Friday, December 30, 2011

Scientific UFOlogy

Dear readers

Time to get out those books from my "waiting to be read pile" as Adelaide heads for maximums of 37, 39 and 36 degrees C over the next few days.

In this post I want to further explore the subject area of two previous posts, namely the one dealing with pseudoscience (click here) and a systematic science of UFOs (click here.) The former took a look at the question of "What is pseudoscience?" and the latter, just what a scientific look at UFOs would need to achieve. These posts led me to thinking just what is "scientific UFOlogy?"


For one view I turned to Eddie Bullard's 2010 book "The Myth and Mystery of UFOs." University Press of Kansas. Lawrence, KS. ISBN 978-0-7006-1729-6. Among a list of categories of people who study UFOs, which includes "activists" and "skeptics" are "scientific ufologists." Bullard writes:

"For this group UFOs are a phenomenon accessible to rational inquiry. These people pursue in-depth case investigations, critical examination of evidence, comparison of collected data, and rigorous research projects to determine if any UFO reports describe an unknown phenomenon. Scientific ufology aims to prove or disprove an evidential basis for the UFO phenomenon rather than to find meanings in it. Exemplified by Hynek and McDonald, professed by the leading UFO organisations, this scientific approach represents ufology in the purest sense of a scientific or scholarly discipline." (p.15.)

Popular ufology:

Contrasting with 'scientific ufology', Bullard speaks of 'popular ufology', which "...identified a normative expression of "what ufologists believe" based on an ideas that have attracted widespread attention and enthusiasm." (p.20.) Bullard notes that "Scientific and popular ufology often stand in opposition, the one dedicated to an objective understanding of the phenomenon, the other concerned with subjective understanding of what UFOs mean." (p.20.)


Long term readers of this blog will know of my interest in all aspects of intelligence agencies and in particular, their involvement in the UFO phenomenon. The intelligence process of collection, collation, interpretation and dissemination of data, has always struck me as a useful way to tackle the UFO phenomenon. You collect data, collate it to draw out patterns; you provide an interpretation as to the usefulness of the data; then you disseminate your findings for peer review.

Bullard, in my opinion, has accurately described what I would regard as 'scientific ufology' when he states case studies; analysis of data; and research projects are the elements involved. His end result of determining if any UFO reports "...describe an unknown phenomenon" to me, however, doesn't go far enough. If you find that some reports describe an unknown phenomenon, then I see no reason why you shouldn't then go on to test various hypotheses, such as the extraterrestrial hypothesis, against the data.

Australian pilot reports flying saucer in South Korea - 1952

Hi all

Jan Aldrich of Project 1947 (click here) recently asked if I had come across a report from Korea in 1952, involving an Australian pilot named Smith. I had not.

I searched the TROVE digitised newspapers held by the National Library of Australia, using keywords such as "Smith," "Korea," "1952" but drew a blank.

Jan mentioned that he would try the digitised Project Blue Book Archive website (click here.) 

As it turned out I was already researching this website myself, looking for references to Australian reports. Entering  keywords,  I located a document which described the sighting which Jan had come across.


The document ( click here) was referenced MAXW-PBB10-1134 and is page 12 of a 16 page "Air Intelligence Information Report." There is a hand written date of 6 June and the document refers to 7 Jun 1952.

"First ever flying saucer ever reported over South Korea was watched for four minutes today by Sargeant Ken Smith of Chapman Street, New Mile End, Adelaide.

"It was fifty or sixty feet with a depth of about 1/10 its diameter...I judged its size from its apparent height about ten thousand feet, behind and above a Sabre Jet flying over the airstrip. It was whirling and tumbling, and twinkling as the sun struck its smooth silvery surface. At the same time it was travelling laterally at about 350 knots. Suddenly it stopped in its course, stopped tumbling and flashed straight up in a few seconds to about thirty thousand feet. It hovered for a moment then shot away on a new course at right angles to the old one. It stopped again and then went at tremendous speed across the sun and I lost it."

"Smith, an experienced pilot who flew his 100th mission later in the day, called Sargeant Ken Towner of Bankston, veteran of nearly 200 missions. Together they saw the saucer reappear, whirling and twinkling before, it finally vanished."

Missing in action:

With the above information, I revisited the digitised newspaper collection of the National Library of Australia. I eventually located an article in the Adelaide Advertiser of Friday 11 July 1952 on page 1 (click here). Sadly, it reported:

"Flt Sgt Kenneth Dudley Smith, 25 of Chapman Street, New Mile End, who has been reported missing, believed killed in air operations over Korea, had completed 125 missions from February until late in June." The article includes a photograph of Flt Sgt Smith.

Monday, December 19, 2011

"Alien invasion"

Dear readers

At the weekend, Adelaide experienced a very unusual Summer severe thunderstorm, with torrential rain.

Today's post:

The other day, a most unusual book turned up at my local library. Titled "Alien Invasion: How to Defend Earth" it is written by Travis S Taylor ( click here) and Bob Boan (click here)  and  published by Baen Books of Riverdale, NY. 2011. ISBN 978-1-4391-3442-9. (See Amazon click here.)

It is a serious look at the likelihood of an alien attack on Earth; their possible motivation in doing so, and the likely end results. The discussion is laced with calculations and deeply thought out debate.

Section 5.1, titled "How we Handled ET in the Past" was of interest to me. "The reactions of the Earth's governments to reports of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) or "flying saucers," may give us an indication of how those governments would respond to the reconnaissance phase of an invasion from space..." (p.141.)

The authors pose three questions:

"1.Was it reasonable to think that the report had 'defence significance' (to use a favourite term of the British Ministry of Defence)?

2. If so, did the military and government authorities in possession of the report recognize this significance?

3. If they did, did they take appropriate action?" (p.142.)

The authors conclude:

"...we gave examples from Projects Sign, Grudge, Blue Book, and others as to how not to handle such things. The known public information about the UFO investigation programs conducted by the US government in the past were not motivated by a best response to the potential ET threat rather than some sort of public appeasement agenda. Whatever the agenda of those programs, they were not handled in a way that seems best for a real alien threat." (pp.153-154.)


If you have never given serious thought to the possibility of alien invasion, then this book is guaranteed to get you thinking.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Early interaction between the RAAF and the USAF

Hi all

One of the things which has always intrigued me is the interaction between the RAAF and USAF, regarding the early flying saucer phenomenon. I wondered what early connections there were between the two? The earliest one is able to go back in official Australian government UFO files is to 1951,

In the USA, in the early 1950's, the USAF was running Project Blue Book under Captain Edward J Ruppelt. "In January 1953 a CIA-sponsored group of scientists known as the Robertson panel concluded that flying saucers probably did no represent any form of foreign technology and posed no threat to national security."  (Bullard, T E. 2010. The Myth and Mystery of UFOs. University Press of Kansas. Lawrence KS. p.57.) Ruppelt left Blue Book in 1953. See also click here.

With the above in mind:

You would think that the USAF in 1953, would therefore not be interested at all in collecting reports from foreign countries such as Australia. However, in the National Archives of Australia (NAA) on file series A703 control symbol 554/1/30 Part 1, digital version pages 299-300, I found a two page memo from Lt. Col. George A Uhrich, Assistant Air Attache of the US embassy, to the Directorate of Air Force Intelligence (DAFI-Australia) dated 20 July 1953. (As an aside, the NAA holds a file at file series A1838 control symbol 1500/1/1/36 "Diplomatic Representatives - USA Uhrich, G. A. Assistant Air Attache 1951-1954.")

In summary, the memo, which is labelled "confidential" and referenced as AA-120-53 and addressed to Wing Commander R.A. G. Ellen, is a request for Australian flying saucer sightings to be forwarded to the USA. Dated 20 July 1953, it discloses that there was a previous correspondence from DAFI (not located by me) dated 6 July 1953. It shows that Uhrich visited the Wing Commander in person on 18 May at DAFI and that " headquarters is very interested in receiving reports of all unusual sightings not only in this area, but all over the world." There then follows a very lengthy list of the data points which they would like. The memo closes "Any help you can give me in making this information available to my headquarters will be sincerely appreciated and will be treated in strict accordance with the security classification you attach to it."

Did DAFI forward any reports?

File 554/1/30 Part 1 is silent on this question. However, other sources reveal that at least three reports turned up in the USA.

(1) 22/23 Nov 1953 Woomera ,Sth Aust. RAAF papers located in US Project Blue Book files ref 8/110/2/WRA - courtesy of Jan Aldrich of Project 1947.

(2) 15 Jan 1954 Mallala, Sth Aust. USAF Project Blue Book card - courtesy of Jan Aldrich of Project 1947.

(3) 17 Jan 1954 St Morris, Adelaide, Sth Aust. USAF Project Blue Book card - courtesy of Jan Aldrich of Project 1947.

So, it does appear that DAFI did forward some 1953 and 1954 Australia UFO reports to the US which ended up in Project Blue Book files.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Officialdom and the Katoomba lights of 1957

Hi all

Official government files do not tell the whole story of the involvement of government agencies in the UFO phenomenon. I was reminded of this yet again, when Jan Aldrich of Project 1947 recently sent me a batch of newspaper clippings from Australian newspapers dated 1953-1957.

A series of articles from 1957 caught my eye. They told a story of hundreds of people seeing unusual lights in the sky, and the involvement of the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) , the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO.)

The story:

One of the  headlines of the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper of 17 Jul 1957 read "Sky mystery at Katoomba." The story, from Tuesday evening 16 July followed. " A lighted object in the sky, resembling a flying saucer, was reported to Katoomba police..." A Mr Hickey reported a hovering object which sent three "...four bright blue rays into the sky," at 8.30pm. He had been inside, heard a noise like an aeroplane, went outside and saw a bright object approaching Katoomba from Falconbridge (10 miles ESE of Katoomba.) Mr Hickey said it hovered  for six minutes, and "...then loud sounds echoed from it..." The sound resembled that of an aeroplane. The light faded after 15 minutes but was still visible in the sky. Police who were called, also sighted the object.

The Sun newspaper of 17 Jul 1957 quoted one Jack Kunst, "...a prominent member of the Unidentified Flying Objects Investigating Committee..." as saying that the sighting "...strengthened evidence of a flying saucer base in the Blue Mountains."

Next day, the Sydney Morning Herald dated 18 Jul 1957 reported that "Mysterious lighted objects were seen in the sky again last night over Katoomba...and Ashfield, a western suburb of Sydney."

At 9.10pm a Katoomba police constable reported seeing "...alighted object in the sky." In addition, "scores of people drove to Echo Point lookout at Katoomba to watch the object...It was visible for about an hour." Among the witnesses was the secretary of the Katoomba branch of the Unidentified Flying Objects Research Committee." Mr Body said he had heard a noise, went outside and saw the object hovering overhead." It had a vapour trail like a jet. It seemed to be flashing red, green and white was difficult to estimate its size, but it seemed to be oval in shape...It was very bright - about 400-500 times the brilliance of an ordinary star."

Third night:

Reports were made on a third night, Thursday 18 Jul 1957, according to the Sydney morning Herald of 19 Jul 1957, from Katoomba and Sydney's Western suburbs. In Katoomba, at 4.45pm three boys reported seeing an oval shaped  object from Echo Point, "...hovering and drifting above the floor of the Jamieson Valley..."

Later, at 7.45pm, 25 miles West of Katoomba came a  report of a "...brilliant flashing red, green and white light to the south west." It disappeared about 8.20pm. Thirty people at Echo Point "saw the same object."

At 9.50pm "...a strong red flashing light..." travelled across the sky at high speed."


The Sun, dated 19 Jul 1957 reported that a "RAAF Meteor Jet will stand by tonight ready to investigate the mystery lights  over the Blue Mountains..." Interestingly, the plane would be launched at the request of Col. N Strachan, OIC of the Blue mountains Civil Defence, not the RAAF. The paper also reported that the CSIRO would be requested to attend and view the object.

The Sydney Morning Herald dated 20 Jul 1957 carried more information.

Official viewpoints:

On Friday evening 19 Jul 1957 reports of mysterious lights flowed in not only from Katoomba but across and around Sydney. Also enter the CSIRO, who sent "An officer of the radio-physics division... Dr C S Gunn" who watched the skies from Narrowneck Lookout, Katoomba from 8-10pm on Thursday 18 July and 6.30-9.30pm on Friday 19 July. He reported seeing nothing unusual, only stars setting, while changing colour due to the atmosphere.

The RAAF also sent an observer, Flt Lt N J Hurley who "...identified Katoomba's flying saucer as a star...probably Canopus" according to the 20 Jul 1957 Daily telegraph newspaper.

Official files:

With the involvement of RAAF and the CSIRO one would imagine that the Katoomba sightings would make it into official files, however, apparently not so.

I first checked the RAAF's main reports file, series A703 control symbol 580/1/1 part 1. However, there is no mention of these July 1957 reports.

The CSIRO had a UFO files which covered the period. File series C273/227 control symbol 1957-619 part 1. Again, no mention of Dr Gunn';s involvement, nor indeed anything about the July sightings.

I also checked the file covering the period, held by the Department of Civil Aviation, who are quoted in various newspapers as giving advice on aircraft movements. File series A9778 control symbol M1/F/31, has nothing on these reports.

My comments:

It was interesting to me to see the involvement of local police, the Civil Defence, the RAAF, the CSIRO and DCA, plus the comments by UFOIC the local UFO group.

The descriptions of the main Katoomba objects do seem to favour an astronomical explanation. However, there are no data concerning angular size, elevation, or compass directions to many of the reported sightings. This unfortunately, is all too common of newspaper reports, so the definitive explanation remains elusive.

All in all, an interesting insight into official reaction to sightings in 1957 Australia.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cold case - Canberra - 1965 - new information found

Hi all

In a previous post (click here to read) I suggested that the 15 July 1965 Canberra UFO sighting might have been explainable as a daylight observation of the planet Venus. A RAAF document I located on file series A703 control symbol 580/1/1 Part 4 folio 83, dated 16 July 1965, also suggested Venus as the cause.

Recently, while reviewing one of the RAAF's old policy files, series A703 control symbol 554/1/30 Part 2 pages 71,72 and 74, dated 1970, I found three more relevant papers on this case, which I hadn't noticed before.

Three documents:

The first document (page 74 of the digitised file) is a letter dated 6 Jun 1970 from students at Lincoln College, North Adelaide who wrote to the RAAF inquiring about the 15 July 1965 event.

Page 71 (folio 50A) is a Minute dated 3 Jul 1970, addressed to PR2, and signed by C R Hickey, Squadron Leader, DAFI AI-1. "All reports relating to this sighting have been checked, and there is no evidence to substantiate the two questions in the letter. The object was reported as a "white spherical object." Attached is a  statement issued by the then Minister for Air, Mr Howson on the sighting. Perhaps it could be included in your reply to Mr Evans and company."

Page 72 (folio50A) is a Ministerial Press release dated Friday 30th July 1965 (reference RAAF PR/S/3907/65.) It is headed "Statement by the Honourable Peter Howson, MP, Minister for Air. RAAF report on sighting of flying object."

"The RAAF today released the following information on the reported sighting of a flying object in the Canberra area on 15th July last.

" The sighting was made by a number of people, including Department of Civil Aviation officials, who were on duty at RAAF base, Fairbairn.

"The RAAF said that while the sighting could not positively be identified, its investigation believed there were several possible explanations.

" Firstly, the sighting could have been cause by the non-persistent condensation trail of a high-flying jet aircraft.

" Alternatively, the sighting could have been caused by the planet Venus which is clearly visible during the day under some conditions and whose position approximated the direction of the sighting at the time.

" A third possible explanation offered was that the sighting could have been caused by a high altitude radar reflector meteorological balloon used in wind forecasting and prediction.

" These balloons which are hydrogen filled, are sent to a high altitude and are clearly visible from long distances due to the reflecting sunlight.

" Furthermore due to the varying moisture content in the air close to the ground, they often appear very furry, or have 'halo-like' appearance giving a very distorted effect. They may also change colour. These balloons are in use by the meteorological authorities in the general area and a number are periodically released from Wagga NSW. On occasions under the influence of strong winds, they have been known to travel considerable distances.

"The visibility at the time of the reported sighting was extremely clear, no cloud, and the fact that the phenomenon suddenly disappeared, could be explained by the fact that these meteorological balloons normally burst at varying altitudes.

" The RAAF said that as announced previously the service received a considerable number of reports of unidentified objects from all sections of the community and all these reports are investigated.

" On many occasions they have turned out to be weather balloons, high-flying aircraft, satellites, stars and meteors to mention a few, and over the last few years, only three or four percent of sightings could not be satisfactorily explained."

My comments:

Given that on the 16 Jul 1965 the RAAF was positive the cause was Venus, and that by the 30 Jul 1965 it had backed off this explanation to offer two others, seems to me to imply that some pressure was brought to bear for the RAAF to conduct a deeper investigation than the 16 Jul documents suggests had previously occurred.

I have not been able to locate other documents (other than the ones cited above and in my previous post) on this event. There are certainly no statements by DCA and RAAF staff that I have come across.

Have any readers uncovered any other material on this event?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Britain's X-files

Dear readers

A refreshing cool change swept through Adelaide overnight, after a few days of warmer weather.

The subject of today's post, comes from issue 280, November 2011 of the English Fortean Times magazine.

In an article about the latest release of UK Ministry of Defence UFO files, containing 8600 pages, David Clarke takes a look at some of the contents which interested him.


In a document dated July 1995, and written by a desk officer of the Ministry's scientific intelligence area, Clarke writes:

"In what I believe to be the most important revelation so far, an intelligence officer reveals that '...lack of funding and higher priorities' had prevented any detailed study of the thousands of reports they had received since the end of world war II." This was just one year before the Ministry conducted Project Condign (click here for details.)

RAAF Lakenheath:

" is worth noting  that the new files contain details of a more recent incident involving RAAF Lakenheath that occurred in January 2007. In this case an unusual object was detected by the pilot of a USAF F-15 on his airborne radar during a routine exercise...When the captain of the F-15 took a closer look he found the "UFO" was actually the size of a soccer ball and was drifting in the wind at between 17-18,000 feet..." For a look at details known prior to the release of these new files click here.


"Balloons were also responsible for a type of UFO sighting that spread like a virus across the British isles from the summer of 2006. These are the ubiquitous orange lights in the sky that drift slowly across the night sky in formation that resembles fleets of flying saucers... Chinese lanterns..."


The continuing release of thousands of papers from the UK's UFO files, reveals more about the background interest of intelligence agencies, in the UFO phenomenon. The official line is that intelligence areas of the British Ministry of Defence; the Australian Department of Defence and the New Zealand state in summary that some UFOs are not explainable in conventional terms; that they are scientifically interesting but are of no defence threat. See a previous post on just this topic (click here.)

For more material by David Clarke on these files, click here.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cold case - Minderoo Station - 25 Oct 1910

Hi all

One of the long term research projects I am undertaking, is looking for pre-1947 Australian accounts which are suggestive of the UFO phenomenon. I have reported on a number of these pre-1947 cases in previous posts on this blog, e.g. click here.

One of the pre-1947 Australian events which is frequently cited in the UFO literature is said to have occurred on 25 October 1909 at Minderoo Station, near Onslow, Western Australia (Chalker, Bill. "The Oz Files." 1996. Duffy & Snellgrove. Potts Point. NSW. p.32; or citing the source as Robin Northover.

1909 may be the incorrect year:

While looking through digitised newspapers in the National Library of Australia, I came across about a dozen papers (e.g. Barrier Miner (Broken Hill) 7 December 1910 p.7; Sunday Times, Perth, 4 December 1910 p.1; The Western Australian, Perth, 5 December 1910 p.5.) which carried stories about this sighting. It therefore appears that the actual date of the event was 25 October 1910, not 1909 as previously believed.

I quote from the Barrier Miner (Broken Hill). The witness is given as a Mrs A J Roe, of Minderoo Station, 22 miles out of Onslow, Western Australia (1386 kms north of Perth, the capital of Western Australia) who gave the following statement.

"'At 5.30pm on October 25, when at the Minderoo homestead, my attention was directed by a native to a big object in the air several miles away. The object was travelling from us in an easterly direction. It looked compact like a dirigible balloon, but appeared to be square, more like an aeroplane. The sun shone on it, and flashes came from it as though reflected from something revolving, or off metal work. The color of the object was dark brown or black. It was too far away to distinguish its exact nature and size, or whether any persons were in it. There was no mirage at the time and not on any account could such an object be taken for a bird.' Mrs Roe stated that she is positive it was an airship of some kind...A couple of white men, station hands, and a civilised native, also saw the aerial object from the shearing shed, which is a mile from the homestead."

My comments:

1. Is the sighting reliable? The West Australian newspaper dated 5 December 1910 p.5 states that Mrs Roe was interviewed (on November 12) by the Sub-Collector of Customs from Onslow, a Mr Timperly. He forwarded the report (on Novermber 16) to the Minister for customs, a Mr Tudor, who is said to be forwarding the report to the Minister of Defence. Mr Timperly believed the sighting to have been authentic.

2. Mr Timperly, according to the West Australian, thought the object was "an airship." Possibly a WA inventor or a foreign vessel. However, the West Australian reported that "No information has reached that department of any Australian invention being sufficiently complete to accomplish such a flight as is described."

3. A check with two sky charts reveals that the Sun was up, elevation 12 deg and azimuth (Nth =0) 261 deg (slightly south of West). The Moon had set. There was nothing unusual in the eastern sky.

4. Regarding weather details. I obtained this from the West Australian dated 26 and 27th October 1910. For Onslow - maximum temperature 95 deg F; minimum temperature 70 deg F; barometer 29.7 ins; wind from the WNW, moderate. If the wind was from the WNW then any windborne object would have been travelling to the ESE. Note that the Minderoo object was indeed "travelling from us in an easterly direction."

5. Can we say exactly what the object was based on the above data? I believe not.

Over to readers for comments.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Unidentified submarine objects

Dear readers

Another item from the November issue (issue 280) of the Fortean Times magazine, pages 18 and 19. This may, or may not, relate to the UFO phenomenon, depending on your point of view.

The article starts off by noting that "There were more than 4,000 reported detections of foreign submarines in Swedish waters in 1982-1992..." The article goes on to note that "There was a great USO (unidentified submarine objects) 'flap' in 1983 and Swedish ships regularly dropped depth charges into Baltic waters..."

"Some regard the USOs as extraterrestrial; perhaps travellers from a watery planet were exploring the seabed for intelligent life..."

Mostly though it was human submarines, from the former USSR though "A number of the intrusions into Swedish waters in the 1980s were allegedly carried out by the US and the UK, partly to train submarine crews, partly to keep Swedish defence forces on their toes, and partly as a psychological operation."


Sightings continue right up to 2011, e.g. (click here.)

For an indepth look at USOs in Norwegian and Swedish waters click here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Meteotsunamis and UFOs

Dear readers

Greetings from Adelaide, South Australia, where our summer is starting off slowly. Only 30 degrees C today, lovely blue skies and cool nights. Great for star gazing. Venus and Jupiter are very prominent in our night skies at the moment, and the summer constellation of Orion is rising in the early evenings to the north-east.

The subject of today's post is meteotsunamis (click here) and their possible relationship to UFOs. I must say that I hadn't heard of meteotsunamis before I read the article by English ufologist Jenny Randles in issue number 280, November 2011, of the Fortean Times magazine (pages 30-31.)

These are unusual waves which appear to be generated by "...pressure changes in the ocean surface from a passing weather front" (p.30.) The waves so generated can be up to 6m high.

Jenny notes that "...close observers in southern Cornwall felt sudden pressure changes and their hair stand on end as the waves arrived." (click here.) She then re-examines a number of unusual incidents in the light of this new knowledge. There was the SS Mohican (click here) which in July 1904 off the eastern coast of the USA encountered a strange grey mist, static electricity, and an unusual calmness and silence.


Jenny poses a question " ... whether similar effects might occur inland as well as out to sea, with recognisably similar consequences -mistakenly assumed to be UFOs." Jenny cites the following cases in support of her hypothesis:

1. Nov 1953 Lake Gjersjoen, Norway (click here)
Car surrounded by green mist. Man's body tingles. Watch magnetised. All rust on car removed.

2. 24 Feb 1975 Sizewell, Suffolk (click here)
Green/yellow mass floated on to sand. Man's skin tingled. Air ionised. Locals report static on TV.

3. 26 Sep 1973 Minehead, Somerset
Woman sees misty shape. her skin prickled. Hair stood on end. Floating mass. buzzing/humming sound.

4. 1966 Kent.
Misty shape floated towards witness over a river. Abnormally quiet. Numbness. heavy feeling.

Jenny writes: "With so many cases where witnesses have tried to describe unusual physical sensations experienced while seeing what is tacitly assumed to be a UFO, I tend to suspect that an atmospheric event of some kind might unify these disparate stories."

"We may face a wider phenomenon in which frontal systems under certain conditions can not hist trigger unusual surge waves in the ocean (or rivers or lakes) but UFO encounters that are interpreted in the guise of our modern space mythology."


As always, Jenny is on the look out for novel interpretations of the data. I love her thinking patterns and the fact that she has a great knowledge of English UFO reports and merges them into big, broad hypotheses.

Have any readers come across hypotheses suggesting weather frontal systems may generate some UFO reports?

Monday, December 5, 2011

When did the UK government become interested in flying saucers?

Hi all

In a previous post (28 November) I mentioned that it appeared that the Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF) Director of Air Force Intelligence's files on flying saucers, began in 1950, three years after the modern birth of the subject.

I wondered when official interest in the subject, commenced in the United Kingdom? To answer this question I turned to David Clarke's excellent work "The UFO files." 2009. The National Archives. Kew, Surrey. ISBN 978-1-905615-506. Clarke worked with the National Archives and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the UK government's UFO files. On page 40 of this book I found:

"Flying Saucers were regarded as largely an American phenomenon until 1950, when British newspapers began to take an interest in the growing mystery." Clarke goes on to mention books on flying saucers by Keyhoe. "His books and those of others who followed led a number of senior figures in the British military establishment to treat the subject seriously for the first time." (Clarke p.41.)

Among those interested was Sir Henry Tizard who became Chief Scientific Advisor to the ministry of Defence. "It was as a direct result of his influence that the British government was persuaded to set up a small working party to investigate the mystery, reporting to the directorate of Scientific Intelligence/Joint Technical Intelligence Committee (DSI/JTIC) part of the Ministry of defence." (p.41.) in August 1950.

So, it would appear that both the UK and Australian government's "official" interest in flying saucers, started in 1950.

Monday, November 28, 2011

When did the RAAF start investigating 'flying saucers'?

Hi all

You could be forgiven for thinking that to answer this question, all you would have to do would be to look at the official Australian government UFO files and find the date of the earliest material.

The two earliest files related to 'flying saucers' as UFOs were called, in those days, discovered by the Disclosure Australia Project were:

(1) File series B5758 control symbol 5/6/Air Part 1 - dated from 21 Aug 1950. RAAF HQ Training Command.
(2) File series PP474/1 control symbol 5/5/Air - dated 29 Oct 1951. RAAF base Pearce, Western Australia.

So, we know that the RAAF had begun collecting material on 'flying saucers' at least from 21 Aug 1950.

In addition, in 1954 when he was preparing a report on flying saucers for the RAAF, Melbourne University physicist, Harry Turner (file series A703 control symbol 554/1/30 part 1) was given two files belonging to the Director of Air Force Intelligence. The date of the earliest report mentioned in Turner's report was from 1950.

It therefore came as a surprise when looking through digitised newspapers in the Trove collection of the National Library of Australia to come across the following:

"Melbourne - The RAAF has been investigating flying saucer reports since 1947, a high ranking officer revealed..." (Barries Miner (Broken Hill) Saturday 9 January 1954 page 5.)

" In Melbourne yesterday, a high ranking RAAF officer said that he personally believed 'objects seen in the sky over Melbourne have an interplanetary source.' The officer revealed that the RAAF had been thoroughly investigating flying saucer reports since 1947." (The Argus, Melbourne, Saturday 9 January 1954 page 5.)

So, did the RAAF commence investigating flying saucer reports as early as 1947, as the newspaper  articles state? All we can say for certain is that none of the thousands of pages of RAAF or other government agency flying saucer/UFO files, supports a 1947 start date. That is not to say that the newspaper articles are incorrect, merely that the date of 1947 cannot be independently corroborated.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Men in Black

Dear readers

A beautiful spring day here in Adelaide. Blues skies and mid 20's C.

I always look forward to reading a new book by Nick Redfern. I thoroughly enjoyed his work "Contactees" and recently reviewed "The NASA conspiracies." Part of the pleasure comes from his use of  Freedom of Information requests to uncover delicious titbits of information that no one else has found.

Another 2011 new book by Nick is titled "The Real Men in Black-Evidence, famous cases and True Stories of these Mysterious Men and their Connection to UFO phenomena." Published by New Page Books. Pompton Plains, NJ. ISBN 978-1-60163-157-2.

The book is divided into two parts; case files, and various theories about the MIB.

Case files:

I was aware that the concept of the MIB started with a man named Albert Bender, but Redfern's chapter on Bender revealed much of which I wasn't aware. As Redfern states, "It was Bender, in fact, who almost singlehandely ushered in the plague of the Men in Black..." (p.23.)

I didn't for example know that Bender's paranormal interests started with the 5 December 1945 vanishing aircraft squadron of flight 19. Nor was I aware of his obsessive-compulsive-disorder symptoms. Redfern paints a detailed picture of Bender's UFO life, which came to an end in 1953 following a visit by three men in dark clothes. He closed his International Flying Saucer Bureau.

Another player, Gray Barker, in his 1956 book "They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers" indicated that Bender's visitations were actually from FBI agents. Redfern discusses this possibility, then notes that "The FBI subsequently noted that its files contained 'no information pertaining to the hush-up of Bender.' (FBI 1958.) This official, internal statement specifically denying any FBI involvement in the silencing of Bender strongly seems to imply that whoever Bender's mysterious visitors were back in 1953, they were not agents of the FBI..." (p.45.)

From here, we encounter Brad Steiger; Tim Beckley; John Keel and their accounts of UFOs, poltergeist activity and MIB tales.

Redfern traces MIB accounts through the 1970's where we read of a former FBI employee, who after a UFO sighting, was warned "You will stop investigating flying saucers." (p.73.) The classic MIB visit in 1976 to Dr Herbert Hopkins is related in detail.

Into the 1980's we hear of Colin Bennett's observation of a green light which transformed into a stationary Lancaster bomber then into a triangular shaped object. This bizarre sighting was followed by a visit from a man in a "Smartly cut jet-black suit with neat black tie and white shirt." (p.98.)

What I didn't realise was that MIB accounts continued through the 90's an 00's. Redfern outlines MIB like reports from researchers Peter Hough and Irene Bott of the UK; author Marie Jones in the USA, and Oregon based researchers Regan Lee.

Chapter 12 "Women in Black" reveals that there are a few accounts around of visits by females. In this case, not in the field of UFOs, but legends involving King Arthur. The woman who arrived at a researcher's house knew many details of his research, although he had actually kept most of his research to himself.

The theories:

What are we to make with the MIB? Surprisingly, there are far more ideas about their origins than I ever knew. In part two of the book, Redfern covers the possibilities of hallucinations, hoaxes, Tulpas and vampires, tricksters, civilian investigators, G-men, time travellers, and demons and the occult. Quite a roundup of possibilities.

In the G-men chapter we learn that a 1960 Grand Blanc, Michigan incident involving "...two mysterious, dark-suited men..." (p.197) turned out, thanks to access to declassified FBI files, to really have been a visit by FBI agents. In the UK, declassified files revealed a 1962 visitor was an employee of the "British Royal Air Force's elite Provost and Security Services." (p.206.)


In his concluding chapter, after acknowledging the existence of mistaken identities and hoaxes, Redfern writes;

"But for the most part, when it comes to the Men in Black we are dealing with phenomena that are far, far stranger and much more terrifying than any government agent come to silence witnesses." (p.235.)

"As we have seen, there may well be several points of origin for the Men in Black. Some MIB, such as those experienced by Albert Bender, may have been borne out of nothing stranger than repeated misfirings of the man's brain...But out of the sheer potency of this MIB imagery a horrific birth was given to Tulpas of three shadowy men...(p.236.)

Redfern then suggests that " seems safe to conclude that their link with the occult is also a valid area of research." (p.236.)

Finally, that "...some of the Men in Black may originate from a point far in our own future..." (p236.)

Redfern concludes his work with a warning. "If you decide to pursue the MIB and you one day receive that dreaded slow knocking on your front door...let it remain firmly locked and unopened..." (p.237.)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"The NASA conspiracies"

Dear readers

My local library has quite a good range of books on the UFO phenomenon. A recent addition is Nick Redfern's "The NASA conspiracies." The Career Press. 2011. Pompton Plains, NJ. ISBN 978-1-60163-67949.


Redfern initially takes a look at the views held by a number of US astronauts, e.g. Gordon Cooper. "...Cooper claimed profound UFO encounters of his own, expressed a solid acceptance that aliens from outside of our solar system were among us, and even delivered noteworthy statements on the UFO controversy to prime and influential movers..." (p.22.)


One suggested explanation for the 1965 "crash" near Kecksburg, Pennsylvania was satellite debris. NASA released Kecksburg-based material in 2003. This was followed, in 2007, by legal action against NASA looking for all records they held on Kecksburg. However, the result was "NASA's curiously absent documentation on Kecksburg." (p.41.) The parallels with the total absence of official documentation on the Australian 1966 Westall case are obvious.

Area 51:

Chapter 5 relates the account of an alleged ex US intelligence contract worker, given the name "John," who claimed to have worked at Area 51. John is said to have been "...given an initial briefing by three men, all displaying official NASA credentials." (p.60.) His role was to maintain historical UFO files, which, of course, he read.

Later chapters:

Then follows chapters which concern "...research into specific rumours that NASA had undertaken classified research into potentially lethal alien viruses" (chapter 6); "Firm evidence of the fact that NASA personnel during the early to mid 1970's, were deeply interested in seemingly bona fide UFO encounters" (chapter 7); and the fact that NASA was the recipient of US State Department telegrams on an object which 'landed' in Bolivia (chapter 10.)

Further chapters relate to "...a woman named Sharon, who presently works in a secretarial position at NASA's Kennedy Space Center" and who "...claimed multiple encounters with the Grays (chapter 12); "...a number of official reports that NASA has on file, which relate directly to the UFO controversy tell startling and illuminating stories - particularly those that occurred in the mid to late 1980's and mid 1990's. (chapter 14.) Edgar Mitchell's view "...that the evidence for alien contacts was without doubt overwhelming." (chapter 15.)

Finally, the account of British hacker Gary McKinnon's foray into a NASA " space based program in place about which the public and the media know absolutely nothing at all." (chapter 17.)


Redfern's conclusions include an acceptance that the Apollo moon landings "...did go ahead just as NASA has always claimed." (p.203._

"On certain other out-of-this-world controversies however NASA might not be so in the clear as it would undoubtedly prefer to be:  the Kecksburg, Pennsylvania affair of 1965, the Bolivian event of 1978, the Roswell-connected words of Apollo astronaut Dr Edgar Mitchell, the issue of lethal alien viruses, and the strange saga of NASA and the chupacabra, some would argue are all prime evidence that NASA may know far more about UFOs and extraterrestrial activity than it cares to publicly admit." (pp203-204.


While I suspect that some of the accounts advanced by some of Redfern's informants, do not hold water; I do like the fact that a lot of his documentation is sourced to files located under FOI.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Who were the "security police" who investigated early Australia flying saucer reports?

Hi all

During the early days of investigations into "flying saucer" reports within Australia, one of the puzzling activities of the authorities of the day, was reported in The Melbourne Argus newspaper dated 6 May 1952. An article, in part, read:

"A Security Police spokesman said they were investigating certain reports. A Civil Aviation Department request to set-up a special section to collate facts on 'flying saucers' was refused. Mr R M Seymour, Superintendent of Air Traffic Control said yesterday that he had been told: "It is a matter for the Security Police."

The Barrier Miner newspaper, of Broken Hill, dated 6 May 1952, advised "Melbourne- Commonwealth Defence and Security Officers will investigate reports of flying saucers over South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. They are making a file of newspaper reports and when it is complete they may interview some of the eye-witnesses."

The Cairns Post newspaper of 6 May 1952, provided a date for these reports, speaking of them being at the weekend, i.e.  Saturday 3 May and Sunday 4 May.

Disclosure Australia:

At the time of the Disclosure Australia Project, it was unclear just what these reports from the three states were. However, now with the digitising of newspapers by the National Library of Australia, it is possible to deduce just what these reports were.

3 May 1952

1. Sydney, NSW - 23 people reported an object at about 6am. "It appeared to have no wings, was cigar shaped, many times the size of an aeroplane, and had two sets of very bright lights at each end." It flew into clouds and disappeared. (The Argus Melbourne. 5 May 1952 page1.)

 2. Sydney, NSW - A silent, cigar shaped object, with lights on, travelling very fast was reported by multiple people between 6 and 6.17am. (The Sunday-Herald 4 May 1952 p1.)

3. Sydney, NSW - At about 6am, eleven people saw a cigar shaped object, much larger than an aircraft leaving a blue trail. (The Canberra Times 5 May 19521.)

4. Parkes, NSW - A white object, flat at one end and pointed at the other flew over at 6am. It was silent, and seen for two minutes. It disappeared into clouds. (The Sydney Herald 4 May 1952 p1.)

5. Berowa, NSW - An object was seen at 6.17am travelling due south at a high speed. It was well lit and sparks were seen at its rear. (The Sunday Herald 4 May 1952 p1.)

6. Benalla, Victoria - At 3am two people reported an object which had rows of lights on each side, travelling at high speed. (The Canberra Times 5 May 1952 p1.)

4 May 1952

1. Nowra, NSW - A bright glittering object shaped like a cigar was reported by a motor cyclist. (The Canberra Times 5 May 1952 p1.)

2. Canberra, ACT - The Chief Assistant Astronomer "sighted a bright meteor with a persistent trail at 5.15am. (The Adelaide Advertiser 6 May 1952 p3.)

3.  Adelaide, South Australia- An engineering student saw "a small dead-white disc over the city at 12.16pm. It quickly went southwards. (The Argus Melbourne 5 May 1962 p3.)

Now we have dates for the reports, did any of the Australian government UFO files located and examined by the Disclosure Australia Project relate to the events of this weekend, and could they throw some light on who the security police were?

One file did. File series A11066, control symbol 5/1/27 part b, is a file titled "Eastern Area Headquarters Intelligence Report on Unusual Sightings 3/5/1952."

The file consists of 17 pages. There are numerous newspaper clippings of sightings for that date. However, the main item on the file is a report of interviews conducted by Flt Area  Intelligence Officers and Squadron Assistant Provost Marshalls. The conclusion of the report was that the 6am silent fast cigar was a meteor.

It would therefore appear that the 'security police' mentioned in the newspaper reports were in fact from the RAAF's own internal police force, being Provost Marshall staff, and that the "Commonwealth Defence" officers were RAAF Area Intelligence Officers.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Review panel on physical evidence

Dear readers

In a previous post (click here) ) I wrote of Wendt and Duvall's thoughts on a systematic science of UFOs. One of the three things they thought such a science needed was a focus on collecting objective physical evidence.

I am currently re-reading "A Tale of Two Sciences: Memoirs of a Dissident Scientist" by Peter A Sturrock (click here). (2009. Exoscience. Palo Alto, CA. ISBN 978-0-9842-6140-6.

On page 115 Sturrock writes that in 1996 he was asked to meet with a group led by Laurance S Rockefeller. "It was and is my position that we will make little progress until we can get the attention and interest of the scientific community and that, in order to get that attention, it will be necessary (but not sufficient) to demonstrate the existence of physical evidence. Hence, my proposal was for a review of such evidence."

Sturrock therefore organised a review panel approach which took place at the Pocantico conference centre in New York. A group of UFO researchers presented "...evidence on physical properties and effects related to UFO events..." to a group of scientists "...with the relevant expertise for assessing this information." (p.116.)

"The charge of the panel would be simply to determine whether further investigation of such physical evidence would be likely to lead to improved understanding of the UFO problem." (p.116.)

The review:

What types of physical evidence were reviewed? Richard Haines looked at photographic; Jacques Vallee covered both optical luminosity and physical traces.; while Jean-Jacques Velasco (GEPAN/SEPRA) covered ground traces; and  Illobrand Von Ludwiger, radar cases.  Mark Rodeghier examined electromagnetic effects; Richard Haines also tackled pilot observations. Michael Swords presented reports apparently broaching our understanding of gravity and inertia. Finally, John F Schuessler detailed physiological effects on witnesses.


Sturrock writes "The panel considered that a few reported incidents might have involved rare but significant phenomena such as electrical activity high above thunderstorms (eg sprites) or rare cases of radar ducting, and that a few cases might have their origins in secret military activities, but the panel was not convinced that any of the evidence involved currently unknown physical processes or pointed to the involvement of extraterrestrial intelligence." (p.135.)

However, they also stated "It may therefore be valuable to carefully evaluate UFO reports to extract information about unusual phenomena currently unknown to science. However, to be credible to the scientific community, such evaluations must take place with a spirit of objectivity and a willingness to evaluate rival hypotheses." (pp135-136.)

Like Wendt and Duvall, the panel suggested an emphasis on examining new cases, rather than older cases, in order to gather new data. (p.136.)

It also noted that "The GEPAN/SEPRA project...[has] provided a valuable model for a modest, but effective organisation for collecting and analyzing UFO observations and related data." (p.137.)

In summary, the panel "...did present...the view that further investigation of physical evidence would be likely to lead to improved understanding of the UFO problem." (p.138.)


It has now been 14 years since he review panel. Richard Haines, in the interim went on to create Narcap ( click here) to focus on aviation related UAP reports. Mark Rodeghier continues to lead CUFOS (click here) . GEPAN/SEPRA made its UFO database publicly available. Jacques Vallee has continued to contribute important work. However, despite all this, science as a whole has continued to ignore the UFO phenomenon. Perhaps one exception has been in the area of abduction reports, where a number of academic articles have been published. Sturrock and others founded the Society for Scientific Exploration (click here) in 1981, which continues today.

A couple of questions arise in my mind.

Wendt and Duvall thought that looking at individual case studies was not particularly useful, especially older cases. The review panel also emphasised examining new cases. I know that my co-blogger, Keith Basterfield, is of the view that re-examining old cases is useful, particularly if a diligent review adds new data, which can either strengthen or weaken a particular view as to the cause of that case. So, my first question to readers, is "Are individual case studies of value?"

My other question concerns methodology. Wendt and Duvall suggest looking for patterns in large number of reports. However, if you do not examine individual cases to decide if they are IFO or UFO, is there any meaning in the patterns you would detect in large volumes of cases?

Friday, October 28, 2011

"Destroyed" Frederick Valentich file turns up in National Archives

Hi all

In 2004, in response to a Freedom of Information request which I submitted to the federal government Department of Transport, I was advised that the air safety investigation report on Frederick Valentich had been destroyed.

In fact, it is actually in the National Archives of Australia. For details see

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Does the multiverse really exist?

Dear readers,

I have mentioned in previous posts, that some UFO researchers suggest that the origins of the UFO phenomenon lie in the concept of a 'multiverse.' This is the idea that there is more than one universe in existence.

I came across an article by George F R Ellis in the August 2011 issue of Scientific American (pages 18-23), put it aside to read later, and have only just come across it again.

Ellis argues that there are in fact two types of multiverse being discussed, which he calls level 1 and level 2.

Level 1. "The most straightforward assumption is that our volume of space is a representative sample of the whole. Distant alien beings see different volumes, but all of these look basically alike, apart from random variations in the distribution of matter. Together, these regions, seen and unseen, form the basic type of multiverse."

Level 2. "Many cosmologists go further and speculate that, sufficiently far away, things look quite different from what we see. Our environs may be one of many bubbles floating in an otherwise empty background. The laws of physics would differ from bubble to bubble leading to an almost inconceivable variety of outcomes. These other bubbles may be impossible to observe even in principle. The author and other sceptics feel dubious about this type of multiverse."

Ellis provides examples of a range of multiverse thinking.

1. "They may be sitting in regions of space far beyond our own." (Guth, Linde and others.) The chaotic inflation model.

2. "They might exist at different epochs of time." (Steinhardt and Turok.)

3. "They might exist in the same space as we do but in a different branch of the quantum wave function." (Deutsch.)

4. "They might not have a location, being completely disconnected from our spacetime." (Tegmark and Sciama.)

"For a cosmologist, the basic problems with all multiverse proposals is the presence of a cosmic visual horizon. The horizon is the limit to how far away we can see, because signals travelling toward us at the speed of light (which is finite) have not had time since the beginning of the universe to reach us from further out."

"All the parallel universes lie outside our horizon and remain beyond our capacity to see...That is why none of the claims made by multiverse enthusiasts can be directly substantiated."

Ellis concludes that "All in all, the case for the multiverse is inconclusive. The basic reason is the extreme flexibility of the proposal..."

"As skeptical as I am, I think the contemplation of the multiverse is an excellent opportunity to reflect on the nature of science and on the ultimate nature of existence: why we are here."

"A systematic science of UFOs"

Dear readers

A delightful Spring day in Adelaide today, mild temperatures and blue skies.

Following my recent post asking if the study of UFOs was a pseudoscience, I was re-reading part of Leslie Kean's book "UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go on the Record." (Harmony Books. New York. 2010. ISBN 978-0-307-71684-2.)

Chapter 27 is titled "Militant Agnosticism and the UFO Taboo" written by Dr Alexander Wendt and Dr Raymond Duvall. In this chapter, among other things, they discuss, the need for a 'systematic science of UFOs' )p.280.)

"To go beyond the minimal scientific research that has already been done and make new breakthroughs, such a science will have to do three things.

"First, it will need to focus on aggregate patterns rather than individual cases. Given our inability to manipulate or predict UFO phenomena, there are inherent limits to what case studies can show.

"Second, a science of UFOs will need to focus on finding new reports rather than analyzing old ones. This is because existing high-quality reports are relatively few in number and were collected by accident and through a variety of means, making it almost impossible to find patterns.

"Finally, a science will need to focus on collecting objective, physical evidence rather than subjective eyewitness accounts, for only the former will convince the authorities that UFOs 'exist'..."

Wendt and Duvall go on to say "Any serious attempt to satisfy these requirements will require considerable technological infrastructure...and large amounts of money." (p.281.)

Kean herself argues for the need for a new US government agency to study UFOs. "With the launching of a new US government agency and the liberation of new resources, science could talk to its rightful place in the study of UFOs by claiming the subject as its own and beginning a new inquiry." (p.285.)


Given the experiences of non-US government agencies which have studied the UFO phenomenon, Kean's argument for a new US UFO agency seems to me to be naive. Despite the vast numbers who debate the UFO topic on the Internet, many within the US, there has been no sign to date of significant political will from any US source, to study UFOs. No political will, equates to no state funding of any proposed US UFO agency.

My own view, based on my reading of various material, is that funding for a new US government UFO agency will not be forthcoming.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Anomalous sea sighting - Jenny Randles

Jenny Randles' "UFO Casebook" column in issue 278, September 2011, of the Fortean Times magazine (p.29) looks at a report coming from a commercial vessel off the west coast of Scotland.

On 22 October 2010 at 1945hrs two crew members noted an object "...over the water, glowing bright but moving in an extraordinary manner - diagonally to them at speed...Its speed was equal to the fastest aeroplane but more maneuverable than a helicopter. In total it was "...present for about ten minutes before vanishing."

In looking first for a conventional explanation to account for the sighting, Jenny found that a Royal Navy submarine HMS Astute was stranded on shingle banks off the West coast of Scotland at the time of the UFO sighting. "The sub had secret stealth technology aboard which was under sea trail." "Any surveillance craft - either from our own military or from some foreign power - would have had good reason to be crossing this part of the ocean heading for the location of the stricken sub."

What is pseudoscience?

Science as a whole, often states that UFOlogy is a "pseudoscience."

An article in the September 2011 issue of Scientific American (Volume 305 number 3 p.77) about this topic, caught my eye. Written by Michael Shermer (click here) , it looks at the question of pseudoscience. It opens with "Climate deniers are accused of practicing pseudoscience, as are intelligent design creationists, astrologers, UFOlogists..."

Shermer notes that in Massimo Pigliucci's (click here) 2010 book 'Nonsense on stilts' (click here) he writes "...the boundaries separating science, nonscience and pseudoscience are much fuzzier and more permeable than Popper (or, for that matter, most scientists) would have us believe." Popper (click here) famously declared 'falsifiability' as the ultimate criterion of demarcation."

"The problem is that many sciences are nonfalsifible such as...the extraterrestrial hypothesis (click here)  On the last short of searching every planet around every star in every galaxy int he cosmos, can we ever say with certainty that ET's do not exist?"

"Sherman suggests a new test? "...does the revolutionary new idea generate any interest on the part of working scientists for adoption in their research programs, produce any new idea of research, lead to any new discoveries, or influence any existing hypotheses, models, paradigms or worldviews. If not, chances are its a pseudoscience."

Do reader's think that UFOlogy is a pseudoscience?

Faster than light?

Dear readers

A delightful spring day in Adelaide. Down to 8 degrees C overnight, and a lovely forecast maximum of 23 degrees today, with blue skies and fluffy cumulus clouds.

Today's post is about the possibility that we have discovered something which travels faster than light (click here for information on the speed of light.)

With UFO skeptics pointing out that it is impossible for a physical object to travel faster than the speed of light, the latest science news about possible faster than light neutrinos is intriguing.

"On 23 September, physicists with the OPERA (click here) experiment in Italy said they had caught neutrinos arriving from the CERN (click here) particle physics lab in Switzerland 60 nanoseconds sooner than light. That seemed to violate Einstein's theory of special relativity." (New Scientists no 2833 8 Oct 2011 p.10.)

The article continues by noting that numerous papers have been submitted "...suggesting numerous ways to account for the extraordinary claim...As well as several proposing short cuts through extra dimensions, explanations include neutrinos that move faster through the earth than through space, the notion that neutrinos might slice through dark matter while photons of light are slowed by the interaction, and the idea that a neutrino's speed depends on its direction and the time of day.

All in all, a fascinating possibility, which time will elaborate upon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cold case investigation - further comments on the 10 January 1954 Morgan event


For some reason all my comments failed to be published in my last post on the 10 January 1954 event. Here are a few more;

5. The Sun set to the WSW.

6. Unlike Zanthus, there was only one object reported.

7. Morgan is located some 150 kms NE of Adelaide.

8. The aircraft would have been heading roughly SW at the time.

9. As shown in The Advertiser date 11 January 1954, the weather details for the 10 January were:

There was a high pressure south of Adelaide at the time.
The Adelaide temperature readings for 10 January were a maximum of 73.6 F; minimum 57.5 F.
The Adelaide barometer readings were 30.14 inches at 3pm and 30.21 inches at 9pm on the 10th.
The Adelaide relative humidity readings were 38% at 3pm and 67% at 9pm. on the 10th.
It was stated that the state was rainless on the 10th.
Winds were light and from the South to South-east over the Morgan area on the 10th.

What do readers think about a possible mirage explanation for the observation?

Cold case investigation - 10 January 1954 - Morgan, South Australia

Hi all

After studying the details of the Zanthus 1968 case and the 1954 BOAC case, I was pleasantly surprised to come across a local 1954 newspaper article, involving another aircraft, which seems to me, suggestive of a possible mirage explanation.

Plane crew sees sky object.

The article appeared in The Advertiser (Adelaide, South Australia) dated Monday 11 January 1954, on page 1. The headline was "Plane crew sees sky object." The text reads:

"The crew of an ANA airliner reported last night having seen what appeared to be a strange object in the sky about 15 miles north of Morgan.

Captain W Booth, pilot of a DC3 which left Broken Hill for Adelaide at 6.25pm, said the object appeared on and off for about six minutes.

His co-pilot, First Officer Furness said the object seemed to move back and forth across their line of flight as though circling, but they could not catch up with it.

Both the men said the object must have been an optical illusion but could not explain how it occurred.

Capt. Booth said he probably would not have noticed the object at all had he not been watching out for a north-bound plane which was due to pass at 7.40pm.

At exactly that time he saw an object which he first thought was the other aircraft, but as it appeared to manoeuvre he thought it might be an RAAF plane.

The Sun had just set and the object which was practically dead ahead of the DC3 appeared to move quite fast from side to side and slightly from east to west.

Capt. Booth then learned from the Parafield control room that there were no other aircraft in the area and assumed that the sight was caused by refraction rays from the Sun.

After about six minutes it became too dark to see the object.

Capt. Booth said he had been flying for 14 years but had never seen a similar sight before.

First officer Furness said the object remained in view for about 10 minutes. It appeared to be circling slowly and resembled the silhouette of an aircraft at a distance of 40-50 miles.

"We sighted it at about 7.40pm 15 miles north of Morgan when we were flying at 8000 ft," he said.

:At first I thought it was another aircraft and wondered that it was flying at the same altitude as we were.

"We spoke to Parafield and were told that the nearest aircraft was a DC4 at Tailem Bend.

"I thought that it was an eagle flying unusually high, but we didn't seem to get any closer to it.

"It disappeared several times in the haze and cloud layer while it was circling."

First officer Furness said he felt the object must have been an optical illusion of some sort but he could not explain how it might have occurred."

My comments:

1. Interestingly, as with Zanthus, the Morgan observation was from an aircraft flying at 8000 feet altitude.

2. As with Zanthus, a check revealed there were no other aircraft in the area at the time.

3. As with Zanthus, the Sun had just set. A check with an astronomical software program confirmed this.

4. As with Zanthus, the object appeared to be at the same altitude as the aircraft,

Friday, September 30, 2011

Comments on the Zanthus case from Martin Shough


A technical glitch somewhere along the line meant that two comments by Martin Shough didn't arrive at the Blog. I therefore reproduce them below, by re-typing from emails from Martin.

"Hello Keith

Thanks for posting this interesting follow-up. It's a pity that it was left to you to do this job now when ideally it would have been done 40 years ago, as you say.

If I could just comment on the comments:

Yes it would be very interesting to see radiosonde profiles for that day. I wish you luck in getting hold of them. Hopefully your request will focus if possible on balloon localities to the NW of the sighting area, in the sighting direction, which could be more significant than conditions in the immediate vicinity of the plane because the ray paths might be passing for long distances through an hypothetical optical duct extending over a wide area far from the plane.

Connected with that, I'd point out that the (equally hypothetical) target(s) of this mirage - silhouetted peaks, or clouds etc -might conceivably lie at a distance of hundreds of miles from the plane, so the topography and weather of the immediate Zanthus area is possibly not so relevant.

Note a point made in my report on the Captain Howard case (possibly notes 83, or thereby 11RC) - that the radio signal loss during the Zanthus sighting could be consistent with a strong temperature inversion causing an optical duct. In dry air such as might be the situation at altitude in reportedly very clear blue skies over a region like this, radio and optical ducting onset would be much closer in time than would typically be the case (radio wavelengths normally being affected disproportionately by the relative humidity.) It could happen that radio waves were being refracted and prevented from entering the optical duct. When the duct broke down, or the plane emerged from it, radio and optical propagation might return almost simultaneously to normal.

Re Captain Gardin's late recollections of details which indicate vertical angular displacements that seems to possibly conflict with a mirage explanation - the 45 degree final ascent, and merging of the satellite objects from underneath - I am reluctant to place as much weight on material information recalled 43 years later that was not mentioned at the time. Capt Smith's account (I agree with you) did give the impression - not explicitly, but by (I would say) conspicuous omission - that observed motions were confined to a horizontal plane.

It may not be irrelevant that these new details tend to increase the strangeness of the event. No doubt Gardin encountered attempts by various people to explain the sighting - possibly including mirage-type theories, of which the original story was at least somewhat suggestive, it would be natural to want to defend a contrary opinion in which the witness may have invested some public and personal capital over the years (as possibly also hinted at by the 'psychic' revelations.) A similar temptation appears to have influenced Captain Howard (BOAC case 1954) in similar circumstances a decade or more after the event, as proven by detailed documentary evidence in my report on that case.

In respect of memory, I note that Captain Gardin now recalls that "the Sun was above the horizon" and sky conditions in the sighting direction was "clear blue sky." However your own findings are as follows.

'A check of the astronomical sky using a software program indicated that at 0940 GMT (1740 local) the Sun had set and was about 4 degrees below the ground horizon, some 20 degrees to the right of the aircraft's track.'

I look forward to your further work on this interesting case. Perhaps contemporary evidence will emerge that convincingly disproves the mirage theory."

Second comment on the finding of a contemporary newspaper clipping.

"Thanks for sharing this discovery. As usual with newspaper reporters we have to be cautious about the account. It quotes Smith: "He said that a big white object had flown on a collision course  with their Piper Navijo (sic) aircraft for 20 minutes" but if we are to credit Smith's own words in his own report of the RAAF file, this is utter garbage. The object(s) was/were not white, but dark grey or black. The objects were not at any time on a collision course, but on an apparent pacing course maintaining station. And the sighting lasted not 20 minutes, but 10 minutes. Not exactly ace journalism!"

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cold case - Canberra, Australia - 15 July 1965

Some internet UFO sources carry an item about a sighting on 15 July 1965, at Canberra, Australia. These accounts usually mention a UFO was sighted from Canberra airport for some time, before mysteriously vanishing.

I recently looked through my Disclosure Australia project material to see what I could find on this case.

Firstly, I located a copy of the RAAF's summaries of aerial sightings, and for 1965 found an entry:

"15 Jul 65 White spherical object, Canberra, ACT (Possible cause) astronomical."

Then, on file series A703, control symbol 580/1/1 part 4 folio 83, there was a one page telex, dated 16 July 1965. The sender was Headquarters Operations Command. The recipient was the Department of Air. It read:

"Restricted. AI32/CINTELLO for DAFI. UFO sighting Canberra airport 15 Jul. This headquarters has concluded that object was planet Venus. No further action will be taken."

So, the RAAF's conclusion was that the observation was of the planet Venus.

I tried to find a detailed investigation report from a civilian UFO group about the case, but turned up nothing. Some UFO newsletters did mention the event but referenced a newspaper article in The Australian dated 16 July 1965. On a visit to the South Australian State Library, I found the article.

(Source: The Australian newspaper number 313 Friday 16 July 1965, page 16.)

"While Earth was looking at Mars, somebody from out there could have been looking at us.

"An unidentified flying object was sighted over Canberra airport yesterday morning. And that put it in a position to eavesdrop Tidbinbilla.

"It was described as a metallic silvery object, hovering in the sky to the north-east at an elevation of between 20 and 30 degrees.

"Air traffic control staff in the main  control tower spotted the visitor about 11am.

"The officer-in-charge of Civil Aviation at the airport, Mr A B Lindeman saw it too.

"So did Flight-Lieutenant Weston, the RAAF base operations officer. But the first was an air-traffic controller Mr Tom Lindsey. He was scanning the sky to the north-east looking for a light aircraft due from Bankstown.

"Another controller, Mr A F Frodsham said it hung in the sky for about 40 minutes. He said it could have been a reflection from an aircraft. But there were no planes departing from Canberra at the time nor was there any record of other aircraft in the area.

"Mr Lindsey said there were definitely no civil aircraft in the area at the time. "I don't know what it was - your guess is as good as mine."

"Said Flight Lieutenant Weston "It's hard to say whether it was stationary. At one time it seemed to be approaching us but I'm not sure."

"He had never seriously thought about flying saucers before but he supposed they were possible. "There must be a reasonable explanation for it, but I wouldn't like to hazard a guess."

Mars paying a return visit perhaps."

The mention of Mars is in reference to Mariner 4's visit to the red planet. Tidbinbilla tracking station was the receiving point for the second picture to be beamed back from Mars.

My comments:

1. Based on the newspaper article the mystery object was located at about 20-30 degrees angular elevation in the north-eastern sky.

2. It was seen over a time span of 40 minutes.

3. It was reported as a "metallic silvery object."

4. It "hung" in the sky, and seemed to be stationary.

5. Could it have been the planet Venus?  Venus is sometimes visible in broad daylight. I have seen it around noon in clear skies myself. On these occasions it does look like a silver star in the sky. The question then is, where was Venus at 11am on 15 July 1965? Was it even above the horizon?

6. A check with an astronomical software program showed me that Venus was above the horizon. It was due north-east, at an angular elevation of 23 degrees. It was very bright, at magnitude -3.8.

7. So, Venus was in the specific location mentioned by all the observers in the newspaper article. Venus as the 'UFO' fits all the details given. Over a 40 minute period it would have moved roughly northwards, through an angle of some 10 degrees, which may not have been enough for ground observers to think, during a discontinuous observation (it would appear no one watched it continuously for the whole 40 minutes,) it was other than north-east at between 20-30 degrees elevation.

8. It is therefore reasonable, to suggest that this 'UFO' was in fact the planet Venus.

Zanthus sighting newspaper article located

During my interview with Walter Gardin, one of the pilot witnesses to the 22 August 1968, Zanthus, Western Australia, aircraft encounter, he mentioned he thought that there had been press coverage of the sighting. This morning, I visited the South Australian State Library newspaper collection to see if I could locate any press coverage. In fact, I found an article.

It appeared in The West Australian newspaper, Saturday 24 August 1968 on page 13. It was headed "Check on sighting." The text reads:

"The sighting of an unidentified flying object by two commercial pilots near Kalgoorlie on Thursday will be investigated by the R.A.A.F.

Mr Gordon Smith of Tuart Hill and Mr Walter Gardin of South Perth, made full reports of the sighting to Department of Aviation officials in Kalgoorlie.

Mr Smith said yesterday that he retained an open mind on what he had seen. He was sure it was not an aircraft or a satellite.

He said that a big white object had flown on a collision course with their Piper Navijo aircraft for 20 minutes before speeding out of sight. It appeared to emit several big-dish-like objects which kept within a few miles of the main object then merged with it again."

I have never seen this newspaper article cited in any UFO literature in connection with the Zanthus event. So, you read it here for the first time in 43 years.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Surveillance technology and mini-ufos

Dear readers

Jenny Randles from the UK has a very interesting article in Fortean Times issue 277 (August 2011 p.31.)

The article is about Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs.) "Going back to the days when these craft were first tested - one might think in a more liberal environment than today's War on Terror - we find decade's worth of UFO sightings that would make more sense if interpreted in the context of UAV technology."

Jenny reports on a sighting on 4 May 2011 by 17 year old Laurance Baker of Widnes, Cheshire. "What made this story different was that the small oval 'craft' flew very low above the art design student's head and was - he insists - a structural device that he suspected to be 'stealth aircraft technology." He based his argument on the craft's unusual design. Modest in size but covered in black cell-like structures similar to scales and with an antenna at the rear that projected over the curved surface pointing forward in the direction the object was travelling."

Jenny then takes a look at other cases which might fit the UAV scenario.

27 August 1979. Two men flying in a Cessna aircraft in Surrey, went into a steep dive to avoid "a small dough-nut shaped object as it crossed their path. This object then travelled around the Cessna as if inspecting them...the description...includes reference to a honeycomb of small cells making up the outer structure, which rotated...Another pilot...had a more distinct view of the min-ufo the next was heading for nearby Farnborough, the home of experimental aircraft design..."

April 1984. A medical research scientist saw "...a hovering object made from a series of 'grid' structures...near the Lakenheath military base in East Anglia. I later discovered...that she had  probably seen a UAV that had temporarily gone out of control..."

"I have many other cases in my files and their locations cluster around military or BAE locations such as Warton in Lancashire."

Jenny notes "In 2007, a new hovering spy camera was unveiled that was even likened to a flying saucer at the launch...This device was based on a mini-helicopter with multiple rotors...including an antenna and a surface area made up of small, black, scale-like tiles."

"Moreover, some trade sources suggest that similar devices, have been sold to UK special forces recently for highly covert surveillance activities, that, needless to say, is not going to be discussed openly."

For information on BAE Australia click here. For an article on the use of UAVs by the Australian Army and RAAF click here.

Have readers come across any cases which might have been due to UAVs?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Zanthus - a paranormal connection

Dear readers

It's a warm and gusty day here in Adelaide, so I am taking a day off and visiting my local library to read science magazines. The subject of this post is the 22 August 1968, Zanthus case, which my co-blogger, Keith Basterfield has recently posted about.

I was reading Keith's posts, and although all the details were great to see, one aspect completely surprised me.

Walter Gardin revealed that during the event, and for six months afterwards, he felt that he was under the control of something/someone who was gathering information on people on Earth. This is an extremely unusual aspect to the whole event; which has never been revealed before. It took an interview 43 years after the event to uncover it.

Mentally digesting this revelation, I then recalled some information I'd read in Jacques Vallee's "Forbidden Science - Volume two." Documatica Research, LLC. San Francisco. ISBN 978-0-615-24974-2.

(1) In November 1974 (p273) Vallee reviewed the Herb Schirmer, 1967 abduction case. "There are several interesting things to note in connection with the case. First, there had been a knock on Schirmer's door at 10.45am that day. The dog rushed to the door and Schirmer opened it: there was no one there. In another curious detail, he never felt his body after the green flash." (One humanoid held a box which emitted a green flash.)

(2) In September 1977 (p397.) Vallee was talking to Father Gill (Papua, 1959 observation of occupants on a UFO) about his events. Over coffee, Vallee asked Gill "Do you ever dream about the 1959 incident?" then when Gill responded "Yes." Vallee further asked "Anything unusual about those dreams?"

"Funny you should ask that. Few people inquire about these details. I dream about something that happened an hour after the object flew away."

"He heard an explosion just outside the Mission building, in Boainai: his hair stood up. That's the moment, that always comes back in his dreams, he told me, rather than the sighting itself."

(3) In November 1978 (p447) Vallee had a discussion with Lieutenant-Colonel Larry Coyne (pilot in the Mansfield, Ohio helicopter event.) "After his sighting he remained 72 hours unable to sleep. A week later he had the experience of floating out of his body. And he began some personal psychic experiments."

The point that Vallee makes about these three cases is "So now we have a series of cases in which UFO observations have combined with paranormal effects that are never mentioned in the literature: Crutwell, Father Gill, Schirmer, and now Coyne." (p447.)


Could this mean that had we inquired of the witnesses in the 1966 Tully "nest" affair, or the 1980 Rosedale CE2 case, or any other Australian close encounter, that paranormal associations would have emerged?

Are readers aware of any other early (say 1950's-mid 1970's) Australian cases where paranormal events are part and parcel of the published event? If so, please share.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

One of the witnesses to the 22 Aug 1968 Zanthus case located and interviewed

So far, I have posted the details of the 22 Aug 1968, Zanthus, Western Australia case, as recorded in the RAAF's UFO files. However, upon reading those documents there were a few questions which arose in my mind, which I wanted to resolve. What was the size comparison of the small to large objects? How far to the left and right of the large object did the small objects travel? Were any radar observations made?

I was fortunate enough, the other day to be able to locate and interview, by phone,  one of the pilots involved in this event. Walter Gardin is now aged 77, being 34 when the event transpired. He was kind enough to answer my questions. Here then are my interview notes, which provide some interesting new details which have not seen the light of day in 43 years.

Interview notes with Walter Gardin 15 Sep 2011:

Q1 What first drew your attention to the formation?

We had heard that a balloon was to be flown from Western Australia to Sydney. I was flying the aircraft at the time, when I suddenly noticed an object out of the cockpit window. I looked again but nothing was there. I was reading a newspaper at the time. On looking up once again, the object was now present. Later I learnt that the balloon in questions had not flown on that day. So, the answer to your question is that I first thought it was a balloon I was seeing.

Q2 The statement said the formation was at the same level as the aircraft. Does this mean that you looked straight at it, as opposed to needing to look up or down from the aircraft's horizon?


Q3 There was one larger object and several smaller ones. If the length of the larger object was one unit, what was the length of a smaller object?

1/10th to 1/5th of a unit.

Q4 For the whole ten minutes of viewing, the formation maintained the same distance. Does this mean that the angular size of both the larger and smaller objects remained constant?


Additional information:

Walter was supposed to provide a position report to DCA Kalgoorlie, during the time they were out of radio contact with DCA Kalgoorlie. When Kalgoorlie failed to receive this report they were concerned that the aircraft may have crashed.

Q5 The statement reads "the smaller aircraft then flew out left and right." If the length of the larger object was one unit, how many units to left and right did the smaller objects travel?

About 30 degrees. Two smaller objects went to the right and four to the left.

Q6 "At 0950GMT the whole formation joined together." Does this mean that they became one, and only one object, which diminished in angular size?

Yes, they all merged. The smaller objects merged with the larger one by going in to it from underneath. The one object then departed by going upwards at a 45 degree angle from the aircraft's horizon. It diminished in size as if receding.

Q7 Was the Sun above the horizon at the time?


Q8 Was the Moon or any other object visible in the sky?

No. It was a clear blue sky in the direction of the formation.

Q9 The statement said the weather was fine. Does this equate to clear sky in the direction of the objects?

Yes. The weather was fine in that direction. Clear blue sky.

Q10 Was there any air turbulence at the time?


Further information:

When they arrived at Kalgoorlie, the police were present, as DCA thought that the aircraft may have crashed. Walter did not talk to them about his observations. He understood that Gordon may have appeared later, on TV or in the paper.

Q11 Kalgoorlie told you that there was no traffic in the area, when you asked them. Would this have been based on their radar observation?

Walter and I discussed this point and came to the conclusion that Kalgoorlie relied on aircraft identifying themselves as being in the area, rather than radar observations from Kalgoorlie.

Q12 Did your aircraft have radar onboard.


Q13 To your knowledge, was Kaloorlie in receipt of any other observations of unidentified traffic?


Q14 Did any RAAF personnel ever speak to you or Gordon about the observations?

RAAF did. Walter recalls someone telling them about a case involving the US Dewline and of a building in the US where they looked into UFOs.

Q15 Prior to 22 Aug 1968 what was your opinion of UFOs?

UFOs were "bull," ( that is he didn't believe in them.)

Q16 Did you change your opinion as a result of the 22 Aug 1968 observation?

Yes. After this episode I formed the opinion that there are other inhabited planets out there.

Additional information:

While looking at the formation, Walter had a strange sensation, which lasted for the next six months. He had the feeling that he was "in the control of people gathering information on people on the earth."

Q17 What radios were onboard the aircraft?

Two UHF and one VHF.

Q17 How many times did the cycle of smaller objects going outwards and inwards occur?

I saw it three times. Gordon twice.

Q18 Do you know if Gordon Smith is still alive?

I don't know. The last I heard of him he was at a flying school in Perth.

My comments:

Some very interesting information has emerged from this interview.

1. That the single, united object left at a 45 degree upwards direction. I had thought, from the statement given to the RAAF that the one final object had simply gone out of sight still on the aircraft's horizon.

2. That the smaller objects, when moving left and right of the main object had travelled through about 30 degrees away from the main object. This is a large angular distance. I double checked this fact with Walter.

3. The smaller objects were 1/10th to 1/5th the angular size of the larger object.

4. The smaller objects merged with the larger one by going into it from underneath. I had thought from the original statement that the smaller objects came in from left and right, i.e. along the same plane as the aircraft's horizon.

Given all the data, from both from the original 1968 documentation, and this interview, albeit it is 43 years later (why did no one follow this case up at the time?) I don't believe that the mirage hypothesis is valid.

In my opinion, this event represents an excellent example of the "core" UFO phenomenon, and deserved a scientific investigation at the time.

What do readers think?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cold case - Zanthus 22 August 1968 - Part three

What the RAAF did with this case:

Captain's Smith's statement was attached to a memo from RAAF Headquarter Pearce, Western Australia to the Department of Air, Canberra, dated 12 November 1968. This memo stated that Smith's account was received by Pearce on 11 November 1968.

The Department of Air sent a "message form" to Pearce (Flt Lt Martin) and asked Pearce to contact the Department of Civil Aviation in Perth "on whether UFO report filed with any DCA agency in this event. In particular did Smith or Gardin report facts to DCA. Request check Kalgoorlie on whether pilots radio reported on UFO on 22 Aug."

A telex passed from HQ Pearce to DOA dated 25 Nov 1968 stated "Ref UFO sighting on  22 Aug 1968. Enquiries with DCA Perth do not show any reports received. Am now making enquiries with DCA Kalgoorlie on sighting."

On 9 Dec 1968 a memo went from the DAFI to Flt Lt Martin at Pearce asking for a follow up on the DCA Kalgoorlie angle.

The response from Pearce came in the form of a telex and stated that DCA Kalgoorlie confirmed "that aircraft VH-RTO on 22 Aug at approx 0940GMT enquired from APKG if there were any known traffic Zanthus area. On being informed there was none the aircraft reported sighting of a UFO in company with six small disc like objects approximately ten miles north of track FT80 KAL on the same heading and keeping pace with them. The pilots of VH-RTO confirmed this on arrival APKG at 1038GMT. Before departing for Perth at 1138 they were advised to make a full report to RAAF Pearce."

My comments/analysis:

1. A check of the RAAF's own published annual summary of UFO reports received by them, fails to locate this case.

2.  To my knowledge, no additional information has ever come forward, either in the form of official documents, or further comments by the pilots concerned in the UFO literature.

3. I cannot find any record of any UFO group conducting an investigation.

4. Smith's report states that the initial observation point was 130nm East of Kalgoorlie. This puts the plane near Zanthus, a locality on the East-West transcontinental railway line.  An atlas puts Zanthus at latitude 31 deg 02 min latitude south and 123 deg 34 min longitude east.

5. The final observation point's location is not given. However, at a speed of 195kts and a duration of 10 minutes, the final point would have been approximately 100nm east of Kalgoorlie.

6. The aircraft was tracking 270 deg(m) and the bearing to the "UFO" was approximately 320 deg (m.) Smith's observation that "the whole formation maintained the same distance and bearing from our aircraft during the whole time of the sighting " implies that the "formation" was travelling at 195kts tracking 270 deg paralleling the aircraft's track at some unknown distance away.

7. A check of the astronomical sky using a software program indicated that at 0940GMT the Sun had set and was about 4 degrees below the ground horizon, some 20 degrees to the right of the aircraft's track. The Moon had set, and was some 23 degrees below the horizon. The planet Venus was 13 degrees above the horizon at a bearing some 15 degrees to the right of the aircraft's track. There was nothing astronomical at 50 degrees to the right of the aircraft's track.

8. I located one potential explanation for the event (click here.) In an article by Martin Shough about the classic 29 June 1954 BOAC Labrador sighting of a large object and several smaller ones, a possible cause was suggested of an unusual mirage. He lists a number of other similar sightings which includes the Zanthus event and comments.

"As with the BOAC Labrador case, the lateral movements of the smaller objects occurred in a very narrow band  ("without actually turning like a normal aeroplane would have to.") Interestingly, this happened at the same time the "main ship split into two sections" which might suggest that the inversion layer became thicker at that point allowing more objects to enter the mirage duct."

9. I did locate a photograph of the actual aircraft involved. Click here.

In conclusion:

This is a particularly interesting case, whether it was an unusual mirage as posited by Shough, or a "true" UFO.

The RAAF, which was the official body charged with looking into UFO reports, did not follow it up according to the official documents, despite the excellent witnesses.

Here was an excellent example of a "UFO" which deserved, but did not receive a proper scientific examination.

Project Galileo

Project Galileo Or to give it its full name, "The Galileo project for the Systematic Scientific Search for Evidence of Extraterrestrial...