Welcome to the November 2006 round up of news and views on UFOs, alien abductions, crop circles, ghosts, the paranormal, the unexplained, the weird and the wonderful.
The British UFO Mystery
Channel Five show a new UFO documentary on 1 November. Entitled The British UFO Mystery, the show is one of a number of programmes being broadcast by Channel Five as part of their Stranger Than Fiction series - a flagship series in their Autumn schedule. The show was made by the independent production company Steel Spyda and I am the lead contributor. The show tells the story of the wave of UFO sightings that occurred over the UK on 30 and 31 March 1993, involving a vast triangular shaped craft flying over the UK. Many of the witnesses were police and military personnel and the UFO flew directly over two Royal Air Force bases. Some witnesses recalled the UFO firing a narrow beam of light at the ground and heard an unpleasant low frequency humming sound coming from the craft. The UFO travelled slowly at times but one of the RAF witnesses described it accelerating away at a speed many times faster than a military jet aircraft. One of the strange things about the case is that it occurred three years to the very day after a similar wave of sightings in Belgium. Steel Spyda obtained the MOD casefile on the incident, which runs to over a hundred pages, using the Freedom of Information Act. They then asked me to make the programme with them and tell the story of the official investigation which I had carried out at the time. It was a decidedly odd experience, revisiting one of my own investigations in such depth. The programme features some of the witnesses to the UFO sightings, though understandably, the police and military witnesses declined to take part, even though Steel Spyda had obtained their witness statements. I travelled extensively around the country whilst making this show and was filmed at two of the military bases which were directly overflown by the UFO. The programme also looked at the political and military fallout, showing how the Assistant Chief of the Air Staff was briefed and how the UK asked for assistance from the US government in investigating these UFO incidents. This case is not yet as well known as Roswell or the Rendlesham Forest incident, but is now a case that will doubtless be looked at in some depth by ufologists. I am grateful to Channel Five and Steel Spyda for commissioning and making this show. I am also grateful to the MOD Press Office, the National Archives, Jodrell Bank Observatory and the Royal Air Force, and to personnel at RAF Cosford, RAF Shawbury and the Ballistic Missile Early Warning Centre at RAF Fylingdales for their assistance and co-operation in the making of this programme. Check out http://www.rdfrights.com/Programme.aspx?id=2522 for details of the show, which will be sold to various overseas TV networks now it has premiered on Channel Five. I shall be undertaking various media work to promote the show and will feature more about this case and the reaction to the show in my column next month.
Torchwood and The Real Torchwood
The new BBC sci-fi series Torchwood has now started and is already proving to be hugely popular. Torchwood is a spin-off from Doctor Who, and stars John Barrowman as Captain Jack. The 13-part drama series is darker and more of an adult show than Doctor Who and will air after the watershed, at 9pm on BBC 3 on Sunday nights. Torchwood is a secret organisation working to protect the Earth from extraterrestrial threats and striving to back-engineer alien technology. The MOD UFO project was a far cry from the fictional Torchwood, but some media have picked up on the connection and dubbed the project I ran The Real Torchwood. Consequently, I have been invited on to a series of BBC radio shows to discuss and review the series. Whatever your beliefs on UFOs and aliens, Torchwood is slick, edgy and fun.
Berwyn Mountain UFO Crash
The October 2006 issue of Astronomy & Geophysics magazine, published by the Royal Astronomical Society, contains an interesting article by Roger Musson about the Bala earthquake of 1974. The 3.5 magnitude quake occurred in Wales and is inextricably linked to the so-called Berwyn Mountain UFO crash, where a craft of some sort is believed to have crashed and been recovered by the military. Sceptics believe the quake and associated phenomena gave rise to the UFO story, while believers argue that the seismic event was the consequence of the crash itself. The new article claims to be the definitive word on the subject, but my experience with ufologists suggests that the article will only reignite the debate.
The Hunt for Killer Asteroids
I am an Associate Member of Spaceguard UK, an organisation that strives to raise political, media and public awareness of the threat posed to the Earth by Near Earth Objects such as comets and asteroids. Some recent good news is that leading UK academics are to become increasingly involved in this work. Researchers from three UK universities have signed an agreement to use the Pan-Starrs telescope in Hawaii. Their search will concentrate on objects with a diameter of less than one kilometre. While an impact from such an object would not destroy all life on Earth, as a larger object would, it could kill several million people, dependant upon where it hit. Such impacts have occurred numerous times in the history of the Earth. The last such impact occurred in 1908 when a small asteroid or comet is believed to have exploded over Tunguska in Siberia. Had the object struck a major city, millions would have died.
Budd Hopkins made a rare visit to the UK last month, where he and I both spoke at the CUFORG conference organised by Dave Gillham. The conference itself was well attended given some recent conferences which have struggled, and there were between 80 and 100 attendees on each day. This is nowhere near the 600 or 700 that the late Graham Birdsall attracted to his Leeds conferences, but there is, as yet, no indication that British ufology has the capacity to organise anything on that scale for the time being. Budd and his partner, investigative journalist Leslie Kean, stayed with me in London after the conference, and we had a hugely enjoyable time in the National Gallery, the British Museum and elsewhere - Budd is an internationally renowned modern artist as well as an expert on the alien abduction phenomenon. We also spent some considerable time discussing some current trends and developments in relation to abductions, comparing and contrasting the situation in the US with the situation in the UK.
Ghosts and the MOD
Every now and then the MOD UFO project received reports of ghost sightings, simply because there was nowhere else within government to make such reports. There was little I could do, given that the priority was to research and investigate the UFO phenomenon, but it was readily apparent to me that military bases were among the most haunted locations in the UK. I have featured some of the reports I received in previous columns, and the MOD magazine Focus has also run a series of articles and letters on the subject. The October issue of Focus featured one such article, featuring Lance Corporal Andrew Edwards, known as Scary Eddie to his friends. He and Mostghosts, a group of clairvoyants, were featured in their investigation of a pub in Cornwall, that is reputed to be haunted. The Focus article first appeared in Soldier, the magazine of the British Army, so this is an interesting illustration of how government and military personnel can be just as interested in the paranormal as anyone else.
Psychic Hunts for Missing Soldier
Continuing the above theme, it was reported in various media outlets recently that the Israeli military were using a psychic to help them search for the missing Israeli soldier Corporal Gilad Shalit. While the US government has previously run so-called remote viewing projects, it is not known whether the Israeli government has such a programme. The Israeli Army has denied the claim.
Giant Telescope to Search for Extraterrestrial Civilisations
Either Australia or South Africa will be the site of the new Square Kilometre Array - a new radio telescope that will be one of the great scientific projects of the 21st century. The facility will cost around one billion pounds and should answer fundamental questions about the universe, in areas such as gravity, dark matter and the Big Bang. It should also be able to detect radiation leakage from any intelligent civilisation within a few hundred light years of Earth. The facility should go online in 2014 and be fully functional by 2020. It will not give a definitive answer the question of whether we are alone in the universe, but if there are other technologically advanced civilisations in the local region of our galaxy, the facility should be able to detect them.
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