Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Cold case - Zanci station - 1 Jun 1970

Hi all,


Readers who have been following my "cold case" series of posts, will know that in Australia, as with elsewhere in the world, the period 1965 to 1970 saw some extraordinary reports of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP.)

I have already posted previously unknown details on the 24 May 1965 Eton Ridge trace case ( click here); the 28 May 1965 Bougainville Reef aircraft encounter (click here); and the 30 Oct 1967 Boyup Brook "car stop (click here.)

RAAF files:

A little known, but very interesting report was made to the RAAF in 1970, where the RAAF's investigatory office wrote:

"If this is not a hoax and the object seen has been described accurately, then despite all efforts no explanation can be offered." (NAA file series A703, control symbol 580/1/1 part 13 p69.)

The report came to the RAAF via the Mildura Police Station. The witness, a Mr Vigar, was known to the reporting police office, Seargent Knowles. The text of the reporting telex included the words "Mr Vigar is considered a very reliable person by Sgt Knowles."

Here then, we have "a very reliable person" reporting an event which even the RAAF considered as an "unknown."  This "unknown"category as an explanation for an event was rarely used by the RAAF.

What was reported?

The following text was part of a telex from the Mildura office of the Department of Civil Aviation, to the COS Support Command (RAAF) dated 3 Jun 1970.

"UFO sighting report.

The following received from Sgt Knowles Mildura police at 030310. Quote Mr Albert Vigar of Zanci station approx 60NM SE Mildura reported sighting UFO between 7.30pm and 8pm last night 2/6/70.

Mr Vigar was spotlight shooting. He saw two small red lights which he thought was reflection from foxes eyes and gave chase. As he got closer to the source of the light he noticed it was a bright diamond object. Bright all over and about as large as a semi-trailer standing on end. It was transmitting a whistling sound.

On getting within 60 yards of the object it rose straight into the air. On reaching approx 100 ft the lights on the object faded but the whistling sound could still be heard.

When the object was first sighted it was 6 to 8 ft off the ground. Mr Vigar revisited this area today, but rain overnight had wasted away all tracks.

Mr Vigar is considered a very reliable person by Sgt Knowles."

Report form:

The witness completed  a standard "Report on Unusual Aerial Sighting" form for the RAAF. Additional details shown on this form are:

The witness was named Albert Arthur Vigar, aged 20, of Zanci Station, New South Wales, via Mildura. He listed his occupation as "station hand." The area of the sighting is described as "plain and sand."

The date of the observation is given as 1 Jun 1970 and not 2 Jun as stated on the telex to the RAAF. To the question on the form of "How accurate is the date?" Vigar responded with "positive."

The time of the observation is shown as "between 7.30 & 8pm." Duration is said to have been approx 15-20 minutes, no short term sighting.

At the time, Vigar was "approx 3 miles from homestead in easterly direction." (Quest 6.)

It was a "Clear night no wind."

To the question "Where was the object first observed?" he wrote "west of north of quest 6" To "angle of elevation?" he wrote "vertical and about 6ft from the ground."

To "what first attracted observer's attention?" " Red light."

To "What was the colour...?" "red at first changed to green and other back to red as I approached the object."

"What was the apparent size at nearest approach?" "30-40ft high."

"Describe any sound heard?" "high pitched whistle which made ears ring for a long time after."

"Where was the object last observed?" "eighty to hundred feet in the air."

"What was the manner of its disappearance?" "straight up. Lights out. Whine continued."


Vigar draw a sketch of the object as seen from close range. It shows a diamond shape, tall and thin, labelled as "between 30-40 ft high." He wrote on the bottom of the sketch "This is as object appeared to me at an approximate distance of between 50 & 60 yards. I got a real good look."

Another sketch shows his position as approx 3 miles to the east of the homestead. He indicates that the compass direction of the object from him was north-north-west and he wrote on the sketch between "my position" and "object" "approx 1 1/2 miles."

Going back to question 8 on the form, I noted he answered "telescopic sight rifle" to the question "Describe any aids/equipment used in the observation." Later he wrote "I know what I saw and it was nothing like I have ever seen before."

RAAF analysis:

The section of the form completed by the RAAF investigating officer showed that there were no military aircraft in the area at the time. A civilian aircraft, a Fokker Friendship was at 16,500ft, speed 300 kts; bearing NW over Ultima and descending, at 0943z (1943 local time.)

The observer's location is shown as approx 33 42S and 143 02E.

The planet Venus was stated to be azimuth 310 degrees (NW) elevation 65 degrees; while the planet Jupiter is shown as 29 degrees elevation and 32 degrees azimuth (NE).

A meteorological balloon is said to have been launched from Mildura at 1100z and the wind profile was:

0900z 010 deg 2kts vis 20 miles 3/8 cloud at 9,000ft temp 11 deg
1000z 020 deg 2kts vis 20 miles 2/8 cloud at 9,000ft temp 12 deg.

Satellite predictaions showed that at 1946 local time Cosmos 1965 73E was at azimuth 207 elevation 74 hdg 127.

To question 20 on the form, "The cause (or likely cause) of the sighting", the RAAF's investigating officer showed "cannot be determined."

The investigating officer also wrote on the form:

"If this is not a hoax and the object seen has been described correctly then despite all efforts no explanation can be offered.

Zanci Homestead and the people living there are well known to the police at Mildura as reasonable and respcted citizens and they know of no reason why Mr Vigar should submit an untrue statement. A copy of the original telex report as received through DCA is attached.

Via discussions with Sgt Knowles of Mildura police, Mr Vigar was in the "Walls of China" area (east of Zanci homestead) at the time of sighting (prominently marked on WAC chart Adelaide 3458.) This particular area has provided a wealth of local legend inspired by previous unexplained sightings. It is thought, however, that the peculiar geological structure of the area has caused the phenomena, but in what respect, has not been adequately explained.

No assessment can be made of the sighting."

The investigating officer's report is dated 15 Jul 1970.


1. Location:

According to my map, Zanci NSW is at latitude 33 42S 143 02E which places it at about 70 kilometres NE of Mildura, not SE as in the DCA telex.)

2. Night sky:

A look at the night sky at the time, as per two different sky chart programs on the net, indicates it was dark at the time. The Sun had set and so had the Moon. The planet Jupiter was located at about 53-58 deg elevation at 26 deg N of E. The planet Venus was very close to the horizon some 30 deg N of W - either just above or just below the horizon depending on the time you choose to put into the program. You will note the differences in data from the RAAF's form.

However, the object was reported as being in the NNW, away from both Jupiter and Venus.

3. Weather:

The witness' weather details of "Clear sky no wind" is reflected in the details obtained by the RAAF.

4. Other details:

a. For some general information on Zanci click here and here

b. For information on the "Walls of China" click here.  For photographs click here.

In summary:

Given the duration of the observation; the estimated closeness of the witness to object; the size described, its shape, and the reliability of the witness, one can only agree with the RAAF's conclusion that this sighting was of an "unknown."

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