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?

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