Bright lights in the sky, a mysterious triangle and ‘a great black craft glowing with light’ – just some of the UFO sightings reported to the Ministry of Defence from across the region. Stuart Arnold takes a closer look at the files.

THE truth is out there – or is it? Files released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to the National Archives reveal a myriad of weird objects, shapes and lights spotted over the region’s skies.

Mysterious orange balls of light, a great black craft glowing with light and a tubularshaped object were all reported.

Disappointingly, there are no reports of little green men telling locals “We come in peace”

or cute aliens requesting the location of the nearest call box so they can phone home.

Until this year, when it was closed, reports of such sightings made to the police and the RAF were passed to the UK’s X-Files department within the MoD.

The Secretariat (Air Staff) office was asked to investigate such reports, but did so solely to establish whether what was seen represented a threat to the security of the country.

The files published today detail a number of apparent unidentified flying object (UFO) sightings in the region, largely from the mid to late-Nineties, and the MoD’s response.

A MEMBER of the British UFO Research Society contacted the MoD to follow up a report passed to the organisation of five small “orange balls of light” seen in the sky in Gateshead on November 2, 1995.

A member of the public had initially reported the sighting to Newcastle International Airport, but it had been unable to account for it with any of its aircraft.

The letter states that witnesses observed the balls of light with a rate of motion similar to that of aircraft and travelling in procession, singly and several miles apart.

They were said to be following the same course, almost parallel with the horizon.

In its response the MoD said it was “unaware of any matter of defence significance”

associated with the sighting and had received no other similar reports.

It added: “We believe that down-to-earth explanations are available for most of these reported sightings, such as aircraft seen from unusual angles or natural phenomena.”

ON September 23, 1996, a member of the public living in North Shields, North Tyneside, wrote to the then Prime Minister John Major claiming they were followed by a “great black craft glowing with light”.

Their letter was passed to the MoD, which said officials had checked through sighting report files and the department had no reports in the Tyne and Wear area on the date in question.

A FORMER RAF navigator and North Yorkshire Police officer wrote to RAF Staxton Wold, near Scarborough, to report seeing bright white lights from his back garden on December 10, 1997.

In his letter he said the lights appeared and disappeared with rapid frequency and appeared to be like an “enormous flight of powerfully electronically-lit fireflies sat over Scarborough’s North Bay”.

He also saw two larger yellow lights come from the east, move slowly towards Scarborough, then turn and move back out to sea.

Strangest of all the lights were completely silent, he said.

The former serviceman said he wanted to be “assured of his sanity” in making the report.

In its reply, the MoD said it had received no other reports of UFO sightings anywhere else in the UK at that time.

It concluded: “We are satisfied that there is no corroborating evidence to suggest that the UK’s airspace was breached by unauthorised military aircraft.”

ON October 17, 1995, at about 5.30pm, an unidentified tubular shaped object was spotted by a householder in Billingham, near Stockton, from their kitchen window.

The object, which had a single tail-wing at each end and a silvery reflective body, was said to be travelling at about 1,500ft and about a mile away.

The householder described the object: “The thing had no markings, made no noise, had no propellers and travelled against the wind.”

Again the MoD gave its stock response, stating: “In this particular instance we are not aware of any evidence that would indicate that a breach of the UK’s air defences has occurred, but [we] have noted your report and would like to thank you for your interest.”

A “BLACK triangle” UFO was reported by a member of the public in Stanley, County Durham, at 9.50pm on September 29, 1995.

It had three lights on it – one which pulsed red on its nose cone and two steady white lights on the back of the object. It was described as emitting a high-pitched tone and its speed was 40mph.

They viewed it through binoculars for about 30 seconds before it disappeared from view.

The person making the report said: “The area it occurred in [County Durham] has recently seen an enormous amount of strange aerial phenomena which is quite staggering in its variety.

“I am aware of the various stealth aircraft which have been known to fly in UK skies, but these still fail to fit the description of the aircraft reported.”

In its response, the MoD said it had made inquiries and had been advised there were no military aircraft conducting night low-flying training in the area on the evening in question.