Birmingham UFO Group Case Report
Author: Ian Jones
Release Date: 03/02/2022
Russell Myers contacted Bufog to report two sightings he has had near to where he has lived for nearly 4 years in Cofton Hackett.
Cofton Hackett is a village 10.3 miles (16.6 km) southwest of the city centre of Birmingham and 16 miles (26 km) northeast of Worcester. The Lickey Hills are close by to the west and southwest and Cofton Park is to the north. The Lickey Hills include: Beacon Hill 298m, Rose Hill 285m, Rednal Hill 268m, Cofton Hill 263m and Bilberry Hill 260m. With an average elevation of 190m, the area is generally higher than the surrounding urban area, giving good views.
14th November 2019 Sighting
Russell reports the first sighting he had was on Thursday, 14th November 2019 at about 5.10 am. As usual at this early time of day, he was on his way to his job as a chef in Birmingham, walking to the bus stop. The historical weather records suggest it was partly cloudy/rainy after midnight and all morning, with cool temperatures. Russell is certain it was not raining. The wind was from the northeast at about 12-16 mph. Sunrise was at 7.26am that day.
As he walked to the bus stop, Russell describes seeing a huge, round, bright, white light in the sky. He was not able to estimate it’s actual size, or height, but thinks it looked about the size of a 10p coin held at arm’s length. A 10p coin does look fairly big at that distance. It was above the tree-line, and below any clouds, directly over Cofton Park. During the short time he saw it, it remained stationary and made no noise.
The line of streetlights was clearly visible below this object, but after he had walked about 50 metres, constantly observing it, it suddenly “blinked out”. This was not because it had been obscured by a cloud, which would have happened more gradually. He reports he felt shaken after this event. It happened so quickly and unexpectedly that he wasn’t able to get a photo of it.
Russell does not think it was an aircraft, or helicopter, because it made no noise and at that time of day, with little traffic about, it would have been audible. Also, the light was not flashing on and off with the usual navigation lights of an aircraft, or helicopter, and it was so bright that he could not make out any shape behind it. Then it just blinked out, without changing size, as he was observing it, which is not how an aircraft, or helicopter, disappears from view.
He does not think it was any sort of balloon, because it was such a brightly lit object and Sky lanterns/LED balloons are usually not so intensely bright or white in colour. Also, it did not move, despite there being a distinct breeze.
It is possible that it was a drone, but he thinks it looked too big, they do not usually have very bright white lights on them that obscure their shape and they make a noise. At such an early time in the morning, it is also a bit unlikely that someone would be operating one.
Nor does he think it was a star, or planet, because it was too big and bright and how it disappeared was so odd. Consulting the In the Sky website, none of the planets were visible in the sky at that time.
Was it the Moon? On this day the Moon was in a Waning Gibbous phase, which happens straight after the Full Moon, so it was almost full size. It rises later each night and can be seen in the early daylight hours setting towards the western horizon. At the time Russell had this sighting the Moon was at about 97% illumination. It set low in the north-western sky at about 9.12am, so it could have been clearly visible at about 5am. Russell reports that he didn’t notice the Moon, he was just focused on the odd light. He was regularly out at that time of day, so is familiar with the Moon and it’s phases and changes in appearance due to it’s brightness.
This is a “light in the sky” sighting. It appeared to be a self-luminescent object. How it disappeared was odd. Either it flew away incredibly quickly, or it became invisible in some way, which means it vanished from the visible spectrum. Either of these would mean it was certainly not anything conventional, therefore it would be in the highly strange category.
It is impossible to be certain what it was, given the relatively brief details we have, and the possibility that it was a drone of some sort cannot be ruled out. It was certainly unusual and worth reporting.
Since this first sighting Russell says that he started looking up at the sky more often when he is out walking, in case he sees anything else.
February/March 2021 Sighting
NOTE: This next sighting happened when there was a Stage 4 lockdown because of the pandemic, so there were hardly any flights happening and people were expected to stay indoors as much as possible.
Russell’s second sighting was just over a year later in 2021, at the end of February, or the beginning of March.
Russell can’t recall exactly on which day it happened. However, historical records (timeanddate.com) show that the weather for each of the evenings from Thursday 25th February to Sunday 28th February was cold and clear, whereas the first 4 days in March each had cold but cloudy and/or foggy evenings. Therefore, it seems more than likely that this sighting took place towards the end of February. Winds were light, always less than 6 mph over these days and from the northerly direction.
He reports that this sighting happened at about 9.20pm, when he was out walking; the weather was cold, the sky clear and the stars were visible. He looked out from the top of Cofton Park to the west over the Lickey Hills and saw what he at first thought were bright car headlights, which he estimated as about the size of a mini car.
But then he noticed that the light was above the nearer trees – and he could see trees behind it. He reports:
“On the second sighting when I saw the moving light coming over the tree filled hills it was above my eye line if that makes sense....so from a distance when I saw it I didn’t have to lift my head to look it because of the distance it was, even though the light was quite high on the hill....I’m not sure of the distance between me and the object, but it would take a good 15/20 mins to walk there, from where I was standing”.
The light appeared to be moving / sliding at an angle down towards the ground. This lasted for about 4 seconds. Then, in less than 2 seconds, the light suddenly shot up vertically and seemed to change from the size of a small car to the size of a distant star. At that point it stopped and started moving slowly in a curving path across the sky towards the West Heath/Kings Norton direction, which is to the North-east of the area. After about 10 to 15 seconds he lost sight of it. Russell drew a sketch of how the lights moved, as below:
“The light came over the Lickey Hills which is covered in trees as shown in my drawing and shot straight up.”
Russell reports he felt more excited after this sighting and thinks it was more “UFO-like” than the first one. Also, he thinks the light was smaller than the one he saw previously.
Russell says that, normally, he does see the ambulance helicopter sometimes, and some light aircraft flying around, but only during the day; at night passenger aircraft fly way up high in the sky, in the direction of Redditch, which is South of this area. They are easily identifiable by their engine noise and flashing, coloured lights. They also move in predictable, straight lines, with no sudden changes in speed, or apparent size.
However, as noted above, things were not normal at this time. The skies everywhere were less busy with the usual commercial aircraft activity, day and night. The way this object was seen to move suggests it was under control, because first it was descending in a wavy pattern towards the ground, but then it shot up vertically to a great height. before moving away in a slow arc across the sky.
The initial sighting was when the object was descending towards the ground, which would have been a dangerous manoeuvre for any piloted craft in such a heavily wooded area, so that would not fit in with the object being a conventional aircraft, or helicopter.
The various manoeuvres are also not typical for a balloon, or Sky lantern/LED balloon. The wind speeds were so light that they would not be a factor in what Russell saw and the wind direction was from a northerly direction, so the light was moving against the wind when it disappeared to the north-east, which is the direction Russell saw it move towards finally.
That the light was so bright means it was self-luminous, because the sun had set so it was not a craft reflecting the sun’s rays.
The total absence of any noise associated with the object’s change in velocity and direction is not easy to explain, unless it was a long way away initially. Also, with it’s sudden acceleration vertically it would have made a louder, more detectable, noise if it had been a helicopter, etc. There was not enough wind to significantly reduce hearing the sound of any motor, or engine and Russell reports that the area does not have much background noise anyway, because of it’s location. During lockdown there was even less traffic around than usual.
Something else to consider is ball lightning, but that seems extremely unlikely, because the weather was calm and entirely the wrong conditions for this. Also, ball lightning does not behave in the way described. Other light phenomena have been linked to earth movements due to fault lines and earthquakes, but again they do not behave in the way this light did.
Firstly, 360 Radar website confirms the area is not in an airway for an airport:
The map below also confirms it’s in controlled airspace which greatly reduces the idea of the object being an untracked plane/helicopter:
Flight Radar 24 confirms that at 9.20pm on both the 27th and 28th February there were no tracked aircraft in the vicinity, as shown in the following 2 screenshots:
Astronomically, Venus was not visible in the sky and Mars was low down so not easy to see. The Moon was full on the 27th February. It rose at 5.46pm and set at 7.37am so for several days before and after that date it would have been easily visible in a clear evening sky. Sunset was at 5.42pm.
Russell says he is certain it could not have been the Moon, because of the strange ways in which the light moved and how it changed size so quickly.
This sighting is unusual and most conventional explanations seem unlikely, as outlined above. The fact that there was no airborne activity over that area at that time is a crucial fact. Russell was not able to get a photo of this object, so that means it is not possible to analyse an image of what he saw.
There is the possibility that what Russell saw was a drone, although he is doubtful about that. Russell describes the reduction in size of the light as going from what looked like a small car’s headlights down to the size of a distant star, which is a big difference and may not easily fit in with how a drone would appear to change in size after such manoeuvres. Only if more information becomes available – for instance, evidence that someone did operate a drone in the area at that time – could that be confirmed. However, without that additional evidence, there is no definitive conclusion, so it remains an interesting report.
Russell says he has told his wife and friends about his sightings, but they tend to ridicule such things. However, he has read of several other sightings in the Lickey Hills area, so wonders whether it is a good place to observe such things.
Perhaps others have had sightings they could report?
Copyright Ian Jones 2022