EXCLUSIVE by James Bryce and Wendy Williams
A BRITISH expat is convinced she saw a UFO hovering above the Costa del Sol.
Mary Ann Whyte Wood, 61, a retired company director from Berkshire, saw what she described as a large, gold, cigar-shaped object.
She believes it was the reason three Spanish fighter jets – and a helicopter – were scrambled in the area in the middle of the night over Easter.
She told the Olive Press the ‘spooky’ object had a kite-shaped sheet below it which pulsed with red and green flashing lights.
She insisted it hovered for around three to four minutes before disappearing in the blink of an eye.
“I was gobsmacked,” the widow, who lives in Benahavis, explained.
“My son-in-law is a senior commercial pilot and my daughter is training to be one so I know what a plane looks and sounds like, but I’m at a loss to explain what it was.”
Clearly startled by the incident, she continued: “It sounded like a huge industrial tumble dryer, I have searched on the internet but I can’t find anything that looks even remotely similar.”
Her neighbour Alison Woods, who is married to a former RAF engineer, confirmed the strange incident.
“I heard something very strange that night, that really was not a normal plane,” she said.
“Curiously my husband saw something that matched the same description while he was serving in Cyprus in the 1990s.
“He reported it to the airbase but they said there was nothing on the radar.
“Of course, he was made a laughing stock the following day but he is convinced that what he saw can’t be explained,” she added.
The sighting came at 5am on Easter Sunday at the same time loud fighter jets – probably Eurofighters – caused panic among expats along the coast.
Hundreds of people called and emailed the Olive Press to enquire about the incident.
DJ Maurice Boland, from iTalk FM, was one of the first on the phone on the Sunday morning.
“It was frightening, I thought something was going to crash into my house,” he said.
“My grandchildren were crying, the dogs were going mad and I could see lights going on in houses all over the place.”
Many insisted that as well as the planes and a helicopter, there was clearly something else flying around.
While their motive remains unclear, one expat James Harnetty, 30, from London, claims the jets appeared to be searching for something.
“The jet I saw was definitely after something, or trying to protect the coast.
“It looked like a Eurofighter and I could hear a helicopter in the area as well,” added the health shop owner.
Police in Marbella said: “We have been contacted by many worried citizens, we have only been able to find out that the flights had authorisation, but we don’t know any more.”
Police in Estepona also confirmed they had received a large number of calls but admitted they were equally baffled.
A spokesman for Malaga Airport’s operations centre was guarded, adding: “We are unable to comment.”
A spokesman for nearby Gibraltar Airport said that it was unaware of any such activity as Gibraltar air space – which is only open from 8am-9pm – was closed.
But finally a spokesman from the Spanish Air Force said a Spanish Eurofighter jet had been scrambled from Moron to intercept an unidentified plane flying without lights or a flight plan.
“We do not know what exactly the plane was doing as we were unable to locate it, but the most probable explanation is it was a plane from Morocco carrying drugs.”
But residents remain sceptical given the cost to mount such an operation.
Reader Richard Jones added: “I am not convinced. I cannot understand why the Spanish media are not mentioning this. This incident woke up thousands of people on the coast and caused a lot of stress and worry.”