19 June 2009
Subject: Thread Re: English Channel Incident, April 29, 1957

From: Fran Ridge
Sketchy but sounds fishy.

Date: Fri, 19 Jun 2009 21:11:22 +0100
From: Martin Shough <parcellular@btinternet.com>
I've done a study of this one too. I have the complete Air Ministry file containing official reports, some radarscope track tracings (a rare bonus!) and quite a few press clippings. Intriguing, possibly explained, but not quite. The Ministry proveably fibbed and fudged this one to make the official explanation - 2 stray Hunter jets on an exercise - sound more convinving than it really was Th reason was the awkward press and parliamentary interest coming in the wake of the RAF West Freugh incident a few weeks earlier (BTW that's another one I have much more information on and I have a longish analysis based on the Ministry file).
Incidemtally thewre was another radar case at Ventnor that July which I have the file on (probable interference)

Date: Sun, 21 Jun 2009 10:41:59 -0400
From: Jan Aldrich <project1947@earthlink.net>
Subject: Re: 1957 English Channel
<>This is from NICAP/The Keyhoe Archives, NICAP did write to the Air Ministry and other officials  concerning various UFO incidents.  I had a small file of such, but I have apparently misplaced, but this is one of the items. I think this shows the virtue of the RADCAT...sketchy information, no matter how much we dislike vague reference do bring out new information.

Date: Sun, 21 Jun 2009 19:05:29 +0100
From: Martin Shough <parcellular@btinternet.com>
Hi Jan
I assume this NICAP correspondence on UK events was via Julian Hennessey? He did a lot and his name appears quite often in the files. This one was never fully released, though, until recent years.
It's more intriguing than the headline story might suggest because not only is the Hawker Hunter explanation fudged (speed about 30% faster than the top speed of a Hunter really was reported by RAF radar, despite denials in Parliament), there was actually another totally independent radar-visual sighting in the same south coast area in an overlapping time frame, also involving two objects, this time observed visually by multiple ground witnesses at Shanklin, IOW, as "extremely bright metallic" and near stationary.
An amateur astronomer phoned RAF Ventnor at 8:00pm and placed tham at 70degs up at 150deg (SE) at about 30,000ft. Ventnor immediately checked with RAF radar at Beachy Head (Sussex - presumably because the visual location was at high elevation from Ventnor and inside the zenithal radar shadow cone). Beachy Head immediately confirmed two contacts at 25,000ft.in the correct area. At the end of the sighting Beachy Head radar was reporting only one object left. Ventnor got on the phone to to the main witness who reported that he now only had one object in sight. The match seems conclusive.
These objects were written off as probable balloons, possibly from France, and the coincidence of two pairs of unknowns in the same area at around the same time was put down to coincidence. This is possible. Indeed it's possible that the IOW incident triggered the interception incident, by way of Beachy Head reporting the pair of IOW targets to RAF St Margarets who were the first to pick up the pair of fast UFOs about 3/4 hour later. One can argue that St Margaret's was thus primed to look out for pairs of UFOs and latched onto a pair of Hunters for this reason.(except for the reported speed).
The timing and locations don't fit the theory that the same two objects were responsible for both sightings, and the visual observers did say that their objects resembled balloons - or at least that the main object in 8x binoculars "appeared as a possible balloon", with a second smaller round object appearing behind it. There was no astronomical possibility - Venus was set in the west. But the object got brighter and larger by a factor 2 during 75mins observation, descending westwards down the sky to a point where it got confused with Jupiter (which I confirm was due S at 44 deg elevation at the end of the observation).
FYI I've attached a summary analysis in pdf. As is so often the case, things are too complicated for a clear decision

Date: Sun, 21 Jun 2009 19:20:19 -0300
From: Don Ledger <dledger@ns.sympatico.ca>
Hi Martin,
I read your analysis of the 1957 channel event. Thanks for posting it. I was looking for how far these targets might have travelled during the duration of the event. The Hawker Hunter F4 only had a 230 statute miles combat radius and that was clean. But that wasn't uncommon for jet fighters back then. They were real fuel guzzlers.  If it was pushing it and carrying rockets even that range would be decreased.
I see the whole thing seemed to kick off at 8:00pm local and there is a 75 minute duration time for the sighting so the Hunter F4 was at the very end of it's fuel endurance at 75 minutes. At a cruise speed [~75% of max.] bingo fuel was at about 30-35 minutes.
Don't know if this detail is important however for the consideration of this having been a couple of Hunter F4s.

Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2009 11:52:58 +0100
From: Martin Shough <parcellular@btinternet.com>
Hi Don
It hadn't occurred to me to think about the fuel radius but you've got a point. 16 Hunters were supposedly in an exercise and 16 was the typical establishment for a fast-jet squadron so I'd assumed they were all from 74 Squadron, RAF Horsham St Faith (re-equipped with F4s just weeks earlier), which is where one of the mystery pair reportedly returned. This is near Norwich in Norfolk (it became Norwich International Airport in the early 'sixties) about 340 miles East of Land's End. So a target that was lost off the radar still barrelling westwards over the sea off Lands End seems very unlikely to be an F4 from there unless it was being repositioned to an airfield in the West of England or Wales.
But thinking about it there's no reason why they all had to come from 74 Squadron of course, indeed its probably more likely they were 8-strong night flights from two different squadrons, so the second squadron base could be anywhere. About 19 RAF squadrons flew Hunters in 1957. Maybe the Hunter that headed off West was from a base in the West?
The Hunter in question had to have been picked up by RAF St Margaret's ROTOR radar (near Dover) in geo-ref squares NG and MG, around the Gloucestershire area, then picked up by Ventnor heading SW from LG into JF where it was also tracked by Hope Cove, which was a ROTOR radar GCI site near Salcombe in Devon that controlled the Javelins. The reports say that the "Hunter" went off the scope at Hope Cove heading west. If Hope Cove had the relatively new Type 80 radar the max range would have been 200 miles or more at the altitude of the targets (44k). This would put the "Hunter" over the Atlantic more than 100 miles west of Lands End and still going balls-out. If so wherever it came from it must have been near bingo having travelled around 300 miles from the point of first pick over the Oxford area at 44k. Where was it going? One-way to S Ireland? Why? And there's no mention of such an unusual factor in the documents.
On the other hand if Hope Cove still had the older Type 7 or 11 master radar (possible because max threat was considered to be the East and SE and E coast radars got the first upgrades) then top range might have been only about 100 miles, putting target loss not too far west of lands End in a similar position to Ventnor's max range. A Hunter from a West Country base might then be a possibility, and in this case the Ventnor Track Tracing probably shows the final legs of the track. It's confusing, but we still come back to the radar-measured speed far in excess of a Hunter.

Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2009 15:17:33 -0300
From: Don Ledger <dledger@ns.sympatico.ca>
Hi Martin,
This might be a case of a Soviet Bloc fighter [Polish Warsaw Pact perhaps] testing the waters, though I doubt that because in '57 the Soviets weren't building anything significantly faster than the NATO countries. And again range has to be considered. Only the bombers had the range. The F-86 had an operational range of about 800 miles however but was still sub-sonic unless put into a dive for a limited amount of time.
Would not the RAF or others have follwed this event through to a logical conclusion for their own edification. After all they had a bogey-a possible security threat, and there would be questions asked what with Cold War nerves and all. I'd bet that there is more documentation somehwere that shows all flights that could have been culprits tracked to destination just to make sure it was just a damn UFO and not something 'dangerous'.

Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2009 22:24:55 +0100
From: Martin Shough <parcellular@btinternet.com>:
There was a late newspaper article claiming that "the object" was identified as a French Mirage, but giving no attribution. Range would be less of an issue. But we'll probably never know more than inferences based on fragmentary documentation. Vert frustrating.