Secret files on UFO sightings have been made available for the first time by the Ministry of Defence.
The documents, which can be downloaded from the National Archives website, cover the period from 1978 to 1987.
They include accounts of strange lights in the sky and unexplained objects being spotted by the public, armed forces and police officers.
I've recently been reading Jacques Vallée's Passport to Magonia, so the subject sort of interests me, but not from the usual point of view.
I am, of course, highly sceptical of much of the UFO subculture, barring our fine Subgenius friends, naturally. Its rife with disinformation specialists, con-men, cultists, the true lunatic fringe of New Age believers, the mentally disturbed, professional paranoids and, very occasionally, a stable but curious individual, such as I believe Jacques Vallée is. And while this makes it a hell of an amusing scene to fall into or lurk around, its not very good for the truth.
But I think Vallée is onto something, when he describes the similarity between folklore and UFO contactee tales. Especially the early ones, coming out of the 50s, are more reminiscent of tales about the faerie folk and their mischevious, odd ways than anything else. And the contactees who are allegedly approached by benevolent, peaceful beings concerned about developments on the planet seem rather similar to angels of past periods. Meanwhile the modern sci-fi monsters, the gray's and reptilians, are reminiscient of ancient demons more than anything else, with their terrifying appearances and disturbing habits. It all seems just a little too...perfect, the way these tales segue from a pre-technological, superstitous and rural society, to an urban, technologically adept one, while retaining so many core characteristics of the story.
Thats not to say either of the above two explanations are true. I certainly don't see a reason why I should accept either presented answer as the 'real' explanation. Only that the similarity between them, when examined closely, is quite astonishing, and suggests another element to the story, a psychological and social component that is worth exploring, perhaps especially in the context of mythology.
Either way, these are only half-formed thoughts, and I don't want the crazies from the UFO crowd to descend on me, demanding explanations for every little thing they think disproves my musings. The archives are yours to peruse at your pleasure, and if nothing else, could make for interesting reading.