Source: The Daily Mail (London, England) (Nov 15, 1999): p13. (1332 words)
Document Type: Newspaper
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Full Text :COPYRIGHT 1999 Solo Syndication Limited
Byline: NICK POPE [note: former MOD official and Coast to Coast AM veteran, thus can't be trusted]
DOCUMENTS and photographs detailing UFO investigations in Britain over 50 years are at last being made available for public scrutiny under New Labour's policy of greater openness in Government, according to reports at the weekend. Here, NICK POPE, the Ministry of Defence official formerly responsible for investigating extraterrestrial visitations, previews the eagerly awaited contents.
OFFICIAL interest in UFOs has always had more to do with the Russians than any impending visit from Martians.
But in keeping an eye out for the Soviet aircraft that routinely probed our air defences during the Cold War, it soon became clear that there were other more exotic craft operating in British airspace.
There has been a steady stream of UFO reports sent to the Ministry of Defence over the past 50 years between 200 to 300 each year.
They fill more than 200 files, files to which I have had access. If, and when, they are made available publicly, I can promise some exciting revelations.
For three years it was my job in Secretariat (Air Staff) 2A at the MoD to investigate such reports, to determine any potential threat to the UK. I found explanations for 90pc of sightings, which turned out to be misidentifications of ordinary objects or phenomena; aircraft lights, satellites, meteors and airships.
However, there has always been a hard core of sightings that couldn't be explained in conventional terms, where trained observers such as police officers and pilots have seen unidentified craft doing speeds and manoeuvres way beyond our capabilities.
Britain's most sensational UFO case occurred in 1980 in Rendlesham Forest, near the USAF/RAF airbase at Wood-bridge in Suffolk. UFO activity was witnessed over a series of nights, then on December 26 at 2am two patrolmen on a tour of the camp perimeter saw bright lights among the trees and went to investigate.
Initially, they thought an aircraft had overshot the runway, although there was no accompanying noise. But what they saw was like no aircraft they had ever encountered before; a large metallic, triangular object which they chased before losing it among the trees.
JUST two nights later, there was a similar sighting. This time the deputy base commander, USAF Lt-Col Charles Halt, led a team out to investigate. He submitted a report to the MoD, describing the UFO as 'metallic in appearance and triangular in shape'.
There is also an eerie 18-minute tape, which reveals conversations between Halt and his men as they moved to within 150 yards of the moving red and yellow lights.
The report says that suddenly the lights appeared to 'explode' in fragments of white light. Immediately, Lt-Col Halt observed three objects in the sky, like stars, but giving off red, green and blue lights, darting off in all directions in sharp, angular movements.
The objects were visible for two to three hours, occasionally flashing down beams of light or energy. Radiation readings were subsequently taken from the landing site in the forest and were found to peak in the three indentations where the craft had touched down in a clearing.
There are a number of intriguing aerial encounters in Britain's so-called X-files, too.
One of the earliest took place in August 1956, when a UFO was tracked on radar systems at RAF Bentwaters and RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk.
Two RAF jets were scrambled to intercept the mystery craft, and an energetic game of cat and mouse ensued as the pilots attempted to lock-on to the target. But the UFO was too quick and agile, and managed to elude the pilots, who eventually ran low on fuel and were forced to return to base.
Almost 40 years later, a number of RAF Tornado jets were overtaken by a UFO over the North Sea in November 1990. No adequate explanation was ever forthcoming.
Last year, also over the North Sea, a 900ft UFO was pursued by two fighter jets before it took off at 17,000mph.
More disturbing are the reports to the MoD that detail near-misses between UFOs and civil aircraft. There were two such cases in 1991, both over Kent.
In 1995, the pilots of a Boeing 737 encountered what they described as a brightly lit UFO while on their approach to Manchester Airport, and believed that it had passed only yards from their aircraft.
This incident was investigated by the Civil Aviation Authority but remains a mystery.
One of the most fascinating cases that I investigated related to an incident that occurred in the early hours of March 31, 1993.
There had been a wave of UFO sightings that night, culminating in the direct overflight of two military bases, RAF Cosford and RAF Shawbury in Shropshire.
The UFO was described by one of the military witnesses as being a vast, triangular craft only marginally smaller than a jumbo jet. It flew slowly over the base at a height of 200ft, firing a narrow beam of light at the ground, before flying off at high speed.
These then, are the sorts of incidents to be found in the MoD's UFO files.
But the files also contain reports of alien abductions, the appearance of crop circles and animal mutilations, all of which have been linked with UFOs.
THE MoD was drawn into the crop-circle debate in 1985 - five years after they first started appearing when a farmer in Middle Wallop, Hampshire, found a quintuplet of crop circles and blamed the local Army air corps base.
A Lt-Col Edgecombe investigated and submitted photographs and reports to the MoD, a routine procedure but one which gave credence to the UFO link and allegations that then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had asked for a report on the phenomemon.
I have reviewed all the theories about crop circles and, while many are hoaxes, there are those which have yet to be explained; for example, why do crop samples taken from these 'genuine' circles show distinct cellular changes.
Some details of UFO sighting in Britain have, of course, already been made public under the 30-year rule which applies to sensitive documents, but by releasing files from more recent years the Government clearly hopes to end speculation that it has been covering up the truth about the phenomenon.
Unfortunately, releasing the files is a tactic that some people think could backfire.
A similar initiative in the U.S. simply fuelled interest in the subject, and led to accusations that other more highly classified papers were still being withheld.
The U.S. government's denial was not helped by the claims of a former U.S.
army colonel, Philip Corso, who said that the so-called Roswell incident from 1947 - in which alien corpses were allegedly seen at an air force base in New Mexico - really did involve the crash of a UFO.
Colonel Corso claimed that he'd seen the bodies, and that his job at the Pentagon involved finding ways to use the technological secrets gleaned from the debris of the craft. He died of a heart attack shortly after going public with these claims, so took the secrets to his grave.
Conspiracy theorists love this sort of thing, and are unlikely to be satisfied by any release of papers that doesn't support their own theories.
But there really isn't any cover-up in the UK, although a letter sent from the MoD to the U.S. government in 1965 admits that MoD policy 'is to play down the subject of UFOs'.
My three years of official research into the UFO phenomenon changed my life for ever. I'd come into the job as a sceptic, but came to believe that some UFOs might well be extraterrestrial.
If these files are to be made public, I think people are in for a big surprise, and I believe that, like me, they will come to see that this is a serious subject which raises important national security issues.
As far as these files are concerned . . . the truth is in there!