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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jun > Jun 27

Re: Sheffield Incident

From: Andy Roberts <Brigantia@compuserve.com>
Date: Sat, 27 Jun 1998 07:47:14 -0400
Fwd Date: Sat, 27 Jun 1998 11:19:42 -0400
Subject: Re: Sheffield Incident

Dave Clarke is away for a few days in the Lake District. I would
hate for Max to have his nonsensical rants go unchallenged, so
until Dave gets back from his MI5 briefing, sorry,

I've followed the 'Sheffield Incident' thread, which has largely
been between Dave Clarke and Max Burns, with interest.

I know both these people.

I know Dave well and have written several books with him and
investigated numerous cases of anomalous phenomena.

I have also played a small role in helping to investigate this
case, having spent tens of hours now discussing and evaluating
with David each component of the case and every possible
permutation of the available evidence.

I know Max slightly, and have questioned him closely on his
claims. I have yet to be even vaguely impressed by either his
'evidence' or the paranoid way in which he conducts himself.

We are lucky to have been able to follow the case from the
inside, rather than looking at a story published several years
after the event in a UFO book or magazine, or even a finished
case report. Updates readers have had the unique chance to watch
from the inside the development of a significant UK UFO case,
claim and counter claim.

_This_ is ufology. Nitty, gritty stuff. Strangely there are no
aliens anywhere in sight, only humans engaged in what they do
best. That is debating the nature of reality and interpreting it

Max and his claims aren't going to go away. As has been
mentioned before he has stated to several UK ufologists last
year that he intends to make this case the 'British Roswell'.
Indeed, had it not been for Dave Clarke's research into the case
it would have become just that, as the UK UFO community and most
of its magazines and journals are _desparate_ for such an event,
and not too particular about any 'facts' which might get in the

However, Max, whilst twisting the evidence one night, made the
fatal error of  changing his theory from that of a _UFO_ crash
to one of a jet being shot down _by_a UFO. This was a crucial
error in his thinking as it is far easier to posit the crash of
something for which we have no evidence, and which can be
claimed to have been removed leaving no trace, rather than
alleging one of her majesties finest fighting planes (all of
which have numbers and named crew) has been destroyed by the
alien menace. More significantly Max has never gone into what
evidence lay behind this change of heart. One minute he's
telling anyone who will listen that he knows exactly where the
crash site of the UFO is, the next he's waffling about the loss
of a Tornado.

As a relevant aside here at last years BUFORA conference I
queried Max about the 'crash' site which he said he has been to
and was familiar with. It was quickly apparent that he had no
knowledge of the Derwent Moors (I've been walking them for
twenty five years) as all the place names I ran by him
(including one I made up!) were met by blank stares. He later
claimed that he knew all along but was just testing me!

So it goes.

Max alleges that Dave Clarke has said one thing, then another
and so on. Aside from the fact that Max hasn't actually seen
much of Dave's work on the case what, he fails to grasp is that
altering one's view, backed by evidence is known  as
_developing_ a theory. Max has claimed from word one that he
believes an extraterrestrial craft  was involved, the only
change in his theory being exactly what crashed. All requests
for substantiating evidence have been met with long  silences
followed by interestingly structured emails which take us down
the road to nowhere. Dave however has investigated each and
every part of this multi-faceted mystery and come up with
evidence and explanations which _fit in with each other_.

Max claims that: '.... the radar was not operating at RAF Linton
On Ouse on the 24th March 1997. However this information must be
dis-information as the circumstances regarding how I obtained
the news That the ufo was tracked on radar preclude the
possibility of the radar operator fabricating this information.'

Well he would say that, wouldn't he? He then goes on to tell us
he can't reveal the source of this information. Highly
convenient. This is just one of many witnesses Max quotes but
who must remain hidden from the rest of us. Dave on the other
hand uses no primary witnesses or sources who are not available
and checkable.

Max's use of witnesses who claim to have seen triangles and UFOs
is all well and good but where has he produced one single proper
case report into any one of these witness claims? Also using
witness sightings of 'something' which took place in the vague
time zone that evening is pointless. There is just no connection
other than in Max's head. He has fallen into the classic
beginner ufologist trap of seeing many small pieces of a jigsaw
and making his own picture up, throwing away those irregular
pieces which don't seem to fit.

The _ultimate_ proof of what happened that night in 1997 may
never be known, but the tendency of evidence strongly suggests
that a comet-sensitised public, unused to a clear night sky,
made a series of misperceptions, based on natural and man made
objects coupled with two sonic booms. We also know there _was_
military activity and there _may_or _may not_ have been some
form of covert training operation. There was also a small
airplane of a commercial nature in the area which has yet to be
identified. This _may_ have been part of a covert military
training exercise, a covert drugs drop, or just a private pilot
who didn't declare himself to the authorities.

In other words a complicated series of coincidental events which
have been melded together into a UFO shoots jet story by,

The _only_ person who suggested that a UFO may have been
involved has been Max Burns, spinning this belief out of
disparate witness statements. His basic plea seems to be 'why
can't you believe what the witnesses said they saw'.

Why indeed. We would happily believe those witnesses, but the
_evidence_ just doesn't support their narrative. He has yet to
issue one _ well investigated_ and corroborated report of a
witness seeing a UFO/flying triangle _anywhere_in the Peak
District that night. His desultory report consists of short
statements about what people told him they saw, no
investigation, just free standing narrative.

Max displays little awareness and knowledge of issues
surrounding the perception and reporting of 'UFOs' and is quite
content to accept everything at face value.

Max further confounds his case by failing to extend his own line
of reasoning to those witnesses who don't agree with him, or who
have offered alternate solutions to the one he promotes.

Rather than weigh up the evidence and statements from official
sources he dismisses this as a 'cover story'. Rather than listen
to what experienced field investigators are telling him (not
just us, I hasten to add) he accuses them of being
'disinformation agents'. Rather than investigating he believes,
and the more he believes the less he feels he has to

Let's just have a brief example of this.

Max has no problem, for instance, _believing_ a drug taker
living in a horse-box to whom Max sold marijuana to at the time
of his interview.

Yet he _cannot_ believe that anyone who gainsays him is not
working for the government or, heaven forbid, even darker

Strange logic.

The fact that no-one can now question this itinerant sky watcher
as he has moved on seems not to bother Max, because he believes
him and therefore we should too. The fact that he _can_question
the relevant official agencies doesn't interest him, because he
_doesn't_ believe them and therefore they must be the bad guys.

It's the logic of the X Files generation. Dumbed-down ufology
for the hard of thinking.

All Max _has_developed in this case is his increasingly
ludicrous claims that certain investigators (and anyone who
supports them!) are part of some for of government cover-up. I
must admit I have had a great deal of fun with this aspect of
Max's belief system. If he is stupid enough to believe Dave and
I are working for the government then I feel it is our duty to
encourage this belief as much as we can! If he can't even work
out who employs us then what hope has he in unravelling a
complex UFO case?

Despite all the Max waffle and obfuscation the matter is
reducible to his claim that a Tornado Jet was shot
down/'vanished' by an ET craft with possible loss of pilot and
co-pilot. All else is immaterial. Dave Clarke and myself have
repeatedly challenged Max to prove the following, and we issue
that challenge again:

       What is the serial number of the jet
       What is the name of airfield it flew from
       What are the names of the pilot and co-pilot

Max has failed to do provide this information to date, and has
also stated that even if he knew these facts he wouldn't share
them. Both of these points sum Max and his approach up in a

I've always been a firm, ahem, 'believer', that oft times it's
the ufologists making the wild and unsubstantiated claims who
need investigating as much as the witnesses, and this case is no
different. I realise that Updates is a genteel list where ad
hominem attacks are frowned upon so I wouldn't want to frighten
anyone with some Max Fax. But I would advise those of you out
there who wish to know a little more about Max Burns' character,
his modus operandi and his thought processes, to check out
issues 2 and 3 of my occasional journal, The Armchair Ufologist.

This is available, courtesy of that nice Mark Pilkington, at:


if it's not there now it will be any day now.

Dave Clarke also has a feature length article on the incident in
the current issue of UFO Magazine (the UK version). Well worth
reading although certain things have changed and new evidence
has come to light in the few months since it was written.

We're not going to let Max off the hook. He's made extraordinary
claims and now he's going to have to prove them. Every time he
makes a claim or statement it will be challeneged and
unravelled. Every new piece of evidence he comes up with will be
scrutinised until it is clear just what it is evidence _of_.
This is ufology in northern England at the end of the 20th
century and it's exciting stuff!

ufology: delicious hot, disgusting cold

Happy Trails


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