The Norfolk Broads are an international renowned tourist attraction. On October 23, 1993 three fishermen where unloading their equipemnt, when they noticed a strange light. Within a few minutes they had captured a remarkable piece of video footage.

It Came From Outer Space...or did it?
By Nick Fielding and Richard Heller

'HELLO, get me the Defence Secretary! I've just seen a flying saucer full of Martians firing gamma-ray guns over the Norfolk Broads.'

'Thank you, sir. Could you please put the details on this official form?'

It sounds like a script for The Men From The Ministry. But no. It happened to three responsible citizens who genuinely believed they had sighted an Unidentified Flying Object.

On October 23 last year, Mark Wilkins, Bill Deuters and Stephen Farrow, from Dagenham, Essex, went fishing on Rollesby Broad in Norfolk. And, as usual, they took Mark's Panasonic MC6 camcorder to film their catches.

That day, though, the wind made them abandon the trip at 3 pm. But as they unloaded their gear Steve suddenly shouted and pointed at 'this bright light a long way away', he recalls.

Bill pointed the camcorder at it --and could not believe what he saw. 'Through the lens it looked like an intensely glowing object. At first it was near the horizon. It was coming straight at us over our heads. As I zoomed in it turned into an intense diamond. Bill stopped filming after about six seconds-and then all three saw a very bright light move over them, south to north. They thought it might be a military aircraft, but it made no noise.

The trio thought no more about it until they played the tape back. It had captured a bright object which turned into a distinct diamond shape. The images looked so authentic that they decided to send them to the MoD.

Was it friend or foe? Should the nation's guns be pointed skywards?

Their film went to the official at the nerve centre of our defence against extra-terrestrials--Mr N. G. Pope, of the Secretariat (Air Staff) 2a.

Horizon

Mr Pope responded to 258 reports of UFO sightings last year. Most were quickly explained as satellites, aircraft, weather balloons, lightning, meteorites -- or hoaxes. But not this one.

His brief is very precise. 'The Ministry of Defence's only concern with UFOs is to establish whether or not there is any threat to the security of the United Kingdom. To date, we are not aware of any evidence that would indicate the existence of such a threat,' he told the three men soberly.

Yet, later in the same letter of January 7, Mr Pope could not restrain his enthusiasm: 'Your video is intriguing and certainly one of the most interesting I have seen. I have to say that no explanation springs to mind.'

But before he could scramble our fighter defences, Mr Pope had to follow Ministry procedures. 'It would help,' he continued, 'to have further details, so I have attached a copy of the form we use to record details of sightings.

Allowing another month or two to set up a Ministerial committee to study it, the little green chaps would now be in Downing Street. Fortunately, the three men also sent their video to The Mail on Sunday. And we rushed it to experts for analysis. At the sophisticated laboratories of Network Security Management in Mayfair, Jon Walklin, of the company's forensic video section, was mystified.

'As far as I can determine, it depicts a genuine object,' he said.

Briefing

The Meteorological Office and London Weather Centre said it was not a weather balloon. The RAF and civil aviation authorities eliminated military aircraft and North Sea helicopters.

Then Great Yarmouth coastguard told us that the night after the sighting they had a call ten miles from Rollesby Broad reporting a bright flare.

Should we fight or flee? Why stay calm when it costs so little to panic? We consulted more experts.

Nerves were steadied by Bernie Forward, a senior inspector at the Aircraft Accident Investigation Branch at Farnborough, which examined the Pan Am jet after the Lockerbie disaster. He pronounced the image to be an aircraft. Colleagues speculated that it could be a prism effect caused by the camcorder lens.

And that was echoed by Dr Peter Andrews, of the Royal Observatory, Cambridge.

Even Philip Mantle, director of investigations for the British UFO Research Association, thought the image was either an aircraft or an optical effect.

Finally, we sent the video to Martin Hanson, of Panasonic. 'Looks like a camera iris image to me,' he said. A colleague found an iris of the type fitted to model MC6. When open, the iris -- which regulates the light going into the camcorder - created a diamond shape.

The Mail on Sunday believes this explains the startling image. Somehow, the iris was reflected on to the back of the lens and filmed. But that still leaves a mystery of the dazzling light the men saw. And Mr Pope is still pursuing the matter.

As far as the Ministry is concerned, there still might be Something Out There.

A colleague said last week: 'We cannot explain it. If there is a possibility we can identify it and what aircraft are involved we will,' He has promised us 'a full briefing' this week.

Until that happens, observers of mysterious objects are requested not to phone the authorities - or The Mail on Sunday.

Official advice is to go to bed -- and on no account watch any video by Steven Spielberg.

Source: The Mail On Sunday, London - February 20, 1994.

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