Bizarre flashing lights, spinning silver orbs and black triangles hovering in the air -all have been reported to the Government as UFOs by the regions sky-watchers, The Northern Echo can reveal.

Records held by the Ministry of Defence show that scores of sightings have been reported by residents in the North over the past eight years.

Witnesses who said they had seen the mysterious aircraft include police officers and RAF pilots.

The reports came to light after The Northern Echo submitted a Freedom of Information request to establish the number of reports in the past year.

The MoD confirmed that none had been recorded over the region's skies this year, but revealed that a total of 63 had been received since 1999.

The objects include a silver pyramid reported over Sunderland in October last year, and an arrow-shaped craft the size of ten football pitches reported flying above Corbridge, Northumberland, in February 1999.

In the early hours of September 4, 2005, four police officers reported a diamond shaped object the size of a large helicopter over Wolsingham, County Durham.

A Durham Police spokesman said: "The officers reported the incident after radioing in to ask if there were any air support operations going on involving the RAF or the police in that area, but there were not."

One entry was submitted by an RAF pilot in November 1999 who tracked a moving red light over Whitby.

One intriguing pattern shows five reports received within hours of each other on October 16, 2005, from people in Hull, Scarborough, Whitby and Redcar, who all said they had seen a silver or orange ball with bright lights moving along the coast.

An MoD spokeswoman said none of the incidents had been officially investigated.

She said: "Unless there is evidence of a potential threat to the UK from an external source and, to date, no UFO report has revealed such evidence, we do not attempt to identify the precise nature of each sighting."

Nick Pope, the former head of the MoD's UFO project, said the number of reports received from North Yorkshire could be down to the area's military presence.

He said: "Many of these objects will have been misidentified, but the incidents that have been reported by the police or pilots are the most interesting.

"The police and the military are trained observers. When they spot something they have never seen before, that is when we should sit up and pay attention."

One incident can be easily explained. In July last year, partygoers at a barbecue in Seaham, County Durham, saw mysterious orange lights floating in the night sky. It later emerged that the glowing orbs were paper lanterns released by a local couple at a house-warming party