Back in the 1990s, I spent quite a bit of time digging into the British Ministry of Defense’s declassified UFO files that were held at the Public Record Office. Today, it’s called the National Archives. Back then, the UK didn’t have a Freedom of Information Act of the type it has today. However, it did have (and still has) what is called the “Thirty Year Ruling.” As its title suggests, it’s an act that permits files to be released after 30 years, providing there are no specific reasons to warrant further withholding. I find it odd that so many people in the “UFO Disclosure” movement made a lot of noise about the release of British Government UFO files in the mid-2000s, but they seemed (and still seem!) oblivious to the fact that – via the Thirty Year Ruling – UFO files running from 300 to 400 pages in length were routinely released every year as far back as 1993.
One of those files describes the intriguing case of a man named Max Beran. It’s a case that resulted in the creation of an 11-page report on his UFO sighting of January 1965. According to Beran, it was on January 5 that he saw something strange in the skies over March, Cambridgeshire, England. But, it wasn’t just in the sky: it reportedly fell to the ground. Beran wrote to an office of the Meteorological Office Unit (MOU) at Huntingdon Road, Cambridge. He said in his letter: “Whilst in the sunlight it remained visible, giving the appearance of a curved object. Perhaps a parachute, but I would have thought too fast for that. Before falling too low to be visible in the low sun it appeared to be falling to a point perhaps a mile or two south east of the town center from where I was watching. What could the object have been?” What, indeed?
When I found this report, I flipped through the files and saw that the Senior Meteorological Officer at Cambridge quickly apprised his headquarters at Bracknell, Berkshire, of Beran’s letter. Recognizing this was probably a matter for the Ministry of Defense, Braknell prepared a one-page memorandum for the attention of the MoD and which outlined the facts. The MoD swung into action. What’s interesting, though, is that when I continued to read the file I could see that it was clearly missing some entries. For example, a handwritten note from the MoD revealed that the local police at March had looked into the matter. The note states: “[The police] sent a car out to look for the object in the vicinity of the ‘Sixteen Foot Drain’ but without success.” The relevant police report is missing from the MoD file, as is any data relative to the circumstances under which the police and the MoD liaised on this matter.
There was also the significant fact that the MoD questioned personnel in the Royal Navy, the Ministry of Aviation, and various other military aviation bodies, in search for answers. It has to be noted, too, that much of that correspondence is also missing. All we know for sure is what the MoD told Max Beran: “Things which may on occasion fall from aircraft include external fuel tanks, drag-chutes, cockpit canopies, access panels or doors, and sometimes accumulations of ice. We have looked carefully into all these possibilities so far as our own aircraft are concerned, but have drawn a blank.”
Despite this seemingly authoritative letter, it’s abundantly clear that the Ministry of Defense was keeping its opinions on the case close to home. One MoD official recorded, with an exclamation mark: “If we have nothing to say, the sooner we say it the better!”
Of course, it’s entirely possible – maybe even probable – that what Max Beran saw was indeed a piece of military hardware that accidentally fell to earth and which no-one wanted to own up to – at least, not to an inquiring member of the UK public. And maybe not even to the MoD, if it was something sensitive and of a “need to know” nature. Or, as Beran himself even suggested, it was “perhaps a parachute.” Half a century later, the trail has gone cold. Unless you know better…