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Personal investigations:

Some of my UFO reports investigations are "field investigations." But other can be carried out as "armchair research" even when it seems that there is insufficient data. Such investigations nevertheless allow more to be said than the original report said. This investigation is an example.

The five UFOs reported from Emley Moor, U-K., 2004:

The report:

The article underneath has been published in the daily newspaper The Huddersfield Daily Examiner, June 15, 2004. I do not have the photograph mentioned in it, I only have a web transcription of the original article.

Local news

Caught on film - five UFOs in the skies above Emley

STRANGE flying objects have been spotted in the skies above Emley Moor.

What appears to be five objects flying in perfect formation were seen by Examiner readers at about 3pm yesterday.

The Red Arrows type fly-by of Emley Moor Mast is so far unexplained.

There were no reports of airshows in the area yesterday afternoon.

And Moldgreen reader Mark Windle, who took this photo, said: "It looked to me as if they were objects that were burning up in the atmosphere. There was another plane in the sky and it looked different."

Another onlooker said that as soon as she saw the lights she went to get her camera.

But the objects were travelling fast, and by the time she returned with her camera they had disappeared.

"We usually have planes flying past but not in such a regular formation," she said. "It was very strange."

The theory:

I think that the five UFOs are jet aircraft from the Red Arrows. This theory integrates well with the well-established theory that witnesses generally report correctly what they see, and that only their interpretation is sometimes in error.

The hypothesis and the results, so far:

I first wanted to define exactly what the witness reported. Either it is an accurate description of a Red Arrows flyby and my theory is stronger, or their description indicate that it cannot have been the Red Arrows.

The first witness reports that "There was another plane in the sky." So the first witness explicitly reports that he saw planes. The Red Arrows indeed use planes.

The first witness says that the objects "looked to me as if they were objects that were burning up in the atmosphere." How can one estimate that an object is burning up in the atmosphere? Well, it could be on fire and show flames, or a smoke trail could be seen. Indeed the Red Arrows leave a trail in the sky:

The second witness reports that "We usually have planes flying past but not in such a regular formation." This does not clearly say that the reported objects are planes, but one need to alter her report to claim that they are not planes. What she really seems to be saying is that she saw planes as usual, except that those were in a formation while usually planes are not in such a formation. The Red Arrows use planes, and they usually fly in formations, flying in unusual formations being their activity.

The second witness said the sighting was strange. But she does not say that the objects were strange. She seems to associate the strangeness to the way they flew in an unusual formation. Indeed, people marvel at the prowess of the Red Arrows formation flights.

The second witness indicates that the flyby was fast enough so that she could not get a video camera. This is in no way incompatible with a Red Arrows flyby. Jets are fast, and it is not that easy to go get a video camera in time when they fly by.

Now, let's see what the newspaper adds.

The headline says that the five UFOs were caught on film. The report really says that the five UFOs were caught on photograph and that a second onlooker did not get her video camera on time. Anyway, I do not have any image at hand.

The report clearly says that the objects were flying in a perfect formation.

The newspaper comments that it was a "The Red Arrows type fly-by of Emley Moor Mast." We do not know who came up with the idea or exactly on what it was based, but in any event, something must have been witnessed that was of the type of a Red Arrows fly-by. And there is nothing in the report which suggests that it was anything else than a Red Arrows fly-by, except the mention that "There were no reports of airshows in the area yesterday afternoon." No base is given for this claim.

The interpretation is "UFOs" or "unexplained so far." The description is entirely compatible with a Red Arrows fly-by.

Additional wrong explanations:

At no time did any witness interpret the sighting as extraterrestrial craft. The "UFO" context seems to come from the newspaper, and may be enhanced subsequently for no reason.

Indeed one French translation of the newspaper article translated "the Red Arrows type fly-by" unwillingly as if the UFOs really were red and arrow-shaped; which no witness said. The Red Arrows are the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team. Their website is at (official website) and (commercial website) Their name reflects the fact that they use arrow-winged jets and that these jets are painted red. The mention of the red Arrows given by the newspaper article may refer to genuine characteristics in the sighting which may be obvious if the objects really are Red Arrow jets. It may have been that the objects were really arrow-shaped and red, and that the newspaper unknowingly provides the real explanation for the sighting just there.

Where were the Red Arrows?

First I thought about the "no reports of airshows in the area yesterday afternoon" aspect.

"No airshows reported" is not strictly the same as "no airshows."

An airshow outside enough if the area maybe not known. Moreover, it does not necessarily take an airshow to witness a Red Arrows fly-by. They maybe be simply practicing outside the framework of an airshow. Actually, the Red Arrows airshows imply 8 - 9 jets, usually not 5. Here we have 5 objects reported, so it may be an exercise rather than an airshow.

Basically, the real question is not whether there was an airshow there, but, "where were the Red Arrows on June 14, 2004?"

First I looked at the Red Arrows' calendar on :

On June 13, the Red Arrows were at Cosford for an Airshow. Cosford is in the U-K, not far away from the area or the sighting. The Red Arrows were very possibly still not far from the sighting area on the 14th. We only know that on June 18 they went to the Netherland.

I decided to check all that and contacted the Red Arrows PR and other Red Arrows contact people on Saturday, June 19, 2004:

Madam, Sir,

The article underneath [above in this web page] has been published in the daily newspaper The Huddersfield Daily Examiner of June 15, 2004.

I am simply wondering if the so-called "UFO" report in that newspaper may indeed have been caused by a Red Arrows flyby, which according to the airshow calendar were not so far away from Emley Moor in West Yorkshire.

Can you confirm my assumption?

Patrick Gross
UFO reports researcher,

In waiting for a possible answer, I do not wish to conclude anything yet beyond my idea that these 5 UFOs may be extraterrestrial spaceships but I demand some evidence for that.


The references are in the above paper.

Update, June 22, 2004:

All the above was written on June 19, 2004.

On June 21, the PR of the Red Arrows kindly answered:

Dear Patrick,

Thank you for your e-mail. I have checked with our Flight Planners and on the 14th Jun, the Team transitted from RAF Shawbury to RAF Scampton but did not fly in the area of Emley Moor.

I'm sorry that we are unable to help you but wish you the best with your research.


PR Assistant
The Red Arrows

That was helpful indeed, and I thanked the Red Arrows for their quick response.

So much for the Red Arrows at Emley Moor.


Sometimes after I wrote the above, on Saturday, June 19, 2004, Manchester Online provided an interesting item of information.

Headlined "Unidentified Flying Dutchmen", an article by Alex Ringsell explained that UFOs over Rossendale were caught on video by a gentleman called Steve Harrison who was finally disappointed to learn that they were Dutch F-16 on NATO manoeuver on Monday, June 14, 2004.

Indeed, they appeared as six vapor trails flying fast "in a sort of formation i.e. not in a line," "travelling fast in parallel and in a pattern that was maintained from horizon to horizon" across the skies above Manchester on the western horizon.

Mr Harrison videoed the whole event. What he found strange and suggestive of alien fly-by is that "despite zooming in I was unable to observe any craft or object at head of vapor trail." "I thought they might be planes, but I couldn't see anything at the head of the trails and I didn't think they flew in formation at that altitude."

However, he also thought that they may have been meteors. Soon investigators discovered that they were F-16 jets fighters of the Royal Netherlands Air Force and that the country taking part in a massive NATO exercise, Operation Clean Hunter, across Europe and the UK.

The manoeuver area covers mid-France to Denmark, and from the United Kingdom to mid-Poland.

Here are two frames of Mr. Harrison's video:

Now, I have learned that it was not the Red Arrows, but that there are large scale NATO manoeuvers above Europe at the time of the sighting, that it matches the witness descriptions in Emley, and that another similar sighting occurred not far away.

Very probably, similar sightings occurred over other countries. Of planes, not extraterrestrial craft or meteors.

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This page was last updated on June 22, 2004.