I get distracted easily, especially when it comes to research. This is almost always a bad thing, such as the time where I spent two hours laughing at a Youtube video about a “Ninja Cat” instead of finding out who was the President of the United States in January 1974 (Gee Note: It was, of course, Richard Nixon). Another example, if it wasn't for my limited attention span I would never have found out that my home town of Swansea was the birth place of Princess Lilian of Sweden, who is still going strong at the age of 93. God bless her.
Sadly the subject I was researching has nothing to do with former party girls who won the heart of Prince Bertil, because otherwise that little nugget of information might be quite useful. However seeing as Lillian May Davies cannot even be remotely connected with famous British Earthquakes or with UFO crash sites then I guess I'll have to tuck it away with every other bit of useless data I've acquired in the past three months or so. In to the “Random” folder you go Your Royal Highness.
Anyway, speaking of January 1974 (Gee Note: “Oh, what a MacGuffin I've been!”) try and picture the scene. You're in North Wales, it's bloody cold, and for the past couple of months a strange aircraft dubbed “The Phantom Helicopter” has been seen in the skies hovering dangerously low, even flying in treacherous conditions. Then on January 23rd at precisely 8.38 pm all hell breaks loose. A massive explosion emanating from the nearby Berwyn Mountains causes the ornaments on the mantelpiece to rattle. Suddenly the ground beneath you starts to tremble and the tea cups on the coffee table topple to the floor. This lasts a full four or five seconds and scares the bejesus out of the dog. As you rush to your window to see just what the hell is going on, a brilliant light greets you, cutting through the dark night sky like a scalpel.
Within minutes the military have surrounded the region. A young nurse, thinking that a plane may have crashed in to the mountains races to the scene, and considering it's biggest peak is some 827 metres high it's not an unnatural assumption to make. She makes her way to the mountains but is astonished to find a series of “fairy lights” appear in the landscape before her. She pulls over to get a better look and is further amazed when there in the side of the mountain a giant disc appears to be glowing, changing colour from red to orange to white. Too far away to make it by foot she heads back in to her car and further down the road until she is accosted by a series of military personnel. She is told in no uncertain terms that the mountain range is out of bounds and escorted away from the area. A couple of hours later a large army truck is seen travelling away from the mountains with a sizeable crate on its back, flanked by a convey of outriders.
The surrounding towns of Bala, Llandrillo and Llanderfel become a hive of activity over the next couple of days. Strangers from other parts of the country arrive and start asking locals about what they've seen and heard, making notes, and generally being a bit too nosey. Meanwhile the police issue a statement saying something along the lines of “Nothing to see here folks” while an official report is kept under wraps. Reporters from national newspapers do the rounds, asking questions about “meteorites” and “crashed aeroplanes”.
Eventually the strangers and the reporters disappear, the police remain tight lipped, and because nothing else shakes for a while the villagers carry on with their lives.
And then a couple of months later documents start doing the rounds with ufologists all around the north of England. Claiming to be from the Aerial Phenomena Enquiry Network, or APEN for short, these documents state that an extra terrestrial aircraft had collided with the Berwyn mountains that evening and that it had been excavated by the army some hours later. And with this an incident that had pretty much been accepted as definitely rather odd but, er, nothing much else suddenly becomes the most famous case in U.K. close encounter history.
Because, after all that had happened, Great Britain had a “Roswell” of it's very own.
Soon even more evidence was added to pot. Radiation readings taken in the area later that year were shown to be abnormally high. A local man named Arthur Adams, a former Concorde engineer, visited the sight in 1980 and found green metallic fragments embedded in the rock. He took samples back home and connected them to voltmeter. A 1 inch cube fragment gave off two kilowatts of electricity (Gee Note: Ah, if only it was the 1.21 Gigawatts needed to power the Flux Capacitor. Then we could ALL have hoverboards). An unnamed source contacted experienced ufoologist Tony Dodd, claiming to be part of a military unit that had escorted two oblong boxes away from the town of Llanderfil sometime after the initial incident. These boxes were taken to Porton Down in Wiltshire where they were opened in front of the informant. He claimed that the contents of the two crates were the dead bodies of two aliens who were “about five to six feet tall, humanoid in shape but so thin they looked almost skeletal with covered skin.”
So the question is, just how likely is it that a UFO got itself in an awful mess and managed to hit a great big piece of rock in an otherwise uneventful corner of the globe?
Well, as with everything, it depends on who you believe.
For example a lot of what I've just related above is here say, reliant on unverified claims. Thanks to the excellent work of Andy Roberts we have learned that the report of a truck heading away from the mountain range was reported by a local newspaper but an eyewitness to the incident has never come forward. The Phantom Helicopter was a phenomenon that happened far away from the Berwyn mountain range, indeed no strange aerial sightings were reported in Bala or surrounding areas previous to the night of the 23rd. The lights in the sky can be attributed to a particularly vibrant meteor shower that would have been visible that night. And the strangers asking questions were members of the British Geological Survey, who had come to town to study the very real Earthquakes that had happened that evening. Roberts maintains that when taking all this in to consideration the likely hood of a Berwyn being the final resting place of a couple of Zeta Reticulans (Gee Note: Or them big headed, pot bellied, grey skinned dudes to you and me) is very slim indeed.
Which is all very convincing. But a few unanswered questions remain. For example Roberts claims that there was no military presence in the area for the next couple of days. Instead local memories have become confused with an incident in February 1982 where an RAF Harrier Jet did legitimately crash in to the Berwyn mountain, prompting the air force to close off the area for some time. Which, again, makes sense except for the fact that newspaper reports from the time specifically make mention of a military presence in the area after the incident. And what of the “glowing disk” that Nurse Pat Evans saw in the mountains? Well after much painstaking explanation Roberts puts forward the theory that it was the light from a poacher's lamp (Gee Note: And it's no wonder he spends so much time qualifying his theory. After all the idea that someone could mistake a torch used by a poacher for a flying saucer is, you know, pretty lame. I mean the two are so abstract. It would be like mistaking Madonna for someone with talent). Having read the arguments for this theory I can't say I'm holy convinced.
But it is a far from certain “Alien Encounter” as some would have you believe. Especially those mysterious folks at APEN.
Ah yes APEN. Without whom none of this would have ever come about. Just who are this seemingly know all group of highly resourceful and knowledgeable people?
Well it's impossible to say with any certainty. APEN are kind of like a British version of the “Men In Black” except without the snappy dress sense. They tend to communicate with ufologists by sending them cassette tapes or letters without contact details or a return address. Very rarely do they contact UFO researchers in person and when they do, as with the case of Peter Bottomley, it tends to be for a purpose.
Bottomley was contacted by APEN in an effort to recruit him in acting as a “go between” for the group. He discussed this with fellow UFO researcher Jenny Randles. Randles felt that the group were not to be trusted or relied upon and confessed these feelings to Bottomley. A couple of days later Bottomley turned down APEN's offer. A couple of weeks after that Randles moved house, and upon arriving at her new abode she found a “Welcome Home” card from APEN. Inside was the message "Never call anyone bigger than yourself stupid".
Which, when you think about it, is quite unsettling. Most ufologists believe that the APEN is a hoax. Nick Redfern, the prominent British cryptozoologist and ufologist, stated in a series of interviews recently that APEN is a radical right wing movement that uses disinformation and smear campaigns against genuine UFO research groups. This, according to Redfern, is in order to cause disharmony amongst them and gain more prominence amongst individuals who would then join the APEN unaware of its political agenda. (Gee Note: Why is it that conspiracy theories and cover-ups always attract far right wing mentalists? I mean if you're xenophobic and racist to begin with wouldn't an Alien be, like, the ultimate foreigner? I'm just saying, as a front to a Neo-Nazi organisation a UFO research group seems an odd choice.)
Whatever the case APEN don't seem like the most trustworthy bunch of guys. And so when it comes to a possible UFO crash site that owes its infamy to a Nazi loving group of wannabe Deep Throats, it's easy to agree with Andy Roberts and his ascertain that maybe the Berwyn Mountain UFO crash was nothing other than a combination of a meteor, some poachers lights and an earthquake.
But deep down, I don't know. Yes APEN are probably both a fabrication and evil. Yes the reports of military activity in the Berwyn Mountains may have been embellished somewhat. And yes a meteorite may explain the lights seen in the sky. But there's still a couple of things that don't add up. The glowing disk, the radiation readings, the strange metal fragments. It's enough to say that maybe something very strange did happen around the sleepy villages of North Wales one winter.
I wonder what Princess Lilian would make of it all?