Back in September 1952, some months after a surge in “flying saucer” sightings at Washington, D.C. made headlines all over the world, several military officers taking part in North Atlantic NATO exercises were struck by their very own UFO fever.
Familiar with Exercise Mainbrace? This was the biggest military exercise since the second world war. It involved 80,000 soldiers, 200 ships, and 1,000 planes from many NATO nations, including big deployments from the U.S. and U.K.
It’s not a weather balloon. The very first Mainbrace encounter happened on September 13. This was when the crew and captain of a Danish destroyer saw a triangular-shaped object speeding through the night sky. The unidentified flying object emitted a blue glow. Schmidt Jensen, the Lieutenant Commander, estimated it to be traveling upward around 900 miles per hour.
On September 20, Wallace Litwin, a reporter, was aboard an aircraft carrier that was taking part in Mainbrace exercises. He noticed that several crew members and pilots were pointing at a silver sphere in the sky. It seemed to be following their aircraft. He took four colored pictures of the round object and assumed that it was a weather balloon. Later on, the ship’s executive officer informed him that no weather balloons were released that day.
The Topcliffe sighting. The most confusing sighting was reported by around half-dozen RAF (Royal Air Force) officers and staff based in Topcliffe, Yorkshire, England. It happened September 19, as a Meteor fighter was traveling back to Topcliffe airfield from North Sea exercises. When the aircraft descended to exactly 5,000 feet, the crew on the ground saw a circular, silvery object moving many thousand feet above the Meteor. It’s on the same trajectory.
John Kilburn, RAF Flight Lieutenant, from the 269 Squadron said that it started to descend toward the Meteor. At first, he thought that it was just a parachute, but it suddenly stopped mid-air. Then, it rotated on its very own axis and sped over the horizon. Kilburn said that the acceleration was that of a shooting star – he had never seen such a phenomenon before.
The publicity surrounding this incident put the U.K. military intelligence in a tough spot. It was so hard for them to ignore the press’ questions. Moreover, they weren’t interested in serious UFO investigations.
The only way to gather data on UFOs? Establish a global network of photographers and radar stations continuously tracking the sky for aberrations.
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