December 2003 - January 2004
  Weird World
NICK POPE 

Welcome to the joint December 2003 and January 2004 round up of news and views on UFOs, alien abductions, crop circles, ghosts, the paranormal, the unexplained, the weird and the wonderful.


HMS Manchester UFO Incident

The joint November and December issue of UFO Magazine contained an extraordinary world exclusive article by Russel Callaghan, highlighting a fascinating new UFO case involving UK military personnel. Unlike most such cases, which involve the Royal Air Force, this case involved the Royal Navy. It is alleged that on an unknown date in 1999 several hundred personnel on British and Norwegian ships taking part in a NATO exercise sighted a UFO. It is further claimed that one of the ships tracked the UFO on radar. UFO Magazine are taking steps to locate further witnesses, but this case has already been featured in The Sunday Times, and questions about it have been raised in Parliament. Former Chief of the Defence Staff and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Lord Hill-Norton has taken an active role in trying to uncover information about this sensational incident. I will keep readers informed of any further developments.


Science Museum UFO Debate

The Science Museum has gone into partnership with Industry, and opened a new multi million pound venue adjacent to its current site in South Kensington. The Dana Centre opened on November 19 and will feature discussions and debates on subjects at the cutting edge of science and technology. They are to hold a UFO debate on December 9, in which I am involved. It promises to be a fascinating evening, and may well attract some media attention. It is rare, though extremely welcome, for the Science Museum to even consider the UFO phenomenon. Check out the Dana Centre website at www.danacentre.org.uk for more details.


Rendlesham Forest UFO Documentary

On December 12 the Sci-Fi Channel in America will screen a two hour documentary on the Rendlesham Forest UFO case, sometimes known in the US as the Bentwaters incident. Investigative journalist and Hot Gossip Editor in Chief Georgina Bruni has been involved with the show, as has US ufologist Peter Robbins. But the show focuses on the United States Air Force witnesses who were caught up in this extraordinary incident, and several of these military witnesses are speaking out about their involvement for the first time. Former Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Hill-Norton and I give an official perspective on the case, often dubbed The British Roswell. I will feature a more comprehensive review of this show in my next column. It is likely that the show will be screened in the UK next year.


Probing The Minds Of Alien Abductees

Last month I highlighted a scientific study which is to be undertaken into the alien abduction phenomenon. The study is to be carried out by psychologists at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and is the first such project to be undertaken in the UK. The study is to commence in January, and there is still time for abductees to get involved. Abductees wishing to take part in the study are requested to email Rachel Fox at apru@gold.ac.uk or telephone her on 020 7919 7171, extension 4389. Full details of the study can be found at the following link:

http://www.goldsmiths.ac.uk/
press-releases/pressrelease.php?releaseID=238



Ghosts At The Ministry Of Defence

The Ministry of Defence house magazine Focus has run several letters on ghosts over the last two months. The October issue of the magazine featured a letter from an officer with the Ministry of Defence Police, who had seen a ghost near the church at Haslar hospital. I had a letter printed in the November issue, in which I related a number of ghost stories I had heard while running the UFO project at the Ministry of Defence. These involved sightings in MOD buildings and at military bases. The same issue also features a letter from a former RAF Senior Aircraftsman who, together with other witnesses, saw a ghost at RAF Ely, nearly 40 years ago. Needless to say, the MOD has no formal remit to investigate ghosts. But by virtue of running a UFO project, I used to receive reports of other paranormal phenomena by default, as people did not know who else to send them to. I am wondering whether the next issue of Focus will feature further such reports.


Concorde

Last month I wrote about the scrapping of Concorde, and lambasted the small minded approach of the bean counters at British Airways who were behind the decision to do away with this wonderful and beautiful piece of technology. Those who agree with me will be happy to note that I rammed the point home in The Independent, who published a letter from me on this subject, on 30 October. The letter read as follows:


The Royal Air Force motto is Per ardua ad astra - Through struggles to the stars. The lack of ambition signalled by the scrapping of Concorde suggests that this struggle will now be harder and longer.


The newspaper ran the letter under the title Fallen Star. The only silver lining is that European aerospace group Eads is to carry out a study to develop a supersonic replacement for Concorde, and is attempting to persuade Japanese companies to join the venture. Meanwhile, Boeing are talking to NASA about the possibility of a hypersonic passenger jet.


Seasons Greetings

Finally, I would like to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I would like to extend particular greetings to those who are far away from home at this time, and in particular those brave men and women with Coalition Forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other far flung places. Stay safe.

Ed's Note:

Nick Pope has written four books. Open Skies, Closed Minds is an overview of the UFO phenomenon with the emphasis on his official Ministry of Defence research and investigation. The Uninvited is an overview of the alien abduction mystery. Operation Thunder Child and Operation Lightning Strike are science fiction novels about alien invasion, incorporating UFO and abduction data. All four titles are available from most good bookshops and all the usual Internet book sites.

Nick Pope has a website, which can be accessed at www.nickpope.net

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