With Adelaide's weather much cooler than last week,I continue to reduce the pile of new books by my bedside. Today's post continues the theme of "crashed UFOs," by taking a look at the new book by U.K. researcher Andy Roberts.
This is an important book, for it takes a deep look at one "crashed UFO" story from the United Kingdom. "UFO Down? The Berwyn Mountain UFO Crash" by Andy Roberts. Published by Fortean Words, Bideford, North Devon. 2010. ISBN 978-1-9057-23-60-7.
Dr David Clarke of Sheffield Hallam University reminds us that the UFO phenomenon may be seen as a modern myth, citing the fact that in a 2001 Gallup Poll revealed that "a third of Americans, and a similar number of Britons, believe that "extraterrestrial beings have visited earth at some point in the past." (p.7)
Setting the scene - the "legend":
"The Berwyn Mountain UFO crash, as the event has become known by the media and by ufologists (those who study UFOs) took place over several hours on the night of 23 January 1974." (p.11.)
At about 8.30pm on a wet, cold Wednesday, villagers in Bala, Wales heard "...a terrible rumbling noise lasting four or five seconds. This was followed almost immediately by the sound of a massive explosion...many...recall a huge white and green light...some said a fire could be seen on the mountain...a nurse...(saw) a huge, glowing ball of light ...(she was)flagged down and stopped by a group of police and soldiers...and forcefully ordered her off the mountain...Police and military personnel appeared as if from nowhere...In the days following, a large military presence appeared...more suspicious still were the dark-suited officials who arrived in the area...Despite the rumours, the authorities refused to acknowledge that anything unusual had taken place at all...A breakthrough came in 1996, when a former soldier broke his silence to speak to ufologists. He told how the military knew in advance that a UFO was going to come down on the Berwyn Mountains...(pp17-21.)
Extracting data from the mass of witnesses' observations Roberts concluded that:
* At 8.38pm there was an earth tremor felt over a wide area
* At about this time there were several "lights" seen; which were "A large, apparently slow moving red/pink ball of fire, seen in the sky seconds after the tremor; a white glow, also seen immediately after the tremor; a red 'fire' or 'bonfire' seen immediately after the tremor, and at least two beams of white light seen between 8.38pm and 9.00pm." (p.32.)
Central to the case is what happened to nurse Pat Evans. Chapter five of the book is devoted to this account. Thinking that an aircraft had crashed on the mountains, she went up a mountain road, "looked across the dark moorland beneath the mountains...saw...this huge, round, orange ball sitting on the mountain..." (p.42.)
Near this light were white lights like "torch lights" (p.43). In addition she reported "vehicle lights" (p.43.) She watched the scene for 15 minutes or so and then drove home realising there was no aircraft crash.
"Several versions of the Berwyn myth claim that on her return journey to Llandderfel on the B4391, Pat was stopped and ordered off the mountain by police and military personnel. This did not happen..." (p.50.)
Roberts determined that the 'beams of white light' were apparently due to poachers on the mountain that night "Thus, we can be certain that the poachers caused the beams of light seen at Llandrillo for up to fifteen minutes after the earth tremor." (p.56.)
What of the reported military and police presence? It is true Police personnel attended the mountain that night believing that an aircraft may have crashed. Mountain rescue crew did deploy and conduct a search for a similar reason.
What of the tremor and the light in the sky? "...it was clear that the rumblings and explosion that took place at 8.38pm were caused by an earthquake and nothing else." (p65.)
"It was the terrific explosion, the noise and the physical sensations caused by the earthquake, coupled with the almost immediate sighting of a long lasting meteor that convinced many people near the Berwyn Mountains that an aircraft had crashed" (p.73.)
Who were the officials?
"...a much more likely source for the stories of mystery men is that they were the IGS team." (p.77.) (IGS stands for the Institute of Geological Sciences who visited the area to conduct numerous interviews about the earthquake.
So, Roberts' investigation concluded that everything could be explained by an earthquake, a meteor, poachers, and researchers asking about the earthquake. He still had an open mind on what the nurse observed.
Having determined what actually happened on 23 January 1974, Roberts wondered how the "legend" came to be?
"As the story developed, it slowly moved away from the original, largely factual, media reporting and became essentially a folktale, a story, or legend traditionally passed on by word of mouth, but with the 20th century additions of the medium of books, magazines, internet and TV. As with all folktales and legends each re-telling provided the opportunity for new strands of lore to be introduced, each addition slightly changing elements or emphasis of the story." (p.82.)
How did the nurses' account come to involve being stopped by a group of police and military? "UFOlogist Margaret Fry moved to North Wales...Fry interviewed nurse Pat Evans in 1995 and it was from that interview the claim arose...Although Pat Evans vehemently denied this took place and Margret Fry later agreed she had misunderstood what Pat had told her..." (p.89.)
Robert's final conclusion is that there is only one element of the whole event which eludes his mundane explanations, and this is what did Pat Evans see?
"So, while all other elements of the Berwyn Mountain UFO legend may be explained by the evidence presented in this book, I simply have no idea what Pat saw..." (p.99.)
As I said at the beginning of this post, this is an important book. Andy is to be congratulated on getting to the bottom of this "crashed UFO" story to show that a UFO was not involved.