Alan Turner OBE said he and 10 others watched in amazement as “six or seven” unexplainable blips appeared on radar they were monitoring.
Mr Turner was duty military supervisor at RAF Sopley, in Hampshire, when the inexplicable events unfolded.
He said: “The duty civil supervisor drew my attention to a situation on radar the likes of which neither of us had ever encountered.
“Emanating from a point some twenty nautical miles east of the eastern extremity of the Salisbury Plain danger area were a series of six or seven blips moving on a south-easterly track each being separated from the other by about six miles.”
He said that strangely, at about forty miles from the point they appeared on radar, they disappeared but were “followed almost immediately by a replacement at the point of origin”.
He established they were at 3,000 feet when they first appeared on radar, but were rising rapidly to be at 60,000 feet once they disappeared.
He said: “To climb to such a height in only forty miles was beyond the ability of any fighter aircraft at the time.”
Mr Turner said the phenomenon was witnessed by four civil and six military controllers on duty at the time in other areas.
He said: “I called Heathrow radar to discover that they, also, were seeing a similar picture.
“The same situation prevailed in the fighter control operations rooms at RAF Neatishead, near Norwich, Norfolk.
“The three units involved operated different radars from each other thus different frequencies were in use.”
A baffled Mr Turner made checks with the Met Office to try to get to the bottom of what happened.
He said: “The weather forecast from the south of England was calm and sunny.
“I called the Met Office to confirm the strength of the upper winds to find that they were also relatively calm and were about fifty degrees off the south-easterly track of the blips.”
Mr Turner insisted the Met Office also confirmed there were no Met balloons or probes airborne at the time.
He said: “I am at a loss to explain what I, and many other people, saw.
“In those days aircraft could not climb at such a rate. To be seen on displays by three different ground radars, plus the airborne radar in the Canberra, is also a mystery.”
Details of the case, which happened in the summer of 1971, have been revealed by veteran British UFO investigator Philip Mantle, as one of his most memorable investigations, as he prepares to retire from the UFO conference scene.
Mr Mantle will recount this and a number of other UFO cases at the Outer Limits Magazine UFO conference in Hull on September 9.