Live updates

Increased UFO 'sightings' down to Chinese lanterns

The surge in UFO 'sightings' has been attributed to the popular trend of releasing Chinese lanterns at weddings.

There has been a marked increase in the amount of Chinese lanterns being released at weddings and public holidays.

One example included a sighting by a group of soldiers in Shropshire in 2008 who had seen floating lights in the sky. However this was later explained by a local hotel who were letting off Chinese lanterns at the time.

Possible reasons for the increase in sightings included the craze for releasing Chinese lanterns at weddings Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive

Dr David Clarke, author of The UFO Files, said: "Many of the sighting accounts - such as formations of orange lights moving slowly across the sky - describe the appearance of Chinese lanterns even though people did not recognise them at the time."

Advertisement

Central

UFO 'spotted by soldiers in Shropshire'

A number of UFO sightings have been reported in the Midlands including one by soldiers in Shropshire in June 2008.

A memo on the incident at Tern Hill Barracks in Shropshire describes how a group of soldiers had seen lights in the sky and made a video of it.

In the Ministry of Defence file, an unnamed official described how it showed a number of lights in the sky but their change of colour and square appearance seemed to be due to the photographer zooming in.

The BBC has reported that at the same time as the alleged incident, a local hotel was letting off Chinese lanterns and, apparently, the hotel manager thinks the whole UFO story is 'highly hilarious'.

I do not intend to investigate any further as I think we have our answer.

– Ministry of Defence official

The Ministry of Defence has now closed its UFO desk in 2009 because it served "no defence purpose"

Advertisement

MoD declined 'UFO weapon'

The Ministry of Defence declined an offer of a weapon that could "shoot down UFOs", newly released files reveal.

One suggestion was sent to the MoD by a "UFO researcher" who wrote:

I have a suggestion for a new weapon which could and will bring down a potential extraterrestrial UFO."

If you would care to know more about my suggestion for a weapon which could and will take down a UFO craft, then I would like to speak personally with someone such as a general or high ranking official within the Royal Air Force, immediatley (sic). It is your choice. Trust me, have faith.

In a response, an MoD official politely declined the offer, writing:

The UK has a comprehensive suite of capabilities that provide its air superiority, both here at home in the UK and also on expeditionary operations.

Any threat would, of course, be handled in the light of the particular circumstances at the time, however, rest assured that we have at our disposal a range of capabilities that we are confident can neutralise even the most demanding of targets.

UFO reports 'trebled' in one year

The number of UFO sightings reported to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) trebled in the year its hotline was closed, newly released files show.

A letter of a reported UFO sighting from a child in Altrincham. Credit: PA

The MoD closed its desk in 2009, saying it served "no defence purpose" and was taking staff away from more valuable "defence-related" work.

Its decision came in a year when officials had received a surge in the number of reported sightings.

The letter shows a picture of a UFO. Credit: PA

According to a briefing in the files, during the years 2000-07 the MoD received an average of 150 reports per year.

But by November 2009, it had already received 520 reports that year, as well as 97 freedom of information requests on UFOs.

Possible reasons for the increase included the craze for releasing Chinese lanterns at weddings and public holidays, appearing as floating lights in the sky.

One example included a sighting by soldiers in Shropshire which hit the headlines in June 2008.

MoD closed UFO desk in 2009

The Ministry of Defence closed its UFO desk in 2009 because it served "no defence purpose", newly released files showed today.

The MoD said the UFO desk has no "defence purpose" Credit: PA

The latest tranche of declassified MoD UFO files showed the decision was taken to close the desk and its UFO "hotline" in a year when sightings reported to the department had trebled.

The decision was taken to close the desk and bring to an end the "UFO hotline" by officials who deemed it had no "defence benefit".

They also said the resources that were being devoted to it were taking staff away from "more valuable defence-related activities".

UFOs 'spotted near Parliament and Stonehenge'

UFOs were spotted near several major UK landmarks, including the Houses of Parliament, Stonehenge and Blackpool Pier, according to files released today.

A reported UFO sighting over Stonehenge Credit: The National Archives

The files, released by the National Archives, include sightings reported to the MoD's UFO Desk between 2007 and 2009, when it was closed.

The sightings, which saw a surge in 2009, came from across the British Isles, and even further afield, including the Canary Islands.

One person reported seeing a UFO over the Houses of Parliament in London, leaving a message on the UFO hotline's answerphone.

Another reported UFO sighting over Blackpool Pier. Credit: The National Archives

The report, from February 12, 2008, described "green, red and white lights", static in the sky and quite far in the distance, seen for about an hour and a half.

The report said the person "said there were many aircraft passing the UFO, but it stayed static in the air. He said that he had seen it on Sunday, February 10, 2008 too".

Another sighting described "discoid" shapes noticed in photographs of Stonehenge.

Advertisement

Today's top stories