This is a personal sighting that happened in Eltham in the 1960's
Whether it was a UFO or not I guess I will never know for sure, it was a long time ago now, a distant memory but still quite a vivid one, one of those memories that bugs you for the rest of your life because you don't know the answer to it.
I cant give an exact time, exact day, or even the exact year so tracing records is hard to say the least, yet I have talked to one other person who remembered that night back in the 60's, and he was just as curious about it as I am.
Through deduction I estimated it must of been sometime between the time I first started school in 1963 /1964 and the time we emigrated to Australia in August 1968. It was most possibly around 1966 as I changed schools to one in Dartford around that time, yet I did briefly go back there just before we emigrated. I also think that it may have been around Christmas because I remember it happened as I left school late when it was dark, so maybe it was after a school concert.
Eltham, London, SE9
Haimo Road is the road in centre running vertically
I remember being picked up from outside the school gates by my parents, it was dark and I remember my Mum was off to see a show in London and my Dad being eager to be off to get her there on time. My parents can't remember what show it was, otherwise I could have narrowed the time down more than I presently can. But 'Hello Dolly' seems to be stuck in my mind for some reason, and researching the dates on this I now know that the show staring Mary Martin first started showing in the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane on the 2nd of December 1965 which seems to fit in well with what I remember.
I remember leaving the school by the entrance beside the old boiler room and crossing the lower playground up into the upper playground. There used to be an old milk wagon against the caretakers house opposite the infants hall, and it was at this entrance that I was to meet my Dad who had parked the Mini Traveller just up the road from the school gate.
As I walked out to the gate everybody was gasping and looking upwards.
Passing very slowly overhead was a very large tube like object, cylindrical like a kitchen roll tube or Pringles carton, very dark uneven sides with what appeared to be flat ends. It passed almost silently overhead, no jet engine noise, no throbbing of an engine or sound of a propeller, just a faint whine not un-similar to that caused by the spinning tops we had as children, that we would pump up to speed using the ratchet handle and then would whine as the air was pushed over the holes that were in the side of the metal rim.
I say it passed very slowly, actually it appeared unnaturally slow, it was travelling at the walking pace of a small child like myself, maybe slower, as if floating and just drifting over. I can remember that the air was alive with static electricity, my hair was tingling like it did when I rubbed a balloon on it before sticking the balloon to a wall, it seemed that low and felt you could almost reach up and touch it .
Things always seem larger as a child, but to me this was bigger than anything I have ever seen in the air, appearing to stretch maybe 20 or more houses in length, maybe 2 to 3 houses high, and at a height of just about 2 to 3 houses above the school. It was the unbelievable size that made us gasp more than what it could be, at that age we were not thinking of an invasion from Mars or little green men, and UFO's were not even in our minds, I don't think we even knew what a UFO was. I don't know what was running through the minds of the adults present, but I guess they did not want to put fear in us children.
Many years ago when computers were very basic, I tried to reproduce what I saw in a computer drawing.
The only sensations where that of intrigue and disbelief at the sheer size, and the 'static electricity' felt at the time.
Direction of travel would have been heading south south west towards Downham / Beckenham as it passed over the school itself and headed towards the City. I remember seeing people walking to the end of the road to see it better than over the rooftops and watch it pass as it seemed to run parralel to the Westhorne Avenue.
It had no visible markings, no visible navigation lights showing or even windows, yet from around what appeared to be square shaped panels there was a faint flickering as if it was somehow internally lit or on fire inside. There was no glow from the rear as if it was a rocket, at any rate it was travelling far too slow to be a rocket or missile.
I know that back around that time Airships were being used over London, they were used to film things such as the football, and large events such as Trouping of the Colour and Lord Mayor's Show, but even if it was 1966 and ready for the world cup match, which I very much doubt as I think it was more likely in December, It was definitely not an airship!
I have seen the size of the Goodyear Airship and it far far exceeded that, there would need to be 5, 6 or even more airships all tied together end to end to be anywhere near that length.
The sides appeared solid, possibly metallic, solid dark and uneven, with what looked like corrugated pipes or tubes with bulges. There was no wings or stabilising fins, and no baskets hanging below.
I remember watching this shape from the rear windows of the car as we drove off and up into the City to the Theatre, still aware of its presence up in the sky many miles after we left.
Many people saw it at the time and I remember it being the talk of all the school children and the neighbourhood for many weeks after. People did take pictures, I seem to remember seeing someone with a camera, but I never saw any of this ship or whatever it was we saw after that day. I guess the old 'Brownie 127' camera of the day was not that good at taking night time pictures.
I remember it was mentioned on the TV news at the time, I don't remember any pictures or film, but it was calmly described (no doubt the BBC back then) or should I say 'excused' as "Falling Space Debris".
I have spent many years trying to find out more about this event, trying to trace others who saw the incident and trying to find any records, news reports or photographs. But in all the photographs of 'U.F.O's' that were available on the internet, none seemed to match or even closely resemble what I saw
I recently came across these photographs, whose similarities to what i saw sent a big shiver down my spine.
although not in the UK, it was believed to have been around the same time as my UK sighting. I only saw one craft which was much wider and darker than those depicted in the first two photographs, more like those in images 3 & 4.
Two queries immediately come to mind about this statement:-
1). Falling :-
To me means it moves in a downward direction, drawn by gravity.
Now even giving it an entry trajectory it would still be getting lower and lower,. I also would imagine that this would happen with quite some speed. This object was doing neither, it was as slow as a tortoise, visible for some considerable time as it appeared to just slowly drift over the houses, it was neither increasing or decreasing in height. Definitely not falling!
If it was 'Falling' as they say, then surely it would have crashed somewhere in the local vicinity ?.
2). Space Debris :-
Now I have never seen an Apollo rocket up close, so I can not judge its size in correlation to what I saw, although from what I have seen on television and photographs, I do not believe an Apollo rocket to be anywhere near as thick in width. I also believe that when our rockets launched they break down into smaller sections (Separation) as the fuel is burnt away, and these parts either burn up on re-entry or just float around as 'space junk'.
If this was the lower section of a rocket then why did it have some form of lighting inside?
Why was it not burning up?
Why did it not have markings on it e.g.. 'Apollo'?
How come it was making a whining noise?
Why did it not crash into the school at a high rate of knots instead of drifting across the top of it like a cloud?
How much and where exactly did this 'Debris' fall to earth?
Unfortunately I expect we will never know exactly what it was, but it would be interesting to read any other reports of the incident and definitely to see any photographs that were taken that night.