One of the highest-quality photographs known of a UFO has been recovered, after having disappeared during a government investigation that took place into the sighting more than three decades ago. Described as “by far the best UFO photograph I have ever seen” by UFO researcher Dr David Clarke, the photograph was stashed away by the Royal Air Force officer that originally investigated the case, hidden in his desk from both the public and the government—until now.

The photograph—one of a series of six—was taken on August 4, 1990 by a pair of anonymous individuals while hiking along a hillside near the village of Calvine in the Scottish Highlands. The witnesses saw a large, diamond-shaped object hovering nearby, along with multiple RAF fighter jets making close passes; the 100-foot craft remained in view for about ten minutes before shooting off straight up into the sky.

The witnesses filed a report, along with the photographs, of the sighting at the now-closed joint RAF/Royal Navy Headquarters at Pitreavie. They also sent an account of their encounter, along with the original negatives, to the Daily Record, a major Scottish newspaper. When the journalist in charge of the story contacted the Ministry of Defence for comment, they were asked to send the negatives to the MOD for analysis; the reporter did so, but did not think to make copies or prints of the negatives, and for unknown reasons the Daily Record did not run the story.

The existence of the Calvine photographs were first brought to the public’s attention by former Ministry of Defence official Nick Pope in his 1996 book Open Skies, Closed Minds, where Pope recounted hearing about the Calvine case from his predecessor at the MOD’s “UFO Desk”, including enlarged prints of the original negatives that had been part of an extensive analysis of the case, a case that had been classified as top secret.

“The analysis was nothing short of sensational,” Pope recounted in an October 2020 commentary for the Scottish Sun. “The photos hadn’t been faked.”

“They showed a structured craft of unknown origin, unlike any conventional aircraft. There was no fuselage, no wings, no tail, no engines and no markings of any sort,” Pope continued.

“Because the photos had been taken in daylight with the surrounding countryside visible, MoD boffins could make some calculations about the mystery object’s size. It turned out to be nearly 100 feet in diameter,” according to Pope. Although a fighter jet was visible in the photograph, it could not be determined if the jets seen were there in response to the craft or if their presence was coincidental—the area is a route frequently used by RAF aircraft. Pope’s predecessor had handled the case himself, but Pope was also “staggered to learn that it hadn’t proved possible to trace the aircraft.”

In 2009 the trail of the Calvine photographs was picked up by Dr David Clarke, an associate professor from Sheffield Hallam University and curator for the MoD UFO files project at The National Archives. After 13 years of research, Clarke managed to track down retired RAF officer Craig Lindsay, who personally interviewed the witnesses; astonishingly, Lindsay had also secretly kept one of the photographs that he was ordered to turn over to the MoD.

That photograph had remained in Lindsay’s desk for 32 years. “I have been for waiting for someone to contact about this for more than 30 years,” he said when Clarke contacted him about the case. The photograph “is clearly a structured craft of unknown origin. It looks other-worldly and unlike any conventional aircraft,” according to Clarke, and “it is by far the best UFO photograph I have ever seen.” After receiving the photograph, Clarke filed it in Sheffield Hallam University archives; the photograph can be viewed in an article about the Calvine case at UAP Media UK.

Clarke had the photograph analyzed by Andrew Robinson, a senior lecturer in photography at Sheffield Hallam University. Robinson concluded that the photograph is of a genuine object, and if faked, would require the use of “expensive, sophisticated equipment and flying models,” according to Clarke.

“My conclusion is that the object is definitely in front of the camera, that is, it’s not a fake produced in post-production, and its placement within the scene appears to be approximately halfway between the foreground fence and the plane in the background,” Robinson told Clarke.

Although the statute on the Calvine case’s classification would have run out in 2020, the MOD has re-classified certain details of the case as ‘secret’ until 2076, due to “privacy concerns”. Numerous details regarding the case remain unanswered: was there a DSMA-Notice (Defence and Security Media Advisory Notice, colloquially known as a ‘D-Notice’) issued to prevent the Daily Record from running the story? Was the object that the anonymous witnesses saw an extraterrestrial craft, or a top-secret project being developed by either the UK or US government? And why is the MOD still treating this case with so much secrecy nearly a third of a century after the sighting?


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  1. The craft looks so normal hanging there , it’s like it belongs .

    1. Note that the picture heading this article is not the actual photograph but a mock-up that was created years ago, meant to represent the Calvine photo at a time when it was unavailable to the public. We’re not at liberty to post the actual image here, since the rights are held by Sheffield Hallam University and Craig Lindsay.

      However, it can be seen on the UAP Media UK article referenced here (about 2/3rds of the way down):

      1. Oh my god the hogwash online crappers tell the public in hopes of passing off trash as sensational headlines. The original photo is nothing like this photoshop creation, it is murky and THE ORIGINAL HAS SO FEW DETAILS IT COULD HAVE EASILY BEEN FAKED. ALL THIS NONSENSE AND FOR WHAT???

        and that SORRY ASS EXCUSE we could not use the original for copyrights??? LAME SO LAME

        YOU NEVER HEARD OF THE UK FAIR DEALINGS ACT???? The UK Fair Dealings Act allows anyone to use material without permission from copyright holder if it is for critiques, research or informational/educational purposes

        so yes THE AUTHOR COULD HAVE POSTED THE REALLY BAD LOUSY ORIGINAL PHOTO but used this sensationalized fake to get audience attention

        dudes like you is what makes the web filled with trash and devalues the medium with each passing decade!

        1. I think you are referring to the UK Copyright Act. This allow you to make copies of documents for research. It does not necessarily allow for publication. However, the fact that the ‘original’ has now been made available by the copyright owner might mean that republishing for the purposes you state would be allowed. But probably need a lawyer for an informed view. See

        2. Thank you for your input; we had never heard of the Fair Dealings Act, and upon review it turns out that this is because it does not exist.

          It was not our intention to sensationalize this story–it’s quite fascinating on its own–but as David implied above, Unknown Country cannot afford to be sued, so we’d rather err on the side of caution; we took the owner’s warning of “No unauthorised reproduction, manipulation, editing, cropping or sharing of this image is permitted without strict authorisation of the copyright holder” at face value and chose the pre-existing proxy to represent the story.

          I would recommend reading both the article and the UAP Media entry if you have concerns about the original photograph’s veracity.

          In the future it would be appreciated if you would refrain from insulting anyone in the comments, as this is a violation of our posting rules.

  2. It’s a shame that we live in an age when any image can be immediately debunked due to cgi. I am desensitized every time I see anything.

    1. Same here. Images are near pointless as far as I’m concerned. I felt the image at the top of the article didn’t look “right”, and that’s pretty much my default at this point.

      Then sure enough, I clicked on the link to the actual photo, and even that one seems off to me. Its graininess only adds more questions than answers.

      Which brings me back to what many here, including myself, have said: the observation is as much about the witness as it is about the object being observed.

      1. Years ago, I used to be a ufo enthusiast, excited to feast my eyes on the latest footage caught on camera. Remember the Mexico City ufo filmed in broad daylight, I think in the 80s or early 90s? I was floored at the time, but it turned out to be a hoax. Same goes for the dragonfly/drone ufo a few years later where Whitley and Earthfiles covered extensively. I thought this was earth-shattering, but it too was analyzed and deemed a hoax. Were they really hoaxes or the real thing? Impossible to say one way or the other, but it has left me skeptical about the whole affair. Healthy skepticism is good and it poses the challenge to irrefutably prove an image of a ufo is genuine. I’m afraid we may never get the opportunity with cgi.

        1. Thanks for the insight.

          I remember several flaps in Mexico around 1994. The same year, I saw something (with another witness) that looked EXACTLY like some of the videos from Mexico City and surrounding areas. As to the Mexican videos validity I cannot speak, but what I experienced was so similar, that I have to think some of the photographic and video evidence out there is indeed authentic (not that you’re arguing otherwise).

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