Monday, May 2, 2011

Unidentified Flying Object

To say you have seen a UFO seems to consign you immediately to the lunatic fringe. For this reason I rarely mention having seen a UFO but now that I am old and grey I don’t suppose anyone cares.
My sighting happened in the 1950s at a time when there were many reports of unidentified flying objects or, as many scientists preferred to call them, ‘unexplained’ flying objects. There was always an inference that they, the scientists with their superior knowledge, could have immediately explained the phenomenon.
But with my UFO I think not.
Anyway, it happened at about 10 o’clock at night when I was at boarding school at Canterbury in England and well after ‘lights out’ in our dormitory. Suddenly I noticed a strange glow coming through the windows and got up to have a look. Our dormitory overlooked an orchard in the rear garden of the Dean of the Cathedral, the Very Reverend Hewlett Johnson, also known as ‘The Red Dean’ for his Marxist sympathies. Indeed he was the recipient of the Stalin Peace Prize which didn’t endear him to the general public during this period of the Cold War.
So there in his garden was a strange, very bright white glowing object which also emitted a soft but quite audible humming sound as it hovered about three feet above the ground. It was the size of a walk-in beach tent and shaped like an elongated football. There was no firm edge to its surface; it was wispy like cotton candy.
After looking at it for a few minutes I decided to wake some other boys to look at the ‘object’ and I still remember their names, David Collier and Brian Kemp. I pointed excitedly at it and said, ‘There is a UFO’, as it slowly rose then gathered speed and disappeared into the night sky.
The following morning I spoke to them again but they merely shrugged and declined to discuss it further. Later I mentioned it to our housemaster who just smiled at me.
In the newspapers the following day there was a report of my UFO being sighted to the north of Canterbury. It had been chased by two air force jets from the nearby Faversham air base but they lost contact with it over the North Sea.
Finally many months later at a talk given by Fred Hoyle, a famous English astronomer and mathematician, I asked him if he had an opinion on UFOs. ‘Absolute rubbish’ he roared. ‘Nonsense’. ‘Purely natural but unrecognized phenomena’.
‘Thank you sir’.