The UK wants to believe: more than 10% of the public have claimed to have seen a UFO.
To mark UFO Week on BLAZE, we spoke to two experts in the field: Philip Mantle, the director of investigations for the British UFO Research Association; and Nick Pope, a former Ministry of Defence UFO investigator with years of service in the government.
The channel undertook a survey of 2,000 UK adults on matters regarding extraterrestrial and unidentified aerial phenomena, with some staggering results. For example, 11% of respondents believe they’ve seen a UFO.
Responding to the figures, Pope told UNILAD, ‘It’s a proper regular opinion poll just as you would ask on any subject. If you extrapolate those figures, that’s millions of sightings. So that’s incredible.’
While there’s any number of famous cases one could cite, whether it’s Roswell, Tehran or Rendelsham Forest, Pope says the ones he found ‘extremely troubling were ‘all of the near-misses between UFOs and commercial aircraft… when it’s pilots, military personnel, police officers, when you’ve got things simultaneously tracked on radar, that gets my attention.’
Earlier in 2020, the Pentagon officially released three declassified videos of UFOs, immediately becoming a worldwide talking point and going on to spark an impending report from US intelligence agencies as part of the COVID-19 relief bill – this is because ‘the Intelligence Authorization Act wasn’t going to get through, so they piggy-backed it onto a bill they knew was going to pass’, Pope said.
UFO sightings have been common for years, but interest has only increased thanks in part to pop culture, but also due to developments like the Mars rover searching for life, or The New York Times covering the Pentagon clips. ‘It’s traditionally a very sceptical publication when it comes to UFOs… I think it was a turning point really,’ Mantle explained.
According to 52% of the respondents, panic and fear would be the dominant reactions if aliens were proven to be visiting Earth. Mantle, who has spoken to people who’ve experienced close encounters of both the third (contact) and fourth (abduction) kind, says experiences ‘depend on the individual’.
Discussing the research for his book Without Consent, Mantle said, ‘A number of people said they wholeheartedly believe it was beings from another world, others said they thought it was some kind of spiritual experience, others just didn’t know.’
He spoke about a man from Wales called David Thomas ‘who was frightened to death at the time, and continued to be scared for some years afterwards. David was so scared he went for hypnotherapy, because he had nightmares about it’.
Mantle said, ‘It’s fear of the unknown. It can be scary, yes, because these experiences, whatever they are, happen to anyone, at any place, at any time, so it’s not something you can predict, it’s not something you can protect yourself against. You can’t wear a crucifix so the vampires won’t get you, or a clove of garlic. But to the best of my knowledge, nobody’s been physically harmed by these encounters.’
He added, ‘I think the terrifying part of it is the lack of control. You have no control over these encounters. And even the sceptics think these encounters happen, they think there’s a psychological explanation. Well, if there is, it’s still a subject worthy of study.’
As for whether Pope has seen any UFOs himself, despite investigating so many sightings, ‘Sadly I’ve not seen anything, but I live in hope. I think it’s about time. I’ve spent years investigating this for the government, and I see my role now as a communicator on this issue.’
UFO Week returns to Blaze tonight with dedicated content starting from 8pm until 2am every single evening. Blaze is available on Freeview channel 63, Freesat 162, Sky 164, Virgin Media 216, My5 and on demand.
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