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No. 72: Nov-Dec 1990

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The Belgian Flying Triangle Updated

In SF#80, we printed a brief item from an English newspaper about a rash of Belgian sightings of "flying triangles." Our invitation to our European readers to expand on this "flap" brought numerous articles from European papers and magazines. Normally, we bypass UFOtype observations, but the Belgian flying triangles are so remarkable that they deserve a little space.

The Belgium Flying Triangle
Artist's concept of the Belgium Flying Triangle, with three white lights on the corners, one red light in the center. (From: Télérama, February 21, 1990.)
Very briefly, we have roughly 1000 observations by several thousand people, beginning in October 1989 and still continuing. Most witnesses report a dark, triangular object with three bright lights plus a flashing red one in the middle. Size estimates vary from the size of a football field to that of conventional aircraft. The object sometimes hovers for minutes at a time. It also can move very slowly and then suddenly accelerate to high speeds. Some observers report a faint humming sound; others say that it is noiseless.

The American Stealth fighter (Fll7) is roughly triangular, and there has been much speculation that people have been seeing this craft on night missions. The characteristics reported for the flying triangle, however, are hardly those of a jet aircraft. But one must always remember that human observers are imperfect.

The July 5, 1990, issue of Paris Match presented a remarkable account of an encounter between two Belgian F16s and one of the flying triangles. We use here those portions of a translation provided by R.J. Durant to the Internation al UFO Reporter (15:23, July/August 1990).

"On the night of March 30th, one of the callers reporting a UFO was a Captain of the national police at Pinson, and [Belgian Air Force] Headquarters decided to make a serious effort to verify the reports. In addition to the visual sightings, two radar installations also saw the UFO. One radar is at Glons, south-east of Brussels, which is part of the NATO defense group, and one at Semmerzake, west of the Capitol, which controls the military and civilian traffic of the entire Belgian territory. The range of the two radars is 300 kilometers, which is more than enough to cover the area where the reports took place...Headquarters determined to do some very precise studies during the next 55 minutes to eliminate the possibility of prosaic explanations for the radar images. Excellent atmospheric conditions prevailed, and there was no possibility of false echoes due to temperature inversions.

"...at 0005 hours the order was given to the F-16s to take off and find the intruder. The lead pilot concentrated on his radar screen, which at night is his best organ of vision. The F-16 is equipped with very sophisticated equipment, including chase radar, which is not fixed directly ahead of the airplane, but makes a wide search in an arc' of 90 degrees left and right of the nose...

"Suddenly the two fighters spotted the intruder on their radar screens, appearing like a little bee dancing on the scope. Using their joy sticks like a video game, the pilots ordered the onboard computers to pursue the target. As soon as lock-on was achieved, the target appeared on the screen as a diamond shape, telling the pilots that from that moment on, the F-l6s would remain tracking the object automatically.

"[Before the radar had locked on for six seconds] the object had speed up from an initial velocity of 280 kph to 1,800 kph, while descending from 3,000 meters to 1,700 meters...in one second! This fantastic acceleraton corresponds to 40 Gs. It would cause immediate death to a human on board. The limit of what a pilot can take is about 8 Gs. The trajectory of the object was extremely disconcerting. It arrived at 1,700 meters altitude, then it dove rapidly toward the ground at an altitude under 200 meters, and in doing so escaped from the radars of the fighters and the ground units at Glons and Semmerzake. This maneuver took place over the suburbs of Brussels, which are so full of man-made lights that the pilots lost sight of the object beneath them...

"Everything indicates that this object was intelligently directed to escape from the pursuing planes. During the next hours the scenario repeated twice...

"This fantastic game of hide and seek was observed from the fround by a great number of witnesses, among them 20 national policemen who saw both the object and the F-16s. The encounter lasted 75 minutes, but nobody heard the supersonic boom which should have been present when the object flew through the sonic barrier. No physical damage was reported. Given the low altitude and speed of the object, many windows should have been broken."

From Science Frontiers #72, NOV-DEC 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987