Letter from Squadron Leader Ivan Logan (RAF retired) to Dave Clarke, 23 October 2000
"You will appreciate that my recollection of the events of 13 Aug 56 are very sketchy not only because it was so long ago but also, at the time, we did not consider the incident to be of any great significance. Certainly, we were not aware then of what was reported earlier at RAF Bentwaters (USAF).
"My log-book entry reads: 13 Aug 56. Take-off time 0240 (actually it would have been 14 Aug by then). Pilot: Fg Off Fraser-Ker. Details: 'Scramble', Airborne: 45 mins.
"We were normally based at RAF Coltishall in Norfolk but once or twice a year a squadron was detached to RAF Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire for QRA (Quick Readiness) duties. Two aircraft were always on standby with crews in cockpits to get airborne in two minutes to intercept unidentified aircraft usually Eastern Block or occasionally friendly aircraft who may not have filed a flight plan.
"On the night in question I believe that we were the second aircraft scrambled as the first had no success in intercepting.
"Usually when scrambled we climbed to high level for 'trade' 100 miles or so over the North Sea. In this case, we were at low level 2-3000 feet I think, looking for a target near RAF Lakenheath (USAF). Normally, we were controlled by RAF Neatishead or Trimingham GCIs but on this occasion we were with RAF Lakenheath Approach Control Radar who were simply telling us where the targets were rather than controlling us. One difficulty at low altitude was that ground clutter on the radar tube (AI Mk21 American Westinghouse kit) reduced the radar range of pick up. The tubes flooded with ground returns when we turned or scanned low. We had no radar 'lock on' facility, it was all done manually moving the scanner by means of a tiny joystick. Pointing up if turning towards the target and down if we were turning away, the amount depending on how much bank the pilot was using. Having to manually strobe the target and at the same time talk the pilot into a visual (say 50 yards) position by means of a standard commentary giving speed, height and turning orders as well as target position indications. It was a one armed paper hanger situation.
"On the night in question I recall picking up a contact several times usually at about 3 or 4 miles. It may have been the same one. As it appeared to be virtually stationary we could not turn behind it as it was closing at high speed (our speed) probably 300 kts or so. Our targets were normally travelling at our speed and when in behind we synchronised speeds at visual range. In this case it was impossible. Eventually we returned to base as our fuel was low; at low altitude fuel consumption is much higher. We chatted with Dave Chambers and John Brady over coffee afterwards and compared notes although I don't remember filing a special report. I think at the time we thought that it was a met balloon or something similar and I don't recall considering UFOs neither do I remember either pilot talking about visual sightings on any lights although at low level there would have been plenty of lights to confuse.
"I have no idea where Ian Fraser-Ker is today. He was a South African married and living in the UK. After about 1958 I do not know where he went as he was not my regular pilot and he is not on the Squadron Association books. Dave Chambers and John Brady are at the addresses I gave. Dave left the RAF to become an airline pilot and John stayed in the RAF, retiring as Squadron Leader.
"I can't find the Eastern Daily Press cutting I mentioned. It was sent to me about 6 or 8 years ago by Colin Campbell Smith who lives near Norwich. It was about the Lakenheath incident and Colin remembered I was one of the navs and sent the cutting...I have a couple more cuttings and letters which I will show you. One American article which you may have seen gives an exaggerated account of the whole incident and quite frankly it is simply not true. It says that one of the Venoms was actually chased by the UFO!"