If Mulder and Scully had worked at Britain’s Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) UFO Department, they could be forgiven for thinking they’d ended up on a comedy show by mistake. The government has released Britain’s files detailing life on the “UFO desk”.
The post of UFO desk officer was described as “the weirdest job in Whitehall.” But according to a former employee of the UFO desk, unlike the hit US TV series, it didn’t involve “top secret teams of specialist scientists scurrying around the country in a real-life version of the X-Files.”
The official added that he often found “the best source of information was to Google the internet!”
Daily duties at Britain’s UFO desk were in-fact more mundane and included dealing with UFO reports which came in from the public, providing briefings on the MOD’s position on UFO’s and handling Freedom of Information requests.
An email written by one of Britain’s X-File men reveals a more down-to-earth side of the cash-strapped government department.
“In the event I win the lottery or walk under a bus, I thought it would be useful if I gave you some details of the role of the UFO desk beyond the daily mechanics of the job,” he wrote.
The UFO investigations included a UFO sighting by a policeman at Chelsea FC and a hotel owner in Wales who complained to her MP after a UFO touched down in a field “like the moon falling down and two tall silver-suited faceless humanoids came out of the object and started making measurements.”
This was one of a spate of apparent UFO sightings in West Wales in 1977, which led to local MP Nicholas Edwards becoming so inundated with calls that he asked the MOD to investigate.
Most UFO “sightings” across Britain were easily explained, but some were treated more seriously by the MOD than others.
A former investigator at the UFO desk continued, “From time to time, we may receive a report from aircrew or air traffic control that in our judgment may deserve a closer look, since they are trained observers or are well versed in aviation matters.”
One example was when police officers spotted a UFO in Lincolnshire in the east of England, which had apparently also been picked up by RAF radar. A later investigation by the Royal Greenwich Observatory concluded that lights were in fact particularly bright stars and the radar signatures were apparently the echo from the spire of nearby Boston church.
Britain’s modest UFO Department, allotted just 50,000 pounds (US$77,000) a year before it closed in 2009, found that 5 per cent of cases remained unexplained.
Heather Dickson, National investigations coordinator at the British UFO Research Association, told RT that sightings often reflect people’s personal beliefs.
“What is fascinating is that we’re dealing with what people want to believe,” she said.
Asked about her own beliefs, she said, “I think there are mysteries to be explored, there are things science will never be able to explain, as to whether they are extraterrestrial or not, my own experience is that there is something else.”
She admitted that there “is a lot of hysteria” about UFO’s and doesn’t believe the MOD’s X-Files will shed much light on what is a complex subject.
“The human face of ‘ufology’ is created by the witnesses and the researches themselves.” She said.
Officers in the MOD remained skeptical. One UFO officer wondered why aliens would want to come to “an insignificant planet [Earth] and an uninteresting star [the sun]” – almost certainly an allusion to Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
The MOD claimed that UFO’s might have been taken more seriously if they “had a red star painted on them” a reference to the Soviet Union.
The department was closed because its 50,000-pound-a-year budget was “diverting resources from tasks that are relevant to defense.” The re-released documents disclosed.
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