UFOs on Radar
DEFE 24/1977 – contains papers on the Boston Stump radar incident (see my 2006 Fortean Times article for full background). Unusual phenomena seen on radar are oft-cited by UFOlogists as examples of hard evidence for the existence of “structured craft of unknown origin.” The key radar case in these papers occurred during a UFO flap over East Anglia on 5 October 1996. Police reported seeing flashing coloured lights over The Wash and alerted the coastguard, who contacted the RAF. This call led radar operators to link the UFO scare with an unidentified “blip” they could see hovering above Boston in Lincolnshire. But as this "UFO" did not move for nine hours – until dawn broke - cool observation confirmed it was a "permanent echo" caused by the 273ft (83m) spire of St Botolph’s Church, known locally as Boston Stump. The lights seen and captured on video by the police (still taken from police video - above right) were easily explained as bright stars which faded in the dawn sky. This illustrates how easy it is, even for experienced operators, to misinterpret natural phenomena seen on radar as something extraordinary, particularly when a UFO flap is underway.
DEFE 24/2008 – UFO on radar, Prestwick Airport, Glasgow. Air traffic controllers at Prestwick in Scotland tracked a huge UFO on the morning of 15 February 1999. The blip appeared to be ten miles wide and two miles long and travelled at a speed estimated at 1000 knots across the Irish Sea. This report triggered an investigation by RAF Air Defence experts. They examined the video tape from Prestwick control tower and compared its contents with recordings from RAF air defence radars. This revealed there were no aircraft in the area at the time and nothing unusual was detected by RAF radars. The conclusion was: “recorded radar data replays do not support the sighting”.
DEFE 24/1989 – Radar/visual UFO. Even more intriguing is a brief report of a sighting made by the crew of a fishing trawler in the North Sea, 19 miles northeast of Fraserburgh. At lunchtime on 15 August 1997 one spotted a “round, flat bodied, shiny object” at a distance of less than a mile from the ship at low altitude. The object was visible for 30 minutes during which it was picked on the ship’s surface search radar and was observed by the other three crew members. The UFO approached the trawler, then moved out to sea before it “vanished almost instantaneously.”
DEFE 24/1988 – In March 1997 mysterious "angel hair" was dumped by a UFO on a suburban garden in Birmingham. Angel hair is a cobweb or jelly-like substance that drops from UFOs and has also been reported during experiences with the Blessed Virgin Mary. Like fairy food and ectoplasm it quickly evaporates before it can be examined. In this case the observer was alerted by barking dogs to the presence of a large blue triangular-shaped object hovering silently over his garden at 4 AM one morning. As he went outside the UFO suddenly shot off into sky and disappeared, leaving behind “a silky-white substance on the tree-tops”, some of which he collected inside a jam jar. There is nothing in the file to suggest MoD were interested in obtaining this sample for further analysis. This became just another routine call logged by the UFO desk and forgotten about
Alien Abduction and Cattle Mutilations
DEFE 24/1979 contains a policy statement on reports of "alien abductions" prepared by UFO desk officer Kerry Philpott in 1996 in response to a letter from Welsh UFOlogist Chris Fowler. As the existence of intelligent ET life is not proven, the subject is “a non-issue” as far as MoD were concerned. The letter adds that “any form of abduction is a civil police matter but can only be investigated if there is any evidence to support the claim.” Similarly, in response to a letter asking if MoD had investigated links between UFOs, BSE and unexplained cattle mutilations, Philpott responded: “criminal aspects of animal mutilations are matters for the civil police, who would investigate any claims based upon the evidence available.”
UFO crash at US listening post?
DEFE 24/1981 – contains a bizarre claim linking RAF Menwith Hill, North Yorkshire, the controversial joint US/UK base for electronic eavesdropping with UFOs. In 1997 a UFOlogist wrote to the base claiming that two farmers nearby had seen a disc-shaped object inside the base perimeter escorted by guards. The farmers were ordered to move away from the perimeter fence. In a joint statement, the base and MoD said "no UFO/flying saucer has landed in the vicinity of Menwith Hill and the base had no connection with UFO research.”
Rendlesham Forest Incident
DEFE 24/2011 - The ‘Rendlesham Forest’ UFOs reported by USAF security policemen at RAF Woodbridge, Suffolk had become a cause celebre by 1999. In this year Scottish UFOlogist James Easton published copies of the original witness statements made by the USAF security police in January 1981 that he had obtained from an American UFO group. Copies of these statements were sent to the MoD and placed on a departmental file.