UFO Landings UK by Philip Mantle – Review
By Dominic Picksley
“We could see the object in the opposite field, it was shaped like a fat cigar with a low profusion on top, with several dull-red lights on it.” These are the words of The Moody Blues’ drummer Graeme Edge after the iconic 60s hitmakers encountered a UFO on their way back to London after playing a gig in Carlisle in 1967.
This is one of many intriguing tales of ‘high strangeness’ included in renowned researcher Philip Mantle’s book, UFO Landings UK, where he details numerous examples of not just sightings, but actual cases where strange crafts and ‘beings’ were seen on the ground, from as far back as 1767, when a curious looking object – that ‘looked like a house on fire’ – was spotted hovering over a Perthshire lake, before zooming off into the distance.
Mantle, one of the UK’s leading players in this subject, has been carrying out research for the past 40-plus years, so is well-versed on these types of incidents and knows that many sightings of UFOs are just a case of misidentification or over-enthusiastic minds willing themselves into believing they have seen something they haven’t.
But there are numerous reports that can’t be written off as weather balloons, stray birds, aircraft, Chinese lanterns, etc… and Mantle has delved deep to come up with a plethora of compelling incidents that cannot be easily explained.
Most people with a passing interest in the phenomenon, will likely know about Rendlesham Forest, from December 1980, when a series of reported sightings and unexplained lights were seen near RAF Woodbridge, in Suffolk. This is arguably the most famous case in the UK, often referred to as ‘Britain’s Roswell’ given what happened over a series of nights at the base that was being used by the US Air Force.
While that famous incident isn’t retold here once more (you’d need a whole book to do it justice), there are some equally fascinating stories of all manner of craft and objects of different shapes and sizes that have been spotted over and on the British countryside that defy explanation or logic.
Take the Epsom racecourse sighting in September 1973, when a jockey saw a disc-shaped entity, engulfed in a blue haze – near the Derby starting post – hovering 20 feet in the air, before slowly descending to the ground. And not only that, he saw a humanoid figure, too, aboard the craft.
And Shropshire in May 1987, when a local copper saw a grey, saucer-shaped object, estimated to be around 100-200 feet wide, with a dome on top that was projecting beams of orange light onto the ground, before zooming off at a great speed.
What did these two men witness? Figments of their imagination or genuine sightings of strange unexplained objects? And if they were crafts, where did they come from? Outer space, another dimension, or from the future perhaps? Or were they secret experiments conducted by the military, who were devising new forms of aviation… maybe using alien technology to enhance their own technology?
Another interesting incident detailed in the book, occurred in Broadhaven, Dyfed, in February 1977, when 14 schoolchildren claimed they saw a UFO land in a nearby field, with six of them also seeing an ‘alien’ figure dressed in a silver suit. The headmaster asked the pupils to draw what they had seen and they all came up with your typical disk-shaped craft. Sceptics believed they had misidentified a sewage wagon, but either all those kids had wild imaginations or they did indeed see something ‘other-worldly’.
Mantle goes through the fascinating sightings in chronological order, with the largest section being the 1970s – when the UFO boom really took off – right up until 2010, with plenty of illustrations that sketch out what these people saw. There are no images of said crafts and beings, just detailed drawings, but photographical evidence of UFOs has always been virtually non-existent, so we have to go on what the public report and then make our own minds up.
Sadly, a few spelling and grammatical errors have crept into the book, but they do not detract from what is a stunning and thoroughly well-researched piece of work, that highlight just how much activity there is and has been in our skies. It’s not just in the US where these things happen.
Last word, though, goes to pop band Hot Chocolate, whose number two hit in 1980 ‘No Doubt About It’ was about an actual UFO sighting, when songwriters Steven Glen and Mike Burns, who were travelling with a band called The Toys, spotted a ”massive” craft hovering above them in Hampstead when en route to the recording studio.
“It was right above us,” Glen told an intrigued Mantle. “It was massive, about four to five houses wide and when we got out to have a look, it created an orange cloud.”
He and Burns then bashed out a song about it – changing orange cloud to a green one as they couldn’t find a word to rhyme with orange – and handed it to Hot Chocolate and thus creating one of their biggest selling records.