Saturday, 21 March 2009

Other Key Highlights

The origins of the Condign report?

 These files reveal how in 1988 DI55 were involved in a project to produce a computerised database of UFO reports, working with staff from a branch of the RAF scientific staff. They hoped to use this as the basis for a secret MoD study of UFO reports. A key document produced by DI55’s assistant director on 14 January 1988, reveals that a contractor had been inputting data into computers “as a part-time low priority activity”. He adds that “I personally doubt that the MoD would lose much if we filed UFO reports in the waste paper basket”. But because the subject “is given prominence by enthusiastic cranks” it was necessary to keep a record so that ministers could reply to Parliamentary questions. See DEFE 31/176:423.

But the UFO project came to a dramatic halt later in 1988 when the head of MoD’s Secretariat (Air Staff) learned of a plan to task a work-experience student with the job of inputting a sample of 100 UFO reports into computers. Sensing a public relations disaster if news of the project’s existence were leaked, in March Sec(AS) demanded all work on the project should cease. In a memo dated 11 March 1988 a clearly exasperated Defence Intelligence officer wrote: “I understand that when Sec(AS)2 heard about the study, they decreed that all work should cease as it was in contravention of Ministerial statements to the effect that UFOs did not pose a threat to the UK, and that resources would not be diverted from more important work to investigate UFO incidents…[we understand] that there was some concern about public reaction if knowledge of the work being undertaken emerged in the media” (see DEFE 31/176:224). Nevertheless, DI55 continued to log UFO reports and would eventually obtain funding for a full study (Project Condign), completed in 2000.     


RAF fighter jets overtaken by UFO?

This incident took place on 5 November 1990 over Germany: The crews of six RAF Tornado jets from 2 Squadron, Laarbruch, reported being over-taken by giant UFO whilst on an exercise controlled by Dutch radar. The pilots believed the UFO could have been a test flight of the then top-secret USAF F117 Stealth fighter. Their brief report and internal discussion can be found at DEFE 31/180:180-182. The MoD papers reveal that no investigation was carried out into the sighting because it “occurred outside UK airspace”. But intelligence officers appeared to believe the pilots may have seen a top secret American aircraft and UFOlogists who inquired about the incident were advised to contact the Dutch air force; see: DEFE 31/180:157. It later emerged that the RAF Tornado pilots had actually seen burning debris from a Soviet rocket body, used to launch a satellite into orbit, that fell back to earth, re-entering the atmosphere in a spectacular light show over central Europe. A re-investigation of the incident during 2005 by Dutch researchers – plus a recording of the discussion between the pilots and Dutch ground controllers – can be found here.

Close Encounter of the Nordic Kind:

“One of our more unusual UFO reports” notes a covering letter from RAF Wattisham copied to MoD and Norfolk police, dated 21 November 1989. The RAF base received a call from “a distressed female” who refused to divulge her name and address. After she was reassured she told the following story: “[at approx 10.30pm on the previous evening] she was walking her dog on a sports field not far from her home in Norwich. She was approached by a man who asked her if she would listen to what he had to say. She described the man as 5’5” fair hair with a Scandinavian type accent and dressed in a light brown garment similar to a flying suit. He asked her if she was aware of stories about large circular flattened areas  appearing in fields of wheat, and then went on to explain that he was from another planet similar to earth and that the circles had been caused by others like him who had travelled to earth. He went on to explain that the purpose of their visits were friendly but that they were told not to have contact with the people of earth for fear that they might be treated as a potential threat. He had spoken to her because he felt it was important for contact between the two people to occur. The caller said that she was completely terrified while this was taking place and couldn’t remember much else about the conversation. After about ten minutes the man left her and she ran towards home until she heard a loud buzzing noise behind her and turned to see a large spherical object, glowing orange-white rising vertically from behind some trees which rose steadily until out of sight.” RAF Wattisham’s report says “[our] conversation with the lady lasted about one hour followed by another ten minutes when she rang again. I could not get her to divulge her name or address but I believe that this was a genuine call.” See DEFE 24/1938:  38-39.

UFO v helicopter


  • On the night of 21 February 1988 a helicopter crew reported a close encounter with a “very bright flashing red light” which first appeared stationary 10-20 miles away. Then it made directly towards them, approaching within half a mile at an altitude of between 3-4,000 feet. The UFO appeared to be 200-300 yards long with red and white lights and appeared “to swerve to miss the helicopter” as it descended. “Then [the UFO] appeared to stop, remained stationary for a while, then accelerated in reverse on a parallel course.” There is no evidence of any follow up by MoD. No location is apparent in the brief report at DEFE 31/176: 257.


  • Two air traffic controllers at Heathrow filed a report with MoD describing a black inverted boomerang shaped UFO seen from the airport control tower early on the morning of 17 December 1992. The object was stationary, then moved steadily away. DEFE 31/ 181: 128. One week earlier, on 9 December, numerous witnesses in Louth, Lincolnshire, including the Commander of RAF Donna Nook bombing range, reported seeing three lights which appeared to be attached to a large, triangular shaped craft. This UFO hovered, turned on its axis and then shot off upwards at a speed estimated at 500 mph. DEFE 31/ 181: 281-2.


  • DI55 and MoD Security were asked to look into “any security implications” following a report of a UFO near Belfast (Aldergrove) Airport, Northern Ireland, in December 1989. A man jogging at Glenavy reported seeing “a missile shaped object, approx 10-12 ft long” with a green neon-coloured flame emerging from the rear zoom silently overhead. It disappeared with a “muffled bang”. The Royal Ulster Constabulary were asked to investigate if the sighting was linked to IRA activity. Inquiries discovered two helicopters were airborne at the time but the pilots did not see anything unusual. Papers at DEFE 24/1938: 1-9; DEFE 31/179: 209-217.


  • UFO implicated in power-cut?: Police received calls reporting mysterious lights in the sky; at the same time a power-cut left parts of Ipswich, Suffolk, in darkness on the night of 11 November 1989. A Meteorological Officer from RAF Wattisham, driving on the A45 saw “a white light stationary in the sky with a small red light descending from it as though it was a parachute flare”. No aircraft were in the area at the time. Eastern Electricity traced the power cut to “a switch-gear [which] had blown up due to water contamination.” DEFE 24/1938: 59-61.


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