UFO sightings over the supposedly boring country of Belgium surged last year with astonished Belgians reporting higher numbers of possible alien spaceships than in 2017.
Belgium recorded 255 reports of UFOs in 2018, an increase on the 171 witnessed in 2017. Sightings were up across the whole country, peaking in October, with increases in the French-speaking region of Wallonia, Dutch-speaking Flanders and Brussels.
179 sightings were reported in more prosperous Flanders, compared to 76 in more rural Wallonia. Brussels is the country’s third federal region and the mayor of the leafy suburb of Wezembeek-Oppem made news last summer when he claimed to have spotted a UFO.
Belgian UFO investigators told the Telegraph that the 2018 figures were a return to the form shown over the last five years.
Despite being smaller than Switzerland, Belgium has regularly punched above its weight when it comes to UFO sightings. Even in 2017, a relatively fallow year, it outscored Norway, Finland and Denmark and recorded only a handful fewer sightings than its much larger neighbour France.
From November 1989 to April 1990, Belgian UFO spotters enjoyed their golden age. The Belgian UFO Wave involved multiple reports of triangular shaped craft in Belgian skies over an extended period, including one which was chased by F-16 fighter jets.
Patrick Ferryn, president of Cobeps, the francophone Belgian committee for the study of space phenomena, said, “You must know that most of these sightings will have the most banal explanation but there is a residue, which we simply can’t explain. And of those, there may be two or three where we may have questions over where they came from."
“We don’t know why the numbers have increased this year. It was a hot summer and it may be simply that when the weather is good and the skies are clear, people look at the skies more often,” he added.
Out of the 76 sightings in Wallonia, 14 were explained, 12 "probably explained" and 28 were impossible to evaluate because there was too little information. There were “reasonable doubts” about eight sightings, although the witness accounts lacked important information.
14 were still under investigation by Cobeps, which last reported an inexplicable UFO sighting in 2015, when there were 317 sightings across the country.
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In 2018 the majority of sighting were explained away as being planes, balloons, meteors and satellites. The culpable satellite normally turned out to be the International Space Station.
Between 2010 and 2016, more than half of Belgian UFOs turned out to be Chinese lanterns, a decorative candle powered hot air balloon.
“Surprisingly drones have still not had an impact,” said Mr Ferryn, “Ever since the first drones went on the shelves we have been waiting to be submerged with reports of a galactic invasion of drones – but it still has not happened.”
Mr Ferryn said there was simply no comparison with the famous Belgian UFO Wave, which has been dismissed by some as a mass delusion. There is no video or photographic evidence of the craft despite the many sightings.
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“This is definitely not a new wave of the Belgian wave of UFOs,” he said, “Then the quantity of sightings was higher, more frequent and concentrated on one region of Belgium and all the descriptions were similar rather than the very different descriptions of last year.”