Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Special Report - UFO sightings or lanterns?

The past few weeks have seen a number of sightings of UFO's over Wales and the West Midlands, some by credible witnesses.

The reports of these sightings first surfaced in the Sun newspaper on the 20th June. A three man Police helicopter crew preparing to land at the MoD’s St Athan base on June 7th, had to swerve to avoid an object described as, 'flying saucer shaped' by all of it's crew.

A source told The Sun “It closed in at great speed, aiming straight at the helicopter.
The chopper had to swerve sharply to avoid being hit. The guys said if they’d stayed where they were, they’d be dead – it would’ve been a direct hit. "

“They are convinced it was a UFO. It sounds far-fetched, but they know what they saw. These guys are hardened professionals and know people will take the mickey, but they are certain they saw a UFO.”

The source added: “After the near-collision they decided to follow it to find out what the hell it was. They belted across the Bristol Channel in pursuit, but it was too quick. They got to the North Devon coast and had to turn back because they were running low on fuel.”

The Police Helicopter failed to catch the 'flying saucer shaped' object on any of it's high tech cameras and was not visible with night vision equipment although it was visible without.

South Wales Police said confirmed the Air Support Unit sighted an unusual aircraft which was reported to the relevant authorities for their investigation. However the MoD, which usually investigates UFO sightings, is reported to have said: “We’ve heard nothing about this. But it is certainly not advisable for police helicopters to go chasing what they think are UFOs.”

This story was also reported in on the BBC news website albeit slightly differently. The story was to be rubbished a day or so later by the BBC new site which stated that the UFO was nothing more than a paper lantern. As much as this story seems a logical explanation to the sighting, why would a highly experienced Police helicopter crew need to swerve to avoid a paper lantern, and then give chase? Also the heat source provided by the paper lantern would surely show up on the helicopters cameras and night vision equipment?

In perspective the story was reported by The Sun, a sensationalist British tabloid, so the lantern theory would be an acceptable conclusion to the average man on the street. Or is it? Is this is cover story invented by the MoD?

Other sightings were reported on the 7th June in the South Wales area. Dawn Williams, 45, spotted an object in the sky above Aberdare Country Park hours earlier, on June 8.
She said: “It came over the horizon and was travelling for about a minute and a half before it disappeared. It was circular and had a dome on top – it looked like a planet with rings. I didn’t say anything at the time because I didn’t think anyone would believe me.”

So we have a circular 'paper lantern' with a dome on the top?

Another potentially less credible sighting was reported by the Sun on the 23rd June. The footage of the UFO does look remarkably like the paper lanterns reported by the BBC and the description provided in the article would seem to match it's erratic behaviour.

The 25th June a military witness came forward with a sighting that took place two hours before the Police helicopter sighting. This time 13 objects were seen over the sky's of Market Drayton Shropshire, some 80 miles from the St. Athen base.

The military witness was one of three soldiers who spotted the objects while out on night patrol.
The objects were filmed on one of the soldier's mobile phone and the close encounter reported to his superior.

Ministry of Defence experts were reported to be studying the report and video after ordering the soldier and his pals NOT to say anything else about the incident.

I wonder where you can buy paper lanterns which can travel 80 miles in two hours and command the attention of the MoD?

A further report would surface in the Sun on the 27th June. This time a Doctor of Psychology at Cardiff University noticed strange lights over the Village of Talybont-on-Usk near Llangynidr Mountain in the Brecon Beacons.

Dr Simon Griffey, 50, and his son Jack, 23, were driving near Llangynidr Mountain in the Brecon Beacons, Powys, when they spotted lights over Talybont-on-Usk.

Dr Griffey said: “There was no noise whatsoever, it was a bit eerie. I’ve driven over this mountain for 17 years and have never seen anything like it. There were seven lights and having read the description from the soldiers in Shropshire, there are some similarities. They were the same sort of colour and the same spherical shape that they reported."

“I know I wasn’t seeing things because Jack saw exactly the same as I did – and two other cars pulled over to look.”

When Dr Griffey was questioned over whether the sightings could be huge man-made lanterns floating into the sky his reply was “It was too big. It was way above the horizon and stayed there for 15 minutes. It was a bit smaller than a full moon – quite big and high up.”

The phenomenon was recorded on his son Jack's mobile phone – but when the footage was examined later, they found only three of the seven lights showed up.

The Worcester News reported another sighting on the 1st July where bright, cylindrical spots were captured on camera by Andy Ball at 12.05am on the 30th June. The 19-year-old was taking photos of rare clouds from his home in Cherry Orchard, Worcester, when the lights appeared.

Mr Ball was reported to have said “I thought at first that they were spotlights; the sort you get at fairs, but there was no cloud at all, not even a haze present to reflect the light, therefore they must have been lights coming from the sky,”

The lights stayed extremely still, before shifting from left to right then fading away. Mr Ball does not believe they were from aeroplanes, as earlier photos of plane lights were streaked and blurred.
What struck me was the similarities between the picture shown in the Sun's article on the 27th June and Andy Balls photograph above. 6 lights are shown in the above photograph, whilst Dr Griffey reported 7, however the photographs appear almost identical.

The pictures also appear to be identical to a sighting witnessed by three members of my own family in 2005. However their sighting was at a much closer distance, with one member of my family refusing to talk about the incident and another proclaiming the object was 'not of this world', recent events are intriguing.

In conclusion could these sightings be logically put down to paper lanterns? If the paper lantern story was to be believed, it can for instance, travel 80 miles in two hours, survive for nearly a month in the sky, escape detection by Police camera, and make fools of trained Police Officers and Soldiers. If I were the MoD and I wanted to cover up a story, I would make sure it was ridiculed and concoct a story about a paper lantern, and hope to god people wouldn't put two and two together.

BBC Radio Wales recently did a phone in on UFO's, they received a massive amount of calls which could not be fitted into the 20 minute slot it was given. The presenter Richard Evans was so surprised by the response, he mentioned that there would be a longer slot for the subject in the future. I believe fear of ridicule and the fact that the media do not take the subject seriously is preventing more reports of sightings from coming forward.

I'll leave you to make up your own minds. If anyone has had any similar sightings, you can contact me at