IT HAS given flying saucer enthusiasts 50 years of conspiracy theories to prove the truth really is out there.
The village of Silpho, tucked away deep in the North York Moors, has become an unlikely focal point for an army of Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) hunters and paranormal investigators searching for definitive evidence about alien life.
And 50 years since a mysterious machine was found smouldering in bushes on remote moorland close to the North Yorkshire village, UFO experts are hoping to answer the enduring question as to whether the discovery was proof of contact or just an elaborate hoax.
The British Flying Saucer Bureau, which was set up more than half a century ago, is leading the investigations to establish whether the Silpho saucer did come from outer space.
Its head of investigations for the north of England, Russ Kellett, has been researching the case for more than a decade.
He said: "This really is one of the original X Files, and it is the British equivalent to the Roswell Incident over in America (where a UFO was supposedly found in New Mexico in July 1947).
"It is such a fascinating case and provides us with one of the first incidents where something tangible was found.
"We are trying to track down anyone who was about at the time of the find, and ultimately we are trying to find out if the saucer is still in existence.
"If we can find out more about the flying saucer then, who knows, we might be able to prove that this was conclusive evidence that the human race has been contacted by alien life forms.
"That in itself would mark perhaps the most important development known to mankind, giving answers to some of the world's mysteries but also opening up a whole host of new questions.
"It really is such an exciting time."
The Silpho case hit the national headlines after the Yorkshire Post carried an article on December 9, 1957, under the headline, "Has Yorkshire got a flying saucer? Mystery object found on Scarborough moors".
A little over a fortnight earlier on the evening of November 21, 1957, an 18-inch metallic saucer weighing 35lb had been found on the moorland between the villages of Silpho and Hackness.
Once the saucer had been opened, 17 thin copper sheets were found inside engraved with a lengthy message in hieroglyphics.
The mystery surrounding the object has been heightened with the passing of time after the exact ownership of the flying saucer has become increasingly murky.
Rumours emerged that it had been sold to a scrapyard and lost forever, while others laid claim to an even more bizarre version of events that the saucer had in fact turned up in a fish and chip shop in Scarborough.
But while intrigued by the Silpho find, other UFO experts remain cautious as to whether it is genuine proof of contact.
Harry Challenger is the editor of the Flying Saucer Review, which was established in 1955 and is the oldest English-language publication of its kind.
Mr Challenger said: "The Silpho disc, like the Roswell Incident, appears to be a signal or a wakening call, although we cannot be certain from whom. There is the enigma that this object has gone missing, and it has never been authenticated.
"But if it had been, it could have given clear and tangible evidence that something is out there."
However, the intriguing find has not gone down in the folklore of Silpho, with many villagers unaware of the bizarre find almost half a century ago.
Richard Coates, 60, who has lived in the village with his wife Diana since 1970 and is the vice-chairman of the parish council, said: "I keep an open mind about these things – you shouldn't discount something until you have got definite proof that it is a hoax. It really is an intriguing case, especially as it is so close to home."