled it whereupon it burned like cellulose. Other threads could be found here and there or on the roofs. Most of them decomposed themselves completely whereas other dissolved more slowly.
Soon enough, none was left.

The flying cigar has also been sighted by inhabitants of the valley of Josbaigt, among whom was the mayor of Gerome, Mr. Borèses.

All have confirmed the shape of the craft and the already described luminous phenomena.

Sighting over Gaillac

A „Flying Cylinder“ surrounded by saucers above Gaillac

Albi. — Big amazement in Gaillac, in the Tarn. The inhabitants of this city known for its vines, saw Monday at 5 p.m., evolving in a blue sky without cloud, the strange objects absolutely comparable to those noticed last week in Oloron.

The alarm was given by Mrs. Dore, aged 64, residing road of Toulouse, in Gaillac. She was intrigued when she heard her hens quack in a strange way in the hen house. Thinking that some buzzard was circling above her farmyard and causing this fright, she looked up instinctively and discovered the phenomenon.

Her son tried to distinguish the objects, while Mr. Corbières and his wife ran by, and later, Mr. Corbières father, aged 63, neighbours of the Dore family. These people claim that they were probably flying saucers which passed over Gaillac from the south to the east. They whirled slowly, grouped by two, and scintillated in the sun. There were first of four of them, then a dozen.

In the middle of the saucers a kind of long flying cylinder appeared, whitish, which let escape a white plume of smoke. At the end of some twenty minutes, the phenomenon disappeared, while white wires resembling glass wool fell on the ground. Two hours after, many filaments of this matter were still hanging on electric wire and the branches of trees, but they became gelatinous and melted.

Was the whole sighting caused by spiders?

A French physician from Olorni proposed that the phenomenon was due to a migration of spiders transported through the air by threads.

The red and yellow lights were due to the sunlight reflecting off the threads. The zigzag-like movement towards Spain corresponded to the wind on that day. And the substance consisted of spider web.

Can we account for the sighting conventionally in this way?

There are several aspects we need to examine.

The inclined cigar-shaped object

The largest object was described as follows:

„In the north a cottony cloud of strange shape was floating against the blue sky. Above it a long, narrow cylinder, apparently inclined at a forty-five-degree angle, was slowly moving in a straight line toward the southwest.
„I estimated its altitude as two or three kilometres [about 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 miles]. The object was whitish, non-luminous, and very distinctly defined. A sort of plume of white smoke was escaping from its upper end.“

Given its size  and features, it seems very unlikely that the „cigar“ was made of concentrated spider silk. Given its inclination, it also appears implausible this was a blimp.


What about an usual cloud? The fact that the object was „very distinctly defined“ and that „a sort of plume of white smoke was escaping from its upper end“ makes it improbable.

It is also strange that another such strange cloud was observed several days later in Gaillac.

The reddish spheres

We don’t have evidence that ballooning spiders can gather themselves to form large discrete spheres. While some elements of their behaviour (such as the white streak visible when two coupled spheres move apart from one another) appears compatible with this hypothesis, the observed colours are at odds with this observation.

As Mr. Pringent wrote:

„But with the help of opera glasses, it was possible to make out a central red sphere surrounded by a sort of yellowish ring inclined at an angle.“ 

If such a ball was nothing but a tangle of spiders and silk, why would then the reflection of the sun be red at its centre but yellow all around it?

The gelatinous substance

While the substance that fell upon the ground is similar to spider silk, it is strange that nobody reported having seen any spider, even though it covered an important area.

If the sighted objects were actually full of spiders, it is weird nobody signalled this.



If one considers all facts together, it seems rather implausible that the sightings were caused by nothing but migrating spiders.


It is, however, possible this is a yet unknown natural phenomenon.

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