Issues 187 to 192
Contents: Ancient Astronuts - Moon Landing UFO , Mid Air Encounter over USA Feb 2018
EDITOR: JENNY RANDLES
10 MARTON GREEN STOCKPORT CHESHIRE SK3 8LT
E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo above: The NASA space shuttle launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida in November
1983. Did astronauts see UFOs in space 14 years earlier. Did ancient astronauts visit Earth much earlier still. And did airline pilots see a UFO at 50,000 feet in February 2018?
10 MARTON GREEN STOCKPORT CHESHIRE SK3 8LT
E mail: email@example.com
Photo above: The NASA space shuttle launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida in November
1983. Did astronauts see UFOs in space 14 years earlier. Did ancient astronauts visit Earth much earlier still. And did airline pilots see a UFO at 50,000 feet in February 2018?
One of the first UFO lectures I ever attended was by British writer Raymond Drake who was in his 60s back then and so a veteran when he gave a talk at UMIST - the Manchester University.
He was an interesting person who specialised and wrote several books about the possibility that aliens have been visiting Earth throughout human history.
Each of his titles involved trawling through ancient texts and records or paintings and cave art to find what might resemble contact with unearthly beings that had originally been interpreted not as extra-terrestrials but Gods.
His first book, Gods or Spaceman? appeared in 1964 and the last - shortly before his death - was Cosmic Continents in 1986. In 11 titles he scoured the world looking for evidence in the manner of Charles Forte - after whom the magazine Fortean Times is named - and who was Drake’s hero.
Though he rarely gets the recognition today, he actually predated by several years the one name most people associate with this ‘ancient astronauts’ school of thinking.
That, of course, is Swiss researcher Eric von Daniken - whose book ‘Chariots of the Gods’ was a global sensation in 1968 in the year when we first circled and soon after landed upon the Moon as humanity became a spacefaring race for the first time. 50 years and 21 books later he has just released his latest - ‘The Gods Never Left Us’.
I can still remember the global sensation when von Daniken first hit the news with the media shout line - Was God an Astronaut? I was at school with a job delivering newspapers and the posters and serialisations were intriguing.
Certainly I could never have dreamt that three decades later I would lecture alongside von Daniken at a conference in Vienna. Though that event is more memorable for me regarding what happened at the start of my talk when I wandered towards the screen to point out something in an illustration projected onto a screen and promptly fell into a pit invisible in the darkness.
Embarrassed more than anything - as cameras were filming! - I scrambled up and somehow got through my lecture. Not realising until the pain kicked in that I had broken fingers on my hand. I needed hospital treatment on arriving back in the UK and still get the odd twinge from the damaged digits.
Daniken later designed and opened a theme park on this research and alien astronauts theme at Interlaken in his native Switzerland. That was in 2003 - and, although it has had limited success, its several pavilions still look at various themes taken from his books.
It is easy to see why the concept of our history having been influenced by aliens coming to Earth long ago was beguiling at the height of the space age. And might be a little old fashioned after long now being the subject of movies and TV series such as Stargate.
We wondered at the start of the space age if somehow vastly intelligent and scientifically advanced beings had guided our primitive selves towards civilisation with ancient humans being aware of their true origin. Instead we interpreted them as godly beings becoming the basis of multiple beliefs and religions.
In the 1980s this concept was taken in a very interesting new direction with a 5 book series of science fiction novels - ‘The Canopus in Argos’ series - written by Nobel Prize winning author Doris Lessing. I was thrilled to meet her, too, when we did a BBC radio show together as she had long been a heroine of mine.
Two of her interlinked series of novels - Shikasta in 1979 and The Sirian Experiments in 1980 - focus on the same story as told from two perspectives. They cover vast periods of time as differing aliens visit, report back on, interact with and in some cases experiment upon life on Earth and humanity in particular.
Though dense and allegorical in many ways to her unique views about civilisation which led to her rejecting a Damehood - they are a lasting literary mirror to the simplicity and guesswork of the searchers for ancient astronaut history using images and artefacts. Yes these vaguely resemble something like modern technology and suggest that this might be of alien origin as it could not then be constructed by anyone terrestrial.
This kind of thinking has not disappeared. You only need to look at the schedules of some of the satellite TV channels to find them full of Ancient Aliens and similar shows that dissect these matters to the nth degree.
The concept of ancient astronauts is viewed by UFO researchers in one way or another. Either as over interpretation of mundane things judged out of context - or as proof that the aliens we think might be coming here today and abducting people have been around and maybe doing that for countless centuries.
Either way this focuses the evidence as if it supports - or does not support - the modern extra-terrestrial hypothesis that some think explains the stranger cases that we observe right now.
So are there really ancient astronauts in our far history or is the theory simply astro - nuts?
However, there is another perhaps more interesting way of thinking about this subject which does not stand or fall on the existence of any aliens ever coming here but still has significance for the UFO mystery itself.
It could reveal a very long term force within human consciousness - the desire to not be alone but have someone to share our seemingly unique grasp of science and the cosmos. We alone on Earth seem aware that the universe is far more than just us on this rocky world whilst experiencing the day to day mundane details of life and survival.
We dream of the great beyond and aspire to find others out there amongst it. And this is not just a 21st century thing. We have been pondering such matters for millennia. It is deeply engrained into the soul of the human species. It is why we created a pantheon of Gods and supernatural entities pulling the strings and dancing in shadows.
Aliens are really just the modern day extension of a very long history of the need for another.
There are many ways we can see this in the history of humanity - every generation has its own version of the supernatural and beings that dance upon the edges of reality. UFO researcher Jacques Vallee in books such as Passport to Magonia introduced this netherworld of elves and fairies, sprites and demons into the same company as greys and Martians.
And asks the question are these beings in any sense real entities that exist just beyond human perception? Or are they manifestations of the cry of a lonely species desperate for something to aspire towards - be that Gods who give purpose to our destiny or beings that infer there is magic and other realities beyond our day to day fight for survival?
Today are we asking the very same question but focusing it in a modern way appropriate to our age of scientific endeavour - seeking aliens with knowledge that could bring wonders we cannot yet achieve?
The literal reality of what might be an ancient artefact of a ten thousand year old alien invader or a accidentally shaped rock fossil that acts like a simulacra to tease our human senses is not really the point. The things we perceive might be astronauts or our senses might just be going a little gaga.
What does matters is that, just like lights in the sky are to us today, these things burrow into our consciousness as a source of wonder and imagination that then toys with our primeval need not to be the only one who understands the profundity of what lies all around us in this universe.
UFO research is in many ways the 21st century version of the ancient druid priests or the necromancers and mystics of old trying to look beyond the crack between the edge of the universe and call out 'hello' to whoever might be there.
No wonder the extra-terrestrial hypothesis will not die. Evidentially it has long been on life support but it is a dream that we seem to share deep within the human spirit.
95% of what we see are readily explicable and the rest of things as yet unresolved might more likely be caused by things from this Earth rather than another.
But we do not want to be alone and we will cling on to that hope for as long as the lights in the sky fly amongst us.
MID AIR ENCOUNTER OVER ARIZONA
24 February 2018
“Was anybody, uh, above us that passed us like 30 seconds ago?” the voice of the pilot said.
“Negative,” an air traffic controller replied.
These were the confused words spoken by the pilot of a Learjet operated by Phoenix Air and then flying at 37,000 feet over the western USA heading towards California.
He was talking to the Air Traffic Control at Albuquerque, New Mexico at about 3.30 pm on a bright sunny afternoon in late February.
So far this is just like hundreds of other mid-air encounters involving aircrew - although ones in broad daylight are rarer than nocturnal sightings where misperceptions of things such as meteors are common. These can look very spectacular far above the clouds in very clear air and not, of course, be seen below cloud cover on the ground. So might not easily be recognised at the time for what they are.
These factors can also make them look big and close and in a vulnerable aircraft very scary indeed. Such reports date back to the dawn of aviation. Because we had entered a strange new realm above the clouds and were seeing things that had always been visible through human eyes for the very first time.
“A UFO!” A voice from the Learjet cockpit interrupted the silence.
“Yeah,” the pilot followed with sounds like a chuckle
Three minutes after the above incident an American Airlines Airbus was flying at 40,000 feet and over the Sonoran Desert between Picacho and Mammoth not far away from where the Lear Jet had been.
Ironically this desert was the location of a close encounter in the famous Steven Spielberg movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind 40 years ago - a film based on real sightings in astronomer J Allen Hynek’s book ‘The UFO Experience’ . Also in that film was another scene of an aircraft to air traffic control communication based on a real case like this one.
The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) was caught on the hop when a US magazine featured the report in early March and took the remarkable step of quickly not only confirming the events had really occurred but authenticating a release of the digital recording between the control tower and both aircraft cockpits and allowing it to appear in the Phoenix New Times.
"Other than the brief conversation between two aircraft, the controller was unable to verify that any other aircraft was in the area," Lynn Lunsford, of the FAA said to the paper.
"We have a close working relationship with a number of other agencies and safely handle military aircraft and civilian aircraft of all types in that area every day, including high-altitude weather balloons."
This suggests that the FAA had not been aware of any such traffic due up there or were able to explain what was seen by the crews of the two jets just three minutes apart.
Albuquerque ATC had alerted the crew of the American Airbus 321 on a flight from Dallas to San Diego after seeing from their radar track that they were heading across the path of the object reported by the Lear Jet pilot just before. Though no UFO was on that screen. Just the two aircraft.
“American 1095, uh, let me know if, uh, you see anything pass over you here in the next, uh, 15 miles,” the controller says on the tape of the communication.
“Let you know if anything passes over us?” the pilot responded puzzled by the unusual request.
“American 1095, affirmative,” the controller said. “We had an aircraft in front of you … that reported something pass over him and, uh, we didn’t have any targets. So just, uh, let me know if you see anything pass over you.”
“Alright,” the pilot responded still a little confused.
Then the Lear Jet pilot returned to the conversation to add more detail for the crew of the new aircraft passing into the location where the UFO had been to digest.
“I don’t know what it was….It wasn’t an airplane, but it passed us going the opposite direction.”
Moments later, the Airbus pilot was back on air.
“It’s American 1095. Yeah, something just passed over us. Uh, I don’t know what it was, but at least two-three thousand feet above us. Yeah, it passed right over the top of us.”
That means that it was above the 40,000 feet that the Airbus 321 was then flying at.
“Okay, American 1095. Thank you,” the controller replied.
Then he asked the Airbus pilot: “Can you tell if it was, uh, in motion or just hovering?”
“No cannot make it out — whether it was a balloon or whatnot,” was the reply.
But the Airbus pilot added that the thing had a “big reflection” as it passed overhead. He said it was traveling “several thousand feet above us, going the opposite direction.”
“Was it a Google balloon?” came a suggestion from an unidentified voice.
“Doubtful,” the pilot replied.
To which another voice commented using that word again: “UFO.”
This was the extent of the mid air encounter described over the recording. But Lynn Lunsford, for the FAA, later issued a statement to The Washington Post that the air traffic controller was “unable to verify that any other aircraft was in the area.”
However, there were possible resolutions that the FAA were looking into.
“We have a close working relationship with a number of other agencies and safely handle military aircraft and civilian aircraft of all types in that area every day, including high-altitude weather balloons.”
However, no such identification had been made at date of writing that anything of that nature was in the area at the time.
In late March the pilot of the American Airbus gave an interview to his local US TV station KTAB to describe what he witnessed. He was Blenus Green, with 20 years of experience and a former B 1 pilot with the US Air Force.
‘I was looking out of the windscreen to see if it was there and, yeah, I did. I saw it. It was very bright but not so bright you couldn’t look at it…..It didn’t look anything like an airplane.’
He added that normally an object lit by the sun reveals its shape by illumination on the appropriate side - but ‘this was bright all the way around. It was so bright you couldn’t make it out - what shape it was.’
Whilst the Learjet pilot did not go on TV the boss of the Phoenix air group confirmed they had done a full debriefing with him and after talking to the pilot were left thinking ‘what the hell was it?’.
They said they had chosen not to go public because they were afraid he would be ‘overwhelmed’ with interest if they did. But he was a 15 year veteran with over 14,000 hours flying time.
The company did confirm that they were flying an Air Ambulance mission for the Military Air Mobility Command at the time. And says in the debriefing he and the co pilot both saw the object and said ‘what the hell is that?’
They also commented on the brilliance of the light emitted and how it felt like ‘when you woke up in morning and stared at a bright light’. So the illumination clearly was unusual. Though the skies over Arizona can be very clear at that height - it ‘filled the whole windshield’.
Both pilots used their fingers against the cockpit windscreen to try to judge height as it passed them in the opposite direction and estimate that the unknown object was at around 50,000 feet. Too far away for the aircraft collision alarm signal which never sounded.
The pilot was familiar with all sorts of balloons such as research experiments. But that this was not like one and they estimated it passed them moving at ‘a similar speed that an airliner would’ - which, if true, would eliminate a wind borne balloon as the explanation.
Mid Air encounters in daylight between aircraft and UFOs have been reported before but multiple sightings of the same object are rare. Incidents where the Air Traffic Control are directly involved also enhance this case.
One of the most interesting UK cases of this kind is the following:
15 July 1991 Sussex, UK
A Britannia Airways Boeing 737 was inbound to London Gatwick at 5.45 pm on a sunny summer afternoon after a return holiday flight from Crete in the Mediterranean.
Descending through 15,000 feet and crossing the Sussex coast south of Arundel and under London air traffic control the co-pilot spotted something approaching fast ahead of them. He yelled to the pilot a collision alert as it was only an estimated half a mile away when first seen and rushed rapidly past their right hand wing in seconds. They estimated it came within 300 feet of hitting them but they reported no wake turbulence.
They described the object as small - but it could have been larger and further away as the lack of wake suggests. It was reported to ATC and in the subsequent Air Proximity report and to the MoD UFO department described as resembling a ‘black lozenge’
London ATC reacted immediately to their radio report of the object and their description of it as a ‘near collision’. Gatwick radar control immediately confirmed that they had an unidentified target on radar that had just passed the 737 and its unsuspecting passengers and was now about 10 miles behind them rapidly heading out towards the English Channel.
The UFO was not any known military traffic and that it was not giving a transponder signal so not any known civilian traffic either. They measured its departure speed as about 120 MPH.
More seriously the lozenge was on the radar screens heading into the path of a second inbound aircraft following the 737 towards landing. Because it was further out it was slightly higher than the Britannia aircraft, but the ATC were not about to take chances and ordered the second aircraft to change course in a series of turns and clear out of the way of the unknown target.
The UFO on radar had changed its course, was below the second aircraft (whose crew did not ever see it) and soon after this change of course the object disappeared off Gatwick radar heading for France.
Because of the ‘live’ radio communication of this encounter aircraft enthusiasts were immediately alerted to this event as they overheard it and the media got quickly involved. The Civil Aviation Authority were not thrilled as they were planning a several month AirProx investigation and did not want to comment prematurely.
Needless to say some of the reporting was a little over the top and aliens and spaceships were hinted at when nothing of the kind was being described. The airline and the CAA were less than thrilled with this complication and tried to shut down cooperation - which only enhanced suspicions of course.
Quite reasonably the authorities expected to find an explanation of some sort with diligent enquiry. Perhaps a military drone had strayed into airspace where it should not be. But aliens were the last thing they needed to be talking about whilst that was happening.
At first the prime candidate for an explanation was a meteorological balloon, released every few hours to test wind speeds and directions at different heights. One had been released from nearby Crawley but it had been carefully plotted - which these things are as that is kind of the point of releasing them. It never got close to be at 15,000 feet near the 737.
Indeed it was at the point of the sighting heading east with the wind at 42 mph whilst the UFO had been heading south at three times that speed. Too fast given the wind then recorded for a balloon.
They did consider a ‘toy’ balloon released from a Summer fair, for example. But one of those being large enough, fast enough, flying against the wind and even reaching 15,000 feet without bursting was considered very unlikely.
A balloon expert suggested that there were records of these reaching 7000 feet - under half the altitude of this UFO. But the met office said they had no data of one reaching more than 6000 feet. Their weather balloons were larger and went much higher but they knew where they all were and none were near the 737.
The press furore soon died down and we managed to get access to a copy of the CAA report on their investigation in April 1992 - although it was to be 2009 before that file was released publicly via the Ministry of Defence UFO files.
Indeed I wrote about this case in my book covering mid air UFO sightings - Something in the Air (Robert Hale, 1998).
The team based at RAF Uxbridge did run with the toy balloon theory in the final analysis despite concerns over how one of these (at just a foot long) was close enough to be seen as described without actually striking the aircraft. Not to mention the fact that it could not be the unidentified target on radar as something that small would not register. Yet that appeared to be the same object seen visually.
Group Captain John Maitland did argue that he ‘suspected’ that it might be ‘some sort of small balloon’ but would not comment further as none were traced.
The CAA report concluded that they did not have enough evidence to judge ‘what damage could have occurred had the object struck the aircraft’ but agreed that ‘there had been a possible risk of collision’ with whatever the UFO was.
However, not long after the report there was a new type of toy balloon - the UFO Solar - that started to be sold in Europe. It used the sun’s rays, could reach great heights, travel long distances and was shaped as a 10 foot long black cigar shape.
Once these started to appear in UK shops the possibility that this was what was encountered over the Sussex coast did emerge as a possibility.
Though it remains unclear if it could have been tracked on radar (some balloons this size can be) or how it would have reached 120 MPH the case has to be considered as having a likely explanation.
Indeed several other similar cases were recorded in the next few years. But whether a balloon or some other kind of airborne UAP the risk to air traffic was obvious and became the basis of a then secret MoD file, the Condign Report, created around 2000 and eventually released (heavily redacted) more recently.
This report carried out by a military science expert under an MoD grant made clear that there was a risk of collision between air traffic and 'UAP' - a term he had adopted instead of UFO rather as many in the UFO community long have to avoid the implication that we are talking of some kind of machine. It is evident that the possibility being considered here was some sort of atmospheric phenomenon might also be a cause and source of threat.
When you bear in mind the concerns right now about the rising number of drones being flown by amateurs near to aircraft landing and taking off and the potential risk of collision, you can gauge the problem.
These drones are relatively small, often only inches across. These UAP appear much bigger and potentially far more deadly.
The risk of flying 40,000 feet above the Earth and colliding with a UFO is obvious. Lives are at risk. But what if you are much higher and outside the planet's atmosphere altogether?
There have been many reports of UFO encounters involving missions into space. Mankind has been able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere and reach orbit for over 60 years and we have landed astronauts on the Moon, sent robot probes to wander for years filming and digging into the surface of Mars and taped recordings of human civilization that have been despatched out beyond Pluto heading towards potential alien races trillions of miles away.
In many respects it is not a surprise that just as in an aircraft when ‘up there’ in space odd things have been perceived.
It is a new hostile environment and there is no atmosphere to distort vision so things look very strange. Plus most observation is done via many layers of equipment and very thick windows which act as the only barrier between life and almost instant death for the crew so necessarily heavily protected.
During many early manned flights from the late 50s onward things were seen for the first time - such as auroral displays around the pole from above. Or multiple micro meteorites visible in the vacuum of space in ways they never can be from beneath a thick atmosphere.
Debris ejected from missions and even human urine - literally humans 'boldly going' where no man has gone before - were mistaken for UFOs as they floated weightless and were curiously reflected by unfiltered sunlight.
Right up to the long duration shuttle missions of the 1990s and the permanent habitation of the international space station where astronauts have now been living often for a year at a time conducting experiments and observations free of our gravity there have been UFO sightings and claims of cover ups of alien contact.
Some of these appear to have involved observations of rare interactions between energy particles and the Earth's atmosphere that only became apparent when we were actually living in space for years on end and so in a position to catch one of these things occurring.
Most stories of astronaut UFOs have taken on a life of their own by telling and retelling of episodes that started off as a rumour or a joke and ended up being conveyed as truth by the 100th person to have relayed them.
I recall meeting a radio ham in London who told me with apparent sincerity that he had heard Neil Armstrong talk to NASA from the surface of the Moon in July 1969.
‘They saw aliens there - in a crater’ I was assured. He added that we axed future Moon missions on 'alien orders' and would never build a space station because ‘they’ had warned us off.
This non return to the Moon after the early 1970s with several later missions cancelled was, in reality, down to budgetary reasons as the cost of manned flight is huge and the risk to life immense when technology had improved to allow instruments to do all that was necessary more easily.
This tale was told to me just a few years before we actually did build that space station, so presumably the aliens relented and allowed us up there after all.
Fast forward to April 2018 and we now have a new story - that ‘lie detectors’ have proven that the astronauts were telling the truth when they described some of the most famous spaceborne close encounters.
Notably this meant one case involving Buzz Aldrin, now 88, and part of the crew of the lunar landing, Apollo 11, in July 1969, the first to land humans on any location off the Earth.
He was in fact the second human to set foot on the Moon minutes after Neil Armstrong ‘giant leap for mankind’ in which they saw those aliens up there who promptly sent us packing - if you believe the radio hack (as I don't).
Probably this is the one event that school children will be guaranteed to learn about from our lifetimes for the rest of future history.
The story that did the rounds in the UK media (a British tabloid started it) was that Aldrin had just passed a test that proved he had really seen aliens on route to the Moon.
That he had reported back to NASA ‘something out there that was close enough to be observed - sort of L shaped.’
However, he was understandably rather peeved within hours of this claim breaking - because that is not at all what really happened.
Here in his own words is what he really reported at the time:
"On Apollo 11 (in July 1969) en route to the Moon, I observed a light out the window that appeared to be moving alongside us. There were many explanations of what that could be, other than another spacecraft from another country or another world -- it was either the rocket we had separated from, or the 4 panels that moved away when we extracted the lander from the rocket and we were nose to nose with the two spacecraft.
So in the close vicinity, moving away, were 4 panels. And i feel absolutely convinced that we were looking at the sun reflected off of one of these panels. Which one? I don't know. So technically, the definition could be ‘unidentified.’
‘We well understood exactly what that was. And when we returned, we debriefed and explained exactly what we had observed. And I felt that this had been distributed to the outside world, the outside audience, and apparently it wasn't, and so many years later, I had the time in an interview to disclose these observations, on another country's television network.
And the UFO people in the United States were very very angry with me, that i had not given them the information.
It was not an alien.
Extraordinary observations require extraordinary evidence. That's what Carl Sagan said. There may be aliens in our Milky Way galaxy, and there are billions of other galaxies. The probability is almost CERTAIN that there is life somewhere in space. It was not that remarkable, that special, that unusual, that life here on earth evolved gradually, slowly, to where we are today.
But the distances involved in where some evidence of life may be, they may be hundreds of light years away."
That is what Aldrin said on Reddit - the online news media question and answer site - about his sighting - whilst talking freely about the lunar landing.
That was back in 2015. It is consistent with past reports from him referring to the episode over the years. And as it predates the press report in April 2018 by 3 years was not influenced by it.
Okay, so no UFO then, let alone aliens. So what about the lie detector test?
Well even that is a bit misleading. The story broke in the British tabloid media on 8 April 2018 and involves a claim that Aldrin and several other astronauts - Gordon Cooper, Edgar Mitchell and Al Worden had all taken part in an experimental test of new equipment by the Institute of Bio-acoustic biology in Ohio.
Which they did - sort of - but without any of them knowing - which was particularly true in the cases of Cooper and Mitchell as both were dead when the testing occurred - Cooper 14 years before!
The organisation involved used some new equipment they are marketing on their web site to test the voices recorded at the time of these astronauts all describing back to NASA by radio what they saw and which in later years have been said by some researchers to be UFO events.
They aimed to establish that a better kind of test on voice was possible, although lie detectors are notorious for uncertainty about their provenance and are rarely used when establishing this is a necessity such as in a court of law.
This is what they reported about the test they did on Aldrin’s voice from the 1969 message to Earth without him knowing about it.
‘Aldrin believes what he is saying emotionally but has doubts intellectually. His ego, on a highly spiritual level, is solidly involved. He has a firm belief in what he saw but logical awareness that he cannot explain what he saw; therefore he thinks he should be doubted. His gut level emotions and system of integrity is well grounded with the exception that he has some issues around people asking too much of him and expecting him to take care of things for them. For the benefit of the people, he wants his statements about his seeing a UFO to be believed.’
Exactly how you equate that interpretation using this new equipment with what Aldrin himself said three years before that assessment of his radio voice 49 years ago is up to you.
But as proof of alien contact or a major cover up of a close encounter?
Sorry, not for me.
APEN AND UFOs - RENDLESHAM FOREST Will be held over until the May issue.
THE PC PERKS SPECIAL - left PC Perks sketch of UFO, centre site of encounter, right sketch by Mrs Walker
with thanks to Google Earth
with thanks to Google Earth
EDITOR: JENNY RANDLES
10 Marton Green Stockport Cheshire SK3 8LT
e mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contents: The future of the UFO conference.....Special in depth case history - everything you need to know about the PC Perks, Wilmslow, Cheshire close encounter and its importance to UFO research
J R COMMENTS:
For almost the entire history of UFOs there have been conferences - or conventions as they are sometimes called, especially in the early days and in America. They still happen to this day, and several are promoted at the back of this issue of Northern UFO News for later in 2018.
They are outliving most of the local investigation groups and the national associations - such as BUFORA in the UK. These once ran such events virtually every year and crowds of hundreds or even thousands would attend. At one big event near Hyde Park in London I recall even a famous newscaster wandering around with a camera crew filming an item for the national news. This was at the height of UFO fascination when the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind was hot 40 years ago this month!
I have lost count of how many of these events, often lasting two or three days, that I must have attended or lectured at since my first one in Manchester. Though I do recall with a smile my lecture that day at UMIST ending by asking for questions and the sight as the whole audience turned as one - not to see me, but the questioner, whose voice they recognised!
It was none other than William Roache, father of Linus (US TV star of Law and Order and, currently, with Clare Danes in the latest series of Homeland). William himself is equally famous as his alter ego Ken Barlow in Coronation Street - a character he has played continuously for 55 years - making him the longest running actor in a single role in the history of world television. Even then I knew that he has long had an interest in strange phenomena and I interviewed him for my book - Phantoms of the Soap Operas.
My experience of these events all over the world since 1975 have been mostly enjoyable and they are a great opportunity for like-minded people to talk freely to one another and for worried witnesses to test the water and hear ideas about what might have happened to them and, just perhaps, come forward and report their story for the first time.
The local media can also be attracted and in turn the promotion can help a group get their message across to the public.
So I am the last person to decry their value and I have long been willing to give presentations and not charge lecture fees as I know some authors are wont to do. I was happy to talk just for travel expenses in the same way that I did when invited to schools, arts festivals, libraries or bookstores. Indeed I gained as much from being there as I hope the audiences sometimes did.
I got to meet many of my own childhood heroes at these events, too, sometimes even sharing a platform with them left me rather star struck. This left me as thrilled as anyone to watch Allen Hynek, Jacques Vallee, John Keel and many more major players in UFO history present their views. And I was willing to suspend judgement and enjoy being a somewhat more reductionist foil when appearing alongside pop culture presenters like Eric von Daniken.
These big names were there for a reason, of course, as I understand from the conferences that I have had some hand in organising. The first one being the BUFORA event in Birmingham in 1976 where I was not myself yet beingasked to present talks - indeed Peter Warrington and I had just started work on our first book together - UFOs: A British Viewpoint.
But I remember the discussions as the event was put together and some of the presentations - from Roy Dutton’s attempt to create a mathematical model of UFO event prediction to the neatly titled lecture about photographic cases - They Shoot UFOs, don’t they?
Then there was a Fortean Times London event where Budd Hopkins declined to debate so was replaced by a cut-out, and Vienna, where I fell off a stage at the start of my talk and had to present with broken fingers ignoring the pain, or Sydney where I had to walk out amidst dry ice to the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey in what felt like an extraordinarily cringeworthy entrance.
Another one in Manchester in 1997 saw me give a talk to an X Files convention along with Jane Goldman, writer of one of my favourite movies, Stardust (by chance the film that made a star out of Clare Danes - looping synchronistically back to my other Manchester appearance two decades earlier).
At the X Files event I had to fill in at a Q and A audience session when special guest Jerry Hardin - Deep Throat from the X FIles TV series - was otherwise engaged (no doubt plotting more machinations of the cover up!)
However, fun as such events have been, most actual UFO conferences have never really progressed UFO research in any meaningful way. They raise the profile of a group or, these days, sell a popular on line access tabloid paranormal publication, and, of course bring in funds because nobody pays anyone to do UFO research this side of the MIB in the mythical employ of some covert intelligence agency.
Only one conference that I attended ever achieved that. This was in June 1992 and occurred in (or more correctly just across the Charles River in Cambridge from) Boston, Massachusetts.
This event was at MIT - the most prestigious university and considered the world leader in science. Here for five days occurred what in my view qwas a model event was held that should have been a template for the future of UFOlogy.
Yet somehow never was.
What the MIT UFO Abduction Symposium did was act as a working event, sponsored by a grant to pay for invited speakers to attend. And to be not so much aimed at the public so featuring talks on popular topics to gather the generally interested. It was created by a physicist and a psychologist and set the aim of laying down what we knew about alien abductions and what we needed to know to progress knowledge, with suggestions as to how we might go about bridging that gap.
Researchers around the world were sent a list of themes and questions and encouraged to present papers on as many of these as they wished.
They were also encouraged to conduct original experiments or test out ideas posed by the set of questions. Those invited were based on the submissions offered and told which papers they should get together, along with any projects, over the coming months.
At the event itself there were witnesses, scientists, sceptics and researchers from around the world. I was unfortunately the only one invited from the UK but was honoured to do so and presented several papers - one based on an original experiment into the difference between imagined aliens as perceived by those who had read UFO literature and those who had not.
Each presentation was strictly timed by buzzer light alarm on the podium and restricted to just a few minutes to ensure no waffle. I can see many of you gawping at the prospect of me doing that! It worked, though, creating a fact packed week of papers with ample time to debate around the issues and time at the end to determine protocols to put in place for future research.
The media were not widely invited but one award winning reporter was asked - CDB Bryan - who (and here we go looping back coincidentally again) was the author of the 1976 book Friendly Fire, investigating a real life military incident during the Vietnam War. In the movie of his book Bryan himself was played by Sam Waterston, later to become the Attorney in the long running US TV franchise Law and Order. The role that then passed to Linus Roache when Sam had moved on.
Bryan’s book (Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind) based on his time at the MIT event is an excellent outsider’s perspective. He started out as a sceptic knowing little, as he told me when he interviewed me during the event, but he was clearly being won over by the care and concern being applied to this event by the organisers, David Pritchard and John Mack.
Mack wrote a best-selling book on abductions but tragically died not long after in an accident when he was in London. Pritchard, the scientist, compiled all the presentations and Q & A sessions into a mammoth book afterwards.
Together these two volumes convey the facts but not the excitement of trying something really new that this event represented.
Anyone who had anything to contribute that might help us decide the way to take abduction research had the chance to take part whatever their perspective. And as such it was almost unique in UFO history.
Of course, it was hugely ambitious - possibly overly so as it tackled such a big area of our research and over so many days was awash with ideas and information. So as a legacy it probably did not change a great deal.
But I was surely not the only one who hoped this was a pointer towards the future.
I mooted to several sources in UFO research at the time that we needed to do something like this in the UK - more narrowly focused, perhaps, so there was a smaller area of study that could be covered in a few days with new ideas and protocols suggested.
Indeed I suggested something like Car Stop or Vehicle Interference cases was a good place to start. There are maybe 1000 such reports well documented in UFO history and they form a coherent set of questions as to what causes a car engine or lights or both to fail in the presence of a UFO.
These cases point right at the heart of the cause of UFOs, as they imply a physically real energy. They are not reliant on perception or imagination. Hard science is involved. What is more there were obvious opportunities here to bring in outsiders - people who have never had an interest in UFOs or looked at the evidence. Car mechanics, electronic engineers, physicists and so on might well have invaluable suggestions and avenues of future research to offer to the inevitably more narrowly focused perspectives of UFO researchers.
So here was a chance for a really focused UK event on the lines of the MIT conference - something that just might have taken us forward.
Unfortunately, I could not persuade any major group to consider it as it would sacrifice the commercial opportunism that conferences have always been. You cannot make money from and might need to pay for the running of an event of this type. So it was a no go and back to inviting big name speakers talking about their latest case or theory to as many members of the public who will buy a ticket.
I feel this is a big missed opportunity in UFO research and that, if we ever want to get beyond being seen as a bunch of enthusiasts trying to persuade a disbelieving world that aliens have landed, then we have to think out of the loop like this and take some risks.
I have on UFO chat lists suggests that we might take advantage of the rise of the internet and the ability to have virtual conferences and instant communication through electronic mail means that this possibly could be done cost free and more easily than was possible 26 years ago.
Still no interest has surfaced. But I honestly believe that this is the future of UFO research. It does not have to be on Car Stop cases. It can any of many possible selective areas of UFO research where we can bring outsiders into the assessment process.
In fact being out of the public limelight might attract people who would never dream of giving a paper at a UFO conference and risk being reported in the local rag.
When MUFORA - the local Manchester group that helped found this magazine some 44 years ago - was active we found ways to work on cases in a similar way - getting help from those who would not do so openly but were intrigued by the mystery to offer suggestions and insights.
This way we often got scientists at Jodrell Bank to assist with data or even run an experiment. We got help from atmospheric physicists and even Ministry of Defence specialists to case conference significant reports. Peter Warrington and I also spent time with Kodak at their labs in Hemel Hempstead assessing and trying to solve UFO photographic cases.
On one occasion we were even able to trap a UFO and solve a series of cases by coordinating a skywatch on its path with Peter being in the radar room of a major facility watching the tracks of air traffic as the UFO appeared. As a result its identity was for one of the first times ever 100% solved.
It was a major airline with a regular cargo flight throttling back engines and all but gliding in lights off so they could enjoy the view - whilst scaring the hell out of witnesses below them on the flightpath.
This extraordinary experiment not only solved a case that might otherwise have never been solved but it ended up being portrayed on TV as an episode of the long running TV series Heartbeat.
Sadly we got no credit for that, but they did acknowledge to me that our work was the source for the fictional account where the plucky copper solved the UFO sightings in a darn sight less time and more easily than we did in real life.
So, I remain convinced that the legacy of the MIT conference is there to be explored. And I just wonder how we go about finding a way to make this work to the benefit of some real progressive UFO research.
Let us know if you have any suggestions!
AS I WAS PROCEEDING….
The full story of the PC Perks, Wilmslow, Cheshire case
In the book Who or What Were They? by Alan Godfrey (2017) there is reference to a case that was relevant to his own story in many ways - the encounter of another police officer 14 years before him in the nearby county of Cheshire.
That previous case was mentioned because of Alan’s dramatic new revelation that someone professing to be from the Ministry of Defence had visited him at Todmorden police station to reinforce his allegiance to the Official Secrets Act .
Alan was persuaded under supervision by his senior station officer to not discuss several things.
These included more than just his own close encounter from a patrol car on Burnley Road Todmorden, West Yorkshire, in November 1980. He was also quizzed regarding letters that the MoD were aware had been sent to PC Godfrey from a scientist in Moscow.
The letters were asking him questions and seeming to link his story to the well-known events in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, just 4 weeks after Alan’s own encounter. The ‘Man from the Ministry’ wanted these letters - which arrived at a time before the wider British public learned of that case via its front page coverage in the News of the World in October 1983.
So concerned was PC Godfrey over this MoD interest in a Soviet Union contact that he destroyed the last letter over fear for the safety of his family.
Puzzlingly the policeman was also enforced the secrecy act to prevent him discussing his on scene presence and subsequent investigation of a mystery death involving the discovery of a body atop a coal heap in Todmorden. That happened some five months prior to his UFO encounter.
This death went through three inquest sessions, to which Alan was never called, despite being first on scene and officer who was present at the identification of the body of Zigmund Adamski - a man who disappeared 5 days earlier for no known reason over 20 miles away. He was also the PC who traced a key witness that proved Adamski was already dead before he arrived on that heap of coal his eyes staring skyward seemingly in fear.
There are local rumours to this day about what really happened to Adamski but the inquest left the verdict open, nobody was ever arrested in connection and the Coroner later called it the most puzzling case of his career. He even told the press he did not rule out a possible UFO connection - although there is no actual evidence for one beyond coincidence of Alan Godfrey’s role and a reported sighting nearby a few hours before the body was found.
Whatever the case this visit from an alleged MoD officer was a factor in Alan Godfrey leaving the force when his position became hard to sustain under such restraint and given his fear for the safety of his young family.
However, there was one problem with this visit by that Official Secrets Act toting officer. The Ministry of Defence supposedly do not investigate UFO cases first hand. They merely collect sightings on bits of paper from police or airports and file them in their office - tens of thousands of which have been released over the last 20 years onto the Public Record Office.
They occasionally do some internal investigation, but - according to heads of the MoD department over the years, notably Nick Pope, who left the MoD to become a UFO writer - they do not visit witnesses at the scene as seemingly was the case with Alan in 1982 if this man was who he claimed to be.
Yet, when I collated several stories where witnesses claimed the same thing had happened to them for my book ‘The truth behind the Men in Black Phenomenon’ Nick Pope told me clearly that he thought these stories were probably caused by rogue UFO investigators who were pretending to be with the government and in effect visiting witnesses in ‘disguise’.
As there was a most peculiar band of UFO investigators who called themselves APEN - Aerial Phenomena Enquiry Network - who between at least 1974 and 1984 acted very strangely in connection with major UFO cases and went to some lengths to seem to confuse and discredit genuine UFO researchers - that is not quite so absurd as it sounds.
In next month’s Northern UFO News I will look in more detail at the APEN story and their little known connection with this magazine, Rendlesham Forest and more - as I had several run ins with them myself.
However, there is no obvious reason to connect APEN directly with the MIB cases I have investigated such as Alan Godfrey’s where an origin in the Ministry of Defence was clearly stated. APEN always wanted to take credit for their actions not hide behind the MoD. And it seemed improbable that they would forge official credentials or risk using them to enter a police station and jointly quiz a policeman alongside his commanding officer.
Moreover in Alan’s book much added evidence was given as to why the Man from the Ministry at least had actual authority within and over the police force and at the headquarters of the force itself. Alan later saw him there, for example. Rogue UFO investigators cannot explain any of that.
As you will see - though - this case from 1966 offers a much more direct support for Alan Godfrey’s story. Alan had no idea about the existence of this previous episode when we were writing his story last year. I had to inform him about it.
But it indicates at the very least that one swallow does not have to make a Summer on its own when we have solid proof of a second one.
The events occurred in the north Cheshire town of Wilmslow, south of Stockport. A prosperous place that has many TV celebs and footballers living locally who have called it home in the decades since these events.
PC Colin Perks was working the very same shift as Alan Godfrey - 10 pm to 6 am - and it was in the early hours of Friday 7 January 1966 when he saw what he did.
At the time he was 28, married with a baby daughter living locally in town. He had trained as a motor mechanic before joining the force in 1962.
That Thursday/Friday night shift was cold with a light easterly breeze and clear skies but brightly lit with the Moon actually at full.
After 3 hours on shift PC Perks had a refreshment break between 1.15 am and 2 am in the station before heading off back into the chilly streets to patrol the shops looking out for any trouble.
He was in fact engaged very much in the same jobs that Alan Godfrey was 14 years later, though alone on foot, not in a patrol car as was Alan.
After walking the area without incident for about two hours PC Perks was on what was then the A 34 Alderley Road (which to the north headed towards Manchester as Wilmslow Road and to the south towards Alderley Edge - associated long associated with tales of the supernatural, wizards and witchcraft popularised in the books of Alan Garner).
Today it still exists but is a B road as the A 34 is now a modern by pass around Wilmslow. Perks walked around the Rex Cinema and headed south checking property for any signs of a break in at the large rows of shops in this area. At about 4.10 am he was checking the rear yard area of one shop with a deserted car park and service access road to the shops adjacent when he heard a strange noise.
‘I heard a high pitched whine for a moment,’ he told BUFORA in a report signed 1 May 1966. ‘I couldn’t place the noise as it was most unfamiliar with the normal surroundings.’ He later added that his initial thought was that it was an alarm at a jewellers shop but that was quickly recognised as not the case given the steady and high pitched note.
He turned around towards the source of the noise, now facing south east across the empty car park and a field beyond with the main rail line south towards Crewe and London a few hundred yards away. Most of the land beyond here was open countryside then and indeed still is.
The general view from where PC Perks was located during his sighting is indicated from the Google streetview image on the cover. This dates from 2017 and the store to the left is the building he was checking and the car park is the same one. There are more things in the view now but the UFO was to the right of shot as you are looking into the picture.
As he continued in the BUFORA report - ‘ I turned around and saw a greenish grey glow in the sky about 100 yards from me and 35 feet up in the air. I stopped in my tracks unable to believe what I could see.’
He paused for a few seconds to gather his composure and then made the following observations. It was ‘about the length of a bus - 30 feet….I estimate it being 20 feet wide and 15 feet high. It was elliptic in shape and emanated the greenish grey glow which I can only describe as an eerie greeny colour….It appeared to be motionless of itself, that is there was no impression of rotation. It had a flat bottom.’
He told fellow police officer Gary Heseltine - a UFO investigator - that there was no light emerging from the underside making the air below seem dark. But the green glow spread out on all sides from the object by several feet. He described the shape as being ‘tiered’ and akin to a ‘dustbin lid’.
You can see Colin Perk's sketch of the object on the cover.
Throughout these observations the high pitched whine emerging from it did not alter in pitch. It was stationary for about 5 seconds before it started to move very fast away towards the east south eastwards vanishing rapidly.
Of this motion PC Perks reported: ‘It did not appear to rotate but move off sideways with the 30 ft side to the front and rear. It is possible that the short side given as 20 ft may in fact be longer as I was looking under the object at the time and may have been deceived.’
He insisted ‘there is no doubt the object I saw was of a sharp, distinctive, definite shape and of a solid substance.’ He saw no ‘portholes or other place of access’ but ‘the glow was from the exterior of the object. This was the only light visible.’
PC Perks was, of course, aware of then fairly recently electrified main line railway ‘about 500 yards east of me’ and referred to it in his report to BUFORA pre-empting suspicions that he had had himself but saying it was not connected with the wiring or operations here:- ‘The noise I heard had nothing to do with electric trains’.
He contacted from the police station later that day both Jodrell Bank science centre and Manchester Airport, each just a few miles away. Neither had any explanation to offer for what the officer had seen.
Other details from his BUFORA report were that the object was brighter than the full Moon very visible that night and resembled a ‘luminous dial’ as found on some 1960s florescent ‘glow in the dark’ clocks and watches. He says its path away from him was level to the ground at a consistent height.
He also described the noise as ‘that of a high speed electric motor’.
His sketch of the UFO is very much like a classic flying saucer shape - rather more than you might expect from his actual account. He used the term ‘dustbin lid’ when asked to liken it to a familiar object by BUFORA.
When asked to give an opinion as to what the UFO was he states intriguingly: ‘Flying craft of the future’.
The form was filed with BUFORA but no actual investigation seems to have happened in 1966. It was assessed by John Cleary Baker who concluded that the fact that the officer immediately reported it to his superior officer on return to Wilmslow police station ruled out a hoax as ‘flying saucer spotting is hardly an open sesame to promotion in the police force in the UK’.
He also assessed the prospect of a sudden hallucination but pointed out that as he was outside in the cold and alert checking stores that whilst in a single witness case it ‘could be due to hallucination, of course. (so) one is obliged to fall back on common sense’ and that he rejects hallucination because of the lack of ‘any obvious reason why otherwise normal persons could suddernly become the prey of gross delusions’.
After a promising start to the assessment, J-C-B, as he was known and whom I never met as I joined BUFORA council a decade later, drifts into ‘the possible reasons for the UFO being where it was at 4.10 am’ and rules out survey missions and so asks ‘what are these low hovering UFOs really up to?’
This rather shows the thinking of UFOlogists five decades ago where the idea that it was a craft and what it was up to is taken as a given. As opposed to my thoughts that this sounds like some intriguing kind of UAP - an electrical energy or plasma or ball lightning akin phenomenon and the presence of the electric railway might not have been irrelevant.
So, yes, intriguing case but with an aftermath that really makes it into even more of one - as we are very far from telling the full story yet.
In those days there were no personal radios and to report back to base officers had to go to a phone box (indeed special police ones like that in Doctor Who were still then situated around towns for this purpose but ordinary phone boxes were used too).
PC Perks was calling in every half an hour but after this returned to the station to advise his sergeant. The officer could see the shock in his face and despite fellow officers chuckling about whether there were any Daleks aboard, passed it on to the superintendant. It then made its way to the Chief Constable of Cheshire and, with the clear belief of those who knew PC Perks, decided to file an official report with the Ministry of Defence.
Where, of course, the file sat for the next 30 years with its secrets awaiting discovery in 1997 - although we did have a clue about something interesting before then.
BUFORA learned about this case when a short item appeared in the Daily Mirror on 3 March 1966: - ‘Beg to report, Sir, one flying saucer’. This was what led to them seeking a report from the officer itself.
Though the press story was only a brief account it did have one intriguing sentence in it that BUFORA seemingly missed: -’ A Man from the Ministry went to Wilmslow to investigate’.
Man from the Ministry was the very phrase that 16 years later the person used to describe himself by when he went to Todmorden to see Alan Godfrey.
It would be three decades before we learned more about that earlier visit in Wilmslow than the one line the Mirror.
Meanwhile the case was quietly forgotten by UFOlogy until 9 years later, in 1975, when I was asked to join the council of BUFORA at a meeting at Newchapel Observatory in Staffordshire organised by Tony Pace.
In those days computers cost millions and were the size of a room. Having science A levels I had recently spent a year before college working for an insurance company to transfer all the car registration details around the UK from hand card index files onto their first computer.
BUFORA, of course, could not afford an actual computer (home ones were still a decade away) but designed a system using knitting needles! As I had worked with card transfers and could knit I got the job of transferring data from raw case files to these cards. They had holes punched in them that allowed some sort of analog version of a computer sorting process to occur when looking for data. A system that had had its day pretty much as soon as the process of transferring thousands of UFO files onto it was completed !
As a result I spent a long time viewing all the BUFORA case files and re-evaluating them into a four tier system designed for the transfer. I also made copious notes of cases like this one that I was trying to persuade BUFORA to let me write up as ‘Case Histories’ that would present their best cases and raise funds for the group.
Sadly we never did more than one of these - the Peter Day Cine Film case released as ‘Fire in the Sky’ (before there was a UFO movie of that title about a different case!) But at least I can partly put that right here with this detailed study of what would have been one of those case histories.
In the knitting needle computer system at BUFORA a Red rated case meant solved as an IFO, orange meant it was very likely an IFO but this had not been proven, Yellow meant it could still be an IFO but had enough interesting features to possibly be unexplained so needed more data. And Green meant it was on present evidence interesting and currently unexplained.
The PC Perks case had no real evaluation on it other than the comments from JCB (John Cleary Baker) in the file itself. It had been filed and forgotten. I checked through old copies of the BUFORA magazine and his comments in the two paragraph evaluation on the file that I summarised earlier did appear in the Summer 1966 edition of that journal but there was nothing new. And no follow up appeared in the magazine until I stopped looking after 1968.
However, my coding process of all the BUFORA files turned up a bit of a twist as there was a second sighting of the same object that nobody at BUFORA had spotted to connect with the PC Perks case. Perhaps because the witness gave two possible dates, one of which was ruled out as soon as I accessed weather records. So it clearly was the other date - which the witness described as 4.30 am on 7 January 1966 and within minutes of PC Perks.
This witness was a 52 year old catalogue compiler, Mrs Walker. She lived near Styal Prison just outside Morley Green, down the Altrincham Road with a view over fields back to what is now a Texaco garage toward where PC Perks was located. This was about a mile south and east of where the PC was in Wilmslow.
Her account was quite sketchy and not pursued for reasons apparent in a moment. It was basically a report form sent in by DIGAP - the Stockport based UFO group affiliated to BUFORA in the late 50s and 60s and indeed this magazine in the 70s. MUFORA occasionally did joint investigations with them as late as the 1980s and the psychologist Dr John Dale, involved in the Silpho Moor ‘crashed saucer’ affair (see Northern UFO News 191) was a member.
Mrs Walker describes seeing a ‘pearly luminous green’ saucer like object with f- rom her sketch - obvious similarities to what PC Perks drew. She was in her bedroom and ‘looked through the window’ to see this object ‘stationary’ and ‘it then moved away at terrific speed (70 mph)’ . She reported no sound. It was said to be in view ‘3 to 4 seconds’. Her drawing from the form is on the cover, too.
Not having connected it with the PC Perks case - despite the weather described on the form establishing quickly to me it was on the same night - BUFORAs investigation team of the time had evaluated it on its own. On 24 November 1966 it was concluded by them as ‘Insufficient information - such as there is perfectly consistent with meteor.’
So it was officially filed as solved and as a ‘Bolide’, or fireball meteor, some of which are known to be green and which is not at all an unreasonable conclusion when seeing this report in isolation.
Or, indeed, even in conjunction with PC Perks. Apart from the lack of hundreds of other reports beyond Wilmslow that surely would have resulted if this was the answer. I searched hard for these but could not find any apart from a brief account in Flying Saucer Review of a shipboard sighting from the Irish Sea several hours earlier that night.
However, there was a very definite meteor event two weeks earlier - on Christmas Eve, 1965, when the biggest (to date) meteor to hit land in Britain struck the village of Barwell, in Leicestershire at tea time. One of the largest pieces was retrieved from a hole under the local park the very week that the PC Perks story broke.
All told many pieces were recovered but the majority of the rock that shattered on passage through the atmosphere and on impact is still lying in pieces locally unrecovered in that Leicestershire village.
Amazingly nobody was hurt on the ground, despite one smashing a window in a house and the fragment landing in a vase where it went undiscovered by the homeowners for weeks. Another damaged a car and the poor owner was denied the cost of repairs as the insurance company deemed it an act of God. So the owner asked the local Church to pay up and they refused also!
Many witnesses out carol singing saw the fall over the space of a minute or two and some even walked over the fragments on the night unaware what it was. Even the poor car owner thought it was a rock tossed by vandals.
Only a very brief white flash of light was seen before impact. Certainly nothing like PC Perks or Mrs Walker described.
A bolide as large as the one this case would have to be would surely have been recorded by astronomers but I cannot find evidence that it was.
So in 1975 I grouped these two reports together as soon as I saw them and wrote on the file ‘This report appears to be a backp-up witness to PC Perks and the story is very consistent with his description’.
I classified the whole case as Green so potentially unexplained.
Tony Pace at Newchapel Observatory, when later preparing the files in a future BUFORA case reshuffle (28 Jan 1980) noted below my assessment: ‘See above - if you refer to the PC Perks case - this one may be more significant as corroborative evidence? ‘
This was, as far as I know, the extent of what BUFORA did with this case file - although it is possible they have re-evaluated it again since I left any official job with the group 20 years ago as I have, of course, not seen their files during that time.
Interestingly when I traced the 1966 Mirror report cited above I found that their ‘science reporter’, Arthur Smith, had offered what I today recognise as a pretty good stab at explaining this case - one we would today term a UAP. He pointed out that: ‘strange electrical conditions of the atmosphere sometimes lead to sightings of this sort’.
Indeed, this is interesting because of two clues that emerged later when I and also ex policeman Gary Heseltine managed to actually talk to PC Perks. He reported then that a few yards from where he stood watching the object there was an electricity sub-station. However, he was adamant that the humming noise that emerged was nothing like any faint hum he ever heard from that facility. But, of course, seeing an unusual atmospheric phenomena of an electrical nature near to both a then new electric rail line and a sub station is something we have to at least consider might be related.
I would really wish someone in UFO research had asked the science writer to say more about what he meant about ‘strange electrical conditions’ (ball lightning perhaps?)and to cite other examples he must have known about to say what he did. Unfortunately this will have been seen as an offhand sceptical dismissal by UFO researchers. A UFO was a UFO was a spaceship back then, not something boring like a UAP.
One other thing appears to be reported from PC Perks, but I do not know where or how, as - so far as I can tell - he did not say this to Gary Heseltine and did not to me either, is that a US catalogue of UFO related animal disturbance cases reports that PC Perks said dogs in the local area were seemingly reacting to the high pitched whine he heard.
If true, that is most interesting as it may tell us something about the frequency of the whining sound. But I can find no source for it.
UFO researchers of 1966 will have been happier with what PC Perks told the press conference. He told me this was set up by his boss, a sergeant (but the Mirror did not quote this part). Perks said: ‘I have always been sceptical about flying saucers and life in outer space but there is no other explanation.’
Yet recall his BUFORA report form 7 weeks later describes the object as a ’flying craft of the future.’
The next step takes us to January 1997 when the 30 year rule allowed the MoD to release onto the Public Record Office in Kew all the remaining UFO files from 1966 and, from then onward, all future years in annual batches. Until the Freedom of Information Act of the early 2000s led to the more rapid release of all subsequent files up to 2010.
After that point the MoD stopped collating UFO data altogether and closed their 'X Files'. The process of that file release programme has only recently ended.
UFO researcher Nick Redfearn was the first person to visit Kew in 1997 and find the MoD file on the PC Perks case. I accessed it a few months later and then set about trying to find and interview him. I did so , eventually, but he was extremely reluctant to talk at first. I only discovered why when he agreed to say a few things two years later.
He told me that just like Alan Godfrey after his 1980 sighting PC Perks had been reminded that he was a signatory to the Official Secrets Act and so should not talk about the incident once there was an MoD investigation. Yet just 8 weeks later the police openly asked him to give a press conference to tell his story!
What’s more they allowed the police to report that the case was ‘secret’ and under investigation by the Ministry.
Readers of Who or What Were They? will see the pattern here was repeated and how it confused Alan Godfrey and led him to suspect someone was trying to get him out of the force. It was certainly a very contradictory act in both cases - sign the official secrets act, keep quiet, but here go and talk to all these reporters and tell your story to the tabloid press.
The MoD file on release in 1997 reveals that this report was forwarded to them by Manchester Airport after PC Perks called them to ask if they knew what it was the next day. He confirmed to me that they told him they would be sending it on to the Air Ministry. Which was standard practice.
Perks explained that on return to the station other officers present said he looked like he had seen a ghost. But they soon realised he was deadly serious. In fact so persuaded was his sergeant that at first light after his shift was officially over Perks, his sergeant and another PC went to the sighting location and discovered some shards of glass on the area of the deserted car park. They considered it might be car windscreen or lamp fragments but on a subsequent visit the debris had ‘disappeared’.
On the day of the press conference two months later resulting in the Mirror story his station superintendent, Hugh Kenworthy, had, Perks said, referred to him as a ‘reliable’ officer and a ‘trained observer’ and that this was why he involved the Cheshire chief constable - who in turn also contacted the MoD, triggering them to investigate. The Mirror omitted that part too.
At that conference Supt Kenworthy told the reporters (only one of whom mentioned this and just in the local paper) ‘I am reasonably satisfied that this man (PC Perks) has seen something very unusual.’ He added (again ignored by the national press) ‘ The Ministry investigated….The sighting has remained a secret.’
When I called Perks he was surprised that the details of what the MoD did once they began to follow up his case had now been revealed, because, he told me, he had been reminded that he should not talk about that part.
Consequently he never told BUFORA and expected never to do so as he took the secrets act seriously.
Despite several attempts he was reluctant to go any further than the above with me at that stage and sadly died before I got chance to ask him again about the content of the MoD file released.
As for that file, about 20 pages on the case - referenced National Archive file: AIR 2/17983 - this carried his report and sketch, seemingly identical with the ones given to BUFORA, the tick form filled in from his call to Manchester Airport and forwarded to the MoD, again adding nothing, and a letter from his Superintendent supporting his status as a respected officer in terms much as noted above from Kenworthy.
But what was interesting was that four copies of these reports had been sent to DI 61 - a defence intelligence unit.
Even more remarkably it was from here that they sent an officer to visit the sighting location and search for the glass like shards the three policemen said they found in the area hours after the sighting. The MoD men interviewed the policeman in considerable detail. They clearly took this report seriously enough to do that.
Questions asked included: ‘a number of points arising from the statement (PC Perks) made on the 8th January," said the DI 61 supervising officer in the file.
These questions were : "What sort of noise did the UFO make?" "What was its speed when it began to move?" "What was its altitude?".
That visit from the MoD to Wilmslow occurred on 1 February 1966 and included the site of the discovery of some traces of the ‘glassy’ substance on the ground, as described. This was on the open land over which Perks had seen the UFO hover 4 weeks earlier. As seen in the Google scene on the cover.
The Man from the Ministry did not seem convinced the debris was relevant to the case but DI 61 were sufficiently puzzled to ask for radar files to be checked for the time of the event. Nothing was observed by Manchester Airport radar at the time, and nothing seems to have been reported back for the date and time as far as the file indicates.
The DI 61 officer who assessed this case file, we presume after visiting Perks, was Flight Lt Mercer. On 18 February he concluded the report by saying that the ‘single witness nature’ of the case made it ‘difficult to evaluate’.
Sadly they never seem to have been aware of the back-up witness from Morley lurking in the BUFORA files. Though it is not likely it would have made much difference other than establishing the UFO itself was actually real. Which I think the MoD had accepted anyway.
Mercer did conclude that had some scientific observer been present during the event ‘it would probably be quite easily explained.’ Though did not suggest in what way that might be. But he said that he was satisfied with the sincerity of the account and that something happened that puzzled PC Perks.
As for Flight Lt Mercer believing that someone scientifically trained on site could have identified the event. Perhaps they would or perhaps not, and the actual nature of what was seen is certainly open to interpretation.
Of course, concluding that it was a flying craft from the future, as Perks had put it in his BUFORA report, or from space, as I think the BUFORA investigators of the day hoped, would clearly be pushing it.
But what this case reveals with total clarity is that the events reported by Alan Godfrey in his new book are not at all unprecedented - as pretty much the same thing happened to this young copper who saw a UFO in similar circumstances but 14 years before Alan.
Indeed he was then also paraded in front of the media, reminded of the Official Secrets Act and visited by a Man from the Ministry (in this case department DI - as in Defence Intelligence - 61 - which appears to have been involved in following up other UFO cases that might involve physical evidence of some sort reported by public servants).
That link alone is evidence for the potential veracity of both a cover up of sorts and the many other cases where witnesses claim they were visited and ordered to stay silent following a close encounter by people claiming to be from the MoD.
I have investigated half a dozen such cases myself in the UK - which obviously poses one very big question.
How many other such visits occurred to witnesses who NEVER came forward and told their story out of reverence to the request for secrecy?
Indeed, we can ask further - are these all highly respected witnesses such as police officers, military officers and the like?
Just as a quick experiment, I took a small batch of MoD cases from the two year period between 1964 - 1966 and endeavoured to trace witnesses once those files were released onto the Public Records Office after the 30 year rule.
As names and details are usually redacted this was very hard and with the passage of time most were impossible to find. But I did successfully contact half a dozen through clues on offer and, remarkably, two of them told me they had been also advised ‘by someone from the Ministry’ to not speak to anyone else about what they saw as it was a ‘secret’.
One was an ex RAF pilot. The other was an ordinary citizen who could not be forced to sign the Official Secrets Act or reminded of their allegiance. Yet someone was still trying to use persuasion to stop them talking about their UFO encounter. They said they had been reminded that it might not be ‘wise’ to talk to others as they might find it damaging their credibility to do so.
The implication being that someone at that time wanted to investigate UFOs and try to deter that fact being widely known.
This poses new questions - notably how often did they do this? Why did they choose certain cases to risk visiting the witness when, as Nick Pope says, in his day running the ‘UFO desk’ (during the 1990s) this was never the case?
Were these visits even sanctioned by the UFO desk in the first place? Or was that just a kind of public relations shop window with real decisions occurring elsewhere? And were just this defence intelligence division digging into certain UFO cases and ordering silence without that fact necessarily finding its way back to the person manning the public interface desk like Nick Pope was?
If so then, why, and why just a few selected cases?
Answer that and we might know what is going on behind some part of the UFO mystery. Or at least what the MoD at that time THOUGHT might be going on.
Which might not necessarily be the same thing.
19 MAY 2018 Woodbridge, Suffolk
Rendlesham Forest Incident Presentation 2018 with John Burroughs, Brenda Butler and Ronnie Dugdale Saturday May 19, 2018, 7.00pm
Following on the success of the 30th anniversary Rendlesham Forest Incident Conference December 28, 2010 we are able to announce presentations by witness John Burroughs, USAF (Ret) the only person to be involved on two separate nights, Brenda Butler original investigator and co-author of Skycrash and local researcher & one of the most knowledgable RFI investigators Ronnie Dugdale. Ronnie has been working on a timeline of events for a number of years that has involved talking to a number of witnesses and will present this detailed analysis at the event.
This event will be held at: Woodbridge Community Hall, Station Road, Woodbridge, IP12 4AU. Saturday 19th May, 7.00pm till late.
Seat numbers for this event are limited. Further information including additional guests or activities may be confirmed at a later date.
We are able to offer the following 2 ticket options:
1) Evening Presentations Ticket: £11 per person.
The entry price for the evening presentation is £10 per person + £1 to cover paypal fees. To order your e-ticket using paypal please hit the paypal button below. We will issue you an e-ticket number via Paypal in notes and you will be admited entry to the Community Hall upon arrival following check-in at the door. Please make a note of your e-ticket number and your Paypal transaction ID number.
2) VIP Ticket: Dine w/guest speakers on Friday 18th May followed by personal event & to entry to evening presentations on Saturday 19th May: £16 per person.
We are also offering the opportunity to dine in a local Pub with the guest speakers on Friday 18th May followed by a personalised talk through the events that occurred. The dinner will start at 6.30pm and is sold at an additional price of £5 per person + £1 to cover paypal fees. (Total cost £16 per person). Please note we have a maximum of 20 places and this is offered on a first come first served basis. Please note this does not include food. We have reserved the dinning area of a local Pub and we will notify you during April the menu on offer. Although food is not required to be paid for in advance we will require details of what you wish to order from the menu during April. Meeting at the pub around 4pm for drinks, mees and greet followed by dinner at 6.00pm Full details including name and location of the Pub will be emailed upon purchase.
There will be a question and answer session to close the evening. Questions call us on 07811 021230, email email@example.com or visit the event facebook page. Everyone is welcome.
OCT 6 - 7 October 2018 St Annes, Lancashire
LAPIS CONFERENCE 2018
This will be a two day event in St Anne's, Lancashire on the 6th and 7th of October. Our venue is The Lindum Hotel, a lovely family owned venue situated on the seafront.
Alan Godfrey had a good career as a policeman in a Yorkshire town. Then he was called upon to investigate a body on a coal heap.
Who was this man? Why did he die?
Within weeks PC Godfrey had a close encounter of the weirdest kind.
What was that UFO above his patrol car? Why did half an hour just disappear?
Alan will be talking about his encounter and the repercussions that followed. This will be primary source evidence about one of the most significant UFO cases that have been documented. A lecture not to be missed.
Alan will also be selling and signing copies of his new book "Who or What Were They?"
Ann Winsper is a ghost hunter and Parapsychologist, and co-founder of Para.Science psychical research and investigation. Ann has been investigating hauntings for nearly 40 years, and is currently a PhD student at the University of Central Lancashire researching the psychology of Electronic Voice Phenomena. Ann is a regular speaker at conferences, giving giving talks on EVP and the paranormal in general.
Jenny Randles was born in the Pennine hills on the Lancashire/Yorkshire border – a region that has for decades had the highest percentage of alien abduction and close encounters in the UK.
Over a million copies of Jenny’s books have been sold since 1979 with editions in more than 20 countries.
Her books have been about UFOs, ESP, precognition, time slips, spontaneous human combustion, and even the paranormal experiences of actors from soap such as Coronation Street and Dallas.
After her last book - Breaking the Time Barrier - about the race to build the first time machine - Jenny went on a 15 year hiatus to be a full time carer but has started writing again after working with Alan Godfrey to help him publish the untold story.
Jenny has spoken at previous LAPIS conferences but this will be her first presentation in person anywhere since bookstores on the Isle of Man in 2003 and we are delighted that she is able to be part of this event.
Juliette W Gregson is a Heritage Photographer, taking pictures of derelict buildings, art deco, small toys in hedges, Preserving the Past for the Future ! She loves to go out and catch iconic images of our town and the surrounding areas. Local historian Juliette has written for the BBC, provided research for ITV and many other publications, local & national over the years. Juliette has always had an avid interest in the paranormal and weird happenings in her local area and will be talking about this at the LAPIS conference.