When Plausible Explanations are Found Wanting.
[Note: this personal sighting report was first published in UFO Magazine under the title above on April 2002, issue, p.48-49]
A Night To Remember
“It was around 11.10 pm on a Wednesday evening. I had just emerged from a workmate’s car after finishing the late shift.
Bidding good night to another colleague who lives on a nearby estate, I was walking to my house in White-Le-Head Gardens, Tantobie, in the northeast of England, when I saw three faint blue and diffused stationary lights in a triangular formation about 15-20° above the eastern horizon.
They were approximately half a mile apart from each other, at 500-1000ft altitude, and behind thin cloud covering. I did not enter the house immediately but went directly to the back garden, away from the glare of the street lights so I could see them more clearly.
My wife was watching TV in bed when I entered the house and joined her in the bedroom facing east to watch the lights as they began moving about the sky.
There were now four lights moving around in the cloud, when the fourth appeared to split away from the southerly light of the inverted triangle formation. This then tracked across to the northerly light, taking about four seconds to do so, then back again. As it did so, it passed just above and in front of the easterly apex light which seemed slightly dimmer than the rest.
It is perhaps interesting to note that as the fourth light split from the southerly light, it took on the appearance of what I can only describe as a glowing tadpole – the tail of which swiftly dissipated. At one point three of the lights converged, then split again. They moved about the sky in a silent and random fashion.
Having got my Praktica W14 x 25 binoculars from the master bedroom, I began watching the lights through the now open bedroom window. I trained them on one of the lights and noticed that as it passed through an area of thinner cloud its light intensified, giving me the strongest impression that it was an internally lit, electric-blue light source behind the cloud and not the product of a ground-based light shone onto the face of it.
I had an unrestricted view for miles and could see nothing to suggest a ground-based source for the lights. Without warning the lights suddenly vanished in the blink of an eye. Having undertaken some research (which is still on-going) and giving much thought to the sighting I have come to several conclusions.
The lights could not have been the product of ground-base searchlights or lasers because one of them intensified in magnitude as it passed through the thinner cloud covering. If they were caused by any of the foregoing then surely – there being fewer water droplets to reflect light – it would have diminished in intensity and not the reverse.
That ball lightning may have been the cause of the phenomenon is also unlikely, due to the 10-15 minute duration of the sighting. Balls of ionised gas or plasma, surrounded by the vertical magnetic field that constrains the link between them, are thought by physicist Antonio Rananda to have a life-span of no more than 10-15 seconds before dissipating.
I quickly ruled out conventional aircraft as the observed lights were completely silent. Furthermore, their manoeuvres were swift and angular. Nor am I aware of any know aircraft, military or otherwise, which sport, exclusively, blue navigation lights. Moreover, the lights were seen performing manoeuvres within one of the flight corridors of Newcastle International Airport – an extremely dangerous and foolhardy thing for any sane pilot to do.
To date, I have found no evidence to support an astronomical interpretation for the sighting.”
I later contacted the late Graham W Birdsall, editor of UFO Magazine, who informed me that 20 years previously he and several others were conducting a skywatch at Penshaw Monument, Sunderland, which is not that far from where I lived, when they witnessed an object that looked like ‘a flying tadpole’ travelling erratically across the night sky in a southerly direction.
© David Calvert 2011
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