Mar 08, 2023 I Paul Seaburn

The Man Who Took the Calvine Photo, the "Best UFO Picture Ever", Has Been Identified

On August 4, 1990, a series of photographs were taken by two young men in Scotland of a large, diamond-shaped craft in the sky. They also saw RAF jets make multiple low-level passes at the object – this was 1990 in Scotland, so the jets did not shoot down the object. That may have been a wise decision as the young men saw it accelerate vertically at a high speed and disappear. Fortunately for the world, they took six color photographs. Unfortunately for the world, they took them to The Daily Record, which notified the Ministry of Defence, which confiscated the photographs and negatives. They became the stuff of rumors, legends and fruitless investigations. Like the evidence, the young men disappeared as well. That changed 32 years later in August of 2022 when an investigator found one of the military officials who confiscated the photos and negatives. That official kept a photocopy of one of the photographs and the so-called “Calvine photo” – considered by many to be the best photo of a UFO ever taken, was made public for the first time. Now just one other piece was missing – the testimony of the photographer. Could he still be alive? What happened after the photos were taken from him? Why has he remained hidden all these years. Those questions and more may soon be answered. The Daily Record – the newspaper which contacted the authorities, turned over the photos and negatives, and kept the story confidential for decades, announced it has located the photographer.

What would you do if you saw a scenario like this trhough your camera? (Not the Calvine photo)

“The Calvine incident remains one of the most confounding UFO mysteries in history. They may not prove there is life on Mars but no one has ever argued that. The more likely truth lies with human aircraft ­advancements that were covered up by the MoD and US intelligence agencies.”

Investigator Matthew Illsley is credited by The Daily Record with locating the photographer after an extensive search. That quest was aided by last year’s announcement by investigator and journalist Dr. David Clarke, one of the UK's leading authorities on contemporary legend and folklore, who had been trying to solve the Calvine photo mystery for years. He was able to track down retired RAF officer Craig Lindsay, the first official to respond to the call from The Daily Record and interview one of the witnesses. He found the photos were taken at around 9pm on August 4, 1990, on a hillside near Calvine about 35 miles north-west of Perth in Scotland. He was elated when Lindsay opened the door, thrilled he was invited in, and shocked when Lindsey revealed he had a confirmed copy of one of the photos. (You can see it and Lindsey here.) The photo was verified by experts, some of whom suspected the UFO was an  experimental US spy plane – most likely the rumored Aurora, a hypersonic spy capable of unbelievable speeds but whose existence has never been confirmed. At the time, Clarke and Lindsey hoped that revealing the photograph would entice the photographer to come forwards and share his story.

“Hotel colleagues who were tracked down said he returned to Glasgow in the early 90s.”

“He” is a hotel employee, a porter, named Kevin Russell. After finding out his name, Illsley organized a search for as many men in their 50s by that name in the UK, Canada, Australia and the U.S. Around 300 Kevin Russells were contacted in Scotland alone, and an estimated 150 Kevin Russells were contacted in those other countries. None of them were the photographer. Then Illsley had a breakthrough.

“The photo of Kevin was supplied to Illsley recently by a person who worked at the Pitlochry Hydro in 1990.”

A photograph of the real Kevin Russell (see it here) was sent to Illsley by another former employee of the Pitlochry Hydro in Scotland. They showed a handsome young man who was the same person who took the photos and signed them on the backs – identifying himself as their photographer. This is the Kevin Russell who can verify the testimony given on that day in 1990 to RAF investigator Craig Lindsay.

“They told the RAF’s Craig Lindsay they went through a copse, climbed a fence to moorland then saw the craft. They saw the diamond hovering in silence. After a minute or two, they saw a Harrier go over northwards at high altitude. A minute or two later it came back southwards at low altitude, circled the craft at low speed. At that point they took six photos. The Harrier flew off, and minutes later the craft flew off vertically.”

For the non-Brits, a “copse” is a small group of trees. Many rumors about the UFO have leaked over the years. 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. Copies of the report on the incident and reviews of the photos have been leaked as well, but not the actual photos nor the identify of the witness and taker of “the greatest UFO photo ever.”

If you think you saw a secret weapon, would YOU come forward?

If you were THE Kevin Russell who took the Calvine photo, would you come forward and reveal yourself not just to the UFO world but to the international media and the government institutions and people who have kept your identity and your photographs secret for over 30 years? The Daily Record says the original testimony states that Kevin and his friend said they were terrified when they spotted the 100 feet long UFO hovering above the A9 near Calvine. Imagine how they felt when they saw the RAF jets appear to rendezvous with it.  What must they have thought when the UFO took off at a seemingly impossible speed? Kevin Russell was not terrified enough to keep the photos to himself – he took them to The Daily Record. How must he have felt  when the RAF investigator took the photos and negatives and both he and Daily Record ordered him to keep quiet about it? Was he ever visited or intimidated by other government or ‘Men in Black’ types in the following 30 years? If so, would he share those experiences with the media?

The cat that is Kevin Russell is out of the bag. What will he do? Is it fair to him to be put in such a position? Does the media care about his safety? Does the government?

Should we?

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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