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Interview with IVAN LOGAN 13 November 2000, Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

IL, Ivan Logan; DC, Dave Clarke; AR, Andy Roberts

IL: …the property six years ago, and I’ll tell you the fellows name if you want

DC: What, the reporter?

IL: No, no, the lad, the secretary… the Eastern Daily Press will have it

DC: Yeah, on their files.

IL: It’s of no relevance really is it.

DC: Does it say anything new?

IL: No, I just looked at it. It’s the first I’d seen of anything being reported at all. It was the first I was aware that anybody thought it was anything more than what we did. I was surprised that Colin Smith even remembered it and even remembered that I was there. So it must have been a slightly bigger incident than we thought. Maybe we’re playing it down a little. But he said, ‘You’ll remember this’ and he put a ring round it and just posted it to me.

DC: Is this one of your colleagues from the time?

IL: He was a navigator on the squadron at the time. He must have been there, but he must have been attatched with us. Just to give you the background as to what happens. We used to be on a QRA once or twice a year. QRA was a Quick Reaction or Quick Readiness (I’m not sure what the A stands for now) Alert. The squadron would go down to, it was Waterbeach in those days, near Cambridge. We’d be there for about a fortnight and we’d be sitting ready to go, two aeroplanes would be sitting ready to go. We’d sit in the aeroplanes for about an hour, and then we’d be relieved by somebody else. So 24 hours a day somebody is sitting waiting, and of course what you were waiting for was the Eastern Bloc and ?Triggers? coming over, or anybody who was unidentified. I never intercepted anybody but sometimes you got scrambled for something, which turned out to be one of our own or whatever. Up north they often intercepted Russian ???, 43 Squadron did, but I never did. So that’s what we were doing there, and at the time the day would be as I said in my letter to you…. 13th August 1956. Of course, it would be the 13th, it would have been the 14th because at 2:40 in the morning I took off. But in the logbook, night flying always appeared as the evening. It was always written that way, you never changed the date at midnight in you logbook, it was just the previous day. I’ve got the entry here if you want to look, and its nothing significant, I had to search to find the thing.

DC: What we want to ask you to do is give us some brief background about your involvement; when you first joined the RAF, where you served and all the rest of it.

IL: Do you want to ask me questions?

DC: Well, just tell us the story basically.

IL: I joined as a National Serviceman in 1952, whilst I was a Manxman. I was brought up in the Isle of Man, but when I was sixteen I went to London and started work down there, and I was living in digs. We had to sign on as National Servicemen, and I registered at Acton or somewhere like that. They gave us some tests, and I said I wanted to join the airforce. They said that you’ve really got to sign on or you’ve got to get in. I said I wasn’t going to sign on, I’m National Service and I want to join the airforce. Sure enough, I got my call up and I went into the airports. I trained as a navigator, and finished my training as a navigator in August 1953. As I only had a year to do - it was two years, so less than a year - they gave us a job and I went to Leeming in Yorkshire where I had a job in headquarters looking after the welfare funds and the PSI. Leeming was a night fighter OTU and there were hundreds of those coming through. I liked what I saw, I liked the people and I liked the idea that you could fly and not have to work on the ground. The thought of working for four hours to fly for three never appealed to me. I liked the idea of a pilot type life, and that is the closest you got to being a pilot. So I signed on, did a refresher course and went through the mill until eventually came back to Leeming where I trained on night fighters. My first squadron was Coltishaw, and that would have been in 1955 sometime. I crewed with a sergeant pilot Nick Burroughs, who I still keep in touch with. He retired as master pilot, but he was a wartime fleet Air Officer and he came back and joined the airforce as a pilot. You didn’t always fly with your own pilot. When I went to Waterbeach on that exercise I flew with Fraser-Kerr, a South African. I don’t know where his headquarter was, he was probably detached or doing something else.

DC: We’re actually trying to trace him at the moment.

IL: I don’t if you’d get Fraser-Kerr, because I am the secretary of 23 Squadron Reunion Association, so I have got a print out of most people and he isn’t on it. He wasn’t a particularly friendly chap, and normally I kept tabs. I know where some people went, into training jobs or something like that, but I didn’t know what happened to him. All I know is that he was a South African, he was married and that he lived in Norwich. We didn’t see a lot of him.

AR: There are some Fraser-Kerrs still living in Norwich.

IL: Well, there could well be. It’s not a very common name in Norwich.

DC: Maybe there’s a relative or something.

IL: Yes, it may well be a son or a daughter now, as this was 45 years ago.

AR: If we find him, we’ll let you know where he is.

IL: Well, I’ve just handed over secretaryship to a serving Wing Commander. I still go to the reunions, but I did my stint - seven years. Anyway so that’s what it was, we went to Waterbeach. My background in the airforce was, after that… I had a little hearing problems, so I went low and slow, doing flight checking in the Sixties. Then I went back on the night fighters, but not to fly. I was on the simulator, instructing. I went back at the end of the Sixties, onto the 5 Squadron and onto this flight checking again. When I got to about 40, I wasn’t going to be offered anything more, because I am deaf on one side. So I then went secretarial, and I got promoted as a secretarial officer. I soldiered on until I was 58, as you can stay after you’re 55. I finished at Beacon Hill selecting aircrew, and retired here because we’d spent a lot of time at Beacon Hill and it made as much sense to stay here as anywhere else. So that’s really what I did over 40 years.

DC: What year did you retire in?

IL: It must have been 1994. No sorry, it was 1992. I joined in 1952, and I retired 40 years later. I did have a ticket until 1994, but when they close Beacon Hill, I wasn’t going to commute to Cranwell, so I just gave up.

DC: So, this particular incident itself. I know it’s a long time ago now but…

IL: I can’t tell you much more than what I wrote in that letter. It was interesting that John Brady said much the same, but of course he and I were refreshed because we went through this exercise. I can show you exactly what we said on the interview, because I’ve got a transcript of it. There’s quite a few bits and pieces here from that particular thing. As far as I can remember, obviously we were sitting in the aeroplane and somebody scrambled. We went, and the odd thing was, normally it was climbing to maximum height and heading east over to the North Sea waiting to intercept whatever came in. Normally we’d go up to 45 or 48, and that was our height. However, on this occasion I don’t recall being controlled by Neatishead. I think we were controlled by… we went straight to Lakenheath Approach

DC: That’s one of the issues that is contended.

IL: I’m not sure. I’ve a sneaking feeling we were with Lakenheath Approach radar.

DC: This would be the Americans?

IL: Yes, the American approach radar. So we weren’t getting what you would say, fighter control. They would talk you in to your visual range, or your radar pickup range which with the AI 21 we were using on the Venom, was about 12 miles at full height. At low level, you’d be lucky to pick one up at 6 or 7 miles. We didn’t have lock-on facilities, so it was all done by the navigator at the back who really did have to work hard. You can imagine interception, the initial bit was very gentle. We’d pick up contact at about 14 miles, assess it, say it looks like a 90 crossing starboard to port or whatever, and you’d make them do something. If it was crossing too far ahead, you’d turn away from it. If you wanted to make it come across you, you’d turn towards it, and you’d aim to get behind it. Once you got to about after your initial turn, you’d be giving speed order, you’d be giving height orders, you’d be giving bank orders. The commentary was absolutely flat out. You’d give the order, and he’d repeat back the order. You’d talk him right into visual range, and he would say ‘Visual,’ because at night it was lights out so you’d have to get right in behind it. We were Venom against Venom, and you only had one checkpoint, so you couldn’t see back You can’t tell what was happening, and it got very close. We had a couple of touches.

DC: What kind of radar were you using?

IL: AI 21, American. It did have a lock-on facility, but we didn’t have it fitted to ours, although I did use it somewhere when I went on an air firing course. It did have a lock-on facility but we didn’t have it, so we used to have to do it manually. We had a strobe and we’d turn it down and keep it on target manually, so it gave you one other thing you had to do. Of course, you had to follow it with a scanner, so you can imagine. This does have some relevance to what we were doing on that night. If you can imagine a target leading, and the radar comes out like that - similar or just above. I can’t remember what it was now, but shall we say it was 15 degrees. You can imagine that if you were in a turn, you can’t even see it, so you pull the little joystick back and that would lift the radar scanner up so you would get it in. The harder you pulled, you’d have to be pushing down. So if you were pushing on your scanner down, to keep him in scan or else you’d lose him. At the same time you were doing the speed, and you were strobing him to keep the strobe on him. So it wasn’t really navigating, you were working with equipment. Then afterwards you would say, ‘well where are we?’ as you’d have no idea.

DC: You were the second?

IL: I was the second. I think David Chambers and John Brady went first, I took off at 2:40. We went off and I don’t recall being controlled by Neatishead. I can recall that we were fairly low level compared to what we would normally be. We certainly picked up radar contact of something, and it looked like an aircraft contact, but it was on low level. It was at short range because I was on my short range setting. On a long range you had more of a plan, but when you got closer, say 5 miles, you switched down to an expanded time base and the blip would be bigger. Normally it would come slowly down, because you would get behind and come down a little bit. Your closing speed would be quite fast, but as you got behind, your closing speed would be your overtaking speed. It may only have been 50 knots. As you got in behind, you’d synchronise your speed, and you’d be at exactly the same speed. But these things, it was pouring down the tube because it was stationary, or virtually stationary. You couldn’t turn behind it. You can imagine with an aeroplane, that you can turn behind it. But that was stationary, and very difficult to assess. It could have been aeroplane coming slowly towards me head on, but we couldn’t have been going the same way because you wouldn’t have been overtaking it at 300 knots. So it looked like something coming towards us.

DC: Was the pilot trying to get a visual?

IL: He’d be listening to me, with his head down. If he looked out he would get disorientated. It just came down the tube and we couldn’t turn behind it. It just came straight down the tube and then it was gone. You’d be through, and then the chap would say, ‘He’s four miles behind you.’ So you’d turn round and come back, and you’d see something else. I suppose I recall picking something up three or four times. I don’t recall the pilot seeing any lights, but at low level there were airfield light, building lights, car lights. I think we were at 3000 to 4000 feet, so I don’t think he would have seen anything. I don’t recall the flight pilot seeing anything. I don’t recall that I picked up any other aeroplanes. But we were certainly talking to an American, so that would not be my controller.

DC: That wouldn’t be Freddie Wimbledon would it?

IL: I don’t know. It would be somebody on their radar approach control. Maybe they had a different one, maybe they had a better airfield radar than we had. I don’t know. It wasn’t what we would call a GCI, a Ground Control Intercept. We weren’t being fighter controlled. And at low level you’re burning up fuel at twice the rate.

DC: What was the altitude you were at?

IL: I don’t recall, but I should think we’d be at 3000-4000 feet, or something like that. We certainly weren’t at a proper height. An intercept at that level isn’t very easy either. We used to do them over sea at low level, but you wouldn’t normally do them over land because of the ground returns. Every time you turn, the tube is flooded with ground returns which made it very difficult to pick up a target. It’s alright when you’re below it, looking up but if you’re wanting to put bank on, the whole ground would flood the tube.

DC: Had you been given any information about what Lakenheath had actually picked up, before you set off?

IL: No, nobody said anything about it. Normally we would be sitting on the end of the runway and they would say, ‘We’ve got a possible trace for you.’ You’d get the scramble and you’d here them talking and they’d say, ‘We’ve got a target 120 miles away, scramble,’ and off you would go. All you’re checks would be done, and you’d be ready to go. You’d just start the engines and go, because you were actually at the end of the runway. So, I don’t remember any of that, but probably they would have told us. They would have said what vector, and it would have been north east. We would have got up into the air and they would have said whatever they would have said. Unidentified target, or something like that.

DC: From what you’ve said about the previous scramble you’d been on, the Russians or the suspected Eastern Bloc, this was an unusual intercept?

IL: Absolutely. Normally, it [was] climb to maximum, and that was the first thing you got. Normally, you would take off and go east. The only time we went any other way is if he was very high, and you were late scrambling - sometimes they gave you a back scramble so you could get height and go that way. Normally, we used to get to height in about ten minutes. However, this was entirely different. Afterwards we though we were looking for some kind of Met balloon or barrage balloon or something like that. It was something which was stationary, or not moving very fast and something that was giving a fair size of blip - a fair size of return. I doubt if you’d get that size of return with a Met balloon, but some things had reflected of it of course. If the reflection is the same as your radar wavelength, then you could pick it up.

DC: Are you familiar with these so called ‘angels’ and ‘anomalous propagation?’

IL: Yes, ‘angels’ are interference.

DC: It couldn’t have been anything like that?

IL: No. I have seen ground radar, I’ve been there as part of the course. We used to go across and watch interceptions. Angels, as far as I remember, were just general interference. You’d get one or two blips, if you see what I mean. I don’t know whether it was moving, but certainly they were confused about it. There was no doubt about it. There was something in the circuits and they weren’t sure what it was. Obviously we were short of fuel and we came back. You come back when you reach a certain figure. I think it was called ‘Bingo,’ when he said ‘Bingo’ it was time to return. When you got down to a certain amount, I think we used to work on gallons, and when you got down to about 80 gallons you had to come back.

DC: By that time how many time had you tried to intercept?

IL: I don’t know. Probably about three or four times. We must have been in the area for half an hour. I don’t know if that was the time when we had a very bad landing with Fraser-Kerr. There was an aeroplane on the runway when we came back, and we had to stop short. It might have been that occasion. When was it? 1956?

DC: 1956, August 13th.

IL: That would have been it. I flew with him quite a few times around then. It was at 02:40 and I was airborne for 45 minutes, so we would certainly have been 25 minutes in the area, or maybe half an hour.

DC: When you returned to the base, what was said?

IL: I remember meeting David Chambers and John Brady for coffee, and just had a chat. They asked how we got on, and I told them we couldn’t intercept it. I remember that sort of conversation going on. I think we though it must have been a Met balloon or something like that. I don’t remember much more about it, whether we talked about it or not. I don’t remember if we talked about it the next day or anything else. I don’t remember it being a discussion point on the squadron. We didn’t get any special briefs about it. Normally we put in a report when we did get scrambled, but I don’t recall that. It probably would have been very brief

AR: Was that a standard pro forma?

IL: Yes, it was a standard thing. It was just run off, and that would go off to command. Certainly when we had an exercise, when we were doing or annual exercise, we used to fill it in because we used to have kills. They would be an American or French aeroplane, and we’d shoot them down and we’d put in a report. We’d put in a report if we didn’t shoot them down. That had a name too, but I’ve forgotten what it was… an Operations Report. We probably put one in for that incident, but I don’t remember doing it. I do remember talking to Brady and Chambers afterwards, all four of us, but I don’t remember us coming up with anything more than ‘that was odd.’

DC: You’d didn’t speak to any commanding officers?

IL: No. Nobody debriefed us, nobody said anything about it. I don’t think we even spoke to Lakenheath. With hindsight perhaps I would have rung them up, and said, ‘Well, what do you make of that?’ But I don’t think we did. Thinking about it now, if I’d been that concerned about it, I would have got on the phone on the landline to Lakenheath and said, ‘Can I speak to Sergeant Whatshisname who is controlling us. What did he make of it all. Sorry we couldn’t be of any help.’ Something like that, but I don’t recall doing that. I’m surprised we didn’t.

DC: Do you remember the name of the Base Commander at Waterbeach at the time?

IL: No, we were just attached to Waterbeach. We had very little to do with them. I think we did stay on the base sometimes, but we used to eat down on the line, our own food and everything. But then we you were off, you’d go back to the mess, you’d have a day off. But I wouldn’t remember who was there, I wouldn’t know who he was. We were just there for a week or a fortnight, in and out.

DC: You were actually based at Coltishaw then?

IL: Yes, at Coltishaw. I know who was the Base Commander at Coltishaw - Hanks. He was a well known chap.

DC: Do you know if he’s still around?

IL: Hanks, I don’t know. The Wing Commander has just died, there was a big obituary in The Times about it.

DC: Yes, I read that.

IL: Constable-Maxwell. I didn’t know that he’d got married. He was a mad guy, he was a monk at one stage and he came back.

DC: It didn’t last very long did it.

IL: The war affects a lot of people that way, and after the war he felt he could become a monk. But he didn’t have a vocation for it, and he came back and joined the airforce. There are all sorts of stories about him.

DC: Was he the one that you mentioned, that somebody had rung you up asking about him?

IL: Yes, they did. I had nothing on him at all, just his name on my print out.

DC: What was the question about? That he shot down some UFO in the war?

IL: Yes, that was a different thing, sorry. Yes they did. People rang me the second time and asked if he knew his address because they wanted to write to his widow and I said no. The first time they came to me, and this is how they got on to me about this, the people who did that was this chap from ‘Video Diaries,’ called Amhir Jamal. Now the interesting thing was Amhir is the son in law of Wing Commander Eric Knight who was on 23 Squadron. Eric put him on to me to get Constable-Maxwell’s contact number. The thing was, Constable-Maxwell was supposed to have had an incident during the war. Now, all I know about Constable-Maxwell in the war was that he shot down what he thinks was a British bomber, because he was told to. He was put out to intercept something that they didn’t have a movement on, and he was supposed to have gone back to control and said, ‘I think this is a Wellington.’ They said, ‘It doesn’t matter, shoot it down.’ I think he did, because it could have been a Wellington, but they didn’t know what it was. Constable-Maxwell, who was twenty third in line to the throne by the way, he was on the tactics side. He was on the Duke of Norfolk side. So he shot it down, and that was the only thing I was aware of. When I was talking to Amhir I said, ‘Well I had an incident.’ Just shortly before that, a couple of years before that, I’d had the cutting sent to me be Colin Campbell-Smith. So I said I’d been involved in that, and he said, ‘Oh, that one. We’ll come an interview you.’ That was how the BBC got me. Jenny and this chap came down to see me first of all, and they interviewed me out there on the veranda, which was a damn sight better than the one they showed on the BBC. Anyway, when I mentioned John Brady, they said, ‘I’ll tell you what. We’ll bin this one, and we’ll meet John Brady at Lakenheath.’ This girl, Jenny or whatever her name was.

DC: Jenny Randalls.

IL: Was it?

DC: Well, she knows a lot about this.

IL: So that’s how it was. We went up to Lakenheath and I have the transcript of what was said. The other thing was, he put a story in the Daily Mail. He sent it to me and it was rubbish. I rang him up and said, ‘No.’ It said something which is typical of the Daily Mail, which is my paper by the way, ‘Surviving crew members insist that they had a close encounter.’ Now, I did not insist that.

DC: What was the date of that article?

IL: That was Saturday 13th March 1996. Here’s the transcript. You can borrow this and send it back to me if you want. So that was that. That was that letter I sent to you, obviously you’ve got that. That’s the one you sent to me. This one, I don’t know why I’ve kept that. At the time, I probably cut it out and kept it. You’ve probably seen that.

DC: No, I’ve not seen that. This is exactly the sort of stuff we’re looking for.

IL: There’s some other stuff that you will be interested in. This was another one that came to me. The odd thing was this was from the BBC, obviously they’d got me from the other, and I’d happened to have been on the 115 Squadron. It’s asking me, because I was a Manxman, about something that happened over on the Isle of Man on the 115 Squadon. But I had no trace of it, nothing about it.

DC: Was this all tied up with that documentary, when they were asking you all these different things?

IL: Eh?

DC: You know the documentary they made? Were all these questions they were asking you, like about Maxwell, all to do with that, or were they different subjects?

IL: No, the Maxwell business came out well before. I was asked no questions about the Maxwell business when they came down and interviewed me. The Maxwell business, I just couldn’t give them a contact, but I mentioned that I’d been involved in something so they came and interviewed me. They got Brady, and David Chambers was out of the country then, so they didn’t get him.

DC: They didn’t interview David Chambers at that point.

IL: No, they didn’t get him at all. Incidentally, David Chambers went out of the Airforce probably at his 38 point or maybe earlier, and he became a civic pilot. He’s retired now. Fraser-Kerr, I don’t know what’s happened to him.

DC: You won’t be aware of this, but a book was published this week about another UFO incident, but it has an account of this case and you’re named in it.

IL: Oh God.

DC: Do you want to read that, and let us know how accurate that is. You can keep that actually.

IL: I’m looking for something else. Did I give you those American cuttings?

DC: No, I don’t think so.

IL: Where are they? I though I had some more somewhere.

DC: The thing I’ve just given you is an American based account.

IL: Yes, but there’s a lot of American cuttings. Where have they gone? Ah, they’re stuck to the transcript.

DC: Is it the James MacDonald thing?

IL: Yes. Now, there are inaccuracies there right away.

DC: That’s the Flying Saucer Review article.

IL: It talks about it being a single seat fighter, and it wasn’t.

DC: That’s where they made some pretty bad mistakes.

IL: It was a twin seat Night Fighter.

DC: I think this account is where many of the misinterpretations have originated.

IL: That was given to me by either Jenny or the other chap. Do you want me to look at this now?

AR: Yes, if you would.

DC: Have of read of it and see what you think. It’s only a short piece, probably about 500 words.

IL: I’ve seen this before. I intercepted a B36 incidentally, in those days. It was incredible. Do you know what a B36 is? It had 10 engines, a conveyor, 4 burning and 6 turning. I’ve never seen anything like it. We normally picked up a target about 14 miles away or 15 miles if you were lucky, but I’d switch it on and at 28 miles away this thing was coming down the tube. I couldn’t believe it. It could have been further, but that’s when I started searching at about 28 miles. We got right behind it. Of course, the Americans always had their lights on, which made it pretty easy.

DC: Do you recognise any of the American names on there?

IL: No, not yet. I have seen this report. Well of course, it’s in that one…. Yes, that’s what we were looking at… You see, I’m not sure about the speed… First of all, we didn’t have a lock on facility, so that is inaccurate. It then reports that we lost the target on the radar. There was a lot of that going on. We were picking it up and losing it. I don’t know about this tail chase by the friendly fighter, I’ve heard absolutely nothing about that at all. Well, I know it didn’t happen. Certainly, the pilot didn’t acknowledge this chase.

DC: There’s actually reported speech there, isn’t there.

IL: Yes, that was not said. This bit about being unable to shake off the target is absolute rubbish. The one additional plane in the scramble was us.

DC: I think the biggest mistake there is where you are described as the pilot.

IL: They’ve spelt my name wrong too. They’ve spelt it with a Y.

DC: You wouldn’t describe that as an accurate account then?

IL: I wouldn’t. It says RAF Pilot John Brady and Ivan Logan, when we were both navigators. Navigator 1 was Brady and Navigator 2 was Logan. I wouldn’t argue with it’s, ‘Did you see anything?’ I wouldn’t argue with that. We might have said that, because he was airborne and we were airborne at the same time. We might have been on the same channel. I certainly don’t remember that he got behind me. He might have said that he couldn’t get behind me. He certainly didn’t get behind one of us.

DC: That’s quite an important point really.

IL: I’d stake my life on that, and I’m sure that John Brady would say the same. The other bit might be true. He might have said, ‘Did you see something?’ ‘I saw nothing.’ ‘I couldn’t get behind it,’ is true because it was stationary. Did you tell me some of this over the air, or have I seen some of this before?

DC: That is a condensed version of some of the stuff that’s in that article.

IL: Can I have those bits back?

DC: Yes, I can take these and photocopy them and send you them back.

IL: Are you going to keep them all now? Yes, keep them all.

DC: Yes, I can photocopy them on Monday and then send them back.

IL: There’s no hurry.

DC: I’m sure there will be some interesting stuff in there. After this was all over, did you ever hear about any similar cases that your colleagues were involved in?

IL: Apart from this one, when I saw the cutting sent to me, probably in the early Nineties. No, I can’t recall anything. A friend of mine wrote a book which I thought was lot of rubbish, although he has written some good books. He wrote a book about the Bermuda Triangle. He’s written some lovely books about natural history, but this book about the Bermuda Triangle… It is fiction, but he did a tour in America and there’s an element of truth in it. You get the feeling that he’s writing about his experiences when he was flying with the Americans. There’s something in there where he’s suggesting that aeroplanes were getting lost in the Bermuda Triangle and he was involved in one. I’ll give you the name if you want.

DC: It’s a bit outside our sphere.

IL: I think it is, it’s outside what you’re looking for. But I’m not aware of anything else.

DC: So, until 1996 when you were contacted by the BBC, it never even occurred to you that this was a UFO incident.

IL: No, I don’t think so but just before that I got the cutting that he sent to me. That was the first time I’d heard of it as a UFO incident. It never was, and I don’t think it is now. It is an incident, but to me nothing like that. I knew nothing about the tie between the two.

DC: There’s a whole series of events that supposedly occurred earlier that night.

IL: It’s odd that the two American bases were selected. It makes you wonder about the Eastern Bloc, but they didn’t have anything that could have done that at that time. There were about three American bases in East Anglia at the time, but two of them they went over. In fact, they’d go over Woodbridge and Bentwater at the same time, because they were both together. Sculthorpe is just down the road as well. They’re all together. If there was any truth in the UFO thing, why would they select American bases. It is a mystery, but of course, there’s more coming out now.

DC: Summing the whole thing up, how likely is it that your assessment at the time, about it being a Met balloon, is correct?

IL: I think it must have been. I don’t think it was anything extra-terrestrial, or anything like that, for a moment. I don’t know what it was doing flying around at that level. To me, I think it would be something like a Met balloon. I don’t think it was angels, I don’t think it was radar interference. There was definitely something giving a positive return. Barrage balloon, Met balloon, something like that. A stationary helicopter would have done it. From what we saw, we didn’t get any rapid acceleration. I’m not aware of that, but of course, we wouldn’t be. I don’t suppose I made any more than three or four contacts. I’m a bit disappointed that we couldn’t do anything with it, you felt that you were failing if you couldn’t intercept it. They couldn’t.

DC: Did you ever have any experiences picking up weather balloons or barrage balloons?

IL: No, we didn’t have anything like that.

DC: This guy at Neatishead that spoke to Jenny, controlling the scramble at the time, from a different point of view, he says that there was a lot of interest in it. He was debriefed by somebody from the Air Ministry, and it caused a big hoohah at the time. It does seem odd that they didn’t come and talk to the people involved.

IL: I would have remember that. You see, I didn’t even put anything in the log book. Once when I crashed when training, I had in my log book a normal entry, then a couple of years later I went back and wrote ‘crashed’ because it was of interest. I didn’t even put anything in there when I got the scramble.

DC: Was it August 13th?

IL: Yes.

DC: Is this one for the year?

IL: That’s my second log book I think. When it’s full up, you just write another one. I’ve got three or four. Let’s see where this starts. Oh yes, that’s when I was training. This is from when I started.

DC: Oh, ‘crashed in sea.’

Following conversation obscured by laughter of interviewers.

DC: Have you got any questions you want to ask, Andy?

AR: No.

DC: We’ve been through all our list here.

AR: Well, the other thing is, during the rest of your time in the RAF did you ever come across anyone talking about UFOs that had been seen?

IL: No, I haven’t. People’s views are much the same as mine, they don’t believe in them really.

AR: There’s quite a lot of documentation in the Public Records Office where pilots have seen things over the years.

IL: You see, when you now find out about these stealth bombers and fighters, they’ve been flying for years.

AR: Exactly. They’ve got to be tested, haven’t they.

IL: Now, if you look at a stealth fighter it just looks like something from outer space. It looks like it, and gives a very poor radar return. For years in America, they were flying top secret. They may have come here. The other thing is we used to have these Blackbirds operating from over here, SR-71. In fact, when I was at [Mildenhall?] we had them operating there. So there were a lot of aeroplanes doing a lot of odd things. We don’t know what the Russians had, but I don’t think we would have known about it if they had anything capable of flying low level.

DC: That was very low level, wasn’t it.

IL: They couldn’t do it, they’d run out of fuel. I don’t believe in them as such, no. The sheer time, if you work out the speed of light, 186000 miles per second it takes from the nearest star a year at the speed of light. Nothing travels at the speed of light, so from the nearest star you’re talking about a thousand years maybe.

DC: If you think about this thing you had on radar, it must have been there for a long time. There were two attempted intercepts, and presumably before that. It must have been there for a couple of hours.

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