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


10.35pm Teenagers Leon Rockley and Alex Hardy film a low-flying light aircraft from their home in Doe Royd Crescent, Parson Cross, in north Sheffield. The pair were outside using a hand-held camcorder to film the Hale-Bopp comet when the plane appeared in the sky. “It was just a flashing light in
the sky to the south at first and came nearer and nearer until you could hear the droning noise of its engines,” said Leon. “It was flying very low for the night time and was going towards Deepcar or Stocksbridge. It came towards us and you could see a clear white strobe light underneath, and and lights on the wings. Then it banked and turned and the lights looked as if they were in a triangular formation.” Police examined the footage but could not identify the plane and concluded that it did not take their inquiry any further.

Det Insp Christine Wallace said: “There’s no doubt it shows a fixed wing aircraft with lights on the wings which makes it look like a triangle when it turns. But we don’t know where it came from or where it went because we checked all possible sources including civilian and military airfields.” The timing of the observation, recorded at the end of the tape, rules out this aircraft as being responsible for the sightings 30 minutes
earlier in the Bolsterstone/Howden area of the Peak District.

10.54pm The crew of a mobile Derbyshire Police traffic patrol car report seeing what they believed to be “a plume of smoke” rising into the air to the west of the Woodhead area while heading for the suspected crash zone (see entry no.32 in police log); similar unexplained smoke is spotted later near the Strines Inn and fire crews are asked to direct a spotlight in the direction from which the smoke appeared. The West Yorkshire Police helicopter (Y99) searches the area but finds nothing.

11.45pm? Businessman Dan Grayson, watching the horizon to the west from his home in Stannington sees what he describes as “a bright red light stationary in the sky” towards Glossop. “I thought it was Mars at first but then it moved off and split into two. The two lights then flashed off and disappeared. Shortly afterwards I saw a helicopter in the same area which had a number of lights on it; this was visible for about three or four minutes. I did not think it was anything strange at the time and after wards I realised I must have seen the rescue helicopter.”

In Max Burn’s report on the incident Mr Grayson is described as having watched a huge triangular shaped UFO hovering silently for 15 minutes between 11.30 and 11.45 [while the search was on-going] at an altitude of 200ft, before it moved off while being shadowed by an “unmarked helicopter”. He is described as saying the object was “not of this world.” When asked in September 1998 if he had seen a triangular UFO Mr Grayson said unequivocably: “No I did not, and I have never claimed I had seen a triangular UFO.” The timing of the observation suggests this witness saw either the Sea King or the West Yorkshire Police helicopter, which at the time were both flying in the area he describes. The lights he observed were clearly those of the night-sun searchlights used by both machines.

Tracked by radar?

Claims have been made that a UFO was tracked on radar at 9.55 pm that night by the Royal Signals based at RAF Linton-upon-Ouse in North Yorkshire. The claim, made by Max Burns, is based upon information allegedly supplied by an un-named radar operator who was a schoolfriend of a fellow DJ in Sheffield. Burns claimed this schoolfriend had excitedly called up his colleague on the morning of March 25 and told him he had “tracked a UFO on his radar screen at 9.55 for a ten minute period the previous night, at the end of which the UFO had “shot off the screen.” When pushed for more information this myserious radar operator allegedly said: “I am not allowed to discuss it and if I do I will be in breach of my national security oath.” This turn around was claimed to be a direct result of the military authorities imposing a wall of silence around the case.

Press inquiries with the public relations office at RAF Linton-upon-Ouse on March 25 had resulted in the following statement: “We are the only people in this area who would be flying above the region, and we were not practicing last night. We can confirm nothing was picked up on radar either.”

Checks with RAF Linton-upon-Ouse ascertained that the base is not part of the UK’s air defence network and its radar has a very limited radius for use in training rookie pilots. It certainly could not have been used to detect a UFO almost 100 miles away over the Peak District. In fact, the base public relations officer, Flight Lieutanant Philip Inman was able to provide evidence that the base, and its radar, was closed on the night of March 24, 1997. He pointed out the Royal Signals personnel are part of the British Army, and although some are attached to radar and communications centres operated by the RAF, this would be unlikely to be the case at Linton-upon-Ouse, which is a small base primarily used for training purposes. It is left to the reader to draw conclusions as to the reliability of the “evidence” provided by the mysterious “radar operator” who continues to remain anonymous.

The police log for the night of March 24 does in fact reveal that a check of radar tapes was in fact made by Lieut Stilwell at the RAF’s Air Sea Rescue Centre at RAF Kinloss at 12.04am on March 25. He told the police: “...we have consulted with all radar information for that particular area and surrounding area, [and] nothing significant is indicated from the readings around that particular time.”

Additionally, the radar operated by Air Traffic Control at Manchester which covers the region directly above the flightpath of the “UFO” was checked by controller Jeff Carter at 12.35 am and revealed “nothing in the area at the time.” Checks by Derbyshire Police with East Midlands Airport and RAF HQ at West Drayton revealed they had no reports of missing aircraft. As a result the Derbyshire force “stood down” at 12.25am and refused to the take the incident seriously as a possible aircrash. »

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