UFOCOM : the history...

by Thierry


UFOCOM is a "concept" that I set up after having spent eight years at the SOBEPS (Société Belge d'Etudes des Phénomènes Spatiaux = Belgian Society for the Study of Spatial Phenomenon). I entered SOBEPS as a field investigator. I learnt a lot during these eight months! I also met various people: witnesses and "ufologists".

My interest in the UFO problem was triggered by the series of UFO observations known as the "Belgian wave", back in '90. I was 25. Four years earlier, I had been drafted as a low-rank officer in the Airborne Commandos. I had served for eight months at a NATO base which "hosted" tactical nuclear missiles for our American allies. This Air Force base, the 2nd Wing-Tac at Florennes, also hosted "Mirage" squadrons, later replaced by F-16 aircraft.

As the above data shows, I’m a military airplane fan and a strong supporter of the Force Aérienne Belge (FAE), the Belgian Air Force. The involvement of two F-16’s, on March 30th and 31st 1990, in the "heat" of the Belgian wave was a great thrill to me! At this time, our government did a lot to help civil associations [note: to investigate UFO cases] by opening its doors and making its files public. Everything was looking good, and I thought that sooner or later we would get a satisfactory explanation of the UFO phenomenon .

For four years, I paid close attention to the (rather rare) events concerning this affair, and I did so mostly as a "citizen-spectator". Then, I confess my interest in whole affair faded and eventually vanished, mainly because of the major and historical geo-political changes that shook our planet: the Gulf war, the Revolution in Romania, the fall of the Berlin wall, the breakdown of the Warsaw Pact, the Coup d'Etat in Russia, etc..

On December '94, a talk-show broadcast by the French privately-owned TV Channel TF1 plunged me back into the UFO problem. The title of this talk-show is "J'y crois, j'y crois pas" (I believe it, I don't believe it). There were two opposing camps. The I-believe-it camp brought together Jean-Pierre Petit (Research Advisor at CNRS, the major French Research Organization) and Robert Roussel (a journalist in close touch with the Defence authorities), a few ufologists and some rather more "exotic" persons.

The "I don't believe it" side gathered together a number of respectable scientific types (MDs, cosmologists, etc.) with TF1's popular weatherman , Alain Gillot-Pétré, at their head.

Most probably, I would have rapidly zapped to another channel if Jean-Pierre Petit and Robert Roussel had not been on stage. As a result , I would probably never have taken any further interest in the UFO problem.

At the end of the broadcast, I was in a somewhat agitated frame of mind. I wondered how so much data could be presented on any TV channel without being first verified. Everybody seemed to give his "personal opinion" as if it were the most pertinent and the ultimate theory. And this was true of both camps!

The most insane moment of the show IMHO, was when the only scientist among the I-believe-it guys (more exactly he was in neither camp, but was simply pleading for an in-depth study of UFO reports - I refer to astrophysicist Jean-Pierre Petit) briefly mentioned the "Ummo file" and its scientific aspect. Then we were treated to a few moments' worth of a telephone call from a "Ummite" ... I do not want to go through the whole affair here. However, when a respected scientist states that he receives mail from "persons" purportedly from another planet, it is time to start asking ourselves a few questions !!! Furthermore, when you reflect that several other people were making similar claims as far back as the 60's, the only right attitude that I can think of is to listen carefully to what this scientist is saying.

Mr. Petit told his story in a sober and serious manner, basing his evaluation exclusivity upon the scientific data contained in the letters he had received. In the opposing camp, Gillot-Pétré and his friends alternated between sneers and giggles.

Because Petit still holds his position in the CNRS, and because he does not look like your typical flying-saucer nut , I found his story quite interesting. Two points were especially intriguing:

1. Could a respectable, qualified scientist tell such a story without jeopardizing his scientific career?

2. Why did none of the scientists present attempt to refute Petit's assertions using reasonable and pertinent scientific arguments? All I heard from them was mockery and facile jokes. What deplorable and nonscientific behavior...

At any rate, this finished off my serene tranquillity as a passive spectator. At the end of the show, all questions remained unanswered. Petit very aptly summed up the situation when he stated that the word "believe" is not part of the scientist's vocabulary.

The next morning, I wrote to Jean-Pierre Petit offering any sort of help that he might need, and asking him whether he would allow me access to the "Ummite" letters. And while I was about it, I also wrote to the SOBEPS, enclosing my Curriculum Vitae. Briefly, I told them that I wished to join a UFO investigation team so as to be able to form my own opinion on the phenomenon.

Both replies were positive: I became a member of SOBEPS and of Jean-Pierre Petit's GESTO.

I read through the "Ummite" letters from GESTO and I headed three investigations for SOBEPS.

Eight months later, I left SOBEPS and created the UFOCOM, as a very unofficial organization. I was fed up with ufologists and with the unpleasant way in which both the authorities and the scientific community remain silent. On one side, you find yourself in a murky fog of fantasy and desire for gain. On the other side, you have to endure the silence of people more competent than you in UFO matters. UFOlogy is a huge bazaar where the retailer is in cohoots with the pickpocket. In this bazaar, the honest craftsman can only feel uneasy, and more often than not the buyer is cheated! And guess what the police are doing... they're laughing...

In spite of all this, I still thought the topic worthy of investigation! So how to proceed? Well, basically the UFOCOM was born as a reply to that question. We needed to adopt a "citizen's" approach, to set up an honest and responsible study of the question, using the most scientific and objective approach possible. For we firmly believe that we won't get answers here without a scientific approach.

No association, no money, no fancy headquarters, no stress. No sect-type organization for those who like their thinking done for them . No recruiting of 'ufologic' converts, no mass advertizing...

We strive to maintain our distance from most of the self- styled ufologists as well as from the career-oriented members of the scientific community. I know this might sound idealistic, or even utopian! And yet, thanks to honest, objective, and skilful people, UFOCOM is now really starting to work.


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