A large area of the state of South Australia, the state in which I live, has, since the late 1940's, been used as a test range for missiles, bombs, manned aircraft and drones. It is still in use today. It is known as the Woomera rocket range; the Woomera test range; the Woomera prohibited area, or simply Woomera for short. It has been used by the British, the Americans and Australians. The area over the years has produced a number of reports of UAP.
Melbourne based researcher, Paul Dean, recently requested the National Archives of Australia (NAA) to digitise file series D250, control symbol 56/483, titled "Reports on unidentified aircraft, strange occurrences etc." The file was originally held by the former Australian government Department of Supply, is 174 pages long, and has a date range of 1952-1968. Although the Disclosure Australia Project (2003-2008) originally located and read the file, it did not have the file digitised for anyone to read.
As a secret test area, similar to other countries the Australian authorities were concerned with the possibility of foreign powers spying on what was going on in the area. One area of concern was aircraft overflying the area. As the title of the file suggests, the file contains reports of both identified and unidentified aircraft which were reported by individuals at the range.
One example of this type of report is documented by range security staff as having taken place on 26 Oct 1953. There were reports of an unidentified aircraft. One observer was a Captain Taylor who at the time was flying a civilian passenger flight nearby, The plane was a TAA DC4 on a commercial flight. Taylor reported what he took to be an unknown aircraft in the Cape Elizabeth area at 1915z. Range A radar picked up what seemed to be an aircraft 40 nautical miles north-east of the radar site. An aircraft was sent to investigate but found nothing unusual at the location.
On 9 Sep 1966, Squadron Leader Johnston at Evettsfield, reported another unidentified aircraft, red in colour, at 1120hrs. It was never identified.
These sort of reports are scattered throughout the file.
The file also contains numerous reports of such things as:
* 28 Apr 1952. Woomera West. Bright light seen at 45 degrees elevation travelling south-east to west/ north-west. Duration 15 seconds. Possible meteor.
* 24 Jan 1962. Coober Pedy, SA. A Mrs Brewster reported seeing orange and blue lights breaking up in the north-western sky. Possible meteor.
* 15 Apr 1962. Woomera. Three witnesses reported seeing a well defined brilliant green, round, object for 8-9 seconds as it travelled across the sky. Possible meteor.
Of more interest to us there are a number of puzzling observations on the file. These include:
1. 8 Oct 1952 1345hrs
Warrant Officer Millward reported that a radar target was locked onto in the Shell Lagoon area. However, on looking through a telescope there was no visual object which corresponded to the radar paint. The range to the radar object was 3,000 yards. The radar echo was similar to that of a large aircraft. Between 1345hrs and 1400hrs the invisible to the eye image came with in a range of 1 mile.
Millward plotted the height and location of the invisible target at intervals of a minute. It height varied between 1500 and 5600 feet. "At times during the movement of the target, smaller targets seemed to detach themselves from the main target and drift away." There is also a note "At 0900hrs on 9th October, light snow fell at R2/Red lake."
An attached security branch report included:
"...it is most probable that the snow cloud had some connection. However, the possibility of a neutron cloud is not ruled out..."
"Mr G Trefry, Meteorological office has been informed. He states that such phenomenon have occurred before and has been known to affect radar. It is believed to be caused by ice packs at certain altitudes. A summary of the weather for 8th October is given a s follows. 'Fine, 5/8 high cloud, 25,000ft, warm temperature 84F, strong northerly wind 25-30mph.'"
2. 29 Jul 1955. 1055hrs.
Mr. A Downward was on duty at camera "B" post when he saw a shiny object in the sky...during trial number 383...a round object had been mistaken for a bomb being released by Lincoln aircraft and a series of photographs had been taken."
In a section on the file headed "Deduction as to nature of objects" it is noted that there was no identification on radar screens; no interference with electronic equipment; objects were mainly seen through 10x binoculars; the apparent high speed likely indicated low altitude; and the small size of the objects."
The report's conclusion was "...the objects seen were balls of thistle weeds and vegetation..." Nothing unusual was reported when the photographs were examined.
3. 5 May 1954. 1600hrs.
"...an unidentified target" was observed on Radar AA Number 4 Mk 6. The target appeared on high beam at a range of about 60,000 yards, bearing 355 degrees approaching "R", described a hyperbole over "R" and went out at a bearing of approx 90 degreees. "I timed it over 15,000 yards 10 seconds which would make its speed approximately 3,600 mph. Cfo Kbane observed this occurrence with me. Since the target was followed to 70,000 yards on high beam the height would be greater than 60,000 feet." The report is dated 6 May 1954 and was signed George A Trotter, s/sgt.
A second statement on file, by Sydney Baker, of the firm Vickers-Armstrong was headed "Report on a flying object sighted on 5th May 1954" includes:
"I was at Range R1 (Post R1), the radar post, standing by the Security Officer's hut and looking towards the radar post at approximately 1645hrs, observing one of our trials through binoculars.
This object appeared to be travelling towards me or directly across a path of the approaching Canberra. When it got to the path of the Canberra it turned to my right and was going in the direction from which the Canberra had just come.
When it got directly over the Canberra it slowed down. During this time I found it very hard to believe what I was seeing, so I shut my eyes and then looked again through the binoculars and the obvject was still stationary over the flight path of the Canberra.
Since it apepared to be the same relative size as the Canberra through the binoculars I thought it would be possible to see it with the naked eye. However, when I looked over the top of the binoculars the object had either gone or I could not see it with the naked eye, and when I looked again through the binoculars I could not pick it up...It was perfectly circular all the time and a dark grey colour, and gave the appearance of being translucnet. It did not glisten at all when it turned, nor was it shiny."
An accompanying memo dated 11 May 1954 concluded:
"The persons reporting were separated by a distance of approximately three hundred yards...It has been noted that similar object was observed on about 3rd May 1954 by two ladies at Henley Beach, South Australia and reported in "The Advertiser" of 4th May 1954.
The Superintendent of the Long Range Weapons Establishment range, A G Pither, sent a memo about the incident to the Chief Superintendent.
As will be seen from the above, there are some highly unusual observations noted from the Woomera test range, on this file.