UFO-spotters give up hunt for flying saucers

The UFO sighted over the Windermere area of Cumbria was described at the time as triangular or diamond-shaped and rather like a twin-hulled catamaran. It seemed to have some respect for the British road system too, hovering for some time above the A592, one witness said, then disappearing into the night sky over nearby Morecambe shortly after midnight on 28 August 1977.

Though some began questioning the strength of the local ale, dozens of witnesses including 10 police officers were adamant they had seen the object. Their story of its charcoal colour and two giant lights remains one of Britain's legendary UFO stories.

Yet if the truth is still out there over the Lake District, the means to engage with it may soon be gone. Gloomy about the fast-diminishing number of sightings, the Cumbrian branch of the British UFO Hunters has declared itself ready to call it a day.

Sightings of UFOs have fallen from 60 in 2003 to none this year. Chris Parr, of Whitehaven, a ufologist and branch member, said the end of Mulder, Scully and The X-Files on television had brought the beginning of the end to UFO-spotting.

"It's also to do with a lack of military exercises in the area," Mr Parr added, expounding a theory that 90 per cent of UFOs can be explained by "secret military projects". He said he got his information from "UFO spotters hanging around outside military bases and breaking into them".

He added: "The number of people keeping their eyes on the skies is greatly diminished. There are only a handful of us now. I have three camcorders and a digital video and I start recording whenever there have been sightings in another part of the country."

A year ago, UFO Magazine closed down after a 25-year run, having once enjoyed a sale of 35,000 copies, which made it the world's top UFO publication. Suggestions of paranormal interference in the publishing decision were ruled out. It was more to do with the death of Graham Birdsall, the editor and world UFO expert who, along with his younger brother Mark, founded the Leeds-based publication in 1981.

Before that had come the death of former diplomat Gordon Creighton, 92, who was editor of Flying Saucer Review, the longest-running UFO magazine.

Andy Roberts, an author of UFO books and former magazine contributor, said: "Ufology is really a thing of the past century. The end of The X-Files series didn't help, and there has been a decline since the televised alien autopsy of the mid-1990s. Basically, it was a hobby that broke into the mainstream. Ultimately, there was only a hardcore following."

But the picture is not entirely bleak. West Kilbride, in Ayrshire, has topped the league for the number of close encounters of a strange kind with 12 recorded sightings last year, three times as many as its closest rival.

UFO enthusiasts are also excited about the Penzance Triangle, a 226sq-mile area of Cornwall between Land's End, St Ives and the Helford Estuary, where you are twice as likely to spot a UFO and three times more likely to see a ghost, than in the rest of the UK, some say.

Then there is the submission to the British UFO Research Association website, headlined "Extraordinary events in Cumbria" which tells of a "ball of light and vehicle interference" last New Year's Eve at Hethersgill, near Carlisle.

The Barrow Evening Mail, which broke the story, came under e-mail attack from as far away as the United States. "Stop the propaganda," wrote an American. "Everyone knows UFOs come in flaps and waves."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Graphic Designer / Marketing Assistant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a Junior Graphic Designer / ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Finance Assistant - Automotive

£15500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading Motor Re...

Recruitment Genius: General Maintenance Person - Automotive

£16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading Motor Re...

Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Meeter-Greeter - Automotive

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading Motor Re...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen