Eye Witness Testimony From Some Of The Most Intriguing UFO Sightings In The UK in the 1960s & 70s
Some of the greatest unexplained UFO sightings from the UK in the 1960s and 70s, backed up with eyewitness testimony. During this time, spanning just over a decade, UFOs were reported all over the United Kingdom, by families, military personnel, and police officers.
The remarkable events of October 1967 concerned Mr B.J. Collett, director of a transport business in Sussex, who was driving a Ford Transit vehicle from his home to deliver a consignment of titanium castings to Redditch, near Birmingham. Mr Collett had got up before dawn, and at 4.30 a.m. was driving along the A32 towards Reading. He had a clear level road that was fairly well illuminated by the moonlight and was listening to Spanish music on the car radio. He had nothing to worry him; indeed, he was looking forward to completing his journey in good time when the radio faded out, the car's headlights failed, and the engine went dead on him. Mr Collett applied his brakes and got out of the drivers seat to look under the bonnet.
For everything to go at once like that the battery must be at fault, he decided. Perhaps a lead had come adrift. But no. Both leads were intact and firmly connected to the terminals. Furthermore, as far as he could see, nothing else was wrong either: he checked fuses, plug leads, and distributor without success, and eventually decided to return to the driving seat and try the self-starter again.
While doing so he noticed a shadowy object outlined against the sky farther up the road. It was not so obvious that it commanded his attention but he was nevertheless aware of it as he turned the ignition key, again without result. Wondering what to do, Mr Collett sat for several minutes. When he next tried the ignition key, the engine came vigorously to life, the lights came on and so did the radio.
Mr Collett let in the clutch and released the brakes. But about 400 yards along the road the car "died" on him again, and again he got out to look under the bonnet - for this time he was aware of the smell of electrical burning. It did not, however, appear to be coming from the vehicle. He straightened up, looked around once more, and again noticed the looming object in the sky, about a hundred yards away.
Mr Collett did not connect its presence with his predicament. The thing was still not making a great impact on his mind, he said, but whatever it was it was there and he formed a clear impression of its shape and size. It was rather like a flattish ice cream cone, sixty feet across the rim and about thirty feet from the curved upper surface to the point of the conical under-structure.
Mr Collett said he watched it for several minutes, trying to make up his mind about it, and watched the thing glide silently away to the right and disappear over some trees. When it had gone he tried his ignition switch and found the vehicle was working again. It was an odd experience, but he did not tell the story to the newspapers, not wishing to be involved in the saucer flap and thinking that no doubt there was a rational explanation. Besides, he realised, there were no witnesses to support his story. But the incident continued to puzzle him and a few days later he got in touch with Mr Charles Bowen, editor of the Flying Saucer Review, who arranged for him to be interviewed by Dr Bernard Finch and Mr R. H. B. Winder. The doctor, who had been a flying saucer investigator for fifteen years questioned him closely and was impressed by Collett's sincerity. He learned that the motorist had a feeling of tension, which many people have experienced before a thunderstorm, and that his eardrums had been popping - a sensation familiar to air travellers. "Obviously," the doctor reported, "there must have been considerable air pressure changes in the vicinity of the object. When Mr Collett resumed his driving, he found that he had considerable difficulty in coordinating the movements of his hands and feet. It was as if he "had to learn the movements of driving all over again," and that all involuntary movements had to be carried out with deliberation. Dr Finsh detailed:
"These symptoms have occurred in other witnesses who have been near UFOs and one can only assume that the 'force field' has interfered with the peripheral nerves and their connections in the spinal cord so that the reflex-arc has been temporarily 'knocked out.' In support of these findings, we learned that Mr Collett later complained of a strange 'tingling numbness and crawling feelings' at the end of his fingers - a very descriptive account of regenerating nerves... "All in all, it appears that Mr Collett was affected by the periphery of a force field which we assume was contracted down to its minimum. The saucer was hovering, there was practically no glow, nor sound, and we may assume the 'engine' was obviously at low thrust. had the engine been on full throttle it would have been a different kettle of fish. The saucer would have been surrounded by a brilliant violet glow, the force field would have extended outwards several hundred yards and Mr Collett would have been knocked unconscious, his skin being rendered erythematous. "And when recovered would he have been the same man? Would his cerebral neurons have acted as before? I doubt it. I suspect his memory and concentration would have been impaired, and the auditory and visual cortex recovering from its 'stunning process' would begin to show various activities. "For, as the peripheral nerves in recovering give rise to 'tingling' so the auditory and visual cortex in recovering give rise to 'sounds' and 'visions' respectively. And as we have seen with previous witnesses there would be auditory and visual hallucinations. "In all contact ground level sightings", says the doctor, "one must bear in mind the considerable side effects of the force field on the physiology of the human body."
Mr Collett's experience brings to mind a similar sighting story, hallowed in saucer lore, which happened five years earlier and still remains unexplained in any rational way. It happened at 3.30am on 9 February 1962, when Mr Ronald Wildman of Luton, Bedfordshire, was starting out to deliver a new Vauxhall car to an address in Swansea.
He was going at a comfortable forty miles an hour along the lonely Ivinghoe road at Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire. The road curves a good deal and as Mr Wildman went round one of the bends he saw a large whitish, metallic-looking object, hovering above the road, about thirty feet up.
"It was oval shaped and white with black marks at regular intervals round it, which could have been portholes or air vents "It was about twenty to thirty feet above the ground and at least forty feet wide across - which in my estimation was fantastic. "As soon as I came within twenty yards of it the power of my car changed, it dropped right down to twenty mph, I changed down to second and put my foot flat on the accelerator - nothing happened. "I had my headlights full on and although the engine lost revs the lights did not fade. The object, which was silent, kept ahead of me by approximately twenty feet for 200 yards, then started to come lower. It continued like this till it came to the end of the stretch. "Then a white haze appeared round it, like a halo round the moon. It veered off to the right at a terrific speed and vanished; as it did so it brushed particles of frost from the tree tops onto my windscreen. It was definately a solid object because the reflection of my headlights was thrown back from it."
Mr Wildman told investigators who visited him at his home that until this incident he had been highly sceptical of flying saucers. They found no books or other literature on the subject at the house. It was unfortunate that there were no other witnesses of the saucer, but under the circumstances, it is not really surprising. At that hour in the morning, only people who have specific duties to attend to are normally on the road. But it is strongly in Mr Wildman's favour that he reported the incident to Aylesbury police station before continuing his journey. The police found him sober and sensible and thought he was telling the truth as he knew it.
As has happened on many occasions before and since, there was no official inquiry into the matter. The Air Ministry, according to a Daily Telegraph report, was of the opinion that what Wildman had seen was nothing more than a low cloud lit up by his headlights, but even the most sceptical reader must find this an unsatisfactory explanation.
Mr Wildman was accustomed to night driving and is surely entitled to be accepted as a man who can recognise a cloud when he sees one. Clouds do not normally have "portholes or vents" around the rim; nor do they brush frost particles from treetops as they move away - a detail in Mr Wildman's narrative which has a remarkable ring of truth. It is certainly not the sort of thing that the average person would imagine.
On this evidence alone (albeit hearsay evidence) one is inclined to say that whatever Wildman saw, it certainly was not a cloud. As this was the only rational explanation offered by anyone at the time, one is faced with the alternative, that either Mr Wildman was lying about the whole episode, or that he was hallucinating. It seems unlikely he was lying. What would be the point? And why would he risk trouble with the police? So perhaps he suffered a hallucination. Many people who knew Mr Wildman described him as an alert, intelligent man, a man doing a job which he would be unlikely to hold down if he were anything but a calm and reasonable person - very similar to Mr Collett.
Both of these men came across as what you would class as reliable witnesses, telling the truth to the best of their knowledge. What they saw may still be in dispute, and a reasonable explanation in terrestrial terms may yet be forthcoming, but there is little doubt that they saw something - just as did two schoolgirls walking near Dunoon, Argyllshire, in September 1959.
The girls - 14-year-old Particia Murchison and 13-year-old Linda McCulloch arrived at home one evening, frightened to the point of hysteria by what they had experienced. Police who spoke to them were satisfied that they were telling the truth and luckily, this time, it turned out that there were witnesses. The girls said they had gone for an evening walk to Sandbank, about two miles from Dunoon, and on their way back along the high road they had seen two UFOs in the sky. They described the UFOs as "black and white, and round and tapering to a point at the bottom" - a description which is not far off those given by Collett and Wildman. Neither of the girls was able to give specific details, but Patricia said emphatically:
"They were flying saucers. They definitely were. We were walking along the road when we suddenly noticed the two things in the sky. We were scared. "We ran into a field at Ardnadam Farm and tried to hide. But they came down until they were just above the telegraph poles. "We got up and moved but they followed. We were terrified. We ran into a ditch to hide and they hovered above us. We tried to stop cars on the road but none would stop.
Eventually, one did stop, however, and a man and woman got out: Mr Henry English of Paisley who was on holiday with his wife at a nearby caravan site. One of the girls asked him, "Can you see anything up there?" Mr English looked at the sky. "There were two things floating about," he said later. "I got scared myself. They were round and big - just above us. It wasn't a mirage. I'll swear they were flying saucers."
In a later report on the incident, Linda said of the UFOs:
"They went round and round. Sometimes they went away and then they came back again. There was no noise from them. I've never been so scared in my life."
The Dunoon saucers created a stir at the time and were then forgotten. Again there was no official investigation, although the Air Ministry said emphatically that no conventional aircraft, which might have been mistaken for saucers, were around at the time. There is no question that the girls were genuinely and severely frightened - but of what? Though only in their early teens they were old enough to recognise commonplace aircraft - had commonplace aircraft behaved in that mysteriously inquisitive manner.
The saucer flap in 1967 was distinguished if for nothing else by the fact that so many sightings were reported by policemen. Policemen can make mistakes like anyone else but at least they are trained observers and not the class of people one would suspect of suffering from hallucinations. The sighting reported by PC Colin Perk in March 1966, is a case in point. PC Perks was patrolling the streets of Wilmslow, Cheshire, at dawn in February that year when he saw, so he claims, an immense UFO sailing through the sky not more than a hundred yards from where he stood in Alderley Road. It was about thirty feet in diameter and as bulky as a double-decker bus. PC Perks said:
"There was an eerie, greenish-grey glow in the sky. Then picked out an object about thirty feet long built up in three sections with the top looking like a dustbin lid. It gave off a high-pitched whine. "I was paralysed. I just couldn't believe it."
He watched the object for five minutes until it disappeared.
And in May that year, PC Donald Cameron made out a report claiming to have spotted no less than six UFOs. PC Cameron was on sick leave at his home in Chilton Road, St Helens, Lancashire. He and his wife were looking out of the window when they saw the UFOs about a mile away travelling southeast. He said:
"We could see them quite clearly. Although it was a dull day. They were white and glowing. One was bigger than the others with a cup-shaped dome - obviously the mother ship. The others were oval."
Police were also involved in a remarkable sighting in Southampton in September 1966. It had started with a 999 call from Mr John Dack of Coxford Road, who noticed a UFO hanging motionless in the sky over the city. He told the police: "You're not going to believe this, but there is a bright light in the sky and it keeps giving off purple flashes."
At that point, the police did not believe him, but a Z-car was ordered to go and investigate. Then, minutes later, the car crew radioed to their headquarters: "He's right. There is an object in the sky to the west and it's remaining still. It keeps flashing red, white, and blue lights and dropping coloured flares. There's no sound of an engine and it does not appear to be an aircraft."
Calls were put through to Eastleigh Airport and Southampton University Air Squadron but neither of them could offer an explanation. They were emphatic that there were no aircraft in the area. Inquiries were also made to the Southern Meteorological Centre from which came the reply that the experts could not suggest any natural phenomena to account for the sightings.
The mysterious object vanished after making off at great speed towards Eastleigh and has remained unexplained ever since - just like the "dustbin lid" seen by PC Perks and the formation of oval-shaped things reported by PC Cameron.
No less mysterious was the mushroom-shaped object that a thirteen-year-old schoolboy claimed to have seen being chased by RAF Lightning jets over Winchester one Friday afternoon during the October flap. Timothy Robinson, along with his parents and other members of his family, were having a cup of tea after a late lunch at their home in Pitts Corner, Winchester, when they were startled by the roar of jet aircraft overhead.
The time was 2.20pm, and the noise was so loud that Timothy's father, who teached electrical engineering at Southampton College of Technology, cried out: "What on earth's that?" and ran to the front door while the boy made for the french windows opening onto the back garden. When a reporter telephoned the family the next morning, Timothy said: "I saw Lightnings go over at about four times the height of the house. There were two of them. I recognised them by their swept-back wings. It wasn't difficult because I make model aircraft." He had spotted the second Lightning first and then looked ahead to see the leading one. But that was not all, for still further ahead was a black mushroom-shaped object streaking away in the sky. Timothy said:
"It was hanging tail down, not spinning, but going at a tremendous speed. It was going west, then abruptly changed direction to north-west and disappeared into a cloud, climbing steeply. It looked as if the aircraft were banking to follow it but were out-manoeuvred."
From the front door, the boy's father had not been able to see even the aircraft and when he dashed upstairs to look out a back bedroom window it was too late to catch sight of them. "However, I am satisfied my son saw something," His father said. "He came in and said it was a couple of Lightnings chasing a flying saucer". It is arguable, of course, that in the excitement of the moment, the boy was mistaken in what he saw. The mushroom-shaped object might have been a curious cloud formation, the distorted shadow of an aircraft, or a balloon. But what seems beyond doubt is that aircraft, probably Lightnings, did go over the house. Yet the Ministry of Defence was unable to account for the presence of Lightnings over Winchester at that time. They denied emphatically that Lightnings had taken off on any defence operation and were even unable to explain the presence of any aircraft. The mystery began and ended with the roar of low-flying jets that disturbed the Robinson family at their tea.
What it was all about still remains unclear; but as far as the mushroom-shaped object is concerned all we can say is that Timothy Robinson seemed to be a sensible, level-headed boy with above-average ability as an airplane spotter. What he claims to have seen leaves us with yet another unexplained UFO sighting.
Also unexplained is the UFO seen over Tynemouth, Northumberland in August 1971 by a mathematics teacher and an engineer. They watched it "maneuvering" for nearly three hours. The sighting reported to North Shields police and the Ministry of Defence came a few hours before Police Constable Leslie Leek photographed a similar object in the night sky over Aldridge, Staffordshire.
Teacher, Mr Wolfgang von Metz of Percy Gardens, Tynemouth, told investigators that he and a neighbour (whom he had not known before the event) observed the UFO with the help of night glasses and a small telescope. The object looked like a disc seen sideways. It was yellowish at the centre with red tips and at times seemed to be surrounded by a bluish haze. Mr von Metz said that after observing the UFO for a few minutes he drew it to the attention of engineer Mr G. R. O'Brady-Jones, who also lived in Percy Gardens. Independently each man drew a sketch of the object and on comparing them found they were almost identical.
Two days later they read newspaper accounts of an object seen by four policemen and photographed over Aldridge. They believe it could have been the same object seen from a different angle.
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