A FIRE was seen in the sky above Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire just after 9am on the morning of 11 January 1973. So writes UFO investigator Jenny Randles who compiled a report on the Cuddington incident for the British UFO Research Association (Fire In The Sky. Case History Two. The Buckinghamshire UFO Movie Film).

The drama began that overcast morning in 1973. As Peter Day, a building surveyor, left his home in the village of Moreton, one mile south of Thame, he little realised that he would soon be witnessing one of the most remarkable sights in the history of UFO research – and filming it.

For what makes this case remarkable is that for 23 seconds Peter filmed the strange ball of light as it travelled through the sky. it was as he left Thame and drove on the A418 towards Aylesbury that he first noticed the orange ball of light. He was so struck by it that he pulled into a lay-by near to the village of Cuddington.

He reached for the movie camera he kept in his glove compartment. The orange light was still visible and for that 23 seconds filmed the mysterious object. Then the object vanished.

One moment it was there, the next it was gone. In the words of Peter: “The object moved neither up, down nor sideways – it was just not there any more.” Indeed the film shows that on one frame the object is there, on the very next frame there is nothing.

Peter called at the office of The Thame Gazette to tell them about the object and his film. The reporter revealed that other witnesses – some children at Chilton primary school and a teacher included – had seen the object but the police had solved the mystery already! They explained it as dumped fuel from a military jet in trouble.

Peter argued that he had watched the orange ball for several minutes – fuel could hardly burn for that long in the sky. His attempts to persuade the military or Ministry of Defence to study the film met a wall of disinterest.

Yet, an F-111 did get into trouble and crash that morning (at 9.46am) just south of North Crawley (24 miles north-east from where Peter Day filmed). Could this be what Peter had filmed? A number of investigators settled for this conclusion but researcher Jenny Randles points out that no jet on fire at 9.05am (many witnesses confirm this as the time of the UFO) could stay in the air until crashing at 9.46am.

Bizarre as it may seem, the two incidents appear to have been coincidence. Or is there another explanation: a UFO caused the jet to crash? Such a sensational theory is unprovable but Jenny admits: “It seems to make a certain amount of sense.” It would make sense of one other mystery: the last frame of the film showed the hedge in the foreground remaining in sharp focus but the trees below the vanished UFO as being smeared out of focus. One theory for this inexplicable effect on film is a force field emerging from the UFO as it vanished.

The force field, moving at the speed of light, would create a warping of light rays too brief for the human eye to notice but captured by the camera.

In the end, you must make your own decision: UFO or crashed F-111? Ball lightning or some other mysterious meteorological phenomena?


THE Aylesbury Vale is no stranger to UFOs. One such flap occurred in October 1980 and was reported in The Bucks Advertiser. Numerous witnesses described a bright light in the sky near Princes Risborough. Its size and lack of sound convinced the witnesses it was neither star nor plane.