Aerial Phenomena Enquiry Network
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The Aerial Phenomena Enquiry Network (usually shortened to APEN) is an unknown group of investigators that specialise in the field of UFOs who regularly contact researchers via letter and cassette tape offering pieces of information, yet never supply contact details.
They were first encountered in 1974 when British UFO researcher Jenny Randles received a one-hour length audio cassette tape through the post. Contained on the tape was an introduction from a male American voice claiming to be someone called "J.T. Anderson, Supreme Commander of APEN". The tape contained television and radio broadcasts of UFO reports, occasionally interrupted by other voices, terrified and in panic, claiming that UFOs were hostile and the listener should be wary of their nature and intentions.
They have been linked with the Men in Black phenomenon.
Between December 1974 and April 1975 UFO researchers around the United Kingdom received letters through the post from APEN, sometimes containing cassette tapes. The letters were a mixture of advice, information and references to APEN's organisational structure. The letters, although on headed notepaper contained no contact information and as a result all communication with APEN was one way. The format of the letters received was also strange, using a lot of bureaucratic references, e.g. "Code=7 Case number 174L 74-71/349 ST Classification=Jasmine Clearance date=02 DE 74".
They introduced themselves as "APEN Operatives" and added that they would prefer not to give names. After a confusing explanation of APEN's organisational structure (something which was echoed on the cassette tapes first sent to researchers) they explained to Bottomley that their intentions of staying secretive were necessary as they could work more "efficiently in this manner".
The two men then explained to Bottomley that they had been required to pick a "neutral" and that he was their choice, however they could not disclose how they had come to this decision. They gave him an address and unlisted phone number as well as a code so that he could be identified. He was to help them as a "go between" in investigations and would be paid expenses in return for his help.
Bottomley discussed this with his wife as well as other UFO researchers and after dwelling on the offer, decided that helping APEN would not be in his own interest due to the distrust for them which he encountered with the other researchers. Someone claiming to be from APEN telephoned Bottomley at his home address a few weeks later. Bottomley politely declined their offer and he never heard from them again.
Part of Bottomley's decision to decline APEN's offer was reached through talking to the UFO researcher, Jenny Randles. A few weeks after Bottomley's telephone call, Randles moved house. On entering her newly bought home she found a 'Welcome to your new Home' card from APEN. Inside it read "Never call anyone bigger than yourself stupid".
A UFO group based in the East Midlands were victims of what looked like a burglary which had been attempted in the middle of the night. The offenders had entered a property belonging to the group and left without taking anything, however an untidy search of files containing UFO reports had been carried out. A few days later, the group received a letter from APEN apologising for the "behaviour" of its "local agents".
In the 1980s APEN contacted one UFO group regarding the Rendlesham Forest Incident in Suffolk. They requested that members of this group meet them in the middle of the night at a railway station some distance away from where any of the members lived. They were offering to tell the group "the truth" about the incident and a government plan to create fake UFOs. Understandably, the group did not respond or take up the invitation.
During interviews in 2006 regarding an upcoming publication, author and ufologist Nick Redfern made claims that he believed that APEN had a far right wing agenda, were forming an underground organisation and were being investigated by Special Branch.
Redfern mentions that APEN manipulated and spread misinformation amongst various British UFO groups in the form of smear campaigns, false allegations, etc. in an attempt to undermine the groups, fraction them and ultimately bring them together under the umbrella of APEN. UFO researchers would be duped into believing they were joining a group with similar interests without realising APEN's political agenda.
Some of the cassette tapes sent to UFO researchers included the sound of Nazi marching and Nazi marching music.
Many researchers chose to ignore the correspondence from APEN, putting it down to an individual or a group of people playing games with the UFO community. To this day, no-one has ever stepped forward to publicly admit that the APEN organisation is a hoax, or to take any responsibility for the actions of APEN.
- Jenny Randles (1997) "The APEN Mystery" Men in Black: Investigating the Truth Behind the Phenomenon pp.154-162 ISBN 0-7499-1721-0
- Nick Redfern (2006) On the Trail of the Saucer Spies: UFOs and Government Surveillance ISBN 1-933665-10-6
- UFO Review, Issue 15 (2006) "On the Trail of the Saucer Spies - Interview with Nick Redfern" UFO Review Issue 15 pp. 29-33