Picture the scene: A shepherd visiting a remote area stumbles upon strange wreckage strewn across the ground which could be the remains of a crashed spaceship. The debris consists of pieces of unusual metal and strange drawings. On reporting his find at the local police station, search teams and military personnel descend on the area. The wreckage disappears – no one knows where – and civilians are told to ‘keep quiet about it.’
You are probably thinking ‘Roswell, New Mexico, 1947’.
But no, this incident occurred in the Scottish Highlands one spring morning in 1962. It has uncanny links to its American cousin, even down to the ‘cover story’ used hide the true identity and purpose of the ‘crashed spaceship.’
On his blog, Dr David Clarke investigates a case from the UK’s “UFO Files”, citing an investigation by aviation historian Keith Bryers that suggests this “crashed UFO” in Scotland was in fact the payload of an American spy balloon similar to the Mogul balloons which was later claimed (by the USAF) to be the cause of the original Roswell incident.
It’s a fascinating look back at the UFO topic during the height of the Cold War – the Cuban Missile Crisis had the entire world on edge, and both East and West were involved in numerous top-secret, high-tech surveillance operations. According to Clarke, in the years before the United States were able to use satellites for observations, the USAF used Scotland as a base for launching dozens of enormous, camera-carrying balloons designed to ride the jet stream to the Soviet Union and take photographs of military and nuclear facilities.