National Archives of Australia file series E1327 control symbol 5/4/Air Part 6 titled "Unusual sightings and incidents," generated by RAAF Base Darwin, Northern Territory, has just been released to me by the National Archives. It is a 37 page file with details in the date range 1976 and 1978.
The file consists mainly of tables of "Satellite look angles for Darwin," issued by the Satellite Prediction Centre of the Weapons Research Establishment, in Adelaide, South Australia. However, there are two UFO reports on the file.
White lights in the sky:
On the 13 and 14 Nov 1976 at Providence Hill, NT between 2030 and 2100hrs, a group of ten people including L Rourke, the Cumaiyi family; plus Kim and Stephen Cartwright watched a white light as it travelled south across the sky, too high and too fast to be an aircraft. They did not believe it was a satellite, as it veered around to the south-east before disappearing.
On the next night at about the same time, they saw another light, but much brighter and apparently at a lower altitude. Within the next 30 minutes they watched four other white lights travelling in varying directions.
Squadron Leader S L Harding responded on behalf of the RAAF. He advised that there were no known aircraft in the area, but that several satellites were in the general area at about that time. "However, only one or two of these could possibly have been observed as described and then only under conditions of heavy light refraction. This is thought unlikely. Some other possible sources were also examined but without success.
"3. Your report together with our findings has now been passed to other agencies. Even though the source of this particular sighting may never be established, reports such as this add to our knowledge of the area and help eventually to establish patterns of activity. Please be assured that these reports are much appreciated and fully utilised. " (dated 23 Nov 1976.)
Crew of naval vessel reports UFO:
Pages 3-12 of this file describe observations by crew of the naval ship HMAS Adroit. This report is briefly mentioned by Bill Chalker in part four of his series "UFOs: Sub Rosa down under" (click here.) This newly released file contains more details.
The incident is summarised in a teletype from "NOCNA" to "RAYWACX/ MarineOPS Canberra" dated 112217z Apr 78.
"1. While at anchor in position 1208 south 12954 east a red light was observed at 112030IK bearing 280 estimated range 10NM for 30 seconds. I considered this to possibly be an ICOV and proceeded to intercept. Contact was not gained in 30 mins and I commenced a sweep to northeast and north.
2. At 112317IK in position 1205 south 12954 east an object bearing 285 was observed by several personnel to rise and hover and sink to the horizon several times before finally disappearing beyond the horizon. This object appeared very large and bathed with bright red lights and at one stage appeared to close the ship. Again the range could be estimated at 10 miles and bearing width was 4 degrees. The light also appeared at one stage to flicker on and off. The phenomenon lasted several minutes.
3. Weather conditions on both occasions of sightings were good. Visibility 8NM. 1/2 cloud with no cloud below 15 degrees elevation. Radar conditions and performances were excellent with land echoes at 25 miles and trawler size contact 15NM. No contacts were gained to offset these sightings.
4. There is no possibility that the second sighting was the Moon setting and I believe them to have caused by a UFO.
5. Personnel who observed the second sighting were Leut J D Napier RAN, SBLT I O Schmidt, RAN POQMG I Potter, PO COX B Cristensen, LSETC D Williamson, LSETP G Gillies, ABQMG G Brown, ABMTPD N Paser, ABQMG M Townsend, ABWM M Howard."
A multiple page RAAF form "Report of unusual aerial sightings: was completed by Lieut John David Napier, age 26, naval officer. The sighting location is given as 12 deg 5 min south, 129 deg 54 mins east. The second observation started at 2137 (IK) and finished at 2140 (IK) on 11 Apr 1978. Weather conditions are shown as "One half cloud, nil wind, sea calm, nil swell. Visibility 8-10NM.
The object was sighted at bearing 285 degrees at 4 degrees elevation. It was last seen at 285 deg 0 deg elevation. An accompanying sketch shows a large, oval shaped object with the major axis parallel to the horizon, with the centre of the oval at 4 degrees elevation. A note says "The lights around the entire object, bathing it in brilliant red light. No sound was emitted. Shape as shown. From observer's position - bearing width 4 degrees."
Under "additional comments" Napier wrote:
"In excellent radar conditions, no contact was gained to offset the sighting. The object appeared to hover above the horizon, then descend to the horizon then rise and switch off the lights. The object was next sighted on the horizon with lights only burning at both ends. The object then rose and became completely illuminated before sinking below the horizon. At one stage the light intensified and appeared to close the ship."
The RAAF's investigating officer indicated on the report form that there were no military aircraft in the area. An Ansett DC9 heading 230 deg at 19/2000ft speed 400 departed from Darwin at 1024z to Port Headland. For some reason it returned to Darwin and then took off again at 1224z.
There were no known balloons in the area.
Temp was 28 deg dry bulb, 24 deg wet bulb. 79% humidity. Cloud cover 1 octo at 3000 feet cumulus. No temperature inversions. Nil wind. (Source Met bureau at Darwin.)
The RAAF investigating officer wrote " It has not been possible to interview the crew as Adroit is on sea duty with short refuel stops in DAR. They are scheduled for longer post(?) time early May. Will interview then."
The officer's evaluation of the sighting reads "Cause unknown but lack of radar response points to some form of light aberration."
A covering memo dated 27 Apr 78 from HQDAR to HQOC attention SOINTEL subject Unusual Aerial Sightings states:
"1. Herewith is a sighting report on an unidentified light observed by members of the crew of HMAS Adroit. The sighting is interesting as it was made by a group of servicemen and probably has more credibility than some civilian/urban reports."
A rare observation submitted by an Australian naval vessel crew, of an unusual phenomenon, which remains unknown.