Oct 12, 2013 I Nick Redfern

UFOs: Then and Now

Well, it's very clear that after reading my most recent article - Where are the UFOs? - many people took what I actually wrote totally out of context. That is abundantly obvious from the dozens of comments that now follow the article. Despite what some incorrectly said, I did not deny the fact that UFOs are still seen today. Nor did I deny that people still report UFO sightings in large numbers. Rather, what I actually said (and only said) was that, today, we simply do not get anywhere near the numbers and percentages of so-called "classic" cases of years and decades gone by.

Yes, every now and again there is a case like Stephenville, Texas, but in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s such events were most assuredly not of the "every now and again" kind. They were all over the place - like a nasty rash! And to demonstrate that to those who still fail to understand what I said, I'm going to share with you a number of cases from the 1950s, which will serve perfectly to prove my point about the significant differences between UFO activity back then and today.

All of the following reports are taken from official documentation that has surfaced via the American and UK Freedom of Information Acts. They collectively demonstrate the significant contrast between what was afoot then and the current state of play in the early 21st Century.

We'll start with a U.S. Navy document of January 1950, which details a series of encounters involving military personnel in the vicinity of Kodiak, Alaska. As the documentation notes, multiple UFO encounters were reported. They involved encounters with (a) small, orb-like objects that circled around the USS Tilbrook, which was anchored in the area; and (b) sightings of a classic disc-shaped craft that, according to the military, acted in a "highly threatening" fashion.


Moving on to 1951, in the first part of the year there were literally dozens of UFO sightings reported from the highly sensitive Oak Ridge atomic-energy installation in Tennessee. One particular report, of March 3 of that year, refers to the radar-tracking of an unknown target near the facility that was described as having a "density" similar to that of a DC-3 aircraft and a speed referred to as "terrific."

Turning our attentions to the U.K. and 1952, there is the following, which is extracted from a British Air Ministry report, and which details a significant UFO encounter at a Royal Air Force base in the north of England called Topcliffe.

Prepared by Flight Lieutenant John Kilburn, the documentation states that a UFO, "silver in color and circular in shape," descended over the base in a "pendular" fashion (described as "similar to a falling sycamore leaf") and "suddenly accelerated at an incredible speed towards the west." For good measure, Kilburn added: "The rate of acceleration was unbelievable."


Moving on a few years, to 1957, there's the following report from the FBI, detailing an incredibly close encounter involving one of its very own employees, a certain "Miss Richards" and her boyfriend. The documentation states in part:

“…while driving on Route 1 north of Henderson, North Carolina, the pair was startled by what appeared to be a round low-flying object coming directly toward the car. The object appeared to pass over the car and Miss Richards turned to see it appear to speed up and then veer off out of sight. She and [her fiance] both felt they had seen something unusual which was difficult to explain and certainly did not appear to be an optical illusion.”

Also in 1957, we have the following, referenced in a November 12, 1957 FBI document:

“Within the past two weeks reports have increased tremendously and some of the more serious have been described as follows: An object had landed in Nebraska with six people aboard, the persons had talked to a Nebraska farmer and then sped off into space; a fiery object was seen flashing across the southern skies from Albany, Georgia, to Miami, Florida; a Coast Guard cutter had sighted a huge object flying over the Gulf of Mexico; and persons in the Southwestern states while driving their cars have allegedly seen UFOs that caused the engines in their automobiles to stop.”

And, as a final example, there is the following statement, from the British Air Ministry, concerning its investigation of a profound UFO intrusion into British airspace, also in 1957, near Scotland's RAF West Freugh installation:

“It was noted by the radar operators that the sizes of the echoes were considerably larger than would be expected from normal aircraft. In fact they considered that the size was nearer that of a ship’s echo...The incident was due to the presence of five reflecting objects of unknown type and origin. It is considered unlikely that they were conventional aircraft, meteorological balloons or charged clouds.”

This article runs at around 1,000 words. I could easily have made it 10,000 words, such was the wealth of highly significant UFO activity all across the world throughout the 1950s. And, for that matter, throughout the 1940s, 1960s, and 1970s, too. And that was the whole point of my previous article.


Consider the reports I have cited above: we have  a UFO buzzing the car of an employee of the FBI; we have a highly maneuverable flying saucer-style craft seen over a British military airfield; we have UFOs tracked over the UK which are officially described as being the size of  ships; we have a landing case in Nebraska, UFOs stalling car engines across the American southwest, and UFOs performing "threatening" actions in Alaska. And that's just the minutest tip of the 1950s iceberg.

Today, like it or like it not, while the number of UFO reports filed may still be healthy, the fact is that the "classics" - of the type I have cited above - simply do not occur with the frequency that they did back then. That was my point. That is still my point.  Yes, there is still a UFO presence. No, it does not interact with us to the sheer, "classic" extent that it once did. End of story.

Nick Redfern

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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