A UFO came within metres of a Ryanair plane as more than 25 mysterious objects were spotted over the Essex skies since 2018.

The details, which come from an FOI report submitted to Essex Police by Newsquest's AI team, indicate the black object ‘passed within 20 metres of the aircraft’ and wasn’t picked up on drone monitoring equipment.

The full transcript from the 2022 incident reads: “[A] Ryanair [plane] was climbing out from Stansted Airport and was [at] a height of 4,000 ft and just over the St Elizabeth Centre.

“The pilot saw an object which [they] describe as "black" which passed within 20 metres of the aircraft.

“The plane was travelling at 230mph, and the object was travelling from north to south.

“They have said that it was possibly a drone but the drone monitoring equipment at the airport has not picked it up.”

This wasn’t the only instance of aviation professionals reporting UFO-related behaviour in the region.

In another incident at Stansted Airport in 2022, multiple pilots reported their collision avoidance systems were detecting an object as near as 500 feet beneath their aircraft - an object they couldn’t see.

The Essex Police notes read: “3 aircraft reported an object was in their vicinity.

“Informant from tower reporting that two planes have reported an object at about 500ft below them as they are coming into land on runway 22, the closest being 20km away.

“Approach (2-3 miles out) when their TCAS (traffic collision avoidance system) alerted them to something at around 500 ft. 

“None of the pilots could see anything when they looked.”

A world-leading UFO expert described the incidents as “fascinating” and has called for the UK government to take such instances more seriously.

Nick Pope, who ran the British government’s UFO project in the 1990s, said: “These fascinating revelations illustrate that whatever one thinks about UFOs, there's a credible and serious flight safety issue involved.

“When an object passes within 20 metres of an aircraft, this is a very close call by anyone's definition.

“This, and the other incidents revealed in this FOI response, shows that it was a mistake for the MoD to terminate their UFO investigation programme at the end of 2009, and suggests it's time to reverse this policy.

“Even if people are sceptical and think this is all just drone activity, it should be borne in mind that while drones can be flown as a hobby, or by surveyors, they can also be used in espionage and terrorism.

“Either way - and particularly in crowded flight paths - we need to identify all objects in our airspace.

“The subject of UFOs is taken very seriously in the United States, with hearings in Congress, provisions in the annual Defence Bill, and a dedicated Pentagon unit set up to research and investigate the phenomenon.

“The UK needs to treat this issue with the same seriousness and take action to mitigate the potential threat posed by these objects - whatever they are.”

The incidents are just two of 27 times Essex Police were contacted about UFOs during the past five years.

The FOI data highlighted mysterious happenings from 2018 to 2023 reported by the public, with an increase in incidents across districts including Basildon, Colchester, and Saffron Walden.

The 2018 incidents seem to involve strange lights and unidentified aircrafts.

Reports included "Green fluorescent light like a comet coming from the sky" and "a big faded ball of light going in and out of the clouds."

Some of these cases included dash cam footage as potential evidence.

In 2019, the odd sightings continued in Basildon where residents reported hearing a high-pitch noise and seeing large objects.

They claimed the objects were the size of four helicopters, making "strange manoeuvres," with one resident stating it looked like "two drones on fire."

Other notable cases were in 2020 in Colchester and Saffron Walden where residents witnessed unusual aerial formations.

A Colchester resident said: "Seen three objects in the sky, 100 per cent sure they were not aircraft and were too big to be drones."

The same year, families reported seeing "30 balls of light in formation" near Southend-on-Sea.

The unusual sightings continued in 2021 with Waltham Abbey and Colchester experiencing similar incidents.

A Waltham Abbey resident reported they saw "five UFO's spiralling in circles."

Colchester residents reported multiple white lights moving in a straight line across the sky.

In 2022, reports came from various areas including Chelmsford and Clacton-on-Sea.

In Chelmsford, residents reported "strange fly overs recently of Chinooks and Apache helicopters."

In Clacton-on-Sea, a resident stated that they had "seen a red flashing light in the sky that was stationary" which made them feel uneasy.

The recently compiled data for 2023 suggests sightings continued to rise.

As well as "strange objects in the sky” above the M25, an alarmed Colchester resident disclosed that a "light in the sky swooping around and going from side to side."

Incidents of a peculiar "bright light" over Basildon also peppered the report, with one eyewitness stating it was "like a white glow, just above the cloud line."

The report concluded with a noteworthy incident that transpired near Stansted Airport.

An airport worker witnessed "an enormous cylindrical object flying very high in the sky" that vanished after travelling very slowly for 10 to 20 seconds.

Overall, these multiple testimonies confirm a variety of unusual aerial observations over Essex, hinting at the possibility of regular unidentified flying objects passing over the county.