Over the past decades, Britain has had its fair share of strange UFO sightings from flying saucers that landed behind a Welsh school to mysterious black triangles that hovered over RAF air bases. Some of these encounters have caused a media frenzy while others have simply been given amusing nicknames and relegated to the more bizarre pages of the tabloid newspapers. Here’s the top ten ‘UFO Sightings UK’ from 1954 to 2013.
The Stephen Darbishire Photo: 1954
In America the UFO phenomena of the 1950’s was already gaining significant momentum following the publication in 1953 of the book entitled ‘Flying Saucers Have Landed’ by George Adamski. In 1954 the first major UFO sighting in Britain took place near the village of Torver in the lake District of Cumbria, England.
Stephen Darbishire, the 13-year-old son of a local resident, and Adrian Meyer, his eight-year-old cousin went for a walk to a place overlooking the ‘Old man of Coniston (mountain) taking with them a period Kodak box camera. Stephen claims he felt an unusual urge to keep climbing the hill behind his house. Adrian apparently noticed the UFO first and pointed it out to Stephen who took two, slightly out of focus, photographs. Highly excited by their experience the boys returned home where they were made to write a report for Stephen’s father and draw a sketch of what they’d seen.
The picture depicted an Adamski-style scout ship. The photos were developed and clearly showed an unusual craft with portholes and bulbous projections suspended beneath it. Dr Darbishire notified the newspapers, and, within days, the boys found themselves at the centre of a media storm. The UFO phenomena had arrived in Britain.
Since this event took place there has been considerable debate regarding the incident. For many it was nothing more than a childish hoax that spiralled out of control and gripped the imagination of the nation. For others it is the first official sighting of a modern-day UFO in Britain. Stephen certainly became quite famous and was even interviewed by the private secretary of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Overwhelmed by the intensity of events, Stephen later announced that it was all a hoax but was then accused of being part of a government cover up. The media frenzy eventually passed and Stephen went one to have a very successful career as an artist. He is reputedly no longer interested in discussing the subject.
(Images: Top Right) The photograph is an artistic reproduction of the famous image taken in 1954. The original image(s) taken by Stephen Darbishire has been lost. It is still possible to find close ups of one of the original images on the internet.
The Lakenheath Incident: 1956
The Lakenheath Incident – also known as the RAF Bentwaters UFO – was a series of radar interceptions followed by a first-hand encounter with a UFO that took place over two Royal Air Force bases in Suffolk during the night of the 13th of August 1956.
The incident began when USAF radar operators, stationed at Lakenheath, locked on to what seemed to be an incoming aircraft traveling at extreme speed. Additional blips indicated another group of UFOs moving more slowly and in a north–easterly direction. The blips eventual merged into a sing large radar signal, much larger than that created by a B36 Bomber – the largest aircraft in the USAF at the time.
At 22:55, a UFO was detected approaching RAF Bentwaters from the east at an estimated speed in excess of 3000 MPH. Later during the night two RAF de Havilland Venom jet aircraft were dispatched to intercept a radar blip approaching Lakenheath. One interceptor was forced to return to base due to engine problems but the second, achieved visual contact. The UFO, which was described as an intensely bright ball of light changed course and pursued the Venom for around ten minutes. The incident was recorded as part of the covert USAF investigation into UFO’s known as Project Blue Book (1952 – 1970) and it was one of very few incidents that the Condon Committee were forced to admit that it could not explain.
Project Blue Book was a systematic study of unidentified flying objects carried out by the United States Air Force from 1952 to 1969. It had two goals. (A) To determine if UFOs were a threat to national security, (B) to scientifically analyse UFO-related data. Many hundreds of UFO reports were recorded and studied.
The Warminster Thing: 1964 – 1976
During the 1960’s and early 1970’s the town of Warminster experienced an unusually large number of UFO sightings and unexplained audio related incidents. In fact, the Warminster phenomenon started around 1964 with the occurrence of strange and unidentifiable noises which sounded like roof tiles being rattled or sticks being broken. Some claimed to have heard and felt a deep vibration – the kind often associated with ultra-low frequencies.
These noises were experienced by hundreds of individuals and often caused anxiety and discomfort. They continued until 1966. The phenomena was nicknamed the Warminster ‘Thing’. The first visual sighting of a UFO took place in 1965 and was described as a ‘Silvery Cigar” in the sky. Over the next decade many ‘UFOs’ were seen by the residents with nine events being carefully studied and documented. During the early 1970’s the number of incidents decreased and by 1975 they ceased to occur. Many researchers believe that there may be a connection between the Warminster events and the proximity of the restricted military area at nearby Salisbury plain
(Images: Above Left) A copy of the famous photo of a Warminster UFO taken by Gordon Faulkner’s in 1965.
Broad Haven Landing: 1977
The ‘Broad Haven Incidents’ started at lunchtime on 4 February 1977 at the Broad Haven Junior School. During a break between lessons, some 14 youngsters – aged 9 to 11 years old – witnessed a UFO land in a small field next to their school and claimed they saw a humanoid with pointed ears wearing a silver suit leave the ship and examine the ground nearby.
The children told the headmaster of the school who made them each draw a picture of what they saw without discussing the incident with each other. The similarity between the drawings was remarkable and the authorities were notified. The national newspapers picked up the story and Broad Haven quickly became the focus of private, media and military investigations.
Over the following months many other ‘visitations’ were witnessed including fireballs, more 7ft silver suited aliens and even UFO’s seen hovering near to ‘The Stack’ a coastal rock formation in St Bride’s Bay. A large number of unexplained events seemed focused on and around Ripperston Farm some three miles south east of the School. It is worth noting that the farm is located less than one mile east of the abandoned WWII Talbenny Airfield.
In a further case Mrs Granville, the manager of the Haven Fort Hotel, saw an oval UFO land in an adjacent field. Two silver suited figures emerged and seemed to examine something on the ground that later turned out to be the entrance to an abandoned Royal Observer Corps bunker.
The Broad Haven Landing is one of the very few UFO cases to officially be investigated by the UK Ministry of Defence.
Over the years several people have come forward and claimed that they were behind the Broad Haven UFO sightings and that it was all just a hoax. However, people who actually experienced the events are dismissive of these claims. As one woman is said to have put it: ‘If you think I can’t tell the difference between a space creature and a man dressed in a boiler suit you must be an idiot yourself.’
The Dechmont Woods Encounter: 1979
At around 10.30 am on the 9th of November 1979, Mr. Robert Taylor of the local forestry department parked his pick-up truck on a side road at the base of Dechmont Law (Hill) located between the Deer Park Golf and Country Club and the M8 motorway. Together with his dog, he walked up a grassy path to a southwest facing clearing roughly 35 metres in length by 35 across. He was shocked to find a large sphere-like craft roughly 7 metres in width and made of a dark metallic material. The texture of the UFO was rough like sandpaper and certain sections were transparent and similar to the windows in a cockpit of a plane.
He is said to have walked closer and saw two smaller spheres, each looking somewhat like a WWII magnetic mine, exit the craft and roll towards him. The spheres then seemed to attach themselves to his trousers and draw him towards the main craft. He was aware of a hissing noise and the smell of gas after which he fell unconscious. When he woke the craft was gone and he was unable to speak. He staggered back to his truck, drove home and, at the urging of his wife, reported the incident to the local police. An investigation of the site discovered ladder shaped impressions in the soil and indentations where the secondary spheres may have rolled over the grass. The findings were considered inconclusive to prove the existence of a UFO.
Character: What makes this UFO event particularly important is the general consensus that Robert Taylor was a man of calm character with a down-to-earth nature and not one for fanciful stories. He is said to have stuck consistently to the same story for over three decades.
Sightings of UFO in the UK have remained constant over the past several decades and the MOD (Ministry of Defence) has investigated a fair number of these over the years. In 2012 more than 7,000 pages of information were released to the public as part of the Freedom of Information Act. There is even a section entitled: (Prime Minister) Tony Blair’s Briefing and the Flying Saucer Working Party (DEFE 24 1987 1). Here are some more of the best sightings:
Rendlesham Forest UFO: 1980
The Rendlesham Forest Incident is the most famous, and well documented, of all UK UFO episodes. It is often referred to as the British version of ‘Roswell’ and took place during the nights of the 24th, 25th and 26th December 1980. The encounter occurred in the forested area adjacent to the military bases of RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge in Suffolk England. At the time of the incident both bases were being used by the United States Air Force (USAF). At approximately 03:00am on 26 December 1980 dozens of soldiers observed a number of unusual lights falling slowly into an area of the nearby forest to the east of RAF Woodbridge. A patrol was sent to investigate and discovered a metallic object that was illuminated with coloured lights. As they approached the craft it moved away through the trees. Nearby farm animals appeared very disturbed and made frantic noises.
The site was revisited the following day and three impressions in the ground were discovered where the craft had originally been located. The following night additional lights were observed in the area and were even witnessed by the Deputy Base Commander Colonel Charles Halt.
Sceptics claim that the soldiers just saw the beam from the Orford Ness lighthouse located on the same line of sight as the alleged UFO. Those involved have pointed out that they could see the UFO lights and the Light house beam. A huge amount has been written about the incident with claims of inaccuracies, mistaken dates and even exaggeration of the story over the years. However, what lends credibility to this incident is the fact that Colonel Charles Halt is said to have publicly made accusations of an official cover-up.
One point that is omitted from most of the accounts of the Rendlesham Forest incident is that to the east of the two air force bases, and directly to the west of the light house, was a top secret weapons testing facility used by the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment and later by the Cobra Mist Project. The site was ‘officially’ shut down in 1971/72 but decommissioning of the site and the management of large controlled explosions took place as late as 1986 – well within the timeframe associated with the Rendlesham Forest incident.
The Ilkley Moor Alien: 1987
Around 9.30am on the morning of Tuesday, 1st December 1987 an off-duty policeman by the name of Philip Spencer set off across Ilkley Moor in Yorkshire. The morning was misty, but Spencer had a compass with him. His stated purpose was to photograph lighting effects of the moor in the fog. Ilkley Moor was already well known for its ‘strange happenings’ and unusual features such as the ‘Swastika Stone’ and the ‘Twelve Apostles’ stone circle. After some time walking and shortly after the mists had lifted, Spencer spotted an alien-looking creature next to some boulders and took its picture. This would become the famous photo that would excite UFO investigators for decades. The creature was approximately four-foot-tall with greenish-grey skin, large hands and feet with only two extended toes. He followed the alien and saw a saucer-shaped craft with a dome on top take off from a nearby indentation in the landscape.
On his way home he noticed his compass had reversed its polarity and that an hour of the day had vanished. Later under hypnosis Spencer would recall that he had been abducted and subjected to a medical examination and then made to watch two films. The first film seems to have depicted natural disasters and the effects of human pollution. The contents of the second film are a mystery and Spencer has refused to discuss what he saw. The validity of the encounter has never been proven one way or another. That fact that Spencer was a policeman, and therefore an expert witness, has added credibility to the incident. (Images: Top Right) The much-circulated close-up photograph of the Ilkley Moor Alien) (Images: Bottom Right) An artist’s impression of the Ilkley Moor Alien based on the photograph and the description provided by Philip Spencer.
RAF Cosford & Shawbury Incident: 1993
Opinion with regard to the RAF Cosford & Shawbury Incident is sharply divided. For some researchers it is compelling evidence for UFO’s and an ensuing cover up while for others it is an easily explained misunderstanding. After removing some of the confusion and exaggeration the facts are reasonably straightforward.
During the very early morning of Wednesday, 31 March 1993 many people across the United Kingdom reported seeing brilliant white objects travel at considerable speed across the night sky. In some cases various people claimed to have seen triangular or diamond shaped aircraft unlike anything typical of the time.
Around 1.15am a MOD police patrol at RAF Cosford witnessed the lights pass overhead and, as per standard procedures, alerted the meteorological officer at nearby RAF Shawbury with information that a UFO was approaching. Wayne Elliott, the officer at Shawbury, then witnessed what he believed to be a large triangular craft, roughly the size of a jumbo jet, hover at an altitude of 200ft approximately 10 miles from the base. He claimed that it emitted a low frequency humming sound and was using a ‘spotlight’ as if it was search for something on the ground. The object did not appear on the radar and the incident was reported to the Ministry of Defence. It was investigated by (Agent) Nick Pope who concluded that something of inexplicable significance had occurred.
Sceptics have pointed out that the Russian Tsyklon rocket booster 22586U re-entered the atmosphere during the same night and created quite a pyrotechnic display as it burnt up in the sky. It also turned out that the triangular UFO witnessed by Wayne Elliott could have been the Dyfed-Powys police helicopter tracking a stolen vehicle. Some reports claim that Elliot subsequently played down the sighting, but Nick Pope remains convinced that the rocket and helicopter theories simply do not effectively explain the events of the night. The debate continues.
The Bonsall UFO Video: 2000
In Around 9.15 pm on the 5th October 2000 Sharon Rowlands noticed that a large luminous object was hovering over a field close to her house in the small village of Bonsall, Derbyshire. She was intrigued and filmed the shimmering pink phenomenon for six and a half minutes as it hovered and rotated nearby. The actual footage of the UFO shows that it appears to be made up of concentric rings each of which pulsed with a magenta coloured light. Some investigators have compared it to a photographic orb.
Rowlands informed her local newspaper, the Matlock Mercury, about the incident. They, in turn, published the story which was picked up by UFO enthusiasts around the World. There is some confusion as to whether the video that can be found on the internet is the same one that Mrs. Rowlands took. It appears that the photos and videos of the Bonsall UFO currently in circulation may have been from an earlier incident in the same region. The tape has allegedly been purchased by an American TV company for about £20,000.
The Dudley Dorito: 2007 – 2013
Around 7.00pm on Wednesday 28 November a black triangular craft was observed flying over Halesowen towards Stourbridge in the West Midlands region of England. The first witness observed that the craft hovered over Halesowen, in the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley, before moving towards the west. A second witness saw the same craft from the observation Beacon located off Monument Road at the top of the Lickey Hills. Both described it as a black triangle with three distinct lights – one at each point of the triangle. Both agreed that the craft flew at extreme speed above the eastern horizon of the Black Country region of Birmingham.
The sightings were reported to a local UFO research organisation who, in turn, released a statement to the local press. Based on the descriptions provided the newspapers quickly nicknamed the UFO the ‘Dudley Dorito’ after the location in which it was seen and the popular triangle shaped snack. The story might have ended at this time except that this strange craft has been observed on many separate occasions during the period between 2009 and 2015. It generally seems to be seen more frequently during winter between the hours of 7pm an 11pm. The usual explanations for sightings have been rolled out with amusing predictability. Ball lightning, fast moving clouds and atmospheric anomalies have all been suggested as the cause. However, the most likely explanation is that it’s a new form of stealth military aircraft.
So … while it’s probably not alien in origin it’s still a UFO – for now.