Source: The Daily Mail (London, England) (Nov 27, 1997): p37. (1364 words)
Document Type: Newspaper
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Full Text :COPYRIGHT 1997 Solo Syndication Limited
Byline: ELIZABETH QUIGLEY
DRIVING through the inky blackness of a chil November night, Vera Prosser clutched her Lottery ticket and dreamt of a giant glittering finger reaching out of the heavens. Seconds later, the car was flooded with a blinding white light and her fond imaginings turned to terror.
Her 13-year-old daughter started to scream hysterically as the eerie vision hovering in a nearby field moved closer, disturbingly silent but clearly visible through the car's sun roof.
'I could see this big, plaited steel rope round the bottom of it, just like the cables on the Forth Road Bridge,' said Mrs Prosser, 51. 'It was as close as that - I could actually see the pattern. I wouldn't want to see that again.' She put her foot down on the accelerator and frantically drove away.
Three years later, Heather still refuses to tell any of her schoolfriends about their close encounter with a craft from another world.
Before the incident she would have laughed at anyone who had told her they had seen a UFO - now she is not so sure.
Mrs Prosser and her daughter are not alone. They are among 3,000 people who claim to have seen something strange above Bonnybridge in Stirlingshire and the neighbouring areas in the last five years.
Flashing lights, flares shooting from the heavens and hovering black discs have all apparently been seen in what is now known as the Bonnybridge Triangle - and, try as they might, sceptics cannot explain them all away.
Pensioners Bill and Mabel Bestall have had three sightings from their seventh-floor flat looking out over the town. The first was in the early hours of the morning when 75-year-old Mr Bestall was petrified to see a large circular light heading towards their home.
It was followed by two smaller circular objects which flew straight for them and then veered up and over the top of the building. Five months later they saw the objects again while visiting friends who signed an account of what happened.
But even more alarming are the stories of being abducted by alien beings.
Especially that of Gary Wood, an ambulanceman, and his friend Colin Wright, who left Edinburgh to make a 45-minute journey to the village of Tarbrax - but arrived almost three hours later.
They saw a black, disc-like object, much wider than the road and hovering above the ground. In a desperate attempt to get away, they speeded up and drove under it.
They were plunged into darkness and when they came back into light they did not realise two hours had passed. After undergoing weeks of hypnosis, the two men separately came up with the same stories.
'I was screaming and bawling like a little kid and felt I was being electrocuted,' said Mr Wood. 'I saw this thing with dark eyes, right in my face, looking at me.' Lying paralysed with fear on a platform, he saw the strange creatures scrutinising him like a specimen under a microscope.
'You feel daft telling people these things, but I was very scared by what happened to me,' he said. 'I haven't had a good night's sleep since.'
CHILDREN from Bonnybridge are teased at school in nearby Falkirk when they confess where they come from. The word 'Bonny-bridge' prompts teenagers from other towns to pretend fingers are antennae coming out of their heads and to point at every car headlight in mock horror, pretending it is a UFO.
But local councillor Billy Buchanan has shrewdly decided these sightings should be used for the good of the town - not just to turn its residents into the butt of other people's jokes.
Busloads of tourists from America, Japan and South Africa have already started arriving, eager to see the place where two out of every three UFO sightings in Britain occur.
Now Mr Buchanan plans to capitalise on this interest by setting up a visitor centre and a theme park. Most of the members of Falkirk Council are sceptical but are warming to the idea that, regardless of whether or not UFOs exist, they might bring a much-needed jobs injection.
As Mr Buchanan puts it: 'People don't believe in Mickey Mouse, but they go to Disneyland.' Last month three busloads of Japanese tourists turned up, only to wander round the housing estates looking in vain for any sign of the extraordinary. A party from Stafford decided to stay overnight and the Tourist Office scrambled to find them bed and breakfast accommodation.
Most visitors find their way to Mr Buchanan's office or home, where he serves up tales of the unexpected, along with cups of tea and his wife's home baking.
'Visitors are coming from everywhere and we can't cope with them - we have nothing here,' he said.
Mr Buchanan says interest has been shown by the theme park firm Sarner, which was involved in the Lanark Conservation Village, the London Dungeon, Madame Tussaud's and the Jorvik Viking Centre in York.
The estimated [pounds sterling]10million cost of setting up the centre and theme park would, he argues, be offset by up to [pounds sterling]5million being brought in every year.
Although a tongue-in-cheek sign on his office door informs passersby that 'the truth is in here', he takes his money-spinning idea very seriously. He wants to see a flying saucer-shaped dome built to house an audiovisual exhibition on the sightings and a proper information-gathering service.
Mr Buchanan has been juggling UFOs and aliens with housing and other more normal council queries since one evening in 1992 when a local businessman came to his door with a story now becoming familiar.
The man had been driving into Bonny-bridge when he saw a bright object blocking his path which hovered in front of him and then disappeared at great speed after about ten minutes.
Mr Buchanan then placed an advert in a local paper to find out if anyone else had witnessed the event - hundreds of phone
calls and sackfuls of letters have been arriving ever since.
One of the calls was from a 'ufologist' called Malcolm Robinson who shares a caravan in Alloa (bearing a registration plate 'UFO ONE') with dozens of miniature models of aliens. As a child he was fascinated with everything to do with UFOs and aliens as well as the supernatural.
NOW at the age of 40, married with three children, he works as a bottle checker at a glass company in Alloa but spends all his free time investigating UFOs and other unexplained occurences through his society Strange Phenomena Investigators.
He records all the incidents he hears about and checks with airports, flying clubs and the meteorological office to try to find a rational explanation for what has happened. But he has been unable to explain many of the sightings. About three years ago he claims he saw a UFO in Wester Ross.
'I saw a column of light tumbling down from the sky and then going back up,' he said. 'It wasn't a flare or a firework. I don't know what it was.'
One of the strangest stories he has heard was of a woman in Fife who saw hundreds of little grey creatures carrying boxes to a spacecraft and said she saw them later looking through into her home.
'It's a hard story to swallow, even for me,' he admitted.
He has found logical explanations for some of the sightings, but others remain a mystery.
'Bonnybridge has nothing that would interest aliens, but it is a hotspot,' he said.
'I suppose it's like saying why was Christ born in Bethlehem? Why not Australia?' Mr Buchanan is tired of being ridiculed for his obsession with UFOs: 'There's nothing worse than weans shouting 'Spaceman' at you down the street.' But if his plans pay off, UFO fans could start descending on the small town in large numbers. After all, half a million tourists a year visit Loch Ness and spend [pounds sterling]25million without ever glimpsing the monster.
The chances of spotting an alien in Bon-nybridge are apparently much higher.
Almost everyone there knows someone who has seen a UFO - and cannot help but wonder if, next time, it could be them.