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.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The SIGMA technical committee of the French 3AF

Hi all,


I have been taking a look at French organisations currently interested in UAP. One of these is a French learned body, know as 3AF.  3AF's full name is the Association Aeronautique et Astronautique de France. Its aims include, to bring together persons interested in the fields of aeronautics and astronautics; to develop specialised information on these fields, and to provide a forum for members to share information on these topics. It was formed in 1972. (Click here.)


3AF has a number of technical committees, covering such topics as commercial aviation, drones, and space exploration. However, of particular interest to us is the "SIGMA" technical committee.  The 3AF website tells us that the activity of this particular technical committee is the " of unidentified aerospace phenomena."

A post on the website of "Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena (UAP) Observations Reporting Scheme" (click here) provides further insight into the history of SIGMA. Philippe Ailleris (click here) attended a meeting in Paris on 11 January 2013 at which there was a presentation by Alan Boudier of SIGMA - 3AF. Alan Boudier created the French Commission SIGMA in May 2008 within 3AF. Ailleris's notes include:

"Within this structure, the SIGMA Commission goal is to study Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena and in particular to:

a. Analyse official declassified documents (From France and other countries);
b. Organise meetings with relevant important institutions and researchers interested or associated with the PAN topic;
c. Perform some detailed analysis of evidence (e.g. pictures, films, testimony, samples.)

At its inception, the SIGMA commission comprised around 14 eminent scientists and military persons, ( e.g. Astrobiologist A Brack; Army General P Bescond; European astronaut J F Clervoy; GEIPAN Expert F Louange.)

In May 2010, the first progress report of the SIGMA commission was released..."


"The current situation in France" section reviews a number of official and non-official French bodies who at some stage have looked into the phenomenon. These include GEIPAN (click here); COMETA (click here); The General Secretariat of National defines (SGDN); the General Directorate of the National Gendarmerie (DGGN); and civilian UAP groups.

Between 2008 and 2010, SIGMA 3AF representatives met with several of these organisations as well as discussing the topic with many others.

Section 4 of the report lists the most significant French cases as:

1. Madagascar 16 Aug 1954.
2. Valensole 1 Jul 1965.
3. Trans en Provence 8 Jan 1981.
4. Nancy. 28 Oct 1982.
5. Biarritz/Strasbourg  5 Nov 1990.

The document reviews some of the characteristics of UAP, namely, high accelerations; low speed-very large objects; silent propulsion and high speeds.

The report rejects a terrestrial explanation for the phenomenon. The working hypothesis is that of a non-terrestrial origin. To read an English translation of the full report, click here.


In October 2013, the SIGMA committee of 3AF commenced a new phase of operations and changed its name to SIGMA2 to reflect this change. It set new, less ambitious goals, as it saw that a serious study of the phenomenon could not be achieved in a short time frame.  Luc Dini (click here) was appointed Manager off the new style commission. Dini is currently with Thales Air Systems as Business Development Director Missile Defense (for further details click here and here. )

Friday, August 22, 2014

Another important scientific meeting on UAP

Hi all,

On 31 July 2014, the Chilean government's "Committee for the Studies of Anomalous Aerial Phenomena" (CEFAA), (click here) sponsored a panel to look at whether or not UAP pose any danger to civilian and military air operations.

Participants were reported to have included two notable astronomers, a nucelar chemist, an aerospace medicine doctor, a physicist, and Army and Air Force psychologists.

There were also specialists from the Ministerial Department of Civil Aeronautics (DGAC), including the Director of the Meteorological Observatory; the Chief of Radar Operations Metropolitan Centre; the Head of Accident Investigations; the Head of Airport Security Operations. Police, Navy and Air Force representatives were also present.

The panel's conclusion was:

"Based on the evaluation at the meeting, the Committee concluded that UAP do not represent a threat or a danger to air operations. either civilian or military."

(Source: "Huffington Post" article by Leslie Kean 12 August 2014. For the full story click here.)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

New book alert - Peters

Hi all,

My local library continues to surprise me by coming up with new books on UAP. The latest find was Ted Peters' "UFOs:God's Chariots? Spirituality, Ancient Aliens and Religious Yearnings in the Age of Extraterrestrials," published this year, by New Page Books, Pompton Plains, NJ. ISBN 978-1-60163-318-7.

New version:

This book is a second version of the original 1977 work of the same title. The book aims to "...fill out our understanding of at least one important dimension of the UFO phenomenon. This is the religious dimension, the spiritual dimension." (p.12.) "Overall, this book is an attempt to understand how we understand Unidentified Flying Objects." (p.13.)


The main thrust of the book is to explore four models. "We understand new and unusual phenomenon in terms of prior systems of belief. The close encounter, abduction and contactee cases examined in this book seem to fall loosely into four basic belief subsystems...Interstellar Diplomat (a political model); the Research Scientist (a scientific model); the Celestial Savior ( a religious model); and the Hybridizer ( a model that combines the scientific and the religious.)" (p.37.)

Interstellar diplomat:

Encounters with aliens is viewed "...with centuries of political wars and international diplomacy contributing to our experience." (p.38.)

Research Scientist:

When mankind went to the Moon we collected rocks to analyse. We view UFO visitations as explorers.

Celestial Savior:

"...the ufonauts teach us to save ourselves rather than we do it for us." (p.38.)


Reflecting on abduction accounts which "...resemble reports from earlier in that decade of childhood sexual abuse and satanic ritual abuse." (p.38.)

Peters explores each model by presenting individual cases; and a review of relevant cultural events, such as films.

Interspersed in the models, among other things,  are looks at Roswell; MJ-12; Philip Corso; Disclosure; the Condon Committee; Erich von Daniken, and ancient astronauts.


Peters explores the ETH as a proposed hypothesis for UFOs. He points out that although there are three sides involved (civilian UFO groups; the scientific community, and scientists such as Hynek and Vallee)  " most people see it, the controversy has only two sides. The argument is between the first two positions mentioned above: either pro UFO-ETH or con UFO-ETH." (p.105.)

Peters observes "What is interesting to note is that each position in the debate accuses the other of being unscientific." (p.106.)


Peters is currently Emeritus Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. In chapter ten he examines his central hypothesis . "In this book I am testing the hypothesis that even though we in our modern era have been enlightened by the discoveries of science, to the extent that we feel we have outgrown the mythological world view of the ancient religions, the same spiritual needs that found expression in those ancient religions are still with us." (p.202.)

In the book he is also exploring a second hypothesis "...which I will call the global anxiety hypothesis." (p.207.) This hypothesis suggests that the growth of interest in UFOs, reflects the correlation between flaps and international tensions. "I think that, to some extent, belief in UFOs is an expression of insecurity or anxiety and the need for salvation." (p.230.)


Peters defines a new term "astrotheology," which he states is "...that branch of theology which provides a critical analysis of the contemporary space sciences combined with an explication of classic doctrines such as creation and christology for the purposes of constructing a comprehensive and meaningful understanding of our human situation within an astonishingly immense cosmos." (p.260.)

The ETI religious crisis survey:

Peter proposed and tested the hypothesis, "Confirmed contact with extraterrestrial intelligent beings would precipitate such a crisis among traditional religions that these religions would collapse." (p.265.)

With 1300 respondents to the survey, "It became clear that the vast majority of religious believers, regardless of religion see no threat to their personal beliefs caused by potential contact..." (p.265.)


I found this a deeply thoughful work. It was hard going reading at times, however, it was always worth the effort.