Interview du témoin par le GEPAN

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Mr. Nicolai is a man who has been ill for several years: He suffered an infractus with subsequent relapse which now prevents him from exercising his professional activity. He was very tired when we visited him. After the reconstruction of the events, he had to go inside and rest while we collected the samples. Afterwards, Mrs. Nicolai told us that he could see us again. She gave us some additional details about his observation, and she expected from us some explanations in return.

We had our conversation in the family kitchen, where Mr. Nicolai was waiting for us. He resumed his narrative, trying to find an explanation that would satisfy his curiosity. He reviewed the various kinds of flying craft (airplanes and especially helicopters) but he stated, "It isn't possible to land here, there are other sites in the valley that are more convenient, more flat."

Mr. Nicolai came back to the device, and especially to the marvelous technology it represented, repeating, "It made practically no sound, it flew vertically, it fell like a stone and it didn't break," and he concluded "it's probably a military device, there are some nearby." He was alluding to the camp at JOUVAN, not far from Trans.

Premières réactions

We have stressed the fact that Mr. Nicolai did not observe the object passively; instead he went closer to this device that had landed on his property, while staying on guard behind the cabin wall. His first idea was that of a military craft. This was still his hypothesis when we came to see him, in spite of many visits by policemen, journalists, civilian investigators, and others. He felt sure he had been confronted with a type of military equipment he found remarkable for its flight characteristics and its landing precision. He eliminated right away the helicopter idea because of the proximity to the retaining wall: "The device was almost against the wall."

After the event he resumed his work on the pump shelter. When his wife came home about an hour later he tried to explain to her what he had seen that afternoon. Mrs. Nicolai did not believe her husband at all. Given his state of health, she even advised him to go and rest. The next morning he convinced her to come and see the traces which were still visible. Mrs. Nicolai went with him and observed the traces. She then realized that something had indeed taken place and that her husband had not told her the story as a joke. She immediately decided to tell her neighbors who had a certain social status (revenue service inspection) and who could advise her regarding the steps to be taken. These neighbors alerted the Gendarmerie at Draguignan.

Changement du système de croyances

During our interview Mr. Nicolai told us that he has heard the word UFO ("OVNI" in French) on television. The family TV set is the kitchen where he eats all his meals and where he spends several hours a day watching various programs. Otherwise Mr. Nicolai tells us he practically never reads, not even the newspapers. Thus, he does not know what the letters UFO stand for: we explain the meaning of the term to him.

The witness tells us that he has often heard this word since his observation. Private group members and journalists have spoken to him about "extraterrestrials" to find out if he had observed any. He answers frankly, without any hesitation and even with a little smile, that he has never seen any such thing. He then starts discussing life in the universe. He doesn't know precisely what this concept refers to; he confuses the notions of "universe" and of "galaxy." He speaks about the stars and believes that if there are stars there are other forms of life, and that such extraterrestrial life would manifest in a way identical to ours.

Regarding his religious beliefs and their evolution after his sighting, he answers that he believes in God and that this event changes nothing about his beliefs. His wife who attends the interview, insists in getting into the discussion to answer in place of her husband. She speaks about her own religious views. She explains that for the last few years she has evolved towards less strong beliefs. She does not have a precise idea about the meaning of the terms "Universe" or "Space" and she shares her husband's notions about extraterrestrial life. At the end of our interview she insists in pointing out that we would never have met with her husband if it were not for the trace visible the ground. She does not quite understand why people are so interested in what her husband has observed.

Enquête de suivi

As a result of inquiries made to civilian and military agencies in the area regarding aerial traffic over Trans-en-Provence we were told by ALAT that it seemed only a helicopter flight had taken place, at an altitude of 200 m about 4:30 p.m. on January 8, 1981. Trans-en-Provence is located close to one of the largest camps for military maneuvers in France, at JOUVAN. We alerted military authorities to find out if any unusual activity had taken place on that day. The only notable event around the time of the sighting was a short-distance firing of a tank gun using a blank shell. The gun fired towards the West, and the event took place over 25 km North of Trans-en-Provence.

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