UFO sightings in the United Kingdom

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This is a list of notable alleged sightings of unidentified flying objects or UFOs in the UK. Many more sightings have become known since the gradual release of the MoD UFO sighting reports by the National Archives in 2008. In recent years there have been many sightings of groups of slowly moving lights in the night sky, which can be easily explained as Chinese lanterns. Project Condign, undertaken from 1997 to 2000, concluded that all the investigated sightings of unidentified aerial phenomena in the U.K. could be assigned to misidentified but explicable objects, or poorly understood natural phenomena.[1]

12th century[edit]

13th century[edit]

  • January 1254: In St. Albans, England, a scribe wrote of a glowing floating light, thus recorded it, "...in serene sky and clear air, with stars shining and the Moon eight days old, there suddenly appeared in the sky a kind of large ship elegantly shaped, well equipped and of marvellous colour."[2][unreliable source?]
  • 1290: Friars of Byland Abbey, described of "a flat, round shining silvery object" flying overhead of them.[2][unreliable source?] However, this report is a hoax perpetrated by two teenagers in the 1950s[3][4]

20th century[edit]

  • February 1942: A woman named Eileen Arnold was walking down Cheltenham high street when she suddenly experienced an altered state of consciousness as she became "tuned into another reality". She became aware of a large oval shape moving slowly above the rooftops. She stated that it radiated light from holes in its side and had quills which detached one by one, also emitting light. Following this, Eileen believed she had numerous psychic experiences.[5]
  • September 1942: Albert Lancaster believes he was abducted by aliens while working as a guard at a radar site near Newbiggin-on-Sea, Northumbria. He claimed to have a sudden urge to go outside followed by a "strange impulse to look at the sky." He claims he saw a glowing light surrounded by dark mist and, assuming it was a German weapon, went to raise the alarm before being struck by a beam of light from the cloud followed by a floating sensation then becoming aware he was back at his post. Following this experience he believed he had psychic powers for a period of time.[5]
  • 5 August 1944: According to records released on 5 August 2010, British wartime prime minister Winston Churchill banned the reporting for 50 years of an alleged UFO incident because of fears it could create mass panic. Reports given to Churchill claimed the incident allegedly involved a Royal Air Force (RAF) reconnaissance plane returning from a mission in France or Germany toward the end of the Second World War. It was over or near the English coastline when it was allegedly suddenly intercepted by a strange metallic object that matched the aircraft's course and speed for a time before accelerating away and disappearing. The plane's crew were reported to have photographed the object, which they said had "hovered noiselessly" near the aircraft, before moving off.[6] According to the documents, details of the cover-up emerged when the man wrote to the government in 1999 seeking to find out more about the incident. He described how his grandfather, who served with the RAF in the Second World War, was present when Churchill and U.S. General Dwight Eisenhower discussed how to deal with the UFO encounter.[7][8] The files come from more than 5,000 pages of UFO reports and letters and drawings from members of the public, as well as questions raised by Members of Parliament in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. They are available to download for free for a month from The National Archives website.[9]
  • 1 June 1950: A Gloster Meteor at RAF Tangmere passes a flying saucer lit up with lights; this was described as 'Britain's first flying saucer'. The object was reported to be shining, revolving, and disc-like at 20,000 ft at 14.30, flying eastwards over the Portsmouth area. RAF Tangmere asked the radar station at RAF Wartling in Sussex if it had seen the object, and it had on its PPI screen. It led to the setting up of the Flying Saucer Working Party.[10]
  • 14 August 1950: A 50 ft-diameter disc UFO is seen over the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at 11.27 by an experienced pilot F/Lt. Hubbard. He claimed to see another similar object on 5 September 1950 at 16.09.[citation needed]
  • 26 August 1950: In the early hours of the morning a 20 year old woman was walking back to her home in the village of Stanton Drew, Somerset from a party when she decided to take a shortcut through a field near to the stone circles where upon she heard a buzzing sound, she turned to her left and noticed a bright saucer shaped object hovering over the next field. The moment that a door on the craft began to open she screamed and started to run and didn’t stop until she got home.[citation needed]
  • 14–25 September 1952: Operation Mainbrace - many UFOs were observed. On 19 September at 11 am a silver disc-shaped object followed a Gloster Meteor returning to RAF Topcliffe, and seen by observers on the ground. It rotated whilst hovering. It then travelled towards the west at high speed. On 21 September, six RAF planes followed a spherical object over the North Sea. It followed one of the planes back to the base.[11] It was the front-page headline on 20 September 1952 on the Yorkshire Evening Press and on 21 September 1952 on the Sunday Dispatch
  • 21 October 1952: Two RAF pilots in a Gloster Meteor see three disc-shaped objects at 35,000 ft in the Little Rissington UFO incident.
  • 3 November 1953: Terry Johnson and Geoffrey Smythe in an RAF de Havilland Vampire saw a UFO over RAF West Malling.[citation needed]
  • 14 October 1954: Flt Lt James Salandin of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, flying in a No. 604 Squadron RAF Gloster Meteor F8 from RAF North Weald, narrowly missed two UFOs over Southend-on-Sea at around 4:30 pm at 16,000 ft. The objects were circular with one being coloured silver and the other gold. He narrowly avoided having a head-on collision with the silver object.[12]
  • 17 July 1955 at noon: on King Harold's Way in Bexleyheath in the London Borough of Bexley a 30-foot-wide saucer-shaped object was seen to hover a few feet above a street in broad daylight by Margaret Fry[13] and her doctor on a very hot cloudless day. Car engines nearby to the object stalled. It was seen by around thirty people and made a humming noise and landed at the junction of Ashbourne Road and Whitfield Road. It hovered over Bedonwell Primary School (now Bedonwell Junior School) for around one minute. It finally shot off into the sky. Another UFO had landed a few streets away at the same time. A similar object had been seen in Bexleyheath in 1952.[14][15][16]
  • 13 August 1956: Lakenheath-Bentwaters incident - 12 to 15 objects were picked up by USAF radar over East Anglia. One object was tracked at more than 4,000 mph by USAF GCA radar at RAF Bentwaters. The objects sometimes travelled in formation, then converged to form a larger object and performed sharp turns. One object was tracked for 26 miles which then hovered for five minutes then flew off. One object at 10 pm was tracked at 12,000 mph. RAF de Havilland Venoms from RAF Waterbeach had sightings of the objects.[citation needed]
  • 22 September 1956 at 3 pm: a large, spherical glass-like 80-foot-diameter object was seen over the Cleethorpes coast for over an hour and also seen on radar from RAF Manby. RAF planes approached the object and it flew off.[citation needed]
National Archives sketch of a UFO seen in the UK in 1975
Worldwide sightings of unidentified craft, including some from the UK (from the UK National Archives)
  • 28 April 1967: a dome-shaped object was sighted over Brixham in Devon at around 1,600 ft at around noon for approximately one hour. A door was seen in the side of the object and it had been seen by the HM Coastguard station at Berry Head. There were 362 UFO sightings in 1967: there had only been 95 in 1966.[citation needed]
  • 1967: Clapham Wood experienced a rash of UFO sightings and unexplained events during the 1960s and continuing into the 1970s.[18]
  • 24 October 1967: Devon Flying Cross UFO - PCs Roger Willey (from Okehampton) and Clifford Waycott (from Winkleigh) were driving from Holsworthy to Hatherleigh along the A3072 at 4 am. They saw a bright object in the shape of a cross at tree-top height at a distance of about 40 metres. They followed the 'pulsating' object for about fifteen minutes along the road at speeds up to 80 mph. The object was described as being star-spangled like 'looking through wet glass'. At 4:23 am it was joined by a second object. A motorist, Mr Christopher Garner of Hatherleigh, had also seen it and thought he was having a nightmare. The object disappeared around 5 am having been followed for fourteen miles. It was attributed to Venus[19] as were other similar sightings that same month.[20]
  • 25 October 1967: Sussex flying cross - policemen in five police cars across East Sussex reported a bright flying cross in the early hours, with the first sighting at 4:45 am at Halland. The other sightings were a few minutes later.[citation needed]
  • 26 October 1967: 54-year-old Mr Angus Brooks, a former BOAC administrator for its Comet fleet, of Owermoigne was walking on Moigns Down at 11:25 am near Holworth close to the Dorset coast (a mile south of Owermoigne on the A354) with his two dogs in a force 8 gale and took shelter in a hollow. He then saw a circular translucent craft with a 'girder' to the front and three 'girders' pointing to the rear. The girders rearranged to form a cross shape around the central 25 ft diameter disc and then began to spin. Twenty two minutes later, the 'girders' went back to their original position and the craft sped off in a north-east direction.[21]
  • 8 September 1970: William Schaffner intercepted an unknown object over the North Sea. His BAC Lightning was later retrieved from the sea.
  • 1971: It is claimed that unidentified silent craft were regularly seen by two school children near the coastal village of Muchalls, Scotland (but not in the village itself), from 1971 onwards. These events are claimed to have continued night after night for many years. The phenomena are reputed to have continued at least until 1991 when some aspects of the apparitions were also filmed in the area.[22]
National Archives sketch in 1988 of a UFO over a field
  • 16 October 1973: It is alleged that Gabriella Versacci was taken on board an alien space ship near a small village in Somerset, England. She was physically inspected when strapped down to an examination table.[23]
  • 23 January 1974: A UFO allegedly crashed at Berwyn Mountain, Wales. The event coincided with an earthquake.[24]
  • June 1976: An official British Airways film taken during one of the Concorde's flights over southern England depicts a white light which turns around the fuselage of the aircraft. A later analysis of the film presented in a UFO documentary indicated that the light was an artifact of the video camera.[25]
  • 4 February 1977: A cigar-shaped craft is alleged to have landed next to Broad Haven Primary School and witnessed by 14 school children who saw a silver creature.[26]
  • 22 November 1978 at 17:15 : Elsie Oakensen of Church Stowe, south of Weedon Bec in Northamptonshire was driving down the A5 from Weedon southwards to her home. She saw two bright lights, one green and one red and could make out a dumbbell shaped object. Turning off the A5 to her village, her recently serviced car cut out twice. Then she noticed the sky was black and a brilliant white beam of light shone on the road ahead, then the normal colour of the sky returned but she could not account for 15 minutes of her time.[27][28][29]
  • 9 November 1979: Bob Taylor, a forestry worker had an alleged encounter with a UFO in a clearing on Dechmont Law in Livingston, West Lothian, which he claimed dragged him along the ground. It is considered one of the most significant Close Encounters in Scotland.[30][31]
Rendlesham Forest site of UFO landing
  • 29 November 1980 at 5 am: Alan Godfrey, an on-duty police officer, claims to have been abducted by an alien space craft in Todmorden in West Yorkshire. A strange luminescent object had been spotted by other local police officers at the same time.[citation needed]
  • December 1980: A series of reported sightings of unexplained lights and objects in the sky, and the alleged landing of an extraterrestrial spacecraft occurred at Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, England on 26 December. It is perhaps the most famous UFO event to have happened in Britain, ranking amongst the best-known UFO events worldwide.
  • 12 August 1983: A 77-year-old gentleman, Alfred Burtoo, was quietly fishing on the Basingstoke Canal when a UFO landed nearby. Two humanoid beings beckoned him onto their disc-shaped vehicle and he was medically examined by English-speaking creatures. He was 'rejected' by the creatures because he was 'too old'.[32]
  • 26 April 1984: Several people reported a UFO over Stanmore in north-west London, and was seen by two police officers.[citation needed]
  • 13 October 1984: Several people see a flying saucer over Waterloo Bridge in London.[citation needed]
  • 19 November 1987 at 7 pm: the Black Country UFO - a large UFO was seen at close quarters hovering over houses in Brierley Hill.[33]
National Archives sketch of an alien planet landscape in January 2004
  • 1 December 1987: Philip Spencer (not his real name), a retired policeman, took a picture on Ilkley Moor, which is claimed to be of an alien creature, and then saw a white coloured craft leaving the area. The object in the photograph was examined by Kodak Laboratories at Hemel Hempstead and they decided that the object was not superimposed. This was one of the few British close encounters of the third kind. Under hypnosis he claimed to have been abducted and medically examined.[34]
  • 4 August 1990 at 9 pm: a 75-foot-wide diamond object was seen by the pilot of an RAF Harrier at Calvine, 20 miles north of Pitlochry in Perth and Kinross.[citation needed] It appeared to hover for 10 minutes above the A9 near Calvine.[35]
  • 21 April 1991: airline pilot Achille Zaghetti from Grosseto, Tuscany, in an Alitalia McDonnell Douglas MD-80 on a flight from Milan to Heathrow saw a three-metre-long khaki-coloured object over Lydd in Kent at 22,000 ft about 300m away. It was seen on radar.[36][37]
  • 1992: James Walker noticed unidentified lights in the sky over Bonnybridge, the town became the scene of numerous UFO sightings. It forms part of the "Falkirk Triangle", an area stretching from Stirling to Fife and the outskirts of Edinburgh. Ufologists claim that Bonnybridge is the world's number one UFO location, with an average of around 300 sightings a year.[38]
  • March 1992: Isabella Sloggett, and her daughter Carol, were walking towards Bonnybridge and saw a blue light hovering above the road in front of them. A UFO landed, and a door on the craft opened.[citation needed]
National Archives sketch of a UFO seen over Woolwich in September 2003
  • 1993, 31 March: Multiple witnesses across south-west and west England saw a large triangular-shaped UFO speeding across the sky leaving a luminous wake. Analysis of the sightings concluded that the object was the re-entry of a Russian booster rocket combined with a later sighting of a police helicopter.[39]
  • 26 September 1993: a large black triangle is seen over Bakewell in the Derbyshire Dales at 21.30.[citation needed]
  • 19 February 1994: a metallic disc-shaped object was filmed over Craigluscar Reservoir near Dunfermline in Scotland by Ian McPherson.[citation needed]
  • 6 January 1995: pilots aboard a Boeing 737 on British Airways Flight BA5061 from Milan saw an object on their descent to Manchester at 4,000 ft when over the southern Pennines. The reports have been attributed to a bright fireball.[40]
  • 5 October 1996: the Wash Incident - in the early hours a rotating UFO was seen over The Wash by Skegness and Boston police officers, although later (partially) explained as a radar echo of St Botolph's Church. The visual sightings were explained as celestial objects.[41]
  • 24 March 1997: At 22:00 on the Dark Peak, Howden Moor, two sonic booms were heard over the area, and recorded at this time although the RAF denied having supersonic aircraft in the area. They later helped in the night-long search for a crashed aircraft, using helicopters and sniffer dogs from the police with 150 Mountain Rescue volunteers. No wreckage was found. A triangle-shaped UFO had been seen an hour before the sonic booms in the local area.[citation needed]
  • 5 October 2000: A woman named Sharon Rowlands from Bonsall, Derbyshire claimed to have seen a large luminous pink object hovering and rotating over a nearby field. She filmed the object on a camcorder.[42]

21st century[edit]

Still from video footage on 27 December 2000 sent to the UK National Archives
  • 26 May 2004: a 60 metre long cigar-shaped object was seen over Torquay. Local teenagers later came forward to admit the sighting was caused by their toy inflatable airship.[43]
  • 11 September 2004 Archives hold evidence of E/T never investigated by authorities. RG30 3RR M.O.D nuclear establishment[citation needed]
  • June 2005: three white objects were seen flying above the east end of Glasgow on a cloudy sky around midnight. A man from Baillieston was reported to have heard spaceman-esque voices through his electronic equipment around the time of the sighting. Russian Antonov An-30s were proposed as explanations but the case remains a mystery. A similar sighting was seen in Lockeridge, Wiltshire on broad daylight. A man reported seeing three "white metallic craft" while out cycling on the evening of 21 June.[44]
  • June, 2006: Cookley Worcestershire sighting of a shiny silver silent triangle shaped object in the evening sky. Whilst travelling along Lea Lane heading to village of Cookley. 2 people in the same car saw the object whilst heading home. Object was hovering approximately 5–10 meters above floor completely silent and moving along horizon.[citation needed]
  • November, 2007: Numerous people from the West Midlands conurbation reported sightings of a silent triangle shaped object in the skies in the evening which the press dubbed the "Dudley Dorito".[45]
  • 12 January 2008: A large fleet of UFOs or "glowing Red Spheres" were seen over Liverpool heading East.[citation needed]
  • 8 June 2008: A number of UFO sightings took place in Wales which involved a police helicopter following a UFO over Cardiff near MOD St Athan, the Bristol Channel and nearby areas such as Eglwys Brewis, Barry and Sully.[46]
  • 26 June 2009: British singer Kim Wilde reported to have seen saw a 'huge bright light behind a cloud' above her Hertfordshire garden. Wilde described the light as 'brighter than the moon, but similar to the light (of the moon)'. Upon further inspection, Wilde reported the light to move 'very quickly, from about 11.00 to 1.00. Then it just did that, back and forth, for several minutes ... Whenever it moved, something shifted in the air - but it was silent. Absolutely silent." A second report of this sighting was subsequently made by a fellow local Hertfordshire resident, who managed to obtain photographic evidence to support the apparent sighting [47][48][49]
  • 10 September 2009: In Glen Road, near Lennoxtown, three people in a car were reportedly struck by a colourful beam of light, the event reportedly lasted for over two minutes.[50]
  • 13 July 2013: An Airbus A320 pilot encounters an object closing in on his passenger plane, which passes extremely close to the cockpit whilst flying at 34,000 ft above Berkshire. With no time to make an evasive manoeuvre, the Captain instinctively ducked as he believed a collision was imminent.[51]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "UK skies 'UFO free for the past 30 years'". iol scitech. 15 May 2006. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Marrs, Jim. Alien Agenda. HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. p. 61. ISBN 0-06-018642-9.
  3. ^ http://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/the-byland-abbey-ufo-sighting-anatomy-of-a-hoax
  4. ^ https://files.ncas.org/condon/text/s5chap01.htm#s6
  5. ^ a b "Early 20th UFO encounters". Retrieved 3 November 2009.
  6. ^ AFP: Churchill 'banned UFO report to avoid mass panic' Archived 5 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Churchill Ordered UFO Coverup, Documents Suggest". Fox News. 5 August 2010.
  8. ^ "Churchill ordered UFO cover-up, National Archives show". BBC News. 5 August 2010.
  9. ^ The National Archives website Archived 10 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Shough, Martin. "Archive Index". martinshough.com. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  11. ^ Operation Mainbrace
  12. ^ James Salandin 1954
  13. ^ "UFO investigator - meet granny Margaret Fry". Archived from the original on 17 January 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2010.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link) BBC, 20 May 2008
  14. ^ Booth, B. J. "The 1955 Bexleyheath UFO Encounter, UFO Casebook Files". www.ufocasebook.com. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  15. ^ "Bexleyheath UFO". ufocasebook.com. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  16. ^ "Bexleyheath 1955". ufoevidence.org. Archived from the original on 4 June 2016. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  17. ^ "UFO Warminster". www.ufo-warminster.co.uk. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  18. ^ Walked, Charles. "Black Magic in Clapham and Sussex". Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  19. ^ Ridpath, Ian. "Devon Flying Cross UFO of 1967 – Ian Ridpath". www.ianridpath.com. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  20. ^ Ridpath, Ian. "The 1967 October UFO flap – Ian Ridpath's UFO skeptic pages". www.ianridpath.com. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  21. ^ "Moigns Down UFO". darkdorset.co.uk. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  22. ^ Moir, TJ. "Muchalls UFOs". Retrieved 9 July 2008.
  23. ^ "Langford Budville Abduction". Archived from the original on 12 December 2009. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  24. ^ Booth, Billy. "1974-Wales UFO Crash". Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  25. ^ Gross, Patrick. "UFOS at close sight:Aircrafts / UFOs encounters [sic] videos". ufologie.patrickgross.org. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  26. ^ Bourton, Tom (5 July 2007). "New details on UFO case revealed". BBC News. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  27. ^ B. J. Booth. "Elsie's UFO Encounter on the A45". UFO Casebook Files.
  28. ^ "Elsie's UFO encounter on the A45 in south Northants". Northampton Chronicle. 4 February 2008.
  29. ^ "Opinions: Is there life on other planets?". The Independent. 11 October 1992.
  30. ^ "Bob Taylor". The Daily Telegraph. London. 23 March 2007. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  31. ^ Campbell, Steuart. (1994). The UFO Mystery Solved. Explicit Books. pp. 150-158. ISBN 0-9521512-0-0
  32. ^ Booth, Billy. "1983-Alfred Burtoo Abduction". Archived from the original on 21 March 2009. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  33. ^ Brett Birks (21 March 2007). "Black Country - Features - UFO over Brierley Hill". BBC.
  34. ^ B. J. Booth. "1987 - The Ilkley Moor Alien". UFO Casebook Files.
  35. ^ "Close encounters of Pitlochry kind". the Scotsman. 21 March 2009.
  36. ^ "Captain Achille Zaghetti's Close Encounter". ufocasebook.com. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  37. ^ Nick Squires (21 October 2008). "UFO encounter described by Italian pilot". Telegraph.co.uk.
  38. ^ Geraghty, Paul. "The Falkirk Triangle". UFOencounters. Retrieved 9 July 2008.
  39. ^ David Clarke. "The Cosford Incident".
  40. ^ "Astronomical causes of UFOs".
  41. ^ David Clarke. "The Boston Stump Incident".
  42. ^ "'UFO' video goes to Hollywood". BBC News. 1 June 2001. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  43. ^ "Vapour trails, bright lights and a mysterious balloon". Torquay Herald. 1 June 2001. Archived from the original on 28 July 2014. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
  44. ^ "Moonraking: Spooky Stuff: UFOs". BBC. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  45. ^ "Readers call in on Dorito UFO". Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  46. ^ "UFO spotted by police helicopter". BBC News. 20 June 2008. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  47. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-43485454
  48. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NX6LfSXt2IY
  49. ^ https://www.whtimes.co.uk/news/ufo-spotted-in-welwyn-garden-city-1-24515
  50. ^ "The X-Files comes to East Dunbartonshire - Kirkintilloch Today". Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  51. ^ "Airbus pilot reveals near-miss with UFO over Berkshire countryside - The Independent". Retrieved 12 May 2014.

External links[edit]