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


The Sonic Booms

Most UFO cases are based purely upon uncorroborated witness testimony. In this case solid evidence exists in the form of recordings of two unexplained “sonic events” by the British Geological Survey from the night of March 24, 1997. The Edinburgh-based BGS operate sensitive recording equipment at a growing number of stations across Britain listening for seismic events (earth tremors) and quakes. Occasionally this equipment detects other “anomlies” including what the BGS call “sonic events” - air blasts caused by objects breaking the speed of sound. These recordings provide the key evidence which has helped to unlock the mystery surrounding the Howden Moors incident.

According to the South Yorkshire Police log, at 9.30 on the morning of March 25 RAF Kinloss were checking with the British Geological Survey “to see if there was any record of a disturbance in the area at the appropriate time.” Checks found no record of any ground impact, which might have been caused by an earth tremor, meteorite impact or aircrash. But at 11.45 the following morning Edinburgh were able to confirm “there was sonic boom in the air” at 10.06pm the previous night.

A statement released by the BGS on 27 March 1997 read:

“BGS have received reports via the RAF search and rescue and the Sheffield Star newspaper of people hearing an explosion around 2200 UTC on 24 March 1997. Data from the rapid-access network in Leeds was examined and a signal consistent with an atmospheric origin was recorded on two seismograph stations and on the low-frequency microphone at Leeds University at around 2206 UTC. RAF flying complaints were contacted but they could not confirm if any military aircraft were in the area at the time.”

Subsequent examination of the recordings from the BGS network discovered not one but two separate sonic booms had been recorded by the Leeds University microphone that night, fourteen minutes apart, the first at 9.52pm and the second at 10.06pm, the latter being consistent with the “explosion” heard at Strines Forest in South Yorkshire. The latter event had also been recorded at the BGS stations at Haverah Park, near Harrogate (North Yorkshire) and at Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, just fifteen miles away from the Strines/Bolsterstone region.

Senior seismologist Glenn Ford said the readings from Leeds were consistent with a strong signal, and there was no doubt the signal came “from the direction of Sheffield” due to the signature of the sound wave which had been recorded. Pressure waves caused by sonic booms can travel hundreds of miles, and have been known to blow out windows and disrupt communications systems when they have occurred over land.

Mr Ford said the signal was “not consistent with a ground impact” but was consistent with a “sonic event”, usually the result of an aircraft breaching the speed of sound. RAF regulations stipulate that military aircraft are forbidden to break the sound barrier above land, and captains must by law report all such events immediately upon landing. The regulations surrounding such incidents are contained within the Military Flying Regulations, and can result in prosecution or court martial if breached. As the Press Release stated, the BGS did contact the RAF Low-Flying Complaints Department on March 25 and were told they “could not confirm” that a military jet was the cause. In a written answer in the House of Parliament in March 1998 Defence Minister John Spellar stated the RAF “had no record” of a sonic booms over Sheffield on March 24, neatly evading responsibility for them.

The BGS state unequivocably that sonic events have three causes: 1. Military Aircraft; 2. Concorde. 3. Bolide Meteors and other space junk re-entry.

On this occasion Mr Ford was able to state:

“We did pick up signals consistent with sonic origin and we have got very good signals from the Leeds station which were definitely caused by a sonic boom. We don’t know the source of that sonic boom..on the balance of probabilities this signal was definitely caused by an aircraft, probably a military aircraft, reaching supersonic speed, possibly while performing a mid-air turn. This is unusual over land, and the RAF have a low flying complaints department to deal with this sort of thing. I believe it was probably a covert operation.”

The BGS publish an annual bulletin UK Earthquake Monitoring which carries a section recording “unusual events” which includes sonic booms. The eighth annual report covering 1996-1997 lists five “sonic events” for 1996 and eight for 1997, two of which were the unexplained signals recorded on the night of March 24 in South Yorkshire.

Two other highly relevant events recorded by the BGS during 1997 include:

*Sonic Event: 23 September, 0758 UTC. Numerous reports reach RAF Kinloss and the media from people in Northumberland, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Wick, Grampian, of “flashing lights in the sky” and “a loud bang and
windows shaking” early in the morning. Data from the BGS’ rapid-access seismograph networks in Orkney and Moray were checked and “a signal consistent with an atmospheric origin was recorded on four seismograph stations and two low frequency microphones.” RAF Flying Complaints were contacted but “could not confirm whether any military aircraft were in the area at the time.” Later it was concluded by the BGS that the lights and bang were caused by an object burning up in the atmosphere above northern Scotland. This could have been a meteorite or a fragment of a Russian satellite which re-entered the atmosphere at around the same period.

*Sonic event:Hartlepool area, 7 November, 10.34 UTC. Numerous reports received by the BGS from Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station, police stations and and environmental health officer of a loud bang felt in the area. A number of people in the power station’s visitor centre ran outside in alarm, while residents in the coastal towns of County Durham and Cleveland also heard an explosion.. Reports described how people ran outdoors, houses shook, doors flew open and windows rattled. Data from rapid access networks at Leeds and Eskdalemuir were examined and a signal consistent with a sonic boom was recorded on several seismograph stations at 10.34. RAF Flying Complaints were contacted and they confirmed that military aircraft, in the form of 16 F3 Tornado jets were taking part in an exercise over the North Sea at this time.

These reports suggest there are effectively two explanations for the majority of the sonic events recorded by the BGS network in Britain, namely military aircraft and meteorites. In the case of the Howden Moor incident the balance of probabilities clearly points the finger in the direction of the military. But is there any additional evidence for unusual atmospheric phenomena contributing to the events of that night? »

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