Date: January 8, 1981
Location: Trans-en-Provence, France
The case began on January 8, 1981 at 5:00 pm. Renato Nicolaļ, a 55 year-old farmer, heard a strange whistling sound while performing agricultural work on his property. He then saw a saucer shaped object about 8' in diameter land about 50 yards away at a lower elevation.
According to the Nicolaļ:
The device had the shape of two saucers, one inverted on top of the other. It must have measured about 5' in height. It was the color of lead. This device had a ridge all the way around its circumference. Under the machine I saw 2 kinds of pieces as it was lifting off. They could be reactors or feet. There were also 2 other circles which looked like trapdoors. The reactors, or feet, extended about 8" below the body of the machine.
Nicolaļ claimed the object took off almost immediately, rising above the treeline and departing to the north east. It left burn marks on the ground where it had sat.
The local police were notified of the event the following day by Mr. Nicolaļ, directly on the advices of his neighbors wife, Mrs Morin. The police proceeded to interview Mr. Nicolaļ, take photos of the scene, and collect soil and plant samples from the field. The case was later sent to GEIPAN, or GEPAN as it was known at that time, for review.
GEPAN analysis noted that the ground had been compressed by a mechanical pressure of about 4 or 5 tons, and heated to between 300° and 600° Celsius. Trace amounts of phosphate & zinc were found in the sample material, and analysis of resident alfalfa near the landing site showed chlorophyll levels between 30% and 50% lower than expected.
Mr. Nicolaļ had initially believed the object to be an experimental military device. The close proximity of the site the Canjuers military base makes such a theory generally plausible. However, GEPANs investigation focused on conventional explanations, such as atmospheric or terrain causes of a terrestrial nature. But despite a joint investigation by GEPAN and the police which lasted for 2 years no plausible explanation was found.
The police report said that the trace, which appeared on an active road, looked like one made by the tire of a car. This explanation was dismissed by GEPAN because of the sole witness saying otherwise. The physical trace shown on the picture is not a perfect circle, in fact there are 2 more or less semi circles crossing over each other. Also, a circular shape does not coincide with the description of the craft made by Mr. Nikolaļ. In a recent interview for French television, Mr. Nikolaļ confirmed that they were vehicles passing by on the road at the time of the sighting.
The GEPAN came very late on the field, after the French police, other ufologists and curious people, so the physical trace could simply have been altered in it chemical composition by the people walking on it.