The mid to late ‘sixties were probably the heyday of the small local UFO group. This article from MUFOB, volume 1, number 6, November/December 1968, by Barry Woodgate, describes the activities of one such group.
Interest in the subject of what is termed ‘ufology’ has been growing for some years; each year introduces new books and magazines the majority of which push the idea of extraterrestrial visitations. A person becoming interested naturally reads all he or she can from Adamski to Carl Sagan. Some rapidly become convinced that alien beings are visiting us, for good or evil reasons, and therefore do not feel the need to examine the evidence on its merit. Others feel the need for further investigation but find investigating alone becomes very involved and time consuming. This is where the advantages of a local group help out,
If you do not have the advantages of a local group, why not form one? That is what Ray Holmes and the Rev. Wilfred Driskel did. They organised a meeting of people interested in furthering their knowledge of UFOs. This meeting resulted in the formation of the South Hertfordshire UFO Investigation Group. It was in 1967 that Ray Holmes found that the Rev. Wilfred Driskel shared similar interests in the subject of ufology’. After many discussions the idea of forming a local study group took shape. Feelers were sent out to various people they felt might be interested: it wasn’t long before Ray and Wilfred came to gee me. I was extremely interested in the formation of a local group. I offered my support and eagerly awaited the inaugural meeting.
The inaugural meeting was held in January 1968 at the home of Wilfred Driskelo. An attendance of 22 was recorded including Gordon Creighton, MA, FRGS, President of BUFORA, and Brian Winder, BSc., CEng., AMIMechE., Vice-president of BUFORA. A constitution was proposed and accepted. Officials were elected to serve until the AGM, fixed for October 26th. Gordon Creighton became our President, Brian Winder Vice-president and Dr Geoffrey Doel Vice-president. Ray Holmes and Wilfred Driskel were elected joint Secretaries; I became Vice-chairman and Press Officer and Dennis Redrup Projects Officer; a chairman was not elected; this gave Group members the opportunity to take the Chair at meetings.
A series of talks was arranged for monthly meetings. These were to acquaint members more intimately with the subject. Talks included Brian Winder’s theory on the possible system of propulsion UFOs might employ. Gordon Creighton interested us in accounts of UFO sightings and landings which had taken place in South America. Peter Newman’s theory certainly gave us food for thought with the suggestion that UFOs might not be of extraterrestrial origin. Peter’s theory embraced the suggestion that an elite body of scientists, who graduated frogm the wizards, witches and magicians of the past, could be responsible for conjuring up the UFO. They, it was prcposed, operated from our own planet. Norman Oliver gave the Group an insight into a contact case, known as the ‘Scoriton Affair’. I.have, some comments to make about contact cases later.
There exists within the Group a committee which is responsible,for covering local sightings and carrying out investigations. This committee is made up of 8 men, led by our Field Officer, Albert Davy, FRAS. One of the most interesting cases investigated by the committee was the sighting of August 31st/September lst. This was witnessed by at least a hundred people in parts of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire. Among the witnesses were three experienced astronomers. The Ministry of Defence explained the sighting as an aircraft carrying out an instrurient calibration flight from London Airport.
Description of sighting as seen by Dr B.H.Burne, MRCS, LRCP, DYH, the Medical Officer of Health for Amersharn: Object seen as white ring with superimposed red triangle in different aspects of the ring at various tines. Through binoculars, Dr Burne described the triangle as being a concave cone or a delta shape in three parts. He described its movements as variable, sometimes streaking across the night sky to the left and actually across the moon, and at other times apparently suspended. Many witnesses also gave a description of another object which resenbled an aircraft with its landing lights full on; this object moved off at high speed. The sighting lasted from 8 pm, to 1.30am.
Another sighting investigated by the Group concerned an orange globe-like object. This was seen over Chorleywood, Herts., by at least eight people at three different vantage points; all descriptions tallied. Object was silent and moved steadily across the night sky. After checking many facts a balloon was ruled out. The direction of movement and elevation ruled out the possibility of a satellite. Cloud coverage was 7/8 to 8/8, checked with the Met. Office; witnesses could not see stars. An interesting development occurred whilst tne object moved silently over Chorleywood; it was buzzed by aircraft. It also attracted the interest of a searchlight. The Ministry of Defence explanation was Echo 2 [communications sattelite]. One more interesting point, cloud height 2,000/3,O00 ft., object not once obscured by cloud.
The investigation committee have many more cases on their files but it is obvious I cannot mention them all. There have been many cases of motor vehicles, excluding diesels, suffering from ignition failure at the reported moment a UFO decides to make an appearance. It occurred to us to enlist the aid of the motoring organizations whose assistance could be of great value. Patrolmen are on duty day and night, they must stand a fair chance of observing any unusual aerial activity, plus we have the co-operation of the RAC to inform us of ignition failures for no apparent reasons. This of course applies only to the area covered by the Group. The possibility could exist where we might be able to link a reported sighting with the breakdown of a vehicle, or vehicles.
After listening to Norman Oliver’s account of his investigation concerning a contact, I personally felt a little worried. Norman and his co-investigator seemed to become emotionally involved with the whole case. I won’t go into the ‘Scoriton Affair’ but I would like to go on record as saying I believe it was a hoax, and as for the messages or riddles Norman received, which led him on so many wild-goose chases, I cannot believe these were the products of an advanced brain! I have mentioned this case for a reason: I believe contact cases would be better investigated if the investigations were carried out by a group.
I believe one or two Independent investigators could be swayed by the apparent integrity of a good hoaxer and by the will to believe, although they may not be conscious of this, I also feel that an investigation by a group whose aims are to make contact with UFO occupants would leave a lot to be desired. When I say I would like a group to investigate contact cases, I obviously do not mean the whole group to descend upon the witness or contactee. An investigation committee on the lines of SHUFOIG would be better equipped to deal with such a case, and all their findings would be reported to the group. If an evaluation was to be made then it would be the result of a group meeting.
SHUFOIG are now forming a projects committee whose functions will be from building UFO detectors to organizing skywatches. We would like to hear of projects other groups are engaged upon. Perhaps we could help. If any groups are planning a sky-watch we will be pleased to co-operate. A group bulletin will shortly be published. This will provide group news, sighting reports, articles and information in general. Contributions from other groups will always be welcomed. The bulletin will be available on an exchange basis; individual copies will be available at nominal cost.
SHUFOIG now has a membership of 67. This is a very good achievement considering we have only been in existence for just a year. Albert Davy, FRAS, and Graham Williams, FRAS, are to undertake the forming of a SHUFOIG Northern branch. Interest has been aroused in North Herts and the surrounding area.