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UFOs in History»
The lack of one single eye-witness reporting such a mid-air encounter between a jet and a UFO, and the improbability that the wreckage which would have been left in the wake of a crash would not have been immediately spotted by the hundreds of volunteers who were searching the moors within hours of the incident did not faze Burns. Using the usual convoluted logic employed by conspiracy theorists and UFO buffs, the lack of wreckage was accounted for by the possibility that the downed Tornado had disappeared beneath the waters of one of the 13 reservoirs which litter the high moorland region between Sheffield and Manchester. This was a rumour which had been mooted on the night of the incident by fire crews and others in the Strines area, but was quickly ruled out by Yorkshire Water workers who checked a number of the reservoirs early that morning and found no evidence of oil slicks or wreckage which would have clearly been evident had a crash really occurred. The reservoirs, whose ownership is split between Yorkshire and Severn Trent Water Authorities, are the subject of regular and stringent structural inspections and an array of specialist water quality monitoring set by statute. A spokesman for Yorkshire Water said a crash of any kind into the waters would immediately result in an oil slick and trigger alarms at the quality monitoring stations which carry out frequent filtration and testing of water supplies from the reservoir complex.
The half-hearted response of the military to the report of the “aircrash” hardly fits the scenario envisaged by Burns. Experience with real air disasters involving Tornado jets, for example the fatal mid-air collision between a GR1 fighter from RAF Cottesmore and a Cessna light aircraft above North Nottinghamshire in January 1999, demonstrates the rapid response of the military and the immediate mobilisation of both ground and airborne RAF units. In the Howden Moors case it was more than one hour before the air search rescue base at RAF Kinloss authorised a single Sea King helicopter to help the civilian search and rescue effort. It is also clear from the testimony of local people, and the civilian mountain rescue staff that other than the Sea King crew no other military personnel were involved in the ground search, as would have been the case had a warplane really been reported missing.
In addition, the complex nature of the scenario dreamed up by Burns begs the question of why it was necessary to invoke a Tornado crash at all. Initially, in the summer of 1997 he was making the claim that a UFO had crashed onto the moors and had been secretly retrieved by the military under the noses of the “official” search team. Although unprovable in itself, such a rumour would have been certainly easier to promote than the current theory which involves a conspiracy on a massive scale, including the concealment of the deaths of at least one serviceman from his or her familiy and from the hundreds of police and mountain rescue volunteers on the ground.
One may be tempted to laugh at such a bizarre and extreme claims, but
In this case, a believer in the alien theory has used the Internet to distort and misrepresent the true facts behind this incident, by ignoring testimony which does not fit the theory and in some cases willfully distorting evidence and testimony in order to promote this case as “Britain’s answer to Roswell” to a credulous and unquestioning audience in North America. We hope this report goes some way to establishing the facts behind this genuinely puzzling incident without resort to the wild, unscientific and un-supportable hypotheses promoted by the believers of the Extra-Terrestrial Hypothesis.
South Yorkshire Police’s conclusion about the incident (taken directly from the police log of incident) reads:
“Enquiries reveal a combination of circumstances that would lead people to believe a plane might have crashed. Mountain rescue, police and RAF completed a thorough search between 11pm on March 24 and 1pm on March 25 without any trace [of wreckage] being found.”
Detective Inspector Christine Wallace, or Hammerton Road CID (Sheffield) said:
“The bottom line is that more than 100 mountain rescue people were out that night, along with RAF and police helicopters, and our own area officers. They found nothing. We contacted the military, the Civil Aviation Authority, and other police forces across the country. None of them had any reports of missing aircraft or planes returning late. The police reported it as a plane under distress, but it is still a mystery who was flying it. We had about 40 reports from the public in all. We have had reports of UFOs, triangle objects [referring to the report by Bryan Haslam] and alien spaceships, right across the board. Then there are the theories about the phantom plane which has been seen in this area before.
“But in my opinion it was caused by a series of coincidences. I don’t doubt that people have seen a low-flying aircraft, fixed-wing and propeller-driven, which seem to disappear into the moors. We had a full search operation but there was no sign of any wreckage. We are keeping an open mind and not ruling anything out.”
Superintendent Christine Burbeary, of South Yorkshire Police, who co-ordinated the 13 hour search operation, added:
“We got nothing back from air traffic control, no reports of aircraft failing to return, and eventually having looked at all the circumstances the decision had to be made to call the search off. The conclusion at the end of the search had to be that no aircraft had crashed on the moor. But there is no doubt that there WAS a number of phenomena. There was most certainly a very low flying aircraft [which has never been identified]...There is no doubt at the same time there was a huge explosion and a light in the sky and smoke - and I don’t know what caused that.” »