Letter dated 9 August 2003 to Dave Clarke from Flt Lt Peter 'Digger' Dell, ex RAF, 23 Squadron
". . . I cannot be more explicit over the date [of the
incident] ...but although my logbook says the 14th I believe this
is a mistake and it was the evening of the 13th [August 1956].
"I am certain it was the evening sortie (1810 take off from Waterbeach). We were around 35,000 ft when Neatishead asked if we could identify a bogie.
"After a little toing and froing I got a contact which I estimated to be approx 80,000 ft and climbing. For its day the Venom could climb relatively well but not that well!
"The next day I heard that another crew had been scrambled; I think it was Dave Chambers and John Brady, and from a subsequent conversation it appears the object had descended and was then being tracked by Lakenheath radar at approximatey 4,000 feet. Their scramble was I believe in the early hours of the morning.
"The immediate summation of all the crews concerned was that it was a Meteorological Balloon, judging from its rapid vertical movements and virtually nil horizontal (other than wind speed).
"The affair was quickly forgotten and put down as another example of our transatlantic cousins getting their knickers in a twist over yet another U.F.O. (they don't change).
"As you can imagine, your letter was a complete blast from the past. I cannot believe people are making such a big fuss about this incident, it was something and nothing."
Dell's logbook entry for August 14 1956 (but see above) names the pilot as Flying Officer [George] Sandman, and gives time of take off as 1810 with a flying time of 1 hour and ten minutes. The flight is described as NFT (night flying training) and MLPI's (mid-level practice interceptions).