The Manchester Air Myth

Rory Lushman
Magonia 67, June 1999

No doubt many of you will remember the famous Manchester Air Miss case, whereby British Airways pilots Roger Wills and Mark Stuart reported a UFO shooting past their Boeing 737 in the opposite direction. Their flight which was inbound from Milan, was on the final approach to Manchester International Airport, runway 24.

The date was January 6th, 1995. They reported their sighting as being on the approach to Manchester, not over the city as many mistakenly believe.

They reported their sighting to the CAA, who took over a year to investigate this case. The time for the sighting was logged at 1848hrs, so therefore it was dark. Much has been discussed about this case but I do not want to go over old ground in this article. Instead I want to focus on a witness who claims to have seen something of similar a shape but not the same size on the same night.

Mark Lloyd a resident of Gatley, near Stockport, claims to have seen a large triangular craft on the exact date as the pilots, although he reports his sighting as being at between 1530 and 1600. This is indeed a fascinating case. Why? He claims the object he saw was at 4000 feet, exactly the same height as the pilots reported. He claimed he watched this object performing forward and reverse movements and claimed it dropped occasionally like a falling leaf. He watched it fly over or near Manchester Airport. He says he watched it through a gap in the clouds.

This is the case of the ever increasing UFO. Memories fade as we get older but in Mark’s case, they grow much better. At this time of day, it would be starting to go dark, yet Mark manages to recall and draw with so much detail, his sighting. I have spoken to Mark on many occasions and he is still coming into the cinema where I work to show me pictures of his sighting. Firstly, we need to go back to the beginning to show how this case has developed into a fairy tale of epic proportions.

Back in August of 1996, I organised a UFO Conference to coincide with the release of the film Independence Day. Basically the day consisted of four films, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Communion, Fire in the Sky and finishing with ID4. We also had three guest speakers, Jenny Randles, Peter Hough and Steven Mera. The event was a success, with over 300 hundred people attending.

A couple of weeks before the event, I was approached by Mark Lloyd. He showed me a rough drawing of what he claimed to have seen back in January 1995. He went on to tell me how he had not reported this sighting to anyone until after the CAA report, a year later because he was threatened not to. He only came clean because the CAA report was published and so he felt he could not be threatened as this was common knowledge.

This is where the story gets bizarre. I asked him who had threatened him. He told me that he woke up one night and a man in a black trench coat was stood next to his bed. He says his girl friend did not wake up. He got out of bed. I asked him what this man wanted. Mark reported that the man did not utter a word. He opened his coat and showed Mark a pump action shot gun tucked by his waist. Mark stated to me that the man was American. I asked as to whether it was the accent that made Mark think this. He stated it was not as the man in black did not speak at any time during this meeting.

I asked how he knew he was American. Mark replied….. “he was wearing a baseball cap.” Instantly alarm bells rang. What was this logic Mark was trying to pass onto me. The man then just disappeared out of Mark’s house.
I asked how he knew he was American. Mark replied “he was wearing a baseball cap.” Instantly alarm bells rang

Mark then came back a few days later and said he had something to tell me, which was a secret, although he told a work colleague the details, along with everybody he came across. It was another night, he was woken up by a Grey alien at the end of his bed. This alien had red eyes but no legs and seemed to be hovering above the ground. The alien did not do anything and once again his girlfriend slept throughout the whole thing. Mark asked me if I would let him speak at the conference. I told him that we were fully booked and on a tight schedule, which was absolutely true.

The conference date came and was a success. Mark managed to talk to Jenny Randles and Peter Hough, although what they made of his case, I do not know. He had brought in a computerised image to show people at the conference.

I never heard much from Mark after that for a good few months. He then kept calling into the cinema where I work. His drawing had been updated. He stated the object he had seen was the size of an aircraft carrier, he had previously told me it was the size of Wembley Stadium. We held a Men In Black Conference to coincide with the release of the film, this time we had Jenny Randles, Paulinne DelCour-Min, Tim Matthews and Eric Morris. Mark did not show up at this conference.

However shortly after, Mark came into the cinema and asked to speak to Eric Morris and myself. He claimed that he was being followed and that people were watching him and invited Eric and myself to his home to show us the proof. Just before we went, he explained how BT vans -how original – were watching his house. A van pulled up outside a Chinese Take-Away opposite the cinema and Mark stated that this was watching him. In reality it was someone who was just nipping into collect their meal. They drove off without even looking at us.

When we got to Mark’s house, he pointed to a tree opposite and said that was where the red light from the camera that was watching him was. We could see no light and he told us it had probably been removed. He then pointed to a house opposite his and said someone was watching him at that very moment. We looked through binoculars and it turned out to be a plant in the window. He then said that there were men in the trees watching us. Eric and I looked but could not see anything – not that we expected to. The three of us went to the end of the garden and had a closer look at the trees, which were situated in a neighbours garden. Mark told us he could see the whites of their eyes. In reality this was just daylight shining through the dark undergrowth. Mark told us he was no longer interested in UFO’s as it had ruined his life, yet on his bedside locker, there was a pile of UFO magazines.

We left his house and told Mark to keep in touch with us. There are some details I cannot print here but some drastic event occurred after this in relation to Mark. I never saw Mark for a long period after that. He called into the cinema and said he was feeling a lot better. He left and I never saw him again until about three months ago. He came in and told me he had been to New York. He reported that he had been on an aircraft carrier and had told the Captain that the object he had seen back in 1995, was ten times bigger than his ship - this thing certainly grows.

I asked Mark, how no one else had not reported this giant sized craft in the sky. He recounts that there was one witness stood behind him on the night, a man wearing a trilby hat – was this Arthur Daley doing a bit of ducking and diving. ( Arthur Daley is a shifty TV character) Mark could not understand what I was getting at when I suggested to him that thousands at the airport would have seen this object.

He told me that when he was in Terminal One Lounge, you only have a limited view of the runway. He said he had noticed this when he was waiting for the American Airlines flight to New York, he could see his plane parked at the pier. The view from Terminal One Lounge is limited but then so must Mark’s memory must have been. American Airlines fly from Terminal Two and have done since March 1993, when it opened. It's the small things that trip these people up.

However, I pressed on. What about all the people on the top level car park , always a handful of people plane spotting can be found here. What about the people in the control tower, the people in the planes, the people working at the Airport, in fact any damn person within a 15 mile vicinity. All irrelevant according to Mark. We are talking conspiracies of all conspiracies, all Cheshire and Greater Manchester were in on this one.

Mark was stood on Styal Road, Gatley, when he saw the huge craft. He jumped out of his car and watched this object for over twenty minutes, manoeuvring in the sky. Styal Road, although in the village of Gatley, is very busy, yet no one else reported anything. Mark was stood on the pavement looking towards the corner of Lomond Road, which leads to Wythenshawe. From his view point, it is nearly 2 miles to the centre of the runway at Manchester Airport. From here, it is easy to see planes heading towards runway 24 when they are landing at this end.

From Mark’s ever increasing detailed image, I plotted a line from this via the A-Z of Manchester. Originally he claimed the object was over the centre of Manchester Airport. Then he changed it to being over the end of Runway 06. His final version is that it was actually over Knutsford, nearly 8 miles away. If this object was over Knutsford and looked huge when he saw it, this would have made it nearly three miles across. The UFO’s from the Independence Day film are back. I refuse to reproduce his picture here as this is so ridiculous, however I have reproduced a map of the area. (not here folks)

I asked him how could no one else have seen the object. He tried to explain that no one walks around looking at the sky. I reminded him that Knutsford would have been in the shadow of this, even though it would have been getting dark. Potentially millions would have seen this object yet, yet not one other person reported it. Only' Arthur Daley' saw it but he could not be traced.

Mark got agitated when I asked him questions. I said if he wanted people to listen to him, then he had to be prepared for questions. I gave him a sighting form, which he never filled out. He told me he had been in the Control Tower at the airport and spoke to the Chief Air Traffic Controller. He had just walked in, no security stopped him. Would you fly from Manchester knowing this? He asked me not to contact the Tower, as they may send people to question him – they must have forgot to do that on the day.

Mark has now produced a new image, complete with pyramid and thousands of lights. The colour has changed from black to the bluish grey featured in the “Russian UFO Crash.” This colour was to help it blend when it went invisible. He said that no one could make a model like the object he had seen. I told him to look at Star Wars, ID4 and many other science fiction films. He is now trying to get a model – that no one can make – into…..the Millennium Dome.

I challenged him as to why his original report was so different from his latest epic. I wanted to know why after all this time had he chosen to reveal that this object could become invisible. He claimed he did say this. I’m sure I would have remembered this if he had told me.

Mark has been trying to get as much publicity for this case as possible and unfortunately one thing keeps cropping up… money. He wants to sell his pictures to people across the land. He told me he’d sold one to the woman featured in his picture of the area. Basically he had taken a picture of where he allegedly saw the object and had someone put a computerised “UFO” he saw onto it. The woman was so impressed that she bought a picture. He tells me he hopes to return to America this year to lecture about his case as many people are interested. America, be warned.

This case is so obviously a farce. Mark cannot offer one tiny shred of evidence to support his alleged sighting. I hoped that this case had died a death but I fear now that Mark is on another publicity drive. I fear we will hear more from him, not less. I know he has spoken to other researchers who may not be aware of the details. I warn you all, take a very wide berth from this case, do not let him use you to promote this totally imagined case.

He has had his story featured in a number of local papers and also some now defunct UFO magazines. The Stockport Express pictured him dressed in a Hawaiian flowered shirt and sunglasses. The sighting was January…hardly the weather for sunglasses… a poor reconstruction indeed. I recently managed to find Mark’s original drawings. On his drawings, he lists the colours of the “object”, which are totally different to what he is now saying. Mark is looking for conferences to reveal his case….any takers, lambs to the slaughter.

Many people accuse British ufologists of being over sceptical. I think you can see from the above account that there are some 'characters' who report over the top accounts. I have looked at this case for over three years and I have been very patient towards Mark, yet he never produced many of the things he said he would. This is why we are sceptical of many cases – not all.

Whilst many people are very sincere about what they have seen, there are those who choose to change the details of their case, when they realise that they are not getting the publicity they seek. The problem with this, is the TV stations lap up people like this and this makes a joke of serious research. Alien’s sell; planes and everyday objects don’t.