The Hasenböl/Fischenthal Photos

The location of this site is about 10 km northeast of Hinwil, Meier's residence at that time. On March 29, 1976, Meier was telepathically summoned by his ET contactor to gather up his photographic equipment and ride his moped to a location up a hill that looks downwards off to the south and west, and to wait and watch for her beamship to appear. He spotted it when it was just a speck in the distance, and started taking pictures then (Stevens, 1982, p. 345; 1989, p. 429).

THE APPROACH OF THE CRAFT.  On the afternoon of that day Meier proceeded to take four rolls of beamship pictures with his 35mm camera, starting with photos of the craft as it was still rather distant and approached closer; of these, two rolls were somehow "lost," but 34 pictures from the other two rolls have survived his loaning them out in the late 1970s (Stevens, 1982, p. 343).
 Fig. 1. Photo #163, scanned from Meier's Hasenböl poster.  Fig. 2. Photo #179, from Meier's Hasenböl poster. Horizontal
line near top is a crease in the photo.

One of the first of these photos (Fig. 1) shows Meier's moped in the foreground, with the saddlebags in the rear into which he had stuffed his 35mm camera, his 8mm movie camera, rolls of film, a collapsible tripod, a pair of binoculars, extra clothing, and perhaps some food and water. A later photo, after the craft had approached relatively close, is shown in Fig. 2.

From six of these photos, Fig. 3 shows how the apparent size of the craft on the film increased as it neared.

 From #163  From #150  From #153
 From #167  From #173  From #179

 Fig. 3. Cropped sections from Meier's large 34-photo Hasenböl poster, with relative angular sizes preserved.
The photo numbering is not strictly chronological.
In these photos the ratio of the craft's apparent diameter when closest versus most distant is 9. If in #179 this had been a model some 3 meters distant from the camera, it would therefore need to have been emplaced some 27 meters (88 ft) distant for photo #163. It could not have been closer than 3 meters and still have been in satisfactory focus, since the focusing mechanism of Meier's camera was jammed just one stop short of infinity during 1975-76, and because his moped in the foreground of photo #163, about 3 meters away, exhibits some slight blurriness in its edges relative to the sharpness of the more distant tree branches, judging from the unscanned version. (The depth of field for Meier's camera with its f-stop jammed at f-11, a focus setting corresponding roughly to 20m, and a focal length of 42mm, ranges between about 4m and infinity.) Thus in this case the hoax hypothesis would require at least two models of similar appearance, one nearly an order of magnitude smaller than the other. If one model were 45cm (about 18 inches) in diameter, for example, the smaller one would need to be about 5cm (2 inches) in diameter, if positioned 3m from the camera. Either model would be difficult to construct, considering the craft's multiple protuberances around its rim and upper section. Consistent with this, those few who have given beamship models to Meier, to photograph with his camera to see how they turn out, have always supplied him with a model having a simple, smooth silhouette all around.

One photo, #152, taken when the craft was at a distance similar to that of #153 in Fig. 3 above, shows intervening branches of nearby trees; see Fig. 4 below.

 Fig. 4. Photo #152, from Meier's Hasenböl poster.

Although it would be much preferable if Meier's original slide of this could be analyzed, the thin twig intersecting the right edge of the craft's image does appear to lie in front of the craft. The awkwardness, or extra effort, then required of one or more hoaxers to suspend a model beamship on the other side of the bushes or trees that extend well above the camera's view, becomes apparent. For a model 30cm in diameter, the photo indicates its distance from the camera would have been about 11.8m, or 38.7ft, with about 2.6m of clear sky extending above it, and correspondingly greater distances for a 45-cm model. A hoaxer standing just behind Meier would then have needed to support a pole, from which the model UFO would be suspended, some 14m (46ft) or more in length. This would have been a very unwieldy implement, providing unsteady support and total entanglement with overhead tree branches.

On the other hand, if the craft is imagined to be a model on the near side of the twig, a very small model indeed would be required, as noted. If the original color slide were available for analysis, along with other photos of this series, the expert could also check for the haze effect. However, as noted elsewhere, by 1979 Meier had learned better than to loan out his originals and expect to receive them back again and in good shape.

A photo taken when the craft was at a rather high angle overhead is shown in Fig. 5.
 Fig. 5. Photo #168,
from Meier's Hasenböl poster.
From the ratio of long to short axes, its elevation angle can be calculated as being 59, assuming the craft's orientation was horizontal as in most of the other shots of this series. The region of sky above the craft in the photo, in which no support apparatus to dangle a model from is evident, extends over an angle of about 9. This means that if a hoaxer collaborating with Meier had been involved, standing behind him or off to the side and holding a long pole, the pole utilized would need to have been roughly 5 meters (or some 15-16 feet) in length from which to suspend a model UFO, in order that the top of the pole be out of sight above the top edge of the photo. An alternative would be for two collaborating hoaxers to stand off to each side of Meier, each holding a somewhat shorter, less unwieldy pole with an invisible line stretched taut between them from which a model UFO would be suspended. As noted elsewhere, however, no collaborators have ever come forward to claim credit for their supposed handiwork, while those who have investigated Meier closely have noted he is not the type of person who would consider falsifying any pictures, but rather is entirely honest.

THE CRAFT AT ITS CLOSEST APPROACH.  A cropped section from one of the three best known photos in this series is shown in Fig. 6. According to Meier's records that he later published in his Verzeichnis, this photo, #164,
 Fig. 6. Close-up view of the beamship and part of the tree.
From Stevens' calendar reproduction of Meier's photo #164.
was taken around 6 pm on March 29, 1976, shortly before sunset. This scan-up derives from one of Wendelle Stevens' large, high-quality 1990 calendar pictures, which in turn was derived from one of the numerous photos he acquired from Meier that are only one or two generations away from Meier's original color slides. The golden "rays" may constitute a lens flare associated with the sun being only partially obscured by the upper-right edge of the craft. (Although Meier recalls this having been the position of the sun then, and the variation in sky brightness seems to support this, Stevens believes the late afternoon sun lay off to the right-hand side of the photo, with the golden rays being reflected sunlight (Stevens, 1989, p. 430).)

Stevens (1982, p. 352), judging from his high quality reproduction (first generation) of Meier's original color slide #164, believed that a branch could be seen crossing over in front of the craft at its very left edge (see Fig. 6), thus proving the tree was in front of the craft. Similarly, a close acquaintance of Meier, Harold Proch, once examined Meier's photo of this scene very carefully, and could state with certainty, "You can see that the branches are in front of the ship, not behind. You must be blind not to see that" (Kinder, 1987, p. 42). Stevens wrote that he noticed a slightly broken symmetry between the left-most edge of the flange and the right-most edge due to a branch at the far left. However, from the photo material available to us, it would seem that the effect would look the same whether the branch continued on to the right in front of the dark underside of the craft's rim, or behind a model beamship.

Subsequent measurement of the tree's distance from the approximate position of Meier and his camera is given as 52 yards, or 47.6 meters (Elders et al., 1979, p. 36). From photo #64 and the "camera equation," and knowing the camera's focal length was 42mm and the original slide was 35mm in width, the beamship is deduced to have been 81 meters away, if it was 7 meters in diameter as Meier had been informed by his contactor. This diameter is consistent with the geometry of the swirled patterns of meadow grass (i.e., crop circles) left behind after some of Meier's ET contacts in 1975-76. In them, the swirled grass, though bent over but not broken, remained in the bent-over orientation for weeks and months afterwards. The locations of 15 sets of these is presented by Stevens (1989, pp. 213-220). See also Elders et al. (1979, pp. 60-61), Kinder (1987, pp. 32-34, 155 facing), and Moosbrugger (2001, pp. 112-114 and Figs. 37-44).

The question arises as to why neither of the two limbs extending upwards on the left of Fig. 6 show up there, if they cross over in front of the underside of the craft.
 Fig. 7a. Enlarged view of a treetop in photo
#164 having different backgrounds.
From Elders et al., (1979), p. 3.
The answer, of course, is that if they are of practically identical darkness as the underside of the craft, they should not show up, due to lack of contrast. It might be thought that they should exhibit a yellow-brown color, as these and other branches do elsewhere in Fig. 6 or in the enlargements in the photo-album of Elders et al. (1979, pp. 2, 36), and thus show up in front of the craft's dark underside. However, inspection of an enlarged portion of #164, as in Fig. 7a, reveals that this coloration to the limbs of the several treetops in view exists only where the background is of the sky, with its yellowish smoggy-air tinge when the sun is in the general vicinity. Where the background changes to the darker hill in the background, the limbs, though still lit by the sun on their backside, appear entirely dark from the camera's view opposite the sun. This yellowish tinge to the edges of the higher limbs was no doubt caused by one of the flaws associated with a camera's lens — lateral chromatic aberration, an inherent defect that has been partially overcome in more modern cameras. Differing colors do not get focused to precisely the proper spots on the film, due to the dependence of the index of refraction of the lens upon the wavelength of the light. The yellow tinge to the limbs thus derives spuriously from the yellow tinge of the immediately adjacent background. Therefore, limbs crossing over in front of the craft's dark underside would not exhibit any bright or yellowish edge; instead, they would have almost the same color and degree of darkness as the central stem of the tree in Fig. 6, which may be compared with the left underside of the craft in the same figure. Tree limbs do show up in front of the background hill of Fig. 7a, however, since the distant ridge has acquired a lighter appearance due to the haze effect, to provide a somewhat contrasting background.

Two more of Meier's photos show the craft in nearly the same position. A partially cropped picture of one of them, #175, is shown in Fig. 8a below,

 Fig. 8a. A portion of Meier's photo
#175 from his large Hasenböl
poster. F.I.G.U. (1998).
 Fig. 8b. Enlarged section of Fig. 8a (slightly tilted
relative to Fig. 8a), contrast enhanced using
Adobe Photo Deluxe, with circle added.

and an enlarged section of it in Fig. 8b. (A greater enlargement of Fig. 8a is shown in Elders et al, (1979, p. 37)). At this time the craft had tilted its front-facing side downwards ever so slightly, giving a front-on view that allows a thicker slice of the upper surface of its saucer rim to appear, which is bluish where it reflects the overhead sky, in slight contrast to the more yellowish-white tinge of the background sky. In Fig. 8b the circled area shows two faint limbs whose background very close above the craft's dark underside appears to be the craft's sloping saucer rim and not background sky. This photo is discussed further here.

The narrower tree limbs tend to fade in and out of view along their length, which adds uncertainty to their location relative to the beamship. This washing out of details is largely due to the camera having faced into the brightest portion of the sky adjacent to the sun.

Eyewitness observations by several others besides Meier of this same craft in the daytime occurred two months later. The report by one of them, plus a drawing of the craft made by Meier's oldest son, then aged 6 or 7, is presented here. See also Kinder (1987, p. 17) and Moosbrugger (2001, pp. 158-159).

DEBUNKING ATTEMPT.   Over two decades ago, Kal Korff attempted to debunk the more spectacular of these particular photos. In one magazine, he claimed that the photos resulted from Meier having photographed a model UFO in front of a model tree (Korff, 1981a). However, a photograph of one of the members of Stevens' investigative team, standing alongside what is clearly the same tree, which towers above him, is shown in the volume by Elders et al. (1979, p. 44). The tree was obviously real. In the same year Korff (1981b, p. 8) claimed that photo #175 was of a model UFO on a suspended string with the tree in the background, while also claiming on the same page that it was the result of superposing a negative of a model UFO upon a negative of the background scenery.

In his more recent debunking attempt, Korff opted for the scenario of a model UFO in front of a real tree (Korff, 1995, Fig. 73, p. 206). There he exhibited a version of Meier's photo #164 that had been manipulated such that its dark underside matched the same level of brightness as the surrounding sky. The manipulation had evidently involved use of the embossment routine of a photo-analysis program such as Adobe PhotoShop. This detail was not mentioned by Korff. The craft's flange was thereby highlighted with a bright strip around its girth, its underside with a black strip, and the tree limbs rendered similarly, where the contrast was sufficient. The rest of the image was the uniform gray that the embossment routine can supply. Since the tree limbs did not show up in front of the craft, due to the contrast being too poor to allow it there, while they did show up just below the craft, and since the edges of the craft were heavily outlined by the embossment routine, the impression was left that surely the limbs should have shown up crossing the underside of the craft if they had been present. The reader was not informed that dark limbs in front of the craft would not show up in front of the similarly dark underside of the UFO in his picture copy in the first place, due to lack of contrast.

 Fig. 7b. The image of Fig. 7a (above) after
subjecting it to the embossment routine
of Adobe PhotoDeluxe.

The inability of embossment software to detect a continuous edge that is present, such as the edge of a hill, when objects of very nearly the same intensity and color lie adjacent to it, is shown in Fig. 7b. The embossment routine could not tell that the edge of the hill (nearly horizontal, interrupted white line) actually should continue along without breaks, with the upper tree limbs lying behind the edge of the hill. The contrast between the foreground hill and the upper limbs of the tree beyond it was insufficient. Conversely, an embossment routine is incapable of showing shaded limbs in front of the dark underside a UFO when insufficient contrast is initially present bewteen the two.

Korff further attempted to debunk photo #164 using an edge enhancement of it that showed a short, sloping line segment above it and off to its right (Korff, 1995, Fig. 75, p. 207). It has the general appearance of Fig. 9 below and on the right, which contains a line segment I have added using the Windows "Paint" software.
 Fig. 9. A section of photo #164 in black
& white, with a line segment added, in
simulation of Korff's rendition.
No such indicator of a possible hoax was detected by Stevens' investigative team. Korff suggested that this extraneous line segment on his photo copy was a tethering line, which, however, does not lead up to any tethered balloon or blimp or other object, nor does it extend on downwards toward the ground! Instead, a fishing pole, or similar pole, supporting a vertical line would be the obvious choice from which a hoaxer would suspend a model UFO. The line segment would have needed to be 1/3 longer in order to simulate a pole to whose tip an invisible support line was attached.

Korff stated, "By shooting deliberately in the direction of the setting sun, Meier was able to use its glare to help obscure any supportive structures or 'strings' that were used to suspend the model" (Korff, 1995, p. 204). Of the 34 surviving photos in this series, however, only three ended up being shot towards the sun.

It appears to be no accident that Meier's photo evidence here may not seem to constitute proof positive to negative skeptics. According to the plausible deniability hypothesis, the negative skeptic should not be presented with totally undeniable proof, lest it drive him to despair, violence, insanity or suicide, and lest it cause the UFO coverup to fall apart prematurely. Instead, in this photo series the beamship pilot, Semjase, did not allow her craft to become clearly eclipsed behind any tree or object at a considerable distance from the camera, within its range of good focus, except for three photos for which she had maneuvered her craft in front of the sun and behind only the extreme periphery of the tree. Those three photos do constitute proof positive, upon close examination. However, the skeptic who does not look closely can simply claim the opposite, and thus the UFO coverup is maintained. The other exception is in the Fuchsbüel-Hofhalden photo series, where the negative skeptic was mollified by a different means.

In conclusion, the hoax hypothesis has little or nothing going for it in this series of photos. Although the photos in this case may not absolutely rule out a hoax, the pains a hoaxer would have had to go to in obtaining the 34 photos of this set, whose essence no skeptic has ever duplicated using a model, strongly argue against a hoax.

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Elders, Lee J., Nilsson-Elders, Brit, and Welch, Thomas K. (1979). UFO...Contact from the Pleiades. Munds Park, AZ: Genesis III Productions.

F.I.G.U. (1998). Poster of 34-photos from the Hasenböl-Fischenthal photo series of 29 March, 1976, made available by the Freie Interessengemeinschaft für Grenz- und Geisteswissenschaften (F.I.G.U.), CH-8495 Schmidrüti ZH, Switzerland. E-mail:

Kinder, Gary (1987). Light Years: An Investigation into the Extraterrestrial Experiences of Eduard Meier. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.

Korff, Kal K. (1981a). "The Billy Meier hoax," Frontiers of Science, March-April, p. 31. (Magazine no longer in print.)

Korff, Kal K. (1981b), with editorial assistance of William L. Moore. The Meier Incident: The Most Infamous Hoax in Ufology. Self-published.

Korff, Kal K. (1995). The Billy Meier Story: Spaceships of the Pleiades. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Press.

Moosbrugger, Guido (2001). And Yet... They Fly. Tulsa, OK: Steelmark LLC).

Stevens, Wendelle C. (1982). UFO Contact from the Pleiades: A Preliminary Investigation Report. Tucson, AZ: UFO Photo Archives (out of print).

Stevens, Wendelle C. (1989). UFO Contact from the Pleiades: A Supplementary Investigation Report. Tucson, AZ: UFO Photo Archives (out of print).

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