The collective noun for a spate of UFO sightings is a ‘flap’ — which is exactly what some UFO sightees get themselves into. London’s skies have been flapping like crazy in the days around Christmas and New Year. As we previously reported, ghosts and out-of-place animals have dominated the strange news stories in recent years, but right now, it's unearthly airborne objects that are causing a stir.
On 23 December, a video was posted on YouTube by a group called UFO Watch UK. The footage is called Group of White Orb UFO's Over West London and the filmmaker, Mark Bennis, describes himself as a “a UFO watcher and researcher, and an avid enthusiast to this fascinating phenomenon”.
It’s a strange video and we weren't sure what we were watching — perhaps distant birds or drones buzzing around. There is clearly a flight path in the area, and maybe some photographers were taking close-up shots of landing planes, with their drones. We showed the video to Sheffield Hallam University's Dr David Clarke, author of The UFO Files: The Inside Story of Real-life Sightings, who also thought these were drones — pointing out that one had got within 20ft of a plane at Heathrow in July 2014.
Mark Pilkington, writer of the book and film Mirage Men, was more cautious: “They could be balloons, or perhaps drones of some kind. For the time being anyway, I'll have to agree that these are genuine UFOs — Unidentified Flying Objects.” This does not necessarily mean spaceships or inter-dimensional orbs — just something unidentifiable in the sky.
Meanwhile in Bexleyheath on 30 December, contractor Tony Histed was leaving his work site beneath gathering clouds. He looked up and saw “a bright light in the sky to the east” so he “stopped and watched it as it came across the sky towards the storm. Another light appeared in front of the first, and they both flew silently on into the oncoming storm.” Tony went back to the site and saw two more of these ‘orbs’ rise from the ground, level off and fly in a north-easterly direction. He was able to get one photograph which appeared in an 8 January 2015 news report, along with photos of Tony recreating the moment he saw the UFOs. He doesn’t look pleased to see them. Bexleyheath is a veritable UFO hotspot, having previously experienced close encounters of the first kind in 1952, 1955 and 2004.
The first UFO sighting of 2015 took place while the New Year fireworks were still exploding about the London Eye. One viewer not too distracted by trying to remember the second verse of Auld Lang Syne saw a circular light arcing around the wheel amongst the pyrotechnics. One YouTube comment advised that “It’s not uncommon for UFOs to be curious about our lights and electricity.” The UFO also got a very fine live view of the New Year fireworks without paying the Mayor of London's office a penny.
The final part of the video below has a green object descend into the top right hand corner of the screen and gaze out as if it were scanning the viewer’s very soul.
The original footage has been picked up and shared among a number of UFO enthusiasts, and received a warmer and more credulous welcome than the original YouTube post. It looks like it has been filmed from a television screen by someone using a camera and the first UFO is clearly a camera drone filming the fireworks. That's made even more evident when the footage cuts to an aerial shot of the London Eye, almost certainly taken from the drone itself. The green light is a little trickier to work out. Some have suggested it was the drone again, some that it was a decoration on the South Bank caught by an in situ camera. Others, noting that this is a screen being filmed, insist that someone has plopped an LED light or decoration between the camera and screen; hence the object's jerky motion.
The day after, another UFO was spotted on some BBC footage. According to the poster’s Twitter feed this was an interview with someone from Clapham Rovers, during which time a UFO coasted into view from the right-hand side of the screen.
We can’t actually make anything out on the video except for sunlight breaking through the clouds and as there is no sound, and the video jumps from scene to scene, it's hard to work out whether the video is linear or arranged in a way to make sunbeams look extra-terrestrial. Which they are, of course, but not in the way we’re talking about here.
Just to prove our point, seminal 1990s UFO show The X-Files is hovering back in to view and, just this very morning, Camilla Noble, of Caroline Road, Wimbledon shared her footage of ‘flashing spaceships’ filmed from her bedroom window with the Wimbledon Guardian. Camilla has been seeing UFOs regularly down in SE19: "Sometimes they will appear as fire-flies dots and sometimes as really really bright stars” she says, “then they stop and pretend to be a star and then they go in another direction and turn back into UFOs with flashing lights."
London, of course, is full of wonders, and we shall continue to bring them to you from above, below, and all the stuff in-between.