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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Some Times....

 ...Coincidences ARE Stranger Than Fact

A lot of things in my files, reports, notes etc., I still treat as confidential.  Most of those associated with the AOP Bureau are now dead but as I found out recently, their families are very clear that names not be published.  Pity really. But the families of Lords and Ladies as well as ranking military men can afford the lawyers!

But this is the problem I am left with and I will not waver from having given my word (over 40 years ago) on confidentiality.

With reports there are other problems.  At the very outset I pointed out to "The Committee" that if we expected astronomers, meteorologists as well as military persons to cooperate with the work then there had to be something in place to guarantee them anonymity.  My idea was the Joint Scientific Intelligence Communications Document (JSICD).

As the AOP Bureau expected to exchange and forward reports as well as information the term "Intelligence" was used.  Ufologists jumped on this and I was told it was "very James Bondish" and even sounded "very fantasy".  This showed the narrow thinking of Ufologists. "Intelligence", "Intelligencer" was a word used in old newspaper titles and magazines.  It referred to gathered news and information not spying and I got sick of explaining that to dim-wits.  JSICD just meant that a document containing reports, analysis and technical information was guaranteed confidentiality. Then some astronomer said "Yes but what about-" and so the JSICD had to be ammended and each time was designated an amendment letter so by 1995 we had gone from JSICD (A) to JSICD (I).

It just guaranteed confidentiality of persons involved nothing more.  It was always taken for granted the Grey Book project itself would last ten years (1977-187) but eventually, I was the only one left alive so officially stopped Grey Book in 1995.

All these years later, I think it "safe" to reveal bits and pieces and what went on "behind the scenes" could get odder than the reports we received.

You know, Franklyn Angus Davin-Wilson really ought to be far better known than he is. That's him to the right with that smile!

I first met Franklyn at a Bristol meeting of the British Flying Saucer Bureau (BFSB f. 1953) back in 1976, I think. I was speaking to a few people and grabbed a break when this short, skinny chap wearing a Russian style fur hat came up to me. Someone said to me:"That's Franklyn Davin-Wilson" and then moved off. Franklyn stretched out his hand and beamed a huge smile -displaying a large set of canid teeth. I shook his hand and said "Fox teeth aren't they?" His smile grew as he popped out the false set of teeth he had a dentist make from fox teeth. "I like you!" he said.  Apparently people normally gasped or backed off when he gave them his vampiric smile!

Franklyn had become interested in UFOs reports after leaving the army in the 1960s and reading the accounts of astronomers and astronauts about their own encounters. A former Bristol Grammar School student (the BGS seemed to spawn, uh, "eccentrics"!) he was a founding member of the British Computer Society as well as a keen astronomer. Franklyn was a constant ally while I was at the BFSB as a committee member and later editor of its UFO News Bulletin and his support continued on into the days of UFO International.  Along with Dennis Cowdy, a founder in 1952 of Manchester Flying Saucer Research, Franklyn was at the core of the Anomalous Observational Phenomena Bureau and Project Grey Book.

Franklyn advocated that every published UFO account should not be accepted as suitable for inclusion unless there was a second or third source -even then, the more sources the better and if you could check the report yourself -much better.  This has stuck to me every day since.

In the mid-1970s Franklyn even advocated the use of computers in UFO reports analysis and also for the analysis of UFO photographs.  He did design a computer card system for BUFORA but they seemed to drop the idea.

His specialist field of research were Signals From Space, Astronomers and UFOs, Unidentified Orbital Objects and photographic analysis.

Franklyn could be somewhat fractious at times when dealing with fools and although interested in the possibility, after speaking to Leo Sprinkle at a BUFORA Convention (scribbled on a margin of the notes of his meeting is :"The Day Mountbatten was murdered") on retrievals of crashed "flying saucers", Franklyn was in two minds because "so many of the buggers are supposed to have crashed!"

As seemed to be his wont, Franklyn often set me off on searches and some lasted decades -"The Vampiric Sheep Killer of Badminton" started after Franklyn mentioned the case featured in The Books Of Charles Fort and thirty years later I wound the whole mess up and even discovered a lynx had been shot at the time. The full story can be found in The Red Paper: Canids.  The other little mystery that took up many years was "The Dead Aquatic Creatures Of Canvey Island" -again, detailed in Some Things Strange & Sinister.

There are others but I still keep busy on those.

On New Years Eve, 1983, Franklyn felt unwell and went to bed.  He died of a heart attack caused by a possible blood clot.  He was around 43 years old. He was the third member of the AOP B to die of a heart attack (Dennis Cowdy was the first) but his loss was deeply felt and his research notes are still with me.  Every new years eve at Midnight I remember the old sod.

Some of my strangest moments were with Franklyn.

In the 1970s after late night meetings we would drive back to where I lived in Downend and we would often talk for an hour or two in his car before I was "released"! We were discussing signal frequencies on one dry Summer night -Franklyn had been talking about this at a meeting.  So, out of the blue, Franklyn suggested we use his specially converted car radio to send a signal out to "any green little buggers -or tall, blond Venusian women!"  I joked that it was worth a try in an attempt to humour him.

Franklyn sent out a Morse Code signal. We sat in the silence listening -only the occasional owl call interrupting the silence.  We started to nod off.  Suddently, we sat bolt up-right: a strange, guttural voice was coming from the car speaker.  Franklyn's response was: "Ah. I didn't expect that!"

So Franklyn send another Morse message and the voice came through again. We just could not understand what was being said.  Franklyn tapped out the code again and the voice seemed snappier in tone.  We checked frequency, direction but could not explain what was going on.

"You don't suppose-?" asked Franklyn rather sheepishly and before he even finished I told him I did not think it was an alien.  At Franklyn's insistence I opened the passenger door window to look up "in case". The voice suddenly became clearer.  We were being warned that we were "fouling up" an emergency radio band.  With the speed of light, Franklyn disconnected his radio and turned to me with a rather sheepish grin: "Perhaps this ought to be our little secret?" he suggested.  And it was.  Until now.

On another occasion, Franklyn had decided that some of my talks needed props.  In the 1976-1983 period I wrote numerous articles and gave talks on, obviously, Alien Entity and CE IIIK cases.  I dreaded what he had planned but just before I was about to leave to give the talk in question the doorbell rang.  On my doorstep was a 6 feet (1.8m) tall figure in all encompassing lycra-like suit and  -only the face was uncovered. Suddenly,  a 3 feet (90cms) high little figure with large head and dressed in silver came into view: "Now say you don't believe in us!"   came the campy mocking voice.  The props had arrived.

The demonstrate various entity types (there were no "Greys" back then), Franklyn had scoured old shop bins until he found a mannequin and then the necessary clothing.  A childs doll (a rather large one!) was found and its head replaced with an adult mannequin head that he had worked on. Silver spray-paint and job done.

Giggles abounded at the talk but the props made the point.  Talk over, the 'aliens' were loaded into Franklyn's car.  We had to go back to his home to drop things off but as we were heading back to Downend we both realised we had a couple of aliens seated behind us. It was eventually around Midnight that we arrived in Downend (where all activity seemed to stop after 5 P.M. on Winter evenings) but such was my insomniac reputation that two old friends were waiting.  One was an RAF man the other in the Army and both were in uniform.  Franklyn suggested getting the props so while I made coffee he and my two friends went to the car to get them.

A female journalist who had been covering UFO stories was on her way back from covering a UFO sighting and with her was a press photographer.  She decided to call in and so her car had arrived only a few minutes before the photographer said "Look!"  The duo watched as they saw me over-seeing two military men as they walked to the back of my house...carrying a dead alien in a clear body bag. The photographer realised -too late- that his loaded camera was in his lap.

Things looked bad for me but it got worse.

I got to know a few police officers and some had a very wry sense of humour.  A patrol car pulled in behind the journalists wondering what they were doing.  The officers approached the car and spoke to the duo who explained what they had seen. One officer then told them: "Mr. Hooper is engaged in secret work of a nature we cannot divulge but we must ask you to move on and say nothing of what you have seen. Understood?"  The journalist nodded and they drove off.
Outside a radar unit RAF Manston c 1979

So, next day, after talking to her editor, the journalist contacted me.  She explained that she and a colleague had seen me lead two military men carrying a small, large headed body wearing silver in a plastic bag into my house.  Also, they had been cautioned by on duty police officers who told her they were "on security detail."    As I tried to explain the situation (the two policemen had told me about a joke with a couple in a car) it all seemed very odd...two military men...a dead alien...police on security duty.  I then learnt that the photographer had completely forgotten to take photographs due to shock at what he was seeing.  Pity.

A very embarassing moment came one Winter's night when Franklyn answered the phone for me.  A woman reported that she had gotten home after a weekend away and was observing an orange ball of light over her house.  The police had given her my number and when I talked with her I learnt that the ball of light was about 2 feet (60cms) in diameter and seemed to be moving around a chimney stack. "To the Bat-mobile!" shouted Franklyn as he ran to get the car ready.

Another mad drive and we arrived in the Clifton area of Bristol. And there, as the woman pointed out, was the orange ball of light, slightly flickering.  Two police officers who had been called to the scene were asked whether they had gone up to check it out? "Sorry, mate" said one with a smirk "burglars we investigate but UFOs -you're the professional!"  I turned to Franklyn and told him one of us needed to go up onto the roof.  He wished me good luck and added "It'll help cure your vertigo!"

So, I got up onto a wooden shed, then the house extension and up a fire ladder (never used but in good shape thankfully) and on to the flat roof of the house. I took out a pen knife with the aim of tossing it into the ball of light -I never saw the old lead pipe on the ground.  I literally went flying.  Apparently, the police below saw me reaching for the light then scream out (more a yell really) and I was down.  The police entered the house with Franklyn and the owner in pursuit.

Rubbing my knees, I went over to the light that just was not convincing turned out to be an old roofers lamp that was still wired in and seemed to be shorting out.  So much for a "mini UFO".  But why was there a woman screaming inside the house?

The skylight opened up behind me and up popped Franklyn's head -a big grin on his face. "We're having much more fun down here!" he told me.  I disconnected the lamp and walked over to the skylight and looked down. On the staircase stood the woman, very embarassed and uttering "sorries" all round. The smiling policemen were leaving.  "What the hell is going on?" I asked myself.

A young woman in a bathrobe came from a bedroom followed by a hurriedly dressing young man.  Apparently, the woman's daughter, who was supposed to be away, invited her boyfriend for the weekend and at one point adjusted the roof top TV antenna and had pushed the wire from the roofers lamp back into a hole on the chimney -causing the shorting.  The couple were then "amorously involved" when the daughter noticed a large bearded man skulking past the skylight (I'd not even seen it).  My yelling out followed by her screaming and all sorts of things were being assumed -especially as I had 'vanished'- and all rushed to the rescue.

Oh, how Franklyn thought it was so funny. He even told me: "You know, as I saw you climbing onto that shed I suddenly thought that it would have been easier to ask the house owner to let us in so you could get up onto the roof"  and when I said "Well, why didn't you say anything?" the reply was "I didn't want to spoil your 'moment' of course!"

At least on other occasions Franklyn and I chased UFOs together -particularly at Cradle Hill, Wiltshire. Fun days.

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