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The Cosford Incident

By: Paul Geraghty - Updated: 23 Feb 2013 | comments*Discuss
Cosford Incident Nick Pope Aurora

In one night of March 1993 there was an extraordinary wave of UFO sightings across South-Western Britain. So remarkable were the reports, and so credible were the eye-witnesses involved, that the British government did what it very rarely did in response to UFO sightings : launched an official investigation.

The Cosford Incident

It all happened on the night of March 30 1993. Across South-West Britain, from South Yorkshire to Cornwall, many people who were out that night saw something remarkable in the skies. The descriptions which came flooding in to police stations and government offices were highly consistent. A large object with at least two visible lights and perhaps a third blinking a little way behind made its way slowly across the night sky. Most reports said it was soundless, though at least one, from a professional meteorological observer, said it emitted a low hum. Many witnesses said that the two bright lights left a vapour trail in their wake. The Met observer said he saw beams from the aircraft scanning the earth’s surface.

The next day the reports arrived on the desk of Nick Pope, the civil servant who manned the “UFO desk” at the Ministry of Defence. Having read widely in the UFO literature since assuming his position, he had no doubt often wondered whether he would ever get to be in on one of the great UFO cases like those he had come across in books. As he excitedly surveyed the reports in front of him, it seemed to him that, at last, his moment had come.

Pope ordered the sequestration of all air traffic control data. After reviewing it with RAF personnel, he concluded that it showed nothing out of the ordinary. Giant craft traversing British airspace, seen by a number of witnesses, including policemen, RAF personnel and the professional meterological observer, yet not showing up on radar. Surely this was a danger to the realm! No one could say that this was of “No Defence Significance”, the phrase which was the British government’s standard response to inquiries about UFOs. Pope sought and received permission from his superiors to pursue a full investigation of what he dubbed “The Cosford Incident”, since the UFO was said to have crossed the airspace of RAF Cosford, and some of the witness reports came from RAF police personnel stationed there.

For some time, rumours about a secret American aircraft called Aurora had been circulating. Almost nothing was known for certain about Aurora, not even whether it actually existed, but it was said to be a replacement for the SR-71 Blackbird, which was a reconnaisance aircraft capable of travelling at speeds of more than Mach 3 so high up in the atmosphere that it was almost in space.

In Washington D.C. the British embassy inquired about whether the American government had any experimental triangular-shaped aircraft which might have strayed into British airspace on the night in question. The Americans denied it, but said they had been receiving reports of weird triangle-shaped aircraft too. They wondered whether the British had any experimental aircraft which answered the description!

The Cosford Incident in Perspective

UFO aficionados were later to note that this was exactly three years after the most remarkable encounter of the Belgian UFO wave which had seen Belgian F-16s struggling to establish a missile lock on giant triangular UFOs moving at thousands of miles an hour, and recording it all on videotape. Just as in the British sightings, the craft spotted during the Belgian UFO wave were mostly seen moving slowly across the landscape at night with three visible lights. Could it have been the same mysterious vehicles in each case? Was there any significance to the anniversary? Was March 30 some kind of alien Halloween on which they all went out to have some fun with the earthlings?

Though nothing ultimately came of his investigation, since leaving government service, in the books and articles he has written, Nick Pope has continued to promote the Cosford Incident as being a standout UFO case. Others in the UFO research community are not so sure, however. They point out that the times quoted in the witness reports exactly coincide with the re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere of the Russian rocket Kosmos 2238. To them, this seems a satisfactory explanation of most of the sightings. The only exception is the report from the Met observer who described an object swooping low and seemingly scanning the earth with a beam of light while emitting a loud humming sound. A check with the local police offices confirmed that a police helicopter was out and about in that area at that time.


So was there anything more to the Cosford Incident than a Russian rocket, a police helicopter and Nick Pope’s wish-fulfilment fantasies? The MOD has opened up its files on the subject and made them available for download. So have a look and decide for yourself.

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