■ British defence ministry won't rule out alien life: report
Thu Feb 3, 2:33 PM ET
■ The truth is out there:
declassified reports of UFO sightings reveal
88 sightings last year
[Independent-03 February 2005]
[Independent- News > UK > This Britain-03 February 2005]
By Robert Verkaik, Legal Affairs Correspondent
03 February 2005
Details of Britain's most recent UFO sightings are revealed in previously secret documents disclosed to The Independent .
The files, released under the Freedom of Information Act, show that, last year, the Ministry of Defence's UFO unit received 88 reports from military staff and members of the public worried about unexplained objects in our skies.
The classified files help to complete a picture of the scale of UFO sightings first revealed by this paper last month. These updated "X-files" show the most recent observations were made on 15 January this year following two separate reports from Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, and Whitstable, Kent. The reports refer to "strange lights seen in the sky".
Other sightings give more detail. A report from Devizes in Wiltshire on 24 September last year records an object that: "Looked liked a big ball of fire coming down from the sky with a tail and sparks coming off the end of it." Another, from Somerset the week before, states: "The object looked like a great bright light and was really intense, like a ball of fire coming down from the sky, rapidly moving towards the ground."
Although such reports might be discounted as meteor showers or other astronomical phenomena, other sightings are not so easy to dismiss. A report from Surrey on 20 May last year describes a UFO as having "grooves and windows" but no room for humans. Even the MoD inspector notes that the "witness had seen the object so clearly".
Many of the other sightings refer to UFO's changing colour, speed and shape. The most common colours are yellow, orange or black.
A report from Goole, East Yorkshire, recorded in April last year, noted: "The object looked like a boomerang and was stationary over a power station. An aircraft was circling the object."
In the same month, a UFO observer from Seaforth, Merseyside, noted: "I saw a UFO with a cluster of four bright lights in a ring shape on it. Three beams of white light shone upwards and disappeared."
These latest files to be declassified by the MoD are not as complete as reports from mid-1976 and 1977 released last month. Hundreds of documents previously kept secret by the Ministry of Defence's special UFO department, known as S4F, detail many reports of a possible visit by extraterrestrial life-forms. One is made by an RAF pilot and two NCOs at RAF Boulmer, Northumberland.
In July 1977 Flt-Lt A M Wood reported "bright objects hanging over the sea''. The MoD document adds that the RAF officer said the closest object was "luminous, round and four to five times larger than a Whirlwind helicopter". The UFOs were reported to be three miles out to sea at a height of about 5,000ft.
The officer, whose report is supported by Cpl Torrington and Sgt Graham, said: "The objects separated. Then one went west of the other, as it manoeuvred it changed shape to become body-shaped with projections like arms and legs." The report describes Flt-Lt Wood as "reliable and sober".
That account was deemed so sensitive to the national interest that the MoD had delayed its release for an extra three years. But under the Freedom of Information Act, which came into force on 1 January, the file has been declassified.