Guernsey Pilot Spots UFO

A pilot for a Channel Islands airline got the shock of his life when he saw two huge objects on the afternoon of Monday 23rd April, 2007. At about 3pm, Captain Ray Bowyers was approaching Guernsey, coming to the end of a flight from Southampton, when he saw what he described as ‘a very sharp, thin yellow object with a green area’.

Speaking to the Guernsey Free Press and Star, he added: “It was 2,000ft up and stationary. I thought it was about 10 miles away, although I later realised it was approximately 40 miles from us. At first, I thought it was the size of a 737, but it must have been much bigger because of how far away it was. It could have been as much as a mile wide.”

As he continued his approach to Alderney Airport, he saw another, smaller object. He thought that they might have been reflections from a vineyard, but as he was able to see the object for over nine minutes, he discounted that theory.

“As I got closer to it, it became clear to me that it was tangible,” he said. “I was in two minds about going towards it to have a closer look but decided against it because of the size of it. I had to think of the safety of the passengers first. I’m certainly not saying that it was something of another world. All I’m saying is that I have never seen anything like it before in all my years of flying.”

A pilot for another airline also saw one of the objects, but from a different location. His description was almost identical to Captain Bowyer’s, as was its position and altitude.

Local air traffic control received reports from both pilots, but admit that they saw nothing on radar. Paul Kelly, the controller on duty at the time, commented: “If the object was stationary, our equipment would not have picked it up because the radar would have screened it out.”

A photograph, allegedly of the UFO and taken by one of the passengers of one of the planes, was posted on the Professional Pilots Rumour Network forum. It showed a cloud-like object over the sea and, while interesting, offered nothing conclusive.

A few days later, a pilot for the Flybe airline suggested that what was seen was a military test vehicle. Troy Queripel theorised that, as French military airspace is only 20 miles west of Guernsey and British military airspace is 40 miles north of the island, it is highly possible that what was seen was some sort of experimental plane that accidentally drifted into the island’s commercial flight paths.

He said: “I am not trying to discredit anything that Ray said because I saw him 45 minutes after the incident and he was clearly shaken. He obviously saw something. But think about the stealth bomber and the U2 spy plane. They were being tested for years before anyone was aware of them.

“Two per cent of me thinks it was little green men, but the other 98% thinks it was the military testing new technology that we haven’t even heard of.”

On 2nd May, French airline pilot, Captain Jean-Charles Duboc, a witness to a UFO sighting over Paris in 1994, commented that he believed what the British pilots saw was a craft from another world.

“My position about the sighting off Alderney is that an extraterrestrial civilisation wants to develop contacts with our planet and that they deliberately organise UFO sightings. It is a really scary reality, but pilots have exceptional training and are the best qualified observers to identify UFOs.”

Captain Bowyer, in the meantime, had received a great deal of press coverage. He appeared on local television, describing his sighting, and news reports appeared on websites all over the world. He said: “In the profession it’s fairly well known that if you come forward and tell these sort of stories, you become unemployable.

“I think if I had not had eight years with the company it would not have been mentioned. But I’m lucky that I had the security with Aurigny and I want to thank them for their support. It’s really nice that other people have come forward to say that they have had similar experiences.”

UFOData Magazine contacted Aurigny, in an effort to interview Captain Bowyer. They kindly forwarded our request to him, but he has yet to contact us.

Five days after the sighting, an earthquake shook Kent, in southern England, causing damage to property and cutting power to thousands of homes. It has been suggested that what was seen over Guernsey, some 200 miles from the quake’s epicentre, was an example of ‘earthlights’. These occur when tectonic stresses build up, causing plates to rub together and generating a kind of plasma or electrical discharge that can be interpreted as a UFO sighting. They can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes.

Dr David Clarke, of Sheffield Hallam University, submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) about the sighting. Their response was published on the MoD’s own website:

“Thank you for your e-mail of 27 April 2007 to the Secretary of Defence regarding an alleged UFO sighting on 23 April 2007 near the Channel Islands. It has been passed to me to answer as I am the responsible officer. I also note that you have placed a Freedom of Information request on the same topic, asking for any documentation held on the matter so I will address both pieces of correspondence at the same time.

“Firstly, I think it may be helpful if I outline the role of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in UFO matters. The Ministry of Defence examines any reports of 'unidentified flying objects' it receives solely to establish whether what was seen might have some defence significance; namely, whether there is any evidence that the United Kingdom's airspace might have been compromised by hostile or unauthorized foreign military activity.

“Unless there is evidence of a potential threat to the United Kingdom from an external military source, and to date no 'UFO' report has revealed such evidence, we do not attempt to identify the precise nature of each sighting reported to us. We believe that rational explanations, such as aircraft lights or natural phenomena, could be found for them if resources were diverted for this purpose, but it is not the function of the MOD to provide this kind of aerial identification service. It would be an inappropriate use of defence resources if we were to do so.

“However, in this case it was decided to conduct an investigation into the sighting and details were passed to the relevant air defence experts. They stated that the sighting took place in French airspace for defence and therefore this is a matter for the French authorities to deal with. They concluded there was no threat to the UK and, accordingly, the MoD investigation will not be taken any further.”

Also included with the FOIA reply was the original sighting report. This can be viewed at

Captain Bowyer has said that he is surprised at the press coverage that his sighting has received. He wants to collect reports from Islanders and collate them, saying: “The amount of people who have had similar sightings in a similar area has made me want to investigate what has been happening in the Channel Islands.”

Steve Johnson - 2007

(Article originally appeared in the July/August 2007 issue of UFO Data Magazine)

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us and answering our questions, Captain Bowyer. The sighting over Guernsey on Monday 23rd April, 2007, has caused quite a stir and our readers would find it illuminating to hear what happened from somebody who actually saw these bizarre objects.

You're a commercial pilot for Aurigny, a private airline based in the Channel Islands. How long have you been a professional pilot?

 Just under 20 years.

What types of aircraft have you flown over the years?

 F27, Bandeirante, Navajo, Trislander

What time of day did you see the objects?

 1400 z for about 12 minutes

Where were they in relation to your position and how far away did you estimate they were?

My 12.30 position. Initially, I thought the first object may be 10 miles away, however, having flown another 40 miles, radar informed me that I was still 10 miles from the contact.

Can you describe what they looked like?

 Like a slightly canted CD from my perspective, laying parallel to the horizon about 1x high to 20x long with a graphite grey band two thirds from left to right. It/they were brilliant light emitting yellow and were identical.

How big do you think they were?

 I initially described them to ATC as the size of a 737 thinking that they were 10 nm distant, however, as they were 50 nautical miles away, I estimate their overall length, possibly diameter to be between half a mile and a mile across.

What did the radar operators that picked up the objects say at the time? Were they as surprised as you to see these objects?

 The radar operator said that he had some anoprop (anomalous propagation – radar reflections caused by atmospheric conditions) to my left but then maintained that he then had intermittent primary returns to the south of the area of Casquettes lighthouse. He also described the position in relation to a Flybe 146 to see if they could obtain a visual contact. I was asked to go to a different frequency to relay a full description.

How long did your sighting last?

 12 minutes approx.

Did they display any motion at all?

 There was no apparent motion.

There have been reports that other pilots and passengers saw the objects and a photograph has begun circulating the internet. Can you comment on any of this?

 Certainly 5 passengers sitting behind me saw at least one of the objects. The gentleman immediately behind said he could see both. They were not prompted by me but offered the information. A Blue Islands Jetstream 32 also [saw the objects] whilst descending through 3500 ft inbound to Jersey from above Sark from the captain’s  8 o'clock position for about 1 minute. The photo I have seen is a fake. No photos were taken from my aircraft.

Have you had any previous interest in UFOs? Have you seen what you would call a UFO before?

 This is my first official contact with an unidentified object although I have seen one other object some years ago near the Isle of Wight. I have not previously had any positive or negative thoughts about this type of thing.

Has your sighting changed any views you may have held about UFOs?

 I have no idea what they were. I have never seen anything like them before anywhere in the world.

Do you have any thoughts about what the objects might have been? Obviously, they are UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects), but what, in your opinion, might they have been: a natural phenomenon, military testing of some kind or even extraterrestrial vehicles?

 I have always held the belief that the universe would be perverse should we be its only inhabitants, so I suspect that I have always held the belief that there may have been travellers circulating the universe although in what form  I have never really previously considered.

There has been speculation that they were simple reflections, lenticular clouds or even 'earthlights' generated by the Kent earthquake. What do you think of those explanations?

 They were not reflections. I was looking at solid objects through binoculars with a 10x magnification. They were not lenticularis. These I have seen many times before. They were not 'sun dogs'.

The earthlights may have some credence and requires further investigation. I am coming to the conclusion after two months that these objects were probably not from around 'here'. If they were military, they were at 2000ft inside controlled airspace in a very busy place in the sky without
permission. If a culprit were found then a Court Martial would surely follow.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us, Captain Bowyer. Everybody at UFO Data Magazine greatly appreciates you bringing your sighting into the public domain.

© Steve Johnson 2007


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Updated 16th August, 2012