Author, journalist and TV personality Nick Pope used to run the British Government’s UFO project at the Ministry of Defence. Initially sceptical, his research and investigation into the UFO phenomenon and access to classified government files on the subject soon convinced him that the phenomenon raised important defence and national security issues, especially when the witnesses were military pilots, or where UFOs were tracked on radar.
While working on the MoD’s UFO project Nick Pope also looked into alien abductions, crop circles, animal mutilations, remote viewing and ghosts. He is now recognised as a leading authority on UFOs, the unexplained and conspiracy theories. He does extensive media work, lectures all around the world and has acted as presenter, consultant or contributor on numerous TV and radio shows.
Nick Pope lives in California.
1. Did UK’s M.o.D. and UK’s Government ever officially acknowledged existence of UFOs?
While the UK Government denies having (or being aware of) any evidence that extraterrestrial life exists, they have previously said that they “remain open-minded about the possibilities”. And if one looks at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) intelligence assessment on UFOs colloquially known as Project Condign one finds the following quote: “That UAP [Unidentified Aerial Phenomena] exist is indisputable. Credited with the ability to hover, land, take-off, accelerate to exceptional velocities and vanish, they can reportedly alter their direction of flight suddenly and clearly exhibit aerodynamic characteristics well beyond those of any known aircraft or missile – either manned or unmanned”. The report was skeptical that the UFO phenomenon was extraterrestrial in origin, but the quote is an extremely important admission, nonetheless.
2. Scientists every day discover new, potentially habitable planets – are we on a brink of “New Space era”?
As our technology gets more sophisticated, our knowledge of the Universe expands. The next generation of space-based telescopes, coupled with increasingly powerful radio telescopes, may lead to the discovery of extraterrestrial life. If there’s life out there – perhaps even other civilizations – ours is likely to be the generation that finds them. One important factor here will be other nations, such as China, playing an increasingly important role in the space program. But perhaps the key point is the extent to which venture capitalists and technology billionaires are playing a bigger part in the space program, with organizations such as NASA in danger of being left behind. Accordingly, the new Space Race is likely to be a race between corporations and not between nations.
3. What’s your opinion on “conspiracy theories” regarding the existence of so called “Area 51” and “S4” bases? Could they be real?
I don’t think anybody disputes that these bases exist. Area 51, for example, is where many iconic aircraft such as the U2, SR-71 and the stealth fighter and stealth bomber were developed and test-flown. The real question, of course, is whether any of the other rumours about such bases are true: in other words, is this where the US Government has the remains of crashed extraterrestrial spacecraft, which are being studied and, perhaps, reverse-engineered. I don’t know the answer to that question, but now that Area 51 is so well-known, any such extraterrestrial technology has probably been moved elsewhere. In other words, the real question isn’t what’s going on at Area 51, but what’s going on at Area 52, Area 53 and Area 54.
4. We are all witness to massive presence of UFO / Alien themes in movies and TV series – are UFO’s now part of our culture?
UFOs are part of pop culture and have been since the early Fifties, when Hollywood movies such as The Day the Earth Stood Still propelled the subject into the public consciousness. The X-Files is probably the best modern day example of how the UFO phenomenon is firmly established in our culture, as is the extent to which UFO and alien imagery is instantly recognizable and used in video games, advertising campaigns, on T-shirts, mugs and a vast number of other products. In other words, this UFO and alien imagery is something that everybody is familiar with: not just UFO researchers and science fiction fans, but the general public, irrespective of whether they are believers in UFOs or skeptics.
5. In your opinion, what’s the one UFO case that would be “100% proof” of their presence on Earth?
I don’t think that any UFO case provides us with 100% proof of an extraterrestrial presence on Earth. For 100% proof one would need an artefact that could be verified as extraterrestrial by scientists, both in terms of its function and in terms of isotopic analysis (such as that conducted on meteorites) that could prove the object had not originated on Earth. While no UFO case I’ve seen constitutes 100% proof, the Rendlesham Forest incident is probably the most compelling case we have in evidential terms. It’s certainly a better case than Roswell, even though Roswell is better known. The Rendlesham Forest incident is a ‘perfect storm’ of a UFO case and contains just about every element that makes a case convincing: the UFO was tracked on civil and military radar; it wasn’t just a ‘lights in the sky’ case but involved an actual landing; there were multiple witnesses, most of whom were military personnel, including the Deputy Base Commander of RAF Bentwaters/Woodbridge, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Halt; the UFO left physical trace evidence, including burn marks on the trees and radioactivity levels that were assessed by MoD scientific and technical intelligence specialists as being “significantly higher than the average background”; and there are government documents confirming all these aspects of the case. Even the skeptical investigators at the MoD failed to find any conventional explanation for the sightings. This case was the subject of my bestselling book Encounter in Rendlesham Forest, co-written with the two military witnesses at the heart of the incident, John Burroughs and Jim Penniston.
6. Does mainstream media pays enough attention to UFO subject?
In recent years there has been greater mainstream media engagement with the subject of UFOs, but there is still some way to go. One positive story has been the declassification and release of the MoD’s UFO files. Because I used to work on these files (indeed, I wrote many of them!) and because I now work as a broadcaster and journalist myself, I’ve become the public face of this story, writing features for numerous national newspapers and giving literally hundreds of TV, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews. For the most part this story has been told in a straightforward, factual way, with the overall tone of the coverage being either neutral or positive. More generally, I have no difficulty in writing positive features about UFOs and getting them into some of the world’s biggest newspapers. But more can be done. There is still a story here that hasn’t been told. So while, for example, I have written an op-ed for The New York Times about UFOs, it would be good to see a major series of in-depth articles in The New York Times or The Washington Post, examining the subject and challenging the authorities as thoroughly as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein did with the Watergate scandal.
7. Did you heard about any cases of UFO’s crash landing in former Yugoslavia and Balkan area? There are many reports that under President Tito, during 1970’s, there were 3 Cylinder UFO’s shot down and fell into Adriatic Sea.
I confess that I know very little about UFO sightings in the former Yugoslavia. In part this was because when I was working for the MoD, my remit was to investigate UK sightings only. More generally, the language problem is a barrier to the exchange of information between English-speaking and non-English-speaking researchers. I only visited the region once, in around 2004, when I went to Kosovo on MoD business unrelated to UFOs and I heard nothing about this subject during my time in Pristina. I have had occasional communication with a couple of people in the former Yugoslavia who have told me that President Tito knew something about UFOs, but I have had no confirmation of this from any official sources.
8. For end of this interview, can you say when will mankind meet Alien species (if ever will)?
I don’t know if or when humanity will first encounter extraterrestrials, but if they’re out there I suspect, as I said earlier in the interview, that ours will be the generation that finds them. Of course, there are many variables here. It’s one thing to find microbial life on Mars or Europa, or even to pick up a radio signal from another civilization many lights years away; It’s quite another thing to actually encounter extraterrestrials, e.g. in a visitation. Given the distances and difficulties involved in interstellar travel I suspect that direct encounters are less likely, but who knows? Maybe there are ways around the apparent barrier posed by light speed, and if not, there’s nothing to stop sentient machines from travelling the galaxy at sub-light speed in such a way that does not violate the laws of physics as we currently understand them. So, if we do encounter extraterrestrials face-to-face, perhaps the most likely scenario is that we’ll encounter artificial intelligence, as opposed to biological life.
journalist and editor