Scottish UFO and paranormal researcher Malcolm Robinson has experienced many unexplained encounters during his 40-year career.
They include being “slapped” by a ghost, seeing a pair of levitating shoes fly up into the air and crash through a window, and being shouted at by a ghost to get out of ‘her’ house.
But whether real, imagined or misinterpreted, the man who started off as a self-confessed sceptic remains particularly intrigued by Scotland’s most controversial UFO incident.
On September 23, 1996, two adults, a teenager and a 10-year-old driving near Newton of Falkland in Fife claimed they saw not only a large black triangular-shaped ‘craft’ but numerous small grey ‘beings’ in front of woods.
The so-called ‘Falkland Hill UFO Incident’ made international headlines and after being investigated by several of the UK’s leading UFO experts, UFologists say it remains one of the world’s biggest ‘unsolved’ UFO mysteries.
One down-to-earth theory – reported by The Courier on the 20th anniversary in 2016 – is that what witnesses actually saw was simply several pea harvesters and farm workers operating in the field with their lights shining skyward.
Another suggestion is that the witnesses who apparently left the area decades ago, and can’t be traced by the author, simply “made it up”.
However, having extensively researched the case, and while admitting it sounds “fanciful”, Mr Robinson remains convinced the witnesses were “sincere” in their descriptions – even if the mystery remains.
Speaking to The Courier about the launch of his new book ‘The Falkland Hill UFO Incident’, Mr Robinson said he felt there was a need for a stand-alone book that told the story “as it is”.
While Fife has seen many UFO reports over the years, this particular one “stood head and shoulders above many others” because of its controversies.
Mr Robinson, now a 65-year-old grandfather and former newspaper advertising executive, became interested in the strange world of UFOs and the paranormal as a boy.
Growing up in Tullibody, Clackmannanshire, he read extensively and watched films and TV shows.
But as he grew older he felt there was no validity to the claims of ghosts and poltergeists.
In 1979, he formed his own research society entitled, Strange Phenomena Investigations, (SPI).
The aims of SPI are to collect, research, and publish, accounts relating to most aspects of strange phenomena, and to purposely endeavour to try and come up with some answers.
In 1992, he became one of the main investigators for the so-called ‘Bonnybridge Triangle’ multiple UFO sightings.
Working with local councillor Billy Buchanan, he concluded 95% of the sightings reported over the Stirlingshire town had identifiable solutions.
The others, however, were less clear-cut, and they petitioned Downing Street for answers.
Their call for a government inquiry was turned down because the “objects did not pose a threat to the security of the UK”.
It was against this backdrop that he became involved in the Falkland investigation.
Always looking for alternative explanations, they’ll check with the likes of police, the air force, the Met Office and the Ministry of Defence.
In Newton Falkland, the pea harvester scenario was one of those considered.
However, having recorded interviews with two of the witnesses in person, Mr Robinson remains confident that what they experienced that night was “completely different”.
A ‘fanciful’ Fife story?
“The story started off that night in September 1996 when they had run out of coffee,” he said.
“They left the farm house and they travelled to the wee village of Freuchie to buy some.
“On the way to Freuchie, which is bordered by fields on either side, they saw this large black triangular craft hovering motionless above a part of the farmer’s field and part of the road.
“Coming down from beneath this triangular object were two columns of circular light which was twisting and turning and moving and twisting.
“The witnesses who were a combination of Mary, her son Peter and Jane – Mary’s friend (all pseudonyms) – they knew this wasn’t an aircraft and being in the sky it wasn’t a pea harvester either!
“Then the object extinguished its lights and flew away.
“They went to Freuchie, got their jar of coffee, and on the way back to the farm house, the same or similar object flew very very fast above the car.
“In the car was Peter, 10 years of age. He screamed and screamed. He thought this thing was going to crash into the car.
“Arriving back at Jane’s house, Jane said to her daughter Susan who was 16 ‘oh Christ almighty you’ll never believe what we’ve just seen on the road there!’
“Susan refused to believe her mother, but to pacify her, she said ‘right ok, let’s go back out’.
“The four of them jumped into the car, and cutting a long story short here, as they drove between Falkland and Newton of Falkland, they saw to the left hand side coloured rays of light – red, blue and green coming up from the forest floor.
“In the sky, there were hundreds and thousands of tiny pinpricks of white light like stars – only these were about 1000 feet up from their heads.
“Above Falkland Hill, there was a large orange ball that was sitting there above the hill. It was like sparkly, emitting electrical stuff.”
Acknowledging that it “sounds bizarre”, Mr Robinson said the story, as he was told it, then got even more controversial.
The witnesses stopped the car, and in front of the forest there was a “long column of blue light”.
In front of the blue light, there were “hundreds of small grey creatures bending down and picking up boxes of cylinders and taking them towards a larger structured object which was nestling in a wee alcove in the woods”.
To the right were “taller grey beings” and there was a “ball of immense white light” sitting in the farmer’s field.
“At this point,” said Mr Robinson, “they claim that there were these small creatures roughly 3.5 to four feet tall with small childlike bodies, large pear-shaped heads, black almond-shaped eyes, encased in these bubbles beings being blown across the farmer’s field towards the car.
“At this point, Susan who was Jane’s daughter screamed.
“She said: ‘Mum there’s one standing outside the car!’
“At that point, they put the car into gear and screamed away from the area. As they did so a tremendous burst of blue light pervaded the whole area – a massive big blue flash.”
Overcome by curiosity
Mr Robinson said he was told how rather than hiding away in the farmhouse, curiosity got the better of them and they went out again.
More or less the same scenario unfolded, he was told – only this time, Jane controversially claimed that while looking at some of the creatures in the woods, she felt her head being “pushed down towards the front of the car”.
She claimed she was being ‘taken’ and that she ‘saw this strange land’.
Mr Robinson admits this all sounds “fanciful”.
However, things got even more peculiar when, while interviewing the witnesses with his colleague Billy Devlin some months later, the boy Peter claimed there were three creatures standing outside the window while the mother Mary said she could see a “shimmering”.
Needless to say, Mr Robinson and his colleague could see nothing, but they took photos anyway.
They were also told of other sightings by other witnesses in the area over the course of several weeks – including a “big triangular craft that floated across Mary’s roof”.
Peter’s son also claimed a small creature “materialised in front of him” while having a bath.
On another occasion, Peter and a boy were playing in the bedroom when the visitor looked out of the window and saw a “little white creature free floating”.
“They also had poltergeist effects in the farm house,” added Mr Robinson.
“They had a cat in the house. They were all having breakfast one morning and they heard lapping of the water from the cat’s bowl thinking ‘it’s just the cat’.
“They looked down and all they could see was the bowl – no cat – and the water being displaced by an imaginary or invisible creature.
“So there’s more to this story than the UFO.”
Unable to track down witnesses today
Mr Robinson said they’d tried but failed to track down the witnesses over the years to “back-up the validity and honesty” of their statements.
He understands Mary and her family moved to Wales about a year after.
The move, he understands, was planned before this incident.
Researchers like him “don’t want to have the wool pulled over their eyes” because sadly, he says, people do make things up.
But what is clear is that unexplained activity has been recorded worldwide since early times.
Credible witnesses, he said, have also reported ‘unidentified’ flying objects in Fife more recently.
“The Fife UFO incident is very very controversial,” he added.
“It’s probably one of Scotland’s most bizarre if not craziest stories that I’ve encountered. It stands the test of time though. We still don’t know what truly went on.”
Where to get the book
*The Falkland Hill UFO Incident by Malcolm Robinson is available now via Amazon.
Have you seen a UFO? Do you think there is a much more down-to-earth explanation? Get in touch with The Courier via [email protected] if you’d like to share your story.
Mr Robinson would also like to hear from anyone who’s experienced UFOs, ghosts or paranormal activity. Information will be treated in confidence.