I recently re-read The UFO Files - Dr David Clarke
Where many UFO books promote belief in visiting spacecraft, this one does not. Neither does it ignore the fact that most reports are wrong. Instead it
approaches the decades of UK reports that were filed by the MOD. Clarke
, in reality, has had more access
to these resources than the media UFO guy, Nick Pope.
So we get the accounts of witnesses going back to before the First World War. With the names and addresses being available, he contacts people and
gets their recollections of the sightings. For example, the obscure (to most)
incidents at Little Rissington
are covered and one witness, latterly,
Air Commodore Swiney, is interviewed for further details. The incident involved a Meteor trainer breaching clouds at 12k’ and being startled by ‘3
saucer-shaped objects.’ It was only years later, when he’d become an Air Commodore that he was able to discover the files had been destroyed
pre-1962 with thousands of other non-UFO files. According to Swiney, jets had been scrambled, radars picked up the objects and there was an
The first two chapters are worth the price of the book. They follow case files that pre-date Kenneth Arnold and lend the lie to that myth that ‘it
all began in America in 1947.’ It bloody didn’t! So we have reports of dark objects in the skies above coastal towns and cities all the way back
in 1909. Just like in the ‘50s, official notes were sent hither and thither to ask who could be flying in the sovereign skies of southern England?
Germans? Well no, they were adamant it wasn’t them, but I guess they would
say that. Were they ours? Nope. Like today, there’s only so much
anyone can do with even the most credible person’s report so those pre-War sightings received less attention and faded from sight.
The author, Dr David Clarke, doesn’t let his own beliefs overshadow these reports. He provides an image of the documents and discusses the details.
Where possible, he’ll add comments from the witness. He’s an intelligent man by profession and resists the temptation to ‘teach’ his readers
what to think. This by itself is a refreshing approach. In reality, it’s fair to say he doesn’t take a positive view of ufology, its promoters or
the witnesses. For Clarke, the witnesses are infinitely fallible and prone to mistaking almost anything for a UFO. Hence a distant police helicopter
could conceivably be mistaken for a silent, multi-coloured UFO passing over the head of a witness.
Over the years, Dr Clarke has done his research and lots of it. He’s had private access to files that were unseen and played a part in the MoD’s
program of releasing all their files to the public. He’s spoken to witnesses and officials – done the legwork. So if I, or anyone else, disagrees
- in part or entirely – with his conclusions, it shouldn’t diminish his efforts. Neither should it stop people from reading his work because
they’ll be missing out on interesting thoughts and cases. All too often in ufology, people only read people they agree with and refuse to trust
those they don't - silly really!
Altogether, it’s a good collection of cases that aren’t to be found in the general literature of ufology. It’s well-written, intelligent and
UK Amazon - The UFO
USA Amazon - The UFO Files (some
used bargains in there!)
Dr David Clarke's main blog
Flying Saucery - inside the MoD case files