You’ve heard of Close Encounters of the Third Kind... but what about Close Encounters of the THIRTY Kind?
That’s the number of flying saucers reported in a single sighting over Bingley by a member of the public whose report was passed on to the Ministry of Defence’s Unidentified Flying Object investigation team.
The report was released as part of dozens of files on sightings, made public yesterday by the National Archives, between 2007 and 2009, when the MoD’s UFO desk was formerly closed.
UFO sightings are traditionally of distant lights or strange objects in the sky, but this report seems more like a full-on alien invasion. The initial report was made to Keighley Police Station, who passed on the information to the UFO squad.
The sighting is dated February 28, 2008. The standard form of questions for sightings asks how the object was sighted, to which the answer is given: “With the naked eye. There was also a video taken.”
The statement goes on to say: “Thirty UFOs were seen. The UFOs were flying in formation over Bingley, West Yorkshire.”
Somewhat amazingly, the massed ranks of 30 UFOs in formation over Bingley were not reported to the authorities by any other witnesses.
But curiously, another sighting took place the day before, on February 27, 2008, when “a Jumbo Jet-sized object” was seen heading north-west over Leeds. The witness reported: “The object was flat and round with a blue rippled underside.”
And a month later, on March 23, 2008, “circular objects were seen flying through the sky” over Leeds.
The number of UFO sightings reported to the MoD trebled in the year its hotline was closed, the newly-released files show. The MoD closed its desk saying it served “no defence purpose” and was taking staff away from more valuable "defence-related" work.
According to a briefing in the files, during the years 2000-07 the MoD received an average of 150 reports per year. But by November 2009, it had already received 520 reports that year, as well as 97 freedom-of-information requests on UFOs.
Possible reasons for the increase included the craze for releasing Chinese lanterns at weddings and public holidays, appearing as floating lights in the sky. But with the UFO squad disbanded, perhaps now we’ll never know whether we’re alone or if the truth is out there, somewhere...