The Pennine Lights UFO incident from early 1998 is perhaps little-known of, even in UFO circles. And given the apparent credibility of the case and the genuine mystery of that winter’s evening in the late 1990s, this is quite perplexing in itself.
These glowing objects were not only witnessed by hundreds of people, but the incident crossed county borders. Furthermore, one resident even managed to capture several seconds of footage of the anomalous glows, proving at the very least that those who claimed to have seen them had certainly not imagined them.
Even stranger, one of the sightings even suggested that these glowing lights were, in fact, part of a much larger object, one that ultimately appeared to take the form of a triangle when a third, red light appeared. This detail alone is intriguing, as these triangular craft are often reported to have multiple white lights on the underside as well as a single red one.
While the sighting remains a mystery today a quarter of a century after it occurred, as it happened only in the (relatively) recent past, there is still a chance that further information might come to light, or that future investigations might bring forward further witnesses.
Strange Lights Crossing The Border Of Lancashire Into Yorkshire
On the evening of 2nd February 1998, at around 5 pm, Steven Clark and his wife were just one of many people in the Manchester area who witnessed two strange, bright lights moving across the sky at a relatively low altitude. To begin with, the pair thought the lights were possibly those of low-flying aircraft, although it was so low that they also suspected it was having to make an emergency landing, or even about to crash.
Then, however, one of the lights suddenly “jumped over the other” and then shot away into the distance, eventually disappearing from sight. From here, they made their area across the Pennines, an area of largely countryside that creates the border between Lancashire and Yorkshire, with the latter being a particular hotspot for UFO sightings and reports in the whole of the United Kingdom.
As the lights cross this border from Lancashire into Yorkshire, John Wilson and his wife, who were out walking near their home in the town of Gomersal, were perhaps one of the first people in the county to witness them. Wilson would speak to UFO researcher, Graham Birdsall of the encounter several months later, informing him that it was the sheer brightness of the lights that first caught his attention, elaborating that, unlike landing lights that have “rays” that point in a certain direction, these were simply “two bright lights”.
Wilson would continue that the lights were particularly close together when he noticed them, suggesting to him that the lights were not part of a military plane or other aircraft as “military aircraft don’t fly in formation at night for safety reasons”. Furthermore, the lights were “staggered” with one of them flying slightly higher than the other, which again struck Wilson as particularly strange, and also that they were not the lights of one larger craft, but indications of two separate vehicles traveling within close proximity of each other.
The Wilsons also stated that they could hear no sound or noise from the lights, although John Wilson offered that the noise of the motorway could very well have drowned out any potential noise from the vehicle. John Wilson also offered that he was certain these lights belonged to two individual craft and that he felt this object was likely made of such a dark material or exterior that it was impossible to discern a shape or any other kind of dimensions.
From Halifax To Cleckheaton, And From Bradford To Leeds
As the objects disappeared out of sight of the Wilsons, further reports would soon come in from the towns of Halifax and Cleckheaton, before reports came from residents of the city of Bradford, and then Leeds, which after London and then Birmingham, is the third-largest city in the United Kingdom.
One Leeds resident who witnessed the bizarre lights was Paul Stevens, who was in a moving vehicle at the time. He recalled to Birdsall that he could see the lights moving particularly slowly, much slower than the lights of airplanes that residents of Leeds were used to seeing coming and going from Leeds-Bradford Airport. He also recalled how they remained in the same place as if flying in a strict formation.
Although he was uncertain of how far the lights were from him when he viewed them, he was more than certain that they didn’t belong to any conventional aircraft. Although he didn’t see them physically disappear, after glancing away from them for a second, when he looked back the lights had gone, leading Stevens to conclude they were perhaps simply out of his line of sight. However, upon arriving at one of the highest points of the city, he failed to locate them again.
Stevens certainly wasn’t the only resident of the city to witness the mysterious lights that evening in February 1998. In fact, over 100 people made reports within a period of only a quarter of an hour between 5:30 pm and 5:45 pm.
One of those reports came from a housewife known as Pamela who was returning home from a visit to the vets with her daughter, Charlotte. As they were walking along the path Pamela happened to turn her head to the right and instantly gasped at what she thought was a low-flying aircraft. This caused Charlotte to turn in the direction her mother was looking, and she too saw the curious glowing lights. Like many of the other witnesses that evening, to begin with, Pamela believed she was watching an airplane about to crash. However, the closer the light came to the witnesses, Pamela was certain they “couldn’t possibly belong to a plane”, elaborating that they were simply “too close together and too big”.
Pamela would continue that the lights were similar to “glaring headlights” only much bigger, and it appeared to her that they were only “just above house level” in terms of their altitude. She also noted, similar to Stevens, that the lights moved extremely slowly and purposely, constantly remaining the same distance from each other. Furthermore, much like the Wilsons, Pamela couldn’t make out if the lights were attached to the exterior of a vehicle, nor could she hear any sound coming from them. Perhaps of further interest, similar to Stevens, Pamela claimed she took her eyes off the lights for a second as she turned around a corner. When she looked back, the lights had simply disappeared.
“Like Nothing I Have Ever Seen, And Nothing I Can Explain!”
Arguably one of the most important witnesses to the strange lights of Yorkshire in February 1998 was Ken Field, who not only witnessed them, but managed to run back inside his home, retrieve his camcorder, and videotape footage of them. Although Field himself viewed the lights for around 90 seconds, due to the battery of the camcorder being almost flat, he only managed to film 22 seconds worth of footage. The footage, however, was still invaluable in building up the evidence of this fascinating encounter.
Field, like most residents of Leeds, was more than used to seeing the lights of aircraft using Leeds-Bradford airport, something they could see from the garden of their home, and he was certain that neither he nor his wife had ever seen anything like these strange lights previously. He would offer to Birdsall that if he had, he wouldn’t have rushed to retrieve the camcorder.
When Field’s footage is examined and magnified, it can be seen that some kind of strobe lighting is present in them which was not detectable by the witnesses on the ground. Furthermore, although, like others, Field couldn’t hear any sound coming from the objects, the sound analysis does show something grows quieter as the lights move into the distance, suggesting that this noise could very well be connected to them.
Other witnesses in Leeds that evening were husband and wife, Steven and Jo Pease, who were walking their dog near a local golf course when they noticed what they, at first, thought were two particularly bright stars that they had not noticed before. Jo would describe it as looking similar to plane headlights if you happened to view them as the plane was coming into land. However, these lights simply remained motionless for around five minutes, clearly something a plane would not do.
As the couple got closer to the lights they suddenly began to move. Steven recalled that when they did so, they did so in a staggered formation, with one behind the other. And when they moved, they moved with more speed than a conventional aircraft would. Furthermore, after remaining in this staggered formation for several moments, after they had passed over Steven and Jo, one of the lights continued straight ahead while the other made a sudden, sharp turn and headed off in a different direction. Within seconds, they had gone from being almost directly overhead, to be much smaller dots on the horizon, meaning they were moving at a speed far faster than a conventional aircraft.
Steven Pease would conclude that the lights were like nothing he had ever seen previously and were certainly nothing he could explain.
There have been several suggestions as to what the lights might have been. Some have put forward, for example, that they were top-secret military drones, possibly being tested. However, if this was the case, we have to ask why they perform such tests over busy cities during rush hour. Ultimately, the lights remain a mystery.
Several hours later, however, it appears the strange objects returned to the region.
A Third Light Suggesting A Triangular Craft
In Huddersfield, West Yorkshire a short time after the sighting of the Pease family, Chris Duffel witnessed what very well could be the same bright lights that had been making their way over Bradford and Leeds several hours earlier. He would explain that he and most residents of the town were used to seeing a variety of different aircraft going overhead at night, and these included both commercial and military aircraft.
He would further offer that no one would normally “bat an eyelid” at these aircraft as they were so used to seeing them. On this occasion, though, he realized there was something very different about the lights he was viewing on this particular evening. In total, he viewed the bright lights as they “hovered on the horizon” for around three minutes, giving Duffel ample time to reach for his binoculars. To his amazement, as he was viewing the lights through these, a sudden red light appeared. This red glow then lifted from one of the objects and appeared to settle at a point in between them, which then formed a triangle shape in the sky with the two white lights.
Duffel continued to watch as the lights began to turn, all in unison suggesting very much to the witness that they were on the underside of a large, triangular craft. Ultimately, after finishing the turn, the lights – or object – headed back in the direction Duffel had first noticed it arriving from.
Ultimately, news of the sighting soon reached local and national media outlets, and within days requests for information were flooding into Leeds-Bradford Airport from newspapers and news outlets, UFO groups, and members of the public who wanted answers as to what they had seen. They wanted to know if officials at Leeds-Bradford could offer an explanation for the multiple reports from 2nd February.
Although radar tapes from the night in question found nothing out of the ordinary, certainly nothing to indicate that a large aircraft was in the region at low altitude, management at the airport offered UFO investigators any help they might be able to provide in potentially getting to the bottom of the strange events.
A Genuinely Credible UFO Sighting
The sighting of the strange lights that began in Lancashire and then moved across West Yorkshire is without a doubt one of the most intriguing UFO cases to come out of the United Kingdom. Not least due to the sheer number of witnesses (we should note that over 200 people made reports to Leeds-Bradford Airport alone). And, like many such events, we can only estimate how many more people might have witnessed the strange lights that evening and simply opted not to report or speak about it.
That something was seen that evening in the skies of Lancashire and West Yorkshire is sure without a doubt – we have video evidence of the lights appearing exactly as witnesses described. However, the fact that they seemingly failed to show up on the radar could be for one of several reasons.
Firstly, however unlikely, the management at Leeds-Bradford Airport could simply be covering any radar footage. There appears to be little to no evidence that this is the case, however, not least as they were open with UFO investigators in sharing this information. And besides, if there was something in the airspace near the airport, then it would become an immediate matter of safety.
Second, the object was present in the airspace over West Yorkshire but was perhaps using some kind of cloaking technology that meant it wouldn’t be visible to radar. If this was the case, we have to ask, is this an alien craft or possibly an experimental military one? And if the latter, once more, why would the military test such an aircraft in the middle of rush hour over one of the biggest and heaviest populated cities in the UK?
The third possibility is equally as baffling – that the object was there, but it wasn’t something physical – at least how we would understand it, and so was not captured on radar. Indeed, only further investigation and re-examining the evidence might provide further answers to this mysterious and thought-provoking incident.
The video below looks at some of the best UFO sightings from the UK.
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