The Ministry of Defence has always denied involvement in any official study of the UFO phenomenon. But files discovered in Government archives reveal how in 1950 the MoD set up a secret committee of scientists and intelligence experts to investigate sightings of ‘flying saucers’.
The report they produced for Winston Churchill’s Government remained secret for 50 years.
During research for our book Out of the Shadows in 2001 copies of the report produced by the Flying Saucer Working Party in 1951 were discovered in a file labeled “Scientific intelligence” in the MoD archive.
At the height of the Cold War sightings of ‘flying saucers’ made newspaper headlines every day on both sides of the Atlantic. The now defunct London Sunday Dispatch even described the subject as “bigger than the Atom Bomb Wars.” By the summer of 1950 with war inKoreaand the successful testing of the first Russian atomic bomb adding to growing international tensions, the Western powers were growing increasingly worried by the ‘flying saucer’ mystery.
Across the world, nervous fingers hovered above the buttons that could trigger a devastating nuclear exchange. Those entrusted with weapons of mass destruction had only seconds to decide if an unidentified ‘blip’ tracked by radar was a Russian bomber, guided missile, or simply a “phantom.” Whether they existed or not UFOs, quite clearly, had the potential to trigger a Third World War.
Solving the UFO problem became a priority for the top brains in the American CIA and their British counterpart, the MoD’s Directorate of Scientific Intelligence (DSI). It was the Defence Intelligence staff that were responsible for assessing any threat posed by UFOs. The DSI advised the Joint Intelligence Committee who ultimately answered to the Prime Minister. Throughout the 1950s the Ministry of Defence tried to calm public fears by debunking ‘flying saucer’ sightings as meteorites or weather balloons, but behind closed doors they had already launched their own secret study, drawing upon the expertise of the greatest scientific and military minds of the day.
Minutes of the DSI/JTIC meetings we discovered at The National Archives (TNA) reveal how a team dedicated to the study of flying saucers was established in August 1950 working closely alongside the CIA who were involved in their own secret study. The very existence of any “official” study of UFOs had been long denied by the MOD. Even when the minutes of this non-existent committee came to light in 1999, the report it produced could not be found. The document, we were repeatedly assured, was “absent” from the catalogue at the Public Record Office (now the TNA). Staff concluded it “had not survived the passage of time.” . The report constitutes the “Holy Grail” to those who have always believed that the Ministry of Defence were involved in a cover-up of UFO evidence. It is also an important jigsaw puzzle piece in the history of the Cold War.
The papers reveal that the “Flying Saucer” study was the brainchild of one of Churchill’s most trusted scientific advisors, Sir Henry Tizard, best known for his role in the development of Britain’s pre-World War Two radar defences that proved so decisive during the Battle of Britain. Tizard felt the saucer sightings could not be simply dismissed as delusions, and demanded an investigation of the subject following a pro-saucer newspaper campaign backed by one of the most respected figures of the day, Lord Louis Mountbatten. Mountbatten and a number of other highly placed officials – including Battle of Britain mastermind Air Chief Marshall Hugh Dowding – had privately concluded that flying saucers were advanced craft from outer space.
The Flying Saucer Working Party had five members, representing the elite Technical Intelligence branches of the Air Ministry, Admiralty, War Office and Ministry of Defence. It held its first meeting in October of 1950 in a room at the former Hotel Metropole inNorthumberland Avenue, just yards away fromTrafalgar Square. As a result, personnel serving with the RAF and Royal Navy were asked to submit sighting reports for investigation.
After eight months of sifting through hundreds of X-Files from as far afield as New Zealand, the committee concluded that only three originated from trustworthy sources and were worthy further study. In June 1950 a pilot on patrol from RAF Tangmere inSussexsighted a “bright circular metallic object” which sped past his Meteor jet fighter at 20,000 feet. As he was undergoing a debriefing by squadron intelligence it emerged that four RAF controllers at an air defence radar station near Eastbourne had, at the same time, tracked an “unusual response” that vanished from their screens, moving at terrific speed.
The two remaining “reliable” reports both came from an experienced test pilot, who retired from the RAF as a Wing Commander. One morning in August 1950 he spotted a flat disc-shaped object resembling a shirt button, light pearl grey in colour, spinning through a series of S-turns at speeds of up to 1,000 miles per hour above the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough. Two weeks later the same test pilot, along with five other senior RAF officers, saw another disc-shaped object appear low in the sky in the direction ofGuildfordand Farnham. The group watched in amazement as the saucer performed a series of amazing high speed manoeuvres, stopping to perform a bizarre “falling leaf” motion before diving towards the horizon. All six were interrogated by MOD team and warned not to discuss what they had seen in public.
Despite the experience and calibre of the RAF witnesses, the Flying Saucer Working Party concluded that the test pilot’s first sighting was the result of an optical illusion. It was “impossible to believe”, they said, that an unconventional object could have flown at high speed and low altitude over a densely-populated area on a fine summer morning without anyone else having reported it. The five additional witnesses to the second sighting, they concluded, had already been influenced by the first report when they saw their saucer. This was probably a normal aircraft and only appeared unusual because it had been spotted “manoeuvring at extreme visual range.”
When the Working Party produced their final report to the Directorate of Scientific Intelligence in June 1951, a special guest at the meeting was the CIA’s chief scientist, H. Marshall Chadwell. Dr Chadwell was responsible for the US Government’s policy of debunking saucer reports in an effort to remove the threat that belief in UFOs was seen to pose at the height of the Cold War stand-off. It was the CIA’s plan to strip the subject of its “privileged position” in the media by an “education programme,” and the British were soon to become willing partners in this scheme.
The Flying Saucer Working Party’s conclusions were set out in a six-page document, DSI/JTIC Report No 7, stamped with the security grade “SECRET.” Its title, “Unidentified Flying Objects” reflected American influence (the acronym UFO was coined by the USAF in 1950-51) as did its recommendations – debunk sightings and impose a tight security clampdown to ensure none of the more puzzling cases reached the public. This was the birth of belief in a Government conspiracy to hide “the truth” about UFOs from the public – that was to become a staple part of the X-Files mythology.
UFO believers have claimed that the cover-up of UFO data was imposed to hide the fact that the American and British Governments possessed hard, conclusive evidence of ET-piloted craft. Some of the more wild rumours suggested the Americans had captured a saucer that crashed in the desert near Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. The Flying Saucer Working Party report lays that myth to rest. It reveals how British Intelligence was informed by a member of the USAF investigation team that “the…sensational report of the discovery of a crashed ‘flying saucer’ full of the remains of very small beings, was ultimately admitted by its author to have been a complete fabrication.”
If the Americans did recover a crashed UFO at Roswell, then clearly even their closest allies did not have sufficient “need to know.” Furthermore, the British shared the American view that ‘peaks’ in UFO sightings closely followed periods of media publicity “indicating the extent to which sightings may be psychological in origin” or were the product of Cold War fears.
As for the possibility of Extraterrestrial visitors, the study was not optimistic.
“When the only material available is a mass of purely subjective evidence,” the report concluded, “it is impossible to give anything like scientific proof that the phenomena observed are, or are not, caused by something entirely novel, such as aircraft of extraterrestrial origin, developed by beings unknown to us on lines more advanced than anything we have thought of.”
Rather than add weight to popular claims that UFOs were visitors from alien civilisations, the experts said they were satisfied that the vast bulk of reports could be accounted for “much more simply” as known astronomical or meteorological phenomena, mistaken identifications of aircraft, balloons, birds and other natural objects, optical and psychological delusions and deliberate hoaxes.
The report maintained that the only effective way to settle the question of UFO reality for good would be to “organise throughout the country, or the world, continuous observation of the skies by a co-ordinated network of visual observers, equipped with photographic apparatus and supplemented by a network of radar stations and sound locators.” Such a project, it concluded, would be an expensive and “singularly profitless enterprise.”
The scathing conclusions continued in the committee’s recommendations to the Chiefs of Staff: “….we recommend very strongly that no further investigation of reported mystery aerial phenomena be undertaken, unless and until some material evidence becomes available.”
These words came back to haunt the MOD when just a year later, during the hot summer 1952, UFOs appeared in force above Washington D.C. showing up on radar and outpacing the most advanced jet fighters almost as if to cock a snook at those in the US military who had cast doubt upon their existence. The Washington sightings set alarm bells ringing at the very highest levels both in the Truman administration and across the Atlantic in Britain, where Prime Minister Winston Churchill fired off a memo to his Secretary of State for Air, The Lord de L’Isle and Dudley.
“What does all this stuff about flying saucers amount to?” Churchill asked. “What can it mean? What is the truth? Let me have a report at your convenience.”
The answer when it came, was not unexpected. Churchill was assured there was nothing to be concerned about. Reports of UFOs and flying saucers, the Air Ministry said, were subject of a full Intelligence study in 1951. This had concluded that all the incidents could be accounted for by mistaken identity, delusions and hoaxes.
The Americans had reached a similar conclusion and nothing had happened since then to make them change their mind. Churchill’s official Scientific Advisor Lord Cherwell, who was a great rival of Sir Henry Tizard, whose brainchild the Flying Saucer study had been, said he had seen the Secretary of State’s minute and “agreed entirely with his conclusions.”
Less than a month after Cherwell’s kiss of death was administered, UFOs staged a dramatic appearance during one of NATO’s largest peacetime exercises, Mainbrace, staged to simulate a Soviet attack onWestern Europe. Once again flying saucers were reported by both RAF and Royal Navy personnel, triggering off another wave of newspaper headlines and demands for a Government inquiry.
This time, the kid gloves were off. Orders were sent to all RAF stations invoking the considerable powers available under the Official Secrets Act to forbid service personnel from discussing UFO sightings with members of the public or the Press. “The public attach more credence to reports by Royal Air Force personnel than to those by members of the public,” read the order. “All reports are therefore to be classified confidential and personnel are warned that they are not to communicate to anyone other than official persons any information about phenomena they have observed.” The classification of restricted was upgraded to confidential in 1956 and the curtain of secrecy remained firmly in place until the end of the Cold War.
FLYING SAUCERS OVER FARNBOROUGH
(originally published in UFO Magazine, 2002)
In April 2001 we became the first UFO researchers to obtain access to a copy of the ‘secret’ report drawn up by the ‘Flying Saucer Working Party.’ The team of five technical intelligence specialists had been created by the Ministry of Defence following a wave of ‘saucer’ sightings and newspaper headlines in the late summer of 1950. The Working Party’s deliberations came to an end in June 1951 when their highly sceptical final report and conclusions were presented to the MoD and CIA at a secret meeting at the Metropole Building in London. That meeting, and the very existence of the study itself, had been officially denied for half a century.
The breakthrough came at the end of two years research at the Public Record Office, where we had located, in 1999, the ‘Top Secret’ minutes of the MoD’s Directorate of Scientific Intelligence. They revealed how the Working Party had been set up at the behest of the respected Government scientist Sir Henry Tizard during the autumn of 1950, with a remit to investigate future reports and share intelligence on UFOs with the Americans.
A mere six pages in length, the Working Party’s DSI/JTIC Report No 7 contained detailed accounts of just three UFO sightings which the team had deemed to be worthy of a field investigation. All three had been “reported officially by experienced officers from RAF stations,” and two originated from the same witness, Flight Lieutenant Hubbard, who at the time was a test pilot based at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough.
Hubbard ‘a test pilot who flew experimental aircraft including the temperamental “flying bedstead” and thought he had spotted flying saucers’ died in 2015 at the age of 93 – link to his obituary published by The Daily Telegraph here.
Hubbard’s first sighting of a ‘daylight disc’ was summarily dismissed by the Working Party as being either an “optical illusion…or some quite normal type of aircraft.” His second sighting occurred three weeks later, on 5 September 1950. This time he had five other RAF officers who were present on the watch-tower at Farnborough. This report was also dismissed by the investigators, who concluded that the six experienced airmen had been deceived by “some quite normal aircraft, manoeuvring at extreme visual range.”
Half a century had passed since the Working Party’s deliberations when we presented a copy of Report No 7 to Wing Commander Stan J. Hubbard, now retired from RAF after a long and distinguished flying career. Hubbard had heard nothing officially from the MoD since the day he was interviewed in great secrecy by Scientific Intelligence during the autumn of 1950. He was stunned when he read the conclusions they had reached.
When in April 2002 Wing Commander Hubbard visited London on business he invited us to meet him at the Royal Air Force Club in Piccadilly to discuss ‘flying saucers’. This was our opportunity to obtain an exclusive interview with the man whose sighting set alarm bells ringing in Whitehall all those years ago.
Years of investigating UFO claims and quizzing witnesses have left us highly sceptical, but even we have been forced to reconsider my conclusions in the light of Hubbard’s story and others described in our book Out of the Shadows. Hubbard’s testimony adds much new information to missing jigsaw pieces left behind by the Flying Saucer Working Party’s deliberations.
They also made us ponder over the meaning of the words used in the cover-note sent by the MoD’s Director of Scientific Intelligence to Sir Henry Tizard when he was presented with a copy of Report No 7. This read simply:
“…This is the report on “Flying Saucers” for which you asked. I hope that it will serve its purpose.”
In the following transcript, DC is David Clarke, the interviewer, and SH is Wing Commander Stan Hubbard.
DC: When did your career with the RAF begin?
SH: I can’t remember that far back! In essence, what led me to Farnborough was the Test Pilots school, which was started at Boscombe Down and moved to Farnborough in January 1948. Prior to that I had been involved in Fighter and Bomber Command activities during the war and then out in the Middle East. I came back from Egypt to join the Test Pilot’s School at Farnborough in January 1948.
DC: Before that what aircraft had you flown with the RAF?
SH: Hurricanes, Mosquitoes, Halifax’s and Dakotas. In fact I was personal pilot to the Commander in Chief of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. 1948 was a very good year at Farnborough. It was very informative and I didn’t realise at that time that test flying for the Government was going to be so rewarding in terms of experience.
DC: So you had been at Farnborough for two years when this incident with the flying saucer occurred?
SH: That’s right. It was August 1950.
DC: Can I now take you back to that August morning in 1950 when you had your first sighting. What happened?
SH: I had been away for three weeks out West and I had come back the previous day. I had flown a Fiesler Storch [WW2 German reconnaissance plane] back from as far west as you can go without getting your feet wet! The top speed is about 75 mph. It took me ages and ages to get back to Farnborough, but anyway I had written my report, a final report on three weeks’ work, and I had submitted it that morning and I was very pleased that it had been accepted and felt that I could get away for an early lunch. So I left the old Flying Control building and set off directly for the mess. In those days there was no problem about walking straight to where you were going, there were no security fences, we just got a green flashing light from flying control and went straight across the runway to No. 1 Mess, which was my home in those days.
I had gone about 150 or 200 yards and this was one of those rare mornings. It was warm, there was no air movement, there was no aircraft noise, nothing flying, no aircraft engines being revved up on the ground, no traffic noise at all, it was dead quiet. So I was surprised to hear a very strange sound that was coming from somewhere behind me, and it impinged upon my consciousness. I was thinking about other things, but I stopped and I turned around to see what it could be. I then saw a very strange object way in the distance, I think towards Basingstoke.
I watched this thing and it was for all the world like the edge-on view of a discus, the sort of discus we used to throw at sports meetings…and it was rocking from side to side very slightly, probably 20-25 degrees either side, rhythmically rocking but maintaining a very straight approach. I watched it and it moved very quickly and passed overhead. And I tell you, that was something that has stuck in my mind very clearly, vividly, to this day.
DC: How would you describe it?
SH: As a discus, without obvious characteristics. It was a light grey colour a bit like mother of pearl, but blurred. It was obviously reflecting light because as it rocked it looked like a pan lid as you rotate it, with segments of light rotating around. And I could see that around the edge as it went overhead I could see very clearly it was a different colour, it had a definite edge to it. And the whole of the edge was a mass of tiny crackling, sparkling lights. And associated with that, there was a real impact of very very strong ozone smell and it was for all the world like the sound you would get when you walk through the door into a big active power generation station with huge rotors turning with the smell of ozone and the crackling of commutators…
DC: Was there any windows or protuberances or anything like that?
SH: No other characteristics at all. It was featureless. And the remarkable thing about it was there was no sound of air movement. No air displacement whatsoever.
DC: Were you able to estimate how far away it was from you?
SH: I would have said, remembering the angle when I first saw it and when it disappeared from sight, it had to be something in the order of 100 feet across. I was asked at the first interview: ‘How fast was it travelling?’ I had no idea. I had no idea whether it accelerated, or slowed down. But from the time when I was watching it, until it went out of sight I would estimate that it was travelling about 500 mph. But then again I don’t know how high it was, but the span it covered whilst I was watching it meant that it must have been travelling fairly fast.
DC: How long did you watch it in all before it disappeared?
SH: Difficult to say, but probable a minute and a half, two minutes.
DC: Was there anyone else about at that time?
SH: I was alone, contrary to what has been reported. But as it had just gone over, from the little wooden hut that was the Dispatcher’s shack, the young lady that ran that came over screaming…screaming my name, she knew me very well, and saying, ‘Did you see that horrible thing?’ I didn’t answer; I was so absolutely whacked at watching what I had seen. I don’t know what happened but I learned later that she had been taken ill and was quite hysterical about it.
DC: So had she seen the same thing as you?
SH: She had seen exactly the same thing.
DC: So what happened then, presumably you went and made a report?
SH: When it went out of sight I turned straight around…I guess I should have gone to see to the young lady…but I turned straight around and walked back to the Flying Control building and stomped straight up to my Wing Commander’s office and barged straight in, I’m afraid, and said: ‘Hey, excuse me sir but I’ve got something I really need to tell you.’ And he said, relax and tell me about it. I told him and he asked me to repeat it and I did and we discussed it very briefly and he said: ‘OK, we have to report this very quickly.’ He called the Air Ministry, because that was our channel of command, and apparently they put him straight onto Scientific Intelligence. That was before noon, and they were down within two hours.
DC: The same day?
SH: Yes. They were civilian people, and I was warned at the outset not to ask names and not to inquire where they were from and all that. They started asking questions and I guess it was about two hours. I was a little bit put out, or more surprised, because they weren’t really taking in what I was telling them.
DC: Did you think they were taking seriously what you were saying?
SH: They appeared to be taking it seriously. What I was telling them appeared to surprise them so much that their questioning guidelines became illogical.
DC: Do you remember any of the questions?
SH: How high was it? How big was it? How fast was it? What was it? Where do you think this was made?
DC: What were your answers?
SH: Well I said I can only give you an idea of how big it was, I don’t know how high it was but the angular altitude when I first saw it and when it disappeared was somewhere in the order of, I forget what I said now, I told them some degrees that I thought it was, which would coincide with round about 1,000 feet altitude. If it were 1,000 feet it had to be 100 feet across and it would have to be travelling at about 500 knots. There were a lot of questions that didn’t seem to be directly pertaining to the subject. They were asking about esoteric subjects.
DC: What was the most unusual question of all?
SH: Where was it made? And my answer to that was: ‘Well it certainly wasn’t made on this planet.’ I remember saying that.
DC: And what was the reaction to that?
SH: Oh, god [throws arms up in despair]…’we’ve got one of those’ sort of thing.
DC: How did the interview end?
SH: It ended by them saying: ‘You must NOT discuss this with anyone, not even your boss. You are not to ask questions and you are not to call friends in the ministry, or make inquiries.’ They were quite serious about that; there is no doubt about that. Quite serious. I thought it was very strange.
DC: That was the end of it, and you heard nothing more.
SH: Nothing. Not until the second time! And two of the same people came the second time. One of them, who I thought was the leader, he said: ‘Oh – my – God – not you again!’ [laughter]. Which put me off a bit for starters, that was a bit unprofessional. But anyway, there were much the same sort of questions, and I remember them saying: ‘We’ve got to make this brief,’ it wasn’t the leader it was one of the others. ‘We’ve got to make this brief because we’ve got to go back and catch a plane to Brazil where we’re going to interview people who’ve been watching flying saucers.’
DC: What a strange thing to say!
SH: Yes, wasn’t it [laughter]. That sticks out in my memory very clearly.
DC: So the second sighting you made, how long after was that?
SH: It was getting on for a month. I forget the date, it was September 1950. We were up by the flying control building. This was on an afternoon. It was an overcast day, and it was quiet, and there was a cloud base, about 8/8 cloud, at about 4-5,000 feet. There was a layer of cumulus, and we’d watched the first test take off of the P1081, which had been built by the Hawker company but had been finally been assembled at Farnborough. Wimpy Wade, the chief test pilot took it up to do the first flight, very important, he was going up for 15-20 minutes for the first flight and we were gathered on the roof of the old control building to watch him return, which he eventually did.
But meanwhile, down south of the airfield I saw this object. And I thought, ‘my goodness me.’ I grabbed hold of the chap next to me, which happened to be Jack Spencer, our civilian boss, my immediate boss, not the Chief Test Pilot, and I said: ‘Hey Jack, what do you think that is?’ pointing….and he shouted: ‘MYYY…GOD! Go get a camera, quick!’ Nobody went to get a camera. ‘Go get some binoculars!’ Somebody did go off, I think it was ‘Taffy’ Evans…I think he went off to grab a camera and some binoculars. He came back with binoculars later, but a number of other people had gathered by this time and we watched it for seven or eight minutes. And what a performance – it really was. It was incredible. The hovering was, an unstable hovering over a spot, and then it would suddenly take off…pppphhhewww…fast…and it was going, the angular distances were quite wide…
DC: Much further away than the first time you saw it?
SH: Oh, yes. The first time it went right overhead. It went from about 180 degrees to about 330, that’s quite an angular step…and it was quite a distance away. The speed it must have been travelling must have been enormous. The acceleration from standstill to stop, the deceleration to standstill was fantastic. Then it would go into this flickering, hovering mode, obviously on the margins of stability. The only thing I can liken it to is…you know these Chinese conjurors who get plates spinning on the end of sticks…when it slows down the plates lose stability…when they speed it up it flattens out…well it was that sort of thing.
DC: What was the reaction amongst the people who were watching?
SH: Awe-struck. Absolutely awe-struck. I remember Jack Spencer saying: “Sorry Stan, I didn’t believe those first stories.” It was very interesting. It made my day! Anyway, this was reported again to the Wing Commander, in fact to our immediate boss Jack Spencer, he went up and told the Wing Commander what we’d seen and reported it on the telephone. The same group came down, with the results I’ve mentioned.
DC: How soon did they come down this time?
SH: I think it was the same day.
DC: How many were there in the group from Scientific Intelligence?
SH: I think five in all, but they weren’t there all the time, some kept coming and going. There was a lot of telephone calling, they were reporting in to some office.
DC: Wasn’t there an incident where someone played a joke upon you?
SH: Yes, that was after the first sighting [laughter]. We received at my home a tea chest. Stencilled, with my name and address on it. My wife said: ‘There’s a tea chest out there that you ought to have a look at, it’s got your name on it.’ We prised our way into it and found another box. That was odd. We got that box out and opened that up, looked down and there was a cardboard box about 2 inch cubed, and inside it was a demitasse, a tiny little cup, with a note from my colleagues saying: “Stan…put this in your saucer and have a cup of tea.” [laughter]
DC: You knew who that was from then?
SH: I did eventually, yes. They were pulling my leg.
DC: This group that came to interview you, did they tell you who they worked for, what they were doing?
SH: No. I found out later, the Wing Commander said, ‘They are from Scientific Intelligence, and you must obey their instructions.’ And that was that.
DC: You weren’t asked to sign anything or write anything down?
SH: They just took notes, and I think I did have to sign an affidavit of some sort.
DC: They were very specific that you weren’t to speak about this to anyone else?
SH: That’s right. They were very, very specific about that.
DC: At pains of what?
SH: The threat was never specified, but it was ‘highly classified.’ That was the way they put it.
DC: Did you hear anything else after they left on the second occasion?
SH: Nothing. They interviewed some of the others who were present on the second occasion, including Frank Jolliffe. And I asked him what they asked. And it seemed they were the same sort of questions that I got. They certainly talked to us all as a group, some of the chaps were flying when they came down but, there was a group of us and they spoke to us all and gave us the same warning. I don’t recall having to sign anything after the second time.
DC: So what was the next time that this subject reared its head?
SH: When I got your letter! I had heard from other people descriptions of other things that pinged in my mind, oh god; they’d seen exactly the same thing.
DC: So until you got the letter from me you’d heard nothing else about your report?
SH: No. It came right out of the blue when I got your letter. Oh my god, here we go! [laughter]
DC: And when you read the Flying Saucer Working Party report that mentions your sightings, what did you make of their conclusions?
SH: Well it confirmed my view that recorders in the interviewing party were amateurs. They didn’t get anything right. Now whether that was deliberate or not I just don’t know. But they were not right. I was not reported correctly. In fact, from their conclusion I felt quite insulted. We were specially trained and we were constantly being crosschecked against instrumentation, observations, occurrences in aircraft, flight recorders in aircraft, so that our reports on speed, altitude, aircraft behaviour, G-loadings and things of that nature were being constantly crosschecked against instrumentation. We prided ourselves on being accurate observers, even under duress, in a spinning aircraft for instance when you are being thrown around in the cockpit. You have got to be accurate when you are describing your experience in an aeroplane. So I find it a little insulting that our detailed observations were treated so lightly and further, reported so inaccurately.
DC: Do you think there was any reason behind that?
SH: Well since it was official, I had to believe in the absence of any knowledge of my own, that there had to be some official reason for it. I couldn’t imagine why. And then when I learned that the Prime Minister [Winston Churchill] had asked the same questions about these unidentified flying objects and was told that it was myth, I thought my god, they’re even pulling the wool over the old man’s eyes.
DC: What do you think it was that you saw?
SH: I don’t know what it was I saw, but I know what I saw.
DC: Do you think it was the same or a similar thing that you saw on the two occasions? Or do you think they were two completely separate occurrences?
SH: Oh they were completely separate occurrences, but the object was identical.
DC: You do think it was the same object that was involved?
SH: Yes, or similar. Oh yes.
DC: Do you think there was any possibility this was some kind of secret aircraft on test, an enemy aircraft or some description, or something from terra firma?
SH: This was 52 years ago. Even today, we have nowhere near the technology that would be required to produce an object of that sort, and capable of that performance. The stability, the speed capability, the acceleration capability, the deceleration capability, the manoeuvrability and performance. We don’t have the power sources. There was just absolutely no way this was of this Earth.
DC: How do you feel about all this so many years afterwards? Have you any thoughts, feelings or observations about what was going on in 1950?
SH: I know that it’s about time that the truth and the seriousness of all this should be recognised. There has to be a very important purpose behind secrecy of this sort, but I can only think that it was deemed to be of a subject nature that could have been either positively or negatively classifiable. Negative intelligence is sometimes almost as important as positive intelligence. I don’t know. But there is no doubt at all in my mind. I can see it as clearly today as I could on the day it occurred. I have thought a great deal about it, and I have got no more opinions on it, except to say that we still do not have anything near the technology, or airframe, stability and control and power sources that could possibly do what this object did.
DC: Thank you very much Stan, for your time and for giving such a comprehensive account.
*Transcript Copyright 2002 David Clarke