Monday, October 7, 2013

Follow up research on the 28 May 1965 Bougainville Reef aircraft encounter

Hi all,

One of the things which I like to do when conducting cold case investigations, is to do some basic fact checking.


I have previously reported (click here and here) on my cold case investigation into the classic 28 May 1965 Bougainville Reef incident, off the coast of Northern Queensland. This post provides information on further research, which I and a research associate based in Sydney, have been conducting.

Basic data:

At 0325hrs local time, on Friday 28 May 1965, the Captain (John Barker?) of a DC6B aircraft, owned and flown by either Ansett ANA or Trans Australian Airlines (TAA), reported to ground control that he had encountered and photographed a UAP near his plane. The aircraft was said to have been flying between Brisbane, Queensland ( click here) and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (click here.)

Fact checking:

1. Did Ansett ANA and/or TAA fly a route between Brisbane and Port Moresby in 1965?

A check of several Internet sites including this one (click here), and a visit to view timetables at the Mitchell Library in Sydney (click here) showed that both TAA and Ansett ANA flew the route between 1960 and 1971, and did so in 1965.

2. Were their flights overnight?

A check of copies of Ansett ANA timetables for May 1965 shows that flight 902, flying Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays left Sydney at 2145hrs, arrived at Brisbane at 2345hrs; departed Brisbane at 0040hrs and arrived at Port Moresby at 0610hrs (all local time. Note Sydney, Brisbane and Port Moresby are all in the same time zone.) A total flight time of 5.5 hours.

A check of TAA timetables for August 1965 (when TAA was flying Lockheed L188 aircraft and not a DC6B) show that TAA flight 1302 departed Sydney at 2340hrs daily except Sundays and Tuesdays. It arrived Brisbane at 0110hrs; departing at 0155hrs and arrived at Port Moresby at 0600hrs. A total flight time of 4 hours 5 minutes.

So, yes, both airlines had an overnight flight.

3. Would these flights be over the Queensland coast at 0325hrs?

Yes they would.

4. However, would they have been over or near Bougainville Reef at 0325hrs?

Detailed calculations by my Sydney based research associate, reveal, that if an aircraft left Brisbane at around 0040hrs and arrived at around 0610hrs at Port Moresby, then it could, if on schedule, fly over or near Bougainville Reef at about 0325hrs. If one uses the maximum speed of a DC6B, it would have been possible to reach the area by about 0325hrs.

5. In 1965, were TAA and/or Ansett ANA flying DC6B aircraft?

The 1960, and 1961/1962 TAA timetables show the aircraft used on the route was a DC6B (click here for pictures) The August 1965 timetable shows it was by then using an Electra which was a Lockheed L188 aircraft (click here.)

The 1963 Ansett ANA timetable shows they were flying DC6B aircraft on the route. The 1 May to 30 June 1965 timetable also indicates DC6B aircraft in use on the route. By 1966 Ansett ANA was also using Electra aircraft.

6. Was there an Ansett ANA and/or TAA plane which departed Brisbane on a Thursday night?

Both the 1 May to 30 June 1965 Ansett ANA timetable and the August 1965 TAA timetable indicate such Thursday night flights were scheduled.

7. Was there an Ansett ANA or TAA pilot named Barker?

I located a website (click here) which lists Ansett ANA aircrew over a lengthy period. This lists a Douglas Emmerton (Doug) Barker, and an Alan Barker, but no John Barker. I have been unable to locate a website which lists TAA air crew members for 1965 for DC6B aircraft. (there is one for TAA Electra crew in 1966.)

Of note, is that a pilot named Douglas Barker reported a UAP over Melbourne in 1954 (click here to read about the sighting.) This person appears to be the Douglas Emmerton Barker, born 20 June 1908 in Melbourne, as cited in National Achives of Australia file series A9301 control symbol 300111.

Douglas E Barker, pilot also features in a 1939 newspaper article (click here) and a 1943 newspaper article about an aircraft crash (click here.)

An aside:

In the book "The UFO Experience," published in 1972, J Allen Hynek, on page 28 wrote "The comment was made by a Trans-Australian Airlines pilot with some 11,500 hours of flying experience: "I had always scoffed at these reports, but I saw it. We all saw it. It was under intelligent control, and it was certainly no known aircraft."4.

Footnote 4 on page 31, says "Sighting of May 24, 1965..." Some sources have attributed this Hynek quote to pilot Barker involved in the 1965 Bougainville Reef case.

Hynek's date of May 24, 1965 is not the date of the Bougainville Reef sighting, which was May 28, 1965.

However, May 24, 1965 is the date of the equally famous Eton Ridge, Queensland, CE2 event. In this event, pilot James William Tilse, a senior commercial pilot, with others, reported a ground based UAP sighting.

Page 23 of the digital RAAF file series A703, control symbol 580/1/1 part 4 held by the National Archives of Australia is a copy of an item from the "Brisbane Courier Mail" of 27 May 1965. The article refers to the 24 May 1965 Eton Ridge event. In part it reads, "Mr Tilse, who is a commercial pilot with 11,500 hours experience..."

It would therefore seem to me, that Hynek's comment in 1972 actually refers to pilot Tilse and the 24 May 1965 Eton Ridge event, and not pilot Barker of the 28 May 1965 Bougainville Reef event.

I welcome comments on the contents of this post.

Special note:

I wish to thank a Sydney based research associate, who wishes to remain anonymous, for their extensive discussions on the Bougainville Reef case. Also  for their time in visiting the Mitchell Library to consult copies of TAA and Ansett ANA timetables held by that source; and finding references to Douglas Emmerton Barker in the Trove newspaper collection in the National Library.

Further notes added 30 October 2013:

Since I wrote the original post above, I have followed two more leads in this case.

1. I located and spoke to,  Colin Phillips, who was formerly a member of the Queensland Flying Saucer Research Bureau (QFSRB - now UFO Research (Queensland.)  Colin was in the QFSRB at the time of this 1965 event. However, he advised me that the key investigator of cases from this era was one Roy Russell. Unfortunately, Roy has passed away. I asked Colin if he had any papers on Bougainville Reef, and although he had recollections of the incident, he no longer has any papers on Queensland cases.

2. I attempted to contact former Detective John Meskell, the original source of the whole story. John has published several books through Zeus Publications of Queensland. I sent them an email and asked if that could forward it on to John. I received a prompt response from them advising that John is not on email. However, they offered to contact him by telephone and ask if he would talk to me. They did so, but the reply from John was that he did not wish to talk to me.

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