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The Berwyn Mountain UFO Crash - A British Roswell?
text by ANDY ROBERTS
In 1958 author Gavin Gibbons wrote By Space Ship to the Moon, a sci-fi book which featured a UFO landing on the Berwyn mountains in Wales. Sixteen years later, in 1974, those same mountains would again be the focus for a story involving a downed UFO. But this time, some said, the story was for real.
The Berwyn Mountains run south west to north east across central North Wales, separating Shropshire from the Snowdonia National Park. They have a long history of human habitation. Prehistoric man lived and worshipped on the mountains, leaving behind a dramatic ritual landscape to which many strange beliefs have become attached. UFOs are not new to the area either. Local folklore tells us that these peaks have been haunted by a multitude of aerial phenomena, including the spectral Hounds of Hell whilst to the south, at Llanrhaedr-y-Mochnant, the villagers were once plagued by ‘flying dragons’ - a common historical name for UFOs. Contemporary paranormal puzzles abound too and besides UFOs include ‘phantom bombers’, ghosts and lake monsters. The region is also the lair of that most modern of mysteries the ‘alien big cat’.
Although popular as a tourist destination in summer the Berwyn Mountains can be highly dangerous and mountain rescue teams are frequently called out to search for the lost and injured. The highest peak, Cader Berwyn, rises to 827 metres and several aeroplanes, both military and civilian, have crashed on its slopes in poor visibility over the past fifty years. In winter the area is especially remote, often snow-covered, and dark for over twelve hours a day. An ideal spot, if ever there was one, for a UFO landing.
It is against this backdrop that an incident took place on 23 January 1974 which at first perplexed locals and later the UFO community. The events spawned a cascade of rumours which has led some UFO investigators to conclude that an extraterrestrial craft crashed on Cader Berwyn. These same ufologists also claimed that the alien crew, some still living, were immediately whisked off to a secret military installation in the south of England for study and that the whole fantastic business has been hushed up by the UK government. The Berwyn Mountain Incident has been described as ‘...the best example of a UFO retrieval in Britain’, and likened to the Roswell and Rendlesham events.
A preposterous claim? Certainly. One easily dismissed by those with little or no knowledge of the case. But there is no smoke without fire and even the most bizarre story must have its genesis in truth, no matter how mundane or exotic that truth may be.
Imagine for a moment the consequences if aliens really had fallen to earth that night in January 1974? If this speculation could be proved then we would know with certainty we were not alone in the universe. The possibilities and consequences of such an event are awesome. Such proof would also demonstrate that the government had been keeping The Greatest Story Never Told hidden from us. Proof of a genuine UFO crash on Cader Berwyn would blow the lid on the alleged world wide UFO cover-up.
But if it can be argued that there was no alien craft,
then just what does lie behind the longevity and tenacity of these persistent
claims? Could it have been the crash of a secret military test craft such
as one of the ‘flying triangles’ which have dominated ufo-lore
throughout the 1990s? Or perhaps a failed missile test from the rocketry
range at nearby Aberporth? A hoax even? Or something far more complicated.
And if it is any of these then why have the claims of UFOs, alien cadavers
and military cover-ups persisted for over twenty five years?
The story is a complex one and I have pieced together a composite account from statements and articles by witnesses, informants, ufologists and newspapers of what allegedly happened on and around January 23rd 1974. This is ‘the story’, the generally accepted account, variations on which have become enshrined in the UFO literature and which has seeped out into the public’s consciousness. It is closely referenced so that the reader can check the origins of these claims.
Prior to the Berwyn Incident the north of England, had been plagued by an aerial phenomenon dubbed the ‘phantom helicopter’. Over a hundred good sightings were made of this anomalous object which was seen flying low at night, often over dangerous terrain and in appalling weather. These sightings largely took place between spring 1973 and spring 1974 and ceased, coincidentally or curiously, immediately after the Berwyn Incident. Despite the numerous sightings and keen police interest, which led to a still-secret official report, no one explanation was ever found. But something, was flying around the northern skies and many of the witnesses concurred that whatever it was, ‘it seemed to be looking for something’. »