[On January 6, 1995, a British Airways Boeing 737 was on approach to Manchester airport, England, when the pilot reported to ground control what seemed like a near collision with a strange, silent, fast-moving aircraft. After landing safely, the pilot and co-pilot filed a formal "airmiss report," which led to a year-long inquiry by the British Civil Aviation Authority. On February 2, 1996, the CAA issued their report, stating that the mystery craft remained unidentified. In the wake of the CAA's report, BUFORA spokesman Philip Mantle said the mystery aircraft had all the marks of a UFO sighted numerous times over England, known as the "Silent Vulcan." The following text is a composite of several sources from the UK. CNI News thanks James Sutton, James Easton and the United Kingdom UFO Mailing List for contributing information on this story.]
British UFO enthusiasts were delighted when an official committee reported on Friday, Feb 2 that it was baffled by a pilot's report of a lighted, wedge-shaped object flying near his Boeing airliner.
"Despite exhaustive investigations the reported object remains untraced," said the report by the Joint Airmiss Working Group of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The Boeing 737, Flight 5061 with 60 people on board, was overtaken at high speed by the wedge-shaped craft as the plane descended through 4,000 feet on the final stages of a journey from Milan. Captain Roger Wills reported that the UFO, which was emblazoned with small white lights and possibly a black stripe down its side, flashed silently down the side of the jet so close that his co-pilot, First Officer Mark Stuart, involuntarily ducked as it went by.
There was no sound and no wake but both pilots were so concerned that they filed a formal "airmiss" report. The Civil Aviation Authority launched an investigation, the fourth such incident since 1987, and after a year-long inquiry concluded that they could find no likely explanation. The three previous reported sightings also baffled the CAA experts.
The incident happened at 6:48 pm on January 6, 1995, with the aircraft just above the clouds and visibility at least ten miles. Then air traffic controllers had the following conversation with Flight 5061:
B737: "We just had something go down the right-hand side, just above us very fast."
Manchester: "Well there's nothing seen on radar. Was it an aircraft?"
B737: "Well, it had lights, it went down the starboard side very quick."
Captain Wills and First Officer Stuart were certain that the object was solid and not a balloon, a model aircraft or even a military Stealth aircraft which the captain had seen before and would have recognised.
According to the CAA Working Group report, the pilot said the mystery craft "made no attempt to deviate from its course and no sound was heard or wake (wind turbulence) felt." It said Wills described the object as having "a number of small white lights, rather like a Christmas tree."
The Working Group's conclusions were summarized in their report as follows:
"The Group were anxious to emphasise that this report, submitted by two responsible airline pilots, was considered seriously, and they wished to commend the pilots for their courage in submitting it, and their company, whose enlightened attitude made it possible. Reports such as these are often the object of derision, but the Group hopes that this example will encourage pilots who experience unusual sightings to report them without fear of ridicule.
"It was quickly realised by all [Group] members that, because of its unusual nature, they could only theorise on the possibilities once normal avenues of investigation had been explored. There is no doubt that the pilots both saw an object and that it was of sufficient significance to prompt an airmiss report. Unfortunately, the nature and identity of this object remains unknown.
"To speculate about extra-terrestrial activity, fascinating though it may be, is not within the Group's remit and must be left to those whose interest lies in that field. It is probably true to say, however, that almost all unusual sightings can be attributed to a wide range of well known natural phenomena. There are, of course, a few which defy explanation and thus fuel the imagination of those who are convinced that there is "something going on" out there. Usually activity of this kind is accompanied by a rash of ground sightings in the same geographic area; in this case, as far as is known, there were no other reports and therefore the incident has to be viewed in isolation, with no other witnesses.
"The resources normally available when investigating airmisses are pilots' reports, corroborated by radar and RT recordings. Often these will provide all the clues necessary, but in this case... radar recordings do not show any unknown contacts. The lack of a radar contact is not necessarily unusual if weather suppressers are in use on radar, particularly if the object generates a poor radar response. In these conditions the radar can interpret a non-transponding (primary) contact as weather, and therefore disregards it.
"Enquiries into military activity did not reveal any aircraft in the area at the time, and it was considered inconceivable that such activity would take place so close to a busy airport without some sort of prior notification.
"[Group] Members put forward other suggestions, such as large model aircraft or commercially operated remotely controlled craft, such as those which are used for survey or photographic work. Considering the prevailing conditions -- darkness, high ground, strong NW wind and the proximity of a major international airport -- the Group felt that this kind of activity, together with the hang glider/microlight theory, could not be regarded as a realistic possibility.
"Having debated the various hypotheses at length the Group concluded that, in the absence of any firm evidence which could identify or explain this object, it was not possible to assess either the cause or the risk to any of the normal criteria applicable to airmiss reports. The incident therefore remains unresolved."
In the wake of the CAA report, however, members of the British UFO Research Association expressed their belief that the mysterious craft was the Silent Vulcan -- a triangular shaped craft that has been reported cruising English skies for 20 years.
"The report is remarkably open-minded," said BUFORA director of investigations, Philip Mantle. "It is a milestone in official recognition of the phenomenon of UFOs."
Mantle said the Silent Vulcan -- named because it is shaped like the old British Vulcan Bomber -- has been seen all along the "Pennine Corridor," from the Midlands up through Derbyshire and into Yorkshire. There was a surge of sightings in the 1970s and then again in the late 1980s. One came from a Sheffield Police Officer.
According to Mantle, the Silent Vulcan widened its horizons in 1989 and 1990, prompting a spate of reports in Belgium, including air encounters with F-16 jets, multiple radar trackings and official pronouncements from the Belgian Air Force that the objects in question were of unknown origin.
"This latest report is the first officially recognised sighting of the Silent Vulcan along the Pennines," Mantle said. "British Airways are to be complimented for treating this incident seriously."
Original file name: CNI - Brit plane sees UFO 2.5
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