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cover story

THE INDEPENDENT WEDNESDAY 4 DECEMBER2D02

If you go down to the woods today.. . It is Britain’s most celebrated UFO encounter:the sighting in 1980 of’alien’ craft in a Suffolk forest. Now,it has been revealed that the Government tried to hush up the affair. So what, asks MARK LUCAS, really happened in the strange case ofthe Rendlesham Incident?

renda Butler paused at the barbed-wire fence separating us from the field where the spaceship had landed.It was 2am.In the gloom I could just see the outline of the 60-year-old grandmother and UFO expert as she watched her partner,Peter,disappear into the darkness. He had gone in search of Marek, another ofour party; who had stepped over the barrier and walked into the field a

minute earlier. Not longafterward,a lone figure loomed out of the darkness, stumbling over the ploughed earth towards us. Peter was back."It’s your mate," he whispered to me urgently. "He’s passed out."

Half a mile behind us, down the Forestry Commission logging-road known as track 10,was RAF Woodbridge. This smaIl Second World War airfield used by the US Air Force until 1993, hidden in the depths of Rendiesham Forest, in Suffolk, had been back in the news recently after two decades of with the release of the Ministry of Defence’s Rendlesham Files. Now available for public inspection, the files contain information about Britain’s most celebrated UFO sighting; their release was followed on Monday by the parliamentary ombudsman’s announcementthat the MoD had repeatedly suppressed information aboutwhat had happened in the forest.Particular secrecy has surrounded a "restricted file", the contents of which have been whispered about for years. Over. three nights around Christmas 1980, it is said, several spaceships visited the airbase after one of their number ran into trouble and had to stop and make repairs. What makes the Rendlesham Incident unique is the subsequently released memorandum from the base’s deputy commander,Lt corCharles to the Ministry of Defence. In the memo, Halt, who was later promoted to full described how two airmen,investigating strange lights in the forest)came across a "metallic,glowing object", which "manoeuvred through the trees and disappeared", whereupon the animals on a nearby farm went "into a frenzy". Two nights later, he reported,the object returned. Halt was out in the forest with a patrol when they sawa "red,sun-like object". After they had followed the light through the trees, it divided i11to five, and part of it "beamed down a stream of light from time to time". Here, at last, was the evidence thatthe ufologist commmty had been waiting for: official endorsementofan extraterrestrial encounter. On the third night, Halt made atape on his micro-cassette recorder, covering several hours on just less than 19 minutes of tape. The greater part is taken up by

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Halt’g patrol of four officers assessing the site of a suspected landing,checking radiation levels and having trouble with their

electrical equipment. In the last few minutes of the tape, at around 2am, the men start to see lights moving through the trees.Their initial composure suddenly gives way to breathless panic: "It’s coming this way. It’s definitely coming this way... There’s something very, very strange,"says the deputy commander at one At 3.15am,the light-show is still going on as Halt exclaims:"Herehe comesfrom the south! He’s coming in towards us now!" Right beside him, another officer says: "Shit!",and a moment later,beams oflight start hitting the ground around them. "This is unreal," Halt gasps.

point.

Almost 22 years have passed since the Rendlesham Incident,butthe enthusiasm ofufologists has only intensified in thattime, with one author caIling the area "BlackHole DIsneyland",Several books and hundreds ofwebsites about the events either confirm Rendlesham’s status in the international ufologist community as being second only to Roswell in importance, or debunk the notion that anything out ofthe ordinary pened at The first book to be published, entitled Skycrash, was co-written by my guide on the expedition into the forest, Brenda Butler, who has spent two or three nights a week outin Rendlesham Forest since the alleged landing. I had phoned Butler, who could hardly be described as a sceptic, in the hope of discovering more about this tantalising chapter in the history ofUFO sightings and official secrecy. But it soon became apparent thatI would need someone to show me the landmarks in the 3,500-acre forest, so I asked ifI could accompany her on one of her sky-watches. As their popularity had increased,she had had to divide the group into two parties that patrolled different

all.

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lation," she said. One day she was sitting on top of it when she "lost" four hours, a phenomenon known as missing time. We turned down a side-track.After a hundred yards, Parish led the way into the undergrowth off to the sIde, and we scurried through, bent over.to avoid low branches, which we politely warned one another and only straightening up when we emerged into a clearing. JIThis",said Butler; "is Colonel Halt’s landing-place." We sat in silence, contemplating the events thattook place there more than two decades ago:Halt andhis fellow officers had been taking radiation readings and measuring imprints in the ground when they suddenly saw a bright light moving near "Whatcan you feel?" Butler asked. My new friend Sinski broke the silence. jlIt’s strong, isn’t it?" he said. Butler’s dog, Mason, began dashing around us, growling happily.."He always goes mad where there’s energy or there’s been contact," she remarked.(IOnseveral occasions he’s been chased by strange lights which engulf him." Her online journal goes into more detail: "Mason had disappeared for several minutes",it states,of one typical evening,"during the time when Brenda spoke in an unknown language.He returned covered in red, green and blue fibre-optic-type lights,and licked each person,still in the circle, by placing his paws on their shoulders." Leaving ColHalt’s place,we returned to the smallavenue,veering right toward track 12. As we walked in single file along the narrow pathway,I asked Butler about her life. She had been a shetold me, with her own circle, and had been involved "in a lot of things paranormal, ghosts, poltergeists" ever since being contacted by an alien named Ra when she was five. "I’ve been abducted on several occasions," she added.Her kidnappers,she had learnt since undergoing regressive hypnosis) were the "greys" ({classic" small allens. She now worked in a home forpeople with learning difficulties. We came out into a clearing at the edge of the forest and saw the flash of the Orfordness lighthouse on the horizon.

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areas ofRendlesham;shewashappyfor me to join hers. On the nIght we were due to I had been fortiJYing myself at a party when I ran into a hypnopsychotherapist, Marek Sinski. When the quietly intense 40year-old learnt of my plans, he expressed a strong desire to come along, too. We met Butler at midnight beside the barrier to track 10. Behind ’me was the perimeter fenceofthe airfield; the disused runway lights loomed into the night sky. Ahead,the logging-road stretched awaylike a canyon, with its black waIls of 70ft-tall Corsican pines. By the dull glow of a car’s interior I could make out the small, dark woman surrounded by three reguiars on her sky-watches Terry, Paul and Jonathan and her partner, Peter Parish. Her German shepherd,Mason, galloped around us, chasing his ball. As we set offdown track 10on Butler spoke, in her soft Suffolk accent, of some of the experiences she had had here, seeing glowing orbs and meeting extraterrestrials. "Lastyear, the yeti was down here," she said matter-of-factly, "looking very, very sad." The yeti, she explained, had followed the group on many occasions: "Wehad somepeople from BIackPool down here, and they also saw him. He freaked them out, actually." Butler indicated a drain cover to our right. "It leads to an underground instal- "This’is Larry Warren’s landing-place," Butler declared, Indicating a field. It was then that Sinski stepped over the barbed-wire fence and strode purposefully into the darkness.

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Larry Warren’s extraordinary book Left at East Gate was published.in 1993. The former airman, a member of the security forces at RAF Woodbridge, claimed to have witnessed the overall commander of the twin-base complex, Squadron.Leader Gordon Williams, conversing with extraterrestrials. After that, said Warren, a New Yorker, he was taken to an underground mstallation and introduced to an


cover story

THEINDEPENDENTWEDNESDAY4DECEMBER2002

Robert EstaIVCorbi~;Mark

alien "who had an accent I

couldn’t iden-

His description of the visitors had tify". clearly struck a chord with Butler:"Little

tiny ETs dressed in white jumpsuits!" she exclaimed."I’ve seen them myselfl" "Doyou ever worry thatpeople may think

over onto her partner,who collapsed on top "We have a of their companion, laugh with them," she said. At 3am,we returned to the Woodbridge runway lights at track 10. Leaving Butler deep in conversation about UFO organisations’ finances with the second group, which had appeared from track I,Sinski and I walked over to our cars, discussing the night’s events.There was a hesitancy in his manner, but finally he leant toward me: "Somethingvery important happened here touight,"he told me,though an explanation would have to wait until morning. Driving home, I pondered the various theories that had been used to explain the incidents,mostly bypeople who weren’t sent. Georgina Bruni, author of the most recent book about the events,You Carrt ThU the People,believes that there were three nights of activity, with a full-blown close encounter ofthe third kind.At the other end ofthe spectrum is Ian Ridpath,editor ofThe O:ifard Dictionary of Astronomy. In his view,excited airmen were merely chasing the beam ofthe Orfordness lighthouse,and the starlike objects of Halt’s memo "were just that - stars."

Terry.

you’re a bit strange?"I asked her. She cheerfully dismissed my suggestion. "Idon’t care what they think," she replied. "It’s better than sitting at home drinking coffee and watching television day in, day Butiflwas finding things weird,Sinski was taking to it all like a duck to water. When Butler’s partner came out of the field to tell us thatthe psychotherapist had passed out, ufologists were quickly dispatched to carry him back,but he returned with them on foot without saying a word, and in the awkwardness ofthe situation,we found ourselves moving on. As we struggled through a dense patch ofundergrowth,I recalled the 1956Incident in which up to 18objects apparently combined to form a single radar echo,which was then clocked, and wiinessed from the air and on land,doing roughly 12,OOOmph over the airbase and wondered why UFOs were rarely seen nowadays. ’’You’rejoking,aren’t you?"Butler asked, before telling me about her last sighting, ;:"!,,,,,:.-; less than three weeks previously. Unfortunately,her partner had turned his flashlight on the spaceship, and it had disappeared. "I won’t be doing that again," he told me,sheepishly. As we headed down track 12, Butier explained why she had had contact there. "There’s a portal," she said: "they come i! through on interdimensional energy." On occasion,the ETs had pulled her put things in her pockets and hit Parish on the back of the head. One night, the Dark Shadow pushed her backward,and she fell

out."

-

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~~

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hair,

Ridpath’s scepticism is persuasive. In Larry Warren’s landing-place,but he was annoyed that I’d thought he might have possible that when patrol came out been. "I had a very powerful experience," witofthe forest,they,like the first night’s he explained, "and I was recovering." He nesses, were confused by the lighthouse. told me of a message he had received while of the ’alien craft’ But another airman says:"IfCharles lHalt] out in the field. He assured me that, alsays a beam oflight shone down at his feet, though it might not have meant much to by a US ainnan who saw the then a beam oflight shone down at his someone like me, there were people for ’incident’in 1980 You can take that to the whom it was ofgreat importan . "Ican conHaltretiredfrom the airforee in 1991 and firm that it is the greys out there,and that (below):the gates to RAF Woodbridge now lives in in the USA I managed they are the ones responsible for the ab(opposite,hottom) to obtain an e-mail address for him and ductions," he told me,in his quietly com~--_._-,-_..._. wrote several times without response pelling manner. "What they have been fore he was finally persuaded to answer.He doing up until now has been very,very bad. was, he told me rather pointedly, "tired of I learnt last night that they are changing being pestered" by what he described as their ways." "mostunusual people". In search of further guidance, I apThough he refused to talk about the proached Reg Presley,lead singer with the Rendlesham Incident,we began a tentative Sixties pop group The Troggs and now an exchange on the neutral subject ofthe air- expertin the paranormal,and asked for his base’s history as a "crash-recovery" run- opinion ofthe Rendlesham Incident.He was way for damaged aircraft returning from very interested in the case and said that raids over occupied Europe.Hetold me that they were "all good sightings". Clearly not "more than one young cop" swore he had a man who had trouble believing in the seen East End Charlie the ghost of a possibility ofabductions,he even mentioned Second World War airman from the his surgeon friend who removed pieces of events alien hardware from people’s feet and guardhouse at East Gate,wher ofDecember 1980 had begun."Onone par- hands. "You wouldn’t believe what he ticular Friday night, late," he recalled, "I took outofthem,"he refiected, adding that drove outthe back gate, and the guard was the objects had "the teeniest-weeniest tremhling so badly,I ended up having a re- little wires". placement sentout."In 1983-32years after The MoD has finally made a decision on the Americans took over the airbase they the airbase after its nine years of neglect discovered that dynamite had been buried and has announced that two army under the runway in case it was overrun ments will be moving in after a t100m by invading Germans. Despite the clean- The soldiers may be surprised at some of otherwise - they up operation, Halt wrote, "we never were the visitors alien completely sure thatall the explosives had receive outside the perimeter fence."Once been removed." you start coming here,"Butler told me,"you can’t keep away." For, although WoodSinski appeared afterbreakfast the following bridge’s role as an airbase may have been I asked why in doubt,its status as a UFO tourist shrine . day,and we settled down to he had been apparently unconscious in has never looked more assured.

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News,

from

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RAF 200t

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the

of

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Saucers,

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6.

1996). Schuster,

Open &

Mln stry,Secret flying and

pp

See 2002)’angels’

Crosed

rad r-UFO

12 -14

Out

magazine,

1955:

Intel igence

Shadows

4

MInds

see

(Pi~tkus: Information

rec ived were

PRO

October

with

assaucer’

The Force

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Jenny

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Name (file ref) CQWI 2/02 (20/9)

LFA(s) 12, 13, 14, 16 & 17

EX TARTAN JOUST (20/9)

14

..------

DISPLAYS/FLYPASTS ETC (note:this is by -

no means an exhaustive list):

B/S/I AVOID

HELO PUBLICITY DEMO

19 NOV

Aircraft / Description STC/AWC EX BASED AT RAF LOSSIEMOUTH. SEE NEWS BRIEF AT THE FOOT OF THIS DOCUMENT. ANNUAL 1 DAY EX INVOLVING UP TO 34 TDO AC FROM RAF LOSSIEMOUTH. (29JAN IS BACKUP DAY) --

(20/5/1)

.-.

28 NOV

RNAS CULDROSE FLYING DISPLAY

3

6 DEC

LINTON-ON-OUSE FP

11

--- -.-

1 x LX CONDUCTING ROPING DEMO IN

PORTSMOUTH AS PART OF FILM/RN PROMOTION. NB RECCE FLIGHT ON 4 OR 5 NOV AND REHEARSAL ON 18 NOV. .---CNX DISPLAY INC SK, LX & MERLIN HELOS PLUS HARRIERS, JETSTREAM AND NIMROD. 9 x TUCANO FOR GRADUATION FLYPAST-

- -

1040Z (ACN FOLDER) UPDATED 22/11/02

LATEST ENTRIES SHOWN IN BOLD & ’TBC’ INFO IS NOT FOR RELEASE

!J_NDERLI~.Q Key:

AAC - Army Air Corps AWC .. Air Warfare Centre (RAF Waddington) BBMF .- Battle of Britain Memorial CAOC - Combined Air Operations Centre COMAO Composite Air Operation CSST Captain Submarine Sea Training EAG - European Air Group EWTR - Electronic Warfare Tactics Range (RAF Spadeadam)

FIt.

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--

--

-

-

----

BE Belgium CA - Canada DE Denmark FR France GE Germany GR Greece IT - Italy NL Netherlands NO - Norway PO Portugal SP Spain SQ Slovakia TU - Turkey US United States


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CQWI courses are designed to develop the tactical skills of frontline aircrew and provide a framework for qualified weapons instructor staff to train & assess candidates. A Composite Air Operation (COMAO)flying sortie takes place each weekday afternoon. Exercise planners and participating aircrew will do all they can to ensure that this essential training activity causes the least possible disturbance to members ofthe general public.


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Daily Mail, Saturday, January 11,2003

Page 20

As Steven SpielbergIS new E25 million TV blockbuster about alien encounters, A hot, sticky Ju1y afternoon in 1987 Jason Andrews is celebrating hiS. fourth birthday at his family’s cottage near Slade Green in Kent when the heavens open.

ON

thunder crashes all around,there is a AI!,theflash oflightning. Suddenly,a stream of

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single numbers starts pouring out of Jason’s mouth: fantastic numbers, complex mathematical all from a boy who

Seconds later the windows and doors begin to shake violently and the four-year.old announces to his mother, father and elder brother: ’They’re waiting for me.I have to Jason’s father, Paul, grabs his son and stops him from walking out into the downpour,but the boy.struggles violently, and as he does so the house shakes to its very foundations until, finally, he seems to wake from a trance and the shaking stops. It is the first sign that Jason Andrews is no

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It wasn’t until 1995, when he was almost 12, that Jason told his astonished parents exactly what had been happening to him aliens had been abducting him froni his bed at night. ’It’s’always the light that comes first,’ he confessed to his mother, Ann. ’ThenI see the tall one rise up at the foot ofthe bed. ’Suddenly there’s lots of little ones everywhere. They’re fuzzy and indistinct, and they move very fast.I can’t move or speak,but I’m awake and I can see and hear and feel. I want to scream and run,but the sound doesn’t come out and my body doesn’t move. ’I hate them. I hate them,’ the boy sobbed. have to go with them. ’They take me to an operating theatre, like at the hospital. It’s all white and shiny. Some-

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thought fhe idea was "population bsolute rubbish".

times it’s a circular room with a metal floor. It’s always cold. ’They’re there. The big one touches me but I don’t feelit,like as ifI’ve had an anaesthetic.’ Then he added poignantly: ’But you don’t believe me,you just think I’m making It all In fact, Ann d believe him,and went on to explore the phenomena affecting her son’s life uncompliin a book, Abducted. This decent, catedwife and mother came to the conclusion alone. be not that we may to Now, the rest of the world may beofabout ridicule, agree with her. After five decades official denials and alleged cover-ups, the possibility that aliens may have visited Earth is beginning to be taken seriously and not just by sci-fi fanatics and UFO freaks. Scientific researchers are increasingly convinced that thin,grey-skinned beings about 4ft tall, with large almond-shaped eyes set In an oval, hairless, head, may not landed on earth, but have only have also abducted human bE1ings for bizarre experiments;whlle all the time there has been an official conspiracy to keep their visits secret. Tonight American filmmaker Steven Spielberg, the man who brought the world Close Encounters OfThe Third Kind and ET,will bring those convictions and aliens to life in his new mini-series, Taken, on BBC2.

up.’

’Nowevery single opinion poll on the subject shows that millions - of people Last June, was announced that Bonnybridge in Scotland boasted more UFO sight.lngsthan any other place ii1 the world, . a: Sky News poll showed 65per cent of its viewers believed in UFOs. In one of Five years earlier

UFOs.’ .; firInJy believe in for example, when it

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phoned ITV to answer the question ’Have aliens already visited Earth?’ and 92 per cent voted ’Yes’. ’There’s strong evidence to suggest visited by that Earth has extraterrestrial intelligence;’insists Birdsall. And after my own research I am prepared to admit that It is no longer possible to dismiss people such as Birdsall as ’cranks’. Spielberg,whose film Close Encounters Of The Third Kind dramatically raised the issue ofalien encounters for a global audience, is certainly convinced they’ve happened. Fascinated by the possibility from - chlldhood, he’s devoted part ofhis life . to discovering the truth and has become an authority on the subject as a result. But there is a striking difference between Spielberg’s appro ch In his TV series Taken and the one he took two decades ago in ET. This thne the aliens he is depicting mixture of fact, are not trying to phone home they’re here to subvert, and ultimately control,the human race. the story of how aliens And the new TV series,his first since affected the lives of three the award-winning Band OfBr.othe~0"’9 . American families over the past half" century. A massive hit in the U.S., where it ’I thought I couldn’t do justice to was broadcast on consecutive nights this genre in a two-hour movie,’ month, Spielberg’s series is the Spielberg explains. - last ’Wewould need a lot more time to do most expensive TV science faction of justice to the hist ry of alien abducdrama ever made with a budget more than f25million and it’s cer- tions, starting back in 1947 ’’Iht tain to re-ignite public debate on this through to forever-contentious subject. Watching the first episodes,it’s clear But surely all this talk of aliens is that Spielberg has done everything In far-fetched? As a natural sceptic,I’ve his power to create a fictional series always believed so, but over the past on the edge of fact. This is no weeks and montbs of reviewing the sci-fi comic book, no Invasion Of The evidence I’ve come to the conclusion Body Snatchers, but a compelling that it does, in fact, warrant the and all-too-plausible drama. closest investigation. British UFO expert Mike Soper, of There certainly seems to have been Contact International,is as convinced an official conspiracy to keep the as Spielberg that alien abductions have happened. facts secret. In the past few months,for example, firm evidence about unexplained events connected with Unidentified TELLING fact Is that there Flying Objects (UFOs)and extraare features common to all the terrestrial phenomena has begun to people’s stories,’ he maintains. governas appear for the first time ’Theyall remember being taken ments around the world have released and often talk about craft, to a documents. secret previously "examined". And, for the first time, politicians being ’Many talk about something being have started to admit that evidence "implanted" in their bodies,and when on the .possibility of extraterrestrial they return they often have triangular life has been concealed. bodies and aren’t their on marks example, In October last year, for wearing exactly the same clothes they former White House Chief of Staff were abduction’. the before Presifor worked who John Podesta, Ministry of Defence civil servant gov- Nick dent Clinton, called on the Pope,37,agrees. ernment to de-classify ’records that ’to ’Abductions most definitely do old’ and are more than 25 years he says. ’And although the provide scientists with data that will occur,’ "alien abductions" is a gift to assist them in detelJIlinlng the real phrase those people who want to deride it, nature ofthis phenomenon’. ordinary people are genuine, these Prime fOlJIler four years ago, Only they have been in Minister Baroness Thatcher hinted to who believe that situations.’ British UFO researcher Georgina Bruni extraordinary Pope isn’t a man with an anorak and that there was considerable secret inf lJIl tion on the subject, adding the tell can’t ’You mysteriously: no interest in aliens at all until 1991, when the MoD asked him investigate reports ofUFOs,alien abductions and was so struck by the other strange phenomena. ’The 100 or so people I interviewed remark that she used it as the title for her 2001 book on alien about being abducted by aliens sightings in Suffolk in 1980. weren’t publicity seekers merely after 15 minutes oUame,’he explains. Shortly afterwards, former their ’I came to the conclusion that some Tory Secretary of State for Defence Michael Portillo also confided to her of thes.e people had to be -telling truth. And If just one of the on the sUbject:’I know a lot,but I tell the abductees’ reports is true, the implia little.’ for the human race would be cations After a campaign by Bruni and other researchers, the Government last profound and disturbing.’ convince who helped to One person files secret of scores month released on UFO sightlngs.1n this country, all Pope was 37-year-old’ British-born of which suggest that aliens can no make-up artist Bridget Grant, whom longer be dismissed merely as the he met seven years ago. She addressed an audience of 750 product of fevered imaginations. conference Certainly the majority of the pUblic people at the’British UFO she talked now seem to believe that aliens do in Leeds in 2001, where exist.As the editor ofthe British UFO about her own abduction. She

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uaily Maii, Saturday, January 11, 2003 vI

Page 21

.she said she saw

uncannily like many of thelooks descriptions of aliens thatother have surfaced

in recent years. However, as sceptics point put, there have neen so many depictions of ’space creatures" dome heads and large oval with eyes that it is hardly surprisin!> that this has become somethIng of a stereotype. When Spielberg was researching the aliens for Close Encounters, he held lengthy consultations With the veteran American Dr J Allen Hynek a astronomer once-fierce critic of UFOs and alien phenomena who changed his completely after he becamemind a consultant on the Subject for the United States Air Force. Hynek assembled the authorita- . tive American dossier on’alien encounters, Project Blue Book, and advised Spielberg what aliens looked like. But the idea that grey rather than green little with elongated fingers, legsmen, and may actually have visitedneck, this country still incredibly far-fetched sounds until yoU talk to Georgina Bruni. ’When I interviewed Lady Thatcher a few years Bruni explains, ’I was describing to her the fact that U.S. military personnel here in Britain had reportedly had contact with aliens, and an alien spacecraft, in Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk in December 1980. ’I expected her to tell me that I’d been watching too many episodes of the X Files. But she didn’t look shocked at all. Shejust said, twice: "You can’t tell the people.’"

--

__

--

--

ago,’

WITH

Bruni’s encourage-

ment, in the wake of this conversation Lord Hill-Norton, a former Chief of the Defence Staff, tabled 16 Parliamentary questions in the House of Lords as a result of which the Government released mOre than 200 previously secret files concerning

__

UFOs and aliens. One ofthe files revealed that then Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill wanted the matter investigated in 1952. He sent a memo to his scientific adviser, Sir Tizard, ’What doesHenry all this stuffaSking: about

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After several months, Tizard reported that all sightings were ’explicable the by natural events’, although shortly afterwards the Government explicitly banned RAF personnel from discussing with anyone not from thesightings military. The U.S. Government had adopted a shnilar of official secrecy five yearspOlicy earlier, in the wake of a spate incidents near the U.S. Air Forceofbase at Roswell, New Mexico, in July 1947 incidents that Spielberg as his starting point for his TVuses series. And so the modern history of UFOs, aliens and officisl Coverups was born. British UFO researcher Randles, who has spent Jenny more than 20 years investigating UFO and alien Phenomena, maintains that in more recent times alien kidnapping has become much more common. ’An ever growing of people suspect that they tide abductees,’ she says.may be alien So is it fact or fiction? I’m not certain, but the evidence of witnesses such as Jason Andrews and Bridget Grant is hard to ignore. And it’s clear that, as the 21st century begins, opinions are changing. The Government announced recently that it was ’open-minded’ about the ’existence or otherWise of extraterrestrial forms’ a markediy differentlife official position from the one taken half a century ago. Perhaps the politicians are beginning to that we are not alone. accept certainJy does.Steven Spielberg

--

--

explained that in 1993, when she was livingFebruary Angeles, she was driving withina Los ftiend in the Brentwood area at 5.50pm one bright, sunny day when she drew up at a set of traffic lights. ’I suddenly saw this silver tip out of the corner of my she explained.’ThenI saw it was a solid silver craft, with athat red-orange colour underneath it, about 35-45ft in diameter. It came right above the car and I leaned towards steering wheel and looked up.’ the The craft ’flew really, really low’

eye,’

over her head, she and away to the west. Her said, Jane,sitting in the passengerftiend seat, saw it, too. Grant was so disturbed by the experience that in 1998 she went to see theSeptember American UFO researcher Budd Hopkins, of the Intruders Foundation in New York, to undergo four sessions of’regressive hypnosis’. She wanted his help to remember the exact details ofwhat happened on that afternoon in 1993

__

because she thought she had

forgotten something. It appeared that she had. For when this pale young woman, with shoulderlength dark hair, addressed the Leeds audience she told them she’d not just seen the spacecraft but had been abducted by it, even was in ’There is often a time shift element in the stories ofabduction, where the individual doesn’t realise that time has passed,’ explains Nick Pope. ’My hands were gripping the

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steering wheel,’ Grant explained to the conference. ’But then felt a pressure, like my body wasI being sucked. It felt like all the atoms of my body were steering wheel. going through the ’Then I saw this being. I was fascinated by its appearance was transparent, had white hairit and was carrying a Hard though it may be for some to believe, and to discuss theGrant is reluctant further, there is no doubt events that the artists’ Impression of the being which

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SEEM to appear from nowhere and their origins are shrouded in mystery are they hoaxes or are they for real? It was the riddle of the Nineties and now a Hollywood blockbuster is set to start the great crop circle debate off again. Signs, the new thriller directed by . M Night Shyamalan that opened in America this weekend, has re-ignited interest in the unexplained phenomenon. Internet reports suggest that Touchstone Pictures have commissioned hundreds of circles to be produced in rural locations across the world in a marketing ploy for the film, in which Mel Gibson plays a Pennsylvania farmer defending his family from aliens who signal their arrival with a display of cornfield For the record, Gibson is not convinced ’-.of the existence of extraterrestrials but s fascinated by crop circles. "I’m mclined to think it’s all kind of a hoax, something made up for the tourists, but I’m willing to concede that there’s . something you can’t explain with the board-and-rope theory," he has said. The "board-and-rope" theory sprang from British artists Dave Chorley (who died in 1996) and Douglas Bower, who are viewed by many crop circle fanatics as pioneers of the hoax art. They got the idea from a mysterious reed bed sighted in 1966 in Queensland, Australia, where they lived at the time. "It started as a joke after drinking one night in the pub in 1978," reveals Bower,"but people’s reactions encouraged us to perfect the circles. We’d sneak into farmers’fields, armed with planks and bits of rope and string, to create geometric patterns we had designed the night before." Bower confirms that he and Chorley have been responsible for at least 250 circles although he now says he wishes they’d never started as it has become the bane of his life. "I’d always been interested in UFOs, so I thought I’d make it look like one had landed. But it all got out of hand," he ruefully explains. However, there are some,including eminent biophysicist and crop circle . investigator Dr William Levengood,who insist there is "definite proof" that not all crop circles are hoaxes. The findings of this revered Michigan-based researcher over the past two decades remain the most conclusive with regard to the alien theory. In 1995 he reported in the Journal Of Scientific Explorations that he had found a natural "iron glaze" in Cherhill, a famous crop circle site in Wiltshire. "The glaze was composed of meteoritic particles traced shortly after a meteor

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Mel Gibson stars in a new Hollywood movie about the phenomenon of crop circles - but who really makes them? Kevin Lewin and Angelique Van Engelen examine the evidence

-

12

8:2 AUGUST 4, 2002

GOING ROUND IN CIRCLES: Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix star In the new film Signs

shower in August 1993. It cast considerable doubt on this being an artificially prepared formation." His findings prompted further scientific research into crop circles. George Bishop, a journalist.turned-circle specialist at the Centre for Crop Circle Studies in London,believes that, despite the claims of Bower and Chorley, oniy 3.5 per cent of all circles are man.made and adds that possibly as many as 60 per cent of crop circles are never discovered. British researcher Colin Andrews insists that 20 per cent of all found circles "defy reasonable explanation",

but this is an estimate without substantial proof. Andrews conducted a four-year study in which he measured the Earth’s magnetic field in and around crop circles. He asserted that there was a magnetic flux present in the circles he researched and claimed they were not man-made. Andrews also said he was convinced something unresolved lies behind the many cases of "anomalous magnetic phenomena" such as spinning compass needles inside crop circles, unusual failures of electronic equipment and radio frequency interference. The circles created by the hoaxers are

severely undermining the work being carried out by the likes of the BLT (Burke,Levengood and Talbot) crop circle research team in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is dependent on 700 volunteers worldwide. According to director Nancy Talbot, "The hoaxers’ work and talk about UFOs is threatening to deter scientists from concerning themselves with the circles. There are clues here that we need to

take seriously." Colin Andrews is waging his own war against the hoaxers, having launched a campaign to hunt them down. His methods include detective work, site inspections, physical evidence, aerial photography, personal experiences and information from members of the media who have paid to have artificial circles created by groups such as tbe three-strong Circlemakers, who

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based in London. Ironically, the Circlemakers became circle creators themselves after having pursued a mission similar to Andrews’s campaign. Rob Irving,a Circlemaker, says they were contracted by a daily newspaper to track down a gang"ofWiltshire hoaxers . and expose them. act the in "We could never catch them and they were having far more fun than we were, so we decided to join them," he says. Now the Circlemakers run an award-winning crop circle website (www.circlemakers.org)complete with a detailed "How To..." guide and reports of new sightings around the world. Creating a formation is at once simple and deft, depending on the complexity of the design. The Circlemakers tend to first set up a central point out of which their creation evolves. They stick a pole in the ground and attach a string to it,

the length of which is half the diameter of the formation. The vortex is created this way and perfect circles emerge. The artists measure exactly where each of them has to start and then work their way toward each other. The flattening technique is as follows: "Place each stem between thumb and forefinger and stroke until it starts to bend. When the stems are bent at a right angle about two inches from thi r base, place each sheaf at the centre of each proposed circle. If this service is not performed, a greater ratio of breakage \vill occur: "Cerealogists who find a sheaf of sharply-cut stems \vithin the finished formation tend to see this as a sign of genuineness," say the Circlemakers. Once they’ve completed their . handiwork, the makers justhave to hope that it gets spotted within a few

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TWO F-16 fighter jets armed with air-to-air missiles were scrambled to race across Washington in pursuit of a mysterious blue object travelling at ’phenomenalspeed’. The jets lost it somewhere over Waldorf, Maryland, about 30 miles from the capital. Military spokesmen said radar had detected an unknown object and two fighters from Andrews air force base were sent up to investigate. They refused to speculate and would not describe it as a UFO. Renny Rogers, who lives in Waldorf, said: ’I saw this light blue object. There was one jet right behind it, chasing it, but the object was just leaving him in the

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of alcohol there is a risk of organ damage and the baby’s facial features may have a particular appearance. ’I am not aware of alcohol being problematic in relation to eye development. There is some research which suggests this but the link is not clear by any means.’ Pregnant women are advised generally not to drink but the Department of Health guidance is that up to four glasses of wine a week can be consumed without harming the foetus. Other studies, however, have concluded that even a tiny amount of alcohol during pregnancy can affect a baby’s brain and central nervous system. Studies have shown that only a third of mothers abstains from alcohol completely during

pregnancy.

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POLICE have uncovered a stolen Picasso oil painting and 40 other valuable artworks at the home of a jObless man in France. They were found under blankets in a broom cupboard at the flat in Ecully, near Lyon. All were stolen from the Krugier Gallery in Geneva in 1993 and 1994. The Picasso, Ace of Clubs, is worth around f500,000. Police raided the 45-yearold man’s flat after the gallery told them someone had phoned trying to sell the paintings back.

Quads born to gay couple A LAWYER and beauty salon owner are believed to be the first gay couple to become parents of quadruplets - three boys and a girl born to a surrogate mother. Attorney Michael Meehan, 36, is the biological father of the quads, who were born nine weeks early. He and his partner Thomas Dysarz intend to raise the babies at their home in Lexington. Kentucky The unidentified rnother ’b~c:?Pl1e nreVll (11)t

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what threat,if any,they posed.That is why he and his small band of colleagues toured the country, interviewing men with’strange stories such as MrTempleton, who took the photograph in.carlisle. Now,50years ofcover-up, 50 years of denial have crumbled in the face ofa couple ofdogged investigators and an impending change in: the law; and the . evidence is there, in the form of a six-page report and a man living in frail retirement on the coast of Northern Irel d. For Myles Fomby is still alive, though in poor health. Clarke and Roberts have tracked him down. So who is he, and why was he given the job?

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NED SHERRIN tells RAY

CONNOLLY about the day after the first night that was

22 Weekend.20 July 2002

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yles Formby,our Ministry ofDefence flying- saucer hunter-in- chief, was, and is, a fluent linguist, proficient in Chinese. A career RAP officer, during the war he worked in intelligence,and . .flew small planes with secret . dispatches in the Far After the war he became an expert on Russian aircraft which was why he was chosen to track down flying saucers. The frrst time the words ’flying saucer’ were used was by an Ameri an pilot in ’1947, who reported seeing strange shapes skimming across the sky in front ofhim at remarkable speed, ’like a saucer would .if. you skipped it across the water’. Soon everyone was seeing them,in Britain as well as America. And when RAP officers started seeing them t o, the authorities had to start taking an interest. ’The Cold War was at its says Clarke. ’People expected a Russian attack’daily. And they did not know what new sorts ofplanes the Russians might have. There was a real fear that the Soviets might have captured German .experimental planes from the last days of World’War IT. And some of the experic mental German rocket-plane desigus really did look like round circular saucer-shapes - who knows what their performance might have been?’ So when reports of strange, (ast-rnoving saucer shapes in the sky began to appear, military authorities did not fearit was aliens from outer space: they feared it was the Russians. Which accounts.for the choice of Wing Commander Formby to investigate them. There were not only strange lights and shapes in the sky; strange objects were appearing on radar screens as well - and radar was our first line of defence should World War ill break ’There were all kinds of hair-trigger incidents,’ says Roberts. ’In one, a warplane was scrambled and ordered to fire all its rockets at a UFO th t suddenly appeared ou radar sCreens over Suffolk. The pilot, with the target in his sights and his radar locked on to it, was seeking final authorisation to

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wrote a memo to the Secretary of State for Air, asking, ’What does all this stuff about flying MINUTE saucers amouut to? What can it /S"::l.. "i!ERJAL mean? What is the truth? Let W~;:T~;:"!’ (.’ :~.,.TI!. me have a report at.your convenieuce., So the had to r.ecall Formby .and he had to spend ui)QUt. ~,:l1isill more years’ investigating. it. fj&IJ,ce.rs pa,&:. LOt ;mtIofo 6 .l’8l)Ql’t. a.’. _ things that neither he nor the 011. iJ&I."le lstne truth Ministry really believed in. Qon’ND1Gn~. Which perhaps accounts for the strange location of Room Was it out of the way, at the top ofthe building, not for security reasons, but because the Ministry resented having {j . to devote space to UFOs,’and fire’when the object, whatever it ’was,shot off too this was the nearest they fast for him to catch.’ could come to shutriug it all No wonderthey wanted someone like the Wing up in a broom cupboard? Commander to work out which Os they should Clarke and Roberts found .. . w’orry about, and which they should not. Here was a Wing Commander Formby in man who knew as much as anyone in the West Northern.Ireland. Despite his about the different sorts ofRussian military aircraft. frailties, he could still speak But instead of looking at wonderful aircraft with fluent Chinese. ’When we found revolutionary means ofpropulsion he found himself him, he came clean straight a bit to his disgust, it appears - talking to people away. Everything that we had who had seen lights in the sky on their way home discovered, he confinned, withthe pub, and victims of photographic hoaxes. out reluctance,’, says Roberts. ’In general, the members of the Flying Saucer ’But he knows much more; and Working Party are not very enthusiastic,’ said one about those.things,he would not internal memo. speak. Hewasunable,or unwillFormby and the Hying Saucer Working Party were more. ing,to never convinced about the existence offlying saucers. ’He knows, for example ~ he Their Report Number Seven, the one that UFO’ . High level inquiry: Aller must know the truth behind that Suffolk incident. believers hoped might show proof of a government a spate of UFO sightings, Did a pilot really come within a whisker ofsbootinf2; at’ something, or at nothing, or of accident cover-up about UFOs, is actually ’scathing on the Winston Churchill sent a subject.. They found nothing that.could not. be memo asking to know setting off World War III, over East Anglia1ne explained as weather balloon, an optical illusion, or what was going on. says he is still unconvinced of the existence of" . <t a hoax. In 1951, after months of investigation, the The mailer was looked from other planets but admits that one OJ report concluded, ’Werecommend very strongly that into at the mysterious cases still intrigue no further investigation of reported mystery aerial Room 801, above . But Wing Cominander Formby is of that generaphenomena be undertaken.,.’ The MOD decided that tion, that style of man, who took their duties to the the Russians had no terribly new sorts of planes, and nation seriously. Hying saucers might be ld news that there were no aliens from space; Formby was now, and UFOs.might no longer havethe national stood down;and that should have been.that. importance or pose the national threat that they once However,just a few months later, a whole new seemed to; but the Official Secrets Act still applies. spate of UFOs were seen over Washington, DC,and He has signed it;so he.will stick to it and he will not at a NATO exercise, and there was massive publicity. tell. Old age and decency forbid that he be harassed. . Presumably, had there really been aliens, their first So some things we shall never know... words would have been ’Take me to your leader’. Britain’s Men In Black is on the Discovery Channel Our leader at the time was Winston Churchill, who on Wednesday at

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II would have to be the morning after That Was The Week That Was started, Sunday, November 25, 1962. I was 31. The show had gone out at about ten o’clock on the Saturday night and David Frost and I met in a coftee bar in the King’s Road the following day to go through the papers and think about the next week’s show. We weren’t expecting any notices at all, but we got to the back page of the Sunday Telegraph and a woman called Pat Wallace had Wrillen the review we would like to have wiillen ourselves. From then on the feeling of that day was euphoric, because I got a"call from Roy Kinnear who’d heard from his agent who’d said, ’Oh Roy, I’m so sorry. It was awful, I shouldn’t

.

have let you be in But I’ve talked to some very high up people in the BBC and they say they’ll be taking it off very quickly, so you needn’t worry about your future.’ Roy had gone out feeling a bit depressed and bumped into Tom Bell, the actor, who’d said, ’That was fantastic last night’.

The programme had been about 18 months.in gestation. I’d been directing the Cliff Michelmore

Tonight programme when the BBC had realised nothing really happened on T\Ilate on a Saturday night. On the first show we had Frostie, Bernard Levin, Willie Rushton, Lance Percival, David

Kernan, Timothy Birdsall, the cartoonist, Kenneth Cope, and Millicent Martin, for whom Caryl Brahms and I wrote the lyrics to her song at the beginning o,f every show. There was a very funny sketch by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall.They’d discovered that it you stood for parliament you could get out of the Army, so they had Roy Kinnear as the leader of the Army Deserters Party doing a party political broadcast. The satire label became allached to us, but satire had actually become fashionable again with Beyond The Fringe a year Music man: Ned Sherrin with singer Millicent Marlin

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or so earlier. I remember I had > a wonde ulleller from a lady who wrote, ’When my son o grows up I want him to be a satirist. Which school would you recommend I send him to?’ I don’t suppose one did quite ;;; realise immediately Ihatthings " were going to change, but you’ve only got to look at what f:J 00 BBC Light Entertainment fell they could do afterwards, programmes like Steptoe And Son and Till Death Us Do Part, to see how they did. The thing we tried to do was to make our ::; programme researched and responsible and not just yah o a: boo stuff. 2 Ned Sherrin presents Loose Ends, Radio 4, Saturday, f< 6.15pm, and edited the DictionarY Of Humorous Quotations, OYP.

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several occasions, always putting Traveller of the week a force fIeld so that her neighup decided who immigrant An illegal don’t notice. Meyer was bours been has life he didn’t e British . - speaking after 150 spectators at the jailed after ing to smuggle esim annual rally watched mysterious self back ho e to Albani . the sky. false lights moving across a caught w Elezi, 30, been friendly always have "Aliens tried he r as Italian passpo at D and kind," she insisted. .

on a coach. He to leave the co th hidden on a arrived last lorry, but aft 10 ys . decided that Britain w not as e as he had been e ting. At anterbury crown 000 he was jaile or six mon s for possessing false documents. At the end of his sentence

he will be deported.

Oddballs of the week

"I’ve met about 16 alien varieties,

from those who look like the Pillsbury Doughboy to ones that said Bonlooklike a blue Big nie Meyer, a presenter at the annual UFO Daze event in Dundee, Wisconsin. Her first encounter came during a camping trip in 1976 when a craft landed on a nearby road. "A ladder dropped down and an alien in a silver suit waved me over," she said. "AtfIrst I wasn’t going to go, but I fIgured I’d never have that opportunity again." Since. thenaliens have visited her at home on

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New~I SCOTLANDI Scotland dubbed ’top alien nation’

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Scotland dubbed ’top alien nation’ Northern

ON THIS STORY

Author Ron Halliday

"People have seen all kinds of things in the Sonnybridge area" oj’l) BBC’s Huw Williams "So far this morning, no bright lights in the sky" Stuart Campbell,author and UFO sceptic "I have never been stumped"

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mecca? 04 Jan 00 I Scotland

Bonnybridge tops the list for reported sightings

Scotland can rightly lay claim to being the ,.....v:.......:’.::_ii. .~.............................. "Costa Del Sol" for aliens, according to ,aI8ICI.1’!Il.u. tourism officials.

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They are pointing to a survey which says that SERVICES Scotland has the highest concentration of Daily E-mail reported sightings of Unidentified Flying News Ticker Objects (UFOs)of any country in the world.

Mobiles/PDAs ..-.".-.".....,,----...."".--. been published to coincide results have Feedback The . . with International UFO Day and refer to 300 H I ’U’U’U........"...-.’U.~.e reported UFO sightings in Scotland a year. Low Graphics

UFOs lure Japanese TV finn 12 Jun 98 I UK They came from space ... 01 Jul 98 I Sci/Tech UFOs mystify scientists 25 Jun 98 I Entertainment Roswell space alien breaks its silence

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International UFO and Research Centre

The SSC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites Top Scotland stories

According to the study, Scotland also recorded the highest number of reported UFO sightings per head of population. now:

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The researchers said Scotland had 0.004 reported UFO sightings per square kilometre and one sighting per 17,000 inhabitants. The research was commissioned by VisitScotland, the national tourist orga n isation.

In 900/0 of UFO reports, a bit of diligent research will

produce a simple explanation, but that still leaves 10% remaining

unexplained

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Graham Birdsall, UFO magazine

A spokesman said: "This confirms that Scotland is the nearest thing there is to the Costa del Sol for aliens."

Drugs agency hailed by first minister Fiery reaction to ’private’ brigade Scotland dubbed ’top alien nation’ Obscene caller jailed ’Crisis over’ for Virgin train services Libya ’not to blame’ for Lockerbie’ Man accused of biker murder Union makes nuclear site plea ~~..~~~~~~~~--....-.......................................~-_...._..................-......."-.-...-...........

Links to more Scotland stories are at the foot of

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The village of Bonnybridge in Stirlingshire has become a hub for UFO enthusiasts following

http://news.bbc.co.uklhi!english/uklscotland/newsid_2061000/2061393.stm

24/06/02


BBC News I SCOTLANDI Scotland dubbed ’top alien nation’

Page 2 ot 3

e. numerous reports of sightings. Visitor centre

The area became known as the "Falkirk triangle" and other "sightings" have been recorded in neighbouring West Lothian. Bonnybridge councillor Billy Buchanan has called for a UFO visitors’ centre to be built in the village.

Stirling-based UFO writer Ron Halliday said: "When you think of the number of sightings in Scotland compared to the size of its population, it is phenomenaL" Of the Bonnybridge "phenomenon", he said: "One theory is that the area around Bonnybridgeissome kind of window into another dimension.

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"That would explain why some people see a UFO and others don’t because a UFO Bonnybridge: Another dimension? is some kind of paranormal phenomenon rather than a nuts and bolts spaceship.

-

"People are not so much seeing little green men as little grey men, tall grey men and different varieties of types." Mr Halliday said it was important to emphasise that although there had been many reports of sightings, it was impossible to say that every one was an alien entity.

"But it does seem to be a bit of a mystery why Bonnybridge should be a target of spaceships from other planets." Alien concept

Graham Birdsall, editor of UFO magazine, said: "UFOs tend to be attracted to regions that are fairly remote. "Plus, if you have a remote area, look out for airbases Scotland is littered with airbases.

-

"In 90% of UFO reports, a bit of diligent

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/scotland/newsid_2061000/2061393.stm

24/06/02


Feige 3 or j

BBC News I SCOTLANDI Scotland dubbed ’top alien nation’

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research will produce a simple explanation, but that still leaves 10% remaining unexplained."

However, Stuart Campbell, author of The UFO Mystery Solved, said he had "never been stumped" to explain a reported sighting.

"I claim that 100 percent (of reports) are explainable, it just depends how many explanations you have available.

"I have never found one that I couldn’t explain." _...u............................................_...................................................................................................................................-.....~..............................~..................

~..~::~.~.!!..~~~.~..~~.?.~.’{..~~..~..f.~!~~~................................................. Links to more Scotland stories

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24/06/02


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The MOD does not have any expertise or role in respect ofâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;UFO/flying saucerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; matters or to the question ofthe existence or otherwise of extraterrestriallifeforms, about which it remains totally open-minded. However, to date the MOD knows of no evidence which substantiates the existence ofthese alleged phenomena.


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Daily Mail, Thursday, April 25, 2002

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33 14 08705Quote14 ref: Ml272 BIRMINGHAM. BRISTOL. CROYDON. GLASGOW. LEEDS LIVERPOOL. LONDON. MANCHESTER. NEWCASTLE

alien craft was shaped like a cross between an upturned saucepan and a child’s spinning top. It was 20 to 30 feet in diameter, the colour of aluminium,with portholes around the side. And it was hovering over the home of Lord Louis Mountbatten, one of the most senior members of the British Royal Family.

The remarkable apparition was reported in 1955 by a bricklayer called Briggs. In a sIgned statement, he told how he had spotted the flying saucer while on his way to work at Broadlands, Mountbatten’s country residence in Hampshire. Briggs described how he had dismounted from his bicycle as the saucer hovered, and was amazed to see a tube descend from its centre.A platform appeared in the tube,conHe was wearing a dark suit or tamIng a overalls and a close-fitting helmet. As he watched, Briggs was suddenJy overcome by an ’unseenforce’ which caused him to stumble.The tube retracted into the flying saucer, which suddenJy shot straight up into the sky and disappeared. Later, the flying saucer and its occupant returned. Communicating via telepathy, the alien being invited Briggs on board and whisked him off to see the Egyptian pyramids a round trip that lasted just ten minutes. Before he was returned to Hampshire the allens told the bricklayer: ’IfLord Mountbatten met us, he cotd change the Sceptics might have their own view of this tale, but Mountbatten himself was fascinated. His personal records show that he

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visited the scene of the sighting. They found marks in the snow consistent with Briggs’ account of his movements, but there was no evidence ofthe UFO’s visit. But the very fact that Mountbatten took so much trouble to check out the story speaks volumes about the seriousness with which he and other members of the Royal Family and military elite took the whole strange subject of extra-terrestrial activity. A we will see,those who came to share his interest included the Battle of Britain mastermind Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding,the British Army general Sir Frederick ’Boy’Browning, and most astonishingly of all- Mountbatten’s nephew, Prince Philip,the Duke of Edinburgh. By the early Fifti s, a significant number of this discreet ’gentleman’s club’ had become convinced that Earth was under observation by allens. To this day; Prince Philip has every issue of the magazine F1ying Saucer Review sent to and once him at Bucklngham Palace appointed an equerry as his personal UFO investigator.

-

-

-

-

.

THE story of the British Establishment’s interest in UFOs really begins in World War II, when pilots first began to report what became known as ’foo-fighters’ mysterious lights in the sky that resem-

-

bled unknown enemy craft.

For years, however,the question was hushed up and UFO investigators couId find no official documentation. It was onJy in 1986 that proof of RAF sightings emerged when the late.Goon Show star MichaelBentine,a formerintelligence officer with Bomber Command, spoke of debriefing crews who told of lights which were ’pulsating and had flown round the aircraft’. Infact,such reports had long been taken with great seriousness within military circles partictarly in the years after the war, as fears grew about the threat from the Soviet Union. Some experts believed the saucers cotd be advanced

-

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3 bed seml.detached property In Northampton. All pollctes ate underwritten ilt lloyd’s. 81uesure Umlted is ill member of the General Insurance Standards Council. Saturdays: and Sundays. Unes are open Bam.10pm Monday to Friday and 1 Tenns and conditions apply.

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Soviet aircraft. Mountbatten belonged to a small group ofhigh-ranking militarypersonnelwho believed flying saucers were from another world. He began collecting reports of sightingsusing his contacts in the armed services. His theories a\’wut their origins were clear in letters he wrote to his friend Charles

by David Clarke and Andrew Roberts

Eade, editor.of the Sunday Dispatch, one ofthe poptar newspapers ofthe day. ’These extraordinary things have now been seen in almost every part of the world: Scandinavia, North America, South America, Central Europe,’ he wrote. ’It seems clear that the overwhelming weight of opinion from every part of the world will show that some new thing definitely exists which is capable of flying at very slow speed,or even perhaps of hovering and accelerating at an unheard-of speed several times the speed of sound. . ’The available evidence will show that they are not of human agency, that is to say If they do not come from thatis so,then presumably they must comefrom,",ome heavenly. body,probably a Mountbatten believed that the UFOs shotd be seen as the intergalactic equivalent of contemporary aircraft. ’Maybe it is the Shackletons or Scotts ofVenus or Mars who are making their first exploration of he mused. our But he also suggested that the flying saucers might be the . alien life-forms themselves

Earth. planet.’

Earth,’

-

’not a form of aeroplane from another planet but the actual inhabitants ofthat planet!’ Sensing the media headlines which sensational statements such as these wotd produce, Mountbatten asked Eade to keep his private opinions out of the newspapers. ’I know this sounds ridiculous and I am relying on you as a very old and loyal friend not to make any capital out of the fact that I have put forward such a far-fetched explanation.

SUCH

an explanation, however, wotd apparently fill all known cases in which the flying saucer has so far been seen.’ Despite his desire to conceal his own beliefs, Mountbatten was keen to persuade the public totake the sUbject seriously.He urged Eade to publish weekly articles about UFOs in order to

gauge the popular reaction.

describe how the. subject had been dismissed as nonsense, but ’many intelligent and distinguished people in all parts of the world are intensely Interested, and treat such reports very seriously indeed’. Eade quoted from a letter he had received ’from one of the most famous men alive today’, whom he cotd not name but who ’commands universal respect and admiration’. It was a discussion with this mystery man,Eade said,which led to his decision ’to place before the readers of the Sunday Dispatch all that is known about the flying saucers and all the theories about them,no matter how sensational and fantastic’.

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ten and the effect ofl1is intervention was to prove dramatic. Following publication of these stories in the Dispatch; accounts of UFOs poured into newspaper offices across the British Isles. In hindsight, it is clear that the aggressive newspaper campaign played a huge part in creating the fascination with UFOs that was to grip the country for decades to come.

.

Eade obliged with a series of sensational reports and along editorial describing UFOs as ’the story that may be bigger OVER the years, rumours of than the atom bomb wars’. MOlllltbatten’s role leaked out The editorial went on to to UFO enthusiasts.Improba-


* * *

Daily Mail, Thursday, April 25, 2002

Page 25

meet an equally enigmatic woman named Mrs Markham at a flat in Chelsea. Arriving from Buckingham Palace one night in 1955, he was.ushered into a second-floor drawing-room on Smith Street occupied by a man referred to ouly as’MrJanus’. Janus asked Sir Peter to tell him ’ everything he knew about UFOs. Sir Peter asked what was his inter’ est in the subject. The answer was simple: ’1 would like to meet the Duke ofEdinburgh.’ Sir Peter and Mr Janus proceeded to discuss a variety of esoteric subjects, including how the flYing saucers were trying to save the Earth, and the perils which faced mankind as a result of technological progress.

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be from another planet, he gave the impression that

he was visiting Earth as ’anobserver’.Throughout he meeting, the equerry was given the strange impression that his thoughts were being’ read via telepathy. Horsley was acutely aware of his responsibility to report any evi-

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security services. How~ ever, he was sufficientJy swayed by Mr Janus’s otherworldly presence not to take this seemingly obvious step. Instead, he handed his

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oy’Browning,a renowned ldier who had led the aire forces at Arnhem and was now Controller of the oyal Household. Browning,along with the retired RAF chief Lord Dowding,was one of a number of war veterans convinced that UFOs were a reality. . They believed that the saucer occupants were peace-loving and fiercely Opposed the idea that the airforce should attempt to shoot them down. In Dowding’s words: ’We should be guilty ofcriminal folly if we were ,

todoan%hingtohinderaconta~ which may well bring untold blessings to a distraught humaoity.’

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ble stories circulated that he had access to ’Top Secret’photos offlying saucers from Royal Navy files, or that he was involved’in the investigation of a UFO that had crashed in Britain. The latter story originated in 1955 with an Americanjournalist named Dorothy Kilgallen, who claimed that the wreckage of a ’mysterious

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embroidered with Claims that the saucer was crewed by ’small men, probably under four feet tall’. Kilgallen said the Government was holding back from issuing an official statement becauSe ’it does not want to frighten the public’. She claimed her source was ’a BritiSh official of Cabinet rank’who wished to remain anonymous. Rumours went around that it was Mountbatten. Since Kilgallen was a well-known figure at high-society parties where she mixed with royalty and aristocrats, this was not totally implausible although it seems unlikely that Mountbatten wQuld have let slip state secrets to a gossip columnist over cocktails. After Kilgallen refused to elaborate on her story, UFO enthusiasts became convinced that she had been ’silenced’by the EstabliShment.Her sudden and some claim mysterious death in 1965 added to their suspicions that there was a conspiracy to hide the truth about UFOs. Years later, Margaret Thatcher, would fuelthese cover-up theories. At a cocktail party in 1997, author Georgina Bruni claimed she discussed alien technology with the

-

- -

~~

former Prime Minister. Baroness the staff at Buckingham Palace Thatcher was said to have treated throughout his,time as equerry. the matter with utmost seriousMost intriguingly, Horsley ness,twice repeatingthe comment: recounts how Philip ’agreed that I could investigate the more credible reports, provided 1 kept it all in She then abruptly changed the perspective and did not involve Iris subject. office in any kind of publicity’. Details of Prince Philip’s interest in UFOs have been given by one of his equerries, the late Sir Peter Horsley. ofthis unofficial He confirmed thatPhilip ’wasopen to the immense possibilities of new ’blanche to read any reports technology leading to space exploration, while at the same time not discounting that,just as we were on RAF, the ftinge ofbreaking outinto space, concerned. so other older civilisatioris inthe uniThe case which impressed him verse might alreadY have done so’. most’involved two pilots from 25 By one account, later denied by Squadron, who observed a flying royal sources, the Duke requested saucer while on patrol in a Vampire that all flying, saucer reports jet from RAF West Malling, Kent, received by the Air Ministry should , one afternoon in November, 1953. be copied to him. Horsley investigated the sighting He was once reported to have as thoroughly as he could, visiting the base and quizzing both airmen. He submitted a report to the Duke to So many people say they have of Edinburgh, saying that he was ’satisfied that the Vampire crew seen them.’ Horsley’s autobiography revealed was perfectly reliable’ and the two how reports of flYing saucers were airmen had seen ’a genuine UFO’. enthusiastically discussed among A number ofUFO witnesses were

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invited to the Palace, including James Howard,captain ofa British airliner who, with his passengers and crew,reported seeing a formation of UFOs over the Atlantic. The most unusual visitor was 11year-old Stephen Darbishire from the Lake District, who had taken photographs of a ’saucer-shaped’ object hovering over the slopes of Coniston Old Man in 1954. _ In both these instances,It was the equerry who sent out invitations to Buckingham Palace. There can be no doubt, however, that he was encouraged to do so by the Duke of Edinburgh and that his reports detailing these sightings are still preserved in the royal archives. Horsley,says he invited UFO witnesses’to the Palace partly to ’put them on the spot’ and test their honesty in the presence of royalty a ploy that may indeed have been as effective as any truth serum in those deferential times, One of Sir Peter’s strangest contacts was a mysterious General Martin, whO believed UFOs were visitors from an alien civiIisation which wanted to warn us of the dangers posed by atomic war. Martin arranged for Sir Peter to

-

own personal audience with Mr Janus. But the alreadY surreal story took a further step into the twilight zone. For when Sir Peter tried to contact Mrs Markham, he found she had vaoished and his other contact, General Martin, ’suddenly became distant and evasive’. Puzzled, Sir Peter retraced his steps to the Smith Street address where he had met Mr Janus and found it empty.Neighbours said its occupant had ’left in a hurry’. Had he been the victim of an elaborate hoax designed to ensnare the Royals? Sir Peter remained convinced that he might actually have made contact With a visitor from another world. On one level, this and other accounts of royal and aristocratic involvement with the earJy development ofthe flying saucer myth may be read asjust celebrity gossip. But the influence of the BritiSh Establishment upon the formation of public opinion during the Fifties was immense, and should not be underestimated. Rightly or wrongJy,their endorse-

-

W;~. ~ C,~t~J’b~t~ ~ lro~ from space.

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~"a~%’: 03~: 8 t!u ~ ~ ~ .ZK. EXTRACTED from Out Of The Shadows by Dr David Clarke and

Copyright @ 2002,Dr David Clarke and Andy Roberts.7b order a copy free), please call

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,

e In the 1950s, the Air Ministry, produced a ’minimum format’, a one page, ’UFO’ reporting procedure for both public and military reporting of the phenomena. Reports of sightings from either military or civilian sources were sent to Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS)from the Air Staff in case they contained any information which was of value in DIS’s task of analysing the performance and threat of foreign weapons systems, nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programmes and technologies and emerging technologies. However, none of the reports received over a period of 30 years have yielded any valuable information whatsoever. DIS therefore decided in December 2000, not to receive these reports any longer.

I\~ /


-.i~,o.-uy Fawkes’Night wasrit a big deal for me at the age of lS.As I ambled home trom work on November 5,1976,I was probably looking forward to a pub crawl with my triends rather than a few damp squibs in the garden with my parents. More likely,I suspect my n nd was virtually a blank,the kind ofmeditative state that often precedes a ghostly experience or a religious vision.I certainly wouldrit have been thinking about work:I was a trainee computer progranmler at Crawley Borough Council,ajob>rwas’happy to abandon at-

~Or

5.20pm everyevening 4.25pm,weirdly,on Fridays like this - for my lO-minute stroll home. A jovial careers adviser had suggested thejob.,based,I thought then,.onan inspired >reading ofthe

unique potential displayed bYl!1Y a-levels in English,Latin,French,maths and art.All too late,I now realise he saw me as an archetypal nerd,a misshapen peg for a slightly off-squarehole.I had rampaging acne,long hair spilling dandruffdown my slouching shoulders,an addiction to prog-rock records and pints oflager-and-blackcurrant.I was one ofthose irritating fools who memorise whole Monty Python sketches.Girltriends were something Other people had.Inmy spare time,I laboured over a shapeless novel about a sinister lobster recipe that was taking over the world, though most ofthe action was confined to my

home town of Crawley,West Sussex.I was a Hobbit in all but name.What other choice ofemployment could anyone have suggested? But as J turned the corner into my home territory ofBuckmansRoad in the districtof West Green,destiny was bout to deal me a new role.A mission.A pointer for the future that I had consistently failed to visualise for It was floating above the rooftops ofmy road an assemblage ofmysterious lights.Itdidn’t seemeo l?e travelling in a linear way but wobbling trom side to side in the darkness,withoutmaking a sound,l stopped and watched it,dumbfounded.Then I remembered it was Guy Fawkes’Night.Oh,it’s a rocket,I remember thinking;Or an Air Or some other fIrework that goes up in the air.But when the lights continued to wink and hover for several minutes,I discoilnted that No,thiswas an unidentifIedfiying object, possibly a spacecraft piloted by aliens.People see them all the time;it’sjust that it hadrit happened to. me before.I was excited beyond intelligent thought. I was trembling so much,I almost shook myself out ofmy tank top and oxford bags. There was fear in the excitement,because I was dealing with the unknown.Who’s to say,I remember thinking,iliat this isn’t the start ofa fullscale invasion? It could be The War ofthe Worlds or,at best,The Day the Earth Stood S till. People could be massacred; the whole planet could be destroyed in a fiash.ltwas the kind ofday when anything could have happened - indeed,I have since discovered that on this very same day,a former member of the band Steps "vas born. I hurried home and gibbered to my mother that there was a UFO outside,just down the road.I "vas disappointed that she wasrit that bothered;instead ofrushing outside to see it for herself,she suggested I call nearby GatwickAirport to see if they had spotted anything on their radar.So I checked the telephone directory,picked up the receiver >>+

myself.

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.

011 our green

Trimphone and dialled."Whydo you toung man?"an urbane aviation official asked me."Whathave you seen?"I cOlild almost hear his regulation RAF moustache twitclg. ’i\ UFO;’I replied,helpfully. "Well,we haven’t picked up anything unidentified here.Are you sure?" "Ithink so." "Don’tworry,young man,we’ll keep a lookout:’

on the unusual,the offbeat,the une>"1>laine, paranormal? Let me lie on this couch awh tell you.Well,maybe it makes me feel like a again.There is also the possibility that the v experience ofNovember 5,1976 the sigh the humiliation that followed it - intensme ability to empathise with people whom ma others would dismiss as crackpots.I’ve beer the T-shirt:I know what it’s like to bought "Oh. Thanks." to unusual beliefs and to suffer mockery fOl When I went back outside to check on the sure that some ofthe more out-there progress ofthe object,it had gone.For some reason, ufologists I’ve met would have another hypl my dear old mum thought it would be a good idea that the craft I saw landed in my street and] to get in touch with the local paper,the Crawley abducted by the aliens on board,that they Observer.Possibly for the same reason,I agreed, programmed me with a mission to enlighte without considering the consequences.A fi:iendly world about all kinds ofweird and wacky Sl, reporter chap sounded mildly interested and said and then erased my memory.Perhaps I shm’ someone might get back to me.He didn’t say,"ifwe my head examined:it may contain an elabo: don’t have any better news this week",but that’s implant fashioned from an otherworldly m, what the cynical,grown-up part ofme hears now But I really don’t think so.You see,althm; when I recall the conversation. experience was a defining moment,even pe There was a call for me at the office the following passport to an unusual career,I have grave d week.Was I the youngster who’d seen the flying about its authenticity.I have tried over and saucer?Yes,I said,ifthat’s what it was.In the cold to replay that memory,clean it up,br again light ofday,I was on the point ofdisowning the to something approaching DVD quality,so experience and starting to clutch at rational determine exactly what I saw:I’ve tried to re explanations.I also wished that I hadn’t phoned the those moments through meditation,and paper.I gave a half-hearted and not terribly back there in dreams.I can’t make myself 18 articulate interview,mumbling into the receiver lest even with a lengthy series ofhormone injec my story be heard by my work colleagues,many of it’s a tough one.But what follows is the best whom held diplomas in the art ofmickey-taking. It is already quite dark.The air is heavyw The reporter asked ifa photographer could call smoke from early bonfires and fIreworks.I c and take a picture."No;’I said,"the UFO’s not there probability,the Hanger Lane gyratory system had them popping and fizzing at regular intervi any more.It disappeared after several minutes."No,a been built by extra-terrestrial visitors.The movie attention is attracted by lights in the sky,abc picture ofme,the local hack patiently explained. Close Encounters ofthe Third Kind came out in rooftops. There is at least one red light,at lea "Oh,okay then;’I must have said,because a snapper 1977,and I gorged on that as well. white light,and they are glowing and winkil duly turned up on the doorstep one evening.As a But like many adolescent enthusiasms,my eerily.The lights aren’t self-contained dots,I: Sunday Times writer I have had the pleasure of obsession inevitably waned.I put away childish in the air. Ifwhatever is responsible for the li working with some fIne photographers since,but things,grew up,switched my career tojournalism, making a noise,I can’t hear it over the sound this guy had an imagination like no other."Could and eventuallyjoined The Sunday Times.In 1997, the bangers and rockets and roman candles. you pick up something round?"he asked."Like a the editor ofthis magazine,unaware ofmy former may explain why I told the local paper that tJ saucer? And look at it?"The nearest such object was life,spontaneously decided I wasjust the person to object was hovering "absolutely silently’:) C a cheap ashtray with a photograph ofBlackpool fly to Roswell,New Mexico,to cover the 50th neighbours is standing outside one ofth my Tower in its centre,a souvenir from a distant holiday. anniversary ofthe legendary UFO crash there. houses nearby,but I can’t bring myself to spe I held it up and smiled,and the flash went Roswell was the assignment I was born I had him or her;my memory doesn’t make it enti "ThatUFO was no fIrework;’ttumpeted the already done half ofthe research,unwittingly,in my clear who they are or what sex they are. (My Observer,above the picture ofme and the ashtray. teens.The town was packed with nutters in alien reluctance to speak to this neighbour may bl The anonymous reporter had had some easy fun suits,and earnest ufologists arguing the toss about on uncertainty as well as shock:I don’t want with the story:’i\ir traffic control at Gatwick spaceships and weather balloons,and I could never share this experience until I have established missed the scoop ofa lifetime on Friday,when a go far without meeting someone who wanted to it really is an experience.I am also very shy.) UFO hovered overWest Green..:’My age was discuss how alien technology was secretly used by I continue to watch the object for a fewn~ omitted,giving me an enigmatic village-idiot modern stealth bombers,or who needed to offioad It doesn’t seem to be moving away from me I quality.Friends and co-workers went through the their own stories ofalien abduction.Some ofthese towards me,but hovering and wobbling fron whole pantomime ofridicule,the most repeatedjest tales made The X Files look like Bob the Builder. side.It is at this point that I realise - or rather being that I must have "had a few’:(I still have a And not only did I get to interview the celebrity believe that I am seeing something very Spl problem with this clich that alcohol is a potent abductee Whitley Strieber,author ofCommunion, begin to worry about alien landings.It has be hallucinogenic.When was the last time you "saw but we had an enjoyable ifabstruse argument about tough week at work,I hate programming things"after having one beer too many?) One ofmy time travel after he suggested that the Roswell craft computers and I need a break.Yippee,this is mother’s female office colleagues looked at my had come from the far future ofour own world. and my life will never be the same again. photo and commented that I was a "nice-looking This was also my fIrst visit toAmerica.Imagine As special-effects designers know,ordinal’ lad",blithely ignoring the terrible threat ofalien that - your fIrst impression ofthe good 01’US ofA can appear extraordinary when they are flitel invasion implicit in the isn’t Manhattan,Disneyland or the Golden Gate through smoke.And,as good UFO investiga The sighting "has certainly increased my interest Bridge but a southern hick town in the desert, aware,everyday objects may appear alien whc in these things",I had told my interviewer."NowI with pictures ofblack-eyed "greys"gazing out from are viewed from unusual angles,and their tr<l; would like to find out more about it:’True to my most of the shop windows. may not be perceived correctly.Ifa flying ma word,for months afterwards I read every ttashy Subsequent assignments have seen me hunting were travelling away from me,it might seem: paperback about UFOs and aliens I could get my for ghosts at the site ofthe Battle ofGettysburg, static or wobbling from side to side. hands on.The more I read,the more I was prepared attending pagan rituals in Britain,hanging out with The answer is so obvious.But I think I’ve 1 to believe that not only were wejust one ofa Monster Raving Loonies,andjoining an aliendenial for a long time,because I so wanted th myriad ofintelligent races in the universe,but also loving religious group for nude meditation in experience to be truly supernatural.Reader,: that Stonehenge,the Egyptian pyramids and,in all Canada.Why,people frequently ask me,do I fixate really sorry.I think it was an aeroplane.

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2 ’ : 1 Rendlesham revealed J

BRITAIN’S MOST FAMOUS UFO CASE OCCURRED ONE NIGHT IN WHEN SOME AMERICAN AIRMEN ENCOUNTERED A GLOWING CRAFT IN A SUFFOLK WOOD. JAMES1980 EASTON BELIEVES THAT RECENTLY RELEASED GOVERNMENT PAPERS SHOW THE UFO BELIEVERS WERE WAY OFF THE MARK ABOUT RENDLESHAM.

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SUSPICIONS WERE THAT THE MOD NOT ONLY KNEW THE TRUTH BUT WAS COVERING IT UP

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JAMES EASTON

has reinvestigated many classic UFO cases, including the Kenneth Arnold sighting (FT/37:34-39J,and runs the Internet’based discussion forum - the ’UFO Research List’ focusing on military black projects.

-

28 fTl52

two nights in December 1980,just after Christmas, strange lights were seen in Rendlesham forest, Suffolk, adjacent to the RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge airbases. The twin-base complex was operated by the American military as part of NATO’s front-line defences. On both occasions, American personnel left the Bentwaters base to investigate the mysterious lights in the belief that an aircraft might have crashed. Disoriented and puzzled, their testimony, given sometime afterwards, has contributed to a widespread belief that the airmen had a close encounter with a UFO. While it was known that the Deputy Base Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Halt, had sent a memo to the Ministry of Defence (MoD)about the disturbing incidents, he never received any official reply and the Ministry’s subsequent denial of- or at least silence on - the incidents fuelled suspicions among UFO believers that the MoD not only knew the truth about UFOs but was covering up prominent cases. The Rendlesham encounters and Col Halt’s memo, they argued, established that definitively. At long last, the Ministry of Defence has released its file on Rendlesham; in 155 pages, it chronicles the Ministry’s own investigations of what happened on those two December nights 21 years ago. Unfortunately, for both conspiracy aficionados and UFO buffs, what is revealed by the MoD’s internal documents could not be further removed from the ’cover up’ of an alien visitation. The ’close encounter’ first made headlines in 1983 when American researcher Robert Todd discovered the existence of Col Halt’s memo to the MoD and informed the UFO community. In the United States - where ufologists have had a long and successful run of requesting the release of government and military documents under their Freedom of Information Act Todd decided, in 1983, to make a speculative enquiry about the Rendlesham incidents. In time, he received a response from the

_

5l3th Combat Support Group (CSG), which provided document management services to the Third Air Force; they had located a copy of the ’Halt memo’. As the USAF’s own copy had been "properly disposed of in accordance with Air Force Regulations," the copy now provided to Todd had been obtained by the CSG directly from the British government. 1 In April 1983, when British ufologist Jenny Randles and fellow investigators put questions to MoD department DS8, it was confirmed to them that "USAF personnel did see unusual lights" at RAF Woodbridge, but they were ambivalent about the existence of the memo from the commander of an American base on British soil- a document whose existence DS8 could not confirm or give Jenny permission to view, and yet here was Jenny in the MoD waving a copy she had obtained from Todd. This silence - or at least, reticence - was interpreted as a denial, giving rise to the view that ’something’ was being concealed. However, the MoD was indeed keeping a file on Rendlesham and now, thanks to the diligence of UFO historian and fortean researcher Dr David Clarke, it was released to him in May 2001. Clarke explains: ’Towards the end of the year 2000, an application was made under the present Code of Practice on Access to Government Information for a copy of the file, assembled by


:_i

EAST GATE: The guardhouse. Below:

Secretariat Air Staff 2a (the successor to DS8) on the Rendlesham Forest UFO incident. In addition, a search was requested of other files that might contain documents relevant to the report from RAF Bentwaters." "According to the Ministry, the majority of the papers contained within came from one file that was assembled some time after the alleged event that opened with Halt’s memo and largely consisted of correspondence. Because the file appeared incomplete, the MoD carried out a search to identifY any other relevant papers from ’UFO’ files covering the same period, 1981-2. This search located a number of other documents relating to the incident that have now been placed within the original file opened in

1982."

In

his memo, Halt describes the two events from his own recollection. On the first occasion, he writes, three patrolmen were given permission to investigate a possible aircrash "outside the back gate" of the Bentwaters base, adjacent to Rendlesham Forest. The patrolmen, Halt says, reported encountering a "strange glowing object in the forest," which was "metallic in appearance and triangular in shape, approximately two to three metres 10ft) across the base and approximately two metres high." The object, according to Halt, "had a pulsing red light on top and a bank(s) of blue lights underneath" and was "hovering or on legs." As the patrolmen approached, the object "manoeuvred through the trees and disappeared." The next night, Halt and others witnessed more "strange lights" they could not explain. "A red sun-like light was seen through the trees. It moved about and pulsed," he wrote. As both incidents centred on Rendlesham Forest and as this was outside the jurisdiction of the US Air Force, Halt says it had been deemed a matter for the Ministry to investigate. Halt never received any confirmation of receipt or further instructions. In the following years, the Rendlesham case received enormous publicity, being endlessly cited in a stream of books and TV documentaries as a ’double whammy’, evi. dence of both the existence of UFOs and of a high-level cover-up. However, as time went by, a growing number of ufologists became

(7-

A RED, SUN-LIKE LIGHT WAS SEEN THROUGH THE TREES convinced this ’most famous British UFO case’ was fundamentally flawed. The first impression given by the newly-released MoD file is that it puts paid to the accusation that the British government was engaged in a ’UFO cover-up’. This historic, official ’UFO’ file - containing over 150 ’secret’ docu. ments, demonstrates that the MoD did in fact spend some time investigating those purported ’Rendlesham forest UFOs’ even if the results seem pretty lacklustre. One of the first and most important results is independent confirmation of the dates of the two ’UFO’incidents: the first beginning at around 0300 on the morning of 26 December and the second in night/early

Co/. Halt

morning of 27/28 December. (Halt erroneously records these as 27 and 29/30 December respectively.) Astonishingly, the file includes a letter from science writer and astronomer Ian Ridpath to DS8 in 1983 alerting them to the fact that Col Halt had recorded erroneous dates in his memo - dates that could have been confirmed, as Ridpath had found, from local police records. When DS8 wrote to an RAF officer at the base to check Ridpath’s claim, the officer chose to accept Halt’s dates over Ridpath’s. As Dr Clarke notes: "The MoD’s assessment that the UFO events reported to them by Lt Col Halt were of "no defence significance" was flawed because their analysis of radar data was concentrated upon incorrect dates!" How could Halt have been so mistaken? It’s a question which I may be the only person ever to have raised, albeit by On 13 May 1997, American journalist Salley Rayl interviewed Halt and kindly asked on my behalf: "We received an e-mail earlier in the day from a fellow by the name of James Easton who lives in Scotland and apparently has been researching this case during recent months. One thing that he mentioned, and a question that I would like to pass on to you, is why have there been variances in the dates given for both incidents? Your memo claims that the dates were on the evening/early morning of the 26th/27th and 29th/30th of December, respectively. But elsewhere, in interviews, the dates have been given as 25 to 26 and 28 to 29, he says. So why, why are there differences in those dates’" Halt replied: "Well, I tried ro go back and recover the police blotter and the security blotter - I think I mentioned to you earlier - to reaffirm the dates. Keep in mind, I wrote the memo several weeks later. And it was not a really important memo. The date was not critical. The critical portion was, you know, what hal’pened and are you interested) And how about getting involved and let’s investigate this. It’s possible that I, I put the date down wrong. But I don’t believe so. I tried to verify later and the police blotters had been taken

proxy.

ALIEN HIGHWAY: The main road through Rendlesham forest just before it reaches ’East gate’.

29 F1I51


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NOWT SO QUEER AS SUFFOLK: a map indicating the various locations involved in the Rendlesham incident. Right: The ’Halt memo’. Below: StaffSergeant Jim Penniston, the patrolman who claimed he saw a ’metallic object’

from the repository, probably by a, how shall

I say, curiosity seeker..."

Halt didn’t take statements from any of the witnesses until a full week after the events. He told Sally Rayl that this delay was due to the holiday period: "Around New Year’s Eve, I took statements and interviewed the men who had taken part in the initial incident." I acquired these statements in 1998 and revealed them first, exclusively, on the Intetnet. 2 Four of the five statements agree and verify the date of the first incident as 26 December, so there should never have been any confusion. If, as Halt stated to Rayl, he attempted to substantiate the correct dates before sending his memo, why did he not refer to the testimonies he had personally obtained from the witnesses? In his memo, Halt informed the Ministry that following a sighting of "unusual lights outside the back gate at RAF Woodbridge" a patrol was allowed to "check it out." He wrote: "Thinking an aircraft might have crashed or been forced down, they called for permission to go outside the gate to investigate. The on-duty flight chief responded and allowed three patrolmen to proceed on foot. The individuals reported seeing a strange glowing object in the forest."

off-base

to the stateAccording ment of one of the

three patrolmen, Airman Ed Cabansag, it seems the "strange glowing object" was a farmhouse,. The group had entered the forest thinking "it had to be an aircraft accident" and walked at least two miles (3.2km), trying to get to a vantage point that would clarify this light in the distance. "Our route through the forest and field was a direct one, straight towards the light," he continues. "We figured the lights were coming from past the forest, since nothing was visible as we passed through the woody forest. We could see a glowing near the beacon light, but as we got closer we found it to be a lit-up farmhouse." Indeed, it was the same ’glowing farmhouse’ at Capel Green which alarmed Halt during the second incident. When the ’UFO’ was reported again the next night, he ventured into Rendlesham forest in search of

30 FTl51

THE WINDOWS WERE ALL BRIGHT RED AND FLICKERING it.

As he recaIled in the interview with Salley Rayl: "We had also noticed that the farmer’s house appeared to be glowing, as though

there were a fire inside. All the windows were bright red and sort of flickering and I was quite concerned for the occupants of the house." During the past year, local researcher Robert McLean managed to retrace, on more than one occasion, Halt’s route from the microcassette notes Halt made in the forest that night. McLean easily located the same farmhouse and was able to see for himself the ’house on fire effect’. It is, he says, "quite an effective iIlusion" but is only a result of local lighting conditions. Halt’s memo goes on to describe the "beacon light": "The object was described as being metallic in appearance and triangular in shape, approximately two to three metres across the base and approximately two metres high. It iIluminated the entire forest with a white light. The object itself had a pulsing red light on top and a bank(s) of blue lights underneath. The object was hovering or on legs. As the patrolmen approached the object, it man uvred through the trees and disappeared. At this time the animals on a nearby farm went into a frenzy. The object was briefly sighted approximately an hour later near the back gate."

The testimony of the three security patrolmen seems be at odds with Halt’s account. Not one of them describes a ’triangularshaped’ object in their statements. StaffSergeant Jim Penniston was the only one who claimed to have seen what he believed to be a metaIlic object, associated with the ’lights’. His original written account describes

how he was never able to get closer than 50 metres (160f)to the elusive source, which his accompanying sketch clearly showed to be ’box-shaped’. Penniston’s account changed radically after he underwent ’regressive hypnosis’. Contrary to his earlier testimony, he began to claim the ’object’ was ’triangularshaped’. Significantly, however, the final member of that patrol, Airman First Class John Burroughs, was adamant they never observed a ’craft’, merely some lights which implied an object was there. Cabansag’s statement refers only to some unfamiliar lights, the origin of which was never resolved, except for the "beacon light" - quite a different scenario from the one outlined in Halt’s memo. (When I contacted him recently, John Burroughs stiIl maintains they saw only some anomalous lights.) In popular retellings of the Rendlesham encounters, the lights are said to man uvre through the trees before disappearing. But, as explained in Burroughs’ statement, the patrolmen saw the lights next to a farmhouse before they were lost from sight: "We got up to a fence that separated the trees from the open field and you could see the lights down by a farmer’s house. We climbed over the fence and started heading towards the red and blue lights and they just disappeared. Once we reached the farmer’s house we could see a beacon going around, so we went towards We followed it for about two miles before we could see it was coming from a lighthouse." Then, said Burroughs, "We had just crossed a creek and were told to come back when we saw a blue light to our left in the trees. It was only there for a minute and it just streaked away. After that, we didn’t see anything so we returned to the truck." Conspicuously absent in Halt’s memo is the story of how that lighthouse played a role in those first and formative ’UFO’ perceptions. The "blue light" which seemed to "streak away" is the sole basis for Halt’s contention that, "The object was briefly sighted approximately an hour later near the back gate." If the Ministry had also been advised by Halt that the tiny pulsating light (confirmed by Halt to Sally Rayl) he personally observed within Rendlesham forest, was seen again "clear off to the coast" (documented in his microcassette recording), the entire context

it.


of these ’UFO’ alarms might have become

more evident. In the memo, Halt also drew attention to radiation readings taken at what was believed to be the first night’s ’UFO landing site’. We can now see from the MoD’s file that they wasted time on this. It’s long been demonsttated that the levels were minuscule. In fact, Halt himself tecords incidental ’radiation readings’ from a nearby field which were higher than most of the ’landing site’ readings.

Green, 1995, showing landing site still blighted 15 years after Larry Warren’s

tractor at night. As it moved around a large field, delivering food to cattle in an otherwise dark landscape, the numerous top and side lights created a spectacular display and on top was an amber beacon ’warning’ light.

experience."

Robert McLean has been able to locate

Larry Warren’s purported landing area, using the visual clues in Warren’s CD, also called

Left at East Gate. McLean also obtained aerial Senior Airman Kenneth shots of the locale and one of these, taken by Greene, stationed at RAF the depicts Warren’s ’UFO landing site’ Bentwaters, recently told me about in It shows some discoloured areas the ’UFO’ which he and a fellow one of which appears to be circular - in the servicemen encountered, in 1978, field. However, this RAF aerial photograph on their way to Bentwaters one Halt’s ’official was taken in 1953 (27 years earlier) and the night for the midnight shift. "I was living off UFO report’ created much marks are interpreted by experienced aerial base at the time in a small town called excitement and optimism in reconnaissance folk as typical patterns Darsham, near Saxmundham, Suffolk. My the ’UFO community’. in crops caused by underground room mate and I were on a small country road Ostensibly, it threatened ruins. .. not evidence of an alien and as we came round a curve there was a to blow apart the MoD spaceship landing. small triangular object, about eight feet ’UFO conspiracy’, and the speculaIn a new development, there’s a (2Am) in height, stopped in middle of the tion was fuelled by Penniston’s possible explanation which seems to road. This object had a small flashing orange increasingly elaborate recollections account for UFO-like impressions beacon on top and bright white lights emaunder ’hypnotic regression’. He now experienced by Burroughs, Cabansag nating from it at various points." claimed to have examined a landed and Penniston. Ultimately, the catalyst "Our immediate thought was that it was a ’craft’ at his leisure for 20 minutes. In for all that followed was the ’UFO’they UFO, but it turned out to be a very small farm contrast, his fellow patrolman John witnessed, and the source of those enigtractor. The top width was shorter than the Burroughs resolutely maintains: "I never saw matic lights was found near a farmhouse. bottom width and the two sides slightly anything metallic or anything hard." Again: Recall Burroughs’ statement: "We got to a angled toward the top. This shape was "We did not see a structured ’craft’... all we fence that separated the trees from theupopen actuallyup the operator’s compartment. saw were lights that seemed to imply a strucfield and you could see the lights down by a However, viewing this at night when the ture of some kind." farmers house. We climbed over the fence and white lights were on created an initial impresThis divergence in the eyewitness testimo- started heading towards the red and blue sion of a ’triangle’. It wasn’t until the operator ny rarely featured in the more enthusiastic lights and they just disappeared." extinguished some of the lights and moved off media reports. The story’s factual genesis was In a sketch which depicted the triangular- the road that we realized it was a tractor." confused further by the publication of Left at shaped light fonnation, Burroughs clarified that Could this have been what was witnessed East Gate (1997) by ex-USAF airman Larry the top red light, which resembled a beacon, by the USAF patrol, stressed after their long Warren, who claimed to have been directly was "red and orange." Especially prominent was chase through the dark forest, by the glowing involved with others in a dramatic ’close white light which projected downwards from farm, sparking off the UK’s most famous encounter’ during the UFO incursions. Halt ’UFO’affair? the source. It occurred to me that I had seen and Penniston were, however, scathing of something similar... the field lights used by a We may never know for sure. However, in Warren’s assertions; in Warren’s original the first book written about this case - SkY account he claimed only that he had heard Crash (1984)co-authored by Jenny Randle;, about the ’UFO’tales while stationed on the Brenda Butler and Dot Street - Jenny writes base, but later, after ’hypnotic regression’ he of Butler and Street’s visit to the site, within a too was claiming a closer contact. couple of months of the UFO events: "Brenda Warren referred to his designated UFO and Dot were directed to see a Mr Brown, who ’landing site’ as momentous physical evidence owns a house about three quarters of a mile of UFO visitation. The photographs in his [I,200m]further down the path which skirts book describe the location as: "Capel Green, the field... He had a large pink house with site of the incident. Craft’s point of contact plenty ofold huts around the back, and a clearly visible as discolored area..." and "Capel tor standing idle... He abruptly pointed out that he knew nothing about a UFO." 3 In fact, he might have known a lor more about it than he realised! [

Former

RAF,

detail.

Understandably,

IT WASNT UNTIL IT MOVED OFF THAT WE SAW IT WAS A TRACTOR

rrac-

1.

NOTES Larry Fawcett & Barry Greenwood, Clear Intent (Prentice Hall, 1984, pp 217-218).

~.

2. James Easton, Rendlesham Unravelled (1998). See: www.rendlesham.com 3. Jenny Randles, Brenda

Butler & Dot Street, Sky Crash (Neville Spearman, 1984, p

47.

RECOMMENDED READING

SKY CRASH: A COSMIC CONSPIRACY (1984) Brenda Butler, Dot Street and Jenny Randles AND NOT SO RECOMMENDED... LEfT AT EAST GATE (1997) Larry Warren

TO THE LIGHTHOUSE: A view from the forest edge near where Top: John F Burroughs - saw anomalous lights.

Co!. Halt saw a flashing ’UFO’.

.

RECOMMENDED SURFING

www.rendlesham.com James Easton’s definitive website on the subject

31 fTl51


T..

E L L I N G T H E P EOPL E

THE ISSUES RAISED.BY THE RENDLESHAM CASE HAVE SPLIT THE UFO COMMUNITY. WHILE JAMES EASTON REPRESENTS A WHAT FEW FACTS CAN BE ESTABLISHED, THERE IS A THRIVING OPPOSITION PRAGMATIC VIEWPOINT BASED UPON THE FACE VALUE OF UFOS HOVERED OVER THE NATO INSTALLATIONS FOR ALMOST FIVE HOURS WHICH BELIEVES THE SAME DATA SUPPORTS THE THEORY THAT AND LANDED IN THE NEARBY FOREST. GEORGINA BRUNI THAT MEMBERS OF THE USAF, STATIONED AT THE TWIN RAF BASES IN SUFFOLK,DID ENCOUNTER UFOS DURING THAT CHRISTMAS WEEKBELIEVES IN 1980. most UFO reports, there is Unlike official evidence in the public domain to prove that the Rendlesham Forest incident was genuine. The first real evidence emerged in 1983, when an American research group obtained a document released through the Freedom of Information Act. This was a memorandum authored by Lieutenant Colonel Charles Halt, the Deputy Base Commander, himself a witness to one of the events. The document, which was sent to the MoD soon after the incident, described how military witnesses encountered a triangular-shaped object in Rendlesham Forest, on the perimeter of RAF Woodbridge, and explained that radiation readings were taken at the landing site. More evidence surfaced in 1984 when Colonel Sam Morgan, the then base commander, sent copies of a tape recording to British researchers. The tape, which was made by Halt during one of the events, confirmed that radiation readings were taken at the landing site, that indentations were found in the ground where an object . . . was said to have landed, and that the --.......--....-patrol encountered UFOs. During research for my book You Can’t Tell The People: The Definitive Account of the Rendlesham Forest UFO Incident (Sidgwick & Jackson, 2000), I located USAF photographs taken at the landing site the morning after the initial These photographs feature USAF personnel and British police examining the ground indentations as described in Halt’s recording. I’ve worked on this case for five years and have been frustrated by the way in which the MoD and USAF have played down the incident, claiming it was of "no defence significance". I’m not alone in my internal exchanges frustration. Former Chief of the Defence between departmentsof correspondence Staff Lord Hill-Norton (below) has been Defence Intelligence of the RAF and Staff (DIS). These trying to get answers since 1983. He has documents offer some tabled 16 Questions in Parliament this spired after the MoD idea of what tranreceived Halt’s memyear: Questions that concern the case as orandum and, contrary to the official line presented in my book. The answers were that the incident "no defence not convincing, even though great significance", show was of that the report was, pressure was put on Baroness Symons, indeed, taken seriously. Minister of State for Defence One document reveals that tape recordProcurement, to release informaed evidence of the incident was handed tion on the case. But Lord Hillto General Gabriel, the Chief of the Norton did not give up and, earlier United States Air Force in Europe, and this year, his persistence paid off we learn that the Americans did not when the MoD’s file on this case share this information with the MoD. was released under the ’Code However, Halt has since told me of Practice on Access to that a British agent was Government Information’. among those who debriefed There are numerous docthe witnesses after the uments in the file, the most So could it be that the important of which are the BIG CHIEF: Hill-Norton

AI~~~

event.

TAPE RECORDED EVIDENCE WAS HANDED TO THE CHIEF OF THE USAF IN EUROPE

event.

32 FT151

SCORCHED EARTH: A Police officer and Mike Verrano examine the landing site. Bottom: John Burroughs’ UFO

Capt.

drawing.

MoD documents, at least those now in the public domain, are not the full story? Several documents, referenced in the file, are missing. The documents make it clear that there was concern over the above average radiation readings, as reported in Halt’s memorandum. We also learn that RAF Watton had found fault with film of the reported sighting (the RAF routinely take film of its radar screens)for the night in question. It was later discovered that film on the days prior to and after the reported phenomena were also faulty. If the incident was thought to be of "no defence significance", it is interesting that the MoD considered sanitising Halt’s memorandum before releasing Another document reveals that the decision to allow its release "might have to come from Secretary of State for Defence’s office particularly if any security or intelligence implications are read into the reported sighting." Although there are a number of missing documents and no further information concerning what transpired once DIS became more involved, I consider the file to be extremely important. Nick Pope who worked in Secretariat (Air Staff) for three years agrees. He told me: "These revelations are sensational, and I’m sure there will be pressure for an inquiry into both the incident itself and the subsequent actions of both the MoD and the It’s unlikely there will ever be a Public Inquiry, but efforts are being made to obtain more information, both from the MoD and the USAF.

it.

-

-

USAF."

; ~.~_.~ " m~ ~ tjt

.

~ -.. "E"’tH~SH"" ’’’’’’:3’ ,."..-, ,",."

.

UFO MYSTERY

YOU ’CAN’T TEll THE PEOPLE

GEORG’NA BRUNI

Thanks to the kind folks at PAN MACMILLAN we have 10 copies of You Can’t Tefl the People to give away. To win one,just tell us WHEREABOUTS IN SUFFOLK (AND NOT FAR FROM RENDLESHAM FOREST! WAS A MERMAN ONCE CAUGHT?

-~._---~--._----.~-_._---._-.__._-------~---..._-_.-.---Send answers on a postacrd to: RENDLESHAM COMPETITION, Fortean TImes, IFG Ltd, 9 Dallington Street, London ECIV OBO


. most UFO reports, there is Unlike official evidence in the public domain to prove that the Rendlesham Forest incident was genuine. The first real evidence emerged in 1983, when an American research group obtained a document released through the Freedom of Information This was a memorandum authored by Lieutenant Colonel Charles Halt, the Deputy Base Commander, himself a witness to one of the events. The document, which was sent to the MoD soon after the incident, described how military witnesses encountered a triangular-shaped object in Rendlesham Forest, on the perimeter of RAF Woodbridge, and A.JJ explained that radiation readings were -.--- O’’^l~ _. taken at the landing site. More evidence surfaced in 1984 when Colonel Sam Morgan, the then base commander, sent copies of a tape recording to ----D-British researchers. The tape, which was made by Halt during one of the events, -’-. -~ L..<;," confirmed that radiation readings were taken at the landing site, that indentations were found in the ground where an object was said to have landed, and that the . __ -SPOl";Xt patrol encountered UFOs. During research for my book You Can’t Tell The People: The Definitive Account of the Rendlesham Forest UFO Incident (Sidgwick & Jackson, 2000),I located USAF photographs taken at the landing site the morning after the initial These photographs feature USAF personnel and British police examining the ground indentations as described in Halt’s recording. I’ve worked on this case for five years and have been frustrated by the way in which the MoD and USAF have played down the incident, claiming it was of "no defence significance". I’m not alone in my internal exchanges of frustration. Former Chief of the Defence between departments ofcorrespondence Staff Lord Hill-Norton (below) has been Defence ’Intelligence Staff the RAF and (015). These trying to get answers since 1983. He has documents offer some idea of what trantabled 16 Questions in Parliament this spired after the MoD received Halt’s memyear: Questions that concern the case as orandum and, contrary to the official line presented in my book. The answers were that the incident was of "no defence not convincing, even though great significance", show that the report was, pressure was put on Baroness Symons, indeed, taken seriously. Minister of State for Defence One document reveals that tape recordProcurement, to release informaed evidence of the incident was handed tion on the case. But Lord Hillto General Gabriel, the Chief of the Norton did not give up and, earlier United States Air Force in Europe, and this year, his persistence paid off .’ we learn that the Americans did not when the MoD’s file on this case share this information with the MoD. was released under the ’Code However, Halt has since told me of Practice on Access to that a British agent was Government Information’. among those who debriefed There are numerous docthe witnesses after the uments in the file, the most So could it be that the important of which are the

Act.

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event.

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BIG CHIEF: Hill-Norton

l

SCORCHED EARTH: A Police officer and Mike Verrano examine the landing site. Bottom: John Burroughs’ UFO

Capt.

drawing.

MoD documents, at least those now in the pUblic domain, are not the full story? Several documents, referenced in the file, are missing. The documents make it clear that there was concern over the above average radiation readings, as reported in Halt’s memorandum. We also learn that RAF Watton had found fault with film of the reported sighting (the RAF routinely take film of its radar screens) for the night in question. It was later discovered that film on the days prior to and after the reported phenomena were also faulty. If the incident was thought to be of "no defence significance", it is interesting that the MoD considered sanitising Halt’s memorandum before releasing Another document reveals that the decision to allow its release "might have to come from Secretary of State for Defence’s office particularly if any security or intelligence implications are read into the reported

it.

sighting."

Although there are a number of missing documents and no further information concerning what transpired once 015 became more involved, I consider the file to be extremely important. Nick Pope who worked in Secretariat (Air Staff) for three years agrees. He told me: "These revelations are sensational, and I’m sure there will be pressure for an inquiry into both the incident itself and the subsequent actions of both the MoD and the USAF." It’s unlikely there will ever be a Public Inquiry, but efforts are being made to obtain more information, both from the MoD and the USAF.

-


r~-

strangedays

AHEAD OF THE FIELD... MARK PILKINGTON REVIEWS THE PICK OF THIS SUMMER’S lATE CROP OF CIRCLES. PHOTOS BY STEVE ALEXANDER.

-

Above BARROWDEN, NORTHAMPTONSHIRE: One of the year’s other impresssive creations.

Left - CHILBOLTON, HAMPSHIRE: The Aricebo formation sent the nation’s press into a circle frenzy.

-

Right MILK HILL, WILTSHIRE: The megaglyph, also known as the Galaxy. It has been called the "mother and father of all crop circles" and is almost a thousand feet in diameter.

A

s another summer fades, so another crop circlemaking season closes. This year, however, things have been rather different, with initial apathy turning to awe and a resulting media frenzy not seen since the heady days of the early 1990s. Things got off to a fairly bleak start. Restrictions imposed due to the Foot and Mouth epidemic saw any determined circle artistes facing fines of several thousand pounds - a deterrent considerably more potent than the f100 paid by Matthew Williams, who exposed himself to the law last year. Compounding the situation was the month-long delay in planting crops after one of the wettest winters on record. April, usually the month in which the season’s first daubings appear, was

conveniently situated between a theme park and the local airport. The year’s first dazzlers, a Meso-American-style maze and an intriguing, curved pyramid lens, landed in Barrowden Northamptonshire, and Berwick Bassett, Wiltshire, in the first few days of June. From then on it was a circle summer much like any other until, on the torrential night of 11-12 August, something incredible appeared on the top of Milk Hill- at 900 ft (247m)up, the highest point in the surrounding area - the first time it had been visited by the circlemakers. The formation, known as the ’Megaglyph’, was a relatively

straightforward fractal spiral but was, at around 900 ft (274m) across, simply enormous, consisting of over 400 individual circles, some of them over 70ft (21m) in diameter. Writing in the Guardian, John Vidal called it "boring and predictable", but the croppy community was ecstatic. "The formation that has brought the phenomenon back to the people," cried Stuart Dike on Crop Circle Connector, the croppies’ online focal point, "it is the mother of all crop circles." Even veteran circlemaker John Lundberg was blown away: "I was well and truly godsmacked, I just kept returning to the image and

formation-free. The year’s first circle, an impressive six.fold flower, appeared not in Wiltshire, but in field of oil-seed rape outside Zierenberg in central Germany on 15 May. As if in immediate response, a simple concentric circle design appeared in Hampshire the next day - at last the season had begun’ 25 May saw F&M restrictions lifted in Wiltshire and Hampshire, with a few relatively straightforward creations popping up in the usual places, as well as one in Bournemouth, Dorset, a

22 fTJ52

GREAT SHELFORD, CAMBRIDGESHIRE: An asymetrical formation in wheat.

it.

staring at The size of the formation was unlike anything else we’d seen in the fieIds before, if was off the scale!" Perhaps the design’s somewhat "retro" flavour, which harked back to the heyday of 1995/6, had something to do with the hero’s welcome it received. The print and TV news media, which had ignored the phenomenon until now, were clearly overjoyed at being able to fill pages with new circle speculation. It was almost as if the past few years had never happened.

A

s the media onslaught

continued throughout the

following week, someone - or something - laid down a perfect riposte, this time in Chibolton, Hampshire, beside a radio telescope that has hosted formations several times before. One showed a humanoid face, not unlike the ’Face on Mars’. The other, dubbed the ’Aricebo Response’, almost replicated the binary signal designed by astronomers Frank Drake and Carl Sagan and beamed to the star cluster M 13 in 1974, from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. The key differences were the humanoid figure’s enlarged head perhaps a reference to its supposed ET origins - and a few misNaturally placed pieces of

DNA.


a

-----~-

straIlgedays

rhese served as cues for intensely Jera ed analyses from croppies,

self-professed geneticist, and, more surprisingly, a bemused response from SET! astronomer Serh Shostak. Shostak admitted r,’ aelmiring the circlemakers’ work. bur pointed out several I’r,)blems with the image, and one \\Irh rhe notion of a reply in "1\1 13 is 25,000 light-years ,I"rant. which means that rhe 1Il sa,ge will not reach its target [,’I’ anothel’ 250 centurie".. The dl’l’ CIrcles are decorati,’e, IInpressive, and provocative, but n,,t II1f"rmarive. We can expect bettt’!’ from true extraterrestrial (’ven one

Ir,elt.

Inrcllt,gence." These formations also ,h’ew rhe ,Jmirati(1I1 of John

MichelL

and ex-editor of The Ccrealogist, who pointed out

J, ’rtt’Im author

[he ,leli,~htf

I

proximityof the the ne,\rhy IIHl’rsrellar observatory at l :hilh,,Iwn, where some SETI I’r(),grammes are carried ()ut. "By my standards," Michell wid FT, "rhe ’Face’ is a grear w()rk ()f an, "\rrceh() Response’ to

l’c,1UtifuL subtle, witty, enigmatic. i’l" )\’ocative, avvesome an,J WOt1,lerfuL It outclasses everything ell Jne hy modern artists in the medium of landscape, including Srniths’1l1, Fulton, Christo. Long 111,1 (,oldsworthy."

Such was the excitement surrounding these new formations that several websites had to close down as bandwidth demand far exceeded the limits of their service providers. Even the mighty Crop Circle Connector was forced to close its doors temporarily, upping its allowance from 50MB to a cost!y I 501v18 f r August. After a sluwish start, it’s been a remarkahle year in circlemakin,g. with a respectahle 88 formations in the UK (mmpare,!w 134 last year) and another 30 as L1r afield as Pulan,L Serhia and Veteran researcher Colm ,Andrews W,1S clearly moved as he appeared l)n Art Bell’s radio sh()w: "There’s never been a hetter sea,()n, this is hy far the I’innacle of the last 20 years,.. there have heen time, in my work where I have privately cried to mvself; it s()unds extra(Jrdinary I know. hur it’s Just ,SlJ ,pecial" Thank you

Israel.

Colin. The’ !,hen()men()n has. it seems, c()me full circle. SOURCES The Guardian, 21 Auq: The Independent, 26 Auq 2001: Crop Circle Connector www.cropcircleconnector.com CIrclemakers www.circlemakers.org SET! Statement

www.seti.orq/Qeneral/ao_message_crop.html


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