The British UFO Research Association or BUFORA is a British company formerly registered as "BUFORA Ltd" and co-ordinated by a board of directors selected from its membership.
BUFORA was established in 1964 from a coalition of British UFO societies, and since that date it has undertaken the role of co-ordinating British UFO research and investigation on a national basis. It was founded to principally fulfil three aims:1
- To encourage, promote and conduct unbiased scientific research into UFO phenomema throughout the United Kingdom
- To collect and disseminate evidence and data relating to UFOs
- To co-ordinate UFO research throughout the United Kingdom and to co-operate with others engaged in such research throughout the world.
From 1964 until 2005 BUFORA was an open membership body, as other similar organisations (such as America's MUFON) remain to this day. General interest in UFOs and organised "ufology" has been in general decline since the 1990s. But, most significantly of all, the arrival of the Internet within the British isles during the early to mid 1990's onwards provided easier - and effectively free - access to information on UFOs. These factors had a detrimental effect on BUFORA, especially as the association utilised membership subscriptions to fund the group's research, investigation and other activities.2 As a consequence of these long-term trends, the association decided to restructure itself into a body consisting only of those members actively involved in UFO investigation and research. Additionally, as much of its revenue was spent on publications (most notably the group's journal of record, it was decided to abandon this approach in lue of using the Internet as a medium of information interchange and outreach. As a consequence of this, BUFORA is increasingly becoming a web-based resource.
BUFORA was responsible for organising many large UFO conferences, most notably in 1980, 1983 (marking the last time Dr J Allen Hynek visited the United Kingdom), 1987, 1991, 1995 and 1997. The 1995 conference "enjoys" particular notoriety due to hosting one of the main presentations of the now infamous Santilli "Alien Autopsy" movie.3 From 1964 to 2005 BUFORA published a variety of publications, including the BUFORA BULLETIN (an A5-format journal of record) and UFO TIMES (a glossy A4-format magazine which was published from 1989 through to October 1997). From 1979 to 1989 BUFORA also produced the Journal of Transient Aerial Phenomena (JTAP) - an attempt to create a scientific Ufology journal. In 2005 BUFORA suspended publication of the BUFORA BULLETIN to focus on presenting articles and sighting-accounts on its website.
Research and Investigation
Since BUFORA's inception in 1964 the association has strived to play a major role in coordinating UFO research and the investigation of UFO sightings occurring within the British Isles. Between 1983 and 1994 the association's Director of Investigations was Jenny Randles, who was one of Britain's few "professional" ufologists (i.e. she was a professional author who specialised in writing books on the subject of UFOs, often based on her own investigations). Since the mid-1980s, following an initiative instigated by Jenny Randles, BUFORA members who wish to investigate UFO sightings on behalf of the association must pass a basic exam, to demonstrate an understanding of IFO (identified flying object) stimuli and other factors necessary for the objective assessment of UFO claims. Because of the requirements to pass this exam, BUFORA investigators are known as Accredited Investigators, a term often abbreviated to "AI". Up to the late 1990s, the most senior BUFORA investigator within a given region of the UK would be designated as a Regional Investigation Co-ordinator or RIC, responsible for coordinating UFO investigation on a local level - although this approach has now been superseded by the AI system. BUFORA AIs must also agree to follow the Code of Practice for UFO Investigators while conducting case investigations for the association.
BUFORA has been involved in a number of notable research projects - ranging from BOLIDE (Ball Of Light Information Data Exchange)4 to the "UFO Origins" initiative. Among the most significant projects undertaken by BUFORA is an attempt to transfer the association's considerable archive of sighting-account material into a more readily available multimedia format, in order to preserve this potentially valuable information for future generations. In accordance with the Data Protection Act 1984, all confidential data such as witnesses' names are being removed from any publicly released versions.
Stance on UFOs
BUFORA has no "official" viewpoint as to the origin and nature of UFOs, other than to support the responsible investigation and research of these phenomena. In general while a significant number of BUFORA members and researchers have supported the extraterrestrial hypothesis for the origin of UFOs,5 other activists have proposed alternative possibilities. These hypothesis vary from "Time Travellers",6 unusual natural phenomena through to "paranormal" causations.7 It should also be acknowledged - the controversies cited below, aside - that BUFORA tends to adopt a more critical attitude towards UFO sightings than would normally be expected for a UFO society.8
Over the years BUFORA has been associated with a number of controversies, which have had the effect of occasionally diminishing its reputation for impartiality and its standing within the British UFO community. These include the removal of Jenny Randles as its Director of Investigations in the mid-1990s, along with BUFORA's initially enthusiastic endorsement of Ray Santilli's alien autopsy film, which has since been revealed to have been a fake.9
In the late 1990s the support given by various BUFORA council members to Max Burns' controversial interpretation of the Howden Moor Incident10 resulted in what some have termed "the Tornado War", culminating in the resignation of BUFORA's press secretary, David Clarke, and its newsletter editor, Robert Moore. It is considered by some that BUFORA's current decline can be traced to this incident, although other issues are undoubtedly involved (such as the personality clashes that have plagued the association throughout its existence). The current board of directors are hopeful that the current restructuring will address many past criticisms and better equip the association to carry out its core objectives.