By Tim Kelsey and David Leppard
Copyright 1995 Times Newspapers Limited
Dozens of incidents involving unidentified flying objects (UFOs) have been revealed by Ministry of Defence files kept secret for decades. They show the government took such reports seriously and wanted to allay public fears about claims of visiting alien aircraft.
One document reports that two RAF planes were sent to intercept UFOs over the Strait of Dover in April 1957. Two objects were seen, but the Javelin jets were unable to track them on their radar. Fighter Command told ministers it believed the objects were other RAF jets on exercise.
In another case the previous year, an RAF Venom jet was sent to intercept a UFO moving at very high speed picked up by radar. The pilot saw nothing, but two other aircraft scrambled in pursuit made "a momentary contact."
In 1963, an object that looked like a flying saucer was seen hovering by a hangar at RAF Cosford, near Wolverhampton, by two airmen. An MoD file records that "as they watched they saw a trap door in the upper part slowly open." An internal inquiry dismissed the incident as "a piece of youthful high spirits."
The alleged sightings are detailed in files spanning more than a decade which have been uncovered at the Public Records Office. They were quietly released by Lord Henley, a defence minister, at the end of last year.
In some cases, officials admit they can find no explanation. In 1962 the RAF police launched an investigation after a motorist driving near Luton in the early hours saw "an object like a hovercraft flying approximately 30ft above the road surface... An unknown force slowed him down to 20mph ... then the object suddenly flew off." Local police said they believed the account was genuine.
Documents already published reveal that as long ago as 1952, Winston Churchill, then prime minister, ordered an inquiry into UFOs. Churchill asked in a memo to Lord Cherwell, then secretary of state for air: "What can it mean? What is the truth?"
Cherwell replied there was nothing to it. But later files, including confidential briefings about UFO sightings up to the early 1960s, show a willingness to investigate.
The files record another incident from Christmas 1961, when four police officers in Hessle, Humberside, saw "a bright yellow light moving noiselessly across the sky." For 20 minutes they watched as it passed south of Grimsby. The RAF later confirmed it had no activity in the area.
The MoD denied it had tried to suppress evidence. "We don't indulge in a debate on whether there is life on other planets," said a ministry spokesman. "But there is no conspiracy... There is nobody here with pointed ears."
Original file name: .CNI - UK MoD.new UFO info
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