Berwyn Incident : Article > [prev ¦1¦ 2 ¦ 3 ¦ 4 ¦ 5 ¦ 6 ¦ 7 ¦ next]


What follows is the results of that re-investigation.
In A Covert Agenda Nick Redfern suggested that the numerous ‘phantom helicopters’, seen in the months leading up to the Berwyn Incident, were flown by military UFO crash retrieval teams. Redfern also claimed they had received advance knowledge of a UFO landing and were on permanent standby, suggesting that ‘Perhaps the idea of a joint CIA-Ministry of Defence project designed to respond on a quick reaction basis to UFO incidents should be considered...’.

But the phantom helicopter story is a red-herring. Although a number of people had described the phenomenon as a ‘helicopter’, a motif quickly seized upon by the media, most witnesses were in fact describing an unknown light of many shapes and colours. The ‘phantom helicopter’ was more Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon than Unidentified Flying Object - a big difference. Some genuine helicopters were proved to be responsible for some sightings, but the rest remained unexplained. Additionally, the phenomena was not seen in the Bala area and there is no real connection between the ‘phantom helicopters’ and the Berwyn Incident other than the circumstantial link made by Nick Redfern. During my research into the Berwyn Incident I discussed this in some depth with Nick Redfern and he still stands by his published link between the ‘phantom helicopter’ and the Berwyn Incident. But in correspondence he qualified his belief with ‘All I was really trying to do was get people thinking about what might have taken place - nothing more.’

January 23rd 1974 was a strange night by anyone’s standards. In retrospect it was one of those evenings when nature was staging a son et lumiere display on a scale rarely seen. Witnesses in the villages surrounding the Berwyn Mountains reported seeing a great deal in of aerial phenomena that night. Besides the odd lights seen on the mountain itself their reports and those of the media describe at least four incandescent balls of light which streaked across the Welsh skies between 7.30 and 10.00pm that night. These sightings have been seized upon by ufologists with the implication being that what was seen were UFOs, at least one of which crashed or landed on Cader Berwyn. To the villagers of north Wales they were UFOs -literally Unidentified Flying Objects - and they described them in terms which make them sound highly unusual.

One farmer described what he saw in these terms:
‘I saw this object coming along the mountain, about the size of a bus really, white in the middle, it came across the mountain and dipped. I thought it was going to crash.’

A dramatic description which certainly sounds like a many UFO accounts. But there is a rational explanation for Farmer Williams’ sighting and all the other aerial phenomena seen that evening.
Records kept by the Astronomy Department at Leicester University, among other places, show that a number of outstanding bolide meteors were seen that night. These coincided with the approximate times given by witnesses in north Wales. The first was at 7.25pm, followed by another at 8.15pm. The third, at 8.30pm, co-incided with the centrepiece of the evening’s events. And yet another, the most dramatic of all, was seen at 9.55pm. Bolide meteors are considerable brighter and longer lived than ordinary ‘shooting stars’. They can appear to be very low, depending on the position of the witness, and often trail ‘sparks’ of blue and green across the sky. Bolide meteors are responsible for many misperceptions of UFOs and even fool the emergency services who are often called out to ‘plane crashes only to discover the witnesses had seen a bright bolide meteor.

At exactly 8.38pm the Bala area was rocked by a huge explosion, closely followed by a deep rumbling. One witness recalled it as being ‘like a lorry running into a house’. Crockery rattled, furniture moved and walls rippled slightly. Some people were certain it was a plane crash on the mountains. Other, older residents of the area, recalled earth tremors of the past and assumed it was the latest in a series of such disturbances which have taken place along the geological rift know as the Bala Fault.

This is the primary incident which has subsequently caused many UFO investigators, and the readers of their books and articles, to suggest and believe that a UFO crashed. In effect they are saying that the noise heard and impact felt was the UFO impacting on Cader Berwyn. The crashed UFO story however only came out years after the event. At the time confusion reigned as to what had caused the impact.
Because of reports of lights in the sky that evening, it was initially thought that a meteorite had impacted on the Berwyns. Many people across North Wales claimed to have seen a light in the sky ‘trailing sparks’. But this was seen at 8.30pm, eight minutes before the explosion, and witness descriptions indicate that it was yet another bright fireball meteor. Nonetheless in the minds of many it has become conflated with the ‘explosion’ to create evidence of a crash.

The explosion was heard only in the Bala area but the tremor was felt as far away as Liverpool. By 2pm on the 24th January seismologists had determined the explosion and tremor were caused by an earthquake of 4-5 on the Richter scale. It’s epicentre was the Bala area at a depth of eight kilometres. To cause a reading of that magnitude, a solid object - meteorite or UFO - would have weighed several hundred tons and left a massive crater. Therefore, unless a UFO had crashed at the exact moment of an earth tremor, it can be safely assumed that the explosion and rumblings were the result of a purely natural process.

Following the explosion Llandrillo district nurse Pat Evans ran out into the village street. She saw no lights but the explosion and the accounts of other villagers convinced her that something had crashed on the mountains. It took her a while to get through to the police as the ‘phone lines were jammed with 999 calls, but eventually she spoke to Colwyn Bay police HQ. They suggested it could have been a ‘plane crash so she bundled her two young daughters into the car and set off up the mountain, intending to offer help until the emergency services arrived. »

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