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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2008 > Oct > Oct 25

Re: Ex-RAF Man Tells Of UFOs Encounter

From: Martin Shough <parcellular.nul>
Date: Sat, 25 Oct 2008 15:18:29 +0100
Archived: Sat, 25 Oct 2008 11:03:46 -0400
Subject: Re: Ex-RAF Man Tells Of UFOs Encounter

>From: Franklin D. Fields <fields.nul>
>To: ufoupdates.nul
>Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2008 19:59:58 -0400 (EDT)
>Subject: Ex-RAF Man Tells Of UFOs Encounter

>Source: The Shropshire Star - Telford, England, UK



>At his home in Monkmoor, he tells how he scrambled a bomber to
>fly in and take a closer look. A quarter of a mile from the
>suspect objects the pilot became concerned, telling Alan over
>the radio: "I don't know what that was but it was shifting like
>the clappers."


Just for the record Alan Turner did not "scramble a bomber", he
diverted one of a pair of nearby Canberras returning to the UK
from Germany. But this is unimportant. The major inaccuracy in
this article is much more important.

>With any so-called UFO sightings there are sceptics and
>theorists. Alan was taken to task by a professor at Sheffield
>University who claimed the 'blips' he witnessed were most
>probably Lightning aircraft.

>"I wrote him three sides of A4 as to why they were not
>aircraft," he says, explaining that the MoD at the time had a
>total fleet of only around 40 and there wouldn't be a commander
>on earth who would fly the lot at the same time.

>"And Lightnings are loud --- are you telling me that Joe Public
>would not have heard something?"

The "professor at Sheffield University" is clearly supposed to
be Dave Clarke. I can tell you from first-hand knowledge that
the claim attributed to him (that the blips "were most probably
Lightnings") and the dismissive attitude ("taking to task") are
both inaccurate. I can only hope that the misrepresentation is
due to the Shropshire Star misunderstanding and misquoting the
witness. It would be distressing to think that this comes from
Alan Turner himself.

The facts are:

- that the reference to the Lightning as an _example_ of a 1971
aircraft with a high rate of climb came directly from _me_

- that this reference had nothing to to do with any imaginary
claim that the blips "were most probably Lightning aircraft"

- that my comment was passed on to Alan Turner by Dave Clarke in
an extremely courteous and professional letter asking on my
behalf for clarification of of a confusing issue in Turner's
original account

- and that Turner responded (Jan 14 2008) with the concession
that my comment "has much merit".

This is what Wing Commander Turner had originally said:

"I put the FPS 6 Height Finder onto some returns to discover
that they were about 3000 feet when they came into radar cover
and climbing extremely rapidly so that, by the time they
disappeared from radar, they were in excess of 60,000 feet. To
climb to such a height in only forty miles was beyond the
ability of any fighter aircraft at the time... [T]hey were doing
around 250 knots, but it must be borne in mind that this was a
lateral speed as seen on radar - they must have been travelling
very much faster to climb over 50,000 feet in less than forty
miles... I am at a loss to explain what I, and many other
people, saw. In those days aircraft could not climb at such a

I found this puzzling, and commented:

"... a target measured at 250 knots ground speed as stated would
take nearly 10 minutes to cover a 40 mile track, therefore the
average rate of climb to 50,000ft would be about 5000 ft/min. As
I understand it, this was not a remarkable rate in 1971, being
only about 1/10 the initial rate of climb of the Lightning for

This is the entire origin of the claim that Turner was "taken to
task by a professor at Sheffield University who claimed the
'blips' he witnessed were most probably Lightning aircraft."

I further commented:

"What seems more remarkable to me [than the actually pedestrian
climb rate] is the altitude achieved with such modest rates of
climb and speed. The article suggests that the true speed in
climb could be much greater than the 250 kt displayed speed. But
the true speed cannot be much different, surely, from the
displayed speed in this case?

"Given that the PPI track shows slant range to the target, not a
projected ground track, is it not correct that the small
difference between true air speed and apparent ground speed is
already factored into the '250 knots' figure if this is measured
from the PPI? The ground speed would be slower than the
displayed speed in climb. In any case, the slant range to
50,000ft in a ground distance of 40 miles is about 13 degrees of
climb and the difference will be only about 5%."

As I mentioned, in reply Wing Commander Turner accepted that it
was true that the rate of climb implied in his account was not,
after all, "beyond the ability of any fighter aircraft at the
time". He went on to list several cogent reasons why it was
unlikely in the extreme that dozens of Lightning interceptors
could have explained the blips in question - a theory which in
fact no one had proposed in the first place.

The point is this: The strangeness of the blips reported - and
they are strange - is not in their speed or climb rate (both of
which are very ordinary) or even their altitude per se (for
example the U2, far from what anyone would regard as a high-
 performance jet, had a faster rate of climb of about 8000fpm
off the end of the runway and could fly at nearly twice the UFO
speed to above the 60,000ft recorded). The oddness is the large
number and regularity of the blips in circumstances where those
detecting them (Fighter Control radar at RAF Neatishead in
Norfolk, London Heathrow radar and the joint military/civil ATC
Radar Unit at RAF Sopley) had every reason to think they would
know, via NOTAMs and other Airspace Utilisation Section notices
among other means, about any aircraft in the air, including
secret reconnaissance flights - even if the idea of 20-35 U2s in
indian-file made any sense at all, which it doesn't.

One might again think of radar spoofing in a case like this, or
some unusual type of radar interference, since nothing was seen
visually by anybody even though the Canberra was reportdly
cloud-free with 5 mile visibility and "would have had no
difficulty seeing something that close". But with three
geographically remote ground radar sites employing perhaps as
many as 7 or 8 electronically independent transmitters,
operating at differing frequencies, pulse rates and scan rates,
plus an airborne radar, those types of explanation are non-
starters. It's just a pity that, as with the Milton Torres
account which has also gained recent prominence, and some other
very striking historical cases, there appears to be no
contemporary record that we can get our teeth into. Why that's
so is another question.

Martin Shough

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