IN general terms, it’s fair to say Falkirk and Bermuda have little in common. Yet they share the honorific “Triangle”.

This Triangle indicates a place where mysterious happenings occur – in The Bermuda Triangle disappearances, in The Falkirk Triangle appearances of UFOs. Unidentified Flippin’ Objects.

Our area of investigation is also known as The Bonnybridge Triangle, as the large village of that name is the centre of the weirdness. And we mean world centre, the “UFO capital of the world” (or sometimes, admittedly, just the UK).

Falkirk bairns might not thank us for implicating them in the title of this week’s Icon, given the derision accompanying the subject, but it’s fair to say the aliens are fairly well travelled and sometimes venture out of Bonnybridge into the surrounding area.

The biggest mystery surrounding the phenomenon is: why Bonnybridge? It has no Pentagon or Kremlin. 

True, it has a Domino’s Pizza, tattoo parlour, a Ladbrokes next to a William Hill, Chinese and Indian takeaways, Scotmid, a chippy – which surely should be called Unidentified Frying Objects – and a funeral parlour, everything to see folk from cradle to grave.

But, with the best will in the world, in global terms Bonnybridge is not a major player. Even nearby Edinburgh, seat of the Scottish Government and culture, might have been something but, as one website suggested, perhaps the aliens find it too “touristy”.

Either that or, even among advanced civilisations, satnav remains wonky.

Bonnybridge may be found in the west of the Falkirk council area in the central belt. The Bonny Water flows through it, the Forth and Clyde Canal sits just south of it. 

The village population is just under 7,000. However, the “settlement area”, including Banknock, Denny, Dunipace and Haggs has around 25,000. The area’s industrial history featured mills, brickworks and iron foundries. Just to clarify: it’s not Paris.

The Herald:

Hover bored 
Bonnybridge’s association with ooter space began in 1992 when businessman James Walker, driving home on the Falkirk-Bonnyrigg road, was forced to stop his car after a cross-shaped formation of brightly shining objects hovered above the road ahead. 

This then changed shape to a triangle before legging it quickly back to the cosmos. James did similar, back to Bonnybridge.

After that, UFO sightings in the area came in thick and fast. In his level-headed (genuinely) book UFO Scotland, investigator Ron Halliday details some of these. 

In March 1992, for example, the Slogett family were walking towards Bonnybridge one evening when they saw a circle of blue light in the sky. Then a craft “the size of a house” landing in nearby moorland. 

Isabella Slogett recalled: “A door opened and there was a howl-like sound.” 

Cynics say this is a common reaction to arriving in Bonnybridge. 
The Slogetts legged it, pursued by two small craft, but luckily made it back home safely. 

After this, understandably, mild hysteria took hold, with actual ufologists urging people to calm down. 

A story spread that an alien called Zal-us would shortly make a major announcement at Falkirk Town Hall. 

Unfortunately, he never turned up, perhaps unable to find the place as it doesn’t look much like a normal toon hall and is billed as “a multi-purpose arts, cinema and conference venue”. Maybe it was showing ET. 

In December 1992, a television “skywatch” over the area was broadcast, but nothing appeared. Still, sightings continued. In May 1996, 63-year-old Margaret Ross of Stenhousemuir recorded video footage of an ultra-bright, disc-shaped light criss-crossed by different colours. 

In 1997, father and son Jim and Craig Malcolm, of Larbert, filmed a “spinning orb”, followed shortly afterwards by a military jet.

Many residents went to local councillor Billy Buchanan. He took up their case, writing to the late Queen and the Ministry of Defence, demanding an investigation. 

Backed by noted ufologist Malcolm Robinson, he also appealed to a succession of prime ministers, each of whom gave him the rubber ear. 

The Herald:

With their own ayes
According to Mr Buchanan, almost half the town’s residents have seen a UFO and, every year, about 300 reports are received. In the area encompassing Stirling, Cumbernauld and Falkirk, more than 60,000 people out of a population of 165,000 have supposedly reported sightings.

You can get a sighting of Cllr Buchanan yourself on the Jordi Busquets YouTube, where an interview with him has been viewed 289,000 times since being posted in January. 

Mr Buchanan, below, a popular figure and man of the people, whom he’s served faithfully for 25 years, says he still receives regular reports. “Probably every week there’s somebody’ll phone me up and say that they’ve saw something that they can’t explain.” 

Obviously this led to tense situations. Ufologoists arrived “but nobody ever came and actually gave us a defined answer”.
He said the latest theories involved time travel and a UFO base in the sea.

While retaining an open mind, he claimed governments concealed the truth. “I wouldn’t believe one word that came out of any politician’s mouth,” said the councillor.

Other theories purporting to explain the phenomenon include that, like its counterpart in Bermuda, the Falkirk Triangle is a windae into another dimension. 

Or the objects could be secret military craft, while sceptics also point to the fact that the village lies beneath various flight paths. 
This wouldn’t account for the close, personal encounters, though some of these have been explained.

The aforementioned Mr Halliday instances the case of a supposed UFO sighting that turned out to be lights from a jeep club’s bumpy racing competition nearby.

Bank on sightings
SOME cynics say “Scotland’s Roswell” – after the famous New Mexico site of an alleged saucer crash in 1947 – is, or has become, a bogus scheme concocted to encourage business and tourism.

It may have kosher origins but the councillor has made the most of it to win publicity for the area. Well, who could blame him? 

But, while mass hysteria and confirmation bias might be adduced, it’s difficult to imagine so many ordinary citizens taking part in a promo scam. What are they getting out of it? A rates reduction?

As in The X Files, we “want to believe”, of course. But it’s difficult with impressive video evidence still mysteriously lacking, even today when you can hardly take a wizz up an alley without someone capturing it on film (no, madam, I’m not speaking from experience). 

The truth may be out there but, until it’s had its photie took, we’ll retain a healthy, if open-minded, scepticism.