Saturday, 19 December 2009

UK UFO Research: BOAC Labrador Report (1954)

The BOAC Labrador sighting of June 29, 1954

One of the UK's respected and prolific (serious) researchers, “Martin Shough” recently authored a research report on the infamous 1954 BOAC UFO incident. I’ve been lucky enough to correspond with Martin a few times and his reasoned approach has always been fair, penetrative & erudite, whether you're aware of Martin Shough or not if you have read any reports involving UFO/UAP reports in the UK and if they were approached from a more scientific angle then you will undoubtedly have read some of the research that he has either personally conducted or assisted with, including the vast majority of radar-related (UK) UFO reports.

And to be honest it’s a little puzzling why I haven’t seen (m)any references to this particular report and if I were to hazard a guess then it’s perhaps its because its presented as a sober and scientific report and of course doesn’t wildly promote the ETH as the most likely explanation. If this is indeed the case then it‘s a sad reflection on the broader online UFO community, the majority of whom are quick to pick up on the most obscure of possible UFO reports often presenting no viable working hypothesis or even additional information regarding the report. Not of course that this is –always- necessarily a bad thing, but then to neglect exhaustive reports on historical UFO events such as this one, it just doesn’t make sense, does it?

Martin is listed (in his capacity as author of this report) as a, “UK Research Associate of the US National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP)”.

The report is published in its entirety on the website which itself is an excellent resource to the serious UFO researcher as it offers a wealth of information on a wide variety of aerial phenomena.

A short video clip of the pilot speaking about his experience is available at: Commercial Flight JFK to London BOAC UFO (1954) Video

The following is posted on the lead page of the relevant section on (summary):
BOAC 1954

This classic observation was made by crew and passengers of a 4-engine Boeing Stratocruiser of the British Overseas Airways Corporation. Flight 510-196 was a luxury flight bound for London on the "champagne and caviar run", departing New York at 17:03 local (21:03 GMT) on June 29, 1954 with 51 passengers aboard. Four hours later at sunset, 19,000 ft (5,791 m) over Labrador, Newfoundland, and en route for Goose Bay, an apparently huge shape-changing UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon) and a swarm of small attendant objects was seen against the bright sky off the left wing. The strange display persisted for 18 minutes.

After a refuelling stop at Goose where they were met and questioned by US Air Force intelligence officers the crew proceeded to London, where the story rapidly appeared in national papers and magazines. Capt. James R. HOWARD was filmed for BBC TV and cinema newsreels. It became big news and went around the world within days via the Associated Press syndicated wire. The standing of the witnesses, in particular 33-year-old Capt. HOWARD, a highly respected former RAF Squadron Leader with 7500 hours commercial flying on 256 Atlantic crossings to his credit at the time of the sighting, has never been called in question. They were convinced that their airliner was followed for 80 miles by a formation of solid flying objects under intelligent control. To this day the case is still hailed by many ufologists as unexplained and one of the most significant "British" cases.

Several theories have been advanced. Were these objects spaceships, a giant flock of migrating starlings, balloons, or perhaps a mirage? Whilst the evidence is not conclusive, we present evidence that the most likely explanation seems to be an unusual mirage of a type which, whilst rare, appears to have been observed several times in similar conditions in other parts of the world.


And here are three sketches that the pilot made after his sighting:

The full report is available at the website.

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