Fifty years later, now that Britain has released its X-Files, American jet fighter pilot Milton Torres is telling the story of what happened the night he was ordered to fire on a UFO.
The circumstances were highly unusual. On May 20, 1957, the young pilot was told: "Arm all weapons and fire on sight." Once in the air, he saw the blip on his radar, indicating an aircraft 15 miles away. But as he closed in, it simply vanished. The blip on the radar disappeared.
Torres never spoke of his experience that night for one very good reason, according to The Times:
The day after he was scrambled from RAF Manston he received a visit from an American in a trenchcoat who waved a National Security Agency identity card at him and warned him that, if he ever revealed what had happened, he would never fly again.
Now that Britain has declassified its UFO files, he spoke to the Times about that night.
“I shall never forget it, and for the last 50 years I have been waiting for an explanation, but I've never had one. On that night I was ordered to open fire even before I had taken off. That had never happened before,” Mr Torres said. “I was ready to hit the target with all 24 rockets: it would have been like buckshot out of a shotgun. I asked for authentication of the order to fire and I received it.” “The blip was burning a hole in the radar with its incredible intensity. It was similar to a blip I had received from B52s and seemed to be a magnet of light. It had the proportions of a flying aircraft carrier,” he wrote.
Proof that aliens visited the Earth during the darkest days of the Cold War? There is another (partial) explanation
According to David Clarke, a UFO expert and lecturer in journalism at Sheffield Hallam University, is that in the 1960s it emerged that the CIA had been engaged in a secret project codenamed Palladium, in which advanced equipment was used to create simulated radar blips close to Soviet airspace.
Dr Clarke said that he thought it was linked to clandestine flights over the Soviet Union of the American U2 spy plane. “But this doesn't explain why Milton Torres was scrambled and ordered to open fire,” he said.