When an RAF Chinook helicopter carrying almost all the senior intelligence officers working in Northern Ireland crashed into the Mull of Kintyre six years ago, pilot error was given as the official explanation of the disaster.
Since then, a number of people and especially UK IT mag Computer Weakly have continued to maintain that it was software in the on-board systems which led to the crash rather than human error.
But a third explanation for the crash has now come to light: that a top secret hypersonic US plane, codenamed Aurora and which is reportedly capable of flying at up to 20 times the speed of sound, created a massive jet wake into which the helicopter flew, causing the crew to lose control.
RAF Machrihanish lies just ten miles from the Chinook crash site and at the time of the crash was operated by the US Air Force. Machrihanish boasts the longest runway in Europe (over three miles) and the entire surface of the runway is painted four times a year, to match the surrounding undergrowth.
The massive runway length is necessary so it can be used as an Emergency Airfield Over-flow (EAOF) site. It is one of the few runways in Britain that can cope with any aircraft landing with technical problems, including the Russian Bear and the P3 Orions of the Royal Norwegian Air force, who regularly used the air base as part of the NATO 'staging point' exercises.
Secret Underground facility
The runway faces east/west in a remote part of Scotland, enabling aircraft to approach the base from the sea, unobserved - ideal for covert or secret activity. It is also claimed that Machrihanish is host to a large, secret underground facility guarded by elite troops from the US Navy SEALs.
A number of military-watching web sites claim that the US military was at the time using Machrihanish as a base for testing its Aurora - the existence of which is still denied. When the Aurora codename leaked out, the US government is alleged to have renamed the project 'Senior Citizen'.
Aurora was rumoured to be operating at speeds higher than Mach 8 from Machrihanish at the time of the Chinook crash and is alleged to have inadvertently 'brought down' the chopper, which lost control after flying through its jet wake.
Shortly after the crash, the Americans left Machrihanish. The British government would certainly have been none too pleased if the US had indeed wiped out most of the UK's senior intelligence officials in one fell swoop.
Machrihanish is now reported to be deactivated, with only a skeleton staff, but still appears to be guarded like Fort Knox. During the 1980s, NATO invested a lot of money in the base and decided to post an American Navy Special Warfare (SEALs) unit there, known as Spec. War 2.
The UFO BBS has a story which originally ran in the Scottish Sunday Post in May 1993.
Oil rig engineer Chris Gibson is reported to have seen the aircraft from the rig Galveston Key. Gibson saw a dart-shaped plane taking on fuel from a US Air Force Tanker. Mach 3 blips were detected on radar over Machrihanish, and Gibson, a man who had worked for the British military and was trained to recognise enemy aircraft, saw a triangular object that he could not identify. It was travelling with two F-111s and refuelling from a KC-135 tanker plane.
First news of Aurora using Machrihanish came when a report filtered out about an RAF radar man picking up an unidentified craft travelling at three times the speed of sound near the Kintyre peninsula. Locals started querying terrific sonic booms ripping through the sky near the base.
Then the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute investigated earth tremors and strange shock waves across the Friesian coast, and said the probable cause was the sonic boom from an aircraft flying at a speed of 4000mph.
Robert McNeil, writing in another respected Scottish paper, The Scotsman, claimed last June that not only was Aurora/Senior Citizen flying from Machrihanish, but that alien spacecraft were being dismantled there.
McNeil reported that Ron Halliday, the chairman of Scottish Earth Mysteries Research, had claimed that remote areas of rural Scotland were being used in similar ways to the mysterious Area 51 in the United States, where secret aircraft are supposedly tested and where the alien victims of the Roswell UFO crash were supposedly taken for dissection.
According to Halliday, the prime candidate for Scotland's Area 51 was Machrihanish, which he said had long been the subject of rumour and bizarre speculation. He added that the MoD owned huge areas of land in Scotland but no one knew what they were doing.
"These are parts of Scotland where people just never visit because access is so difficult. Extra-terrestrial flying discs could be stored here as, geographically, we're in a good situation for communication with London, the US and western Europe," Halliday is reported as saying.
"Machrihanish would be an ideal spot from which to operate aircraft technology that the Government wanted to keep secret - including devices allegedly developed from captured alien discs."
People living nearby have frequently reported strange ear-splitting noises and mysterious smoke-rings in the sky. ®