UK releases more UFO files but “Rendlesham incident” papers missing

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LONDON // Britain released its X files on Thursday – more than 8,000 pages of reports of UFO sightings and international concerns over the possibility of a close encounter of the third kind.

Ranging from the inexplicable to the absurd, the extra-terrestrial files released by the UK’s National Archives illustrate how incidents were discussed at the highest level of government and by security services worldwide, including at the UN and CIA.

The previously classified reports show, for instance, that in 2003, governments internationally discussed a sighting in south-east England when a family captured on film red and white lights zigzagging their way across the sky.

Several police officers, including a helicopter crew, also saw the lights although radar checks revealed nothing unusual in the area.

“A policeman sent to investigate confirmed the sighting,” the report reads. “Objects were moving faster than any man-made aircraft.”

More mysterious were three circular objects reported by an airline pilot – described in the files as “a credible witness” – over East Sussex and the report from an RAF crew in 1990, who were overtaken by an object “the size of a C130 Hercules” as they flew at almost the speed of sound over the North Sea.

A possible explanation was offered by defence officials who said it could have been a Russian rocket booster re-entering the earth’s atmosphere.

David Clarke, a university lecturer and author of the book The UFO Files, has been campaigning for several years to have the files “on this perplexing and controversial subject” released under Britain’s Freedom of Information Act.

“I’m interested in why people believe in these things – regardless of proof,” he told the BBC. “In hundreds of years’ time, people will look back at these files and draw conclusions about the kind of people we were and the things we wanted to believe in.”

The files – which will be free to download for the next month at – also contain photographs and drawings of phenomena.

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Intelligence papers on a reported UFO sighting known as the “Rendlesham incident” have gone missing, files from the National Archives reveal.

The missing files relate to a report of mysterious lights from US servicemen at RAF Woodbridge in Suffolk in 1980.

The disappearance came to light with the release of 8,000 previously classified documents on UFOs.

Officials found a “huge” gap where defence intelligence files relating to the case should be, the papers show.

Russian rocket

The documents are the latest MoD files on UFOs released into the National Archives which will be free to access on its website for a month.

Photographs and sketches of UFOs made by members of the public are included, as well as their eyewitness reports.

Among the documents is testimony from an airline pilot and his son who say they spent five minutes watching an object made up of three circles fly past their garden in Hellingly, East Sussex.

The pilot reported it to Air Traffic Control in West Drayton, and an official labelled his sighting as one by “a credible witness”.

But another defence official later wrote a memo saying the report “contains nothing of air defence significance”.

More attention is given to the crew of an RAF Tornado who encountered an object the size of a C130 Hercules transport aircraft while flying over the North Sea in 1990.

The pilot describes flying at Mach 0.8 but being overtaken by an aircraft the like of which he had never seen before.

He talks about lights and even “an engine area” but the files also show how a possible explanation emerges – a Russian rocket booster was re-entering the earth’s atmosphere on that same night.

Another file released reveals six small “flying saucers” were found by members of the public in locations across southern England in 1967. Four police forces and the army were mobilised before it emerged the incident was a rag-day hoax by engineering students from Farnborough Technical College.

There is also a report from a London man who believed he may have been abducted by aliens.

Minister’s request

The files reveal that key documentation relating to the Rendlesham Forest incident has disappeared.

Some UFO researchers believe the episode, which happened over two nights in 1980 is a classic example of a “close encounter”.

The incident took place near the fence of RAF Woodbridge – at that time being used by the US Air Force. A group of servicemen reported seeing strange lights in the trees near the base and after investigating found marks on the ground and damage to vegetation.

The files reveal the MoD received a request for its own records of the incident in 2000, but when officials looked they discovered a “huge” gap where defence intelligence files relating to it should be.

The hunt generated a series of notes, with one official speculating that the files could have been taken home by someone and another remarking that “it could be interpreted to mean that a deliberate attempt had been made to eradicate the records covering this incident”.

However, among intelligence papers released in 2009, it was revealed that former Admiral of the Fleet Lord Hill-Norton wrote to the defence secretary about the incident in 1985, speculating that an unauthorised aircraft may have entered and left UK airspace at the time.


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