I originally had this Blog post titled, “UK UFO – Police Helicopter Crew Reports Near Collision With UFO.” But unfortunately that has yet to be confirmed so rather add to the already alarmist media coverage of the event I'll try to stick with what has been confirmed.
At 12:40am on Sunday, 8th June (2008) the three man crew from ‘The South & East Wales Air Support Unit' reported seeing an unidentified aircraft. The crew have made an official report which has been forwarded to the relevant authorities (MoD and CAA). The police Eurocopter, an EC135T21, was hovering in the sky at 0040 BST above the St Athan military base waiting to land when the unidentified aircraft was spotted.
The Police Eurocopter - EC135T21
Image Source – Deltawhiskey
That's about in the way of actual facts, the majority of which were obtained from an official press release by the South Wales Police press office (which can be read a little further down). In fact the only seemingly credible coverage of the event by the media has been by the BBC, they also include quotes from a Ministry of Defence spokesperson who said they (the MoD) had heard nothing about the incident before condescendingly adding:
"But it is certainly not advisable for police helicopters to go chasing what they think are UFOs.”
The fact that they weren't aware of the report has been confirmed to Joe McGonagle of the UK-UFO.org website who has already received a reply to a FoIA request about the incident, and was as follows:
"Dear Mr McGonagle,
Thank you for your Freedom of Information request of 20 June 2008 asking for copies of any records held by the MoD in relation to an alleged UFO sighting by a police helicopter crew on 7 June 2008. Other than press enquiries, the MoD has no record of this alleged incident being reported to it."
The BBC article also states that: “Cardiff International Airport said air traffic control provided a service to the police helicopter to ensure it had appropriate air space, including allowing it space to return to RAF St Athan to refuel.”
So we have the Police press release saying that the incident happened while they were waiting to land and no pursuit took place.
And now we have the Airport saying that it facilitated this pursuit and helped it to navigate safely back to the St Athan base. Although the ambiguity of the quote could easily mean that this is merely citing the standard procedure rather than describing the result of chasing an unidentified aircraft…..
Practically every news piece I've read so far has quoted an early article from the bastion of integrity that is, “The Sun” newspaper with yet another of their surreptitious and of course anonymous 'sources'. The (Sun newspaper) 'source' was quoted as saying:
“It closed in at great speed, aiming straight at the helicopter…..The chopper had to swerve sharply to avoid being hit. The guys said if they'd stayed where they were, they'd be dead – it would've been a direct hit…..They are convinced it was a UFO. It sounds far-fetched, but they know what they saw…..These guys are hardened professionals and know people will take the mickey, but they are certain they saw a UFO…..After the near-collision they decided to follow it to find out what the hell it was…..They belted across the Bristol Channel in pursuit, but it was too quick. They got to the North Devon coast and had to turn back because they were running low on fuel.”
Now compare and contrast this with the,
South Wales Police - Official Press Release :
"South Wales Police can confirm the South & East Wales Air Support Unit sighted an unusual aircraft. This was reported to the relevant authorities for their investigation. In today's skies, there are a wide variety of aircrafts which come in a range of different shapes and sizes and in all probability, this sighting has just confirmed that one of these was in the area at the relevant time. Reports that we chased the unusual aircraft across the Bristol Channel and the North Devon coastline is inaccurate.”
From one extreme to another and I expect the truth is to be found somewhere in between the two, although probably nearer to the MoD's extreme than the one anonymously claimed and irresponsibly reported by The Sun newspaper.
A point worth making is the apparent lack of any kind of thermal imaging, but one media report says thermal imaging cameras and another says night vision goggles, so like every other aspect we will have to wait until more information is made available before speculating on what that could mean.
Another salient point is that it is surely both impossible and impractical for the MoD to claim that this event was, “Of no defence significance” as is their usual declaration especially when considering the proximity to both military and civilian airports but I'm sure they'll think of something…..
The “World Aero Data” website entry for St Athan, states:
“All inbd acft call CARDIFF APP CON 5 min before CTLZ, if unable call ST ATHAN APP CON 125.85 277.225.”
Perhaps the failure to alert Cardiff airport of any sort of UAV tests is partly responsible for the sarcastic comments by the MoD advising the Police helicopter crew not to chase everything that they may think is a UFO. But if this is the case you would think that somebody at the base would have had the sense not to launch whatever it was at the same time as the Police helicopter was waiting to land as surely this is one of the many factors which MUST be considered in testing any kind of secret project (e.g. UAV), and especially so considering how close it is to a civil airport and consequently busy civil flight-paths.