Wed Oct 22, 2008 11:27am EDT
By Peter Griffiths
LONDON (Reuters) - Two U.S. fighter planes were scrambled and ordered to shoot down an unidentified flying object (UFO) over the English countryside during the Cold War, according to secret files made public on Monday.
One pilot said he was seconds away from firing 24 rockets at the object, which moved erratically and gave a radar reading like "a flying aircraft carrier."
The pilot, Milton Torres, now 77 and living in Miami, said it spent periods motionless in the sky before reaching estimated speeds of more than 7,600 mph.
After the alert, a shadowy figure told Torres he must never talk about the incident and he duly kept silent for more than 30 years.
His story was among dozens of UFO sightings in defense ministry files released at the National Archives in London.
He returned to base and was debriefed the next day by an unnamed man who "looked like a well-dressed IBM salesman."
"He threatened me with a national security breach if I breathed a word about it to anyone," he said.
The documents contain no official explanation for the incident, which came at a time of heightened tension between the West and the Soviet Union. Planes were on constant stand-by at British bases for a possible Soviet attack.
The files blame other UFO sightings on weather balloons, clouds or normal aircraft. Torres said he had been waiting 50 years for an explanation.
"I shall never forget it," he told the Times. "On that night I was ordered to open fire even before I had taken off. That had never happened before."
The files are online at: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ufoshttp://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE49L53Z20081022?sp=true