In January 2005 LAPIS became involved with a
UFO case which like most investigations began with a
phone call and in this case turned into a
fascinating investigation, with many features
which seem to be typical of UFO sightings.
We have never found an explanation for the sighting and subsequent events, the witnesses themselves have never put a label on their experience and in the absence of any logical explanation it has to simply be put in the category of unknown.
The only other observation I would make is that currently I am re-visiting Jenny Randles' excellent book The Pennine UFO Mystery. So many of the cases described in this book have features in common with the High Bentham case and there seems to be at least a good argument to say that the moors of North West England have some connection with these strange and ongoing cases.
The High Bentham Incident
On Sunday, January 16th, 2005 at around 5pm, four members of a family were eating in the Little Chef on the A65 near Ingleton, North Yorkshire. They had enjoyed a family day out and would soon be returning home to their moorland farmhouse a couple of miles south of High Bentham on the border between Lancashire and North Yorkshire.
They were Anne, her daughter Rachel and Rachel's two sons, aged nine and eleven.
They finished their meal and drove north on the A65 towards Ingleton. Rachel was driving, eldest son Alex in the passenger seat and Anne, together with youngest son Benjy, in the back. The exact route they then took is hazy for reasons which will become apparent. However, during the journey the boys commented on a row of terraced cottages with chimneys that stood out starkly against the sky. The terraced cottages are located on a lane off the A65 which leads south to High Bentham and the assumption, therefore, is that this is the route they took.
As the journey continued, all four became aware of a bright white light in the sky to their left. They later described it as being about the size of a car headlight and being so bright that the moon by comparison looked yellow. The object then moved across the sky and became visible through the windscreen. It accelerated downwards at an incredible speed, so fast that the witnesses were 'waiting for the crash' but it never came. It then gained altitude and sped away over the Forest of Bowland hills. While the object was in view, none of the family spoke, only commenting on the event after the object had disappeared. The next thing they remembered was driving into the village of High Bentham.
"In an attempt to find an explanation, Anne got in touch with Radio Lancashire the next day and described the event on air. Other witnesses phoned in and suggested that the object had gone south from High Bentham over the Forest of Bowland towards Clitheroe."
The case came to the notice of UFO researcher Joe McGonagle who in turn passed it on to LAPIS, as we live nearer the area and are therefore better able to investigate. Six days after the sighting LAPIS got in touch with the witnesses.
In the first phone conversation, Anne described the object as beautiful and compelling and simply wanted to know what it was. Arrangements were made for LAPIS members to visit the family the following weekend. A couple of days before the planned visit, Anne, Rachel and Alex decided to re-drive the route to try to find the spot where the sighting had occurred.
The family noticed a couple of discrepancies as they re-drove the route. The first was that the journey only took them nine minutes whereas on the night of the sighting it had taken much longer - something they hadn't thought anything of at the time. We now believe they had an hour and twenty minutes of missing time that evening. The second discrepancy was that 'the road was wrong'. The assumed route had taken them down a winding narrow road surrounded by walls and hedges while they knew the sighting had occurred on a straight wide road that was 'high up' and had a white line down the middle of it.
Understandably disturbed by these discrepancies they decided to try a totally different route, convinced that they must have driven home a different way that night. This route provided no clues to the location of the sighting - it too 'wasn't right', but as they drove along it all three witnesses had what they described as a 'horrible sensation'. After a while the sensation passed but intrigued, they turned the car around and drove back. On the same stretch of road they experienced the same feelings and this time the car died.
All three were later to independently describe a strange silence, a sensation of oddness, 'being underwater' and feeling somehow out of place - all features anyone familiar with the UFO phenomenon would know as the Oz factor but something that the witnesses had never heard of and were reluctant to mention in case we thought they were mad!
Eventually, the car restarted and Rachel was able to drive it to a nearby garage. She was later told that the reason the car had come to a sudden halt was that the coil had burnt out. The mechanic said it was unusual in that make of car.
"Our first meeting with the witnesses took place the following Sunday. They were welcoming and eager to tell us about their experiences. Over the next few months we kept in touch, visiting several times and regularly speaking to them on the phone."
As things developed, it become clear that they had over an hour of missing time. Despite valiant efforts on our part, the road where the sighting occurred has never been found, although there may be a good reason for that.
To add to the case, as time went on the family experienced further strange incidents. Anne began to remember events from her childhood such as waking fully dressed and with muddy feet and seeing strange triangular craft. On one occasion the boys were outside in the farmyard when they spotted more UFOs in the sky overhead. The electrics in the farmhouse began to cause problems, with kettles burning out and lights exploding. Checks with the neighbours revealed that this had not been a problem for the previous occupants.
However, on the plus side their personal lives were going well with problems seeming to magically resolve themselves. There were other changes too. Rachel decided to change jobs and Anne began doing some charity work. During one visit we remarked on some nice yellow mugs in the kitchen only to be told matter of factly by Anne that while in the past it was a colour she particularly disliked, due to an association with a difficult period in her life, she now loved the colour and was filling the house with all things yellow from the mugs to the boys bedding.
It was becoming clear to us, and more so to the witnesses themselves, that there were some things about the sighting which they only half remembered. Early on, the subject of hypnotism had come up and we had warned that it was something to be approached with extreme caution, if at all, and not something LAPIS would recommend.
Around the end of May 2005, Anne and Rachel got in touch with a television production company who were making a documentary for Sky 1. Discussions took place and it was decided that the family would be prominently featured in the programme. A decision had also been made on the subject of hypnosis. Rachel, who with her science degree is easily the most sceptical member of the family, agreed to undertake regression hypnosis.
Filming for the documentary took place in June 2005, much to the bemusement of the locals who had never seen a film crew in the area before. The following day, Rachel was hypnotised by Hull based hypnotherapist Steve Burgess.
"The resulting programme, The Real 4400, was aired in the autumn of 2005 and presented what we thought was a reasonably accurate view of the case."
Despite the fact that the hypnotist had told her to remember all that she had recounted, Rachel was not fully aware of her own account until some months later when she was supplied with a copy of the tape. In it, she describes being 'high up in the light' and being comforted by the light when she become anxious about her children's safety. She also commented on the 'missing road' that we'd been trying so hard to find. Under hypnosis she described it as being a stretch of road 'in the air'.
The resulting TV documentary was entitled "The Real 4400s" and featured a number of cases. The parts relating to the High Bentham Case can be viewed below.