The night of August 12, 1983, brought an extraordinary event in the life of 77-year-old Alfred Burtoo, who was fishing at the Basingstoke Canal near Aldershot, Hampshire, in the United Kingdom. This seemingly typical night of fishing under the stars was about to transform into an experience that would intrigue and puzzle many for years to come.
As Burtoo sat by the canal, enjoying his solitude with only his dog, Tiny, for company, his attention was caught by a bright light descending from the sky. At first, he mistook it for a helicopter from the nearby Ministry of Defence base and didn’t pay much attention. However, this initial assessment was soon to be proven incorrect. His dog began whining furiously, signaling that something unusual was happening.
Emerging from the darkness were two figures, approximately four feet tall, clad in pale green coveralls from head to foot, with helmets of the same color featuring blacked-out visors. This peculiar appearance was far from what one would expect in a rural area like Aldershot. The beings gestured to Burtoo, inviting him to follow them. With a surprising sense of calm and curiosity, he obliged, leaving his fishing gear and tea behind.
Approaching a saucer-shaped craft, which was unlike any conventional aircraft, Burtoo entered what would be the most surreal experience of his life. Inside the craft, he found himself in a black, metallic, octagonal chamber, which had a peculiar smell, reminiscent of decaying meat. This detail of the smell adds a layer of sensory experience to Burtoo’s account, grounding the extraordinary in the ordinary.
In this chamber, Burtoo noted the absence of typical construction features like nuts, bolts, or seams. His attention was drawn to a shaft that rose from the floor to the ceiling, around which stood the beings that had escorted him from the canal. One of the beings instructed Burtoo to stand under an orange light, which appeared to scan him for a few minutes. The interaction that followed was as bizarre as the setting. The entity asked Burtoo his age in a voice that he described as a mix of Chinese and Russian. Upon learning that Burtoo was 78, the being simply stated, “You can go. You are too old and infirm for our purposes.”
This blunt dismissal marked the end of Burtoo’s brief and bewildering visit aboard the craft. He descended back to his fishing spot, resuming his interrupted activity. Despite the surreal and abrupt nature of his encounter, Burtoo described it as “the greatest experience of my life.”
This encounter raises numerous questions and speculations. Burtoo’s experience aligns with other reports where individuals are seemingly assessed and then rejected based on certain criteria. American abductee Carl Higdon, for instance, recounted a similar experience where he believed he was dismissed as a potential participant in an extraterrestrial experiment due to having undergone a vasectomy. Similarly, Luis Oswald, an elderly Brazilian, reported being examined by beings claiming to be from a small galaxy near Neptune, only to be told she was of no use.
The Alfred Burtoo encounter stands out in the annals of UFO encounters for its simplicity and the calm demeanor of the witness. Unlike many encounters characterized by fear or confusion, Burtoo’s account is marked by his unflappable nature and willingness to engage with the unknown. His pragmatic acceptance of the experience and his return to fishing afterward suggest a man unfazed by the extraordinary.
The credibility of Burtoo’s account has been a subject of debate. Skeptics might dismiss it as a fabrication or the misinterpretation of a mundane event. However, those who study UFO phenomena argue that the specific details of the encounter, such as the description of the beings, the craft, and the interaction, align with other reported encounters, suggesting a pattern that goes beyond mere coincidence or fabrication.
In the field of UFO research, the Alfred Burtoo encounter is categorized under a Close Encounter of the Third Kind, a term coined by astronomer and UFO researcher Dr. J. Allen Hynek. This classification is used for sightings where an animate being is present, in this case, the humanoid figures encountered by Burtoo. The detailed sketch of the craft provided by Burtoo, along with artist Michael Buhler’s impression of the encounter, offer visual representations of this unusual event, contributing to its enduring interest among UFO researchers and enthusiasts.
The case has been covered in various articles and books, including Timothy Good’s “Beyond Top Secret,” where the author notes the detailed nature of Burtoo’s account and its potential significance in understanding the UFO phenomenon. Another reference, “A Landing and Close Encounter near Aldershot,” published in the Flying Saucer Review, delves into the specifics of the encounter, further cementing its place in the history of UFO sightings.
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