UFOs over Lakenheath
Letter from Flt. Lt. F. H. C. Wimbledon
to: The Editor, Flying Saucer Review
(FSR Vol. 24 #1, June 1978 p.31)
Although the Blue Book and Condon reports, and subsequent reports by Dr. J. E. McDonald appeared a long time ago, my attention has only recently been drawn to them. This is a pity, as an awful lot of genuine UFO investigators have been misled for several years.
I will not concern myself with the early reports of random sightings prior to 23.00 hours on the night of 13/14 August 1956 as that was the time I went on duty, and the officer I relieved had reported nothing unusual.
What does concern me, however, is the subsequent report made by the Watch supervisor on duty at Lakenheath R[A]TCC. Admittedly the statements were made after a lapse of some years, which could account for the fiction.
Point 1. The Venom night fighter was never at any time under the control of Lakenheath R[A]TCC, so was not vectored onto the target by them.
Point 2. At no time did the pilot say, "Roger . . . I've got my guns locked on him."
Point 3. Venom No.1 did not return to base short of fuel.
Point 4. At no time did the pilot of Venom No.1 hold an airborne conversation with the pilot of Venom No.2. This conversation according to the report was ". . . monitored by the Lakenheath Watch Supervisor." This was impossible because the radio frequency channel in use by the RAF pilots would neither be known nor be available to that Supervisor. Only I and my Interception Team would know that frequency.
Here are the true facts:-
I was Chief Controller on duty at the main RAF Radar Station in East Anglia [Neatishead, Norfolk] on the night in question. My duties were to monitor the radar picture and to scramble the Battle Flight, who were on duty 24 hours a day, to intercept any intruders of British airspace not positively identified in my sector of responsibility.
After this length of time I cannot confirm whether it was a moonlight night or not [Note: reference is to Ian Ridpath's Sunday Times summary, quoting a Daily Express article of February 2 describing a moonlit night. The moon had in fact set at approximately 2215], but I remember Lakenheath USAF Base [sic.] telephoning to say there was something "buzzing" their airfield circuit. I scrambled a Venom night fighter from the Battle Flight through Sector and my Controller in the Interception Cabin took over control of it. The Interception Control team would consist of one Fighter Controller (an Officer), a Corporal, a tracker and a height reader. That is, 4 highly trained personnel in addition to myself could now clearly see the object on our radar scopes. I also took the precaution of manning a second Interception Cabin to act as "backup" to the first.
The report speaks of the pilot being alone and using the airborne radar, which is another nonsense, as the Venom night fighters carried a pilot and a Radar Operator/Navigator who sat, very cramped with his AI radar, to the right of the pilot. [Note: the "report" referred to is again Ian Ridpath's article, supra, here quoting as fact a conjecture put forward by Philip Klass in UFOs Explained, 1974, pp. 229-30.]
After being vectored onto the trail of the object by my Interception Controller, the pilot called out "Contact", then a short time later "Judy" which meant the Navigator had the target fairly and squarely on his own radar screen and needed no help from the ground. He continued to close on the target but after a few seconds, and in the space of 1 or 2 sweeps on our scopes, the object appeared behind our fighter. Our pilot called out, "Lost contact, more help," and he was told the target was now behind him and he was given fresh instructions.
I then scrambled a second Venom which was vectored towards the area but before it arrived on the scene the target had disappeared from our scopes and although we continued to keep a careful watch was not seen again by us.
I am highly suspicious of many facets of the early reports by the GCA operators at Bentwaters and Lakenheath, being thoroughly conversant with "angels", A.P. and spurious responses which are prevalent in that area, but the fact remains that at least 9 RAF ground personnel and 2 RAF aircrew were conscious of an object sufficiently "solid" to give returns on Radar.
Naturally, all this was reported and a Senior Officer from Air Ministry came down and interrogated us.
(P.S. My name is known to the Editor [of FSR] to whom I have spoken, but for obvious reasons is not for publication.]
R.A.F Fighter Controller (Rtd.)