The Disclosure Australia Project uncovered National Archives of Australia (NAA) file series A9755, and determined that it consisted of about two dozen RAAF UAP files for the period 1984-1996. Dominic McNamara and I visited RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia to look at these files which were brought from Canberra to Edinburgh, specifically to allow us to peruse the files. However, there were conditions applied. We could not take digital photographs of documents. We could not dictate details into a recording device. We were permitted to take notes, but not to record witnesses' names. A RAAF Military Police Officer sat in the room with us at all times, and checked our hand written notes before we left the base. We later applied for copies of all the documents on these files under the FOI Act, but our request was denied on the grounds that there were several thousand pages and this was too much of a workload for the RAAF to undertake. We recorded our notes in a Project Newsletter.
Move forward to 2013 and we now find that some of the files under A9755 are finally (partly) available under the Archives Act. I submitted an application for access to those parts of the series which turned up in RecordSearch, and two have just been digitised for me to view. This post will provide details of one file. A later post, the second file.
Control symbol 6:
File series A9755, control symbol 6, is titled "Headquarters RAAF Base Williamtown [Unusual Aerial Sightings] [UAS] UFO - Unidentified Flying Objects." Its date range is 11 Jan 1984 to 11 Dec 1986. It is held in the NAA's Canberra office, barcode 3533436, and is open with exception (closed period.)
There are 46 pages currently available. The file's original reference is 6/44/Air Part 1 "Unusual Aerial Sightings." The blue file over has a handwritten note "RDA1013 2.2 (A) Feb 92 (D) 2067." It was opened on 18 Sep 1984 and closed 3 Feb 1987. Its classification level was originally "Restricted." 49 pages have been withheld as outside the Archives Act date range.
What's on the file?
There are a number of low interest UAP reports from the period, for example:
* 10 Jul 1984 1840hrs Mayfield, NSW. Formation of lights travelling east to west.
* 17 Aug 1984 2100k Williamtown, NSW. 10 mins. Red light travelling south to north.
* 29 Jun 1984 Time not stated. Six or seven bright white lights travelling fast in all directions.
*29 Dec 1984 2130hrs Wallsend NSW. Stationary light in the west.
On the 14 Jul 1985 the base received a number of calls that day about UAP. Some of them referred to what was apparently the same object:
0830 Liddell Power Station, NSW. Stationary steady silver light in the sky at 10,000 feet to the west.
1315 Lauriton(?) Silver object very high. Stationary and spherical.
1345 North George. Silver spherical object north at 45 degrees elevation.
1440 Tarree. Large, round, silver object above cirrus clouds. 18 degrees elevation. NNE. Stationary.
The RAAF actually conducted an investigation of these reports. An undated RAAF minute includes "Various agencies such as RAAF Richmond Ops and the Dept of Aviation briefing office at Sydney were contacted but none had received similar reports or were aware of the identity of the object.
A second, undated, minute about the object reports "I enquired at the Williamtown Met Office and spoke to Mr Jeff Smith and then Mr Larry McGrath in Sydney.
2. Mr McGrath reported that on the 14th July he had received a number of similar reports and in response had tracked an object on radar. Since it was drifting with the wind at 15-20 kts he deduced it was a balloon. However, since it produced a significant radar paint he assumed it was a research balloon which can carry up to a 5 tonne payload. He checked a number of authorities but could not determine if it was launched by any one of them. Natams(?) did not warn of any such landing. McGrath suspected that it may have been launched at Parkes, NSW. A police witness reported seeing a "radio package" beneath the object and this trends to substantiate the balloon theory.
Mirage jet intercepts UAP:
The file contains a report by a Mirage Jet pilot, which has a handwritten notation of 1230pm 5 Sep 1986.
"Report by Despot 546 -Vector to UFO
"I was vectored under 3CRU control to a target approx 320 degrees at 170 miles reference Williamtown, TACAN. Height estimated was either FL250 to FL300 or FL900.
2. Cruising at FL300 at a distance of approx 35 miles I sighted the object in my 12 o'clock position, high. I turned 15 degrees off attack heading and climbed to FL500.
3. The target from an easterly approach appeared to be balloon shaped with some sort of appendage hanging below. However with the target approx 30 to 40 thousand feet high it was hard to detail accurately.
4. The target did not appear to be moving at any speed and I flew one 360 degrees orbit around it from north and westerly aspects. The object was unrecognisable due to the high reflection of the Sun.."
A RAAF Minute about the event states:
"1. Following a sighting of a UFO by civil ATC radar and RAAF 3CRU a Mirage was launched to investigate. Attached is a report by the pilot identifying the object as a balloon." The Minute details efforts to locate the origin of the balloon. "None of these authorities have or appear to be interested to investigate this incident more fully to determine the balloon's origin." "Since the matter is not of a National Security nature no further action is required in regard to UFO as laid down in Ref A."
A number of questions come to my mind:
1. Whose balloons were they?
2. With the possibility that a balloon would collide with an aircraft, wouldn't the then equivalent of Air Services of Australia be very interested in this object (balloon?)?
3. How many UAP reports have been, or continue to be, caused by unidentified "balloons?"
4. Given the lack of determination of whose "balloons" they were; were they in fact balloons?
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