- The March 24, 1997 UFO incident in the
Peak District west of Sheffield is now the subject of an investigation
by the newspaper Sheffield Star, the British UFO Research Association (BUFORA)
and the Hon. Helen Jackson, Member of Parliament for Sheffield/Hillsborough.
- In early April, the Sheffield Star revealed
that the RAF had conducted a low-altitude training exercise that night
and had participated in a massive air-and-ground search for a purported
missing aircraft. Shortly thereafter, Mrs. Jackson submitted a list of
questions about the Sheffield case to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).
On April 7, 1998, John Spellar, Under-Secretary of Defense sent Mrs. Jackson
this response: "It is not possible 12 months after the date in question
to state precisely where military activities were being carried out. Records
kept show only that aircraft were tasked to carry out low flying over the
Peak District between 2030 and 2107 (8:30 to 9:07 p.m.) local time on the
evening of 24 March 1997. No low-level flying is permitted over the Sheffield
urban area or any other major conurbation." The night of March 24,
1997, instruments at the University of Edinburgh recorded two mysterious
sonic booms in the Sheffield area. Eyewitnesses on the ground reported
seeing a triangular UFO and up to six RAF Tornado fighters flying overhead.
According to the May/June 1997 issue of UFO Magazine (page 9), the witnesses
described the object as "a huge triangular-shaped UFO (that) passed
directly overhead at 300 feet at 9:30 p.m. The craft had pinkish-colored
lights around its curved edges and a blinking blue light on its underside
and 'lit up the street as bright as day.'"
- Since March 24, 1997, rumors of a UFO
air battle and a Tornado crash have circulated in Derbyshire and South
Yorkshire. According to the story, the triangular UFO appeared over Dronfield,
Derbyshire. Six RAF Tornado interceptors engaged in an air attack on the
craft. The UFO supposedly shot down a Tornado, which crashed in a reservoir
near the Howden Moors in Derbyshire. The UFO then fled into space. Following
the exchange of letters between Under-Secretary Spellar and Mrs. Jackson,
BUFORA press officer Dave Clarke inteviewed Alan Pattison of MoD's "UFO
desk" and his deputy, Squadron Leader Tom Manning of the RAF. According
to Clarke, the men "confirmed the planes involved in the incident
were two Tornado GR1 Strike aircraft which were operating from the base
at RAF Marham on a pre-booked and pre-planned low-level training exercise
over the Peak District. These Tornados were the type used on bombing missions
in the (Persian) Gulf War and are not fighters that would be scrambled
for an intercept." "They also admitted that other Tornados and
indeed Jaguar fighters from other NATO bases took part in the night-time
sortie, which included night-time flying at a minimum 250 feet altitude
over the mountains west of Sheffield."
- UFO researcher Max Burns has claimed
that the triangular mystery object was tracked on radar at 9:55 p.m. that
night by the Royal Signals unit at the RAF Linton-upon-Ouse base, near
the city of York. Clarke stated, "The MoD/RAF current position is
that the two sonic booms recorded at 2132 and 2206 (9:32 and 10:06 p.m.
by Edinburgh) that night remain 'unexplained.' They claim the low-flying
exercise was over fifty minutes before these sonic events were recorded
and say that they have no record of them at the time of the exercise."
- Pattison and Manning stated, "We
did not chase a UFO, and there has been no cover-up. We responded to a
request by the police to help to search for a crashed aircraft and sent
a helicopter from RAF Leconfield. We don't know what caused the sonic
events, and the whole thing is a mystery to us, too."
- Clarke revealed that the air-and-ground
search involved 200 police, fire and military reserve personnel, who covered
an area of 40 square miles around Bolsterstone, South Yorkshire. The helicopter
from RAF Leconfield was a Westland Sea King HAS Mk 6, which assisted the
West Yorkshire police helicopter in the search. (See the Sheffield Star
for April 4, 1998. Also UFO Roundup, volume 2, number 12 for March 30,
1997. Many thanks to Dave Clarke of BUFORA and John Hayes for this story.)