Welcome to the March 2007 round up of news and views on UFOs, alien abductions, crop circles, ghosts, the paranormal, the unexplained, the weird and the wonderful.
New MOD UFO Documents Released
The Ministry of Defence has just released details of all UFO sightings reported to the Department in 2006. As part of the same document, details of sightings reported in 2002 through to 2005 are also given, although this material has been released previously. The 2006 material is not spectacular, though there are some interesting sounding reports that clearly refer to structured craft as opposed to merely lights in the sky. One of the witnesses was a police officer. The best quote, however, reads as follows: "two witnesses thought that they saw an alien outside their kitchen window.'" To view the documents, go to www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/FreedomOfInformation/ and check out this and other UFO material released by the MOD, in the Freedom of Information section of their website.
London UFO Sightings Continue
Over the last few weeks numerous UFOs have been seen in London, with sightings over areas of the city that include Archway, Holloway and Islington. A search of Google Video and YouTube will show some film footage of these sightings. At risk of being labelled a debunker, my own view is that these sightings are UFO balloons and sky lanterns. These devices consist of small burners underneath balloons and they are used at parties and weddings by people who want to create an interesting aerial display. Sometimes they are launched by people who want to see what effect they will have on people who invariably do report them as UFOs. Although available commercially, such devices can be improvised by rigging up small candles underneath plastic bags, producing what are, in effect, mini hot air balloons.
City UFO Sightings
Following on from the story above, there is a misperception that UFO sightings happen exclusively in rural areas. People have images of a car driving down a lonely country road late at night, and the occupants seeing strange lights in the sky. The reality is somewhat different and, if anything, urban sightings are more common, probably because if something strange appears in the sky, more people are likely to see it in a city because the population is larger. I proved this while running the MOD UFO project by undertaking research into the geographical spread of UFO sightings in the UK. One of my administrative staff drew the short straw of having to wade through several years' worth of UFO files and mark the locations of sightings with crosses on blank maps of the UK. After going back 3 or 4 years it was clear that most crosses were in areas of high population density: London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Leeds, Bristol, etc. Interestingly therefore, the number one UFO hotspot in the UK is not Bonnybridge, Warminster or Alton Barnes. It is London.
Issue Four of Beyond Magazine is now available at all good newsagents. This glossy magazine is packed full of features on the paranormal and the unexplained, and is fast establishing itself as the leading UK title on strange mysteries. I write a regular column on UFOs and in this issue I highlight a wave of sightings from 1993 when a UFO flew directly over two military bases and was seen by over a hundred witnesses, including police and military personnel. Check out www.beyondthemagazine.co.uk for details of the magazine and check out www.nickpope.net/cosford_incident.htm at my own website for a more detailed account of the 1993 sightings generally known as the Cosford Incident. The official case file that I opened on this incident has now been declassified by the MOD and is available on their website. It runs to over 100 pages of documents.
Last month the Science Museum displayed a mock-up cabin of the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo. The real spaceship is the brainchild of entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson and will be unveiled later this year in the Mojave Desert. It is at the cutting edge of the space tourism business and will take paying customers into space, following rigorous training and medicals that will ensure people are capable of coping with the high G-forces and the weightlessness. Flights will last two hours, of which only around 5 minutes will take place in zero gravity. Around 200 people have already signed up for the flights, which are expected to start in 2009. And yes, given my background, I am thinking of signing up too.
The Phoenix Lights Return
Ten years ago a wave of spectacular UFO sightings occurred in Phoenix, Arizona, with the event being captured on video. Witnesses reported seeing lights in a v shape - perhaps separate objects, perhaps lights fixed to the underside of a vast boomerang-shaped craft. Now, ten years after these sightings, reports have come in that more UFOs have been seen over the city. Calls were made to the local police and media and again the lights were captured on video. The military said that the lights seen were flares being used as targets in a military exercise. Ufologists are not so sure and believe Phoenix is becoming something of a UFO hotspot.
The popular ITV daytime show This Morning ran a UFO feature on 14 February, in which psychologist Max Blumberg and I discussed and debated the issue with hosts Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford, and took calls from the public. As ever, time constraints meant we did not have the chance to discuss the subject as fully as we wanted to, but the fact that UFOs are so regularly discussed on national TV is an interesting sign of the continuing high level of media and public interest in the subject.
Action Plan For Killer Asteroids
A draft United Nations treaty is to be drawn up, setting out actions to be taken if an asteroid is detected on collision course with the Earth. This work was prompted by the Association of Space Explorers and follows US Congress criticisms of the NASA detection programme, which has been described as not sufficient to meet the threat. Work on the draft treaty will commence this year but is unlikely to be completed until 2009. The treaty will address a number of issues including, critically, command and control and the question of how to deflect any asteroid judged to pose a threat to the Earth. I greatly welcome this move. I am an Associate Member of Spaceguard UK, a group that undertakes research into the threat posed by comets and asteroids and works hard to raise parliamentary, media and public awareness of the issue. Check out www.spaceguarduk.com for details of this organisation.
These days, because of the pressure of other commitments, I take part in few UK conferences. However, in March I will be speaking at one of the Glastonbury Fayres organised by Graham Robertson. The event concerned will be held on 31 March in the Town Hall in Glastonbury. Check out www.glastonburyfayres.co.uk for more details.
Author, journalist and TV personality Nick Pope used to run the British Government's UFO Project and is now recognised as one of the world's leading experts on UFOs, the unexplained and conspiracy theories.
Check out www.nickpope.net for more information about Nick.