Date: July 30, 1952
Location: Over West Germany
A UFO sighting that was deemed so credible it convinced a government minister who investigated it. The sighting by an RAF fighter pilot on a training mission over West Germany in 1952 has been revealed by the Churchill Archive at Cambridge University.
Flight Sergeant Roland Hughes was returning to base when he was followed by a gleaming silver, metallic disk which flew alongside him before disappearing at incredible speed. The object was caught by RAF radars, which confirmed it was travelling at speeds far greater than possible for any aircraft of the time. Hughes reported the sighting, and was sent to visit Duncan Sandys, then aviation minister, to give his account in person.
He described seeing a flash of silver light which rapidly descended towards him until he could see that it was a gleaming metallic silver disk, its surface was shiny, like tin foil, and without a single crease or crinkle. He could see, with astonishing clarity, the crafts highly reflective and absolutely seamless metallic looking surface. Flying at high altitude in clear visibility in his de Havilland DH 100 Vampire, he estimated its size at 100 across, about the wingspan of a Avro Lancaster bomber. None of the other three pilots, all returning to RAF Oldenburg in northern West Germany, saw the object because they were executing a banking turn and not looking in the same direction.
Six days later, Hughes was sent to RAF Fassberg in West Germany to give his account to senior RAF officers and Sandys. The ministers first question was how many beers Hughes had drunk the night before. In the end however, he was so taken by the 23 year old Hughes story that he went on to brief senior civil servants, telling them he was convinced it was true. That went against what British governments have said regarding UFOs in the past, in most cases, they have been keen to downplay suggestions that UFO sightings are seriously investigated. Sandys tells the governments chief scientist Lord Cherwell that he found the story and radar evidence convincing.
In reference to similar UFO sightings by US pilots, what became known as Foo Fighters , Sandys says in the document: I have no doubt at all that Hughes saw a phenomenon similar to that described by numerous observers in the United States. Lord Cherwell had previously dismissed the US sightings as mass psychology.
Sandys, who later became Defense Secretary, went on: Until some satisfactory scientific explanation can be provided, it would be most unwise to accept without further question the view that "flying saucers" can be dismissed as a mild form of hysteria. He added that there was ample evidence of some unfamiliar and unexplained phenomenon.
Documents were investigated by David Clarke, a Sheffield Hallam University academic, while researching for a book on UFOs. Dr. Clarke was contacted by Hughes son, who recounted his fathers version of events and gave him his log book.
After the sighting, Hughes, who died in 2009 aged 79, was nicknamed Saucer Sam and colleagues painted a flying saucer on his jet. Hughes son Brian, 45, a Ministry of Defence civil servant said: We knew about the sighting in the family when we were growing up but my father didnt talk about it a lot. We learned about it more from prompting him. If it was someone other than my father who had told this story, I would be sceptical. He once said to me People think you're mad if you say you've seen a flying saucer, I've only ever seen one once; I've never seen one since.
Dr Clarke said: There is absolutely no doubt that something was seen by Hughes. He was not making this up. But the only honest position to take is that we don't know what it was. But there could be some sort of scientific explanation, before you start jumping to conclusions about alien visitors.