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Famous UFO Sightings - Operation Mainbrace September 1952

What follows is a collection of UFO reports were reported in the vicinity of the "Operation Mainbrace" NATO maneuvers that were held in September 1952. The maneuvers commenced September 13th and lasted twelve days. According to the U. S. Navy, "units of eight NATO governments and New Zealand participated, including 80,000 men, 1,000 planes, and 200 ships; in the vicinity of Denmark and Norway." The operation, directed by British Admiral Sir Patrick Brind, "was the largest NATO maneuver held up until that time."

  • September 13 - The Danish destroyer Willemoes, participating in the maneuvers, was north of Bornholm Island. During the night, Lieutenant Commander Schmidt Jensen and several members of the crew saw an unidentified object, triangular in shape, which moved at high speed toward the southeast. The object emitted a bluish glow. Commander Jensen estimated the speed at over 900 mph.

    Within the next week, there were four important sightings by well-qualified observers. (Various sources differ by a day or two on the exact dates, but agree on details. There is no question about the authenticity of the sightings; the British cases were officially reported by the Air Ministry, the others are confirmed by reliable witnesses. All occurred on or about September 20).

  • September 19 - A British Meteor jet aircraft was returning to the airfield at Topcliffe, Yorkshire, England, just before 11 A. M. As it approached for landing, a silvery object was observed following it, swaying back and forth like a pendulum. Lieutenant John W. Kilburn and other observers on the ground said that when the Meteor began circling, the UFO stopped. It was disk-shaped, and rotated on its axis while hovering. The disk suddenly took off westward at high speed, changed course, and disappeared to the southeast.

  • About September 20 - Personnel of the U.S.S. Franklin D. Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier participating in the Mainbrace maneuvers, observed a silvery, spherical object which was also photographed. (The pictures have never been made public). The UFO was seen moving across the sky behind the fleet. Reporter Wallace Litwin took a series of color photographs, which were examined by Navy Intelligence officers. The Air Force project chief, Captain Ruppelt stated: "[The pictures] turned out to be excellent...judging by the size of the object in each successive photo, one could see that is was moving rapidly." The possibility that a balloon had been launched from one of the ships was immediately checked out. No unit had launched a balloon. A poor print of one of the photographs appears in the Project Blue Book files, but with no analysis report.

  • September 20 - At Karup Field, Denmark, three Danish Air Force officers sighted a UFO about 7:30 P.M. The object, a shiny disk with metallic appearance, passed overhead from the direction of the fleet and disappeared in clouds to the east.

  • September 21 - Six British pilots flying a formation of RAF jets above the North Sea observed a shiny sphere approaching from the direction of the fleet. The UFO eluded their pursuit and disappeared. When returning to base, one of the pilots looked back and saw the UFO following him. He turned to chase it, but the UFO also turned and sped away.

  • September 27/28 - Throughout Western Germany, Denmark, and southern Sweden, there were widespread UFO reports. A brightly luminous object with a comet like tail was visible for a long period of time moving irregularly near Hamburg and Kiel. On one occasion, three satellite objects were reported moving around a larger object. A cigar-shaped object moving silently eastward also was reported.

Seen by R.A.F. Officers and men


A Flying saucer entered exercise Mainbrace today following a report from the RAF station at Topcliffe (York's), of a white object having been seen, which accelerated at a speed in excess of a shooting star.

RAF officers at the Mainbrace headquarters at Pitreavie (Fifeshire) would not state what view was being taken of the report.

A RAF spokesman refused to comment himself whether the report was regarded as a serious one. He added "It is being investigated."

The report led to a NAAFI saucer being placed on the plot of the exercise. The saucer, fastened with ribbons, was placed on the plot alongside the name Topcliffe, and the RAF duty controller at Pitreavie open up a new signal file, headed "SAUCER SIGHTINGS AND MOVEMENTS," where he could file further sightings of the object.


The object was seen by about 10 RAF officers and men, the crews of Shackleton aircraft operating from Topcliffe. The signal reporting what they had seen was passed by the intelligence officer at Topcliffe to the maritime headquarters at Pitreavie and to coastal command headquarters at Northwood, Middlesex. The signal said that the object was seen at 10:53 am yesterday, when a Meteor aircraft was flying at 5000 ft and was descending. A white object was seen five miles astern of the aircraft at approximately 15,900 ft.


It was moving at a comparatively slow speed on a course similar to that of the aircraft. The object was silver in colour and circular. It maintained a slow forward speed before beginning to descend, swinging like a pendulum.


It was thought by those who saw it to be a parachute or cowling from a meteor, but an RAF spokesman said today that no cowling or parachute had fallen in the vicinity of the station.

The signal reported that the aircraft turned towards Dishforth and the object, while still descending appeared to follow.


It then began a rotary motion about its own axis, but it suddenly accelerated at incredible speed in a westerly direction, then turned to a south-easterly course.

Those who saw it stated that its movements were not identifiable with anything they had seen in the air and that the acceleration was in excess of that of a shooting star.

The duration of the incident was between 15 and 20 seconds. The object was seen by Flt.-Lt. Kilburn and Flt.-Lt. Cybulski, both captains of aircraft, by FO Paris, Master Signaller Thompson, and by about 6 other aircrew members.

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