by Mike Merritt
BRITAIN'S top UFO hunter, Nick Pope, is investigating the cause of the mysterious mid-air explosion off Lewis [in late October].
Mr. Pope is a former official government investigator of unidentified flying objects.
No explanation has yet been found for the object, which was seen and heard to explode off the north of Lewis. A dozen witnesses saw the object light up the sky and explode into a ball of black smoke, sending two fragments trailing dark vapour into the sea.
Over two days the RAF and the Coastguards searched 400 square miles, but no trace of wreckage was found.
The Labour MP for the Western Isles, Calum Macdonald, has asked the Defence Secretary, Michael Portillo, if the military was responsible for the explosion. He is still awaiting a reply. But inquiries last week at the Ministry of Defence, Coastguards and the RAF all led to denials that the explosion had been linked to the armed services.
In fact RAF Kinloss, which co-ordinated the search, even checked through the military channels whether a United States radar-avoiding Stealth bomber was in the area. But the answer was a firm "no".
A NATO training exercise, involving 32 ships, seven submarines and 80 military planes began off Lewis last Monday, but a navy spokeswoman denied that any of the vessels had been even near the area of the explosion two days earlier.
A spokesman at Kinloss confirmed that there had been reports of three UFOs flying in formation over the Scottish Borders and heading north on the same day as the explosion off Lewis. Three weeks previously a passenger on a transatlantic flight to Vancouver saw another exploding light off Lewis.
Now Mr. Pope, who spent three years investigating UFO sightings for the MoD secretariat (air staff), is looking at the case.
"There are reports of UFOs crashing, most notably at Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947," said Mr. Pope, 31, who wrote the bestseller, Open Skies, Closed Minds. "This could be another case. I firmly believe it has happened before. Many UFOs are sighted around military installations or activity, the theory being that they are keeping an eye on our technology.
"When I worked for the MoD, I had to evaluate UFOs for any military threat to the UK. Some people in the ministry believe in them more than you realise. Many RAF pilots told me of their sightings, some not officially reported for fear of ridicule or marring their careers.
"This sighting off Lewis could be a UFO. I would not rule it out until I look at reports I have asked for. But it is not a classic sighting."
Original file name: .CNI - Pope.Scottish UFO Query
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