Revisiting The Belgian UFO Wave Of 1989/1990
At its peak, it saw objects being tracked on radar, fighter jets scrambled and over 2,500 written reports submitted by witnesses, but 24 years later no concrete explanation has been forthcoming regarding what has become known as the Belgian UFO Wave of 1989/1990. Despite this lack of explanation, many claim that the events in Belgium remain one of the best documented cases of UFO activity in recent history. Are these claims warranted or is this a case of UFO believers littering investigations with misleading information?
Though it spanned a number of months between the Fall of 1989 and Spring of 1990, the Belgian UFO wave, as many know it, centered around the events of March 30-31 1990. It was on this night that reports were made of three strange lights in the sky some 50km south of Belgium's capital, Brussels. The first of these reports were received by the nation's Control Reporting Center in Glons, which monitors radar signatures across the region's airspace. The reports all consistently stated the same details. The lights were fixed in a triangular formation and were changing color at a rapid pace. When the reports started mounting up, the CRC requested that the local Gendarmerie - which back then was a paramilitary police force - send a team out to investigate.
At around 11:30pm, 30 minutes after the initial reports started coming in, the paramilitary police radioed in with visual confirmation of the lights. This visual confirmation was corroborated by the appearance of an object on CRC radar screens. In hope of finding an explanation, air traffic control authorities were soon contacted, but they were unable to account for the appearance of the object on radar. Within the next 30 minutes, just 1 hour after initial reports, a second group of lights had been confirmed and authorization was given to scramble to F-16 fighter jets for an intercept mission. To the bewilderment of Belgian authorities, these jets would make a number separate attempts to intercept the triangular light formations; every single attempt would fail. During the jet pursuit, the pilots made brief radar contact on a number of occasions, however, not once were they able to confirm visual contact with either of the objects.
By the time morning had broken on March 31st, authorities were left with hundreds of sightings reports that would soon become thousands. The statement from the Gendarmerie detailed a square light formation, whereas almost all of the earlier reports described the formation as triangular. Reports from the pilots that pursued the objects declared that they were moving so fast they could not possibly be human. Indeed, radar signatures suggested that at one point, the object was able to move from an elevation in excess of 15,000ft to just 500 ft in a matter of seconds.
These exciting events in the air were largely corroborated by reports from witnesses on the ground, of which there are rumored to have been as many as 13,000. With so many witnesses, one would expect countless items of photographic and video evidence to surface. Mysteriously though, such evidence has been in incredibly short supply over the last twenty years.
Media outlets soon started clamouring for something to show for the reports, but the few photos that were forthcoming were too blurry, a fact that would not be surprising given the alarming speed the objects were reportedly travelling at. When a witness by the name of 'Patrick' submitted his photo seen here, it became the poster child for the four month-long series of events that had captivated vast swathes of the Belgian populace. For years this photo was scrutinized by sceptics and UFO organizations alike, with the majority of parties categorized in the latter holding it up as proof that the Belgian UFO wave was an extraterrestrial event.
However, in 2011 the man behind the camera confessed that his image, the image that had become one of the most iconic photos in modern UFO history, was a hoax. The Belgian news channel RTL broke the news with a statement from the mysterious 'Patrick' that essentially said it was just time to come clean. The news was met with understandably mixed reactions. Many Ufologists, such as the head of Belgian UFO organization SOBEPS, claimed conspiracy, arguing that Patrick had been forced to claim his photo was a hoax, while the sceptics saw the confession as vindication for their stance.
So with the 24th anniversary of the events approaching this weekend, the Belgian UFO wave remains as mysterious today as it was in 1990. It is an event that has stirred many an argument, with sceptical parties claiming it was a case of mass delusion sparked by media reports and heightened by extravagant coverage by UFO organizations. Others simply claim that the mass delusion argument is flawed by the presence of the objects on radar screens. While the lack of photographic evidence is used to support the sceptical argument, many on the other side of the fence claim that in 1990, not everyone was walking around with a camera in their pocket. But this was 1990, not 1890. Camcorders had been rising in popularity since the 1980's and home videos were common among many families. So with this in mind, it does seem strange that more people weren't able to get a decent shot at these objects that reportedly buzzed the Belgian skies for over 2 hours.
One thing is for sure. The events in Belgium over the late 1980's and early 1990's will continue to be a battleground for the fight between UFO believers and sceptics, for years to come.