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Friday, January 9, 2009

UFO in London

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Strange lights in the sky, mysterious flashes, dozens of witnesses, a missing wind turbine blade and a tabloid splash featuring the pun: E.T. farm harm.

The Sun tabloid newspaper's UFO splash.

The Sun tabloid newspaper's UFO splash.

Let's hope there isn't intelligent life out there watching us.

Britain's tabloid Sun newspaper Thursday proclaimed from its front page that a wind turbine was ruined after a UFO hit one of its 20 meter-long blades in Conisholme, Lincolnshire.

Dorothy Willows, who lives near the damaged turbine, told The Sun she was in her car when she saw strange lights in the sky.

"The lights were moving across the sky towards the wind farm. Then I saw a low flying object. It was skimming across the sky towards the turbines."

Apparently, hours later, she and her husband were woken by a big bang; one of the turbine's three blades had gone.

It, was, however, on the ground below.

Other locals told the newspaper that the lights looked like "balls of flames."

Russ Kellett, a UFO expert, told the newspaper: "Balls of light were seen in the sky and the MoD [Ministry of Defence] has no explanation. It must have taken a pretty massive object. We are very, very, very excited."

However, The Guardian newspaper's Web site content director Emily Bell had a simple explanation for all those "balls of light" in the sky.

She told The Guardian the lights were fireworks her brother Tim had bought at the local garden center for the 80th birthday party of dad Peter Bell.

"It was a medium-sized fireworks display with absolutely no ballistics, and the fireworks were mostly dropping over my parents' house. But we were laughing that we could have broken the wind turbine," Emily said.

"There we are in the middle of a scoop and we're beaten to it by a red-top tabloid," Emily's mother Bridget, 74, told The Guardian.

Later Thursday, the British Press Association reported the blade may have come off after a mechanical failure.

Fraser McLachlan, chief executive of GCube, which insures more than 25,000 wind turbines worldwide, told PA that although it was unusual, this kind of incident happened up to six times a year (so that's six different UFO's or the same one?).

"It does happen that a blade will sometimes just come off a machine for one reason or another," he said. "The main reason is the blade may shear. "We don't normally see things like aircraft -- or UFOs -- hitting them. It's usually a mechanical failure that causes the blade to separate from the main hub."

He said the cold weather was another possible cause.

Dr Peter Schubel, an expert in the design and manufacture of wind turbine blades at the University of Nottingham, agreed.

He told the BBC that if the turbine blade was still, it would take a 10-tonne load to remove a blade, but if it was rotating the force could be a lot less.

"It's definitely not a bird. It could be ice thrown from a neighbouring turbine that struck it."

Aliens out of control or simple mechanical failure? A case for Mulder and Scully? What do you think?

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