UFO mystery solved...maybe

WEIRD lights in the sky which left Crawley residents boggled were not visitors from another world - but paper lanterns, the Observer can reveal.

Three weeks ago reader Sarah Carter wrote in reporting a mass of 'UFOs' moving noiselessly over Ifield on the night of January 3.

Her story prompted a flood of similar accounts, but this week one reader phoned in with the truth behind the 'flying saucer' mystery.

Janet Ryder, 47, of Southwater Close, Ifield, was one of many who saw the eerie lights drifting through the night sky.

But as she rushed to the upstairs window of her home, she saw a group of people setting off the lanterns on the Ifield Community College playing fields.

"We saw this light floating up and we went upstairs to look out the back window and there was a group of about 12 people setting off lanterns," said Janet.

"They just looked like very small hot air balloons."

"Maybe it'll put a few people's minds at rest that the aliens aren't coming."

She added: "If people saw a lot of them together then they could have thought they were something strange, but I can confirm that they were just lanterns."

One puzzled Gossops Green resident, Tony Tomlinson, was astounded by the orange lights heading south over the neighbourhood.

"The lights were orange, not as bright as landing lights, travelling almost in a straight line one behind the other, he said.

"No sound could be heard and they were too close to each other to be aircraft.

"There were no port/starboard flashing warning lights.

"My only thought was that they could have been helicopters, but no engine sounds.

"Gatwick radar must have seen them," added baffled Tony.

But other residents with their eyes on the skies weren't taken in by tales of little green men.

Maxine Jeffries said: "I saw seven orange lights over Gossops Green, Ifield and Bewbush.

"I do not believe they are UFOs as surely they would have been bigger and as far as I know there is no proof UFOs even exist.

"The lights looked low down so could well have been a lantern of some sort."

LEave your comments below or email kirk.ward@sussexnewspapers.co.uk