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UFOs: The “Falling Leaf” Phenomenon

In 2004, when I visited Puerto Rico for the first time – in search of the Chupacabras – I was told of the account of a former civil-defense employee. He had seen a gigantic, unknown craft rise silently out of the coastal waters of the island, while he was on an early-morning jog in the spring of 1999. In this case, the vast device, which was viewed at a distance of around half-a-mile off the coast, or perhaps slightly more, wobbled slightly – rather like a falling-leaf – as it took to the skies, and then streaked vertically at a fantastic speed, before finally vanishing from view as it grew ever smaller, and was finally lost due to the effects of the bright, rising sun. It’s a fact that there are more than a few cases on record of these “falling leaf”-type UFO encounters.

In September 1952, a notable UFO encounter occurred at Royal Air Force Topcliffe, a military base in Yorkshire, England. One of the witnesses, Flight Lieutenant John Kilburn, said of the incident: “Sir, I have the honor to report the following incident which I witnessed on Friday, 19th September, 1952. I was standing with four other aircrew personnel of No. 269 Squadron watching a Meteor fighter gradually descending. The Meteor was at approximately 5000 feet and approaching from the east. [Flight Officer R.N.] Paris suddenly noticed a white object in the sky at a height between ten and twenty thousand feet some five miles astern of the Meteor.”

Kilburn continued: “The object was silver in color and circular in shape, it appeared to be traveling at a much slower speed than the Meteor but was on a similar course. It maintained the slow forward speed for a few seconds before commencing to descend, swinging in a pendular motion during descent similar to a falling sycamore leaf…After a few seconds, the object stopped its pendulous motion and its descent and began to rotate about its own axis. Suddenly it accelerated at an incredible speed towards the west turning onto a south-easterly heading before disappearing.”

From the 1953 files of NICAP (the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena) comes the following, which occurred over Barter Island, Alaska: ” 4:50 a.m. local time. Captain R. E. Barnes was thawing and heating a C-47 at Barter Island air strip when he heard a noise that seemed to be out of synchronization with the Herman Nelson heaters running nearby. He ducked out of the wheel well and walked over to the heaters located in front of the left main gear. He immediately realized that the noise was emanating from a large, round, bright object which was descending over the building area about 3/4 of a mile away. This object appeared to be at approximately 5,000 feet in altitude and descending in a sort of falling leaf pattern. Captain Barnes estimated the distance covered by the side to side movements at about 200 feet. Approximately 45 seconds later the object had reached an estimated 2000 feet directly over the building area.

“The object was described as round in shape and brilliant white in color and approximately 30-40 feet in diameter. Small ray-like appendages appeared on either lower side. After hovering for approximately 45 seconds, the object began an ascent using the same pattern as it did for the descent. During the climb out, 1st Lt. Lewis E. Griffin arrived at the aircraft and Capt. Barnes pointed out the object for Lt. Griffin. a rated pilot. At this time the object was directly overhead at an estimated altitude of 10,000 to 15,000 feet. The two witnesses continued to watch the object for two more minutes as it traveled to the east blinking as it went. Capt. Barnes is an F-94 jet pilot with 1470 hours of flying time.”

The cases that I have shared with you above are just a few of many. Are those falling leaf movements signs of malfunctions in the craft? Problems soaring through our atmosphere? I have to admit that I have no idea. All I can say for sure is that the falling leaf aspect of UFO encounters is one that dates back to the very early years of Ufology – and that still continues.

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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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