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 Case #16

Hamburg, Germany - January 4, 1973

This report from Germany is the earliest sighting in the catalogue backed up with photograph evidence. It was published in March 1975 in the British journal Flying Saucer Review. The witness/photographer is Mr. Yusuke J. MATSUMURA, a former WWII Japanese Air Force pilot and an active member of the UFO community. Our case summary is the integral text of a short item prepared especially for FSR by Mr. MATSUMURA.

After a business trip to Bulgaria and Hungary, I was due to fly home to Japan on January 4, 1973. My booking was for Lufthansa flight No. LH656 from Hamburg, bound for Tokyo via the North Pole.

As it turned out, there was dense fog at Hamburg, and flight No. LH656 was unable to call there as scheduled, and was rearranged to fly direct to Tokyo from Frankfurt-am-Main. A special flight was laid on to take passengers to Frankfurt, and this left Hamburg airport at 12.52 p.m. The 'plane was a Boeing 737 "City" jet.

The 737 climbed swiftly through the bank of fog and clouds, and when it emerged into clear sky, I saw what was apparently a disc-shaped UFO, sharply outlined against the orange sky which had the appearance of a sunset. The UFO banked slowly in the "9 o'clock" direction to the left (port side) of the air liner.

While the airplane was rolling and pitching in the "bumpy" weather, I took two colour photographs in quick succession, but the moment the shutter was pressed the object went out of sight. However, there was another witness known to me, a German stewardess, who was sitting just behind my seat, who was talking to me. She told me that she saw a similar object over the North Sea towards the end of 1972. She was in good cheer and asked me to send her copies of the pictures.

The prints used here are black and white, reversed from the colour photos. The photos A1 an B2 are enlargements of the object 300X. The camera used was a Canon FTb, FD 50mm, f1.4 s.s.c. lens with skylight filter, diaphragm f8, shutter speed 1/250th second; film, Kodak Kodacolor.

Black and white enlargements from photos No. 1 and 2

Black and white enlargements from photos No. 1 and 2.

The unidentified object in the photos 300x enlarged

The unidentified object in the photos 300x enlarged. [All images scanned from FSR Vol. 20, No. 5].

Comment - Mr. MATSUMURA refers to the object's appearance as "disc-shaped" and "sharply outlined", but this is not apparent from the photos which show a distinct yet fuzzy-edged dome or triangle-like shape. It is not sure either whether the sentence "banked slowly to the left of the air liner" should be taken literally, or if this change in position was caused by the airplane correcting its course to due South after having taken off from the NNW/SSE oriented runway. How the object "went out of sight" after the second picture was snapped, is also not specified.

At 13:00 p.m. on January 4, 1973, the Sun was in the South (azimuth: 188°). Elevation was 13°. The object itself must have been positioned roughly in the East ("'9 o' clock' direction" while flying on a southern course from Hamburg to Frankfurt-am-Main).

A 1957 photo of a 'flying saucer' taken by Yusuke MATSUMURA

A 1957 photo of a "flying saucer" taken by Yusuke MATSUMURA. [Item found on]

It should be pointed out that Mr. Yusuke MATSUMURA is the Director of the Japan-based "Cosmic Brotherhood Association" (CBA International) and that he claims to have observed and photographed unidentified objects from airplanes on at least three other occasions. The first time was in the afternoon of December 21,1961. Looking out of the window of a JAL aircraft passing near Mount Aso, Japan, Mr. MATSUMURA reportedly saw "a slender almost needle-shaped 'cloud' of a distinct color" parallelling the airliner's flight path. A second incident is said to have taken place on July 13, 1962. Sitting in an All Nippon Airways Viscount turboprop airliner enroute from Sappora to Tokyo, Japan, cruising at 4,650 metres (15,256 feet), Mr. MATSUMURA noticed an "immense" "slightly hazy and mistly outlined" "disc-shaped craft". STEVENS & ROBERTS (1985) point out that this "craft" was not unknown to Yusuke MATSUMURA "as he had seen this type before in his own personal UFO contacts, and was familiar with the occupants of these ships" (sic). And finally, on February 12, 1963, Mr. MATSUMURA was able to photograph "two needle-shaped slender whitish cloud-like objects" parallelling the flight path of the All Nippon Airways Boeing 727 jetliner he was in. Poor-quality prints of the photos of the "objects" sighted were published on pages 128, 129 and 194-195 of UFO PHOTOGRAPHS Around The World - Vol. 2, a book compiled by Wendelle C. STEVENS and August C. ROBERTS and published privately by UFO PHOTO ARCHIVES, Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A. in 1985. At first sight, the "unknown objects" in these pictures look like isolated sunlit clouds (possibly lenticularis). More disturbingly, however, is Mr. MATSUMURA's claim that he has been photographing "spaceships" since 1957 (the scanned article on the right contains an example from his first series). One may argue that Mr. MATSUMURA's fascination with UFOs turned him into a very attentive observer and that, as such, he would detect and report unusual sky phenomena faster than the average aircraft passenger. Still, considering the multitude of fantastic stories and photos already produced by this repeater witness, there is no guarantee as to the authenticity of the story and images presented in this entry.

The authors look forward to receiving additional reports and/or comments which may help assess the soundness of the mirage theory for this particular type of UAP sightings (to contact us, see our e-mail address on the contact page).