UK UFO Cases : 1993 - The Cosford UFO Flap

1990s UFO

Nick Pope began his duties as head of the UFO desk on the morning of March 31st 1993 inundated with reports of UFO sightings across Britain. Had this been a day later then perhaps an April Fools prank would have been suspected. But this was no case of premature joculation.

Pope recalls “By lunchtime, it was obvious that I was right at the centre of the biggest wave of UFO sightings ever reported in Britain.”

The majority of sightings were made between 1:00 am and 1:30am and appeared to have flown over two RAF bases in restricted airspace. A military guard at RAF Cosford and a family from Rugeley in Staffordshire reported seeing a diamond shaped object around 200 metres across and just 300 metres above them. It passed overhead slowly and emitting a buzzing noise like that of a large speaker. The meteorological officer at RAF Shawbury reported an even more startling sight. He first saw a stationary object that then moved rather erratically in his direction at speed. The object then appeared to fire a beam down onto the countryside below, sweeping left to right across the fields as if conducting a search. The UFO was estimated to be the size of a regular jumbo jet and emitted the same hum that the earlier witnesses reported.

Pope had the radar tapes investigated from the previous evening and found a number of anomalous radar targets. However the RAF Officer assisting the investigation stated this was not proof of UFO activity. The following night further reports came in although these were dismissed by many as the re-entry of yet another Russian Cosmos satellite, Pope did not believe every single sighting reported could be attributed to Soviet space junk.

Click here to view Pope's official report.

He made discreet enquiries with his opposite number at the United States’ DoD as to whether any secret aircraft may have been airborne in and around the British Isles over the previous two nights. The US DoD denied any involvement but Pope was then oddly asked if he would confirm if the British had been testing their own experimental aircraft at that time. Polite but negative responses were returned.

To UFOlogist Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos the mystery was a combination of the Cosmos 2238 radio satellite rocket boosters returning to earth over the British Isles and a police helicopter over the A49/A5 using its search beam to track a stolen vehicle. He provided data to Nick Pope who partially conceded in reply to Ballester:

“I think it is clear that most of the UFO sightings that occurred on the night in question can be attributed to this event.” National Archive DEFE 24/2086/1

Some sceptics in the field have used this against Nick Pope to suggest he is falsely promoting the Cosford case to this day as unknown flying objects. However Pope has never conceded that all reports that night were explainable.


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