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."

News
news
Voices
voicesThe Ukip leader on why he's done nothing illegal
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Sport
video
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
News
Supermarkets are running out of Easter Eggs
Deals make eggs cheaper than normal chocolate
Arts & Entertainment
artYouth club owner says mural is 'gift from the sky' so he can prevent closure of venue
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Online Advertising Account Executive , St Pauls , London

£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Advertising Account Executive - Online, Central London

£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Senior Infrastructure Consultant

£50000 - £65000 Per Annum potentially flexible for the right candidate: Clearw...

Public Sector Audit - Bristol

£38000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have experience of ...

Day In a Page

Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
10 best activity books for children

10 best activity books for children

Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books
Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1: Five things we learnt from the battle between the London sides

Five things we learnt from Arsenal's win over West Ham

Arsenal still in driving seat for Champions League spot and Carroll can make late charge into England’s World Cup squad
Copa del Rey final: Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right

Pete Jenson on the Copa del Rey final

Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right
Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

With the tennis circus now rolling on to the slowest surface, Paul Newman highlights who'll be making the headlines – and why
Exclusive: NHS faces financial disaster in 2015 as politicians urged to find radical solution

NHS faces financial disaster in 2015

Politicians urged to find radical solution
Ukraine crisis: How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?

Ukraine crisis

How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

A history of the First World War in 100 moments
Fires could turn Amazon rainforest into a desert as human activity and climate change threaten ‘lungs of the world’, says study

New threat to the Amazon rainforest:

Fires that scorch the ‘lungs of the Earth’
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City: And the winner of this season’s Premier League title will be...

Who’s in box seat now? The winner of the title will be ...

Who is in best shape to take the Premier League prize?