Defence Ministry reveals its X-files on UFOs
The files include a drawing of a triangle-shaped craft spotted over Wakefield on August 9, 1995, and the revelation that a "near miss" between a Boeing 737 airliner approaching Manchester Airport and a UFO was investigated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The pilots of the British Airways flight reported the incident as they flew over the Pennines en route from Milan on January 6 1995.
Captain Roger Wills and co-pilot First Officer Mark Stuart both saw a lit object fly down the right-hand side of the aircraft at a high speed from the opposite direction.
Manchester Air Traffic Control recorded no known traffic in the vicinity on radar.
More than 6,000 pages of material spanning from 1994 to 2000 have been released by the Ministry of Defence.
Unexplained aircraft of all shapes have been witnessed flying over a range of locations – including Chelsea Football Club and the former Home Secretary Michael Howard's home in Kent.
One man told police he was physically sick and developed a "skin condition" after an eerie "tube of light" enveloped his car in Ebbw Vale, in Wales, at 10.40pm on January 27 1997. In another incident a UFO sighted by police in Boston and Skegness, Lincolnshire, was captured on film. The police reported the sighting to the coastguard, who in turn alerted ships in the North Sea – where a crew saw more UFOs.
The lights were also seen by the crew of a ship in The Wash.
Simultaneously, an unidentified blip was picked up on radar over Boston.
The RAF report concluded that the radar imagery was caused by St Botolph's church spire in Boston but the lights in The Wash area were harder to explain and were suggested to be "a distant celestial source."
They are among hundreds of bizarre reports received by the police, military and Government. The records are the latest released under a three-year project between the MoD and The National Archives.
Other details revealed include:
A man arrived at his Birmingham home at 4am on March 20, 1997, to discover an illuminated blue triangle over his garden. The craft shot off leaving behind a "silky-white" substance on the tree-tops.
A request submitted to former Prime Minister John Major from a councillor for an inquiry into 600 alleged sightings in Bonnybridge, Scotland, known as the "Bonnybridge Triangle."
An object travelling at more than 1,000 knots was tracked by a senior air traffic controller at Glasgow Prestwick Airport, in Ayrshire, in February 1999.
Experts believe the records highlight how shapes of reported UFOs have changed over the last half-century.
This could be explained by representations of UFOs in popular culture – such as TV shows like The X-Files.
Many reports in this latest file describe aircraft as big, black and triangular whereas the predominant form in the 1940s to 1950s was saucer or disc-shaped.
Dr David Clarke, author of The UFO Files and senior lecturer in journalism from Sheffield Hallam University said: "It's impossible to prove a direct link between what people are reading and watching and what they report as UFOs but one interpretation could be that the latest advances in technology may be influencing what people see in the sky."
The files can be downloaded for a month from the website www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ufos
Churchill asked to be told truth
Prime Minister Winston Churchill expressed curiosity in "flying saucers" and requested a briefing from his Ministers.
The "Churchill Memorandum" sent from the wartime leader on July 28 1952 to Lord Cherwell, Secretary of State for Air, is one of hundreds of UFO files released by the Ministry of Defence and National Archives.
In the note, Mr Churchill briefly writes: "What does all this stuff about flying saucers amount to? What can it mean? What is the truth?"
The response explained that following an intelligence study in 1951 the "flying saucers" could be explained by four causes: known astronomical or meteorological phenomena; mistaken identification of conventional aircraft, balloons, birds etc; optical illusions and psychological delusions and hoaxes.