Deeside UFO 'sighting' explained

THE Ministry of Defence's response to reported sightings of a UFO over the Royal Estate at Balmoral has been published.

The incident was amongst hundreds of close encounters described in previously top secret files that were made public by the MoD last week.

The response followed newspaper reports that an unidentified flying object was spotted being pursued by RAF jets over the Balmoral Royal Estate on February 28, 1996.

The MoD explained the alleged sighting by saying a night-time exercise by Harrier jump jets was taking place at the time.

A letter from the MoD read: "I was able to establish that two Harrier aircraft from No 4 Squadron, which were on detachment at RAF Leuchars from RAF Laarbruch in Germany, were conducting routine night vision goggle training in the Balmoral area at the time the sighting was reported. There is no question that they were sent up to intercept 'UFO/flying saucers'."

The response to the alleged sighting is part of more than 6,000 pages of previously unseen material detailing hundreds of close encounters that took place from 1994 to 2000.

The sightings include a testimony from a senior air traffic controller from Prestwick Airport saying he had tracked a fast moving UFO on the airport radar in February 1999.

The crew of a trawler in the North Sea 19 miles north-east of Fraserburgh reported seeing a flat, shiny, round object hovering on August 18, 1997.

The MoD files are available to download for free for a month from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ufos