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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most