Belgium’s flying triangle wave
Thirty years ago, thousands of Belgian citizens reported mysterious platforms flying silently over rooftops. The Royal Belgian Air Force got involved and cooperated fully with civilian investigators. To this day, however, the origins of these craft remain unknown.
It’s hard to convey the excitement caused by the Belgian UFO wave if you were not following UFO news back in 1989 and the early 1990s. There was no shortage of UFO reports back then, and interest in the phenomenon was at a high. The sightings and photos from Gulf Breeze, Florida, dominated the American scene, wild UFO reports and stories coming out of the old Soviet Union received huge international media attention, and the Mexican video wave took off in 1991. Yet the Belgian wave seemed to top all of these stories for awhile. The reports out of this small country, headquarters of both the European Commission and NATO, received unprecedented coverage, making even the front page of the Wall Street Journal on October 10, 1990, with a story entitled, “Belgium Scientists Seriously Pursue A Triangular UFO.”
The classic triangular-shaped UFO described by hundreds of eyewitnesses during the Belgium wave: sketch by witness used to create reconstruction of the object seen at the top of story. Credit: SOBEPS
There were many reasons for the interest generated by the Belgian wave. One was the quality of the reports themselves, the bulk of which were registered in the French-speaking region of Wallonia. There were no landings or humanoid sightings but lots of detailed multiple-witness sightings of flying platforms moving slowly and silently above rooftops. Shapes varied, but the predominant form was triangular or delta-shaped crafts. Some of the descriptions were so precise that traditional explanations of misidentified natural phenomena or conventional aircraft were ruled out. Instead, stealth fighters and other U.S. secret military aircraft became the favorite explanations suggested by skeptics, but these were quickly ruled out by the Royal Belgian Air Force (RBAF). Another reason for the wave’s importance was that it was carefully investigated and documented by a local UFO organization called SOBEPS (Belgian society for the study of space phenomena).
SOBEPS was formed in 1971 by Lucien Clerebaut, Michel Bougard, and others, and built a small but highly dedicated cadre of field investigators. By the end of the wave in 1993, SOBEPS had collected over two thousand eyewitness reports comprising twenty thousand pages, four hundred hours of audio tapes, and six hundred full inquiries. Five hundred and forty cases remained unexplained. SOBEPS also had the assistance of top-notch scientists, including Léon Brenig, a nonlinear dynamics theorist at the Free University in Brussels, and Professor Auguste Meessen, a physicist from Catholic University at Louvain. Regarding his work with SOBEPS, Dr. Brenig has said, “here is an opportunity where we can apply the scientific method.” Brenig himself became a witness of the so-called Belgian triangle while driving in the Ardennes on March 18, 1990. The whole dossier was eventually published by SOPEPS in two massive volumes, five hundred pages each, entitled Vague d’OVNI sur la Belgique (UFO Wave ver Belgium), published in 1991 and 1994 respectively. Due to financial difficulties, SOBEPS dissolved on December 31, 2007, but some of its members formed a new, smaller organization called COBEPS (Belgian committee for the study of space phenomena) to preserve the archives and work done for thirty-six years.
The two volumes published by SOBEPS entitled, “UFO Wave Over Belgium.” Credit: SOBEPS
A final and key element in the credibility of the Belgian UFO wave was the participation and validation by the RBAF, which showed an unusual degree of openness. As the Belgian wave gained steam, the Belgian Ministry of Defence was deluged with queries from the public and the media. The task fell upon the chief of operations of the air force, Col. Wilfried De Brouwer, who was later promoted to major general and deputy chief of the RBAF. Now retired from the service, Gen. De Brouwer has continued to speak about the wave. He was one of the many international officials who spoke at the famous event at the National Press Club (NPC) in Washington, DC, in November 2007, organized by filmmaker James Fox and journalist Leslie Kean. “The Belgian UFO wave was exceptional and the air force could not identify the nature, origin and intentions of the reported phenomena,” said De Brouwer at the NPC. He also gave a detailed presentation on the wave at the MUFON International UFO Symposium in San Jose, California, in July 2008, and was one of five generals to write an essay in Leslie Kean’s new book, UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go On the Record.
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