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UFOs in the daily press:

Gatwick airoprt sightings, U-K., 2001:

The newspaper "Crawley News", UK, published this article on July 11, 2001 about numerous UFO sightings in the periphery of the Gatwick Airport, UK, and the official reactions to it.


Five years ago the News opened its X-files during a summer which saw at least seven suspected UFO sightings in the area surrounding Gatwick Airport.

Our reports have now been documented on several popular websites, including the world famous

With interest in near-misses between planes and UFOs growing, respected ufologists are calling for sightings near airports to be taken more seriously. But the major government agencies concerned don't want to know. Reporter MICHAEL TAGGART investigates.

In 1986 Ursula Scratchly was entertaining a friend at dinner. It had been a relaxingsoirée at the Forest Row house in Gatwick Airport's periphery.

Mrs Scratchly's guest Penny Crowder thanked her host and walked out into the warm September air towards her car parked in front of the house, in Post Horn Lane.

Before opening the driver door, she and Mrs Scratchly looked skyward, where they witnessed a celestial spectacle in the clear night sky that would change their view of the world and the universe forever.

The two women saw a glowing, orange ball with a pale, orange aura surrounding it, moving slowly across the sky from east to west.

Mrs Scratchly, now 54, remembers the shocking events vividly. She told the News this week: "It had a construction around it, like a frame. It was very strange and very shocking. I couldn't speak."

"The thing was moving very slowly away and suddenly it disappeared into a tiny dot in the sky then vanished completely."

They phoned flight control at Gatwick Airport but officers said nothing had shown up on their radars.

Reports are still trickling in about sightings in the area, the last one logged just six weeks ago.

Simon Sutcliffe was driving on the edge of Ashdown Forest near the site of the 1986 sighting on May 30 this year.

He saw two bright yellow lights low in the sky, one higher than the other. They were motionless and disappeared for 20 minutes before reappearing.

He told Kent-based research website Ufotrek: "I am very clued up with air traffic in the area, so I know what I saw were not planes for Gatwick."

Ufotrek co-ordinator Chris Rolfe has been documenting sightings by witnesses on the ground and, in particular, in planes for several years.

He believes many of the alien craft are in fact British military hardware but insists that, whatever causes the sightings they pose a grave threat to commercial aircraft.

"It is time pilots at Gatwick were trained to deal with near misses with UFOs," he said.

"When this sort of thing is happening people's lives are being put at risk."

The National UFO Research Centre documents several sightings by pilots.

In July 1991, a Britannia Airways Boeing 747 pilot on a holiday flight from Crete to Gatwick reported seeing a "small black lozenge shaped object".

In April the same year Captain Achille Zaghetti on Gatwick-bound Alitalia airliner saw a UFO pass within 1,000 ft.

UFO author Nick Redfern, who has just published his third book, Cosmic Crashes, claims to have in his possession CAA reports of recent near misses with UFOs at UK airports.

He said: "There are none at Gatwick but that doesn't mean none exist. There are 30 cases in the documents I have.

"There are real cases of this and the officials know about them."

The most frequent period of alien craft sightings in Gatwick Airport's history came in the wave of 1996.

That summer the News opened its X-files together with its sister papers the Horley Mirror and the Dorking Advertiser, dedicating a UFO hot-line to reports in just four months and collected photographic evidence.

The spooky sightings prompted skywatcher Larry Dean of Brighton's Skysearch agency to believe aliens were watching Gatwick Airport to study Earthly air travel.

He told the News: "Over the next four or five years we're going to see a lot more close encounters so that we will get accustomed to their presence."

But Government chiefs have continued to dismiss the strange events.

Chris Mason from the CAA said: "We do not believe in these events and we have not given any documents to Mr Redfern."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said central government does not recognise the existence of UFOs.

She added: "I used to work in an airport control tower and nine times out of 10 the sightings could be explained."

A spokeman for the British Airports Authority, which manages Gatwick, said the authority is not concerned by reports of UFOs. "We only deal with on the ground issues." She added: "Try National Air Traffic Control (NATS)." The air traffic control authority would not comment on near misses or UFO sightings.

As there has never been an official Government-approved sighting around Gatwick, these events will continue to be dismissed.

But for the forseeable future the various authorities can expect to receive reports of sightings from fishermen, motorists and others whose eyes wander to the skies.

Airport officials may not believe reports of uninvited intruders hanging round the airport but one thing they know will not go away is the sightings.

See also this article.

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This page was last updated on February 23, 2002.