8 shares, 37 points


It was a cold winter morning on December 1st 1987 when retired policeman, Philip Spencer, decided to take a walk along the Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire, England.

Philip, at the time of the photo, had been working as a police officer for just over four years. On the morning in question, Philip set off on his morning walk to his father in laws house at approximately 7:15 a.m. He decided to take the scenic route across the moor as he was hoping to capture some photos of the sun rising over the moors. Armed with a camera that was loaded with ASA rated film, Philip set out on his journey, oblivious that he was about to experience something spectacular that would change his life forever,

Ilkley Moor had always had an ‘air of mystery’ surrounding it; for years there had been reports of strange creatures on the moors or strange lights in the sky. Little did Philip know, he was about to have an experience that would be hailed as one of the top 10 most authentic UFO sightings in the UK for decades to come.

There was a light fog covering the moors that morning, as such Philip was using a compass to navigate his way across the moors. During his walk Philip decided to stop and take a picture of the sunrise, when out of the corner of his eye he spotted a strange looking ‘being’ to the right of him that was approximately 50 meters away, he claims that the being was making a ‘gesture’ with one of it’s arms, as if to warn him ‘not to come any closer’.

Philip reacted quickly and managed to get a snap of the now famous photo titled the ‘Ilkley Moor Alien’ which captured a ‘humanoid’ like figure that was around 4ft in length, grey in color and had large, almond shaped eyes.


Mr Spencer would later tell newspapers that he initially thought the ‘being’ was a small child in some sort of costume, but it would later become apparent that the ‘figure’ wasn’t human in the slightest.

Philip then claims the creature took of running, Philip, amazed, taken aback and shocked at what he was witnessing, decided to run and attempt to follow the ‘being’.  Philip then claims, that as he ran over the moors and came to a rise, witnessed a saucer shaped UFO craft with a ‘dome’ on the top, taking off at a rapid speed from the moorlands.

Officer Spencer claimed that the craft took off at such a high rate of speed that he wasn’t able to capture a photo of the UFO and was left standing awestruck for a few minutes by what he had just witnessed.

Philip’s story does end there, in fact, it gets stranger and stranger.

Spencer claimed that the whole event lasted just ‘minutes’ and the overall event happened and was over rather quickly, however, when he arrived at his father in laws house, he noticed that he had around over an hour of lost time that he can’t account for.

The walk across the moors to his father is laws house normally takes around one hour for Philip to walk. When he reached the village his father in law lived in he noticed that the time was just after 10 a.m. even with stopping to take pictures there is close to two hours of time that can not be accounted for. This has led some to theorise that Philip Spencer may have had an ‘abduction’ experience.

People have come up with this theory as Philip’s testimony says that after he witnessed the craft taking off, he was standing awestruck looking at the sky and when he came to his senses he looked at his compass and while he was sure he had been facing north, the compass needle was actually pointing south.

When news broke of Philip’s sighting and the photo he had taken was shown across the world’s media, many photographic experts came forward to examine the photograph Spencer had captured. Specifically, the photo was sent to Kodax laboratories in Hemel Hempstead where the experts who looked at the photo concluded that it appeared to be genuine and had not been tampered with and could say with a degree of certainty that nothing was superimposed on the photograph.

Wildlife photography experts also chimed in and claimed that the ‘creature’ did not resemble any known wildlife in the area or any other animal that they were aware of.

Philip decided to send his photograph to a well known UFO investigator and ufologist by the name of Peter Hugh.

Peter sent the photograph to optical expert Dr Bruce Maccabee in the United States but Dr Maccabee said the photograph was too grainy to determine whether or not it was ‘authentic’ and he ruled that the photo was inconclusive, however, not wanting to give up on the case, Peter Hugh set his attention on Philip’s compass.

Peter Hough sent Philip’s compass to a local university to be examined, the University initially came back saying that no radiation could be detected on the compass, camera or the area where Philip took the photograph, however, the university did notice that the needle of the compass had been reversed, which was evidence (the university claims) of the compass being subject to a strong magnetic field at some point in time.

It’s important to note that Spencer did not make any money or have any ‘financial gain’ as a result of the pictures he released, he gave interviews and copies of the photo freely.

A Wikipedia page that lists known UFO Hoaxes claims that the Ilkley Moor UFO and Alien sighting was a hoax, they claim that the Daily Star were able to debunk the case in an article published on July 2nd 1989.

They say that the Daily Star claimed that the ‘creature’ in the picture was an insurance broker who was unwittingly photographed while walking across the hills, on route to visit clients in a nearby village.

Despite these claims, the Wikipedia page does not provide a source reference, even if it were to provide a copy of the Daily Star article, this poses many more questions than it gives answers.

What about the UFO that was seen by Spencer?
Why did the insurance broker take off running?
Why does the ‘being’ captured in the image look nothing like that of a normal man?

Some people have speculated that this explanation of the insurance broker was merely a cover up from the powers that be who had an interest in playing down any type of UFO phenomena.

Whatever Philip seen that day is open to debate, but it’s easy to see why this sighting remains one of the most popular and credible sightings in the UK to this very day. Spencer was an upstanding member of the community without cause or reason to lie or fabricate something like this, some could argue it would have been detrimental to his career and even open him to ridicule from his peers for going public with his story.

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