A RADAR supervisor who tracked a "squadron" of UFOs from RAF Sopley is to talk publicly about the episode for the first time.

The sighting, alleged to have been hushed-up by the RAF, took place in 1971.

Radar supervisor, Wing Commander Alan Turner, 68, will tell the UFO Data Magazine annual conference in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, about his experience. He will be one of 10 speakers at the two-day conference on October 25 and 26, joining people such as Rosalind Reynolds who claims to have been abducted by aliens in September 1983 and Kevin Goodman, an expert on UFOs at Warminster.

Wing Cmdr Turner, who was made an MBE in 1983, lives in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. A career RAF officer, he and colleagues were stunned when 35 fast-flying objects appeared on their screens one day in July 1971.

He said: "Somebody shouted, What the hell was that?' It was electric. I'd got a spare console and watched for 20 to 25 minutes."

He saw was a series of radar blips one at a time travelling south-east at regular six- or seven-mile intervals, climbing fast for about 40 miles before disappearing.

He calculated their height at 3,000ft climbing to "in excess of 60,000ft, the instrument wouldn't read any higher".

He knew he was not watching military aircraft. "The only craft with that rate of climb were supersonic Lightnings but they wouldn't have held such perfect formation. They're also noisy," he said.

The phenomenon was also witnessed by four civil and six military controllers. Afterwards everyone had to write a report. Wing Cmdr Turner says six military radars in southern England picked up the craft, as did operators at Heathrow.

He also instructed a Canberra aircraft returning from Germany to turn around and investigate. "There was something about a quarter-mile away from him which, to quote him, was climbing like the clappers'. But he didn't see anything really, nor did his crew."

Wing Cmdr Turner plotted the course of the UFOs. They travelled from near Marlborough in Wiltshire to near Alton, Hamp-shire, before disappearing.

He said a few days later they were interviewed by two anonymous men and told not to talk about the incident. He kept quiet until 11 years ago.

Was it UFOs? "They were unidentified, they were flying, and they were objects. I've got to keep an open mind.

"It's arrogant to believe that we're the only ones in this universe."