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As Rick noted in his news, the first eight ‘UFO files’ (of 160!) from the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) have been released to the public via a specially created website at the National Archives. The files are downloadable PDFs, but also on site you’ll find extra information and context from Nick Pope (via a vodcast) and Dr David Clarke (a podcast and introductory PDF guide). Only trouble is that you might find accessing the website (and/or material on it) rather difficult – the server appears to be getting hammered, no doubt a consequence of being a news story across the globe (do a Google News search for ‘British UFO’ and you’ll find around 350 articles from today…who says ufology is dead?).

In this story for the BBC, David Clarke sums up the released material:

As I leafed through hundreds of official UFO report forms it became obvious the vast majority of sightings could easily be explained. For example, staff and customers at a pub in Tunbridge Wells reported seeing a UFO with “red and green flashing lights” moving across the sky. When asked to describe the direction of movement their answer was “Gatwick”.

Aircraft, bright stars and planets, satellites and space debris all stand out as the most common explanation for UFO reports. A small number have been revealed as hoaxes or hallucinations.

But a hard-core of 5-10% continues to defy explanation. Despite the mystery that continues to surround those that remain “unidentified”, the papers reveal how little time and effort was spent by the MoD to investigate them.

I’ll post in a little more detail once these PDFs have inched their way down the Intarweb pipes and onto my computer.