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
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Wonnacott dancing the pasadoble
TVStrictly Come Dancing The Result
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
BBC's Antiques Roadshow uncovers a TIE fighter pilot helmet from the 1977 Star Wars film, valuing it at £50,000
TV

TV presenter Fiona Bruce seemed a bit startled by the find during the filming of Antiques Roadshow

News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

Sport
Steven Caulker of QPR scores an own goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Liverpool
football
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
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

KS2 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Ofsted said "A good larger...

Year 3 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 TeacherWould you like ...

KS1 Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Ofsted said The outstandin...

Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a b...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past