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Air 2/18871: Letter from Air Commodore A. N. Davis to Charles F. Lockwood, 17 March 1972

Scan of para.6 from Air Commodore Davis' letter


From: Mr A N Davis DSO DFC


AF/CX 38/67/S4f(Air)

17 March 1972

Mr Charles F Lockwood

5 The Ridgeway

Thank you for your letter of 21 February addressed to Miss Jamieson. In her temporary absence on leave I have gone through your three letters (starting with the one of 25 January addressed to the Minister of Defence) and Miss Jamieson's replies.

I appreciate your concern over the handling of UFO reports but I am not convinced that any of your proposals would add significantly to our knowledge of the UFO phenomenon. Our own experience supports the conclusions of the Condon Report (an exhaustive study of UFOs by the University of Colorado) in 1968-69 that further extensive study of UFOs was not justified in the expectation that scientific knowledge would be advanced thereby. We therefore continue to examine UFO reports as part of normal staff functions for any possible defence implications, but we do not pursue our investigations where insufficient data is given because further public expenditure on suvh investigations would not be justified.

May I deal briefly with the various proposals made in your three letters? Taking them seriatim -

  1. You suggest that the UFO organisation to which you belong should set aside funds for radar development and should put forward a new photographic technique which you have thought out. It is not for me to suggest how private funds should be spent, but I would remind you that very large sums are being spent by public companies and by government research on development of radar and to a lesser extent on photographic techniques, and technological progress in both these fields has been enormous.

  2. That we should seek out a scientific body to pursue investigations into unexplained UFO reports. Again I would refer to the conclusions of the Condon Report mentioned above.

  3. That the public relations of the Ministry of Defence are at fault in their inadequate explanations ot the public. I am sorry if this is so; this branch, consisting of Miss Jamieson and myself, is responsible for coordinating action taken on UFO reports and dealing with correspondence with members of the public. But we have many other responsibilities, quite unconnected with UFOs, and we do at times receive a flood of letters concerning UFOs, most of them repeating ideas which have oreviously been considered by Ministers and rejected on the grounds of unjustifiable expenditure. At times we may deal with suggestions too briefly, but I am now answering all your points in full.

  4. That it is logically contradictory to say that the unexplained reports were no different in kind from those for which a simple explanation was found. Nearly all unexplained reports are lacking in some essential data - such as the time and place of the incident. Hense although we may strongly suspect, from the description, that they relate to an aircraft, balloon, satellite or other ordinary event, we cannot positively identify the object observed, and the report remains unexplained.

  5. That we make no reference to landings of UFOs, ground marks, sightings of occupants or comparison of data with that from abroad. Reports received here have produced no evidence so far of any landings, ground marks or sightings of occupants in the UK. We are concerned, for reasons of public expenditure already mentioned, only with defence implications within the UK air space, and we do not maintain any routine liaison with foreign organisations except in the plotting of satellites in earth orbit.

  6. That we have published no explanation of the Lakenheath incident of 1956. Our detailed UFO reports going back before 1962 have been destroyed but if there had been any evidence to indicate the existence of an unidentified but real flying object (and not just an anomalous radar echo) it would of course have been retained and investigated in great depth. I was airborne myself at the time in a Venom Night Fighter from Coltishall, and was vectored on to a suspected UFO but made no radar contact and found myself chasing a star.

  7. such things as the FSR report on Brazilian sightings over a period of two years up to October 1971. This is a good example of a report which is not worth further investigation. It is totally unspecific as to place, date or circumstances, and happened a long time ago. We have no intention of wasting tax payers money on trying to get further evidence of such South American will-o'-the-wisps.

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