Interview with author, publisher and UFO researcher John Hanson

A UFO book that is gathering interest and momentum at the moment is The Halt Perspective, so I have taken this opportunity to interview the book’s co-author and publisher, John Hanson. Lots has been said on social media and the controversy still continues, so I thought it might be the right time to go direct to the source and get an email interview with the man in question.

Phillip Mantle: Please tell us something about your background. Who is John Hanson? When did you first become interested in the UFO phenomenon?

John  Hanson: Early roots and sides of life

HALTI am a retired West Midlands Police Officer, born in Didcot, Berkshire, now living in Worcestershire.

My father – ex-RAF John Thomas Hanson, a Yorkshireman –  joined the  RSPCA [Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] as an Inspector. In those days Inspectors were not allowed to stay more than 7 years on a posting, so I have many pleasant memories of having lived in Halifax, Leeds, Cheltenham and Surrey. My Dad worked many long hours and was always being called  out in the middle of the night to rescue an animal. This was before the hours were regulated. I am proud of him and my Mum – Didcot born Barbara Anne Hanson (nee Keats) – whom I adored and miss both of them. I have a sister, Carole, who lives in Gravesend.

Trained as a chef

After leaving school, my father found me a job in a solictor’s office but I took alternative employment as a chef at the Moorend Park Hotel, Cheltenham, before working for an outside caterers, R. Sills, where I certainly saw the other side of life, cooking at Hunt Balls and private functions at Stateley homes. How the other half lives!

Birmingham City Police

I joined the Birmingham City Police in 1966, after my Dad had his Sunbeam Talbot stolen, one night, while we were living in Chelteham. I spent half of my career in the CID [Criminal Investigation Department] and saw another side of life.

In 1995, I left the force and had not the faintest idea that UFOs even existed. I have no memory of having seen any such incidents reported in the newspaper, during what was a prolific period of UFO activity. If I had, I would have believed the witnesses were suffering from flights of imagnation, drink, or in need of psychiatric attention. Was I in for a shock!

PM: Could you explain how your series of HAUNTED SKIES books first came about?

JH: How it all began

My interest in the UFO phenomena began on the 19th of January, 1995, after Chris Hanson (my son) – a newly joined P.C. [Police Constable], also based at the same Police Station – was directed (along with another officer) to a suburb close to the Police training centre in Selly Park, South Birmingham, following a number of 999 calls made to the public, reporting an object with a blue tail and dark blue head seen racing over the City Centre at about 6.15pm.

A doctor in Moseley then saw it drop down from the sky over the Stirchley area. The two officers interviewed the doctor and, while on the way back, saw a fat elliptical object with a blue field around it, with a line of rippling red through the middle, hovering over a copse of trees. Within seconds, it shrank into itself and disappeared. I thought they were joking, but in due course managed to find some witnesses from the Oxford area that saw a ‘D’ shaped object following the contours of the land, a few minutes later.

John Hanson (right) with Astronaut Edgar Mitchell. (Credit: John Hanson)

John Hanson (right) with Astronaut Edgar Mitchell. (Credit: John Hanson)

Explained away as a shooting star by the local papers

My interest was triggered by this singular event and I knew this was no shooting star. What a load of rubbish! When I wrote to the Bristish Astronimical Association, asking them for assitance, the head of the organisation sent me a postcard informing me that he had asked his fireball co-ordinator not to enter into any dialogue with ‘crackpot organisations,’ presmuably alluding to myself?

One thing that has always motivated me, even as a ‘copper’, is adversity – it can only spur one on!

College talk

Following a talk given at the local Redditch College, Worcestershire, on UFOs, in the mid 1990s,  I met Redditch resident Dawn Marina Holloway who had photographed some trianguler objects in the sky over Barmouth. We became friends and decided to write a book, taking into consideration there was a dearth of books being written on the UFO subject, ironically triggered-off by an ernormous interest in popular science fiction such as the X Files, Star Trek, and other films that had gripped the public’s imagination, portraying man’s heroic fight against the alien invading hordes!

First strange incident

Oddly, a strange thing happened after talking about Tony Dodd’s investigations into a UFO encounter involving allegations of aliens captured in South Africa, which had involved showing film through my Panasonic VHS camera (the projector wasn’t working at the college). I returned home to Alvechurch and was about to get into bed, when the bedroom was lit up. I looked out and saw a ‘globe of bright light’ opposite the house. I picked up the camera and took a clip of film. The next thing I was aware of was waking up and carrying on with the daily duties. At some stage, I discovered the camera was missing and thought I had left it at the college or the pub aftewards, where I had enjoyed one pint only!

During the evening, I searched the bedroom and found the camera. Immediately I remembered the UFO incident and examined the camera, and was pleased to find the film was still there. I will show the images  in Volume 13 of Haunted Skies (1995) and still find it a little embarrassing, as I cannot explain what happened at least to explain away the incident with any rationaility!

We spent more years amassing a large amount of reports obtained from our own investigations. After interviewing witnesses in the West Midlands area, we thought, naively, we could fulfil our ambition.

Gordon Creighton – Editor of Flying Saucer Review

We went to see Gordon Creighton at his house in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire. He was a distinguished diplomat who reported seeing a  flying ‘disc’ in 1941 while serving in China. He had a passion for preserving  UFO sightings worldwide in the now famous magazines, and despite being seriously injured in a car accident, insisted on putting the FSRs [Flying Saucer Review] together from his hospital bed. We have so much admiration for him and his wife, Joan, and the rest of the team we met, and were so proud when he asked Dawn and I to be Consultants for FSR, after seeing our folders of catalogued reports.

Dawn and I were also humbled to be invited to his funeral and I still have regrets about being asked to take over the Editor’s job, some years ago, which I had to refuse because of my full-time commitment to the Haunted Skies series of books.

Forewords by Tim Good, Jenny Randles, Nick Redferen, Phil Mantle, Matt Lyons

At some stage we met Tim Good, who promised us a foreword, and then sent the Chronicles of a Phenomenon synopsis off to his agent – who declined it, saying it was not focused, although he was impressed by our commitment and some of the work provided. We weren’t sure what he meant and, rather than pay a fee to be advisied accordingly, decided to present the sightings in chronoloigcal order – which meant a humongous amount of time spent in libraries, searching through telephone directories and then writing to newspapers appealing for information. Most of the time the results were unsuccessful, but others came forward to tell what they had seen.

Preparing the foundation

We read the majority of FRS/UFO Magazines/Newspapers and hundreds of books, determined to track down and interview the witnesses personally, feeling their UFO sightings and encounters should be preserved for posterity and future generations. We managed to trace people like Margaret Fry, Jessie Roestenberg, Robin Gibbons, James Salandin and other RAF officers, to name just a few, not forgetting the researchers – some of whom have now passed away.

This cost us money to travel all over the country, but if we had the chance we would do it again.

We feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to share what, in some cases, has been a traumatic experience, sometimes followed by ridicule, taking into consideration these people did not know us and were still prepared to discuss what, in some situations, were very private matters.

John Hanson (Credit: John Hanson)

John Hanson (Credit: John Hanson)

Under criticism – goes with the territory

A few years ago, we were criticized by one well-known researcher, who told us that it was a waste of time interviewing people and that we, as researchers, should just catalogue the reports without getting involved. Apparently, this course of self adopted action dictated him rubber stamping one famous UFO photograph as a hoax, without even speaking to the parties concerned!

I would be the first to accept that, while I cannot categorically prove this either way, surely common sense dictates there is a benefit to interviewing people personally about their experiences, because that’s what good UFO investigation work is all about!

Haunted Skies Publisher

In 2010 we found a publisher, who agreed to publish Haunted Skies, Volume 1, and then 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, which were produced not through email or internet, but the old-fashioned way of driving backwards and forwards to Devon – sometimes twice a month, in all weathers often ‘kipping in the car’, as we couldnt afford the accomodation.

Removed from sale – a devasting blow

Sadly, in 2015, these six books were removed from sale; this meant we had lost £2,500 in  total fees, paid to the publisher for each book – not forgetting the other out-of-pocket expenses! These books are now fetching crazy prices of up to £2,000!  However, we learnt, as I explained before, that advertisity can only spur one on – sentiments expressed by my colleague, Phil Mantle, who now publishes his books through the Flying Disk Company.

Haunted Skies Publishing

In 2012, we set ourselves up as Haunted Skies Publishing and published Volume 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.

In November 2016, we completed the revised Volume One, in colour, and three times the original size! We are currently working on the Wiltshire book and revised Volume 2.

Incredibly, although we have now self-published Volumes 8, 9, 10, and 11 of Haunted Skies books, we have still yet to publish the events of 1992 onwards, which is what we set out to do some 20 years ago!

PM: Have you ever had a personal UFO sighting at all?

JH: 2nd sighting

In June 1996, I was with my son at The Crown Public House, Alvechurch. The time was 9.25pm. We both saw two huge well-defined ‘globes’ – the size of dustbin lids (in comparison to the tiny satelittes and aircraft overhead) – which then moved through the celestial arc across the sky, as if joined together side-by-side, before slipping down towards the eastern horizon.

3rd sighting 

Dawn and I were in Rendlesham Forest on the 27th of December, 2000, with Brenda Butler and other ‘sky watchers’, when an object was seen in the sky over the same area as nominated by Colonel Charles Halt and the other airmen. We took some film and were interviewed about the incident by the local news channel. Stills of the UFO are shown in The Halt Perspective.  It is important to also point out that we have experienced on more than one occasion a fall of a warm stone which fell with a thud onto the forest floor. This is referred to as ‘apports’ and is recognized phenomena, examples of which we have covered in the books.

PM: Has being a former Police Detective helped you in your research of the UFO phenomenon? 

JH: Yes, I suppose it has. However, at the end of the day it’s about treating people with decency and courtesy.  Many people who have the courage of going to the newspapers to report simply what they have seen later become the butt of ridicule by others. If one examines the thousands of UFO reports going back to the early 1960s, 90% are presented ‘tongue in cheek’ with banner grabbing headlines – published to entertain rather than alarm. After many years research, it is patently obvious, despite promises made of some form of disclosure by various Governments, that the ‘real truths’ which lie behind the daily incursions of these objects – (that’s presupposing they are known about) – will be kept from us for many years to come. I believe this is because the reality might be nothing like we could ever imagine!

PM: Whilst compiling your research for your new book, The Halt Perspective, is there any one piece of evidence that for you really stands out?

JH: The forgotten ‘wave’

There are so many pieces of evidence that do stand out; the main one that most of us are aware of is the UFO ‘wave’ known for triangular UFOs, and was the subject of so much media attention in the mid 1980s. On occasion, the Belgium Air Force attempted to intercept the UFOs….but how many people know or suspect the existence of a similar UFO ‘wave’ over Essex and its surrounding borders with East Anglia, which began approximately in 1978 and went through to 1990 and onwards?

Some of these objects were seen over Sizewell Nuclear Power Station, and the majority of these objects often showed three lights around the tips of the triangle. Sightings of three lights in the sky have provided the backcloth of so many reports that we have come across over the years.

We have tried to attract the interest of the local newspapers in the Norfolk/Suffolk localities of East Anglia about this forgotten ‘wave’, but they do not appear to be interested. Whether this is because their editors have been advised accordingly, we do not know. All we can say is that after six years of publishing these fantastic books, we have never received any interest by the tabloid newspapers apart from one or two slight references of late.

Colonel Halt‘s views

“I still didn’t say much publicly until people started putting out all kinds of garbage and nonsense…..So much disinformation out there and people bugging me about what happened – I finally decided, it’s time to tell the truth. I believe the objects that I saw at close quarter were extraterrestrial in origin and that the security services of both the United States and the United Kingdom have attempted – both then and now – to subvert the significance of what occurred at Rendlesham Forest and RAF Bentwaters by the use of well-practiced methods of disinformation.

I was a non-believer; I never really gave it a second thought before the incident. But I’ve got so much material from so many people, and talked to very credible people – people that do not want their names used – that are in very influential positions, including some that are as high in the government as you can get. I can tell you, we are not alone. I can guarantee you that.

Folks, there is an agency, a very close-held, compartmentalized agency, that’s been investigating this for years, and there’s a very active role played by many of our intelligence agencies that probably don’t even know the details of what happens once they collect the data and forward it. It’s kind of scary, isn’t it? In the last couple of years, the British have released a ton of information, but has anybody ever seen what their conclusions were, or heard anything about Bentwaters officially?

When the documents were released, the time frame I was involved in the incident is missing – it’s gone missing. Nothing else is missing. I have never been harassed over the reports I made about the Bentwaters UFO incidents, probably for a couple of good reasons – number one, my rank and some of the jobs I’ve held, but also very early on, I sat down and made a very detailed tape and made several copies of everything I know about it and they’re secluded away. Maybe I’m paranoid. I don’t know, but I think it was time well spent when I made the tapes.”

Colonel Charles Halt with the book. (Credit: John Hanson)

Colonel Charles Halt with the book. (Credit: John Hanson)

PM: What do you say to those that remain sceptical of the events in Rendlesham Forest back in late December 1980?

JH: Read The Halt Perspective book!

PM: In your opinion, how do we keep moving forward with UFO research?

JH: Learning to respect each other, instead of fighting with each other on Facebook, and other social media vying to raise individual profiles and increase the size of personal egos. Most people would never dream of writing their vociferous complaints in a letter but feel free to profane and attack others on Facebook, knowing they are not going to be taken to task. You know as well as I do that a huge number of UFO groups no longer exist and that we are becoming ‘ring fenced’ on the Internet.

Surely, as a group of people dedicated to preserving UFO activity, we should be entitled to some answers – but these are not likely to be forthcoming. How many times have we seen the media’s excitement about forthcoming MOD files, accompanied by the glare of publicity, to be dashed away when they are released? I’ve seen this now happening for over 20 years and one should ask in all honesty what it has actually achieved.  Similarly when they did release the files each year the majority of the files were low grade and failed to include many that we had personally investigated, involving being reported to the MOD over 30 years ago!  Despite assurances by the MOD to us, they would be!  As I said before at the beginning, adversity pushes us forward; we should never give up demanding an answer to what is, after all, the greatest conundrum of all time.  Most importantly the work that we all do should be preserved in book for future generations who will have to depend on the Authorities view of such phenomena.

END OF INTERVIEW

The book in question is out now on Amazon and more details can be located at: http://www.hauntedskies.co.uk/

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