A popular meme on the Internet – “Pic or it didn’t happen” – is applied extremely often to paranormal events like cryptid sightings, ghost and UFOs. Even when photos DO exist, they often fail to pass the smell test and are dismissed or proven to be hoxes – sometimes years after they’ve been generally accepted as real … think the famous “Surgeon’s photo” of the Loch Ness monster. A clear 1990 photo of what appeared to be large, diamond-shaped UFO over Calvine in the Scottish Highlands with an RAF jet possibly chasing it was one of six taken by two men who turned them over to the local media, who turned them over to the Ministry of Defence (MOD) – and then the originals vanished. While photocopies and drawings of the “Calvine UFO” have been leaked to the public, the originals were kept classified. In 2020, when their 30 year statute of limitations was up, the MOD and The National Archives ruled to keep them and the identity of the photographers classified until 2076. Now, a retired RAF officer who secretly kept a copy of one of the pictures has released the Calvine UFO Photograph to the world. Is it an alien spacecraft? A top-secret U.S. spy plane? Something else?
“I have been for waiting for someone to contact about this for more than 30 years.”
Meet retired RAF officer Craig Lindsay, the first official to speak to one of the witnesses who took the photographs at around 9pm on August 4, 1990, on a hillside near Calvine about 35 miles north-west of Perth in Scotland. He was recently contacted by academic and journalist Dr. David Clarke, one of the UK's leading authorities on contemporary legend and folklore who says he has been attempting to crack the Calvine case for years. In his exclusive expose in The Daily Mail, Clarke explains how he researched the long missing photos, tracked down Lindsay, verified the photo with experts, and much more.
Let’s start with a quick review of the incident of August 4, 1990, what happened next, and what has happened over the next 32 years. In their testimony to Scotland’s Daily Record and to the Ministry of Defence investigators, the two men were walking just off the main A9 road 35 miles north-west of Perth near dusk when they claimed to see a large, diamond-shaped craft which they watched for ten minutes before it accelerated vertically at relatively high speed and disappeared. They also reported seeing what were believed to be RAF jets making multiple low-level passes in the area – this would not be unusual since it was a popular low-flying route for RAF aircraft. While they couldn’t determine if the jets were following or investigating the UFO, they managed to get one in the six color photographs they took and shared with the Daily Record. According to the copy of the hand-written sighting report that was released by The National Archives (TNA) in October 2008, the photo negatives (this was pre-digital cameras and cell phones) were requested by the MOD and turned over to it. It is a sign that 1990 was still a more innocent, trusting time, the Daily Record kept the incident quiet, did not keep copies of the negatives, and neither the media nor the MOD returned them to the witnesses. Details were eventually leaked to the public and the MOD UFO files released in October 2008 files contained acknowledgement of the incident and a summary of the investigation of the photos:
“The negatives have been considered by the relevant staffs who have established that the jet aircraft is a Harrier (and also identified a barely visible second aircraft, again probably a Harrier) but have reached no definite conclusion regarding the large object.”
One famous acknowledgment of the Calvine photos came from Nick Pope, the former MOD UFO investigator, who said he once had an enlargement of one of the photos on his office wall before it was confiscated by a superior and called it “easily the most compelling UFO photo” he had ever seen.
“He was willing to talk to me and, most exciting of all, I discovered that he'd broken protocol that day and stashed a copy of the image before, on Whitehall's orders, sending the entire dossier — negatives included — to the Ministry of Defence in London. He'd kept the secret copy in his desk for 32 years — hidden inside his copy of Great Aircraft Of The World. When I eventually tracked him down, now 83 and still living in Scotland, he sounded almost relieved.”
While the identity of the photographers is still unknown, Clarke tracked down RAF Officer Craig Lindsay (photo here with his copy of the famous Calvine UFO photo) and was shocked when Lindsay was relieved to share his secretly confiscated photo and tell his story. Although he may have breached the Official Secrets Act, he seemed to feel 32 years was long enough. Lindsay was a press officer called in to interview the witnesses, who told him the UFO was mysteriously silent. After taking the negatives, he from the Daily Record, he sent a copy of the best one to the Ministry of Defence's UFO desk in London and was contacted immediately. Lindsay says he also saw the poster at the MoD, but was told to forget he was involved with it. Which he did … until Clarke called. Take a look at the photo again (click here) then read as Clarke describes his reaction:
“The moment Craig showed the photograph to me I knew I was looking at something exceptional. Yes, it is a black and white image, printed on colour paper, and the trees and fence look a little blurry, as if the photographer took it in a moment of panic — which is consistent with their story. But the camera is focused on the weird diamond shaped object in the centre of the frame. Unlike many other UFO images, this is clearly a structured craft of unknown origin. It looks other-worldly and unlike any conventional aircraft.”
Clarke says he’s been investigating UFOs for decades and this is the best photo he’s ever seen. But … is it real? He says he had it analyzed by Andrew Robinson, a senior lecturer in photography at Sheffield Hallam University, who is convinced it is not a hoax.
“My conclusion is that the object is definitely in front of the camera, that is, it's not a fake produced in post-production, and its placement within the scene appears to be approximately halfway between the foreground fence and the plane in the background.”
So … what is the UFO in the photo? Many people suspect it was experimental US spy plane – most likely the rumored Aurora, a hypersonic spy capable in 1990 of unbelievable speeds but whose existence has never been confirmed. Triangular UFOs have been reported in the UK since the 1980s and Nick Pope claims the Calvine Photo was shown to one-time secretary of the US air force Donald Rice who was asked if it was the “Aurora” and Rice was allegedly “incensed” by the question.
Clarke and Lindsay both hope the release of the photo will bring the two witnesses out of hiding to confirm their story. Clarke hopes that will convince the MoD to fill in the many blanks about what happened to the negatives and their file on the case. Will any of that happen?
Check the photo out one more time. You have the pic. Did it happen? What do you think the object is? Will we ever know the truth?