The Enduring Mystery And Intrigue Of The Calvine UFO Photo

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
March 15, 2023
Estimated Reading Time
8 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Cover-Ups

The Calvine UFO Photo – so-called due to it having been taken just outside of Calvine in Scotland – has proved to be one of the most intriguing, enduring, and controversial pieces of evidence for potential extraterrestrial vehicles in history. And, with the mystery person who took the picture having seemingly been named recently, it has found itself once again in the glare of the UFO community.

A picture showing a diamond-shaped UFO

Does this image show a real UFO?

Is the photograph genuine? And if so, does it really show a vehicle from another world or is it a highly advanced craft of the military? And just why has the person who took the picture seemingly gone out of their way to stay out of the limelight all these years?

Indeed, as we shall see, the Calvine UFO photograph has discreetly – until very recent times – been one of the most intriguing, mysterious, and fascinating pictures in UFO history, as are the events and twists that have surrounded it.

Several researchers have examined the photograph and the history behind it. Arguably the most thorough and extensive being the work of Dr. David Clarke, whose work we recommend you check out in full.

A Quiet Walk Results In A Bizarre Sighting

Most sources agree that the photograph was taken on the afternoon of August 4th, 1990 when two unknown men were walking toward the town of Calvine. [1] As they did so, they suddenly noticed a large diamond-shaped object overhead. They estimated this strange craft was around 100 feet long and was completely silent.

Then, things turned even stranger. Out of nowhere, an RAF Tornado jet appeared and proceeded to circle the object. At this point, one of the men reached for a camera they happened to be carrying and managed to capture several pictures. The next thing the pair realized, the object ascended directly upward at a blistering pace and disappeared from sight.

A photostat of the original picture

A photostat of the original picture

Realizing they had captured something truly out of the ordinary in the pictures, they approached a newspaper in the hope they would print them. However, rather strangely, no story on their sighting would run. And the pictures found their way to the Ministry of Defense.

From there, the incident was seemingly forgotten about until the release of the book Open Skies Closed Minds by UK UFO researcher, Nick Pope, in which he wrote of the incident. According to Pope, the pictures were studied by several people at the Ministry of Defense, and it is claimed that the photograph was one piece of evidence that began to shift his mindset from being skeptical to believing there was more to UFO sightings than he had first thought.

“It Really Was Fox Mulder Stuff!”

Although knowledge of the photograph had been in the public arena since the mid-1990s through Pope’s book, it wasn’t until decades later at the start of the 2020s when Dr. David Clarke undertook his extensive research into the case that it was catapulted back into the limelight. [2] However, Clarke had interviewed Pope as far back as 2001 about the incident.

Pope would offer to Clarke during this interview that he had first seen the photograph while working for the Ministry of Defense in “poster form”, adding that someone had enlarged the picture for study and that it “really was Fox Mulder stuff”.

Pope would add that the picture had “certainly been looked at and analyzed” by several people, and it was largely believed to be a picture of a “solid structured craft and not a hoax”. In short, many people in the Ministry of Defense, at least according to Pope, was that the picture was “for real”.

Nick Pope

Nick Pope

Pope then went on to reveal that shortly after this, many began to question if the object was in fact an alleged top-secret United States aircraft that had been developed under a project named Aurora. Pope would recall there was “a lot of defensive mentality” specifically around these claims. He would ultimately state that one of his superiors entered his office one day and removed the poster of the object from the wall and proceeded to lock in his drawer. According to Pope, to the best of his knowledge, it likely remains there today (at the time of speaking in 2001).

Interestingly, Pope would also offer to Clarke that he made several attempts in asking American sources if they had such a top-secret aircraft. They replied that they didn’t, and seemingly asked Pope if the British military might have an aircraft like the one he was describing, as they (the Americans) also had reports of such a craft.

The Photograph Reappears!

One of Clarke’s research team members, Matthew Illsley would state to The Falkirk Herald in January 2023, after seemingly tracking down the photograph realized there was a name on the back of it. The photograph was passed to Illsley by a retired RAF officer named Craig Lindsay, who had discreetly kept the photograph secretly at his home. [3]

Writing in The Daily Mail, Clarke stated that as soon as Lindsay showed him the photograph he realized he was “looking at something exceptional”, offering that while it looked “a little blurry as if the photographer took it in a moment of panic”, this was “consistent with their story”. He would further offer that he was “no gullible, deluded conspiracy theorist”, and that “unlike many UFO images, this is clearly a structured craft of unknown origin” that “looks otherworldly and unlike any conventional craft”.

Craig Lindsay with the UFO Photo

Craig Lindsay with the UFO Photo

What’s more, Clarke would confirm that he had had the photograph analyzed by a senior lecturer on Photography at Sheffield Hallam University, Andrew Robinson, whose conclusions were that it had not been tampered with and was “genuine”. Indeed, we have to ask, if it was a fake, then why had the photographer remained silent for over three decades without attempting to cash in on their image?

Clarke would offer that Robinson informed him that the object was “definitely in front of the camera” and was “not a fake produced in post-production”.

“It Was Obvious” That This Was Something Different!

Lindsay would continue that he met with the photographer over three decades ago, it was clear to him that the young man was scared and unsettled by what he had seen, and certainly didn’t appear to be making up the incident.

He would state to Clarke that due to his job as a press officer for the RAF in Scotland, he had “dealt with many UFO reports”, although most of these turned out to be nothing but strange lights. He would state “it was obvious” that this was not the case with the Calvine UFO photograph. He would further recall that when the witness told him that the object was completely silent and “didn’t make any noise at all” that he began to realize that the object very potentially was something out of the ordinary, offering that there was no aircraft that he was aware of that didn’t make any noise.

The back of the photograph with the name of the person who took it

The back of the photograph with the name of the person who took it

It was Lindsay who sent copies of the picture to the newspapers, as well as faxing a copy to the Ministry of Defense. According to his recollections, the MoD contacted him almost immediately, asking what other information he had on the sighting, and if he still had the negatives. Interestingly, keeping in mind Pope’s version of events in Open Skies Closed Minds, when he went to the Ministry of Defense offices in London, he saw the photograph blown up to poster size on the office wall.

Ultimately, Lindsay was told to “leave it to London” and not to investigate the sighting further. As the years went on, he heard nothing more of the sighting but kept the original photograph in a desk drawer at home. He would state to Clarke that it was his hope that “the two witnessed will come forward and tell their own stories”.

Identity Revealed?

Originally, the identity of the photographer was withheld from the public, with Illsley stating that they had made attempts to track down as many people as possible who might recall the individual concerned.

In March 2023, it appeared the name of the photographer had been revealed as Kevin Russell. [4] Russell, it would appear, worked as a porter at the nearby Pitlochry Hydro Hotel for several years before allegedly returning to Glasgow at some time in the early 1990s.

Illsley did extensive searches in an attempt to locate Russel, discovering records of 300 people by that name of men in the 50s (as Russell would be today) in Scotland alone, and a further 150 from elsewhere in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Australia. However, despite painstakingly contacting each one, none was the person they were looking for.

Then, the case progressed once more, as an anonymous person who claimed to have worked at the hotel at the same time as Russell sent Illsley a photograph of the person they were searching for. You can see that picture below.

Is this the person who took the picture of the Calvine UFO?

Of course, whether the man in the picture is Kevin Russell, and whether he did take the photograph remains open to debate, at least for now. It is the hope of Illsley and Dr. Clarke that he does indeed come forward and verify the picture, his identity, and, in turn, the account. Whether that happens in the near or distant future, however, remains to be seen.

Much To Contemplate

Of course, even if that were to happen, and the photograph was proven to be authentic and credible, it doesn’t automatically mean that it is proof of a vehicle from another world. The object in question could very well be a highly advanced top-secret military vehicle. However, even if that were the case, it would force further questions of exactly what vehicles the military – both the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as potentially others around the world, have access to.

Many researchers and aviation experts have pondered, for example, whether the object in the Calvine UFO photograph was, in fact, an aircraft connected to the Aurora program – an apparent top-secret hypersonic aircraft that was rumored to have been operating out of United States air bases in Scotland as far back as the early 1990s – right after the picture was taken.

A document from since declassified files showing there was some concern regarding the sighting

If there was any truth to this, then we might ask if other UFO sightings, particularly around the same time, were also top-secret advanced military vehicles. Could such events as the Belgian Wave (which was at its height around the same time from the very late-1980s to the early 90s), for example, actually be military vehicles? Perhaps even the Phoenix Lights episode, whose light very well could have been the front of a diamond-shaped craft?

Indeed, the more we find out about this incident, the more questions come up. And to make things even more treacherous, these questions, for now at least, head in two distinct directions – that what was seen was a top-secret aircraft of the United States military, or that it was a vehicle from elsewhere in the Universe.

Potentially The Most Important UFO Photograph In History?

It is perhaps interesting that with everything we know about the Calvine UFO photograph, there are many people, even in the UFO community, who reject the photograph as genuine, with some offering it is merely a spy plane of the US military, with others insisting it is nothing but a hoax. It is often said that skeptics will not be converted into believing even the possibility of visitors from another world until a photograph is taken. However, even when that happens, as appears likely with the Calvine UFO picture, it is still rejected as proof of something out of the ordinary.

Just what was the strange object witnessed over the town of Calvine that evening in the summer of 1990? And, if there was nothing to the object, why does the military wish certain files connected to the case to remain classified until well into the 2070s, despite the 30-year rule on such information? Although the National Archives insist that only the names of those involved are subject to this rule, it is certainly an area for suspicion. We would, for example, suspect if the object was simply an experimental aircraft, details of it would be safe to enter the public arena 30 years later.

The twists and turns that the Calvine UFO photograph and the events surrounding it have taken only go to show how murky the world of UFO research actually is. At the time of writing, the search is on, both for Russell and the other witness to the events. And if they do decide to come forward, the Calvine UFO photograph could indeed prove to be one of the most important pieces of evidence for UFO researchers in history. That it is as relevant today as it was when it was first taken over 30 years ago is without doubt.

The videos below examine this intriguing photograph a little further.


1 Hunt is on for Falkirk photographer who snapped world famous 1990 UFO picture, James Trimble, The Falkirk Herald
2 Case Files: Calvine UFO photographs, Dr. David Clarke
3 Revealed after 32 years: The ‘most spectacular UFO photo ever captured’ – or the first glimpse of America’s fabled top-secret Aurora spy plane program?, David Clarke, The Daily Mail
4 Investigators believe Scot could hold important clue to one of world’s biggest UFO mysteries, Mark McGivern, The Daily Record

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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  • Jenn Hitchner says:

    question to anyone that’d like to reply …. I believe I keep seeing spaceships… I have videos, pictures, when I get the camera out now, they shut their lights off… question is… aliens most likely don’t want to be seen.. so why would their spaceships have lights!!!???? my guess now that I’m thinking about it is… they wouldn’t!!!

  • teodoro maranan says:

    very interesting indeed.

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