In August 1967, two children tending a herd of cows outside a village in central France reported seeing “four small black beings,” flying from the ground and slipping headfirst into a sphere that shot skyward in a flash of light and trail of sulfuric odors. The alleged extraterrestrial sighting, described by the French government as “one of the most astonishing observed in France,” is among 1,600 UFO case files spanning the last half-century that the country’s space agency opened to the public for the first time in 2007.
A 13-year-old boy named Francois Depleuch and his 9-year-old sister Anne Marie were watching over their family’s cows near the village of Cussac on August 29, 1967, when Francois spotted “four small black beings” about 47 inches tall, according to France’s National Center for Space Studies (GEIPAN) UFO reports 2007.
Thinking they were other youngsters, he shouted to his sister, “Oh, there are black children!” But as they watched, the four beings became agitated and rose into the air, entering the top of what appeared to be a round spaceship, about 15 feet in diameter, which hovered over the field.
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The first figure “flew up” vertically and dived headfirst into the top of the spaceship. The second followed him in the same manner and the third one, after standing up, did the same. The fourth figure rose off the ground, came down again, appeared to pick up something, then took off again and caught up with the sphere which, during this time, began to rise, making small circles and leaving some hail that reached a height of about 15 meters (50 feet). The fourth little figure then disappeared into the sphere in the same manner as the other three. As the sphere rose from the ground, a low, fairly sharp “hissing” noise was heard, like a breeze blowing which neither of the children felt. The object made a few more circles, still rising, and the intensity of the light emitted by the object increased greatly.
Just as the sphere rose up, one of the passengers emerged from the top, returned to the ground to grab something, then flew back to the sphere. The sphere rose silently in a spiral pattern before disappearing with a loud whistling sound at full speed into the northwest. It left “a strong sulfur odor after departure,” the report said.
The children raced home in tears, and their father summoned the local police, who “noted the sulfur odor and the dried grass at the reported place where the sphere took off,” the report continued. The investigators said they were impressed by the uniformity of detail provided by the children and other witnesses.
The details of the creatures are very interesting and quite detailed: they were about 1.20 meters (approx. 4 feet) in height but were not of the same height. The first and second were the smallest, and the fourth was the largest.
The children could not discern whether the black color was their skin color or if they were wearing suits of some kind. The arms were long, and no hands were noted. The legs were short and slender, and the feet of the fourth, when he caught up with the sphere, appeared to be webbed.
Apart from the strange smell felt after the supposed event, as well as the slightly yellowed grass, there are no real traces of the incident. A rural warden who did not attend the scene, but who lived nearby, said he also heard some noise.
A magistrate gave his opinion on the witnesses and their testimony: “There is in these various elements no fault, no discrepancy which makes it possible to doubt the sincerity of the testimonies, nor to reasonably envisage an invention, a deception or a hallucination. Under these conditions, despite the young age of the main witnesses, and however extraordinary the facts they related seem to be, I think that they really observed them.”
Several UFO investigators examined the incident over the following decade. And while there is very little doubt about the authenticity of the two witnesses, some doubt remains, as whether the incident is a genuine extraterrestrial close encounter. Incidentally, and to the children’s credit, they have not once varied in their telling of the incident. The fact that they witnessed something is quite apparent.
When UFO investigators Joel Mesnard and Claude Pavy visited the children several weeks later, they interviewed them separately. They also purposely asked the same questions in different ways to test the genuineness of their accounts. Each of them told the same version without any contradiction. Mesnard and Pavy stated their belief in the children’s account. And furthermore, the “significance and importance” of the case could not be dismissed.
While their age, as well as them being the only witnesses leads some to cast doubt on the details of the incident, one corroborating witness surfaced during the initial investigation into the case. A “rural policeman,” although not at the scene, claimed about hearing “a strange whistling” sound near the area of the sighting at roughly the same time the children said the incident took place.
France, like many countries, has a particularly long history of UFO sightings. Several of them took place in 1967.
Based on an investigation, restarted from scratch in 1988 (the investigation from the National Gendarmerie, French National Police, while in 1977 not having even been the subject of a report), 11 years after the facts, GEIPAN concluded that “the observed phenomenon cannot be assimilated to any phenomenon known to us.” They added: “The various elements and clues noted all go in the direction of the reality of the children’s statements.”
The boy, now mayor of Saint-Flour, later declared having experienced a “distortion” of time of which he feels unable to give the physical model and still wonders about the exact nature of his experience. He says that this observation makes him feel guilty without understanding the reasons.
The witnesses have never denied or contradicted their testimonies even 50 years after the events.