boxing day "stars"

Submitted by princebruce on Sun, 01/10/2010 - 10:46.

dear sir

I would like to report an event that occurred on boxing day 2009. The time locally was 4.15pm or there abouts. The event took place above my home.  (if you want the precise o/s  location and a diagram of the trajectory of the objects let me know and I will supply them ) The event was remarkable in that there was at least five individual lights in the sky.

The setting/background :

I was seeing a friend off from my home and was outside the front of my house. I live on the approach (about 10 miles from) both ILS and VFR from the south to Newcastle International Airport. I am thus well aquainted with aircraft of all sizes and shapes coming into (and leaving) the airport at all times during day or night. The sky was clear (I have a couple of photos, but they don't show very much - absolutely no detail. They might give you an idea of the prevailing conditions at the time if you want them) and the sun was setting but the sky was still quite bright for that time of day. The street lights had been activated but it was a pleasant twilight so they were actually superfuous at the time of the sighting.


The sighting:

At approximately 4.15pm (why I can't be more specific is that I saw several lights one after the other at a minute or two minute intervals, and I can't remember at which sighting I noted the time on my watch), I noticed a fairly bright orangy red light in the sky moving in a northerly direction. lt appeared to be moving about the same speed as a passenger jet approaching Newcastle airport and it appeared to be at a similar altitude as adopted by regular aircraft. What was so significant in this sighting is that the light did not have any flashing strobe lights in its vicinity, and it did not appear to be making any sound. My immediate reaction was that it was a hangglider (conditions appeared perfect - but late in the afternoon), and I waited to hear the sound of its engine. None came. On closer inspection, the light appeared superficially like a flame (ie flickering). Recognising and trying to analyse this in my mind I then formed the idea that it was a hot air balloon. I motioned to my friend in her car and pointed to the object in the sky. She got out of her vehicle and saw what I was pointing at.

While the sighting is unusual, my initial reaction was not one of "oh my god I've seen a UFO !" indeed I consider myself fairly level headed and not one to be easily fooled by tricks of the light, or prone to sensationalism. It was curious .... yes..... but I thought at first there must be a simple "rational" and down to earth explanation.

What changed my mind was that the object seemed to change direction towards a more north nor easterly direction (ie not a sudden change but a gradual gentle arc). The brightness and altitude of the object was consistent but diminished in size with distance. (The direction it took was NOT consistent with normal approach to the airport). The object in my estimation headed towards the sea, (approximately towards the region of St.Mary's Lighthouse Whitley Bay) I could see it for some time (about 2 minutes or more) before it dissappeared (I assume into the distance). What reinforced the unusual sighting is that before this light dissappeared, (about a minute or so) another identical light/object came over my house, apparently at the same altitude, speed and moving in the same direction. It was like a carbon copy of the first object and "behaved" in exactly the same manner. It too seemed to veer off towards the NNE.

Intrigued I watched the two objects still trying to make some rational sense out of what I was seeing. I dismissed the idea of commercial jets because there were no flashing anticrash strobes/landing lights. Also there was no (to me) discernable shape to the objects. The hot air balloon idea I dissmissed (notwithstanding the flame effect) because the object was moving far too quickly (in my opinion) for a hot air balloon (or children's balloon) and the second object followed exactly the same trajectory (flight path) precisely. Matching the first's speed.

As I watched a minute or so later I was amazed to see a third (identical) object appear from the south apparently following precisely the speed, course and altitude of the first two. I suddenly realised this was VERY strange so decided I needed to take some photos. I "ran" back into my house and shouted to the family to come out and see the what I now called UFO's, while I went in search of my camera. I got the expected "ok sure!!" response from my two family members. But I insisted and my excitement obviously prompted them to go out the front and see for themselves.

By the time I got back outside with my camera a fourth object had appeared. My family members saw this and two of the previous objects (the first having by now dissappeared). Being in a somewhat excited state and not too conversant with photography,  I struggled to operate my camera but managed to get some form of image of one of the objects. As we watched another object following precisely the "behaviour" of the previous ones appeared to the south. I can't remember which one I took a photo of but it was either the fourth or the fifth.

The objects continued on their course towards the sea as described above before each dissappeared in turn into the distance. End of sighting.


The spacing between each object appeared to be the same ie as if planned and controlled. The speed, altitude and direction of movement of the objects appeared so similar, in my opinion there is no way these could have been balloons moving at random on the wind (as it happens there was very little wind ...if ground level at that time). The fact that the lights appeared to be  flickering flames suggests hot air balloons.But for five balloons to "act" or fly in such a consistant manner with one another,  is to me most unlikely, if not impossible. This same opinion also negates the notion of non-powered hanggliders. As regards commercial aircraft and other smaller civilian aircraft, the lack of flashing strobe lights and landing lights on any of the objects tends to illiminate that possibility.

There is the possibility of the objects being powered hanggliders, however again the preciseness of trajectory/height etc. would reduce this possibility to almost zero as well as the fact that I heard no sound eminating from the objects.

As regards there being no strobes lights etc I have considered the possibility that the objects could have been satelites in near earth orbit because as I've mentioned the sky was clear as well as fairly well lit. I can't overlook this possibility but I find that five satelites in a row in such a short span of time (assuming I hadn't entered a time warp) and regular spacing would greatly lower the chances of this possibility. The apparent change of direction from N to NNE would also blow the satelite idea.


The above considerations also removes the possibility of the objects being comets/meteors or natural NEO's

Another idea that springs to mind is that the "lights" could be fireworks or distress flares or signal maroons. I also live close to the coast and have seen such devices in action during lifeboat call outs etc. I have dismissed this idea from my considerations because the "lights" were too similar in movement and remained very bright for a long time. Indeed they did not "fall" from the sky as would be expected of a firework or flare/distress maroon. Additionally they came from a direction which is inconsistant with the firing of distress flares ie the south (over the River Tyne area.)

My final theory like all good ufo "stories" involks the cloak of the MILITARY. Now as I've reported I do live near Newcastle airport. I also live very close (in jet terms) to Otterburn military ranges (Northumberland). As with commercial and other civilian traffic I am well accustomed to seeing and hearing  military aircraft "commuting" to and from the ranges and many times in an emergency landing at Newcastle Airport. What I saw did not resemble anything I have seen before. I have an interest in military aviation and what I saw was NEW to me. I know I'm not party to what the military get up to but I find it difficult to believe that they would have been SO active over such a built up area as North Tyneside with anything secret or classified. Particularly on a bank holiday and a Saturday to boot (boxing day 26th DEC). It's unusual to see military aircraft at weekends in the skies above my house (apart from those traversing to air shows in the summer and some activity relating to NATO exercises ) . But military activity on a bank holiday would be unusual over Northumberland/Tyne and Wear, if not unheard of in peace time, but on BOXING Day ??????

The aftermath

I leave you to form your own opinions. What I have related are the facts as I remember them and are the opinions I immediately made at the time. These opinions have been hardened with subsequent consideration on my behalf and conversations with the other people present as witnesses.

I have no axe to grind and am not seeking publicity. I am simply presenting the facts of my sighting(s) as I saw them, to you. I admit I am intrigued by the notion of UFO's and the possibilty of some of those reported as having originated from an extraterrestrial source and operated by an inteligent or other lifeform. However this does not mean I am blind to the obvious. I understand how tricks of the light/mind and optical illusions can baffle our senses. I've tried to be very objective in overcoming such possibilities of self deception. If I have been mistaken and what I've seen has a rational explaination, I'd be the first to put my hand up and admit as much. At the moment all I can say is that I am at a loss to explain the phenomena/sightings that I have described.

You may be wondering why I've left it so long to report my sighting. Rightly so. I understand that a report should be made asap to illiminate possible error due to memory etc. I had thought of this, but as I've mentioned I'm not one for sensationalism. I don't think I'm a crank - that's for others to decide - but I waited to see if there was anything printed in the local press or reported on TV regarding the event. To date I haven't seen or heard anything. I've asked friends if they had seen or heard of anything unusual or heard reports from others who may have been witnesses. Alas no such luck. However I'm not despondant. I saw what I saw, whatever they were. After taking time to calm down and make rational consideration of the lights I saw, I can't put a label on them other than "UFO" and I have witnesses to bear out my testimony. However as an asside I was interested in the report you have published regarding the orange/red lights. Different day, different location, but superficially similar phenomena ?

I hope that my report is of interest to you. If you have any questions or can provide a rational explaination of what I saw I'd be more than delighted to hear from you.

footnote. While I can remember only five objects/lights, my nephew who was one of my family members I called out to witness the event, mentioned in subsequent conversation that he believed there was six objects.

best regards


Bruce Henderson