What education and what jobs did you have in the past?
I am a computer scientist engineer by training (1976). I joined the CNES (French Space Agency) in 1983, after a job in a small software company then in Hewlett-Packard.
In CNES, I have been in charge of several satellite monitoring and control subsystems (on board and on ground) and has been responsible for the development of the VEGETATION image processing centre (VEGETATION is a wide field earth observation instrument on
board SPOT4 and SPOT5).
In February 2007, I joined the European ESA Gaia project (An astrometry satellite launched late 2013) as manager of the CNES team in charge of the french Data Processing Centre.
I took the responsibility of the GEIPAN
in July 2011
In which way were you - to your own opinion - qualified to get the job as head of the UFO study section GEIPAN within CNES?
I've been selected to take the job because of my wide knowledge
of the space systems, as many CNES engineers, because an appreciated pragmatism, and because my long experience as an amateur astronomer and photographer.
Did you apply for the job yourself, or were you invited to apply for the
job as head of GEIPAN?
I applied by myself. 3 years before, I envisaged to apply to the position, but it was not appropriate to leave the Gaia project only one year after.
Did you care about the UFO-issue
earlier in your life? In what way?
As many ufologists, the story begins when I was a teenager, it was in the 60's: my father and my mother had heated debates about UFOs; my mother was believing in foreign visitors as my father
was a sceptic. My elder brother was a witness of the 1954 UFO wave.
In those days, I thought that science could sort out the question.
What thoughts, ideas and expectations did you have, when you took the job?
Following my thinkings of my youth, I still believed that science could sort out the question, and that I could participate to the investigation.
I hoped to find in the GEIPAN archive some major documents giving some evidences, or at
To what extent have you been able to realize your expectations and ideas during these years?
Science really helped us to sort out many cases, but always in the way of quite simple explanations:
fireballs, thunderballs, planets and stars, and mainly the psychology of the visual sense.
I finally found some "secret stamped" documents, but they are commonplace sighting reports of planets, moon or fireballs. They have been stamped "secret" because,
in the 50's, as the government suspected foreign intrusions, some UFO reports was systematically stamped "secret".
In what way have you influenced the work of GEIPAN in the elapsed time? So in what way do you think that things
have changed for GEIPAN in your period as head of GEIPAN?
My major influence was in the following ways:
-I applied myself to process all the sighting reports, strange or not: as many ufologists, the previous
GEIPAN managers focused on the stranger cases, but this gives a false view of the UFO phenomenon. You learn more when finding an explanation than ranking as "unidentified". Some sighting reports of Venus, moon, fireballs, space debris reentries or chinese
lanterns show clearly the weakness and biases of the human testimony.
-I reorganized the team of GEIPAN private investigators: I reduced to 20 the previous team of 100 "IPN" (First level investigator) to have a reliable and trained team.
the CAIPAN workshop with 100 guests: ufologists, scientists and public institutes (Army) -I made the 1954 UFO wave cases published.