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Spring/Summer 1978 – Smethwick – Lit Disc UFO Sighting

Birmingham UFO Group Case Report

Author: Dave Hodrien

Release Date: 31st January 2023

Note: For reasons of anonymity pseudonyms have been used

On 29th January 2023 I was contacted on the phone by a lady who I shall name “Jane”. She wanted to report a sighting of some unusual coloured lights which had been seen several days earlier. After going over the details with her I felt that the lights were very likely down to a drone show / laser projection (still to be confirmed). However we then discussed a previous experience which had occurred in either the spring or summer of 1978. Due to various aspects of what was reported this incident seemed far more anomalous.

Sighting Details

Back in 1978 Jane and her husband “Derek” lived in a block of flats on Windmill Lane, Smethwick. One day in either spring or summer they had gone to visit friends who lived on a road to the West of their location.

They left their friends late in the evening and began to make their way back home on foot. The fastest route back home took them through Victoria Park. It was around 9pm and already quite dark, but there was nobody else around and they did not feel like they were in any danger.

Aerial map of Victoria Park (A) and Windmill Lane (B)

As they walked East along the main path across the park, Jane suddenly noticed a strange object hovering over the trees on the far side of the park, just off to the right of where the exit gate was. It appeared to be about 200 feet up and approximately 30 feet across. The object appeared cigar shaped, but more raised in the middle, with a line of multi-coloured lights around it which were very bright. This fact combined with the low level of lighting made it quite hard to see the colour of the main body of the object.

Witness drawing of the UFO as seen initially

Jane pointed it out to Derek and they began looking at it for about three minutes as they slowly walked towards it along the path. Unfortunately neither of the witnesses had a camera with them so were unable to attempt to capture it on film, and there was nobody else in the park due to the time of day.

Aerial map of Victoria Park indicating the route the witnesses took across it, and the position of the UFO
Historic photo of Victoria Park showing the path (left side), trees and tower blocks on Windmill Lane (now demolished)

When they got closer they could see that the object was in fact disc-shaped with a flattened base that had another circle of lights near to the edge. There was no sound coming from it whatsoever, and it remained motionless in the sky. At this point they began to slow to a halt as they realised how unusual the object was. They stared up at it for a few seconds, quite un-nerved by its presence. At this moment Derek decided he’d had enough of the situation and blurted out “Bloody hell let’s get out of here!”

Witness drawing of the UFO when closer, showing the rounded base

Both he and Jane began to run along the remainder of the path. As they reached the metal gate on the far side of the park, they were at the closest point to the object, and it was up off to their right still hovering in place. They looked up at it as they passed through the gate.

Modern photograph of the metal exit gate (path visible on the left)

At this precise moment, and without any warning, the object instantly accelerated and ascended vertically at an incredible speed! It was gone from sight in a brief moment due to the distance. The couple continued running away from the park until they realised the object was not going to come back, at which point they slowed back down and made their way home.

Derek’s Statement

While speaking with Jane about the incident she handed the phone over to Derek and I was able to ask him directly about what he remembered from the event. He stated the following:

“It looked round with lights on it. It was like a hat. It was longish, and then like a raised part or dome, with a skirt around it. Like a disc. We ran to the gate as we were so scared of it. When we looked up it flashed away and it had gone.”

As you can see Derek’s statement confirms that his recollection of it was extremely similar to Jane’s, and it was obvious to me that they were describing a real incident which had occurred. When he handed the phone back to Jane she said that she was happy he had decided to speak with me as she thought he would have been too embarrassed to discuss it with me, again a sign that this was something which had deeply affected him, but not something he wanted to gain any kind of personal glory from.

Sighting Analysis

This is a truly stunning close encounter with a disc-shaped UFO. Due to its appearance most mundane explanations can be ruled out. It was clearly a structured solid object so unusual atmospheric phenomena can be immediately ruled out. It was not an aeroplane as it was able to hover in the same spot for numerous minutes. It was clearly not a helicopter as both the shape and the lighting did not fit this at all, and when close to it they surely would have heard the sound of the rotor blades.

360 Radar indicates that Victoria Park lies within controlled airspace:

It also indicates that it does not lie within an airway for any airports:

While these maps are of course modern it is probable that the same applied back in 1978.

A novelty hot air balloon or other large inflatable could have been a possibility, however this can be ruled out because of the stunning vertical ascent which the object performed. This sudden manoeuvre certainly implies that the object was under direct control. It was much too large to be a radio controlled model, and this sighting took place decades before drones were commercially available.

In our extended phone call I found both witnesses to be very believable about what they had seen, and do not believe they are fabricating the sighting in any way. With mundane explanations discounted for one reason or another I can only conclude that this was a genuine sighting of a disc-shaped craft which possessed advanced manoeuvring capabilities. I have investigated many other sightings of disc-shaped UFOs before, some of which have had a strikingly similar appearance to what was described here.

I would like to thank both Jane and Derek for having the bravery to share the details of their experience after so many years. If you have any further information about this incident please get in touch.

Copyright Dave Hodrien 2023



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