Mark C Lee interviews Nick Pope - one of the world’s leading experts and researchers on UFOs.
I first came across the name Nick Pope when doing research for my next book – UFOs and Rock. He seemed to be the number one guy to speak to with regards to UK UFOs especially as he had worked for a number of years at the Ministry Of Defence where he was in charge of the so called British X Files, investigating hundreds of UFO sightings that date back to the 1950s. In fact Nick gave me hope that there may be more to the UFO movement than dodgy acid trips and trailer trash flashbacks. In essence he has given credibility and gravitas to a much maligned field, and well if Nick Pope, ex MOD and intelligent observer, thinks that there’s more to it than hoaxes, disinformation and the planet Venus then maybe “they” are actually out there….somewhere!
Good afternoon Nick and thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Can you give our readers a little background to who you are and what you do?
I worked for the MoD for 21 years and while I had several different jobs at various levels in the course of my career, I’m best-known for having run MoD’s UFO project – something I did from 1991 to 1994. I left MoD in 2006 and I now work as a broadcaster and journalist, specializing in stories on the unexplained, conspiracy theories, sci-fi and fringe science.
What’s the most convincing case for a UFO being a non man made physical aircraft of some sort?
Probably a wave of sightings we had over the UK for a period of around six hours on March 30 and 31, 1993. It’s difficult to be sure of the total number of witnesses, because while dozens of people made reports to MoD, some contacted the police, UFO groups and the media, while other witnesses stayed silent. Of the reports I received and investigated at MoD, one of the most interesting came from a patrol of military police at RAF Cosford, who saw the UFO fly directly over the Air Force Base. But the most compelling came from the meteorological officer at a second military base, RAF Shawbury. He saw a large delta-shaped UFO moving slowly towards the base, about 200 feet above the ground, at a speed of no more than 30 or 40 mph. He saw the UFO fire a narrow beam of light (like a laser) at the ground and saw the light sweeping backwards and forwards across the field beyond the perimeter fence, as if it were looking for something. He heard an unpleasant low frequency humming sound coming from the craft and said he could feel as well as hear this. He estimated the size of the craft to be midway between a C-130 transport aircraft and a Boeing 747. Then he told me that the light beam had retracted in an unnatural way and that the craft had suddenly accelerated away to the horizon many times faster than a military aircraft. Here was an experienced Air Force officer with eight years of service, who regularly saw military aircraft and helicopters, yet said this was unlike anything he’d seen in his life. We launched a full investigation, of course, but the sightings remain unexplained to this day.
The Rendlesham Forest incident – This case seems to be still unsolved. What is your take on what exactly happened here? Did a landing take place as Jim Penniston suggested, or was it all just the Orford Ness lighthouse disorientating US soldiers in the forest? (To be honest I just don’t think the lighthouse theory works to well especially as Colonel Halt has stated that the craft shone beams of light down).
It was certainly reported to MoD as a landing and the investigation was handled on this basis – e.g. my predecessors made a scientific assessment of the radiation levels recorded at the site where the UFO had been seen on the ground. As with the 1993 sightings I mentioned, the Rendlesham Forest incident remains unexplained to this day. It certainly wasn’t the lighthouse. Even the local forester who first suggested this doesn’t think the lighthouse could fool people for so long, over two separate nights. In any case, you can’t see the lighthouse from most of the locations where the UFO was seen and in the couple of places where you can, the angles are all wrong. None of the other skeptical theories (practical jokes, a psyop to test the reaction of the guards, drug-induced hallucinations, etc.) pan out either, so we’re left with a genuine mystery.
US Press Club meeting? How significant was this and what was the outcome?
Are the US or other governments covering up the truth? I know you’ve gone on record stating that you believe that it’s more of a question of governments being embarrassed about admitting that there’s things in our airspace that we don’t know what they are, but do you think there is a covert agenda?
I can only speak for the position in the UK and so far as that’s concerned, I’ve seen no evidence of a covert agenda, aside from the policy (publicly exposed many years ago in some documents acquired after a Freedom of Information Act request) of downplaying MoD’s interest in UFOs and downplaying the true extent of the research and investigation that the Department used to do on the subject. There have been several UFO-related events at The National Press Club: Steven Greer’s Disclosure Project press conference was the first. Steve Bassett has hosted two or three; Leslie Kean and James Fox organized one; Robert Hastings put one on. All were important events and generated mainstream media coverage to varying extents.
If the extra-terrestrial theory is correct why are we being visited and for what purpose?
Well, I don’t know that the extra-terrestrial theory is correct. While I can’t rule it out and while there’s some intriguing evidence, there’s nothing that I’d characterize as definitive ‘you can take that to the bank’ proof. If we are dealing with extraterrestrials, I think most – if not all – assessments of the ‘alien agenda’ are hopelessly anthropocentric: we’re simply copying and pasting human thinking, so we end up with clichéd human ideas about what might happen after first contact with extraterrestrials. We have alien invasion at one extreme and an invitation to join some sort of ‘Galactic Federation’ at the other. About the only prediction I’ll make is that it won’t turn out how we think it will.
What do you think of the theory that maybe the UFOs and occupants that have been seen are really just us from the future and that we have time travelled back in time for some purpose?
It’s a fascinating theory and it deals nicely with one of the classic ufological pieces of anthropocentrism, namely the question of why most UFO occupants look essentially humanoid. The argument, I suppose, would be that the grays (and maybe the Nordics) are what human beings evolve into. That said, I’m pretty cautious about ideas like this and I think we’re kidding ourselves if we think there’s any meaningful evidence to support them. It’s an intriguing theory, but nothing more. And ideas of technologically advanced humans coming back in time to save their dying race by harvesting genetic material from us (and maybe trying to salvage their lost humanity) are sci-fi clichés.
I see that you’re getting into the important new field of Exo- Politics could you just explain to our reader what this is and why it may be of importance in the future.
I’m not sure I’m “getting into” exopolitics. I’ve spoken at various exopolitical conferences, but I disagree with many of their beliefs (they present as certainties things which simply aren’t proven) and I’ve managed to upset some of the UK exopolitics folk by writing a newspaper article where I referred to exopolitics as being the “militant wing” of ufology! If anything, I meant this as a compliment, in terms of them being more bullish and crusading than most ufologists, but some people took my comment the wrong way. If they could lose their tendency to state speculation as if it were fact (along with their habit of trying to tie in ufology with 9/11 conspiracy theories and other ideas about the New World Order) I think they’d have an interesting and relevant approach: i.e. let’s forget debating what UFOs are, and whether we’re being visited, on the basis that you’re really not going to change anyone’s mind. Rather, let’s assume we are being visited and ask what our response should be. Now that’s interesting.
What do you think about the possibility that the UFOs people are seeing are man made from reverse engineered technology taken from recovered extra terrestrial craft?
Again, I can’t rule it out, but despite some unsubstantiated stories from alleged whistleblowers, there’s no real evidence to back up the theory. And I’m going to go out on a limb here: I think there’s something a little depressing about these sorts of theories. They’re disparaging to human ingenuity and spirit. Why can’t we accept that we might be clever enough to have designed the stealth fighter ourselves? Why do we think we were too stupid to have built the pyramids and that aliens must have done it for us, or helped us?
What is the most out there UFO theory that you have come across?
Hmm, where to begin? There are plenty of ‘out there’ cases (and ufologists!), but theories … I think the whole Nazi flying saucer genre would be my pick; the idea that Hitler secretly developed disc-shaped craft and fled with this and other technology to a base in Antarctica, or wherever. All this, of course, is going to get another boost when the movie Iron Sky comes out.
Nick, what music do you listen to?
David Bowie, Elton John, Siouxie and the Banshees, Amy Winehouse, The Killers, Eminem, Nicki Minaj – and a whole lot of other bands and singers.
What are your favourite books?
Classics, with an emphasis on classic sci-fi: Nineteen Eighty-Four, Steppenwolf, The War of the Worlds, Brave New World, The Day of the Triffids, The Time Machine. Also, Tom Clancy’s thrillers, Stephen King’s horror books and Anne Rice’s vampire chronicles.
What sports are you into?
At international level, anything England are playing in: football, rugby, cricket, etc. But first and foremost is football (or soccer, as I have to call it in America), whether it’s an international match or a club game. I support Arsenal, but I like to watch any good game, irrespective of who’s playing. Sadly, I haven’t played sport myself for years. Here’s an interesting piece of personal sporting trivia: I went to the same school as Jonny Wilkinson, so we’d have played rugby on the same pitch, albeit not at the same time, in view of the age difference.
What about your favourite film?
If I can pick only one, I’ll go for Contact.
Guinness, Lager, Bitter or Absinthe?
Rolling Stones or The Beatles?
The Rolling Stones.
What are your plans for 2012?
I recently relocated to California and I’m going to be doing a lot more TV work, which will probably see me in a wide range of roles, varying from co-creator of some drama, through to presenting and contributing to various documentaries. I’ll also be carrying on with freelance journalism for various newspapers and magazines, along with promotional work for film companies in relation to the release of new sci-fi movies. It’s already shaping up to be a very busy year.
Will the world still be here come 31st December?
Yes. Despite the tension over Iran’s nuclear program, predictions about a false flag alien invasion at the Olympics and theories about the Mayan calendar, we’ll still be here at the end of the year.
What do think about the Ancient Alien hypothesis that this planet has been visited for 1000s of years and may have even been genetically engineered/modified by extra terrestrials?
My wife is a physical anthropologist and from what I understand, there’s nothing in human development that can’t be explained by the processes of evolution. We don’t need Ancient Aliens (though I’m fond of the eponymous TV series) to explain any of this. Charles Darwin did it well enough all those years ago and his model still holds true.
Where can people find out more about you?
My www.nickpope.net website has extensive material about my government work and my more recent media work.
When are you next speaking in the US?
I’m drastically reducing my conference appearances, due to the pressure of other business. About the only two invitations I’ve accepted for 2012 are the Dreamland Festival in Nashville (May 18-20) and the 2012 MUFON International Symposium in Cincinnati (August 3-5). I may do one or two others, but that’s it for now.
Thanks again for your time.
Mark Christopher Lee