Gun Camera Film
DEFE 24/1966 – contains a letter to the MoD from Ralph Noyes (pictured right), a retired senior MoD official who had responsibility for UFO incidents. In his 1994 letter Noyes describes seeing gun camera film of unidentified aerial phenomena captured by RAF fighter pilots during the 1950s. He claims this was shown at a secret sub ground film-show arranged for Air Defence staff at the MoD Main Building in 1970 when Noyes was head of DS8 (one of the branches responsible for UFOs). Noyes’ letter says a representative from the Meteorological Office was also present.
“…we were shown some slides, purportedly from aerial photographs taken by air crew. The highlight was a couple of brief clips of what I understood to be gun-camera material obtained as far back as 1956…the material was, on the whole, unimpressive: fuzzy greyish blobs in the daylight shots; small glowing globular objects in the night films. We were invited to comment. A civilian – the Met Office man, I think – suggested that we were witnessing unusual meteorological events. One of the Ops people said that ground-radar and air-radar responses had been reported on occasion. Somebody reminded us of the tendency of radar to produce spurious images on occasion. No conclusions were reached….Reflecting on this episode, I now rather feel that somebody in [Air Defence] had become uneasy about the occasional reports from air crew of unusual aerial objects but did not wish to expose himself to ridicule. The small informal gathering in the cinema was an opportunity to test the reactions of a few of us to the unusual objects caught on film. The lack of much response from any of us probably persuaded [him] to drop the subject.”
Despite a search of the archives by MoD staff in 1993-94 no trace of these films could be found and Noyes adds: “Quite possibly, the photographic material was simply scrapped, or ‘pinched’ for somebody’s private collection of curiosa, or conceivably passed to the Met Office.”
Politicians and UFOs
Some UFOlogists are obsessive letter-writers and this release contains a number of files dealing with “persistent correspondents” who have plagued the MoD and politicians with demands for information about UFOs. DEFE 24/2016, for instance, runs to 318 pages of correspondence between a Welsh UFOlogist, Dr Colin Ridyard, and the MoD. His campaign began in 1996 and ended in 2000 when Ridyard made an official complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman after his requests for disclosure of UFO documents were refused. During these four years Ridyard wrote 35 letters to the MoD, encouraged his MP to submit three Parliamentary Enquiries and organised a petition that was submitted to the House of Commons.
Other files feature a series of letters from UFO believers addressed first to the Tory Prime Minister John Major and then, from 1997, the newly-elected Tony Blair. These ask for the Prime Minister’s views on UFOs and alien life and appeal for the release of secret documents they believe the MoD are with-holding. On this evidence, David Cameron should expect a full postbag from UFO believers when he enters Downing Street in May! (for examples see DEFE 24/1967, DEFE 24/1968, DEFE 24/2011, DEFE 24/1969).
DEFE 24/1994 – contains details of one of the most hyped, and least substantial, UFO stories of 1997. This concerns a supposed UFO sighting in the vicinity of the Kent home of the former Tory Home Secretary, Michael Howard. The basis of the story was that a journalist and others had seen a triangular shaped object hovering near Howard’s home one night in March. The connection with Howard was tenuous, to say the least, and inquiries by the RAF found there was no unusual air activity or any security alert in the area at the time.
DEFE 24/2017 - Councillor Billy Buchanan, of Falkirk District Council, wrote to PM John Major in 1994 asking for an inquiry into a series of unexplained UFO sightings around Bonnybridge, a small town between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Press reports had described this region as "the Bonnybridge Triangle”. In his letter Cllr Buchanan claimed more than 600 separate incidents had been reported over a two year period. In response MoD said there was no need for them to investigate anything as they had received only a handful of reports from the Falkirk area. They felt most could be explained by aircraft overflying the area. In 1997 Cllr Buchanan wrote to Tony Blair again requesting an investigation but received a standard response from the MoD.
DEFE 24/2000 –In 1995 former MoD desk officer Nick Pope announced he had become a believer in UFOs and alien abductions. Whilst still a MoD employee, he published a book and interviews appeared in a number of national newspapers including the Daily Mail. As a result, in 1996 a member of the public quizzed the MoD on how they could justify their dismissive policy towards UFOs when one of their own officials was openly claiming there was evidence that UK airspace had been penetrated by ET craft. MoD stonewalled this perfectly reasonable question and told the inquirer that Pope’s statements were his own personal views and did not reflect MoD policy. This response led to an official complaint against the MoD by the writer, who said his “enquiries have been deliberately ignored and my correspondence has been met with bland and patronizing replies.”
DEFE 24/1967 – This file contains correspondence between the Spanish UFOlogist Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos and the MoD’s UFO desk officer Nick Pope concerning a flap of UFO reports over the UK in the early hours of 31 March 1993. This has subsequently become known as “the Cosford Incident” and is cited by Pope as the one unexplained case that helped to transform him from a skeptic to a believer in the existence of UFOs piloted by extraterrestrials. However, this file shows that Ballester Olmos supplied Pope with a comprehensive explanation for the sightings on 21 March 1994. He enclosed copies of a NORAD statement and computer simulation which shows the UFO was in fact the rocket that launched the Russian ELINT satellite Cosmos 2238. This was confirmed by other sightings made in Ireland and France on the same night, which resulted in a press release by the French CNES Space Agency confirming the Cosmos rocket as the source. In his response to Ballester Olmos dated 6 April 1994, Nick Pope makes the following statement: “I think it is clear that most of the UFO sightings that occurred on the night in question can be attributed to this event.”
All these files can be downloaded free of charge for the first month from http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ufos