- The following story was released by news
agencies in Sheffield, Yorkshire, on March 4, 1999:
- Schoolboy Alex Birch, blamed for hoaxing
the world with a sensational DIY flying saucer snap 37 years ago, now insists
his story was true.
- Alex, now an antique dealer and grandfather,
claims pressure and ridicule forced him to claim the UFO sighting in 1962,
which made him a world wide celebrity, was a fake.
- Now he says the world must know the true
story of what happened in the garden of a semi-detached house in Mosborough,
Sheffield, on March 2, 1962.
- Alex, then a 12-year-old schoolboy, was
playing in the garden of his parents home with two pals. They were using
an old Brownie 127 black and white box camera to take snaps of each other.
- As they played together, they claimed
five flying saucer objects appeared in the sky behind them, hovering over
trees and bushes.
- In the 20 seconds the objects were visible,
Alex wheeled round and took a single picture. It captured the fuzzy objects,
with the nearest and largest showing what appeared to be a dome on top.
- The photograph was to change the life
of young Alex. It was pronounced genuine by Kodak experts, and the [British]
Air Ministry and the Pentagon examined copies and ordered an investigation.
- The picture appeared in newspapers, magazines
and on TV stations throughout the world and Alex became a celebrity guest
at UFO spotters conferences.
- The snap became one of the most convincing
pieces of evidence in a 1960s Britain obsessed with flying saucers and
proving their existence.
- Alex and his father were called to London
to be grilled by Air Ministry officials.
- But then 10 years later, Alex called
a press conference and said the photo was a simple cut and paste fake.
He said it was a schoolboy prank which snowballed out of control.
- He and his chums had cut out the shapes
of flying saucers, pasted them on glass, and then took the picture which
fooled the experts. At the time, UFO experts throughout the world refused
to believe him.
- Yesterday Alex, now 49, explained why
he had changed his strange story yet again - and why the world famous Roswell
Museum in New Mexico, set up after the sensational Roswell Incident in
1947, are now begging Alex to allow them to exhibit the camera that took
- "People think I made a fortune out
of the photograph, I have heard estimates of up to half a million pounds,"
he said. "In fact I made practically nothing, but I did become internationally
famous for it. "The Pentagon had a file on the incident, the Air Ministry
called me and my father to London.
- "But with the fame came a lot of
misery. I faced a lot of ridicule and pressure. I decided to claim it was
a fake in the hope that it would all go away and the pressure would be
taken off me. But it did not work like that.
- "Stories and pictures continued
to appear and to appear and some of the pressure even passed on to my son.
Adrian. People were not prepared to let the story drop. "The reason
I have now decided to let the real story be known now is because I think
it is important that the public should know.
- "Now my own five year old grandson
is UFO crazy, with pictures and specially made models in his bedroom. "The
Roswell Museum want the old Brownie camera to put on display because they
believe the picture was genuine. I still have it and it's become an old
friend and I have not made up my mind yet about parting with it.
- "But it seems that one black and
white picture taken in a garden all those years ago will be having an impact
on our lives for some years to come."
- By Robert Moore <ENGIMA9@compuserve.com
- Sorry, I don't buy this at all! Alex
Birches' photograph is a hoax, pure and simple. It looks like it is - a
fuzzy image of 'UFOs' painted onto a sheet of glass!
- Let us _not_ forget the picture of Birch
that appears in "The Unexplained" in the 1980's (and other places),
where he is shown, - next to a glass plate painted with small 'UFOs' -
holding a camera and grinning like a Cheshire cat.
- Grinning at _us_.......
- He didn't look _too_ harassed there,
to me. Just smirking, at the thought of making all those dumb Ufologists
fall for his tricks! Smirking at all those credulous 1960's UK Ufologists,
who formulated UFO propulsion theories based on this photograph (it's supposed
to show water droplets suspended in an antigravity field)! Also, the noticeable
blurring around the 'UFOs' (someone once claimed) was the result of a "force
field" surrounding the 'craft'.
- Handy things, force fields...... the
absurd Adamski movie 'UFO' is also supposed to be physically distorted
due to a similar reason. Not simply because it was merely a cheesy special
effect (how dare you _think_ such a thing)!
- OK; his pictures are "genuine";
funny, then, that the _very_ method that Birch originally claimed he used
to fake it _can_ create an image identical to this - now "authentic"
- UFO picture! Funny, too, that (through the very act of _his_ original
confession) he obviously _had_ prior knowledge of this easily-applied hoaxing
- Sadly, the U.K.'s Ufological history
is littered with hoaxed photographs fabricated by children. It's even sadder
still when some of these witnesses continue to claim these hoaxes are 'authentic'.
Which will be all the excuse 'mystery' and 'hack' writers will need to
keep pushing them as authentic 'true-UFO' images. Pushing such obviously
faked images as 'authentic' obviously does the image of our subject NO
favours, especially in the eyes of the scientific community.
- This un-confession has nothing to do
with the truth, and everything to do with the lucrative 'UFO Industry that
has arisen in recent years. When the truth wasn't out there (i.e. before
Chris Carter discovered UFOs) Alex Birch was seemingly quite happy to let
us think these photographs _were_ hoaxes. Then, when the X-files era came
upon us, it is suddenly realised what a goldmine this image is! But, oh
dear, it's a confessed hoax....never mind, just take back the confession
and a square of worthless photographic emulsion is transmuted into gold!
- Another aspect _not_ mentioned in the
story reproduced by Dave Clarke is that Alex Birch has become very aware
of _how_ often his photograph has been used in books over the years, and
has been asking for outstanding loyalties! Obviously, the value of a "genuine"
UFO photo is greater than that of a hoaxed (or is that a 'just hoaxed for
- Come on guys; let's not fall for this
photo again! I, at least, will continue to hold the view that this photograph
is at best highly suspect, and very likely a hoax.
- Should we in this subject attempt to
settle this matter, once and for all? Finally, and for good. In my view,
these images _should_ be subjected to modern computer photographic analysis
(by someone skilled in photographic SFX work).
- Is Birch willing for these images to
be so tested?
- And lets also try to duplicate the photograph
itself, via the means it was originally claimed to have been fabricated
- Robert Moore