New files released by the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense suggest that Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered a UFO cover-up during World War II.
As part of an ongoing project to declassify government reports related to unidentified flying objects, the Ministry of Defense and The National Archives Wednesday released about 5,000 pages of correspondence between the public and British authorities on UFO sightings.
One of the letters was from a man claiming his grandfather was present at a wartime meeting with Churchill and U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The declassified letter from 1999 redacts the names of the sender and his grandfather, but says the two leaders were briefed on a UFO incident reported by a Royal Air Force (RAF) bomber crew.
While returning to Britain from a mission in Germany, the crew was reportedly approached by a metallic UFO on the English coast. The crew even took photographs of the UFO, the letter said.
The writer said that the UFO appeared to "hover noiselelessly" and then suddenly disappeared.
UFO Report Would Create 'Mass Panic,' Churchill Allegedly Said
Upon hearing the story, Churchill allegedly ordered that it be kept secret for 50 years or more.
"This event should be immediately classified since it would create mass panic amongst the general population and destroy one's faith in the Church," the letter claims he said.
The writer asked the Ministry of Defense if it could confirm the incident and if the event was still classified.
In response, the Ministry of Defense said it could not find any written record of the incident. But it also said that before 1967, all UFO files were destroyed after five years, so any UFO documents from World War II era would most likely have been destroyed.
The trove of documents, which totals 18 files from 1995 to 2003, also discloses details on a few other famous UFO sightings in the U.K.
One of the reports contains a drawing of a UFO "20 times the size of a football field" that was spotted by a member of the public near the Manchester Airport on Jan. 6, 1995. The captain and first officer of a 737 en route to the airport allegedly reported a "near miss" with an unidentified object the very same day, the report said.
U.K. Officials: UFO Claims Not of Defense Significance
Another report reveals information about a 1980 event often described as "Britain's Roswell."
In December of that year, U.S. Air Force security police in Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk, England said they saw bright lights moving toward the ground. The patrolmen said they saw a UFO in the forest and later found marks on the ground and trees and higher than expected levels of radiation. A couple of days later, other air force personnel reported seeing more unexplained lights in the forest.
According to the report, the Ministry of Defense investigated the claims and found "nothing of defence concern."
Although the new documents have some generated buzz within the UFO community, some Ufologists say that one of the most interesting things about the new files is what they do not include.
"It's good to see and there were some interesting tidbits in there," Stanton Friedman, a nuclear physicist and author of the book "Crash at Corona: The Definitive Study of the Roswell Incident." But he added, "I see no evidence that there are any top secret documents and the hot stuff is going to be top secret, not secret."
UFO Expert: Officials Likely Not Disclosing the Most Important Information
He said the government released the documents because it had been inundated with requests for information about UFOs and "they want to get us off their backs."
But Friedman emphasized that the most revealing information is most likely missing – and will most likely stay missing for quite a while.
He said the people likely monitoring UFO reports of national security significance are most probably not the same ones mentioned in the correspondence released this week. But he said he's convinced someone is indeed paying attention to those kinds of top secret reports.
"Clearly there's got to be somebody, somewhere, unmentioned in this whole thing, who is looking at the best stuff, because there are implications, for the military, for example," Friedman said. "We need to recognize that the discussion is incomplete."
Still, he said he doubts that the missing information is going to be supplied any time soon.
"We need to recognize that we're sitting on a pile of significant information but the world is in a precarious situation right now," he said. "Economies are not doing so great. Do you really want to do something that throws a monkey wrench into everything?" #