Unbelievable, Fantastic and Odd
May 14, 2008 1:28 AM   Subscribe

The UK Ministry of Defence has just released previously classified documents detailing numerous UFO sightings and alien contacts from across the country. Report yours at UFO Watch.
posted by MrMustard (5 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Let me assure this House that Her Majesty's government has never been approached by people from outer space.

That's what the space people told him to say.
posted by three blind mice at 3:30 AM on May 14, 2008

Let me assure this House that Her Majesty's government has never been approached by people from outer space.

Except for the Doctor.
posted by pyrex at 3:43 AM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Quick notes from the podcast with Dr. David Clarke who has reviewed the material (and who teaches journalism, as it happens):

First release of files collected since the late 1970s.
Releases will occur over 3 years.
Files can be accessed as MrMustard's link above.
Files free under the freedom of information act for the first month.

Reports from the public have been received since the 1950s.
MoD did make inquiries into received reports.
Reports seem more socially and historically significant rather than giving insights into the existence of UFOs.

In the winter of 1978/79 UFOs were debated in the House of Lords, despite a national crisis happening at the time (the Winter of Discontent).
MoD went to significant lengths to provide briefs for the Lords debate.
Reporting sitings doubled around the time of the release of Spielberg's Close Encounters.

The government policy was only to be interested in the existence of UFOs from a defence perspective: might they be enemy aircraft (the Soviet Union was still seen as a threat). The science of alien technology was not deemed to be of interest. The position was that there was no evidence to suggest any UFO sightings were down to alien spacecraft.

American research at the University of Colorado funded by the Air Force at the time concluded 90% of sightings could be explained by natural phenomena. As a result, project Bluebook was closed, and records ceased to be kept from 1969 in the States.

The UK did not carry out their own official research or study and agreed with the conclusions of Colorado, but unlike the USA continued to collect data after 1969.

There is a standard form that has been in use since the mid 1950s that is filled out by officials such as the police following a UFO sighting. These are sent to the MoD, where it is distributed to several internal branches.

According to the evidence, abduction reports were not investigated by the MoD.

There are instances of reports from both military and civilian pilots. Some were reported as official air misses, resulting in inquiries. Reports from the military and civilian pilots were taken more seriously than those made by the public.

On Christmas Day, 1985, two policemen reported seeing meteorites at Horsell Common, Surrey. This was the location where Martian cylinders fell in H.G. Well's War of the Worlds. The policemen described themselves on the form as "two competent police officers, slightly embarrassed".

The period covers the first reported sightings of crop circle formations. A 1985 report was investigated by the MoD who contact the Defence Intelligence Staff. It was concluded that they did not present a threat, but no explanation for them could be found. The idea that members of the public were behind them was not considered.

Documents pertaining to the Rendelsham Forest Incident are included.
posted by nthdegx at 7:33 AM on May 14, 2008 [2 favorites]

Thank you nthdegx - you are my metafilter for this report.
posted by abulafa at 8:20 AM on May 14, 2008

Before They Were UFOs -- reports of strange lights and visitors from before we blamed aliens.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 10:07 AM on May 14, 2008 [5 favorites]

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