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.
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