Britain’s Closest Encounters

This four-part documentary series examines the most astonishing and baffling UFO stories from around the UK. The last instalment looks at the case of pilot Captain Ray Bowyer, who sighted two enormous disc-shaped objects in the sky over the Channel Islands on the 23rd of April 2007. The sighting was confirmed by passengers on the Aurigny Airlines flight, and by another pilot who was in the area at the time.

Having held on to classified information about UFO sightings in Britain for over 30 years, the Ministry of Defence has now made the sensational decision to reveal all. In response to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act, the MoD plans to make available some 200 files detailing mysterious cases across the country since the 1970s.

This week’s close encounter occurred just over a year ago in April 2007. Captain Ray Bowyer was piloting a plane from Southampton to Alderney when he spotted a bright yellow saucer-shaped object in the distance. As he got closer, he could see a second disc beyond the first. Both had sharp, defined edges.

At first Captain Bowyer thought the objects could be lenticular cloud formations, which are often mistaken for UFOs. Another possiblity was that it could be the reflection from a winery greenhouse, of which there were many in the area. But Bowyer discounted this theory as the objects seemed to be emitting a golden light.

Bowyer was able to scrutinise the UFOs, which were approximately 50 miles away, with binoculars that magnified the objects ten times. He kept sight of them for 15 minutes and they remained motionless throughout. Then, as the plane descended through a haze layer, Bowyer lost sight of the discs.

However, the pilot was not alone in his close encounter – several passengers onboard the Aurigny Airlines flight also witnessed the event. While they may not have the professional expertise to judge what may or may not be a UFO,Bowyer remains convinced that what he saw was something out of the ordinary.

As Bowyer filed his report with the Civil Aviation Authority, another pilot who was in the area at the time also came forward to confirm the sighting. His plane was 25 miles south of the Aurigny Airlines craft, but his account clearly corrobates Bowyer’s evidence. Jersey air traffic control, meanwhile, also picked up data on their radar suggesting there was activity at the scene – but they continue to dismiss the notion that the objects were not of this Earth. This film questions witnesses and experts in a bid to find the truth about what was seen that afternoon in the skies over the Channel.

This four-part documentary series examines the most astonishing and baffling UFO stories from around the UK. This instalment looks at the case of PC Alan Godfrey, who claimed to have seen a UFO whilst on patrol in Todmorden, Yorkshire in 1980. After undergoing hypnosis, he recalled being taken onboard an alien craft. The incident received further attention when it was linked to an unsolved death in the same area six months before Alan’s encounter.

Having held on to classified information about UFO sightings in Britain for over 30 years, the Ministry of Defence has now made the sensational decision to reveal all. In response to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act, the MoD plans to make available some 200 files detailing mysterious cases across the country since the 1970s.

This week’s case dates from November 1980, when PC Alan Godfrey had a close encounter that was to change his life. At five o’clock on a wet Yorkshire morning, he was driving on a country road outside the town of Todmorden when he saw a bright light in the air. Stopping his car, Alan tried unsuccessfully to radio for help, before sketching the object in front of him. “It was eerily silent – that does stick in my mind,” he recalls. The next thing Alan remembered was that the car had moved 100 yards down the road and the UFO was gone – leaving a dry patch over the ground where it had been hovering.

It was only later that Alan realised he could not account for a period of around 35 minutes when he had been in his car. He also noticed that the soles of his boots were split – as if he had been dragged. When he learnt that several other officers had seen lights in the sky over the Pennines at the same time, Alan filed an official report.

Not long afterwards, Alan’s story was picked up by the local press and UFO enthusiasts rushed to interview him. He eventually agreed to undergo hypnosis, and astonished everybody when he described being brought onboard a spaceship.

Alan has no recollection of what he said during the hypnosis and admits that he finds his own claims hard to fathom. “I’m asking myself, did that really happen?” he says. “No, it can’t have done. I don’t believe it. But why am I saying it?” Alan’s tale brought him unexpected media attention, which eventually forced him to quit the police.

But Alan’s remarkable encounter only became cemented in UFO lore when it was linked to the curious – and still unsolved – death of a Polish miner six months earlier. In June 1980, the body of Zygmund Adamski was found on top of a coal heap next to Todmorden station. The miner had been reported missing five days previously and was found with mysterious burns on his neck and head. The coroner recorded a verdict of death by heart attack, possibly induced by shock. Forensic tests, meanwhile, could not establish what had caused the burns on his body, which seemed to have been treated with a strange ointment.

Adamski’s death was investigated by none other than PC Alan Godfrey, who was baffled by what he found. “Why would a man climb a stack of coal, lie down on his back on top and die?” he asks. There were no footprints on the coal heap to explain how the body had got there; nor was there any clue as to where he had been for the last five days. Once the national press heard of the story, it was not long before Adamski’s death was connected to extra-terrestrial goings-on. UFO enthusiasts speculated that Adamski had also been abducted by aliens – only to meet a rather more unfortunate end than Alan Godfrey.

This film also hears first-hand accounts of other UFO sightings across the Pennines. The sheer number of incidents over the years has earned the region the nickname ‘UFO alley’ – but is there any truth to these stories?

Beginning this week is a brand new, four-part documentary series that examines the most astonishing and baffling UFO stories from around the UK. The opening instalment looks at an incident dubbed the ‘Welsh Roswell’. In 1974, locals near the Berwyn mountain range experienced an earthquake and reported seeing green lights in the sky. Some have claimed that a UFO crashed into the mountain and that the government has tried to cover up the truth.

Having held on to classified information about UFO sightings in Britain for over 30 years, the Ministry of Defence has now made the sensational decision to reveal all. In response to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act, the MoD plans to make available some 200 files detailing mysterious cases across the country since the 1970s. Starting this week, Britain’s Closest Encounters reveals the fascinating stories of these British ‘X-Files’.

One of the most famous British UFO cases took place in the Berwyn mountains. This remote area of Wales came to national attention one evening in January 1974, when a violent tremor measuring 3.2 on the Richter Scale shook the small town of Llandrillo. Locals were stunned to see strange lights in the sky, described by some as a “green arc” of light. “It was a very, very bright green light, different to anything I’d ever seen before,” recalls former police sergeant Elfed Roberts. “It was serious enough to get all the drinkers out of the local pub.”

Believing that an aircraft may have crashed into the mountain range, Roberts and his superior drove up the hill and searched the area by torchlight – but found nothing. Across the valley, on the opposite mountain, district nurse Pat Evans was conducting a similar search with her daughters. Evans reported seeing a perfect round circle hovering in the air, surrounded by smaller white lights, which then disappeared.

In the days to come, Llandrillo became the focus of media attention. Yet searches by RAF rescue teams, surveillance planes and a group of astronomers looking for evidence of meteorites found nothing. The Berwyn case slipped from people’s minds, until a UFO enthusiast interviewed Pat Evans in the 1980s and reignited interest. “Her story, when she gave it, resurrected the whole case,” says UFO investigator Jenny Randles.

The attention Evans received was so overwhelming that she eventually refused to discuss the matter and moved abroad. But her neighbour, Gerraint Edwards, has now decided to talk about his own sighting. For the first time in 34 years, Edwards reveals how he spotted a UFO in the Berwyn region three weeks after Evans’s sighting. “It looked like a rugger ball, but the ends of it were pointy,” he says. “When it took off, it just went like lightning on the same line as it hovered.”

Numerous theories have attempted to explain away the events in Berwyn of winter 1974. Jenny Randles has explored 10,000 UFO cases and is quick to point out that 95 per cent of them can be explained by terrestrial events. “In truth, very often in UFO phenomena, the solution is very much of this world,” she says. Some sceptics say the lights seen by Pat Evans were in fact those of the police searching on the opposite mountain. Still others suggest it was caused by meteor showers or light emitted from the ground following the earthquake.

Over time, the Berwyn mythology has grown, as rumours spread that the government was hiding the truth. Locals recall a military deployment in the wake of the earthquake that kept the Berwyn range out of bounds for weeks on end, while ‘men in black’ arrived to question people about what they had seen. One man even claimed to have been part of an operation to recover alien bodies from a crashed UFO. Sceptics say these claims are easily disproved, but what secrets do the newly released government files contain?

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