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The original photographs appear to have gone missing and the identity of the photographer is now a mystery. A question was asked in Parliament in 1996 about the location of this photograph, and the matter was also raised in a Freedom of Information Act request.
"Such stories are not normally drawn to the attention of ministers, and the MoD press office invariably responds to questions along well-established lines emphasising our limited interest in the UFO phenomenon and explaining that we therefore do not have the resources to undertake any in-depth investigations into particular sightings.”
The memo noted there was no record of Harriers operating in the area at the time and suggested the media should be told "no definite conclusions reached regarding large diamond-shaped object". The files contain blurry photocopies of two of the pictures next to aviation journal reports about a secret triangular-shaped stealth aircraft said to have been developed by the USAF. And in late 1991 the MoD apparently commissioned line drawings of the UFO, noting that the "sensitivity of (the) material suggests very special handling".
Unfortunately, here we have yet another of those long familiar tales of evidence suddenly missing before it is made public. Can we blame incompetence in the MoD?
I first came across this story in 1991, when I joined the UFO project. A poster-sized enlargement of the best photo was prominently displayed on the office wall. I worked in a four-person office my predecessor had put it up. It was one of the few visible UFO-related items on display; most stuff was locked away….. Sometimes, people would come to our office. You’d have this surreal moment when they’d stop mid-sentence, stare at it, point and say “what the hell’s that?” This was up close and personal, reach out and you can touch it stuff. “I don’t know what it is, but it’s not one of ours” was our stock answer to the inevitable question.
The X-Files first aired in the UK in 1994 and I acquired the same nickname (Spooky) as Fox Mulder, for obvious reasons. Mulder famously had his “I want to believe” UFO poster on his office wall and though uncaptioned, I suppose this was my equivalent. Word got around and people would swing by to take a look, even when they had no obvious business in our section.
I asked my DIS opposite number about the image. I was told that the official assessment was that the photos were real and the craft had a diameter of around 25 metres (over 80 feet). At one particularly surreal briefing on the UFO phenomenon my DIS opposite number indicated the photo and pointed his finger to the right: “It’s not the Americans”, he said, before pointing to the left and saying “and it’s not the Russians”. There was a pause, before he concluded “and that only leaves …” - his voice trailed off and he didn’t complete the sentence, but his finger was pointing directly upwards.
Despite this sensational conclusion, MoD documents show that if the media asked, the line to take on this was to be that "no definite conclusion had been reached regarding the large diamond-shaped object".
At some point in 1994 my Head of Division had somehow convinced himself that the craft was a secret, prototype aircraft or drone – probably American. But in response to repeated sightings of triangular-shaped UFOs capable of hovering and then accelerating away rapidly at high-Mach speeds, we’d just received assurances from the appropriate US authorities that the US wasn’t testing anything like this over the UK. On the basis of these assurances, Defence Ministers had assured Parliament that no such aircraft/drones were being flown . Perhaps my Head of Division thought this was a lie and thought he was being loyal when one day he took the photo away and locked it in his desk drawer. On the other hand, he was probably the one who drafted the Parliamentary assurances, so maybe he was just covering his back. What happened next? The suspicion was that someone had shredded the photo, but whatever the truth of the matter, it was never seen again. The same thing had happened with some Defence Intelligence Staff files on the Rendlesham UFO incident …and I was in the same position again: I think some people thought I’d put all this stuff through the shredder myself, but I promise I didn’t.
"The pilot said the object was light brown, round, three meters long, and did not describe any means of propulsion, "The aircraft was under the control of London air traffic control center who had no other aircraft in the vicinity, but consistent with the pilot report, a faint radar trace was observed ten nautical miles behind the Alitalia aircraft.
"Extensive inquiries have failed to provide any indication of what the sighting may have been."
“I think it is clear that most of the UFO sightings that occurred on the night in question can be attributed to this event.” National Archive DEFE 24/2086/1
Pilot: "We just had something go down the RHS just above us very fast."
Control : "Well, there's nothing seen on the radar. Was it an aircraft?"
Pilot : "Well, it had lights; it went down the starboard side very quick [and] just slightly above us, yeah."
Control: "Keep an eye out for something, I can't see anything at all at the moment so, must have been very fast or gone down very quickly after it passed you I think."
Pilot : "Okay. Well, there you go!"
The Cayton UFO Files.