Thursday, September 15, 2016

The 1963 Moe, Victoria sighting - James E McDonald audio interview with Charles Brew

Hi all,


I have been fortunate, recently, to have had the opportunity to listen to over 50 audio interviews, conducted by the late James E McDonald, during his visit to Australia in 1967. During his stay here, with the assistance of various UAP research groups, he interviewed a range of individuals who had come forward with details of their sightings. McDonald recorded these interviews on tape, and today CD and MP3 versions may be purchased from the University of Arizona.

The collection includes McDonald interviewing Jim Kibel (photograph and visual sighting - 1966); Andrew Greenwood (Westall - 1966); the Reverend William Gill (Papua New Guinea - 1959); John Coyle (Hallam - 1967); the Reverend Lionel Browning (Cressy - 1960); and numerous others. I have already reported on the contents of some of these interviews, e.g. Greenwood; Kibel.

I intend to write a series of blog posts about Australian sightings, incorporating this McDonald material. There are some new insights, and new information, on classic Australian cases, even though the audio material is from 1967. I cannot overstate the value of locating and digesting, original source material of this calibre.

Moe, Victoria

This classic sighting, from 15 February 1963, features in such early UAP literature as

The Australian Flying Saucer Review no 8, p.10. June 1965.
The English Flying Saucer Review, Volume 16 number 5, p.19.
The APRO Bulletin July 1963, front page.

Five days after the event, the local newspaper carried an account.

'Advocate' Moe 20 February 1963

In Summary

A farmer, Charles Edward Brew, while milking cows, at about 7am, sighted an object. It descended from clouds, moved, hovered over a tree, and shot off into the clouds. It made an unusual noise. Brew's son Trevor, heard the sound, but did not see the object.

In a series of blog posts, in January 2015, I brought together all of the original source material, which I could locate. The four part series may be read at the following links

RAAF report page one

Sketch from the VFSRS report

McDonald mentions the case in a speech

The event happened on 15 February 1963. Dr Berson, who worked for the CSIRO, visited the site about the 19 February 1963. The RAAF visited the site and conducted an interview on 4 March 1963. Members of the Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society visited Brew sometime after the RAAF. James McDonald visited Brew's farm in the company of VFSRS members in (June/July) 1967.

The 1967 McDonald interview

McDonald took handwritten notes, as well as recording the interview on tape. Part three of my four part blog above, recorded details taken from McDonald's notes. I listed the following points of agreement, points of difference and new information between McDonald's notes and the RAAF and VFSRS interviews.

Points of agreement

1. Object came down from the east.
2. It was raining heavily at the time.
3. It was not dark.
4. Coloured tin top; bottom flat; top was 'glass' something transparent.
5. Took off to the west, uphill from shed.
6. Climbed out at 45 degrees.
7. Spun anti-clockwise from above.
8. Headache that day.

Points of difference

1. Time was 0700.
2. Hovered 10 seconds at tree top height.
3. Dome was not completely clean. Murky. Frosty. Thinks may have seen figures. Head, shoulders - no movement, not small.

New information

1. Trevor was at the south end of the shed, blocked view.
2. Drop in milk for a week or so.
3. For 6 months couldn't get the cows past the one particular spot.
4. While hovering, revolved but no rocking motion.
5. Saw no jets or flames.
6. More than a second per revolution.
7. Trevor - said sound not like engine noise. Loud. Like a throwing stick. Magnificent sound. Pleasant.
8. Total time of sighting 15-16 seconds.
9. Came out of the cloud base, perhaps half a mile away.
10. Trevor did not get a headache.

'The Age' Melbourne 23 April 1963
 The audio recording

Now that I have had the opportunity to hear the audio itself, I am able to add some more points to some of the above information.

1. Did Charles Brew see 'figures' in the upper portion of the object?

In 1963, in the RAAF interview (source: National Archives of Australia file series A703, control symbol 580/1/1 part 4) It expressly states 'No figures were visible in the dome.'

Part of the VFSRS transcript
 In 1963, in the VFSRS transcript of their taped interview there is the following exchange:

"Q You didn't actually see anybody in it through what appeared to be a glass portion of the top. On the dome?

A No, on a clear day you may have but as I said, it was raining heavy, and no, I can't honestly say I did see anybody."

So, in 1963, in both the RAAF and VFSRS interviews, Brew stated he didn't see any figures in the object. However, as can be seen above in McDonald's handwritten notes of his 1967 interview with Brew, McDonald wrote 'Thinks may have seen figures.' The audio recording clarifies these, opposing statements.

Nothing about any 'figures' is mentioned on the tape until the 27 minute 19 second mark. At this point McDonald asks Brew if there were any really important parts of the sighting? Brew responds that he has never mentioned a point before, and was very reluctant to mention it now. But, he then  states that he thought, but is no sure, that he saw two figures in it. It looked like two human-like figures in the upper clear part of the object. He said he wouldn't like to go on record about this. There were two figures moving around. He was almost sure he saw them. He wasn't certain at the time. Brew said it was something similar to Mrs Whatsername in New Zealand. McDonald then says Mrs Moreland? Mrs Eileen Moreland? Brew says, yes.

How did Charles Brew come to know about the Moreland sighting. He states on the tape, that about six months after his own sighting, Mrs Moreland wrote a letter to him.

What did the noise actually sound like?

According to the VFSRS interview transcript it was a 'swishing' sound. The RAAF documentation says it was a 'swishing or burbling-type sound.' McDonald's notes states it sound like a 'didgeridoo.'

The audio recording has Charles Brew describing different sounds at two specific points in the observation. He says it was firstly a 'whirring' noise and then when it took off there was a sound like an Australian Aboriginal instrument called a didgeridoo. McDonald asks if it was whining high pitched noise? Brew says no.

On the audio there is a discussion between Charles Brew, his son Trevor; and other persons who appear to me to be VFSFS members Peter Norris; Paul Norman; Judith Magee and an unidentified man.

Trevor was asked, what the noise had sounded like to him? He responded that it was not like an engine sound. He couldn't really describe it he said. 'Very high - quite a loud sound.' Trevor then says it was like a didgeridoo , then 'like a ruler thrown into the wind.' The unidentified man on the recording, then states that that's not a 'didgeridoo,' but a 'throwing stick.' He advises that a didgeridoo is a musical instrument. All those present at this point, engage in speaking over the top of each other. McDonald then says 'definitely an aerodynamic sound?' Brew concludes with 'noise made passing through the air.'

Did Trevor experience a headache following the incident?

The unidentified man asks Trevor directly if he experienced a headache following the event, and Trevor responds, that he did not.

What was the drop in milk production from the herd?

There is much discussion on the recording responding to McDonald's question about drop in milk production. Finally, they settle on a drop of about 10%, although Brew talks in terms of how many less milk containers.

With what speed was the bottom of the object revolving?

There was discussion between McDonald and Charles Brew on this point. They settled, on approximately once a second.


1.There was clarification that the object descended from the cloud base at an angle of about 45 degrees, and then went back up into the cloud base, again at an angle of about 45 degrees.

2. Listening to the parts of the recording which describe the object hovering over a tree, whose distance and height are roughly know, it is apparent to me that this is strictly 'line of sight.' There is no way to be certain that the object, actually hovered directly over that particular tree.

3. Likewise, it is apparent to me that the estimates given of the distance at which it emerged from the cloud base; its height and width, can at the best, be guesswork.

4. Finally, it must be stressed that McDonald's interview was about four and a half years after the event. However, the audio recording is an important part of the information available about this event; given that the VFSRS audio recording from which their transcript was made, is no longer available to us.

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