The Thunderbolt Incident: Speculations and potential conclusion.
Speculations and possibilities.
This article was originally part of the Comprehensive Timeline but makes more sense to be its own Investigation post. Also. we will address some of the out-there speculations put forward before a proposal conclusion.
The Thunderbolt is seen in a variety of forms. These could be glimpses of something seen from different perspectives or at different times doing different things. In relevance – aerial maneuvres. We can expect there will be variance in reports.
Lightning can strike more than once.
The Thunderbolt Incident was attributed to having been Weather phenomena. A Freak Thunderbolt. “A thunderbolt from the blue”, the alledged front cover of the local newspaper. That currently cannot be verified. Despite MET office weather reports saying “No weather”. Many reports pertain to clear weather, though there are exceptions. The gentleman whose house was clipped and subsequently demolished claimed his patio window was being tapped by what he thought was hail. Some state it was raining. Some of the reports claim it was raining at the time. Many do not.
When talking with Heather Dixon Investigations Coordinator of BUFORA, the discussion arose of considering the Thunderbolt to be Plasma phenomena. Ball lightning. By pure chance, I may actually have the observational experience of witnessing ball lightning firsthand to draw a comparison.
However, will draw on professional research of the matter.
The structure and stability of ball lightning D. J. Turner Published by Royal Society Publishing.
The characteristic elements are there in descriptions.
Its appearance is seen as being light. It is 01:30 in the morning any light phenomena will be highly visible.
The “lightning” is present in the area being observed for a period of time.
Having forms that exude light. Green Lighting, lighting the sky red, multiple white balls, large nuclear white light, twin pair of white lights.
The event effects described The Thunderbolt going in and out of houses, through windows. Not that the Thunderbolt made of lightning went in and out of peoples houses, people are only commenting on the damage caused. Attributed to the lightning.
This notion of going in and out of houses comes from the reports that some windows are blown inwards and some are blown outwards.
In the reports, and general conversation I have had with witnesses the descriptions are replete with mentions, high heat/fire and rumbling/vibration. Animated notions that it rumbled through the house, came through, came over the house. Rachel Mason: “It was like a wave”.
The windows would have been only single glaze in 1987. Vibrations could have shattered the windows. Likewise, the notions of heat and fire, could have caused air pressure changes. The single glaze subjected to high pressure heated air, hot enough to melt galvanized steel and metal aerials.
This could have buckled the glass to break either way, in or out, as it was subject to stresses.
Lightning balls, very rarely enable a military response. An apparent armed one. Where multiple helicopters engage in a search operation with high beam spotlights. Deployment of a troop-carrying and heavy equipment lift Chinook. Followed by subsequent roadblocks, enforcement of closure over a large area, and the threatening of people if they talk about what they have observed.
The area is one of the highest in the county, there is a plaque stating so. There’s also not much of a built-up area of housing due to the flow and ebb of the land. Lots of farming fields and open spaces of little or no light.
The electrical disruption topic is one we will have to come back to in a different Investigative Blog.
Alternative speculations put forward.
Though I have strictly avoided writing “UFO” in any article, despite the two/three source report documents being firmly in that camp of UFOlogy. CTS File 31, The Ashley Rye Report and the Nexus Report as it muddies the water of fact and the events of the Incident. It was clear in the social media questions asking about peoples memories of the event, that there were different camps, most heard the explosion, very few saw the “Thunderbolt”, many saw the resulting damage. When there is no obvious answer or explanation. The following secrecy and military actions. Putting 2 and 2 together. Making 5 is easy. But let’s not dismiss them. Let’s instead work in reverse from those suggestions. If we structure the question thusly to include that far-out speculation and ask it in a more sensible way.
Was a UAP engaged by the British RAF military, brought down and what then followed up was a recovery operation? (As this is the modern urban myth).
Nigel Crowley puts forward as his speculative answer in Ben Emylnn Jones videos recorded with guest Daniel Bostock, (2013 and 2014 respectively) that the military actively shot at an airborne vehicle using Electromagnetic/Lightning/Microwave based weapons, and that’s what brought the vehicle down. Accounting for multiple objects seen going towards the craft. Resulting in the mass electrical disruption that was indeed reported across the region, during these events.
The Documentary – Notts Roswell – Ben Emynn Jones. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dC0jFdlppU
The reports of zig-zagging, moving over the terrain, the loop to loop manoeuvres reported by the elder witness in the Ashley Rye report. The pattern of movement is erratic. Struggling to stay airborne. This apparently also features in the newspaper report.
Goes without saying the CTS File 31 report comes from an investigative journalist. Jon King, famous for working with London broadsheets on the Princess Diana case and that got him involved with the Intelligence community, with a personal passion for exploring UAP reports. Becoming the editor of UFO Reality magazine. Jon’s speculation that this is a cover-up of the greatest UFO case since Roswell. More important than Rendlesham. I did attempt to contact Jon directly and via his publisher to no avail.
The big difference in those cases highlighted above and The Thunderbolt Incident. Is real people were affected, physical damage occurred. Emergency services responded. The resulting response of the military, in what appears to be a search, rescue and recovery operation. There were secured areas. The fires did occur. There’s some meat to the bone to this.
People were told to stay away. There’s significant public conscious memory of the events. Whilst speculation and urban myths can indeed run rife. There are tangible truths to be uncovered. We might not get a clear or full answer, for various political, secrecy or equipment reasons. Yet there may well be enough here to tease a real-world human explanation. Involving Occam’s razor deduction.
To break this down, we must cover the Military Rules of engagement
If an object of unknown origin is in British airspace, particularly during the 1987 in the continuing Cold War, it would have been considered serious.
Inside the Ministry of Defence document Doctrine UK Air Space JDP30, it outlines the UK effectiveness and deployment options.
The four roles of air power the UK commands.
• Control of the air secures our freedom of action within the air environment.
• Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance informs the development of understanding across all environments.
• Attack can coerce and influence actors into changing or maintaining behaviour.
• Air mobility enables movement, manoeuvre and sustainment. To maintain air dominance and superiority, the rule of engagement is to intercept.
Whilst the theatre of war has changed in recent years due to evolving technologies. In 1987, the rules of engagement to intercept would have been as valid then as they are today. It would have been aircraft like the F4 Phantom and Panavia Tornado on the challenge to confront an “enemy” in UK airspace. Whether Soviet or an unknown bogey. These interceptors were not the ones seen going after the object in response to its presence.
What we have is a period of 45minutes later at 2:15am local time and it is a military recovery operation. Rather than an engagement operation. They already knew what was there.
Using a 5 point likely scale.
Between Very Unlikely, unlikely, indifferent, likely to highly likely.
I would like to throw this your way, and consider this event as the scenario.
If it’s not an enemy, it’s a known entity.
Was it one of our own? Got into distress, knows he’s potentially going down. Maybe an instrument malfunction. Struggling to stay up. Manually looking for somewhere clear. Not sure of the height of the terrain as it is the highest land in the area, a pilot travelling at great speed realizing he’s now too low to the ground, pulls back on the flight stick, angling the tilt of the aft flaps. The explosive thrust pushing behind to maintain its velocity. If the jet is now perhaps angled nose upwards, the exhaust firing behind.
Not wanting to crash catastrophically over residential housing. Clipping the chimney, that superheated thrust, overheating the back boiler of Abbey Road. Scorching the hedges along the road there, now aiming for open ground ahead.
Consider some of the statements.
“The terrifying rumble.”
“….just walking back to the bedroom and the house moved felt weird.”
“I cannot explain it, but the whole house was shaking!”
“…burned all the hedges up the streets…all these trees along here were singed.”
“My next-door neighbour was going to bed, as they closed their curtains it whizzed by their house!”
“Like a wave, coming over the house.”
“….our children’s galvanized steel slide on St John’s Avenue.” “Melted the metal slide!”
” The house shook TV and video blew up and smoking.”
“Aerial was melted, bent.”
They read like they are experiencing the rumble and effects of an engine, low, too low overhead. The massive exhaust changes the air pressure in its wake.
Rachel, I believe has the most interesting perspective that may bring us closer to a conclusion. One that if it did not occur, this whole event would likely be left gathering dust on a few scant dated internet sites and a book left on the shelf for more than 20 years as some crazy UFO event that only a few know about.
She heard the explosion. Which happened at the opposite end of the street. Sat up bolt in bed, turned her head to look out of the open curtains. The whole house is rumbling. Sees a ring of fire having come over her house and then soaring forwards before banking left. A view, only her home at the end of Abbey Road could have seen facing out over the wide-field view. It banks left, over the open ground. Thieves Wood.
Rachel shares another childhood memory, having kept the story and sighting on the night of The Thunderbolt Incident to herself. Years later, watching 80’s Tom Cruise movie on TV, Top Gun. Aa the movie played out It dawned on her, what it was she witnessed that night on the 12th November 1987. An afterburner!
A perspective unique lasting no more than a few seconds.
The bedroom window on the right, was the witnesses view. Offering an unrestricted vantage point of the adjacent fields and towards Thieves Wood. The fields stretching out away from the house. A uniquely directed home, compared to the rest of Abbey Road. Where the houses of the street face one another.
Let’s switch to the possibility of a pilot in this situation. We’ve outlined above. Perhaps it is the pilot who is in difficulty. He’s already flying below the 250ft operational zone for fixed-wing aircraft. The jet is going to be near complete black hoping for more fields. The ground rolling quickly beneath him. Struggling with controls or realizing it’s now trees, pulls back, sending the jet towards the sky once more.
The “bounce”, more of a blast thrust with a hard push on the throttle. Burning a large area of trees in its wake. Causing those ones to wilt and bend, leaving the scorched earth behind. The chaff scattering and blistering onto the surfaces. The jet up in the air before coming down due to the technical difficulties in the no light fields of The Warren.
The helicopters are a more measured recovery response to finding a downed allied aircraft. Rather than helicopters with high power searchlights, personnel and an equipment carrying Chinook. Chasing a UFO or vehicles firing electromagnetic lightning bolt slugs over residential areas.
A comment to the original blog post from 2011 recently (28th March 2021) from a person who identifies as Max. That is relevant to this section.
Max: There seems to be many inaccuracies and different accounts to this incident. So I will give you my personal account to this event. I knew the father of a member of the military drafted into the area on the night of the so-called 1987 thunderbolt incident. He confirmed there was “no thunderbolt”. I asked him if it was a UFO? He answered with a grin saying he could not confirm or deny that!!! What he did confirm is that the military were at 2 different locations in the Mansfield and Ashfield area to “clear the sites of a contaminated substance”. Read into that information what you will. But he did say it WAS Thieves Wood and Annesley Warren. This conversation took place many years ago and I cannot remember the guys name but I have never forgotten the conversation we had. I do remember the military being in the area for 3-4 days after this incident, but in terms of a “thunderbolt” the military would not be required!
Indeed Max identifies with the closing sentence. That the military would not be dispatched to a weather phenomena. Unless extensive damage occurred and emergency services were overwhelmed.
A 4-day investigation and recovery operation seems proportionate.
Secure the safety of the pilot, secure crash site.
Plan and organize recovery and clean up over a few days.
Allied aircraft in difficulty goes down, and ensuing recovery?
So that 5 point scale we spoke of. Considering those aspects. Highly unlikely, unlikely, indifferent, likely or very likely? ____________
The metallic substance – could it be chaff? Whats chaff? Chaff is metallic strips and fibres of aluminium foil that is fired behind an aircraft that expands to a sphere ball of about 300ft created a radar scattering/blocking bubble. Preventing targeting from gaining a lock-on and disrupting enemy missiles. Each chaff packet contains of 0.5 to 100 million fibers. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12481850
Perhaps the plane clipped the chaff tank as it skimmed the car mechanics house. Scattering the building in lots of it, as the chaff packet erupts.
Highly unlikely, unlikely, indifferent, likely or very likely?
Loop to loop: The loop, the loop manoeuvre identified as having being performed, with the terrain being higher than expected. It has a height of 162 m = 531 ft above sea level. What if the pilot pulled out of the bottom of the loop and was much too close to the ground going below the 250ft. Overshoots/clips Abbey Road chimney on the recovery to level out and so on. Many of us, have experienced the “Speed wobble” when riding a bicycle. handles quickly go into the left/right.
This aircraft is extremely low, travelling fast with the pilot trying to compensate for just potentially clipping a building.
Could that be in the highly likely, likely, indifferent, likely or very likely column?
Harrier: What if it not just a traditional fixed-wing aircraft? What about a VSTO. Vertical/Short Take Off aircraft?
Peter Seagrave Commented on my Youtube channel on the video entitled “Did a UFO crash in Nottingham in 1987?” that I published in 2015, with a single sentence. “Jump jet harrier 3 miles away in Hucknall Rolls Royce”
Harrier jump jet. I remember moving to Nottingham in 1995, Hucknall does indeed have Rolls Royce Aerospace. At the time frequently you would hear the testing of engines. Occasionally I would go down to the airfield and see aircraft private and training take-offs. A hub for the various air shows, Hucknall often hosted for the Avro Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane during summer events. Displays teams. Only once I did see a Harrier jump jet, flying overhead. There was significant draft behind as its engines were uniquely angled to provide uplift thrust, the air rippled with heat. Around the counties, many RAF bases, including RAF Cottesmore having a Harrier squadron only 50km away.
Perhaps Peter is on to something, the Harrier was an active military aircraft spanning 1967 to the 2010s. Before military spending took them out of service and sold to the various militaries and private corporations worldwide. In 1987, they were in full service performing many functions.
But what about the Thunderbolt hitting the flat chimney? A superheated thrust exhaust would exude a tremendous amount of energy. If that thrust happened to go over the top of a chimney, at close proximity the heat transfer it would have on a residential boiler does become a possibility. Potentially bringing the pressurized system to boil and burst. The likes which Don experienced at his flat. His chimney breast damaged, bricks wedged in walls on the opposite side of the room. The breaking and exploding outward of his back window. Whether he was making tea or in bed, the Gentleman had a narrow escape.
The unique Harrier Jump jet mechanic, with its ability to engage in Vertical Take Off may also explain the unique observation of the “bounce”. How it came down and appeared to bounce to another location. Could it be the pilot shaking off the effect of the collisions, slowing down, thrusters down coming in to hover. Before launching back to the sky again.
Where does that scale onto the 5 point scale? Highly likely, likely, indifferent, likely or very likely?
Sorry, we’re not paying out, you’re not protected against UFOS.
There is then the matter of insurance, in the CTS File 31 report and Ashley Rye report both mention Mr West involvement, Jon King identified he had been in communication with him and the TV and video repairman. Those privately insured did not get a payout.
This paragraph is enlightening and may offer insight. I shall include the whole paragraph for context purposes.
“According to personal reports, immediately prior to the explosion household lights came on all by themselves. Other lights (which were already on) exploded, while TV aerials were split in two. As might be expected, insurance companies were inundated with claims for video players and TVs damaged by the so-called “thunderbolt.” In one street alone forty claims were made, although I have since discovered that a number of these property damage claims, though investigated, were never met. The reason given was that the government’s official Meteorological Office at Bracknell in Berkshire, affirmed that there was “no weather” that night – no cloud, no wind, no rain, no lightning. And no thunderbolts. Indeed, other witnesses told me that they remember the night being still and cloudless, thus ruling out the possibility that the damage was caused by a thunderbolt. This fact, it seems, was seized upon by the insurance companies as a convenient loophole – “UFO damage” was of course not included in any of the policies, not even in the small print! Thus they refused to cough up. “
The last few sentences are telling of a much more grounded get-out clause. Did the RAF and government not admit what occurred to avoid insurance claims and legal disputes? Any in-depth explanation and investigation, it may even explain the apparent silence.
Highly unlikely, unlikely, indifferent, likely or very likely?
The Battle of Britain 1987
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