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'Exe files' reveal UFO sightings over Devon

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: August 11, 2011

  • ALIENS? A possible UFO, top right, near Exeter Cathedral, photographed by former Echo chief photographer John Ffoulkes

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UFO sightings in and around Exeter have been revealed in files released to The National Archives.

The eighth batch of UFO files released to The National Archives today contains 34 files covering 1985 to 2007 and includes almost 9,000 pages of UFO sightings and incidents, photographs and drawings, RAF investigations, Freedom of Information requests, parliamentary briefings and government UFO policy documents.

And included in the files are many details and incidences of strange craft spotted in the skies of Devon.

This includes two incidents on September 30, 2002, when an object with "two neon blue lights at the rear" and an object which featured a "red, glowing light" were sighted above the city in the late evening.

A further sighting was recorded in Exeter on September 6, 2006, while an unidentified craft was seen over Mid Devon on February 21, 2005 which looked a little like "a telegraph pole". And on November 5, 1995, a "very large flying saucer" which was white and silver was seen moving slowly over Crediton by a former member of the Women's Royal Air Force.

With regard to the sightings in Devon, which were disclosed as part of a freedom of information request, a Ministry of Defence official said: "We examine any reports of UFOs solely to establish whether what was seen might have some defence significance, namely whether there is any evidence that the UK's airspace might have been compromised by hostile or unauthorised air activity.

"To date, no UFO report has revealed such evidence. We believe that rational explanations, such as aircraft lights or natural phenomena could be found for them if resources were diverted for this purpose. It would be an inappropriate use of defence resources to do so."

It is also revealed in the released files that MoD officials admit that "higher priorities" had prevented a full-scale study of the thousands of UFO reports they had received since the Second World War.

The revelations are contained in a 1995 internal memo from a Wing Commander in DI55, the branch of the Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS) which was responsible for assessing UFO reports. The author concludes that there was no longer any reason to continue denying intelligence interest in UFOs, although the public perception of the unit as a "defender of the Earth from the alien menace" was "light years from the truth".

Other files reveal that "defence experts" were called in to examine a 2004 photo of a "flying saucer" taken outside Retford town hall in Nottinghamshire. Experts from the Defence Geographic and Imagery Intelligence Agency (DGIA) could not reach any "definitive conclusions" on the contents of the picture.

The files also contain the remarkable first-hand testimony of retired RAF Fighter Controller Freddie Wimbledon and retired MoD official Ralph Noyes on the famous 1956 UFO incident at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk. Freddie Wimbledon remembers the RAF scrambling fighter planes to intercept a UFO seen on radar and by observers on the ground. The UFO reportedly latched onto to a fighter plane, "following its every move" before speeding off at "terrific speed". Wimbledon and the staff involved were sworn to secrecy, while Ralph Noyes recalls being shown gun camera footage of the UFOs taken from aboard the aircraft at a special MoD screening in 1970.

To see the files, visit www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ufos

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