The Mother Of All UFOs? Part-1

There are certain UFO-themed cases that – for me, at least – really stand out when it comes to the matter of demonstrating the reality of the phenomenon. The following is a perfect example. The genesis of the story dates back to 1949; to say that it’s a saga of incredible proportions is right on the money. On October 26, 1991, the late J.R. Oliver wrote to UFO author/investigator Tim Good and related an amazing story. At the time, I was working on my first book, A Covert Agenda, and, on December 4, 1991, Tim sent me a copy of Oliver’s letter – thinking that I would find it interesting, which I most certainly did. Unfortunately, by the time that I wrote to Oliver, he had passed away. His wife, however, very generously gave me permission to use the account of her late husband, and which makes for fascinating reading. Oliver began…

“In August 1949, in order to test the updated air defences of England against attack, Operation Bulldog was launched. Operation Bulldog’s attacking forces consisted of aircraft of the Benelux countries supported by U.S. air squadrons based on the continent. Flying from various airfields in Holland, France, Belgium and Germany, their objective was to attack London and other prime targets in southern and midland England, without being officially ‘downed’ by fighter aircraft brought into action by the defensive network of Fighter Command.

“The radar defense chain extended from Land’s End, along the south coast and up to the north of Scotland, overlapping at all heights from sea level to about 100,000 feet. Even so long ago, it was almost impossible to fly a glider across the Channel without it being plotted. The exercise ran for fifteen days and was structured in such a way that the technical resources and personnel of the defensive screen were stretched to the limit.”

Oliver continued as follows: “I was, at the time, a radar operator AC1, stationed at RAF Sandwich in Kent, a Ground Control Interception station, used to verbally direct fighter aircraft onto target aircraft by means of radar guidance and radio transmission. In conjunction with neighbouring radar stations, our function, especially during Bulldog, was a busy one. As can be appreciated, air and sea traffic in the vicinity of the Channel tended to be heavier than in other areas of the UK and this reflected in the general high performance of radar stations in that area. All personnel at RAF Sandwich were fully skilled and right on top of their job. Two watches were kept, A and B, on alternate twelve-hour shifts for the duration of Bulldog. About a week into the exercise, after a few hours of being busy, we were stood down, about midnight. Things had gone slack and ‘Group’ had advised is that we could take a break. This was in the normal run of things during the exercise and except for one radar operator to keep general watch and one other to man the PBX, there was a general move into the small canteen across the corridor.”

Type 14 Radar at RAF Sandwich (credit: Subterranea Britannica)

It wasn’t long at all before something very weird occurred (and that’s putting it mildly, to say the least…) as Oliver noted in his letter: “Within about fifteen minutes, the PBX operator came in, approached the Duty Controller and advised him that Bethe first to see the contact and my plot was the first to go on the plot board. As other operators took their positions, more plots were called out concerning position of the object and its height. The object was flying roughly parallel with the south coast, from west to east. Reaching a point out to see off the ‘heel’ of Kent, it abruptly turned north and as it approached the Thames estuary we passed it on to Martlesham radar, with whom we had been in contact via the PBX link, and whose radar area impinged on our own. Shortly after, we lost contact with it, due to the limit of our own radar range.”

The Happidrome at Sandwich, Type 14 radar base to the left of the two huts. (credit: Subterranea Britannica)

Oliver then noted something even more incredible: “It was a simple matter to assess the speed of the object from the times and distances between plots and its height was directly read from our Type 13 radar, designed specifically to read the height of any aircraft within its range. Flying at close to 50,000 feet, the air speed of the object we had observed and plotted in accordance with RAF standard procedures was assessed at very nearly 3,000 miles per hour [italics mine].”

What was the true nature of the object tracked by multiple military installations back in 1949? Could it have been a brazen penetration of British airspace by the Russians? A glitch on numerous radar screens? Or something even stranger? In part-2 of this article – “The Mother Of All UFOs?” – you will see how and why the “something even stranger” angle is almost certainly the correct one…


Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.
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