A “UFO” came within metres of a Ryanair plane in one of more than 25 mysterious objects reported over the Essex skies during a five year period.

The details, which come from a Freedom of Information request 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.”

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.

Echo: 'Very close call' - A Ryanair plane taking off'Very close call' - A Ryanair plane taking off (Image: PA)

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.”

A number of incidents were reported in south Essex between 2018 and 2022, including a family that saw a ball of faded light going in and out of the clouds over Basildon in 2018, describing it’s position as “above the clouds but it isn’t”.

A high pitch noise was heard at midnight in Basildon in 2019, with a UFO about 300ft high seen for around 14 minutes.

That same year, a Basildon resident reported spotting a very large, square sized, object about the size of four helicopters. A very high pitched noise could be heard and the aircraft was stationary in the sky.

A UFO was seen in Southend in 2020 with two aircraft following closely behind which had “red warning lights” on.

The caller reported seeing a big orange light.

In their garden which backs onto the woods, a caller in Rochford in 2021 saw a metal structure which looked like a long oblong bird.

When the caller glanced at it, it disappeared.