Saturday, 21 July 2018

A Follow up to the Aircraft Monster Film




The mystery concerning the film taken of a possible large creature in Loch Ness has been solved. It was indeed taken in September 1981 by explorer Sydney Wignall but at Loch Morar and not Loch Ness. Here is a newspaper clipping from the Daily Star of February 5th 1982.


PRINCE Charles has joined the great Scottish monster hunt. He has asked to see a film made last year that is said to "prove conclusively" that there are monsters in some Scottish lochs. And monster-hunter Sidney Wignall said last night: "By the time he's finished watching It, the Prince will no longer be in any doubt that these creatures are real and not just a figment of people's imagination."

Sidney. 59, shot the seven-minute cine film from a powered hang glider last September at Loch Morar in the Western Highlands. He claims it shows Morag, a relative of the Loch Ness Monster. "Part of the film shows two creatures leaving wakes behind them In the otherwise still water." he said. "Another part shows a 1,000 yard wake similar to a torpedo's.

"But the most frightening bit shows a creature - or something - lying perfectly still at the side or the loch. "Whenever I get to that bit, my hair stands on end - and I'm sure it will do the same to the Prince."

Sidney. of Old Colwyn, North Wales. has spent £4,000 on his hunt for the monsters, and he has sent several reports on his activities to Prince Charles. The film, which was shot over a period of five weeks, will be rushed to the Prince as soon as it is returned from Japan, where it is being studied at the moment.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said last night: "The Prince has said he is interested in seeing the film. But no date has been fixed yet. "I don't want to say too much - or well be deluged with Loch Ness monster things from now on."

However, this was not how I found the provenance of this film. A visit to the library to examine multitudes of online newspapers failed and no mention appeared in any crytpid book I perused. Then I thought to consult Rip Hepple's newsletter for 1981 and the answer was soon forthcoming as Rip wrote about watching the cine film himself on the ITN news in early November 1981. Since I carry that newsletter on this very blog in the Rip Hepple Nessletter archive, the answer was under my very nose in Nessletter No.49 which I would have read back then, but completely forgotten.




Sydney Wignall (above) was an explorer who undertook aerial surveys of the lochs reputed to have large unknown creatures and passed over Loch Morar as one of them. The main part of Rip's description is:

The piece of film was shown, and while it was very short it was most impressive. It was not stated which stretch of water it was, but from the glimpse of shoreline we had it did not seem to be Loch Ness. I thought it may have been one of the tree covered islands at Loch Morar, the very clear water seemed to support this. But what was on the film? It was as close as anyone could wish, to being a silhouette of a plesiosaur.

There was no real scale to judge size, but taking the small waves on the surface as a guide I would say the animal was some 25 to 30 feet long. The dark shape showed a fairly long pointed tail, it thickened considerably where it joined the body, which was oval shaped and had three flippers, that we could see, two rear and one front. Presumably there was a fourth one we could not see. The neck was long but not very long, thick at the base narrowing towards the head, which was distinct from the neck.

The animal was close to the surface and twisting to one side, showing movement as the aircraft passed over. The flippers were pointed, definately diamond shaped, in fact just what you would expect of Nessiteras Rhombopteryx, or perhaps Morariteras. Strangely this novel idea and the results it produced did not receive a mention in the press, also there seems to have been no follow up.


You can view a scan of the original page 1 here. Rip contacted Sidney and got a reply published in Nessletter 50 (Feb 1982). Sidney told him it was to be shown on the BBC children's programme, Blue Peter on Monday February 22nd (as one person has already said here). It was not an RAF helicopter but a four seater Rallye low wing monoplane fitted with floats (below) and he further spoke on how to get closer to such animals. There was another communication in Nessletter 51 (Apr 1982) in which Sidney laid out some plans for another expedition in 1982 as well as more about his previous work as well as a surface sighting at Loch Morar.



A fuller account was given by Wignall himself to the now defunct Pursuit Newsletter dated Second Quarter 1982:
In late September, overflying Morar, we saw something very strange lying on the loch bed in about three meters of water in an area we had covered a few days before and which on the earlier occasion showed nothing unusual. The "thing" appeared to be about six meters in length and had what could be fins or paddles, but not the four I expected to see. (I was being subjective and not objective, hoping to see a plesiosaur.) A cine-record was made from heights of between 500 and 200 feet.

A low pass at 50 feet nearly put us into the water when we hit a "sink" area. Climbing away, I took several still monochrome photographs. Then I saw about 30 meters away from the "thing," another "thing." Only this time, Thing No. 2 was most definitely moving slowly, about a meter under the surface. I managed one 35mm still frame of it, then it descended into deeper water, out of sight. A polarizing filter had almost completely eliminated surface glare.

It could not counteract the small surface chop that distorted the resulting photographic image, which appeared to be of an object 7 to 8 meters long, moving to the northwest at possibly one or two knots. It appeared to have a neck and a tail but only two fins could be seen, and these were on either side just forward of amidships. I managed only one dive in the area after that, and in one bay I came across a log which did not appear to relate either to Thing No.1 or Thing No.2. What had I seen? I very much doubt if No.1 was an animate object. Its shape wasn't quite right. No.2 was the real thing, but what it is I cannot say, if a plesiosaur, why not four fins? If a zeuglodon, wasn't the neck too long?

However, no further communications were received by Rip and I saw no further mention of Mr. Wignall in the next four years of Nessletters. One presumes they either did not take place or nothing of note happened. And so the entire mattered faded into obscurity until this week.

Sidney Wignall died in 2012 after leading a life of adventure. Now I know what you are asking - where is the film now and I suspect a familiar feeling of deja vu will roll over you when I tell you I don't know. Yes, it appears to have gone down the same plughole as the Irvine, Fraser, Taylor, LNIB and Beckjord films. Unlike some of these films, I don't even have a still image. That is not to imply that all these films are genuine cryptid films, but researchers will not get the chance to analyse them and come to any form of conclusion.

Neither does it imply this and other films are destroyed and gone for good. I suspect the film is lying around somewhere, forgotten and unloved. The resolution may yet lie with Wignall's next of kin or some Google warrior who uncovers some footage online.

What did Sydney Wignall see? Rip Hepple classed it as an impressive piece of footage though Wignall was not entirely convinced one of the objects was animate. However, his quotes in the Daily Star article are more bullish concerning it being two creatures. Will we ever have the chance to make that assessment ourselves? Well, I will see how far I can get with this.


The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com









37 comments:

  1. Well, not what I was expecting GB. I was thinking and hoping you had found the footage! While there is film and at least one 35mm pic of “something” at Loch Morar, again we are left to wonder exactly what. How could the BBC, ITN, or whoever made the original broadcast get it so wrong in leading William Smith to erroneously tell a tale that is very different from what you have discovered. And not even at Loch Ness! Unless, there was a whole lot of embellishment on his part. Good detective work and good luck on your search for another Holy Grail. It's gotta be out there somewhere!

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  2. Very interesting, and hugely maddening. I had asked Adrian Shine for his opinions on anyone undertaking a search with drones at Morar (due to the clarity of the water, and using polarising filters along with the sun at a particular elevation would greatly enhance one's chances). Mr Shine was kind enough to reply with helpful information, and referenced the Sid Wignall incident, but not a film, only saying 'He produced a controversial picture which was log like but could not be found again.'

    To paraphrase Ted Holiday, at times it's hard not think there's some level of inherent bad luck associated with searches, videos and photos. Holiday called this a 'hoodoo'.

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  3. Sorry but this is ridiculous. Someone shot fairly conclusive footage from an ariel vantage point of 2 creatures in Morar (which visually confirms the LNM at a stroke too) only to... what? Lose it? Drop it? Forget about it? Wipe it? Hide it? Not be bothered about it? It just all sounds utterly suspicious to me. What do you think is going on here Roland?

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  4. Guys, to me that film came too late. We were just entering the sceptical era in 1982. Adrian Shine, mentioned by Martin, had formed a group at that time to debunk the classic nessie pictures. The mood was changing and Syd's film was better happening ten years before.

    Dinsdale was about to publish his final edition of "Loch Ness Monster" in 1982 and was just a few months short of catching this news. Apart from Henry Bauer in 1986, no serious work on and for Nessie would be penned for nearly 20 years.

    Rip Hepple (believer) described it as "most impressive". Adrian Sine (sceptic) called it "controversial". There is no point in talking to people now who saw it then, too many memory artefacts after 37 years. We have some original source material, but no film and one wonders as to its quality today.

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    1. I’m learning that scepticism is more about shielding the truth than uncovering it. This is shameful and wasteful. Such a film 10 years earlier would’ve made the world famous list. Thanks to the prevalent scepticism of the early 80s it’s been lost, at least for now.

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    2. GB, Maybe I'm just thinking too simply here, but wouldn't the BBC, ITN or whoever, have a copy of the film or broadcast tape in their archives? Or maybe those kiddie TV shows that some commenters have mentioned? I mean it's not like the other “lost” films which were never shown on TV. I know here in the states, we have TV news stations and TV news magazine programs that dig up broadcast stuff from way back in the early 60s. “Forgotten and unloved” LOL!

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    3. John Alvarado, I believe a lot of stuff we would assume was archived and catalogued back then was actually discarded simply due to space issues and the belief that most programmes would not have demand for repeats.

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    4. Naturewatch Eng: You're probably right. Oh well, so much for that idea. Reminds me of the big blunder committed by NASA when it erased the Apollo 11 moonwalk tape to reuse it, whether intentional or by mistake. I think the rational was, if it was intentional, that tape was expensive and at a premium. The quality was way superior to the dark, blurry images shown on live TV. You would think that after spending 25 billion to land a man on the moon, they could spare a “few bucks” for extra supplies of tape.

      As an aside, one thing I keep thinking about and I find puzzling, is why Wignall did not personally bring this film to the attention of people, that would have been more responsible with it's care, presentation and safekeeping (Robert Rines, Tim Dinsdale, Ted Holiday, Roy Mackal etc) with a plea of “Look, look what I've filmed, you must do something with this!”

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    5. Naturewatch eng: Perhaps there may be hope. I recall reading how many of the episodes of Not Only But Also (the '60s subversive comedy show featuring the incomparable Peter Cook and Dudley Moore) had been lost forever due to no-one caring about the fate of the tapes. It was either these or old episodes of Dr Who that I am thinking of, but the upshot is that they were wiped to make room for storage of regional news programmes! I feel that at last here is something for those of us interested in the possibility of Nessie to hope for- a rediscovery. This footage can't be explained away as a fantasy like the McRae film- and searching for something not even 40 years old that was broadcast at least once on national TV has got to be easier as well.
      Even in technical terms, film stock from then has a much higher chance of intact and useful survival than anything from the 1930s...

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  5. Disappointing we didnt get to see the film! I wud be rather sceptical bout this but knowing rip hepple like i do i find this all very intrestin! A big fish maybe but at 20 odd foot that wud be remarkable...maybe loch morar does indeed harbour its own kind of tullimunstrem :-) cheers ...Roy

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  6. I think the vast output of news media mwame that this may have gotten lost as just another item. To me it's solid gold, but maybe not to archivers at the TV networks. I find it strange that several people report remembering this as a solid piece of footage, but Adrian Shine just mentioned a photo. Having said that, Gordon Holmes' footage of a clear unknown happening did not shake the world, as it should have. I think it's fundamentalism at work. Try telling a Christian that there's no God. Try telling the British that there is an unknown entity in Scottish lochs. You might get the same response. And, to be honest (and no offence to any Christians), there is more evidence for Nessie than there is for God.

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    1. i was consdering dropping this comment as I know there is a mix of christians and atheists in the cryptid community and such a statement could be seen as a red rag to a bull with resulting flame wars, insults and so on.

      Let's see how this pans out and whether my decision to block it was wrong.

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    2. Doesn't bother me one bit. Enough said on my part.

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    3. Apologies for any offence that might have been caused, and I did wonder if that was a correct choice of words after I posted. I'm not anti Christian, my point was that Christians (among other religions) have a faith in a god that is based on no science, but that argument will not dissuade Christians from their beliefs. Likewise, the raft of information regarding Loch Ness will not dissuade sceptics. People have their side and tend to stick to it. If people are brought up Christian country, most tend to remain so, simply by default. If people are brought up in a sceptical country, it's no surprise that that is the prevailing thought process. Outside interference tends not to shift the wind too far.

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    4. A more relevant point would be the accusation from sceptics that we treat cryptids like a religion.

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    5. I've never heard that said, but I would counter it by pointing out the difference between a faith without evidence and the large amount of eyewitnesses testimony (among other things) we have available here. I'm sure some of the people who make these accusations are religious themselves. I have absolutely nothing against people practicing peaceful religion, but I do find it ludicrous that the UK is such a sceptical, yet quite religious country. I think this conditioning works to the system's advantage.

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    6. Okay, I've got to say something and can't let this go. I should have prefaced my previous statement by saying that I am an agnostic atheist, so Mr. Curran's comments have no effect on me. I have to agree with Mr. Curran and come to his defense in agreeing that religious people have faith in the existence of their God, just as I and Mr. Curran have faith in eyewitness testimony and place a lot of stock in it. That and the few film, video and other photographic evidence that may suggest something is there. And I also have to agree that the existence of a “God” is unprovable by science...so far. It's a no win situation and we have to meet in the middle. Oh, oh, now skeptics will counter that science has proven that an unknown creature is impossible at Loch Ness! Haven't we believers also been accused of being cultist? LOL

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    7. I’m not going to state my views on religion, but I don’t think religion is a huge deal for the majority of Brits. At a guess probably only 1 in 30 people attend a place of worship on a weekly basis.

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    8. Naturewatch, I take your point. I come from Northern Ireland where there would be quite a different situation, but I honestly would have thought that there were more churchgoers in the UK as a whole. I might well stand corrected.
      Where I live, my views on Nessie etc would be considered quite ridiculous. Which is ironic given people's religious faith, and the sheer amounts of believers.

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    9. John, as you say, science can't prove the existence of God but they have the potential to prove the existence of a large animal in Loch Ness. Therein lies the difference.

      Before they do prove it, we have eyewitness testimonies and recorded images. There is nothing faith like in accepting a proportion of these items point to an unknown creature.

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    10. Well I still have an open mind about all this and lest I give all the skeptics and psychoanalyst more fuel to use against people like us in their assessment, that we believers are delusional and romantics in wanting to believe, I'm okay with that. And yes, I want to believe! But in the long run, if this mystery is never solved within yours or my lifetime, at least we can say that we gave it our best shot, and were involved in one of humankind's greatest mystery's. That in itself would be something to be proud of. Good hunting!

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  7. i remember the film a dark object laid on the bottom of the loch in shallow water it didnt really look like a animal .you couldnt really tell what it was .i cannot remember the other film .i think the ist photo may of been in the unexplained magazine .like i said it didnt really look much

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  8. Whilst perusing LNM documentaries on YouTube I came up with my own “lost” video, at least I have never seen it. It feature a mix of both believers and skeptics. The most prominent being researchers, Adrian Shine, Dick Raynor, Steve Feltham and even our own Roland Watson. There is a scene with both Dick Raynor and Roland together being quite chummy lol, as Dick takes Roland on a tour in his boat.

    For those of you here who have never seen this, view it quick before it too is lost from YouTube, as videos come and go quite often. History's Greatest Hoaxes. See it here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYViJS69Qiw

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    1. Thanks for the link; the narrative of the programme is being screamed at me (not possible, imagination, mistaken identity, deliberate deception, "people need monsters") yet I am not even 7 minutes in. Is it worth watching the rest? The shouty and constantly glaring music makes me suspect not, regardless of the quality of the interviewees you mentioned.

      I will persevere but I actually had to stop it just before the 7 minute mark as they had by this point relentlessly smashed the desired conclusion of the programme into the audience's collective head.

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    2. Well obviously it had a skeptical leaning and a bias toward believers. The title would suggest that. I only found it interesting for the personalities involved.

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  9. I can't help but think that only having three flippers/fins is a clue to what type of animal this could be: a large fish with the third "flipper" being a dorsal or anal fin, or something else that had the fourth fin taken off in a fight or accident?

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  10. <<<<>>>>

    It also follows an unswerving believer is unlikely to take much notice of persuasive evidence that the legend of Nessie can be boliled down to a murky litany of falsehoods, hoaxes, cranks and scoundrels.

    Sceptic or Believer, both are subject to a certain blindness when it comes to processing evidence that goes against their belief.

    "There are none so blind as those who will not see"

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    1. I would agree with this statement. Unquestioning sceptics and believers are as blinkered as each other.

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  11. Its time you got yourself up to Morar GB lol ... some really intriguing sightings up there.. I do like the drone idea that Martin Brennan posted.

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  12. Here's a very interesting documentary I found on YouTube. This one is in contrast to the one I posted earlier, which took on a very biased and mocking tone of believers. It was made in 2000 while the earlier one I posted is from 2016. This one is more moderate in it's assessment of the mystery. It features some very credible people. It is noteworthy in that it has Robert Badger tell of his encounter with a Nessie while diving with the LNIB.

    In case you haven't seen it. “World's Best Monster Mystery: Loch Ness (Mystery Documentary) – Real Stories.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynUunC3YFkM

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    1. Hi John,
      I'll take a look at that one too. No offence intended in my reaction to the previous one- I was lacking in sleep and found the utter brainwashing going on before the programme had properly commenced somewhat infuriating, haha!

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    2. No offence taken. Never occurred to me. Thank you friend.

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  13. Roland, this video at one point suggests that the LNM is some kind of fish and I have heard you say as such, as to one of your theories of the nature of the beast. A big fish that can come ashore? Come on! A big fish at that. One of the “fish” known to be residing at Loch Ness is the eel, which are known to clamber on land, when they have to. I do know that some fish can come on shore momentarily, when they are seeking pray. But a big predatory fish at Loch Ness stretches the imagination. Give me your thoughts on this, so I have it straight. I don't know for sure. Steve Plambecks salamander hypothesis is also a stretch. Here's my thought: It's a big eel! Or something like that. I may be wrong. Darn it! What the heck is it! I know, your gonna say we don't know for sure. But a big fish that can come on shore as the history and folklore of the LNM would suggest otherwise, sounds so ludicrous and far fetched. But, I guess anything is possible. Best regards.

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  14. I meant the last video that I posted (Failure to follow thread lol)

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  15. Here is a similar situation where a crocodile-like animal was filmed from a UAV in a lake in Crete...
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVTB_1bhpdo

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    1. Hmmm... very interesting. but are there any crocodiles in Lake Morar? Or maybe what was filmed was a Sturgeon. Are there any sturgeons in Lake Morar? If there are than maybe what was captured on film was a crocodile or sturgeon. Just saying! Therein lies another big mystery. Thanks Olrik.

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