One less dramatic example holds particular significance for Clarke. “In many of these cases in the history of ufology,” he says, “there are lots of people who have made things up or that have played pranks and told lies about things that they’ve seen.” Others, he says, are just imaginative, claiming they’ve been abducted by aliens or adventured on trips across the universe. So a story of an ordinary policeman who spotted something unusual while on the job, and promptly filed a report, stands out.
In January 1966, a police officer in a town called Wilmslow was checking on houses late in the evening when he saw something unexpected in the sky. Twenty minutes later, back at the station, he quickly sketched the object in pencil—a 30-foot-long mass, roughly the size of a bus, emitting a greenish-gray glow. He even drew a map. The officer then shared his drawing with the police chief and it was forwarded on to an intelligence officer.
As the report reads, “There is no reason to doubt the fact that this constable saw something completely foreign to his previous experience.”
Clarke explains, “This story is typical of an ordinary person just doing their job, not expecting something unusual to happen—and they almost walk over this invisible curtain into the twilight zone, and see something absolutely extraordinary that they just cannot explain. This is the heart of the UFO enigma that we still can’t fully explain.”
Little did they realize these drawings, photographs, and illustrations would find a place in the National Archives, and in the history of 20th-century visual culture.