Monday, September 15, 2014

The 1980 Smithsonian UAP symposium

Hi all,

This is the last in a current series of posts about scientific meetings devoted to the topic of UAP. I have been able to find out very little about this particular symposium, other than the facts below.

The Smithsonian Institute sponsored a half day UAP symposium on 6 September 1980, in Washington, DC, USA.

Six speakers presented papers. These were:

* J Allen Hynek (click here.)
* Allan Hendry (click here.)
* Bruce Maccabee (click here.)
* Phillip J Klass (click here.)
* James E Oberg (click here.)
* Robert Sheaffer - his paper is available online (click here.)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

2013 symposium on official and scientific investigations of UAP and UFOs

Hi all,

Continuing my series on scientific symposia, which have been conducted over the years.

On 29 and 30 June 2013, a UAP symposium was held at Greenboro, North Carolina, USA.

It was organised by Kent Senter. Following a 1985 sighting, he founded the North Carolina chapter of MUFON. After being diagnosed with incurable cancer he decided to organise and host this symposium.

Speakers were:

* Dr Richard Haines - "UAP and Flight Safety: There is a Relationship." (Click here.)

* Charles Halt - "Incident at RAF Bentwaters." (Click here.)

* Leslie Kean - "Government and UFOs." (Click here.)

*Nancy Talbot - "The science of crop circles." (Click here.)

* Alexander Wendt - "Militant agnosticism and the UFO taboo." (Click here.)

* Ron Westrum - "Hidden events." (Click here.)

* Wilfried De Brouwer - "UAP wave over Belgium." (Click here.)

* Jose Lay - "The official UAP agency in Chile." (Click here.)

* Xavier Passot - "GEIPAN: The official French bureau for UFO investigations." (Click here.)

*Timothy Good - "Need to know: UFOs the military and intelligence." (Click here.)

For further information please click here and here.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A 1997 scientific UAP review panel

Hi all,

I have been recently posting about scientific groups who have reviewed UAP over the years. Today's post concerns a 1997 scientific panel review, undertaken in the USA. I draw my information from "The UFO Enigma" by Peter A Sturrock; Warner Books, New York, 1999. (Click here.)

How did the panel come about?

" December 1996, Mr Laurance Rockefeller (click here), a distinguished and influential citizen and chairman of the LSR fund, invited me to review with him our understanding of the problem posed by UFO reports. We agreed that the problem was in a very unsatisfactory state of ignorance and confusion. I expressed the opinion that the problem will be resolved only by extensive and open professional scientific investigation, and that an essential prerequisite for such research is that more scientists acquire an interest in this topic." (p.61.)

"...therefore conceived of a meeting at which prominent investigators of UFO reports would meet with a panel of eight or nine scientists with wide-ranging interests and expertise." (p.61.)

Investigator group:

* Dr Richard Haines (USA) (Click here.)
* Dr Illobrand von Ludwiger (Germany) (Click here.)
* Dr Mark Rodeghier (USA) (Click here.)
* John F Schuessler (USA) (Click here.)
* Dr Erling Strand (Norway) (Click here.)
* Dr Michael Swords (USA) (Click here.)
* Dr Jacques Vallee (USA) (Click here.)
* Jean-Jacques Velasco (France) (Click here.)

The review panel:

* Dr Von Eshleman, Emeritus Professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. ·Radiowave propagation and radar.) (Click here.)
* Dr Thomas Holzer. (Space sciences.)
* Dr J R Jokipii, Regents Professor of Planetary Sciences and Astronomy at the University of Arizona. (Geophysical phenomena.) (Click here.)
* Dr Charles R. Tolbert. (Observational astronomy.) (Click here.)
* Dr Francois Louange. (Photographic analysis - France.) (Click here.)
*Dr H J Melosh, Professor of Planetary Science at the University of Arizona. (Geologist.) (Click here.)
* Dr James J Papike, Head of the Institute of Meteoritics. (Upper atmospheric phenomena.) (Click here.)
* Dr Guenther Reitz. German Aerospace Center. (Radiation injuries.) (Click here.)
*Dr Bernard Veyret. Bioelectromagnetics Laboratory at the University of Bordeaux, France. (Plant biology.) (Click here.)


David Pritchard (click here) and Harold Puthoff (click here) served as moderators.


The venue selected was the Pocantico conference centre at Rockefeller Estate in Tarrytown, New York."  The group convened on 29 September 1997, for three days.

Presentations by investigators:

* Dr Richard Haines - Photographic evidence.
* Dr Jacques Vallee - Luminosity estimates.
*Jean-Jacques Velasco - radar evidence.
* Dr Erling Strand - The Hessdalen Project.
* Dr Mark Rodeghier - Vehicle interference.
* Dr Richard Haines - Aircraft equipment malfunctioning.
* Dr Michael Swords - Apparent gravitational and.or inertial effects.
* Jean-Jacques Velasco - Injuries to vegetation.
* John F Schuessler - Physiological effects on witnesses.
* Jacques Vallee - Analysis of debris.

Panel's response:

Pages 120-122 present the "Panel's conclusions and recommendations." Among these were:

"It was clear that at least a few reported incidents might have involved rare but significant phenomena such as electrical activity high above thunderstorms ( e.g. sprites) or rare cases of radar ducting." (p.121.)

"On the other hand, the review panel was no convinced that any of the evidence involved currently unknown physical processes or pointed to the involvement of an extraterrestrial intelligence." (p.121.)

"It may therefore be valuable to carefully evaluate UFO reporters to extract information about unusual phenomena currently unknown to science." (p.121.)

"It appears that most current UFO investigations are carried out at a level of rigour that is not consistent with prevailing standards of scientific research." (p.121.)

"Studies should concentrate on cases which include as much independent physical evidence as possible and strong witness testimony." (p.122.)

"Some form of formal regular contact between the UFO community and physical scientists could be productive." (p.122.)

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science - UAP symposium 1971

Hi all,


Having recently posted about the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics UAP study committee (click here) (1967-1970); and the American  Association for the Advancement of Science 1969 UAP symposium (click here), this post takes us closer to my home, in Adelaide, South Australia. This is because in 1971, the South Australian Division of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science (ANZAAS) (click here), held a one day symposium, in Adelaide, on 30 October 1971. I doubt if many blog readers have ever heard of this symposium, so I thought it would be useful to write a little about it.

Invitation to RAAF:

Interestingly, we can gain insight into the aims of the symposium from correspondence to be found on National Archives of Australia file series A703, control symbol 554/1/30 Part 2, the RAAF's UAP policy file.

On 16 April 1971 Dr B H Horton, the symposium convenor, wrote to the Australian government's Department of Air. This body was the official Australian government agency charged with the responsibility for UFO research. The letter read:

"The committee of the South Australian Division of ANZAAS is convening a one day symposium on the topic of "The Unidentified Flying Object Problem." It is our feeling that there is a certain amount of unhealthy speculation on this subject which tends towards belief in obstruction by scientific and officials and an almost religious attitude.

Our aim is to look at the field and include the hypothesis that the phenomena are related to extraterrestrial life forms and examine this from a number of scientific viewpoints.

As an introduction a representative of a UFO organisation will speak. We then hope that a spokesman for the Department of Air would explain the processing of reports. This approach would repute, in the eyes of the public, the idea of deliberate suppression by officials of such reports.

I would be grateful if you could arrange for a member of your Department to address our symposium on this topic. The period of the talk would be 25 minutes with the option of joining a panel to discuss audience questions at the end of the day. The date of the symposium is 30th October 971. I am enclosing a first draft of a program for the symposium for your information.

Trusting you can assist us in this venture."

Radio station switchboard jammed:

The attachment to this letter reveals the thinking behind the symposium, and its origin.

"During a recent discussion program with listeners' participation on a commercial radio station in Adelaide, the station switchboard was jammed one minute after opening and remained so for the one hour duration of the program.

The topic discussed, which produced such interest, was Unidentified Flying Objects. The listeners' contributions ranged from a personal report of sightings to statements of disbelief. Explanations of the sightings by a physicist on the program in terms of physical phenomena was more educated guesses than sound science. The basic reason for this is that few persons with scientific knowledge are willing to consider the problem seriously. Thus when the topic is discussed with the public, which is definitely interested, scientists appear unknowing and disinterested.

The Committee of the South Australian Division of ANZAAS felt that such an image does very little for the scientific community and, a one day symposium titled "The Unidentified Flying Object problem," to be held in Adelaide on October 30th 1971.

Format of symposium:

The form planned for the symposium is as follows"

(a) A statement of reported sightings by a senior member of the "Flying Saucer Research Group."

(b) A coverage of the treatment of such reports by official bodies given by a responsible member of such an organisation.

(c) A reasonably detailed discussion of the various physical phenomena usually described loosely by non specialists in a number of published explanations.

(d) In view of a largely held belief UFOs are extraterrestrial observers examination of this hypothesis should be considered. The first topic suggested is a study of compatibility of the form of sightings with known satellite observation techniques and foreseeable developments in this field.

(e) If UFOs are extraterrestrial, where is their place of origin? What are the chances of there being other planetary systems in the galaxy. e.g. are there theories relating to the angular momentum of stars and the possible existence of planets. What ranges of radiation fields, temperature conditions, atmospheres, would be expected.

(f) If other planetary systems exist, what conditions would support molecular structures of the complexity necessary for a sentient being capable of constructing surveillance vehicles. What atoms have properties capable of forming complex molecules. Are there examples of such structures. What is the probable form of an extraterrestrial being? How long would it take too develop? Is there a limit to the period that such a species would remain viable.

(g) Given hypothetical distribution of possible planetary systems in the galaxy, and hypothetical development and stable periods for a species what are the chances of space-time coincidence of two space capable technologies with foreseeable and conceptually possible transport systems.

(h) A final paper by a recognised scientist who regards the whole problem as real and worthy of serious attention by the scientific community in view of the observational material available and the often undermanned investigation of this material.

(i) A period in which some or all of the speakers form a panel to comment on points brought out in audience participation discussion."

RAAF response:

Digital page 39 of the file, is a minute from Group Captain R S Royston, Directorate of Air Force Intelligence (DAFI) to the Director of Public relations, dated 11 May 1971.

"1. Reference folio 43. It is suggested that you might reply advising the committee of the South Australian Division of ANZAAS that it would not be possible for a member of this Department to attend the symposium on 30 Oct 71 to discuss "The Unidentified Flying Object Problem."

2. It is suggested you might forward Dr Horton a copy of the summary of Unidentified Sightings that you hold in your directorate."

On this minute there are hand written notes, dated 12 May 1971 from the Director Public relations to Assistant Secretary, Air.

"DAFI has recommended that no member be made available to attend the above mentioned symposium. But I do not know whether this will be the departmental attitude. The attached address by Mr R G Roberts will be sent as a useful contribution. The ANZAAS body is a reputable one."

On 26 May 1971 A Sec A wrote to DAFI:

"I agree that a member of this Department should not attend this symposium. I also consider that the suggestion by S Air SS as a footnote to folio 44, that a description of our method of processing reports be provided in lieu of a speaker should be adopted. We might also include reference to our interest in Unidentified Flying Objects and the limits of this interest. A reference to the Condon Report would also be appropriate."

On the 17 Jun 1971, the Secretary, Department of Air, responded to Dr Horton:

"It is regretted that it will not be possible for a member of the Department of Air to attend the symposium on the topic of "The Unidentified Flying Objects Problem" to be held on 30th October 1971. It is hopped however, that the following information may be useful to your society during discussions.

There is no evidence that UFOs have landed in Australia, or, in fact, anywhere on earth. Naturally, however the Department of Air is concerned with any possible threat to Australian security and in that context all reported sightings of UFOs are investigated by RAAF officers. When a sighting is reported to the RAAF, an officer from the nearest RAAF unit interviews the person making the report. The interviewing officer records all pertinent details on a pro forma which is subsequently forwarded to the department of Air where it is processed and summarised. Summaries are held by the Director of Public relations who will provide them to members of the public on request. The summary of sightings is at present being brought up to date and a copy will be forwarded to you within a few weeks.

You may or may not be aware that the United States until late 1969 had a team of scientists investigating the possible presence of UFOs in the American region. Under the direction of Dr Edward Condon, the University of Colorado carried out an exhaustive study. Their report concluded that little if anything had come from the study of UFO reports over a period of 20 years and that further extensive study is not justified. The findings of this investigation were published by Bantam books in a paperback titled "The Condon Report."

Attached for your use is a summary of an address given by Mr B J Roberts, a member of the Department of Air to the Ballarat Astronomical Society at ballast in 1965. It is hoped this will be of value to your discussion."

The Symposium is held:

The symposium went ahead, in Adelaide, South Australia, on 30 October 1971, with an audience of about 300 people in attendance. The program presented was:

1. Dr Brian Horton. Introduction to the topic.
2. Colin Norris. UFO researcher. A history of UFOs and selected reported sightings. (Click here.)
3. Dr Bill Taylor. Read the RAAF Roberts paper.
4. Dr M Duggin. "The Analysis of UFO Reports."

5. Lynn Mitchell. Deputy Director, SA Bureau of Meteorology. Meteorological phenomena of relevance to UFO reports.
6. Dr Peter Delin. "Psychological Aspects of Belief and Disbelief."
7. Dr Don Herbison-Evans. Among other things, described diffraction gratings and their value to gathering spectra of lights in the sky. (Click here.)

A motion was agreed by those at the symposium:

"The symposium as a group feels very strongly that some action on the problem of UFO reports be taken...(and) that  the possibility of setting up a subcommittee for the study of UFO reports be considered by the executive committee of ANZAAS (SA Division.)"

No such subcommittee eventuated.


In looking for a copy of the proceedings of this symposium, I located a copy in the National Library of Australia, but failed to find one in the State Library of South Australia. I would welcome hearing from anyone who may have a scanned copy of this document, via an email to me at

Sunday, August 31, 2014

American Association for the Advancement of Science - 1969 Symposium

Hi all,

As a comparison to the recent blog posts on the former SIGMA and the current SIGMA2 of the French 3AF (click here and here) , I also drew readers' attention to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' three year study (1967-1970) of UAP (click here.)  One of the reasons for doing this, was to see if we had made any advances in methodology and findings, over the ensuing 44 years. I was then reminded that the American Association for the Advancement of Science (click here), held a symposium on UAP in 1969.

To refresh my own memory, and for the benefit of blog readers who may never have come across that Symposium, I turned to "UFOs:A Scientific Debate" edited by Carl Sagan (click here) and Thornton Page (click here.) The book was published by Cornell University Press, Ithica, in 1972. ISBN 0-8014-0740-0 (click here.)

"In the year preceding the publication of the Condon Report, the editors of this book approached the American Association for the Advancement of Science with the idea of organizing a general symposium at an annual meeting of the Association to discuss the UFO issue. The AAAS Board approved such a symposium for the December 1968 meeting in Dallas...the Symposium was postponed for a year and was finally held on December 26 and 27, 1969, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston." (p.xii.)

The aim of the Symposium was:

" bring the various facts on UFOs to the attention of scientists and to show enthusiasts the implications of the very much better organized facts in the physical, biological and social sciences..." (p.3.)

The talks presented at the Symposium were:

Robert L Baker. "Motion Pictures of UFOs."
Frank D Drake. "On the Abilities and Limitations of Witnesses of UFOs and Similar Phenomenon."
Lester Grinspoon and Alan D Persky. "Psychiatry and UFO Reports."
Robert L Hall. "Sociological Perspectives on UFO Reports."
Kenneth R Hardy. "Unusual Radar Echoes."
William K Hartmann. "Historical Perspectives: Photos of UFOs."
J Allen Hynek. "Twenty-One Years of UFO Reports."
James E McDonald. "Science in Default:Twenty-Two Years of Inadequate UFO Investigations."
Donald H Menzel. "UFOs-the Modern Myth."
Philip Morrison. "The Nature of Scientific Evidence:A Summary."
Thornton Page. "Education and the UFO Phenomenon."
Douglass R Price-Williams. "Psychology and Epistimology of UFO Interpretations."
Franklin Roach. "Astronomers' Views on UFOs."
Carl Sagan. "UFOs: The Extraterrestrial and Other Hypotheses."
Walter Sullivan. "Influence of the Press and Other Mass Media."

I found some interesting quotes in the book:

""I can present only my own experiences, which has shown that in the UFO business one can trust nothing secondhand." William K Hartmann. (p.11.)

"I think it likely that there are many extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy, but I think the evidence of UFO sightings does not support the hypothesis of visitation by these extraterrestrials." Franklin Roach. (p.32.)

"The data that I have reviewed and analyzed since 1954 has led me to believe that there is substantial evidence to support the claim that an unexplained phenomenon - or phenomena - is present in the environs of the earth..." R M L Baker. (p.190.)

(Referring to witnesses of bright meteors.) "The first fact we learned was that a witness's memory of such exotic events fades quickly. After one day, about half of the reports were clearly erroneous...after five days, people report more imagination than truth. It became clear that later they were reconstructing in their imagination an event based on some dim memory of what happened. This is something that the UFO investigator rarely appreciates." Frank D Drake. (p.254.)

"No scientifically adequate investigation of the UFO problem has been carried out during the entire twenty-two year period between the first extensive wave of sightings of unidentified aerial objects in the summer of 1947, and the convening of this symposium." James E McDonald. (p.52.)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics - UAP study

Hi all,

After posting two recent articles about SIGMA and SIGMA2 of the 3AF, I recalled a parallel story from forty seven years ago. To refresh my memory, I turned to my hard copy of  the book "The UFO Enigma," (1999) by Peter A Sturrock, (click here)  published by Warner Books, New York, (click here for a book review) for the story.


"...I learned that some positive action had been taken by one professional organization: the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) (click here to look at their website) In 1967, the Board of Directors of the AIAA asked two of its technical committees, namely the Atmospheric Environment Committee and the Space and Atmospheric Physics Committee, to form a subcommittee to arrive at an unbiased assessment of the status of the UFO problem.

Its chairman was Dr Joachim P Kuettner, a distinguished atmospheric scientist at the Environmental Research Laboratories of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Boulder. Kuettner also had the distinction of holding some world records as a glider pilot (click here for further information on Kuettner.)

The other members of the subcommittee were Jerold Bidwell (Martin Marietta), Glenn A Cato (TRN Systems), Bernard N Charles (Hughes Aircraft), Murray Dryer (NOAA Environmental Research Laboratories), Howard D Edwards (Georgia Institute of Technology), Paul McCready Jr. (Meteorology Research Inc.). Andrew J Masley (McDonnell Douglas Missile and Space SDystems), Robert Rados (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), Donald M Swingle (US Army Electronics Command), and Vernon J Zurich (NOAA Environmental Research Laboratories.)

The question:

The subcommittee addressed the very basic question: Does the UFO problem present a legitimate scientific problem deserving the attention of the scientific and engineering communities? They delved deeply into theoretical and philosophical aspects of the problem and Condon met with the subcommittee more than once.

The subcommittee published its report in 1970 in the widely read aerospace journal Astronautics and Astrophysics (Kuettner, 1970). Unlike the Condon report, this was a committee report, subscribed to by all members of the subcommittee. The subcommittee also arranged for publication of two notable radar-visual cases that had been considered by the Colorado Project. Articles by Gordon D Thayer (who had been a member of the Colorado Project) and by McDonald gave more detailed accounts of the 1956 "Lakenheath" case (Thayer, 1971) and the 1957 "RB-47" case (McDonald, 1971) respectively.

In referring to Condon's "summary of the study", the Kuettner subcommittee stated that "[we] did not find a basis in the report for his prediction that nothing of scientific value will come of further studies." On the contrary, they found that "a phenomenon with such a high ratio of unexplained cases (about 30%) should arouse sufficient scientific curiosity to continue its study."

Subcommittee finding:

It was the opinion of the subcommittee that "the only promising approach [would be] a continuing, moderate-level effort with emphasis on improved data collection by objective means and on high quality scientific analysis." (pp50-51.)

References given in Sturrock:

Kuettner, J P et al. (1970.) "UFO:An Appraisal of the Problem, A Statement by the UFO Subcommittee of the AIAA." Astronautics and Aeronautics, 8, No. 11, pp 49-51.

McDonald, J E (1971.) "UFO Encounter I, Sample Case Selected by the UFO subcommittee of the AIAA, Lakenheath, England: Radar-Visual Case, Aug 13-14, 1956." Astronautics and Aeronautics, 9 No 7, pp 66-70.

Thayer, G D (1971.) "UFO Encounter II, Sample Case Selected by the UFO Subcommittee of the AIAA, Lakenheath, England: Radar-Visual Case, August 13-14, 1956." Astronautics and Aeronautics, 9, No.9, pp.60-70.

Despite an Internet search, I could not locate digital copies of the above three Journal articles. If any blog reader has copies, I would appreciate hearing from you at

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Hi all,


Yesterday, I posted a piece ( click here to read) on the SIGMA technical committee of the French learned body, 3AF (click here). Last night I came across some additional information, which I thought I would share here.

The latest article, which I found on the 3AF website was titled "SIGMA2: a mandate, structure, work plan and action." It is written by Luc Dini, Manager of the SIGMA2 technical committee, and dated 21 July 2014.


"SIGMA2...will refer to the evidence and representations accompanied by physical data from databases, physical analysis, including new theories, focusing on observations of PANs likely to be exploited scientifically."

SIGMA2 will not conduct parallel field investigations like those by GEIPAN, but will instead focus on "unsolved cases." (GEIPAN type D.) It will also build technical and scientific networks in France and abroad, to examine possible causes. Lastly, SIGMA2 will also seek overseas cases, unlike GEIPAN.

A rough translation of GEIPAN's type 'D' is:

"The PAN D correspond to investigations that failed to advance an explanation for the observations reported, despite the quality and consistency of data and testimonials. These are, in the true sense, "unidentified aerospace phenomena.""

Work plan:

A three year work plan was set out in the article, which will include:

1. A literature review of works that offer a scientific analysis.

2. Gaining an understanding of the international environment, and making contact with new data or studies.

3. An operational database.

4. A 'contact group' whose main task will be to establish links with organisations able to "provide interesting case studies."

The article mentions that the GEIPAN database has 232 cases in their category 'D.' SIGMA2 have selected a few to study, which include:

* 28 January 1994. Flight AF3532 (details in French click here.)

* April 2007. Aircraft crew see UAP near the Channel Islands (details in English click here.)


It is so refreshing to see serious research of this nature being carried out in France; as compared to no official government or learned body interest, here in  Australia.

To read the full article (in French) click here.