The UK’s UFO files have been released but rather than little green men most would appear to be Chinese lanterns
The British government has released the final batch of its secret files on UFO sightings following years of campaigning by investigative journalists using the Freedom of Information Act.
Thousands of documents preserved at the National Archives in Kew, south west london, are now available for public scrutiny.
Unfortunately many of the incidents have been blamed on Chinese lanterns being released at parties, a trend recently identified by the Fire Brigade as a cause for concern with more than 500,000 being sent into the sky a year.
The lack of real aliens in the files has not deterred one of the most dogged UFO investigators, journalism lecturer and folklore expert Dr David Clarke, has written a handy guide to the newly-released files and posted a ten-minute video on Youtube.com
You can also download an app from Black Plaques that will take you to the site of sightings anywhere in the UK.
Dating back to the 1950s, the files stored in the vaults at Kew were compiled secretly by the Air Ministry and then the Ministry of Defence . The number of annual reported sightings peaked at 643 in 2008 and this was three times as many as in the previous twelve months. By 2009 the then Labour Defence Minister Bob Ainsworth had had enough. He took the decision to close the UFO desk (staffed by one person) becuase there was felt to be no ‘defence interest’ in reports of unexplained or possibly extra-terrestial visitors to the skies above Britain. That was the official attitude to UFOs or UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena).
It is not the whole story. Dr David Clarke himself reveals, in his commentary on the Condign internal MOD report, that many more high-level staff were involved in tracking UFO visual sightings and unexplained craft that appeared on military and civilian radar. Condign (the word means’ a harsh but well-deserved punishment’) can be read as a response to the USA’s Condon report, a reaction to the UFO ‘flaps’ of the 1940s and 50s. Clarke reveals that military and civilian experts were working on theories to explain the sightings, including ball and bolt lightning, dust from meteor showers and cosmic plasma as well as natural but rare phenomena that scientists call – with straight faces, apparently – ‘sprites and elves’.
As well as these natural lighting effects, there are also secret military explanations such as the Stealth bomber and a saucer-like craft called Aurora capable of travelling at a speed of Mach 4. FI’s editor Peter Warren, who investigated it at the time, considers this is the likely cause of the Rendlesham Forest incident in Suffolk in 2003 when a number of US Air Force staff from their base at RAF Bentwaters investigated the crash-landing in a pinewood of an aircraft that seemed to land vertically, felling and scorching the trees and creating a circular clearing. this space has been preserved and there is now a UFO trail for youngsters along the forest paths to the spot where the strange craft landed. “I’ve see flight plan for what I was told was Aurora that were obtained by former UK intelligence personnel and the time, place and description all seem to fit” says Warren.
Why the secrecy? Aurora is a ‘black’ aircraft, developed undercover and not yet deployed. However, the official version of the Rendlesham Forest incident in the National Archive is short and dismissive Rendlesham Forest
‟ Responding to an inquiry from the USA in 2008 MoD said: “The incident was over a quarter of a century ago and despite the assertions of many people who chose to believe in the existence of UFOs or extra terrestrials, the MoD had little interest in the matter at the time and even less interest now. Put simply, we consider the incident closed‟.
People who ‘choose to believe’ in extra-terrestrials are actually quite numerous, and the subject of separate scientific study. Professor Chris French, head of the the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London, told FI that between thirty and forty percent of the population experience a phenomenon called ‘sleep paralysis’, a kind of waking nightmare that often involves meeting extra-terrestrials and may include sexual contact with the otherworldly beings. He also recognises that UFO sightings are often based in fact, as at the Roswell incident in New Mexico, USA. However he believes that military secrecy, with the help of media sensationalism, conspires to hide the true, earthly nature of the aircraft. Professor Chris French
Astronomer Greg Smye Rumsby, curator of the Aliens exhibition at the Old Royal Observatory in Greenwich, south London, is equally robust in dismissing claims of LGMs of Little Green Men. Yet he is keen to enthuse youngsters with the wonders of space exploration, the probes and rovers that report back to Earth on conditions that might be suitable for life on Mars and on other planets. Greg Smye Rumsby Astronomer
NASA geologist Professor Sanjeev Gupta is already working on the surface of Mars, where rounded pebbles show evidence that a river of water flowed there long ago.Audio and link to FI Mars story.