During 1977, chatter about UFOs was flourishing in the UK, no doubt in part due to the incoming Spielberg opus, 'Close Encounters Of the Third Kind'.
When released here the following year, the tabloids joyfully declared 1978 the 'Year Of The UFO', and schools across the country plugged it. I have a
couple of Brit friends who vividly remember their own primary school teachers encouraging them to collect press cuttings in 1978 and even use their
vivid imaginations to draw/paint their own UFO creations. TV series such as 'Project UFO' (a charming, cheesier version of the slicker 2019 Project
Blue Book drama series) only added to the craze, buoyed by re-runs of Gerry Anderson's 'UFO' and 'Space:1999'. But 1977 is where it all began – and
British schools seemed to play a major role, especially in Wales.
The first and most infamous was the Broad Haven County Primary School incident on 4th Feb 1977 (see
Mirageman's epic 2012 ATS thread
) when fourteen kids witnessed (and later
independently drew) a cigar-shaped silvery-green object and a silver-suited humanoid occupant. Although not the focus of this thread, you may like to
keep Broad Haven in mind, depending where the evidence for three other similar sightings that year takes us!
In Anglesey, the Rhos-y-bol County Primary School UFO visitation occurred only twelve days later on Wednesday 16th Feb 1977, and was first reported in
Bufora Journal, Vol 6, No 1, May/June 1977 before local and national newspapers picked it up. It was witnessed from a school yard by nine schoolgirls
aged between 8 and 11 (pictured above as adults), but this time also by a teacher, Mrs Mair Williams, during a netball session. While demonstrating
how to throw the ball into the net, 10-year-old Gwawr Jones spotted something in the sky:
“I shouted to the others and they all looked up and saw it. It had a black dome on top and a silver cigar-shaped base. It was travelling
smoothly across the sky in a northerly direction. It went behind the only cloud in the sky and reappeared again, and then disappeared. Mrs Williams
took us inside and, without conferring, we all got a piece of paper and drew what we saw.”
Little Gwawr estimated the incident lasted four minutes, although the teacher believed it was one to two minutes.
Dr David Clarke (one of the most agreeable open-minded sceptics out there today) curated the transfer of 210 files from the Ministry Of Defence's
archives into the public domain, the work taking four years from 2009 to 2013. Sure enough, the Rhos-y-bol case was amongst them, the above account
contained within a letter sent to RAF Valley in North Wales, endorsed by Mrs Williams and accompanied by multiple drawings from the nine kids.
Did their actual teacher lie to the RAF? If so, it was hardly a prime example to set for her class! Importantly, though, unlike Broad Haven whose
pupils did not draw their UFO until three days had passed, these schoolgirls drew theirs immediately.
In 2009, the Welsh TV channel SC4 transmitted a documentary (unfortunately not available at the moment) about the Rhys-y-bol sighting as part of their
series 'Lle Aeth Pawb' (your guess is as good as mine). Gwawr Bell (nee Jones), then aged 42, attempted to trace her peers from that class of '77,
aided by a newspaper's group photograph of them with a model of the UFO. 32 years later, she recalls it was a cold winter's day and a clear sky,
“We all saw it. We went back into school, and we all made a picture of what we had seen. We did them individually, and when we studied them we
realised that they were all remarkably similar. The object travelling across the sky had a shiny base with a dark domed top. Later, we also made a
model of what we saw. Our headmaster contacted RAF Valley to check if there had been low flying aircraft in the area, but there hadn’t been. There
was no explanation for what we saw. Back in 1977 we hadn’t heard of UFOs and had no preconceived idea of what a UFO would look like – I just drew
a picture of what I had seen."
Is it possible that the very concept of UFOs was beyond the their reach? It sounds unlikely... to a point. As a child, I was a fan of older Hollywood
UFO movies and TV series such as Quinn Martin's 'The Invaders' and 'Doctor Who', but I'd never thought of UFOs as a 'real-life' world phenomenon. From
my perspective they were pure fiction, so I can maybe understand where Gwawr is coming from. From an adult angle, her teacher told the 'Western
”It was a really bright afternoon and the object was flying very high towards Bull Bay…I took the children back into school separated them and
then told them to draw what they had seen. It was really astonishing – their drawings were all similar. I never believed in these things until I saw
In the MOD files, a covering note from RAF Valley states: “We can offer no positive explanation or identification”.
On the same day as the sighting, the MoD received a report from David Hunt, science master at Penlee Secondary School in Plymouth where four boys and
an adult witnessed a cigar-shaped UFO above their playground, too, flying horizontally before climbing into cloud and vanishing.
Eight months later on 4th October 1977, ten kids at Upton Primary School in Macclesfield, Cheshire, witnessed an elliptical UFO that hovered in trees
beside their playground before rising and disappearing. Like Mrs Williams in Wales, their teacher Mrs Hindmarsh also immediately asked the kids to
draw what they'd seen whilst separated from each other (one example shown above).
The artwork was given to Cheshire Police, Preston Air Traffic Control, and the MoD whose file contains a covering note from a police officer stating:
“a remarkable similarity in these sketches with regard to the UFO and its location between two trees”. Compare this sketch, for example, with the
previous one above:
Furthermore, the MoD wrote to Mrs Hindmarsh, with the usual waffle about possible misidentification and the likely lack of defence significance.
Rather like my intro, Dr David Clarke notes the surge of UFO-related material on TV and film in 1977 (including the BBC's prime-time documentary 'Out
Of This World' by Hugh Burnett). However, he argues that media coverage of the 'Welsh Triangle' (the enticing label for a mass of West Wales sightings
in 1977) is a prime potential cause. Broad Haven was the Triangle's star case and the focus of the media, so were Rhos-y-bol, Penlee and Upton's
pupils simply hoaxing their sightings to join the media circus?
Were any UFOs ever witnessed at YOUR school, ATSer?
edit on 7-2-2019 by ConfusedBrit because: (no reason given)