Case Histories : Howden Moor Incident> [prev ¦ 1 ¦ 2 ¦ 3 ¦ 4 ¦ 5 ¦ 6 ¦ 7 ¦ 8 ¦ 9 ¦ 10 ¦ 11 ¦ 12 ¦ 13 ¦ 14 ¦ 15 ¦ 16 ¦ next]



There can be little doubt that misperception played a major role in the events of March 24 which led to the initial emergency calls. Police and Peak Park rangers regularly receive emergency calls from members of the public reporting planes crashing and on fire, where these have turned out on investigation to have been caused by low-flying aircraft, either civil or military, for the Peak is a regular training ground for the RAF. Many visitors are not aware of this fact, and a combination of the right weather conditions and the role of perception has triggered reports of “phantom plane crashes” from otherwise sane and sensible observers who have seen aircraft apparently disappear behind hillsides over the horizon. This explanation is suggested to account for a number of unexplained reports of plane crashes which have resulted in fruitless searches by the emergency services. A good example of this phenomenon occurred on February 20, 1996 in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. This was how the Sheffield Star reported the incident:

“EMERGENCY crews across South Yorkshire were put on alert after reports an that an aircraft had ditches in a quarry near Doncaster [last night].

Two fire engines, an emergency tender and a specialised foam tender were sent out by South Yorkshire Fire Service to Marshall Quarry on the A18 near Dunsville. The police were also called out and two helicopters used to try and locate the light aircraft yet nothing was found.

A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said: “There were a number of calls to the police from people living in the Hatfield and Doncaster areas. They thought they had seen an aircraft come down in the fields but an extensive search of the area found nothing.”

The spokesman said no aircraft had been reported missing and all that had been found was a haystack on fire in the area.”


Self-styled UFO investigator Max Burns, who makes no secret of his belief in aliens and a huge cover-up by the authorities, in a posting on the Internet has proclaimed the case as:

“One of the biggest UFO incidents in recent years involving a huge flying triangle, military jets, sonic booms, a bolide meteor, unmarked helicopters, glowing orange objects and what I hope, when you have studied the evidence, you will agree is a conspiracy on behalf of the civilian and miltiary authorities to hide the facts from the public.”

In a nutshell, Burns contends that the case arose out of an incident whereby RAF jet interceptors were scrambled to pursue a slow-moving triangular UFO of Extraterrestrial origin over Sheffield and the Peak District. As a result of the chase one of the pursuing jets was attacked and destroyed by the UFO, subsequently crashing to earth into one of the reservoirs northwest of Sheffield with the loss of at least one of the crew. The two sonic booms which were detected that night were to Burns “proof” of an “air burst” caused by a jet exploding or an ET weapon firing upon pursuing jets. A report, recorded on the police log, of a dark-skinned man seen wandering on A57 road at the Ladybower Viaduct, apparently covered in fuel, has been interpreted by Burns as a sighting of the co-pilot of the downed Tornado. This man was spotted by the passengers of a minibus returning to Sheffield at around 11pm, an hour after the reported “aircrash” and the police report reads: “...when crossing the viaduct over the reservoir at Ladybower they were flagged down by a man who was walking towards Sheffield. The man said he needed to get to Sheffield and wanted a lift. The mini bus was full so it was declined. There were no parked vehicles anywhere in the area. The man smelled strongly of diesel. Said to be of eastern extraction, Indian/Pakistani and dressed in dark brown clothing...”

The young man who was a passenger in the minibus reported the incident to the police the following morning after hearing the reports about the plane crash on the moors, and told them he thought the man was behaving “suspiciously.” More than a year later, when he was contacted by a UFO investigator, he had begun working for the RAF as a jet engine engineer at RAF Cosford and was able to claim that the “diesel” he smelled that night resembled that of the aviation fuel he was familiar with at air bases.

As a result, Max Burns felt he was able to conclude that the man spotted that night was the pilot or co-pilot of the Tornado jet he believes was lost as a result of ET action above the Peak District, an incident which he alleges is the subject of a massive and high level cover-up and “dirty tricks campaign.” He wrote:

“It is without doubt that the military are involved in a large cover-up regarding the attempted interception of the triangle [UFO], including conspiracy, the placement of cover-stories, debunking of witnesses, however with this damning evidence from a member of the Royal Air Force who encountered the pilot or the co-pilot on the Snake Pass about an hour after the explosions occurred, stinking of aviation fuel within three miles of Howden Moors...the distance of three miles had been covered in one hour allowing for the time necessary to unhitch his parachute then walking at 4 miles an hour would place him exactly where he was encountered by the mini-bus. I feel that this is without doubt the co-pilot of the Tornado jet, who was soaked in aviation fuel and was making his way to the nearest metropolis to alert the military.”

Unfortunately for this theory, the identity of the man encountered by the mini-bus on the Snake Pass that night was known to both the police and the Peak National Park ranger service. A spokesman for the latter said:

“I do remember the incident as it was reported to the Peak Park Ranger service the next morning. I understand it was a failed suicide attempt. It was someone who had driven out to the country and poured petrol or some other inflammable liquid over himself. But he had not gone through with the suicide. It had been reported to South Yorkshire Police who had passed it to Derbyshire to deal with. It’s the sort of thing that happens occasionally in a remote area like this.”

These details were later confirmed by a senior officer in the Derbyshire Police Force, based in Bakewell. The theory that the mystery man soaked in diesel fuel was actually an RAF or NATO pilot who had bailed out of his crashed jet clearly stretches credibility to its limits, and is not necessary to explain why this man was walking along the Snake Pass road that night. The young man who reported the incident to the police described the man as West Indian or Pakistani in appearance and wearing dark coloured or brown clothing. This witness never once suggested he could have been the victim of an aircrash accident, despite having his report construed in this way by over-eager UFO investigators. »

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