Testimony of Flying Officer Les Arthur
Interview with Dave Clarke, Friday 9 March 2001
Here's a summary of what he told me. Remember, at that point he had never discussed the incident with the other 23 Squadron people, so what he said was 'pure.' He was flying Venom number WX 315.
He remembered being attached to the QRA at Waterbeach, serving on A flight at the time of the incident. He was scrambled after midnight, but because he had no facility for recording the time in his log, cannot say exactly when, but thinks it would have been between 1 and 2 am.
[rest of interview follows, transcribed from shorthand]
"We had gone to Waterbeach on the 10th August according to my logbook, and on the 11th I had flown twice during the day. The third trip was on the night of the 13th and it was this scramble. My log entry reads: "Lost tip tanks...DNCO [duty not carried out]...40 minutes.." which was the time taken.
"My navigator/radar operator was Flying Officer Graham Schofield, who we knew as "Scho."
"When I got airborne I remember turning and realising that my wing tanks were not there anymore, so we ended up climbimng and spiralling to burn up fuel before making a landing. We ended up coming down in a field near Waterbeach runway but managed to taxi onto the runway.
"I remember the airman who was waving the wands he started pointing at the wing tips saying 'you've lost your tanks' and I was nodding and saying, yes, yes. Anyhow, I was marched in to see the CO who accused me of having dropped the tanks, but it emerged that it was caused by a faulty switch guard.
"I was not involved in the UFO incident, but was scrambled. I can't say what time this occurred but it was definitely after dark, and it's probable that another aircraft went out before we returned...that would probably have been Dave 'Hell for Leather' Chambers.
"As for the UFO thing, it was talked about afterwards and all I remember was that there was a blip on an AI 21 radar and then it vanished because they were going past it and it was static. They came back and said it must have been a balloon.
"To put it mildly, we were all sceptics. Anything we were concerned about that was in the sky was doing about 500 knots like a bat out of hell. I can remember them coming back and saying what a bloody waste of time - what was all that about, having us going out chasing bloody spots in the sky!"