Welcome to the joint December 2006 and January 2007 round up of news and views on UFOs, alien abductions, crop circles, ghosts, the paranormal, the unexplained, the weird and the wonderful.
Nick Pope Resigns From MOD
Last month I left the MOD after 21 years in government service. I very much enjoyed my time working for the Department, but wanted to devote more time to my various business interests, and felt it was time to move on. Although I do a lot of work with the media, even I could not have predicted that my departure was to become an international news story. Once the story broke I was absolutely besieged by the media and spent several days recording TV and radio interviews, and speaking to reporters and feature writers on various newspapers and magazines. The story was picked up by most of the national newspapers in the UK but also ran extensively in America and Europe. Needless to say, some of the media reporting was not entirely accurate. For the record, I have not stated that I think alien invasion is imminent. However, I have said that the UFO phenomenon raises some important defence, national security and flight safety issues, and that sightings (especially those by military personnel, police officers and pilots, or those involving UFOs tracked on radar) should not be dismissed out of hand without some form of proper, scientific investigation. To see a selection of the main national newspaper reports, type "Nick Pope" into Google News.
The British UFO Mystery
In my column last month I previewed a new UFO documentary that was broadcast in the UK on 1 November. Entitled The British UFO Mystery, the show told the story of a wave of UFO sightings that occurred over the UK on 30 and 31 March 1993, involving a vast triangular shaped craft witnessed in many parts of the UK. Many of the witnesses were police and military personnel, and the UFO flew directly over two Royal Air Force bases, RAF Cosford and RAF Shawbury. Some witnesses recalled the UFO firing a narrow beam of light at the ground and heard an unpleasant low frequency humming sound coming from the craft. The UFO travelled slowly at times but one of the RAF witnesses described it suddenly accelerating away at a speed many times faster than a military jet aircraft. The production company, Steel Spyda, broke with tradition when making this investigative documentary. Instead of featuring an endless stream of talking heads (witnesses, believers and sceptics), they obtained the MOD casefile on the incident, using the Freedom of Information Act, and based the programme around this. The file contains around 105 individual documents, and as I had been running the MOD UFO project at the time, and had led the investigation into these sightings, the production company asked me to act as lead contributor and tell the story of the official inquiry. The programme was part of the Channel Five Stranger Than Fiction series and drew around a million viewers - a comparatively strong showing that pleased both the network and the production company. This was probably helped by the programme having been selected in the critics choice/pick of the day slot in several newspapers and TV guides. TV Easy said "Neither Mulder or Scully were around to host this, so we have Nick Pope investigating a flying triangle spotted hovering over several military bases in the UK". Ufologists were very pleased to see a programme on UFOs on one of the five terrestrial TV channels at primetime, and the programme has prompted much discussion and debate on various UFO related websites. One of the most interesting things is that following the broadcast of the documentary, I received around 25 emails from new witnesses to the March 1993 event and from people who had seen very similar shaped UFOs to the one featured in the documentary.
Nick Pope at Jodrell Bank Observatory - as seen on The British UFO Mystery
A new magazine has hit the newsstands, covering UFOs, strange phenomena, cryptozoology, vampires, the paranormal and the unexplained more generally. Beyond Magazine is a glossy colour publication packed with news and features on the weird and the wonderful. Whether you are interested in mysteries, the supernatural, secret societies or conspiracies, there will be something in this fascinating new magazine for you. There is a real gap in the market for a magazine that covers such a wide range of strange phenomena and is prepared to look at them in a critical but open minded way. Check out http://www.beyondthemagazine.com/ for details of this exciting new publication, look for it in W H Smith, Borders and other main newsagents, or take out a subscription at their website.
On the subject of magazines, January 2007 sees UFO DATA move from being an internet-only publication to being available as a 68 page A4 glossy colour magazine. Unlike Beyond Magazine, UFO DATA is more narrowly focused on UFOs, and as such attempts to fill the gap left by the demise of UFO Magazine that followed the tragic and untimely death of Graham Birdsall. Fittingly perhaps, it is Russel Callaghan who is the driving force behind the magazine, alongside Philip Mantle, Michael Buckley and Steve Johnson. The aim is to provide a dedicated UFO magazine with the emphasis on the UK, and while the publication is not available on newsstands, its transition from the internet to hard copy is an important development in British ufology. Check out http://www.ufodata.co.uk/index1.htm for details of the magazine. Check out the online forums too, which are fast becoming the place to discuss British ufology.
My Science Fiction Life
I am frequently on television and the radio, commentating on the unexplained, but am also called upon to discuss a range of other subjects including space, popular science and military affairs. I am often asked to talk about science fiction, both in a general sense, and in the context of its relationship with popular culture, science fact or ufology. Two shows that cover these areas are Men In Black Saved My Life on Discovery Channel, and My Science Fiction Life on BBC Four. The Discovery programme is one of a series of four shows entitled Sci-Fi Saved My Life and looks at parallels between specific films and the reality behind them. In Men In Black Saved My Life I discuss the MOD UFO project and the now defunct US equivalent, Project Blue Book. The other three films covered are The Matrix, Terminator and Stargate. I am currently filming the BBC Four programme, which should be broadcast shortly as part of a wider BBC Four look at the British science fiction scene.
Roswell - 60th Anniversary
Most people have heard of the Roswell incident, when on or around 2 July 1947, something crashed in the New Mexico desert and was recovered by the US military. Alien spacecraft or weather balloon? Perhaps we will never know. 2007 is the 60th anniversary of the Roswell incident. This is likely to be a big story in the summer, and I will be featuring it more, in the run up to the anniversary.
Majic Eyes Only
As mentioned above, 2007 is the 60th anniversary of the Roswell incident. Now, author and researcher Ryan Wood has written a book giving details of not just the Roswell incident, but 73 other cases where it alleged that UFOs have crashed and been recovered by the military. Entitled Majic Eyes Only, the book gives details of a bizarre range of incidents spanning from 1897 to the present day. This book is bound to be controversial, but remember - Ryan Wood only has to be right once for the world to change for ever. Check out www.majiceyesonly.com for details of this intriguing and controversial new book.
Large Hadron Collider
Late in 2007, scientists will switch on the largest machine ever constructed. Large Hadron Collider is the next generation particle accelerator and it is hoped that it will help answer some of the great questions of our time, unlocking secrets of gravity, the Big Bang, black holes and perhaps even other dimensions. The machine is not without controversy, and some people have suggested that it could cause the end of the world by creating a black hole. The Large Hadron Collider is likely to be a big story in 2007, and as we move towards the date when this mighty machine goes online, I will be covering this story again. In the meantime, check out http://lhc.web.cern.ch/lhc/ for the Large Hadron Collider official website, and if you want the conspiracy theories, type combinations such as Large Hadron Collider and end of the world into your favourite internet search engine.
Prior to a recent interview on his radio show, I received a signed copy of The Grays, the new novel by Whitley Strieber. I have not yet had time to read the book, but while billed as a work of fiction, Whitley has clearly incorporated material from his own experiences and from other UFO and alien abduction related material into the novel. Check out http://www.unknowncountry.com/ for more details of Whitley Strieber, his research and his books.
Finally, I would like to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. In particular, my thoughts are with the brave men and women currently serving with British, American and other Allied Forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and other overseas locations. You may be far from home, but you are still in all our thoughts. Stay safe
Author, journalist and TV personality Nick Pope used to run the British Government's UFO Project and is now recognised as one of the world's leading experts on UFOs, the unexplained and conspiracy theories.
Check out www.nickpope.net for more information about Nick.