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British Ministry of Defense UFO Files

Updated on March 31, 2013

Want to know about UFOs over the UK? The truth is out there. The British government kept files detailing sightings of strange things in the skies for several decades after the Second World War. For years, these file were kept secret. However, in 2012, they became available to the public thanks to the National Archive.

The MoD’s interest in UFOs began in the 1950s. The Flying Saucer Working Party was started by Chief Scientific Adviser for the MoD, Sir Henry Tizard who thought that sightings of unidentified flying objects should be properly investigated.

The Working Party did not necessarily believe in little green men. In fact, their final report in 1951 was pretty skeptical. They concluded that most UFO sightings had rational explanations. However, interest in UFOs was revived when mysterious objects were spotted by RAF pilots during a large NATO exercise. Although the government did probably suspect that the Russians were more likely to be responsible than Martians, it did fuel an interest in UFO spotting at a governmental level. All sightings of unidentified flying objects continued to be logged by the MoD.

Although these files had previously been kept secret, in 2008 the government decided to make them available to the public. This was largely a response to UFO enthusiasts who insisted that the Freedom of Information Act required the files to available for all eyes.

The National Archive now keeps several collections of these UFO files which contain reports of strange things in the sky which were made between the years of 1965 to 2008. Eight sets of UFO files were released to the public in stages. The first set was released in 2008. The ninth and final set was released in July 2012.

The UFO Files

For many this new attitude of openness was welcome. Dr David Clarke, a university lecturer who prepared a podcast for the National Archives, was glad to see the facts brought out in the open as it would put a stop to the chatter of conspiracy theorists. Clarke examined the documents in his book The UFO Files: The Inside Story of Real-Life Sightings.

Tales of a UFO Desk Officer

Another man with an active interest in strange things in the skies over the UK is former civil servant Nick Pope. Pope worked at the Ministry of Defence for 21 years, spending three of those years working on the MoD's UFO desk. Pope wrote about his time as UFO desk officer in his book, Open Skies, Closed Minds.

One case he came across involved a UFO which flew over two military bases. Described by witnesses as being a large triangular-shaped craft, the UFO flew slowly over an RAF base, before zooming off into the sky. No conclusive identification could be made of this unidentified flying object.

The Welsh Triangle

Another interesting section of the files regards reports which were made in West Wales during the late nineteen-seventies. So many sightings were reported that tabloid newspapers began linking the area to the famous Bermuda Triangle.

When a local Member of Parliament received a letter from a hotel owner who claimed to have seen a dome-shaped object land near to their hotel, he informed the MoD who sent out an investigator. The hotel owner said that she had seen two tall silver-suited humanoids walking around outside, apparently taking measurements. Very bizarre, indeed.

However, there was an oil refinery nearby. After a little investigation from the MoD man, it turned out that a silver protective suit, as used in that oil refinery, had been on display in a shop window shortly before the supposed alien explorers made their appearance. Like many of the cases described in the UFO files, the big silver men sighting turned out to be a hoax.


Chinese Lanterns

They weren't all hoaxes, but a lot of the reports detailed in the UFO files did turn out to have rational explanations.

One example is the batch of UFO reports which were made after a craze for releasing Chinese lanterns into the sky began in the UK.

'Golden orbs' in the sky? Alien spaceships? Not quite. These lights in the sky were just Chinese lanterns floating heavenwards after being lit at outside parties.

Alien Tourism

Even if logical explanations could be found for most of the reported sightings, there were still those who remained open minded about the existence of aliens.

One MoD official believed that any reports of alien landings needed to be investigated. He said that the UFO data should be studied because there were implications for national security. He listed a selection of possible explanations for UFO sightings, which included mass hallucinations, hoaxes or aircraft. But he didn't exclude the possibility of visitors from outer space.

While there wasn't actually any evidence to suggest that aliens had actually been visiting earth, the government official was still willing to consider it as possibility. If aliens were visiting, why were they visiting? The official report detailed in the MoD UFO files goes on to list possible reasons of military reconnaissance, scientific research and tourism.

Tourism? Yes, that's right. Alien tourism!!! It's a little hard to believe, but who knows? Maybe somewhere in a galaxy far, far away a family of aliens are planning their vacation. Perhaps they've got brochures scattered across the floor. Maybe topping the pile is one for planet earth.

Evidence of UFOs

Whether you believe in alien visitation or not, the UFO files which have been made available to the public are fascinating to peruse. The MoD's UFO desk is no longer active. Funding for the department ended some years ago. The government thought the money could be better spent elsewhere.

Even though the government is no longer logging all sightings, people continue to be interested in UFOs. Strange things in the sky will continue to be seen. Whether those strange things are alien visitors, well who knows?


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