Once again Portlethen is hanging on to the coat tails of Muchalls in respect to the mystery of Unidentified Flying Objects being seen in our area. It is common knowledge that the area in central Scotland around Livingstone is considered to be a UFO “hot spot” with a variety of sightings of unusual “craft” in the air that are unexplainable, however it would appear that we have our own mini hot spot a lot closer to home.
In 1971 two school children first claimed to have seen unidentified silent craft in the air, near Muchalls Castle. It was further claimed that these sightings were a regular occurrence throughout the 1970’s, and on many occasions they could be seen on a number of successive nights. The phenomena of UFO’s around Muchalls were reputed to have continued until 1991 when some aspects of the apparitions were reputedly filmed.
Having never sighted, or particularly believed in UFO’s (although I’m open minded enough to be convinced otherwise), I cannot say if these events actually happened or if they were the result of young people with over-imaginative and fertile minds. I can say that the stories relating to Muchalls have found their way into a variety of small corners of the internet (and here’s me creating another one!), and are widely being reported as “fact”, particularly by UFO enthusiasts.
As this section is entitled “Myths and Mysteries”, I’m not promoting any stories here as “fact” and it’s up to the reader to make up their own minds if these reports may be true or false.
In Portlethen, like many other places, there have been sightings of many different phenomena in the sky that can’t easily be explained by science. Perhaps some of these “sightings” relate to what has already been seen at Muchalls, and Portlethen itself may be at the edge of this small UFO “hot spot”?
There have been a few “sightings” of potential UFO's over time. Most of these are posted in web forums, which may not be the most reliable source of information. I’ll select a few of them that relate to Portlethen or the countryside nearby.
From July 2000:-
“One day I was outside with my friends with my brother and I was looking at the stars. We were all looking but only my brother saw it! (besides me) Well, I was looking at the stars and out of nowhere these blue lights appeared and they were in the shape of a square! They moved around for a few seconds then they disappeared! Later that night my brother was looking around and guess what he saw the same thing in a different area of the sky. I hope other people saw it.
From April 2002:-
“I was walking towards Cults when I saw a strange light in the sky. It seemed to be changing colour from white to red and yellow and flickering. It looked some distance away but it was real bright and the approximate height of an average aircraft except it was not moving. I observed an aircraft probably a Jet moving towards it real fast; the jet appeared to give it a wide berth. The reason I believe the aircraft to be a Jet is one the speed it was travelling and there are no aircraft landing at Aberdeen Airport after 22.00, the object however was unmoved and the Jet disappeared into the horizon. I continued to observe the object for a further ten minutes before it suddenly vanished. Later that night one of my friends phoned me and told me he saw it too and heard it being mentioned on the radio. I was not a believer of UFOs but after that night I sure am now and am always checking for it again....”
From January 2009:-
“On Christmas Day at approximately 6pm we saw a moving object maybe about 2000 ft up over the village of Portlethen, Aberdeenshire. At first I thought it was a plane landing, which I thought odd as the airport closes on Christmas Day. Then we realised it was moving in a straight line from South East to North West in a very controlled manner. My partner thought it was a lantern but I was not so sure. As the kids were with us I chose not to comment. I have observed many aircraft in the past and have witnessed shooting stars, meteor showers and even satellites in the sky. This was like nothing I have even seen before. It was not by any stretch of the imagination spectacular but it was not explainable. Who knows???”
Additionally, I have read or heard that it is quite common to see mysterious lights out to sea in our area, generally in a southeasterly direction from Old Portlethen or Downies (probably an overspill of all the activity going on at Muchalls). Apparently these lights are most often spotted on clear evenings and when asked, the person who claims to have seen these “UFO’s”, always responds with the stock answer that it was too large/too fast/too slow/too bright/too early/too late/too misshapen/too weird/too good to be true to be anything other than a UFO.
Of course there are some natural phenomena that occur in our area that could explain some of the mysteries that people see in our skies.
The Northern Lights (aurora borealis), are occasional visitors to our area, and are probably infrequent enough that many people in our villages have yet to see them. If you are lucky enough to encounter a particularly vivid showing you will see a colourful spectacle of colours from whites, to greens and reds accompanied by a low humming sound in the atmosphere, all of which creates a three dimensional feel in the sky. It’s quite difficult to explain but if you’ve enjoyed the experience then you’ll understand what I mean. The best chance of encountering the Northern Lights are around the months September to December (or take a trip to northern Norway or Finland!)
Meteor showers are also quite common and these relate to the shooting stars that you may catch a glimpse of out of the corner of your eye. These “stars” appear to travel very fast and I’m sure a few of them have been mistaken for a UFO in the past.
Finally, we occasionally get night thunderstorms out at sea. When I’ve seen them in the past they’ve usually happened on a beautiful, clear evening where it is warm and dry but where there are clouds gathered on the horizon out at sea. Beyond these clouds, you may notice the sky lighting up along the horizon with flash lightning, although you rarely hear the accompanying thunder. We used to call this phenomena “fire flashes”.
I’m not suggesting that all our UFO watchers are wrong when they see a mysterious shape in the sky but it might be that one or two of them have mistaken some of our natural climatic and environmental events and have turned them into something more unworldly.