On 20 October 1954, Louis Ujvari, 40, a native of Slovakia, got on his bicycle
and pedaled away from home. After 10 years in the French Foreign Legion, he had
lived in France with his wife and five children for 3 years, specifically in the
town of Le Bas in a small, isolated farm near the picturesque road from
Saint-Remy to the Fraispertuis Valley.
His work shift began at three
o’clock in the morning at the Derey works, a construction materials firm, in the
town of Etival, so he set off around 02:30. After a few hundred meters, he was
forced to dismount and continue the remainder of the way on foot, since the road
was under repair, making it unsuitable for his vehicle.
As he pushed his
bicycle along, he saw the shape of a man. A phrase he couldn’t understand
prompted him to freeze in his tracks. The stranger advanced toward him with a
gun in his hand, threatening him with the weapon all the time in a language that
Ujvari couldn’t understand. The man stood at least 1.65 meters, dressed like a
pilot of that time: cloth trousers, collared leather jacket, a sort of cloth
balaclava. His boots made an audible noise on the fractured pavement.
time in the military had given the old Legionnaire the rudiments of several
languages, and what the man had told him didn’t sound like any of them. So he
decided to address him in Russian, and the man suddenly
“Where am I?” asked the stranger, “In Italy or
Ujvari was not afraid, despite the weapon, and explained that he
was the Vosges, in the district of Saind-Dié. “Am I far from the German border?”
asked the pilot. About a 100 miles from the Rhineland, came the reply.
The stranger appeared to be completely disoriented, even asking about the time. Two thirty in the morning, replied Ujvari. The obfuscated man changed the pistol to his other hand in order to pull out a pocket watch. He then shouted angrily: “You lie! It’s four o’clock!”
The next question showed that the pilot was more than lost. “How far away is Marsillia?”
Ujvari, believing he meant Marseilles, told him.
“Go away!” the stranger spat. He accompanied Ujvari for some 30 meters, pointing the sidearm at him throughout. That’s when the old Legionnaire saw the “flying saucer”. Earlier, he had seen an outline that made him think of a car or truck. For a brief moment, he was able to make out the object’s shape – 1.60 meters tall by 3 in diameter, dark grey in color. It looked like two enormous welded plates supporting a dome, crowned by an antenna with corkscrew-shaped fins. He felt the gun’s barrel against his back, prompting him to keep moving. Then he heard: “And now, farewell!”
The stranger took off quickly. Ujvari got on his bicycle, escaping toward a
farmhouse some 200 meters away. Before being able to warn anyone, he saw a beam
projected upward into the sky, the sound of an engine, and saw the saucer rise
vertically like a helicopter. Some 10 meters above the ground, the machine
accelerated, heading toward Saint-Dié. The pilot turned off the beacon, and the
object became lost in the darkness. Ujvari retraced his steps and was unable to
find any footprints on the ground.
He told his co-workers the story upon
reaching the factory. They thought it was a prank or hallucination, but given
the former Legionnaire’s insistence, the story reached the ears of the mayor of
Saint-Rémy. The gendarmes of Raon-l’Etape were notified, but their investigation
added little. The General Information Brigade (Reseignements généraux) –
the secret service – also intervened, subjecting Ujvari to
Amid the French flying saucer craze of the time, the Le
Matin newspaper published the story on 22 October. It was picked up by other
newspapers and included in books on flying saucers over time. Apparently, the
idea of using “flying saucer” and “Martian” came from Jean Thernier, the news
item’s author, since at no time did Louis Ujvari every say anything along those
lines. The drawing included in the article was not the exact image of the object
described. The fins were removed, with their corkscrew-shapes, replaced by a
single spiral antenna. Ujvari’s exact description was ““une sorte d’antenne
se terminant par des ailettes en forme de tire-bouchon.”
This is a classic example of the media ( especially in the 1950s ) of turning something that could be as mundane as a lost Russian military helicopter pilot into a sensational alien and UFO story.
Though I have to admit when I first ran across this story, I thought it was another Russian time-traveler whom could have been mistaken for an alien!
But it boils down to the fact that human beings are capable of reading into things and events that aren’t there and that we must all be mindful of all of our observations and how we interpret them.