South Wales Police Encounter a UFO
On Friday 20th June, 2008, we had another big UFO story to hit the mainstream media. Many newspapers, ranging from The Sun to The Telegraph picked it up and television news reports also ran the story.
Initial reports told us that a helicopter operated by South Wales Police had to take avoiding action when an unidentified object approached the aircraft. The surprised officers in the chopper gave chase, pursuing the UFO across the Bristol Channel into North Devon, before running low on fuel and being forced to return to base.
At the time of the near-miss, the helicopter was waiting for clearance to land at the military base at St Athan, near Cardiff, and hovering at about 500 feet (152 meters).
The Telegraph Online reported: “A spokesman for South Wales Police said: “We can confirm the Air Support Unit sighted an unusual aircraft. This was reported to the relevant authorities for their investigation.”
“It was reported that the aircraft closed in at great speed, aiming straight for the helicopter which swerved sharply.
““They are convinced it was a UFO. It sounds far-fetched, but they know what they saw.”
The Sun went on: ““After the near-collision they decided to follow it to find out what the hell it was. They belted across the Bristol Channel in pursuit, but it was too quick. They got to the North Devon coast and had to turn back because they were running low on fuel.”
“The chopper is crammed with hi-tech cameras and surveillance gear, but the UFO somehow avoided being caught on film.
“Strangely, the crew could not see the craft with night-vision goggles – but all said it was “clearly visible” to the naked eye on the night of June 7.”
The BBC reported: “A South Wales Police spokesperson said: “The crew are very experienced and responded in a professional manner in relation to what they saw.
““In today's skies, there are a wide variety of aircrafts which come in a range of different shapes and sizes and in all probability, this sighting has just confirmed that one of these was in the area at the relevant time,” the spokesperson added.
“A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said they had heard nothing about the incident.
““But it is certainly not advisable for police helicopters to go chasing what they think are UFOs,” the spokesperson said.”
An amendment to the BBC’s initial report contained the following:
“George Withrington, of St Mellons, said he reported the sighting to police and was given an incident number.
“The ex-RAF glider pilot said he was sitting in his garden reading a book on 8 June when he spotted the object at around 1620hrs.
““I was looking at an aeroplane overhead when I spotted this thing was in the corner of my eye.
“It shifted direction very quickly, in the blink of an eye.
“I looked at it for quite a while, I was watching it for at least 10 minutes. It flew off towards the east, towards Newport.”
I contacted South Wales Police (SWP) and asked them for any information they could pass on to us. Oonagh Moore from the SWP Press Office replied the very same day. The email read:
““South Wales Police can confirm the South & East
Wales Air Support Unit sighted an unusual aircraft. This was
reported to the relevant authorities for their investigation. In
today's skies, there are a wide variety of aircrafts which come in a
range of different shapes and sizes and in all probability, this
sighting has just confirmed that one of these was in the area at the
never mentioned The Sun in my initial contact with SWP, so I do not know why they
have picked on that particular newspaper. The same basic story
appeared in several other places, such as
The Telegraph. Perhaps
it’s because The Sun is
the most widely-read newspaper in the country .
What was this mystery aircraft that almost collided (or didn’t) with a police helicopter? Was it a secret, military aircraft or drone? Was it a genuine unidentified flying object? Well, as it has not been identified yet, that’s exactly what it is.
Did the pilots pursue the UFO? Early reports suggested they did, but the South Wales Police press release says that they did not. What sources furnished the news media with the details of the encounter and can they be trusted?
I contacted the author of the article in The Sun, John Coles, asking about his sources. He replied that he could not identify the source, but did say that “they are well-placed”.
On Tuesday 24th June, a BBC report claimed to have solved the mystery. A wedding party in Cowbridge, close to St Athan, set off about thirty Chinese lanterns between 11pm and 2am on the evening in question. The groom, Lyn Thomas, said: “There's no doubt in my mind it was our lanterns. We went on the internet on our honeymoon in Turkey and saw a report about this UFO. I thought, “Oh no, it was exactly the same time and I remember they were going straight towards St Athan way.”
He added, “I read about the UFO on the BBC website and saw it had had coverage in India and in the New York Times. It made us laugh. I suppose this sheds a bit of light.”
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Updated 16th August, 2012