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Revisiting the Normanton UFO Landing
A guest contribution from a real-life ufologist
The Normanton UFO Landing Revisited
by Philip Mantle
When I look back now, I’m amazed to find that I’ve been involved in UFO research & investigation for over forty years. During that time I’ve been a member of six UFO groups, four of which were in the UK and two overseas. I’ve been asked many times which UFO case most impresses me: Is it the UFO crash at Roswell, or the incident at Rendlesham forest in 1980? My answer to this question, without a doubt, is one that I investigated with Mark Birdsall when we were both part of the Yorkshire UFO Society. I doubt if you have ever heard of the following case that we investigated, but I remember interviewing the witnesses like it was yesterday.
The incident took place in the summer of 1980 in the then mining town of Normanton in West Yorkshire. A lady by the name of Mrs. Westerman contacted me to discuss a UFO landing witnessed by her, her children, and some of her children’s friends. When we interviewed the group, they told us that it had been just after lunch and the children were playing a ball game outside in the street. They lived in an elevated terraced house in a cul-de-sac, at the bottom of which were some trees, a small stream, and a hill containing electricity pylons.
As the ball the children were playing with went up in the air, they suddenly saw an object descend at an angle, stop dead in the sky, and then fall to the ground on the hill at the bottom of the road. One of the children rushed into the house and told her mum (Mrs. Westerman) that an airplane had crashed in the field.
Stepping outside and looking across the field from her elevated front door, Mrs. Westerman could see the object—but it was no aeroplane. She described it as being shaped like a ‘Mexican hat’ that was a grey-silver colour. She gathered the children and together they trekked toward the hill where the object fell. The field was bordered by a fence and the object was still there on the ground, only now it was accompanied by three tall ‘men’ standing nearby. They were dressed in white boiler suits with ‘visors’ of some sort covering their faces. Two of the men had something in their hands and were waving it over the ground. Finally, the three men went to the rear of the object, which took off without making a sound, stopped dead in the clear blue-sky, and left from whence it had come.
This event gave me a life-long interest in UFO landing cases and was partly responsible for my new book, ‘UFO LANDINGS UK,’ which features the story.
Down the years, I often wondered what those children made of the event now that they were grown up.
In 2019 I was interviewed for a podcast and discussed this case, but forgot to name the family involved. A couple of weeks later I was contacted by a lady who informed me that she had lived in Normanton before moving to New Zealand and wanted to know the family’s name. When I told her it was Westerman, she informed me that her best friend as a child had that very name and that she still lived in the town. This lady promised to contact her friend and get back to me. To my amazement her friend was indeed one of those children that I had interviewed all those years ago.
I’ll call this lady ‘Susan’ as I do not have permission to use her real name. This is what she told me:
“To be honest I only remember another girl who was there, Nicola, whom I see very rarely. Sadly, my mum passed away also 7 years ago. I only remember something which I thought at the time was an aircraft landing and when we ran over it was a circular craft, I remember seeing 3 what looked like tall men in silver who looked like they were looking for something on the ground, I vaguely remember some sort of metal detector in one of their hands. When we were seen approaching, they hurried back in the craft and sped off.”
Susan and I tried to arrange to meet up but the covid pandemic struck and we were never able to do so. Still, I am grateful that she came forward to share her memory of the event.
In July of 2022 I took part in a TV documentary commemorating the 75th anniversary of the UFO crash at Roswell. Not long after the documentary was broadcast, I had an email from a man called Shaun. Shaun went on to tell me that his partner Joanne was a witness to the UFO landing at Normanton. A quick internet search provided the couple information on the case with my name attached to it, so they located my email and got in touch.
Joanne now lives a long way from Normanton, but I spoke to her on the phone. She was Susan’s best friend and she recalled the incident vividly. Joanne told me that she witnessed the UFO landing and then joined Mrs. Westerman and the other five children along as they made their way towards the object. The UFO was indeed on the ground with three tall ‘men’ standing outside of it. They had an item in their hands, and looked as if they were searching for something. The UFO eventually took off after the ‘men’ approached it. It made no noise when it departed. Joanne was adamant that it was not a helicopter or anything like it.
One thing that intrigued me was when Joanne said that Mrs. Westerman was visited by two ‘scientists’ who talked to her about the event. When Mark and I interviewed Mrs. Westerman, it was a few years after the incident, and she made no mention of any scientists. Could eight-year-old Joanne have mistaken Mark Birdsall and I as the two mystery scientists? It seems a likely explanation, and it shows how the facts of a case can get distorted, in this instance quite by chance.
Joanne stated that there were six children there that day, including her and Susan, which means there are another four out there somewhere. I’d love to talk with them too. In the meantime, you can read my account of this case in my book, ‘UFO LANDINGS UK,’ and if I do hear from any of the other four children, I will of course update you.