'I've never seen anything like it': Witnesses talk of fireball meteor mistaken for plane crash

Those who saw the meteor breaking up above the Southwest in the early hours of this morning have described the spectacular sight that was mistaken by some as a plane crashing. Police launched an aerial and ground search for a crashed plane  this morning after 999 calls about a possible light aircraft crash over Devon. But it has been stood down after it is believed what was saw was actually a meteoroid breaking apart in the sky.

Units were sent to the Tavistock area after a callers said they saw what looked like a plane crash. However it is believed what they and many others saw was in fact a meteoroid. UK Meteor Network – a network of astronomers with meteor detection cameras – said by 9am it had received 68 reports of a fireball meteor.

The Force Incident Manager for Devon and Cornwall Police said expert trained search officers made the call to stand down the search at 8.15am today, Sunday.

The mysterious object prompted a large number of 999 calls

Insp John Shuttleworth said: “We are as satisfied as we can be that this has not been a light aircraft crash and no persons have been injured. “The expert opinion of trained search officers is that if there had been an aircraft crash, assets in the air would have seen some debris. “There have also been a couple of reports from the Cardiff and Dorset areas of people watching meteor showers across the South West.”

Trajectory as calculated by FRIPON pic.twitter.com/0fpSgqaOz8

— UK Meteor Network (@UKMeteorNetwork) September 8, 2019
“>The Trajectory of the meteorView fullscreen

There have been hundreds of reports on social media this morning about people ‘glowing objects’ falling from the sky.

One of those who spotted the meteor was Gregory Distribution driver Gareth Beckham, who spotted the bright light while driving in Cornwall this morning. He was on the road between Liskeard and Looe when he spotted it at 5.45am on Sunday. The truck driver added: “It was a bit crazy to be honest. i saw a very bright light and it didn’t look like a shooting star.

It was huge and split into two directions. I couldn’t explain it, I have never seen anything like that before.”

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John Adkin also saw the meteor this morning and managed to quickly film it (footage below) on his way to Beer in Devon for a morning fish. John was between Seaton and Beer when he spotted the bright light above the sea.

He said: ” As we came round the corner it entered the atmosphere right in front of us. It was this big fireball with streaks going off it. I just couldn’t figure out what it was, but as soon as I saw the way it was breaking up i knew it was an asteroid.”

Adding: “I have seen them before while night fishing but nothing like that with bits coming of it and that bright.”

'I've never seen anything like it': Witnesses talk of fireball meteor mistaken for plane crash Video LoadingVideo UnavailableClick to play Tap to playThe video will start in 8Cancel

Paul Michael Murphy , 42, a company director from West End, in Hampshire, was walking his dog when he witnessed what he was convinced was a meteorite which hit earth nearby from where he spotted the fireball.  He told Sun Online: “I have never seen one that low.  It was very close — it looked like it was going over the rooftops.  “It lit up the sky and was quite sizeable, about the size of a football.

It was like a big lump of burning magnesium.  “It was literally coming down within walking distance.”

'I've never seen anything like it': Witnesses talk of fireball meteor mistaken for plane crashPolice have now confirmed it was in fact a meteoroid breaking apart

The Force Incident Manager for Devon and Cornwall Police has given a further update and said: “We have had further reports of seeing an object in the sky from some distance away with a trajectory towards the ground, with an item falling off it at some point. “There have been reports it broke into two and this has come from numerous people.

“We’ve got two aircrafts in the air looking and doing aerial searches of the area. At the moment we are saying it is the Yelverton/Tavistock/Prince Town area. “We’ve got a local inspector now coordinating that search with supporting ground resources which at the moment are police officers but we might look at contacting further resources at some point.

”The best advice for the best way to search when you’ve got no distinct area is the use of aerial observations. “In principle if it was an aircraft there would be something visible from the sky in terms of smoke and or fire. “There is still no recorded flights in that area but that’s not to say a small aircraft wouldn’t need to register the flight; it’s possible one could be in the air with no formal authorisation.

“It could also be a meteorite.”

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