From: Nick Pope <nick.nul> Date: Sat, 27 Mar 2004 14:59:21 -0000 Fwd Date: Sat, 27 Mar 2004 12:40:00 -0500 Subject: European Voice UFO Article List, James Drew, Sub Editor of European Voice, has kindly given his consent to my posting the text of his article from the 18-24 March edition of the newspaper. ----- Scepticism set to scupper any chance of Union-led UFO research By James Drew Are we alone in the universe? If not, are we being visited by our intergalactic neighbours? Such questions, normally pondered following an excellent supper, when port and cigars are handed out and thoughts turn to philosophical matters, have once again appeared on the European Parliament's radar screen. On 20 January, Union for Europe of the Nations (UEN) MEP Sebastiano Musumeci submitted a proposal concerning the "creation of a Community body for the study of unexplained atmospheric phenomena". In other words, unidentified flying objects (UFOs). "For a long time now," Musumeci declared, "sightings=85have been reported in all corners of the globe. Some of these phenomena=85not only cause considerable perplexity but also fuel theories =96 so far lacking any foundation =96 on the probable existence of aliens." The Italian MEP pointed out that the European Commission should pay special attention to the "serious study" by various European space centres and research establishments, "since these phenomena do not fall within the scope of individual member state competence". "In the light of the above, would the Commission not consider it appropriate to promote and coordinate research and information on unexplained atmospheric phenomena at a Europe- wide level, possibly assigning this responsibility to a specialized and experienced body, such as [French government organization] Service d'Expertise des Phenomenes de Rentrees Atmospheriques (SEPRA) in Toulouse, or the European Space Agency?" It is not the first time that such a recommendation has been put before EU institutions and, considering Belgium's previous history of remarkable (and well-documented) sightings, perhaps the question's most surprising characteristic is its rarity. For at least eight months, beginning in October 1989, Belgium experienced near-daily sightings of large triangular-shaped UFOs. The sightings began near Eupen, close to the Dutch and German border, and then progressed steadily westward to Liege, Namur, Wavre, Mons and, finally, toward the French border. Among the witnesses were nearly two hundred members and officers of the gendarmerie nationale as well as policemen, military and civilian pilots, air traffic controllers, meteorologists, aeronautical engineers and physicists. Observers frequently described the objects as being "as big as a football field", "as big as, or bigger than, an aircraft carrier". An account also describes one "hovering for minutes at a time and [it would] pivot, turning 90 degrees and even 180 degrees" and then moving "too slowly to be a conventional aeroplane", before "accelerating so rapidly that it would be across the horizon in a second or two =96 and sometimes it would flash right back". On 30-31 March 1990, Belgian Air Force (BAF) F-16 jets were scrambled to intercept the unknown intruders, their radar confirming the objects' ability to elude their pursuers by means of phenomenal manoeuvres, as evident on the radar tapes later released to the media. In Vague d'OVNI sur la Belgique (Wave of UFOs over Belgium), a two-volume text produced by Brussels- based research group Societe Belge d'Etude des Phenomenes Spatiaux, retired deputy chief of the BAF, Major-General Wilfried De Brouwer, said: "The Air Force has arrived at the conclusion that a number of anomalous phenomena has been produced within Belgian airspace. The numerous testimonies of observations=85 reinforced by the [Air Force] reports of the night of 30-31 March, have led us to face the hypothesis that a certain number of unauthorized aerial activities have taken place." These remarkable events led to a resolution being proposed by Belgian deputy Elio Di Rupo to the European Parliament in 1991. The assembly's committee on industry, external trade, research and energy held numerous meetings, chaired by Tullio Regge, an Italian Independent MEP and physicist. Di Rupo's intention was to bring about an all-European agency, run by the Commission and with a standing committee of experts from the member states, which would collate and analyze UFO reports from the military, scientific organizations and the general public. In a report tabled in December 1993 =96 accepted unanimously by the committee =96 Regge proposed that SEPRA in Toulouse be given a statute enabling it to carry out inquiries throughout the EU. But the proposal to establish what might have become the European UFO observation centre attracted a great deal of ridicule in the media and the motion was defeated in early 1994. In his report, Regge expressed considerable scepticism about the majority of UFO 'sightings', although he noted that "scientists still have a duty to continue researching into these events in order to arrive at a satisfactory explanation". Later, he emphasized that the proposal by the committee had focused on the creation of a European evaluation centre within SEPRA, rather than on a study of the phenomena per se, but largely thanks to ridicule in the media =96 particularly in the UK =96 critics ignored this point. "I was attacked by two UK Labour MEPs who probably hadn't even read the report," lamented the scientist. "I was accused of asking for money to do research into Father Christmas and things of this kind. They put obstacles in my path and this developed into a strong attack by the UK. I believe that Labour MEPs decided to attack this report for political reasons, just to make a fuss." Almost certainly as a result of the ensuing ridicule, the-then European Parliament president Egon Klepsch omitted the debate from its agenda on 21 January 1994. Regge proposed a new text, but because the Parliament was approaching the end of session (owing to the election in June 1994) there was insufficient time to bring the proposal before the assembly's full session. The reaction comes as no surprise to hardnosed investigators. Timothy Good, UK bestselling author of ufologists' 'bibles', such as Beyond Top Secret (1996) and Unearthly Disclosure (2000), one of the world's most highly regarded UFO experts, and a man inured, after 50 years of painstaking research, to sceptics' slings and arrows, believes that fear of mockery has held back serious debate on the issue for too long. "No one wants to look foolish, least of all politicians," he told European Voice. "When faced with worldwide media that seems hell-bent on mocking any research, no matter how sober or well intentioned, it is hardly surprising that people become discouraged. I welcome Musumeci's proposal, but I fear that nothing will come of it." His view is echoed by Nick Pope, who was responsible for the UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) UFO research project from 1991- 94: "Despite being interested in Musumeci's Parliamentary question concerning the study of unexplained atmospheric phenomena, I doubt the European Commission will accept the suggestion, despite the fact that coordinating research and investigation on a Union-wide basis seems like a very sensible idea. "It is a great pity that the Commission does not promote and coordinate research into such matters. "During my time at the MoD's UFO research project, we investigated several hundred sighting reports each year and, while most could be explained as misidentifications of known objects or phenomena, others appeared to defy any conventional explanation. "Whatever the explanation for them, if there are things in our airspace that we do not understand, this raises a number of defence and flight safety issues." Pope also agrees with Musumeci's point that "this is not an issue confined to any one member state". "If we pool our data and work together on the problem, we stand a better chance of solving the mystery." Panel Text: UFO Sightings across Europe 1942-45: Allied pilots on bombing raids over Germany reported seeing unusual balls of lights and small metallic discs. Dubbed 'Foo Fighters', the Allies feared they were a new Nazi weapon. After the war it transpired that German air crew had seen them too, but were also unaware of their origin. 1946: Strange objects were seen over Norway, Sweden and Finland. UK and American intelligence took a close interest in sightings of these so-called ghost rockets, but no explanation was ever found. 1956: A series of UFO sightings took place over England, in August. Objects were tracked on radars at Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath and RAF Bentwaters and the RAF scrambled two Venom fighters to try to intercept the object. One pilot said he saw the UFO, which eluded the jets. 1980: In December, United States Air Force personnel based at RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge in England reported seeing a landed UFO in Rendlesham Forest, in Suffolk. Radiation readings were taken from the landing site, assessed as being ten times the norm for the area. 1981: In January, a UFO was seen landing near the village of Trans-en-Provence in France. Unusual marks were found at the landing site and an analysis of the soil showed various anomalies. 1990: On 5 November a number of fast jets travelling from the UK to Germany were overtaken by a UFO as they were entering Dutch airspace. The pilots submitted an official report to the British Ministry of Defence. 1993: In March, a UFO flew over RAF Cosford and RAF Shawbury, seen by military personnel. A report was sent to UK Ministry of Defence.
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