A report by Paul Dean, Keith Basterfield and associate.
The previous blog post of the November 2014 listing of national level Australia UFO/UAP reports, included preliminary details of a case from the south coast of New South Wales. At the request of the witnesses we cannot be more specific about the location; or provide personal details about the witnesses.
One of the authors (PD) has spent several hours in email, telephone, and in-person communication with both witnesses. He has no doubt that the witnesses have been open, and forthcoming with all details surrounding the event. The witnesses have supplied a map of the property and its surroundings to us; plus provided copies of ground level photographs of the locality. However, for transparency purposes in terms of this investigation report, we need to advise readers that we have not been able to visit the property; nor conduct a door to door cold call to determine if there were any more observers of the event. In addition, we have not been able to contact local news media looking for additional witnesses.
The account therefore stands on the verbal testimony of the witnesses, whom we have no reason to disbelieve. Here then, is a more detailed account of the event, than provided for in the preliminary report; plus investigation notes; discussion and analysis. What happened in the early morning hours of Thursday 29 May 2014, (the event commenced about 2am) when the witnesses were sitting outside watching the clear, moonless sky in a rural area of scattered dairy farms?
There were several stages to the events and these will be listed below, in the order in which they occurred:
1. A hazy, white, foggy light became visible in the distance, to the west. "It was just over the hill so we could only see a misty glow at first, below the false horizon formed by the hill. It kind of looked like a house on fire, but less red/orange and more white...It's a hilly area and it was so dark (no Moon) so it's hard to be precise...It looked as though it was down in the valley but I could not see an actual source of the hazy light...To me it looked like the glow caused by a bright outside light belonging to a house, exaggerated by the mist that came with it."
2. This foggy light became larger/more obvious. "In the distance the haze grew from the size of my thumb nail, then eventually stretched to the size of my thumb...We were not looking at it consistently as we kept chatting, then each time we glanced over (about 3 times overall) it had changed significantly each time..."
3. The white hue became a red hue/fog. It seemed to "split." Instead of a vague fog, it became a row of about ten, red and blue circular lights lined up, with a bright white beam, at the front. Asked about this formation of lights, the response was "They started out in a row...then seemed to rally around a central, larger craft with a stronger white light on the front, like an eye. The smaller "escorts" had lights which were alternating between red and blue, like a slowly rotating police light but with with some occasional green thrown in...They seemed to compact together and surround/follow the white beam as it was scanning the hills/valley."
This "thing" then "...scanned the terrain of the hills and valley, just opposite to us, very low to the ground (around tree level) shining this incredible bright white light through the trees to the ground, as well as in front of itself. It was so bright it would have been able to see about 400 meters ahead. The red and blue lights were hovering around it. Whatever it was, it was looking for something...Also it made this weird oscillating sound that terrified us. It definitely was not a helicopter...It scanned in a grid pattern at what seemed to be a constant speed of around 80 km/hr."
This "scanning" light "At first, it looked like a bright motorbike light, as it came out of the scrub in the distance. When it was closer, or when it got more "active" it seemed brighter, more like a single train headlight. Quite a focused beam but definitely spreading and slightly conical...It had a back and forth motion, quite regular, like it was covering all the terrain as it ran through its "search pattern" through the valley. It never seemed more than 20 metres off the ground, except when it occasionally traversed over the tree tops."
4. "If that wasn't enough, at the same time this was happening, all around us was this foggy hazy light...this "fog" was coming from these 3 different rhombus shapes, 1 green, 1 yellow and 1 red. They had cross hatching effects/sort of laser light effects creating their shape and overlapping one another. I estimate it would have been about 10-20 metres above us. It was just hovering there above us, making no wind/breeze or anything. It was basically just this maelstrom of lights and terrifying noise. We're pretty sure the noise was coming from the scanning light and not the one above us, but can't be 100% as obviously they were "working" together.
The female witness paid more attention to the "thing" that appeared to be close and almost overhead of them. The male witness stated "That was definitely a different craft...I paid it very little attention due to my focus on the other objects. I do remember the fog which came with it and the way the lights cut through the layers of fog like lasers at a music festival...I don't think I looked up at it properly..."
5. "...the really bright light that was scanning the terrain was getting closer to us and its spotlight was scanning in our direction. By this point I was so scared I thought I was about to have a heart attack as it shone its light on us." The two witnesses decided to retreat into the nearby house.
6. They stayed inside the house for an estimated 40 minutes. During this time the noise went away. "The noise continued for maybe 5 minutes, maybe longer with the odd random beam flicking past the window. It seemed to take 20 minutes to half an hour before the sound had faded into the distance and another 40 minutes for me to build up the guts to go back outside." Then, on going outside, "...there was still some light activity, going on on the other side of the valley/hill, except instead of the really bright light making noise/scanning, there was lots of little ones. We watched for a while, then they quickly joined together to make "one" and left the mountain and as it did so. all the dogs within a few kilometers started to howl."
That was the end of the event.
What did the witnesses think it was at the time?
1. Regarding the initial haze/fog. "1) It's the neighbours back sensor light (over the hill behind us). 2) It's a car headlights coming around the road."
2. Regarding the circular lights. "It must be a milk truck/cattle truck (it's dairy country)..."
3. Once the lights compacted. "It must be a farmer on his quad bike..."
4. On the end lights. "...we rationally thought that maybe there were a whole bunch of farmers running around with flashlights..."
How does one go about investigating such an account, where you do not have on-site access, or the ability to conduct on-site checks with the neighbours, or through the media? In the end, it boils down to checking the information provided by the witnesses, against potentially mundane explanations, to try and eliminate these as a source of the observations.
A check of the lunar cycle revealed that there was a new Moon on 29 May 2014, so there would be no Moon in the sky in the early hours of that night.
A check of the weather for the nearest Bureau of Meteorology site, which was 24 kilometers away, showed that the cloud cover was most likely 1/8th at that time. Winds were light. At 3pm on 28 May, 19km/hr from the NNE and at 9am on 29 May, 20 km/hr from the SW. Thus the best estimate from this data would be relatively clear skies at 2am on the 29 May.
There is no radar coverage available of this area, so there was not an opportunity to obtain this via an FOI request.
Discussion and Analysis:
One of the authors (KB) comments as follows:
1. The usual suspects, such as stars, planets, meteors, aircraft etc. seem not to apply here, due to the direction, movement and description of the phenomenon.
2. The report initially came to us via a Facebook account. The witnesses responded to an email inquiry, and then followed up with detailed descriptions via email, telephone and in person.
3. I note that the detailed accounts supplied include what J Allen Hynek used to call an escalation of hypotheses. That is, at several points during the event, the witnesses tried to provide themselves with rational, non UAP explanations for what they were seeing. The witnesses now believe that they have ruled out any conventional explanations.
4. I can suggest only one conventional explanation which sceptics will put forward. This covers only some of the data points and would of necessity involve misperception by the witnesses. Could it be that they did indeed misperceive an "official search operation" of some kind? The fact that there were no roads in the area where the light was scanning, would not preclude a ground search, perhaps supported by a helicopter. The male witness at one stage in his account told one of the authors (PD) that "We quizzed a local farmer...he'd woken up to the sound of a helicopter at around 2am on the night in question." The male witness also stated, about the end of the event. "There seemed to be smaller lights amongst the distant scrub for 10 or 15 minutes, moving around randomly like men with torches."
Against this generalised explanation, one needs to match the witnesses' detailed description of the number and movements of the light sources, particularly the female witness' account of the close, nearly overhead extended angular diameter "object". All in all, on the supplied data, I'd be inclined to assign a low possibility (though not negligible) to this search operation hypothesis.
One of the authors (PD) checked, and found that helicopters are required to have the standard red and green navigational lights showing, and do not use blue lights. In addition, as the witnesses were outside for some time before the event began, where would a helicopter suddenly come from?
Overall, the witnesses dismiss the idea of a search operation and any involvement of a helicopter.
5. Another thought by one of the authors (KB) regarding the close, almost overhead light display (reported in detail by one of the witnesses) was the possibility that could it have been a display of the Aurora Australis? These displays feature red and green, laser like rays, and are seen to the south (the light display was to their south). It also had an extended angular size of perhaps 5-10 degrees (as do Aurora.) The Aurora prediction service issued a bulletin dated 29 May 2014 alerting observers to the fact that auroral displays were to be expected in coming months. One of the authors (PD) put this hypothesis to the female witness, who said no, it was not an aurora.
On the facts provided by the two witnesses, limited by our inability to conduct an on-site investigation; the authors' assessment is that this event should be considered as an example of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP.)
I welcome comment from blog readers on both the incident itself, and on this investigation report.
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