October 14, 1954
On 14 October 1954 (original FSR article said 4th, but was in error), Flight-Lieutenant James R. Salandin, flying a Meteor twin-jet fighter plane, narrowly avoided collision with an unidentified flying object over Southend-on-Sea, Essex.
What happened next was told to Derek Dempster, the then editor of Flying Saucer Review, and the story appeared in the very first issue of the magazine. (Derek Dempster was himself an ex-RAF pilot and knew how pilots value their professional reputation. Sensation seeking is not their style.)
Jimmy Salandin was one of the 'weekend' pilots of No. 604 County of Middlesex Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force. He had reported for duty at North Weald, Essex, on the afternoon of 4 October, and at 4.15 p.m. took off in his Meteor Mark 8 jet. Climbing southwards into a blue and cloudless sky he soon observed two other Meteors flying in formation high above him and leaving long vapor trails. Flight-Lieutenant Salandin watched the passage of the two aircraft while occasionally checking his in struments.
He had reached 16,000 feet (4880 meters) over the outlying districts of Southend, when to his surprise he saw two circular objects, traveling in the opposite direction to the Meteors, hurtle between them. One of the objects was silvery in color, the other gold. Salandin watched them until they disappeared, at the '9 o'clock high' position-to his port, or left, side.
After checking his own instruments he turned his gaze to the air in front of him. His surprise turned to horror - for he saw a silvery object streaking straight towards him. For a few split seconds he saw a thing that "had a bun-shaped top, a flange like two saucers in the middle, and a bun underneath . . . it could not have been far off because it overlapped the windscreen." (Derek Dempster noted that Meteor's 37- foot [11-metre] wing span just fills the windscreen at 150 yards [140 meters].) The flying saucer, which was traveling at tremendous speed, avoided a head-on collision at the very last second by suddenly swerving off past the jet on its port side.
Badly shaken, the Flight-Lieutenant flew around quietly for 10 minutes or so to regain his composure, and reported his experience to ground control. He was annoyed, too, when he realized later that his camera - standard equipment on combat aircraft - had been loaded all the time. With everything happening so quickly he didn't have time to press the button. A valuable opportunity to gather evidence for ufology had been missed.