It is a dream job for Dave Hodrien, who has been fascinated with unidentified flying objects (UFOs) since he was a child.
By day, he works as a data programmer.
But in his free time, the father-of-one from Solihull probes UFO sightings around the Midlands and further afield.
Dave, 44, is the chairman and lead investigator of Birmingham UFO Group (BUFOG), which will start holding its regular meetings in Oldbury, Sandwell, again soon.
He has poured thousands of hours into investigating cases over the past decade, talking to people who claim to have seen UFOs and even been abducted.
It is a topic that often draws ridicule but Mr Hodrien believes there is too much evidence out there not to question whether we are alone and being visited on Earth.
One of the cases he investigated was a woman from Droitwich, Worcestershire, who claimed she had been abducted twice in a week.
On the advice of her husband, the woman put an infrared camera in her bedroom to capture evidence.
What followed was a recording which appeared to show her “dematerialise” from her bed and vanish for 12-and-a-half minutes, before suddenly reappearing.
The footage obtained by BUFOG from 2010, which can be viewed above , was believed to have “been genuine and not a deliberate hoax”, Dave concluded in his report.
It was even analysed by an American television series, called Fact Or Faked, which was unable to recreate the footage without the use of hidden contraptions, he said.
Dave told Birmingham Live: “The lady had experiences most of her life, but like a lot people pushed them to the back of her mind.
“In 2010, she had two abduction experiences in the space of a week.
“These were what is known as a trigger experience, meaning it was so traumatic and obvious to her that she clearly knew something had taken place.
“It caused her to start reassessing what had happened earlier in her life and that is when she got in touch with my group to investigate.
“Her husband made security cameras for a living, he put together infrared cameras.
“He didn’t really believe her but after her first abduction experience, she was very frightened to go to sleep in the bedroom where it happened.
“To set her mind at ease, her husband said ‘we will set up a security camera at night and start filming when you get off to sleep, nothing will come and get you’.
“About three days after they set up a camera, she had this second abduction experience. She comes out of the experience and realises something has happened here.
“In the morning, they check the footage and at about 3.30am or 4am, there is a period of about 13 minutes where she seems to dematerialize from the bed.
“You can see her under the covers, it looks like she is arching her back upwards almost and then all of a sudden it folds inwards and the bed covers go impossibly flat.
“After about 13 minutes, the bed covers kind of shoot up in the air and when it drops back down, she is back down by her husband.”
An investigation that Dave is currently working on is a “historic case” from an elderly man, who saw a UFO, aged 18, outside the landmark Rotunda building in Birmingham.
Dave said: “He worked at the base of the Rotunda. Him and three other people were asked to take this chiller up to the street level, to get it loaded onto a lorry.
“They were out there, on Queensway, where the new Bullring shopping centre is now.
“Essentially, they looked over in the direction of New Street station and saw a glowing red sphere that came from New Street and it reached the top of the Rotunda.
“Then it started to move down the side of the Rotunda, almost like it was looking into the windows, in a vertical line.
“It gets about three quarters of the way down, stops for several seconds, then reverses and goes back up to the top of the Rotunda.
“Then it shoots off into the sky at an absolutely dramatic speed. We have only got the testimonial evidence of this one incident.”
Another notable sighting that happened in the region was from Kingswinford, Dudley, in 2008, where four young men witnessed a “black octagonal-shaped UFO”, Dave said.
That was the year he was made the official investigator at BUFOG, which was formed in 2007.
Over the years, Dave has investigated a variety of cases from people, who come from different walks of life, including those from the military.
Some people who approach him are too embarrassed to confide in their loved ones about what happened to them, he says.
He approaches each case in a grounded manner, analysing the evidence pragmatically without jumping to conclusions.
Dave said: “I like to give everybody the time of day, whether they have seen a light in the sky or a full blown close encounter.
“Or even repeated cases, where they have had lots of experience throughout their life – which can sometimes take ages to document.
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“Every single case is a story worth telling I think. I always look into what it may or may not have been.”
Being a UFO investigator is a rare role. There are not many people in the UK doing this job.
With the Ministry Of Defence closing its UFO desk in 2009, people no longer have an official body to report sightings to in this country.
That makes Dave and BUFOG a helpline and contact point for people wanting to report experiences which they believe are UFO sightings.
Asked to describe his role, which is entirely voluntary, Dave said: “Hard work, fascinating and intriguing. I’ve heard some amazing things over the years off people.
“It is stuff the majority of people don’t hear about, it’s this kind of hidden world going on alongside the normal one.
“It is something I always wanted (to do) as a child, in my teens when I went to UFO conferences, I’d heard talks about being on the frontline of this.
“The creation of BUFOG in 2007 gave me the driving force to dive in with both feet.”
But while he volunteers a lot of his time investigating possible UFO sightings, does he believe in the existence of them?
“I’m definitely of the opinion that, that it is really going on a global level,” he said.
“Some of the objects seen are intelligently controlled, advanced craft, deploying manoeuvres vastly in advance of anything we have got.
“Those craft are piloted by beings most likely – I would say, but not 100 per cent – from another planet or elsewhere in the universe.”
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But despite his passion for the subject, the UFO topic is a controversial one, drawing scepticism from critics who may argue there is not concrete enough evidence.
Asked about what he would say to those disbelieving in UFOs, he said: “I would say look into it in more depth.
“A lot of people will dismiss the topic without really delving into the cases. Look at the cases on record, watch some documentaries, start reading reports from investigators like myself and the truth will become apparent.
“It is not a religion, I’m not trying to convert people. People have all sorts of ideas on the subject and I don’t like to dismiss those ideas either.”
He is now looking forward to BUFOG holding its monthly meetings again, which were postponed for 19 months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The next meeting will take place at Hot Shots snooker club, in Crosswells Road, Oldbury, on October 7 at 7.30pm.
Members of BUFOG will be attending but Dave said non-members are welcome too.
Meetings will feature the latest news on UFOs and lectures about the subject.
Dave is also the United Kingdom Deputy Representative for the International Coalition for Extra-terrestrial Research (ICER).
For more information about BUFOG, visit www.bufog.com.
This content was originally published here.