Night Encounter at the Canal

A fisherman may lie about the size of the catch that got away but would he lie about being captured himself but released due to his age?

Alfred Burtoo from the military town of Aldershot, Hampshire, went fishing in the early hours of the morning of 12 August 1983:  a regular hobby of his.  He left the house at 12:15 a m accompanied by his dog Tiny.  The old man liked the peace and quiet of the predawn hours of summer but this time he would be unexpectedly disturbed.

On Government Road he had a brief chat with a Ministry of Defence policeman on his beat: the policeman was lonely, but puzzled to see an old age pensioner wandering around at this unearthly hour.

He made his way to his favourite fishing spot on the Basingstoke Canal, about 120 yards north of the Gasworks Bridge.

To keep him safe from wandering off he tethered Tiny to his fishing umbrella which he stuck in the ground like a stake.

At about 01:15  a m Alfred noticed a brilliant light coming over North Town and descend like a falling leaf from the sky over the main Aldershot-London railway line where the light blacked out for a few seconds.  It came to rest behind some bushes next to the nearby towpath.  Although rather puzzled by its unorthodox flying pattern Alfred thought it must be a helicopter from the nearby military base.  He reached for his Thermos flask and in typical British fashion calmly poured some more tea.

burtoo4-fishing-spot-by-the-river
Basingstoke Canal

Lighting up a cigarette as he watched as the main light went out but lesser light was visible behind the bushes.

Then Tiny began barking and growling like crazy and Alfred saw two figures approaching his fishing spot.  Telling Tiny to be quiet, he looked up to see what they wanted.  They stopped about five feet from him and stared at him while he stared back.

Alfred later described the beings he saw as about four foot tall, dressed from head to foot in pale green coveralls which resembled plastic and had no visible buttons or fastenings, with helmets of the same colour equipped with blacked-out visors.

aldershot1983-michael-buhlers-impression
Artist Michael Buhler’s impression of the meeting

Signalling with his right forearm, one of the odd beings asked him to come with them.  Quite calmly accepting this unexpected adventure in Bilbo-like fashion Mr Burtoo complied.  Being 77 and of a curious and fearless nature, he reckoned he had nothing to lose so like a good Englishman he calmly put down his cup of tea and walked towards the saucer-like ship in the company of the two small beings. They slipped wraithlike through some bars next to the canal, which their elderly guest had to clamber over.

When they reached the ship he could see portholes around the hull.  The craft was about 40-45 feet across and rested on two ski-like runners. A ladder led up to the hull.

He climbed the steps and found that, like Gandalf in Bilbo’s hobbit house, he had to stoop so as not to hit his head on the ceiling.  He heard the closing of a sliding door.  Looking around he saw he was in a black metallic octagonal chamber with a slight smell of decaying meat.  This didn’t seem to bother him much, however.

I did not see any signs of nuts or bolts, nor did I see any seams where the object had been put together,” he recalled. “What did interest me most of all was a shaft that rose up from the floor to the ceiling. The shaft was about four feet in circumference, and on the right-hand side stood two forms similar to those that walked along the towpath with me.

One of the beings asked him to stand under an amber light, which examined his body for a few minutes.

Alfred described their accent as somewhere between Chinese and Russian, although it’s doubtful he had ever heard many folk of these nationalities speak.

“What is your age?” asked the alien.

“I’ll be 78 next birthday,” replied Mr Burtoo with an echo of pride in his voice.  The being then asked Alfred to turn around and face the wall.

“OK, you can go.  You’re too old and infirm for our purposes,” declared the being rather untactfully.

As Alfred walked down the stairway he noticed that it was constructed from interlocking sections likea telescope.

He stopped once more to look at the craft.  The dome looked like an oversized chimney and was revolving in an anticlockwise direction.

Bemused but thrilled, Mr Burtoo went back to his fishing spot and his faithful Tiny.  The first thing he did was to pick up and drink his cold tea, which was presumably very welcome after this experience.   He heard a noise like a generator starting up and looked to see the strange craft lit up brilliantly and taking off into the sky at a very high speed.  It was now about 2 a m as he watched the craft rise over the Hogs Back area and out of sight.

He then continued his interrupted fishing, which is what he’d come for.  He remained at his fishing spot until 10 a m.  Two mounted Defence Ministry policemen rode up to him and asked if he’d had any luck fishing.

“Oh yes,” Mr Burtoo responded.  “I’ve had three roach, five rudd and a tench of two and a half pounds, and lost a carp which took me into the weeds.”

He casually mentioned seeing the UFO and one responded: “yes, I expect you did, mate –  I expect they were checking on our military installations.”

Their conversation was cut short when a man from the lock yard came up and told the cops to leave as horses were not allowed on the towpath.

Mr Burtoo continued to fish until 12:30 pm.

Then he headed home for lunch with his patient wife Marjorie, who was quite used to his nocturnal fishing trips.

Returning to the area two days later he noticed flattened foliage where the UFO had stood.

Maybe he was fortunate to be considered too old for whatever weird experiments they may have planned for him!  Many people claim to have been the subject of painful inspections and have also subsequently suffered the aftereffects of radiation.

The only effects he had were some loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss and interrupted sleep, but this was only for a brief time before returning to normal.

Unlike some folk who have had close encounters of an unknown kind, Alfred later described the incident as the greatest experience of his life.

aldershotphoto1983alfred-burtoo-by-the-river
Alfred Burtoo near his favourite fishing spot

Mr Burtoo had enjoyed quite a full and varied life thus far.  He served in the Queen’s Royal Regiment in 1924 and in the Hampshire Regiment during the Second World War.  He had worked as a farmer and a gardener and during his travels had lived for a time in the Canadian Outback among the wolves and bears.  He was quite an expert on local Aldershot history but claimed no interest in UFOs or aliens and had never previously read anything about them or seen any movies about them.

Mr Burtoo passed away three years later, in 1986.  Marjorie rejected all allegations that he might have lied about his experience.  She said a friend of hers was with her when Alfred returned from his extraordinary fishing trip that day:

He looked absolutely shaken and he told both of us about his experience that he had with the UFO.”

burtoo5
Sketch of the spacecraft as drawn by Mr Burtoo

Being an honourable and respected member of the community it wasn’t in his nature to tell tall tales so why should he have made up something after all these years when he was almost 80?

Having told his wife and her friend, as well as his son, he refused to report the incident officially as he knew he wouldn’t be believed by sceptical authorities.  He knew by this stage of life the ridicule suffered by people who have such odd tales to tell.

Although there were no witnesses apart from little Tiny, this event is considered one of the most convincing UFO encounters on record and many researchers who have spoken to him, such as the respected Timothy Good, are convinced of his sincerity.  He wasn’t a publicity seeker neither was he interested in making money from his experience.

I expect many of us would be deathly afraid to do what Mr Burtoo did while some of us would welcome such an opportunity of an otherworldly encounter with open arms!

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Published by: envirozentinel63

Diagnosed with asperger syndrome. Keen runner and writer who wants to share the ups and downs of all my many experiences and maybe reach out to someone who needs encouragement.

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