Even our super-sceptical science editor Alan Sharp was not immune to the odd UFO experience, as this account, published in Merseyside UFO Bulletin, volume 3, number 1, January 1970, demonstrates:
One summer evening in the early 1960s when on holiday with a friend in the South of France we parked our car at the eastern end of the promenade at Cannes. The sun was shining, approaching the horizon and hence we decided to leave cameras and binoculars behind whilst we went in search of accomodation.
We began to stroll slowly back towards the town and had gone perhaps sixty or seventy yards when I suddenly noticed a bright patch of light slowly crossing the sky in the vicinity of the hills which lay in front of us but beyond Cannes itself,
Excitedly I pointed and we both stood still and watched as the elliptical object continued its progress at apparently low altitude, going inland fron the direction of the coast. If I remember correctly it had a bright centre then a black oval, surrounded in turn by a larger bright ellipse of light – white light, not coloured. Maximum angular dimension was about one third of a degree or even less.
Torn between the desire to run for camera and binoculars and fear of missing some feature of the apparition we continued to watch spellbound until just before the object passed out of sight behind some obstacle – one of the hotels probably – the light disappeared and was replaced by the distinct shape of an aeroplane, black in silhouette between the hills. A few seconds later and we should not have witnessed the change and would always have wondered at the nature of the UFO which we had seen.
How the peculiar effect was produced I have never been able to say with certainty but the thing looked like some sort of interference pattern, as such things are described in optics. The plane was possibly one of the helicopters which we had been noticing all day. At the tine I had not heard of Arnold’s famous Mount Rainier sighting, but it has often occurred to rte since that what he saw may have been something similar to that which so startled my friend and me that day on the Riviera.
To those with a knowledge of optics, the difficulty 1ies in the fact that we saw white light ‘fringes’, as they are called. Reflections from cabin windows? From rotor blades? Or what? The reader will notice, of course, the inevitable in such events. At the crucial time, all the optical apparatus which had been carted around all day, was safely stowed away out of reach in the car! C’est la vie – des soucoupes insolites!