The British government recorded reports of alien craft flying over Liverpool and a UFO hovering over Waterloo Bridge in London, it was revealed in declassified files released yesterday.
Files have been opened for the first time detailing hundreds of sightings of unexplained objects in the skies over Britain.
They show that the Ministry of Defence was less worried about the possibility of visitors from space than in checking that unidentified flying objects were not in reality evidence of covert spying missions mounted by other countries.
Nick Pope, who was responsible for investigating the sightings at the ministry, said: “While there’s no evidence of little green men in these files, they should be of immense interest to skeptics and believers.”
“Most of the UFO sightings here are probably misidentifications of aircraft lights and meteors, but some are more difficult to explain, and include UFOs seen by police officers and pilots, and cases where UFOs have been tracked on radar,” he said.
The eight files in the National Archives, covering the period from 1978 to 1987, were released under legislation governing freedom of information following a request from UFO researchers.
But enthusiasts hoping for evidence that aliens were attempting to land in Britain will be disappointed.
A ministry memo from 1983 says: “The sole interest of the Ministry of Defence in UFO reports is to establish whether they reveal anything of defence interest [eg, intruding aircraft].”
“The Ministry of Defence does not deny that there are strange things to see in the sky,” the memo says, but goes on to say that plausible explanations existed for the phenomenon, including space junk burning up in the atmosphere, unusual cloud formations and meteorological balloons.
“It certainly has no evidence that alien spacecraft have landed on this planet,” the memo concluded.
One “spotting” was easily dismissed. In 1982, customers of The Walnut Tree pub near Tunbridge Wells in southwest England reported seeing red and green flashing lights in the sky.
But when quizzed where exactly they had spotted the strange lights they pointed in the direction of the busy London Gatwick airport.