Friday, November 15, 2013

Canberra 15 July 1965 - two additional newspaper articles located

Hi all,

A blog reader from the United Kingdom came across my previous posts (click here , here and here ) on the observation from Canberra, ACT, on 15 July 1965, of an unusual object in the daytime sky.  My reader forwarded me a copy of the front page of "The Sydney Morning Herald" dated Friday 16 July 1965 (click here to read the whole front page.) One article was headed "Airport staff see mysterious glowing object."

"Canberra. Thursday. Six of the staff at Canberra airport's control tower and two T.A.A. pilots saw a mysterious glowing object hovering in the sky for 40 minutes near the airport today.

The RAAF is investigating the reports of the object. The control tower staff, all employees of the Department of Civil Aviation said it was 10 miles north-east of the airport about 5,000 feet up. The men could not define its shape, but said it was a "glowing white spot" similar to the reflection of a light aircraft as a distance.

The RAAF sent up a plane to try and identify the object but it disappeared before the aircraft could reach it. The control officer in the control tower at the time Mr T Lindsay, said he first noticed the shiny spot about 10.50am when watching out for an aircraft. Several other people at the airport also said they had seen it, including two TAA Fokker Friendship pilots. The pilots. who had just taken off from the airfield were asked if they could see the object. They replied that they could.

Astronomer fails to find it:

Mt T Miller, an astronomer at Mt Stromlo observatory, said he had received many reports of the object but had been unable to find it. There was no astronomical explanation for the object that had been described. It was unlikely that it was an illusion or mirage because more than one trained observer had seen it. The object was also unlikely to have been a meteorological balloon because it would not have remained stationary for so long. "Heaven knows - it may have been an object from another planet," he said..."

My comments:

1. Interestingly, the "Sydney Morning Herald" article states that two TAA Fokker Friendship pilots saw the object after they had just taken off from Canberra airport. However, "The Australian" newspaper of 16 July 1965 states that "...there were no planes departing from Canberra at the time nor was there any record of other aircraft in the area." These two newspaper articles are clearly contradictory on this point. Can we resolve this dilemma by taking a look at online editions of the 27 August 1965 TAA timetable? (click here to read the timetable.)  Here we find that a TAA Fokker Friendship was scheduled to depart Canberra for Albury at 10.25am on Thursday 15 July 1965. If delayed it may have been taking off during the observation of the unusual object. However, we will never know for sure.

2. There are two other new pieces of information in the SMH article. a) that the RAAF sent up an aircraft; and b) that the Mt Stromlo observatory received many reports of the object. However, it should be noted that nowhere in official RAAF documents, which I located in the National Archives, is the despatch of an RAAF aircraft noted.

3. I recently learnt that although the most of the digitised newspapers in the Australian National Library are digitised only until 1954, that digitised copies of "The Canberra Times" newspaper are available up to 1995. I therefore did a search of copies of "The Canberra Times" for 1965 and located a second newspaper article which mentions the 15 July event.

The Canberra Times Saturday 24 July 1965:

"Reports on UFO not ready.
RAAF investigators have not yet completed their report on two unidentified flying object sightings in Canberra within the last fortnight.

The first sighting was reported by air traffic control officers of the Department  of Civil Aviation of a white object north-east of the control tower on July 15. This is believed to have been a daylight appearance of the planet Venus.

Last Monday night, a report was made of a "white object with a tail" which flashed across the sky and was visible for about four seconds.

This is believed to have been a meteorite or rocket body burning up in re-entering into the earth's atmosphere."

In summary:

We now have two additional pieces of information to add to the previously known data. However, there is one piece of negative information; something noticeably missing in all the accounts. There is absolutely no mention of whether or not the object was detected on radar. So, at the moment the observation remains a multi-witnessed visual event.

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