Among the incidents discussed at a recent gathering in Washington DC was an alleged sighting of a triangular-shaped flying machine with unfamiliar markings near the former US air base at RAF Woodbridge in Suffolk in 1980. (Rendlesham Forest?) "Nothing in my training prepared me for what we were witnessing," James Penniston, a retired US Air Force pilot, told the panel. He said the UFO, with "blue and yellow lights swirling around the exterior", was "warm to the touch and felt like metal". Finally, "it shot off at an unbelievable speed" in front of 80 witnesses. "In my log book, I wrote 'speed: impossible'," Mr Penniston added.
Jean-Claude Duboc, a former Air France pilot, recalled spotting "a huge flying disc" about 1,000ft (305m) across which left no image on his radar as he flew over Paris in broad daylight in January 1994. He said the object started to become transparent and, within 10 to 20 seconds, had vanished without a trace.
Fife Symington, a former governor of Arizona, said that it was time for the US government to reopen Project Blue Book, the US Air Force inquiry into 12,500 UFO reports, which was abandoned as a "waste of time" in 1969. "Incidents like these are not going to go away," he said. "We want the government to stop perpetuating the myth that all UFOs can be explained away in down-to-earth, conventional terms."
Talk of flying saucers resurfaced in the US media a few weeks ago when one of the Democratic presidential hopefuls, Dennis Kucinich, claimed during a televised debate that he had seen one. His comments may not have been total political suicide – two former US presidents, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, each spoke early in their careers of encounters with UFOs.