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Mysterious lights over the Glastonbury Festival and the bizarre story of "Mork and Mindy's" visit to East Dulwich are among the reports in new batches of UFO files, released today by the Ministry of Defence.
Defence experts were called in to examine a 2004 photo of a "flying saucer" taken outside Retford Town Hall in Nottinghamshire. The files also contain first-hand testimony of retired RAF fighter controller Freddie Wimbledon and retired MoD official Ralph Noyes, on the famous 1956 UFO incident at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk.
Shropshire is one of the most popular sites for UFO sightings, a hotspot that ranks along Mid Wales and Wiltshire as one of the UK's best known sites. The county has its own experts, men like Phil Hoyle, a UFO researcher from Shrewsbury who has been studying our skies and gathering information for many years.
Mr Hoyle visits all parts of the county, meeting those who believe they have seen flying saucers or witnessed the creation of crop circles. One of his reporters, a lady called Jenny, from Much Wenlock, spotted a superstructure hovering above Much Wenlock with black lattice work on the underside.
Mr Hoyle said: "There was a possibility that the shape represented a detachable smaller craft as a number of similar-shaped UFOs have been sighted around this part of Shropshire."
The following morning, Jenny found a crop circle in a nearby field.
Another of Mr Hoyle's case studies , Tom, a construction worker in his late fifties, from Worthen, saw cigar-shaped objects in the sky as a boy. In more recent times, he spotted a skybound shape like a double-decker bus, near the Shamrock Cafe, on the A5.
Mr Hoyle says:?"I don't need to try and prove a case, or explain these things:?they're fact.
"The things that go on near the Shamrock Cafe will blow your mind, they're incredible. You know, there are all of these experts from the various societies who try to explain away the things that people see. But when you talk to them privately, they'll tell you that there are things up there.
"My work is all about trying to find a proper explanation. The cases with Jenny and Tom are both ongoing and we're still trying to work out what it was they saw.
"In Shropshire, there are numerous things that can't be explained – and that aren't planets, satellites, meteor showers or other astronomical phenomena. We will keep on probing these things until we have an answer."
Today's report from the Ministry of Defence reveals that a lack of resources and "higher priorities" have prevented a full-scale study of the thousands of UFO reports that have been made since the Second World War.
The author concludes that there was no longer any reason to continue denying intelligence interest in UFOs, although the public perception of the unit as a "defender of the Earth from the alien menace" was "light years from the truth".
However, a number of local experts, from the Shropshire Astronomical Society (SAS), believe they can explain unidentified objects.
Former SAS chairman David Woodward believes there is an earth-bound explanation: "People who say they see a shiny, metal-like cigar-shaped object in the sky, well, really, it's a no-brainer, isn't it – it's an aeroplane?
"I've spent a lifetime stargazing and my personal experience is that I have yet to find anything that convinces me that we are looking at something that is alien. The presence of military bases in areas like Wiltshire and Shropshire quite telling, there may be occasions when the helicopters are up and lights can appear to be stationary."
The release of today's files has unearthed a number of remarkable stories, including one in which one from 2003 over East Dulwich in London. A mother and daughter reported it to the police but later claimed she'd been visited by two men dressed in "space suits and dark glasses who called themselves Mork and Mindy".
Another report describes mysterious lights seen moving 300ft above the Pyramid stage at the Glastonbury Festival on June 28 2003. There are also details of a UFO sighting over a music festival at Llanfyllin, Wales, in July 2006.
Shropshire Star photographer Pete Shah, a member of SAS, says there are numerous explanations for peculiar lights in the sky.
"I see a lot of incredible phenomena. There are a lot of things up there, like iridium flares or satellites that rotate and catch the sunlight, appearing to flash. Then there are space stations and, of course, planets: Venus is extremely bright, as are Jupiter and Mars."
Mr Shah says Shropshire has low light pollution, making sightings more likely. "Chinese lanterns floating across a dark sky can be very eerie. But don't forget we have a factory that makes them in Telford." He says meteorites, meteors, vapour trails, explosions and optical illusions can all be viewed by non-experts as being UFOs.
On Saturday, locals can judge for themselves whether there is alien life – or a scientific explanation for what they see. SAS is hosting a summer social at Rodington Village Hall from 7pm.
SAS newsletter editor Mark Wiggin says: "It's unlikely in the extreme that any of these phenomena refer to little green men, but people can come and look for themselves. They can even borrow a telescope from one of our members."