Guest blog: Do you believe in UFOs? Part 2 of 2

Quite often I’m asked, what do the files actually tell us? Do aliens exist and have they been visiting us in UFOs? And has the government hidden that fact from us for decades as some conspiracy theorists believe?

Drawing of UFO (DEFE 24/1985/1 p.94)

Drawing of UFO (DEFE 24/1985/1 p.94)

The answer to the last question is an emphatic no. As to whether aliens exist, the plain truth is the government’s own experts had no more information than the average person in the street. For example, shortly before the subject was debated by the House of Lords in 1979 one UFO intelligence officer asked a government spokesman why, in such a vast universe, aliens would want to visit ‘an insignificant planet (the Earth) of an uninteresting star (the sun).’ He said even if intelligent aliens existed, the earth should expect a visit perhaps once in every 1,000 years, so ‘claims of thousands of visits in the last decade…are far too large to be credible.’

UFO near helicopter (DEFE 24/2078/1 p.37)

UFO near helicopter (DEFE 24/2078/1 p.37)

Other officials were more optimistic about the prospects of alien visitations. Indeed, to lift a phrase from The X-Files, like many of us some clearly ‘wanted to believe’. For example, in 1995 a RAF Wing Commander responsible for UFO investigations briefed the Defence Intelligence Staff that if some UFOs were alien visitations then the reasons for their visits might include ‘military reconnaissance, scientific or tourism.’ He said although there was no evidence of hostile intentions ‘if the sightings are not of this earth then their purpose needs to be established as a matter of priority.’ [DEFE 24/2080/1]

The DIS eventually agreed to his request for a study of the MoD’s accumulated UFO data. This concluded that although UFOs undoubtedly existed – in the form of ‘unidentified aerial phenomena’ – there was no evidence that any were extra-terrestrial spacecraft.  Instead, their report, completed in 2000, suggested a type of hitherto unknown natural phenomena – a type of ‘atmospheric plasma’ – could be responsible for some of the most puzzling reports.

UFO above trees (DEFE 24/2078/1 p.38)

UFO above trees (DEFE 24/2078/1 p.38)

The National Archives of Australia released papers on the unexplained disappearance of a light aircraft following a UFO sighting in 1978. Pilot Frederick Valentich reported seeing a strange lighted object buzzing his Cessna during a flight from Melbourne to King Island just moments before he lost contact with air traffic control. 34 years have passed but no trace of Valentich or his plane has ever been found and the Australian investigators concluded that his fate remains unsolved.

So while some mysteries do remain, one UFO myth debunked by the files is the popular idea that MoD operated a secret squirrel ‘UFO Project’ with its own Mulder and Scully, similar to that depicted in the TV series The X-files. In a 2008 briefing on the ‘daily mechanics’ of the strangest job in Whitehall, the last MoD UFO desk officer wrote that the idea of official investigations ‘tends to suggest to the public that there are Top Secret teams of specialist scientists scurrying around the country in a real life version of the X-Files’. But striking a note of disappointment he admitted this was ‘total fiction’ and most ‘investigations’ were carried out by ‘googling the internet.’

Since the The National Archives began to release UFO papers four years ago, 178 files have been released and the ninth tranche brings the number of pages to 50,000.  The files can be downloaded from

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Dr David Clarke

Dr David Clarke


The second edition of Dr David Clarke’s book The UFO Files will be published by Bloomsbury on 13 September.  He blogs about UFOs, folklore and journalism at



  1. Richard Cole says:

    Having seen a decidedly odd object in the sky one summer evening in 1978 that I can’t, to this day, identify, I have no doubt that UFO’s exist. My particular UFO was a silent row of large pulsating lights in pairs; blue, red, green and yellow that floated above a large oak tree on the corner of the lane, about 50 metres from my parents house. I watched it, unafraid, for a few minutes until it rose silently and very quickly into the darkening sky. I shall be having a look at the files relating to that period with renewed interest.

  2. Joan Hudson says:

    I have reported sightings of UFO’s from 2007 – 2011 to the West of Bristol Channel.
    These UFO phenomena are now on Youtube joanhudso100 and Flickr J H Phillips
    all photographs are genuine.

  3. susan says:

    Have you got any reported UFO Sightings 16Th July 2002 as that was the date that I had seen this it was 1030PM and I have 5Minutes Film from the camcorda that I had used

  4. David Clarke says:

    Thanks for sending your fascinating accounts of sightings….you could check the files we have released on UFO reports made to Ministry of Defence over the past 30 years as it is possible there may be other observations at the same date/time.

  5. Susan says:

    Thankyou David for your help

  6. jan collins says:

    how can we be so complacent in believing we are the only `fish’ in this galaxy sea?
    of cours there are more advanced beings and crafts; they just could be our ancestors –as in having a much longer life, or related to those that came here and started another habitation called earth;

    lets just pray we dont go upetting their peaceful visits by sending so much rubish into `space’!!

    1. Harris Theodorides says:

      Jan, am not prejudiced but lets keep the proper distance from reality, cause there are very annoying incidents in the Records incriminating the UFO’S.

  7. Richard Cole says:

    Assuming the Universe to be infinite, there has to be life out there, it is illogical to think otherwise. If the Universe is finite, there is still a very strong likelihood of life elsewhere. Just because other life forms haven’t conclusively visited here and made contact, beyond reasonable doubt, doesn’t mean that no other life exists. There were one those who thought the Earth to be flat and Gallileo to be a mad heretic, and look where that thinking got them!

    1. Harris Theodorides says:

      The answer for what you are looking for is literally under yor feet !

  8. pov says:

    An emphatic no huh? That’s laughable. You don’t know enough to validate that conclusion. To say that you have come across no evidence to suggest or support a government cover-up would be a credible statement.

  9. Dr David Clarke says:

    Hi Pov: OK, I have come across no evidence to suggest or support a government cover-up of ET knowledge. I can only give an informed opinion based upon 15 years of in-depth research both archival and interviews with key personnel. A similar conclusion has been reached by others who have examined equivalent files in other nations with an open and inquiring mind. As a journalist it is my natural instinct to be on the look out for any indication of cover-up; I can only say that no evidence exists because that is true. The argument that such knowledge could be successfully concealed from the scientific community and public of the world indefinitely is a straw man.

  10. Dr David Clarke says:

    Hi Richard: I agree that it is highly likely that life exists elsewhere in the universe. But the question, in the context of the UFO files, is not whether it might exist but: a) does intelligent life exist that has the capability and motivation to construct spacecraft to explore other worlds and b) does that explain the ‘unexplained’ UFO sightings?
    The answer to both questions has to be, on current knowledge, no.
    We don’t need to invoke alien spacecraft to explain the vast majority of UFO reports in the MoD files. Most are misidentifications of aircraft, stars and planets, space junk, balloons and Chinese lanterns.

    1. Harris Theodorides says:

      David, we are concerned herewith with the remaining number of unexplained Ufo’s which from time to time patrol our skies from one Pole to the other – People believe they are aliens from outer space -Instead they belong to a Subterranean Force whose nature,role and intentions are unknown and cloudy, to say the least – It is to be stated in fairness that there does exist ample proof that the Ufo’s are Subterranean in origin whereas there is only a remote possibility of them being of Extraterrestrial origin.

  11. Richard Cole says:

    Hi David. As you quite rightly say, most sightings can be explained, but not all, so by definition alone they remain unidentified. The philosophical question in my mind isn’t whether or not “UFO’s” exist, it’s do other life forms exist. Personally, I don’t doubt that some objects remain unidentified, but I have a completely open mind as to whether or not any form of life can be associated with these objects. Can it be possible for example, that “life” can be a coagulation of energy as suggested by Sgt Pennington about the Rendlesham forest insident. If the wierd and counterintuitive world of quantum physics is correct, then it’s entirely possible.

    1. Harris Theodorides says:

      Richard, the truth is always simple – Why to complicate things ?

  12. Harris Theodorides says:

    The strange drawing of the UFO on this page (24/1985) is an exact reproduction of the ‘ Bell ” constructed by the Engineers and Scientists of the Third Reich which when in flight was glowing all around.

  13. Harris Theodorides says:

    UFO’S ? YES, they exist, but NO, they are not extraterrestrial, and YES, they are sub-terranean in origin, constructed in the first place by the scientists of a country on this Earth.
    Unfortunately, all evidence about extraterrestrial visitations, Alien bodies found, crashed Alien spacecraft, retrieval of Alien technology etc etc, are mere allegations that belong to the realm of fantasy ! The extra-terrestrial theory is an invention that “sells” and ” it diverts people’s attention from reality, a reality that the great powers on Earth are not yet ready to admit !

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