Following a series of reported sightings of unidentified flying objects in the United States and Canada in the past month, UFO enthusiasts across the United Kingdom have been on the lookout for extraordinary UFO activity. Within a two week span, U.S. fighter jets shot down four objects over North America, and only one was confirmed to be a Chinese spy balloon.
The nature of the other three, however, remains unknown, giving rise to various theories about the purpose and origins of these flying objects. Were they weather balloons, balloons for commercial use, or possibly spy aircraft? Were they man-made or extra-terrestrial? As ufologists on both sides of the Atlantic are studying these incidents and coming up with different explanations, the team at BonusInsider decided to analyse UFO sightings in the UK over the past year. Using data from UFO Identified and their UK UFO Report 2022, we created a map of the counties where you are most likely to spot a UFO.
Research Balloons, Spy Aircraft, or UFOs?
The mystery surrounding the three unidentified objects over North America has yet to be solved. Several agencies from Canada and the U.S. conducted “systematic searches” over Alaska, Lake Huron, and the Yukon for a week, but were unable to spot anything of interest, and abandoned the search for the three flying objects after finding no debris.
Ufologists warn that alien origin cannot be excluded, since these objects were of various shapes and sizes, and it is unclear how they were able to fly at such high altitudes. Were they manually steered, or did they float?. One object had an octagonal shape, quite unusual for a balloon, while another was cylindrical.
- 4 February 2023 – balloon shot by an F-22 fighter jet off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina at an altitude of 60,000 ft (18 km)
- 10 February 2023 – unidentified object shot down near Deadhorse, Alaska, altitude of 40,000 ft (12 km)
- 11 February 2023 – unidentified object shot down above Central Yukon, altitude of 40,000 ft (12 km)
- 12 February 2023 – unidentified object shot down above Lake Huron, altitude of 20,000 ft (6 km)
There have been concerns that similar objects might also be spotted in the skies above the UK. Following the incidents across the pond, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has ordered a security review, while in an interview for Sky News, transport minister Richard Holden admitted that China may have launched spy balloons over Britain. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that the government will do “whatever it takes” to keep the UK safe.
UK Saw Nearly 500 UFOs in 2022
UFOs, or unidentified flying objects, have been capturing our imagination for over 70 years. Recently, they have been rebranded as unidentified aerial phenomena or UAPs but are still most commonly referred to as UFOs. According to the organization UFO Identified, which gathered data from local and national media, as well as FOI (Freedom of Information) requests, a total of 497 UFO sightings have been reported across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2022.
In comparison, there were 465 sightings in 2020 and 413 in 2021, which means that people saw more unexplained phenomena last year than they previously had. In fact, there has been an increase in sightings across all countries, with the exception of Northern Ireland.
Some of the reports in 2020 can be explained by the launch of the Star Link internet satellites, the SpaceX project that started back in 2019. In March and April of 2020, there were multiple posts and videos of the satellites on Twitter as British skywatchers asked what this “train of lights” could be. Later, it was confirmed that the objects were, in fact, Elon Musk’s satellites, which were clearly visible in the night sky over Essex and other parts of the UK.
Interestingly, the most likely time to spot a UFO is between 9 pm and 10 pm and on Saturdays. This specific timing could be explained by the fact that most people work during the day, from Monday to Friday. Consequently, they only have time to watch the skies in the evenings and at weekends. Also, satellites, drones, and other objects that blink or have any sort of lights are much more visible at night.
Data also show that the regions where the most UFO sightings were reported in 2022 were the South East with 75 reports, the North West with 68 reports, and the South West with 60 reports.
UFOs: What Do They Look Like?
Flying saucers are not the only type of UFO seen in the sky. In fact, witnesses are describing various shapes, including orbs, cylinders, spheres, and a multitude of other forms. According to the data for 2022, the most commonly reported UFO was “star-like”, as described in 126 reports. Other common shapes were “orb” (80 reports), “circular” (55 reports), “cylinder” (52 reports), “sphere” (42 reports), and “triangle” (35 reports). Saucers or “discs”, as they are classified in the UFO Identified document, were spotted in 34 reports.
One of the most common arguments of UFO and alien sceptics is that sightings are rarely accompanied by actual evidence such as a photograph or a video. Considering that we all have cameras in our pockets, the lack of visual evidence seems quite odd. The UK UFO Report 2022 counts the videos and photos taken by the unidentified aircraft in the sightings reports. According to the data, there were 122 videos and 103 photos taken of the aircraft, as well as 10 sketches of the UFOs. More than half of the reports, however, relied on witness testimony only, which is, of course, much less reliable.
This Is Where You Are Most and Least Likely to See a UFO
Out of all 497 reports, assessed by UFO Identified for 2022, the vast majority were in England – 411 sightings compared to 52 sightings in Scotland, 30 in Wales, and only 4 in Northern Ireland. Localised data is available only for England, so for the map, we calculated the average sightings for the other countries based on 32 council areas in Scotland, 22 counties in Wales, and 11 districts in Northern Ireland.
If we look at the English counties and districts where these unidentified objects were spotted, the areas with the highest population density unsurprisingly had the most reports. There are, of course, a few exceptions.
The highest number of UFO sightings in 2022 were reported in Greater Manchester – a total of 26 reports described either UFOs or UAPs. Greater London ranks second with 20 reports, followed by Lancashire and Hampshire where 19 sightings were reported in each county. Another 17 sightings were reported in the West Midlands, as well as 15 in Cheshire. The counties of Essex, Somerset, and Staffordshire follow with 14 cases each.
It seems Rutland is where you are least likely to spot a UFO, according to the data. Last year, there was not a single sighting there, quite a disappointment for local UFO enthusiasts. The Isle of Wight and Herefordshire had one UFO sighting report each, while people in Worcestershire and across Cumbria saw two objects of possible extraterrestrial nature last year.