One of the more intriguing UFO cases on record – one which still remains pretty much unknown and under-investigated – came from the late English UFO researcher Ernie Sears. It’s a story that Ernie – who was quite a character – shared with me back in the summer of 1995. Sears joined the Royal Air Force during World War Two and left the service in 1947. In 1960, he was involved in a UFO incident that had a life-changing effect on him and caused him to take the subject seriously. In short, he was witness to an encounter involving a pair of Royal Air Force planes whose crews, seemingly, were ordered to pursue a UFO in the skies over England. Something unidentified had penetrated British airspace.
Of particular interest is the setting of Sears encounter: the Admiralty Surface Weapons Establishment, Portsmouth, England. The U.K’s National Archives states of the ASWE: “The Admiralty Surface Weapons Establishment originated in an Experimental Department set up in 1917 at HM Signal School, Portsmouth, to coordinate research work undertaken since 1896 on the Torpedo School ships HMS Defiance and HMS Vernon. In 1941 the Experimental Department became the Admiralty Signal Establishment which, like its predecessors, was largely concerned with communications. However, technological advances during the Second World War necessitated an increase in related fields of research, and in 1948 these were brought under one body, the Admiralty Signal and Radar Establishment at Portsmouth. In 1959 it was decided that missile technology justified an extension of its scope, and on being amalgamated with the Admiralty Gunnery Establishment (AGE) it received the title of Admiralty Surface Weapons Establishment (ASWE).”
While walking through the streets of the nearby town of Gosport, Sears noticed a “glowing cigar” in the sky which appeared to be hovering over the ASWE facility. Sears told me: “I thought, well, it must be an aircraft struggling against the wind, and the sun is shining off it making it glow.” As the minutes went by, though, Sears realized that his initial thought was very wide of the mark. The skies were suddenly filled with the noise of a couple of military aircraft, which were heading in the direction of the ASWE. Sears further told me:
“I ran to a vantage point where I could see where those aircraft were coming from. They were two Meteor jets, very low over the rooftops [and] very noisy. They were climbing up to where, half an hour later, to my amazement, there was this ‘cigar’ still hanging in the sky. I immediately knew that it wasn’t an aircraft. It hadn’t moved an inch; it was just hanging there. These two jets climbed up towards it, and as they got near it, it turned on end and it was like somebody switching a light bulb out; it disappeared.
“I ran to a phone box and I found the number of Thorney Island aerodrome. I got the control tower and said, ‘Can you just tell me what that object was over Portsdown Hill that those two Meteor jets were chasing?’ He said, ‘You didn’t see any object, neither did you see any jets.’
“The odd thing was,” said Sears, “my brother-in-law at the time used to work at the ASWE and he happened to come over the next night, just for a social visit. He walked in and my wife went out into the kitchen to make him a cup of tea, and I just said to him: ‘You had some excitement over your place yesterday morning, didn’t you?’ He looked at me, and his face went grey, then it went white and his mouth set in a grim line. I said, ‘Okay, don’t worry; forget I said it.'”
It was the end of a strange and baffling affair. But, it was event which led Ernie Sears to devote much of his life to investigating the UFO phenomenon.