In August 1967, two children outside a village in central France reported seeing "four small black beings" fly from the ground and slip headfirst into a sphere that shot skyward in a flash of light and a smell of sulfur.
The alleged extraterrestrial sighting is among 1,600 UFO case files spanning the last half a century that the country's space agency opened to the public.
The National Center for Space Studies' posting of more than 100,000 pages of testimony, photographs, film and audio from its secret UFO archives onto its Internet site, www.cnes.fr, is unprecedented among Western countries. Most, including the United States, consider such records classified matters of national security.
Within three hours, the agency's server crashed.