Many people who read here at Mysterious Universe will know that I don’t think Roswell was a UFO event. Rather, I think the whole thing was a top secret experiment involving high-altitude experiments using human guinea-pigs. However, that certainly doesn’t take away my belief in a real genuine UFO phenomenon. Roswell was just one event. And, with that said, I’m going to share with you a few cases that I think do make a case for the extraterrestrial angle. Or, perhaps, for the interdimensional theory. Either way, I’m sure a small number of UFO cases represent mysterious visitors from another world. From September 14-25, 1952, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) coordinated a huge military exercise in the North Sea and North Atlantic. Titled Mainbrace, the exercise utilized the armed forces of the UK, the United States, Norway, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium. No less than 85,000 military personnel took part in the operation, the purpose of which was to demonstrate to the former Soviet Union that NATO was fully prepared to withstand, and counter, any possible Soviet attack on western Europe. Barely one day into the exercise, at least two reports of UFO encounters were filed with authorities by naval personnel on board ships in the Atlantic, between Ireland and Iceland. The first such encounter involved a “blue/green triangle,” which was observed flying over the sea at a speed estimated to be around 1,500 mph. Later that same day, three unidentified objects, travelling at around the same speed, were seen flying in a triangular formation. All three craft reportedly emitted a “white light exhaust.”
As part of the British Royal Air Force’s involvement in Mainbrace, 269 Squadron – which was based at RAF Ballykelly, Ireland – was posted to RAF Topcliffe, Yorkshire, England. It was at Topcliffe, on September 19, 1952, that one of the most historically important UFO sightings was reported by serving members of the RAF. A September 20, 1952 document written and signed by Flight Lieutenant Dolphin of RAF Topcliffe – and sent to Headquarters, No. 18 Group – states: “In accordance with your instructions, herewith a report on the unidentified object which was seen over the station earlier today.” The report referred to by Dolphin was prepared by one of the main witnesses, Flight Lieutenant John Kilburn, who revealed the following: “Sir, I have the honour to report the following incident which I witnessed on Friday, 19th September, 1952. I was standing with four other aircrew personnel of No. 269 Squadron watching a Meteor fighter gradually descending. The Meteor was at approximately 5000 feet and approaching from the east. [Flight Officer R.N.] Paris suddenly noticed a white object in the sky at a height between ten and twenty thousand feet some five miles astern of the Meteor.”
Kilburn continued: “The object was silver in colour and circular in shape, it appeared to be travelling at a much slower speed than the Meteor but was on a similar course. It maintained the slow forward speed for a few seconds before commencing to descend, swinging in a pendular motion during descent similar to a falling sycamore leaf…After a few seconds, the object stopped its pendulous motion and its descent and began to rotate about its own axis.” Then, Kilburn noted, something amazing happened: “Suddenly it accelerated at an incredible speed towards the west turning onto a south-easterly heading before disappearing. All this occurred in a matter of fifteen to twenty seconds. The movements of the object were not identifiable with anything I have seen in the air and the rate of acceleration was unbelievable.”
As well as the documentation filed by Kilburn (which was supported by the testimony of five of his colleagues), a number of reports from members of the public reached RAF Topcliffe too, all of which were received by Group Captain J.A.C. Stratton and forwarded to the Air Ministry at Whitehall, London for scrutiny. The major American presence in Mainbrace was the huge aircraft carrier, the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt. On September 20 (just one day after the incident at RAF Topcliffe), an American press-photographer, named Wallace Litwin, was on board the Roosevelt to photograph U.S. planes taking to the skies from the aircraft carrier. It was while securing the pictures that Litwin sighted a circular, silver object maneuvering above the American fleet. Litwin, who was shooting with color film, managed to obtain three photos of the UFO. Significantly, all the photos had the Roosevelt in shot – something that gave the pictures depth of field and assisted in determining the size of the UFO, which, according to Litwin’s report, was considerable. Twenty-four hours later, a similar object was seen over the North Sea. Again, it was silver in color and circular in shape. On that occasion, an interception was attempted by a number of RAF fighter aircraft engaged in the exercise. The UFO easily outdistanced itself from the planes. They were gone. Now, to the United States.
An FBI document of September 21, 1951, and captioned “Flying Saucers,” reads as follows: “On September 20, Andrew J. Reid G-2 [Army Intelligence] Ft. Monmouth, NJ, provided following report of unconventional aircraft observed by radar at above Army installation. On Sept 10, fifty-one [sic], an AN/MPG-1 radar set picked up a fast moving low flying target, exact altitude undetermined at approximately 11:10 a.m., southeast of Ft. Monmouth at a range of about twelve thousand yards. The target appeared to approximately follow the coast line, changing its range only slightly but changing its azimuth rapidly. The radar set was set to full aided azimuth tracking which normally is fast enough to track jet aircraft, but in this case was too slow to be resorted to. Target was lost in the N.E. at a range of about fourteen thousand yards.” The story gets even more controversial, as the next part of the report makes very clear: “This target also presented an unusually strong return for aircraft, being comparable in strength to that usually received from a coastal ship [italics mine].”
An FBI teletype of October 13, 1950 refers to the radar detection of a definitive squadron of unknown objects tracked over the Oak Ridge installation at 11:25 p.m. on October 12. The documentation states: “USAF radar installation at Knoxville…picked up indications of eleven objects and perhaps more traveling across controlled area of Atomic Energy installation at Oak Ridge.” The report continued: “Altitude of objects varied from one thousand to five thousand feet…and density from reading made by light aircraft equal in size to C-47, speed from one hundred to one hundred twenty-five miles per hour…” Then we have the following from the same document: “No reasonable explanation for radar readings yet developed although operators are experienced reliable personnel and radar set is in perfect operating condition. Bureau will advise of further developments.” Four days later, the FBI received the details of yet another alarming incident, this time involving the visual sighting of a UFO over Oak Ridge.
The next mystery began on the night of March 9, 1958. The location: a now-closed U.S. Army installation on the Panama Canal Zone called Fort Clayton. It was around 8:00 p.m. when a UFO was tracked, by anti-aircraft personnel, in the Canal Zone area. Further blips soon appeared on the screen. Clearly something unusual was afoot. It turns out that Fort Clayton was not the only base monitoring unusual aerial activity. Radar staff at Fort Amador, Flamenco Island were also tracking something airborne and unknown. In fact, they were tracking two UFOs – both of which maintained a circular pattern above a nearby installation, Fort Kobbe. Their heights, however, fluctuated between 2,000 and 10,000 feet. It was at this time that staff at Taboga Island’s Track Radar Unit confirmed they were keeping a careful watch on certain unknowns, too.
Shortly before midnight, personnel at Fort Amador chose to take a new and novel approach to try and identify the UFOs: they bathed them with powerful, ground-based searchlights. The response was incredible: in no more than a handful of seconds the UFOs headed skywards from 2,000 to 10,000 feet. Official records on this particularly eye-opening development state: “…this was such a rapid movement that the Track Radar, which was locked on target, broke the Track Lock and was unable to keep up with ascent of the objects. As Track Radar can only be locked on a solid object, which was done in the case of the two unidentified flying objects, it was assumed that the objects were solid.” This strange and bizarre activity continued into the early hours of March 10 – something which saw UFOs hovering and accelerating to speeds around 1,000 miles per hour, and unknown objects tracked on radar. Later that same day, UFOs were monitored clearly reacting to the presence of aircraft dispatched to intercept them. The files also talk of a UFO report from the captain of a Pan American Airlines DC-6 aircraft that was described as being bigger than the plane and which was headed in a southerly direction.
Of course, none of this gives us any real indication of what the UFOs were. However, the reference to objects hovering high in the sky, definitive unknowns accelerating to speeds of around 1,000 m.p.h, and of radar systems that were “unable to keep up with ascent of the objects,” which were “assumed” to be “solid,” collectively suggest vehicles of highly advanced natures were in evidence in the Canal Zone in March 1958. And, of course, let’s not forget that the UFOs responded, in amazing fashion, to being lit up by searchlights. On the morning of April 4, 1957 – according to now-declassified British Royal Air Force documents housed at the National Archive, Kew, England – radar operators at Balscalloch, Scotland reported to RAF West Freugh, Wigtownshire that they had detected a number of “unidentified objects on the screens of their radars.” And it quickly became apparent this was no Cold War penetration of British airspace by Soviet spy-planes or bombers.
As the mystified radar-operators watched their screens, they were amazed to see a large, stationary object hovering at 50,000 feet that then proceeded to ascend vertically to no less than 70,000 feet. According to the files: “A second radar was switched on and detected the object at the same range and height.” And further reports began to pour into military bases across Scotland, as the following extract reveals: “At this time another radar station 20 miles away, equipped with the same type of radars, was asked to search for the object. [An] echo was picked up at the range and bearing given and the radar was locked on.” In fact, it appears that there were multiple UFOs in the area, as the RAF made clear in its report to the Air Ministry at Whitehall: “After the object had traveled about 20 miles it made a very sharp turn and proceeded to move SE at the same increasing speed. Here the reports of the two radar stations differ in details. The two at Balscalloch tracked an object at about 50,000 feet at a speed of about 240 mph while the other followed an object or objects at 14,000 feet. As the objects traveled towards the second radar site the operators detected four objects moving in line astern about 4,000 yards from each other. This observation was confirmed later by the other radars.”
Most significant of all at this stage was the assessment by the radar experts of the incredible proportions of the UFOs: “It was noted by the radar operators that the sizes of the echoes were considerably larger than would be expected from normal aircraft. In fact they considered that the size was nearer that of a ship’s echo.” And officialdom’s additional thoughts on the affair make for extraordinary reading: “It is deduced from these reports that altogether five objects were detected by the three radars. Nothing can be said of physical construction except that they must have been either of considerable size or else constructed to be especially good reflectors.” But is it possible that aircraft or balloons were to blame? Radar experts thought not: “There were not known to be any aircraft in the vicinity nor were there any meteorological balloons. Even if balloons had been in the area these would not account for the sudden change of direction and the movement at high speed against the prevailing wind.”
The military also addressed the possibility that cloud formations might have produced spurious radar reports. But, again, this was summarily ruled out: “Another point which has been considered is that the type of radar used is capable of locking onto heavily charged clouds. Cloud of this nature could extend up to the heights in question and cause abnormally large echoes on the radar screens. It is not thought however that this incident was due to such phenomena.” And in a final, two-sentence statement, the military came to a remarkable, out-of-this-world conclusion: “The incident was due to the presence of five reflecting objects of unknown type and origin. It is considered unlikely that they were conventional aircraft, meteorological balloons or charged clouds.” There ends the extraordinary report. That the West Freugh case mystified the military of 1957 was something that caused the Air Ministry a considerable amount of unease – even more so when it became apparent that the national media of the time had uncovered certain details of the story. Witness the following Secret report prepared by the Air Ministry’s Deputy Directorate of Intelligence:
“It is unfortunate that the Wigtownshire radar incident fell into the hands of the press. The two other radar incidents have not been made public and reached us by means of official secret channels. We suggest that Secretary of State does not specifically refer to these incidents as radar sightings. We suggest that S. of S. might reply: ‘Of the fifteen incidents reported this year, ten have been identified as conventional objects, two contain insufficient information for identification and three are under investigation.'” On April 17, 1957 Stan Awbery, Labor Member of Parliament for the English city of Bristol, raised the issue of UFOs with Secretary of State for Air, George Ward. Awbery asked: “What recent investigations have been made into unidentified flying objects; what photographs have been taken; and what reports have been made on this subject?” In his reply, George Ward stated that: “Reports are continually being received, and we investigate them wherever the details are sufficient. Most of the objects turn out to be balloons or meteors. One photograph recently received some publicity but was faked.”
Why Ward did not inform Awbery of the then-recent – and highly-credible – incident at West Freugh, Scotland is something of a mystery. That is unless one takes the view that the encounter was deemed so sensitive by the Air Ministry that the non-disclosure of information to elected members of the British Parliament was thought justified – which in itself is a matter of profound significance. And possibly too significant for many of the skeptics to dare confront. And, although I’m not a “Roswell UFO” believer, for me those cases above were the real deal.