Friday, January 25, 2013

"Mystery spheres found in Australia"


Another interesting newspaper clipping found on the UFO Research (NSW) website, is one dated Friday 7 Nov 1965. The heading is "Space ball found." The text reads:

"Broken Hill, Friday

Another mysterious metal ball, similar to the two space objects found north of Broken Hill in 1963, has been discovered on Bollard's Lagoon Station in the extreme north-east of South Australia.

Bollard's Lagoon is a cattle run about 100 miles north of Boulia where the first of the spherical metal objects was found in April 1963.

The second ball was found 50 miles away on Mt Sturt Station several weeks later.

Both were identified as coming from a space vessel but no country claimed them.

The third ball was found about four months ago in an arid region of clay flats and sandhills.

Mr D S Cooling a representative of Elder Smith-Goldsborough Mort Ltd brought the latest ball to Broken Hill today. Like the other two metal balls, it is hollow and identical to the others except that it is slightly smaller. It is about 12 inches in diameter. The others were 14 inches."

UAP link?
A number of “mystery spheres” were found in Australia during the 1960’s to the 1980's. In the 1960's there was some speculation among certain UAP researchers that these balls might, somehow, be connected to the UAP phenomenon.

As far back as 1964, the English magazine, “Flying Saucer Review” [10(1):5] related the finding of such objects in New South Wales and South Australia, between April and July 1963. In that article, Mr Allen Fairhall, then Federal Minister of Supply, is quoted as stating that inquiries to the relevant American and Russian space agencies had failed to determine the origin of these spheres, thus raising speculation in some quarters.

Jumping thirty two years forward. In his 1996 document: “UFOs Sub Rosa Down Under-The Australian Military & Government Role in the UFO Controversy” Bill Chalker wrote:

The Joint Intelligence Organisation (the reorganised JIB) maintains a secret BOLIDE file. It still seems to be anchored to the premise that “UFOs” could involve the chance of retrieval of Soviet hardware and therefore contribute some useful intelligence. It appears JIO have a “rapid intervention” capability as they have been able to instigate prompt widespread ground searches in suspected “hardware” crashes. They do this through “special access” channels. This operation may be similar to US activity operating under the code name Project “Moondust.”

What was Project Moondust?

A check with the authoritative “The UFO Encyclopaedia” written by US Researcher Jerry Clark, [Clark, J. 1996. “The UFO Encyclopaedia” Volume 3. Omnigraphics. Detroit p 128] indicates that:

In 1961 the U.S. Air Force established the classified Project Moon Dust to “locate, recover and deliver descended foreign space vehicles.”

Did Australia participate in this Project?

Department of Supply file SA 5644/2/1, located in the National Archives of Australia,  contains a 1962 memo from the Controller WEA to the Superintendent Woomera. In it, it stated that “the United States Embassy” informally sought WRE’s assistance to obtain information about sightings,  or of downed fragments of space vehicles. This location and recovery of fragments was exactly the role of the USAF Project Moon Dust, and the request to Australia was made the year after the Project commenced. In our reading of the Supply file, there is never actually a mention of the words “Project Moon Dust.” However, as it was a classified US project perhaps this is not surprising.
Listing of other mystery spheres found in Australia:

Date of find
Location of find
8 Apr 1963
Bouilla Station NSW
5.5kg & 35.5cm diameter
FSR 10(1):5. 1964
28 Jun 1963
Mount Sturt Station NSW
8kg & 41cm diameter
FSR 10(1):5. 1964
12 Jul 1963
Muloorina SA
15cm diameter
FSR 10(1):5. 1964
Sep 1965
Merkanooka WA
Titanium sphere. 50cm diameter
Department of Supply file SA5644/3/1
Apr 1968
Mudgee NSW
29kg & 61cm diameter
AFU Newsletter 46, July 2003
Mar 1968
Inkerman Qld
60cm diameter sphere. Grey colour with 4 holes in it.
NAA file series J63/25 control symbol 5/40/AIR PART 1
Aug 1972
Gilgandra, NSW
A portion of a spherical vessel.
NAA file series A703 control symbol 580/1/1 pt 18 pp44-46.
Dec 1972
3 spheres. 61cm diameter
UFORA Research Digest Issue 30:10
17 Oct 1973
Mouroubra WA
51cm diameter
UFORA Research Digest Issue 30:10
Jun 1988
Marble Bar WA
Titanium 37cm diameter sphere.

“Sphere” files located:

In December 2003, as a result of examination of paper file listings at the Adelaide office of the NAA,  two more files relevant to our inquiries were located.

The first file was a Department of Supply file SA5644/3/1 titled “Joint Intelligence Bureau requests for an examination of a sphere found at Merkanooka WA.” The file revealed that:

·        On 6 October 1965, the JIB asked the WRE to examine and report on the sphere
·        The ball reached WRE on 18 October 1965
·        A memo dated 1 April 1966 to the Chief Scientist from the WRE stated that: “Our examinations show that the object is certainly of USA origin and that it could be assumed to have formed part of a space vehicle.”
·        A memo dated 10 August 1966 from the Chief Scientist to the WRE asked that the ball be forwarded to Defence R & D Attaché in Washington for handing on to NASA
·        A later report stated that the ball had been found on 10 September 1965 and that NASA determined it “…was a fragment from the Gemini 5 spaceflight” specifically a Gemini 20 inch OAMS fuel tank used as a water tank.

The second file, was again a Department of Supply file, number SA 5644/3/2 Part 1. Here appeared the story of the first three spheres listed in the first table above.

Bouilla ball

A 14 inch diameter, 10lbs in weight, sphere was discovered on the 8 April 1963 by Jim McClure on Bouilla Station, near Broken Hill NSW (30 deg 06mins S; 141 deg 52mins E). It was delivered to the Weapons Research Establishment in South Australia for examination, where it was determined to be of American origin. After much discussion with the USA, the sphere was returned to there.

Johnson ball

Another sphere turned up on Mount Sturt Station (29deg 32mins S; 141 deg 34 mins E), near Broken Hill on 29 Jun 1963 and was named after the finder, Colin Johnson. It weighed 18lbs. The Bouilla and Johnson balls were found at location 50 miles apart. This sphere was also determined to be American and returned there.

Later analysis, documented on the file, indicated that both of these two balls were from a US Agena rocket used to launch test satellites.

Muloorina “ball”

On 9 Jul 1963 Tom Churches reported finding a metal sphere with a red rubber balloon attached. The sphere was 6 inches in diameter with a hole at the bottom and was said to have been found on Muloorina Station some 3 miles SE of Lake Eyre South. However, examination of the sphere soon indicated that it was a hoax, two halves taped together with “sticky tape.” We do not believe that this find has been revealed as a hoax before.

Proposed explanations:

The following table  lists explanations which have been put forward for these objects:

Location of find
Bouilla Station NSW
US Agena rocket stage used to launch USAF test satellites on 14 Dec 62 & 7 Jan 63. Re-entered in Jan 63.
Mount Sturt Station NSW
Muloorina SA
[Dept of Supply file SA 5644/3/2 Part 1]
Merkanooka WA
Water tank from Gemini 5 spaceflight
[Dept of Supply file SA5644/3/1]
Location of find
Mudgee NSW
Pressure vessel from Delta booster used to launch biosatellite II on 7 Sep 67.
Inkerman Qld
Given to US Embassy Australia. No known results.
[RAAF file J63/25 5/40/AIR PART 1]
Gilgandra, NSW
A fragment of a component of a satellite
[RAAF file A703 580/1/1 pt 18 pp44-46}
Probably high pressure gas storage tank.
[UFORA Research Digest No 30 Sep-Oct 1992]
Mouroubra WA
WRE says American satellite.
[UFORA Research Digest No 30 Sep-Oct 1992]
Marble Bar WA
Probably from Soviet Foton 4 launched 14 Apr 88, re-entered 28 Apr 88.

I welcome any additional data, from blog readers,  on Australian 'mystery spheres.'

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"Shots fired at UFO"

Hi all,

Another in a series of posts derived from the newspaper collection on the website of UFO Research (NSW.) The announcement that shots were fired at a UFO was sufficient to draw my attention to the article.

On Monday 7 May 1979 one of the stories from the Sydney Telegraph  read :

"Shots fired as UFO panics town:

A local  civil servant fired a volley of shots at a UFO hovering over the West Australian town of Eucla. And UFO fever has gripped the tiny town following sightings over the past three nights of a mystery red and silver object.

The 20 townspeople are in a whirl over the sightings but a spokesman for the RAAF in Canberra said it was unlikely to send an aircraft to intercept the UFO.

A local agricultural officer who fired a high powered rifle at the UFO said "It zoomed off in a flash."

At lunchtime yesterday several people also sighted the cigar shaped shining UFO which appeared to be moving towards the town from the South Australian border.

After the sighting the object veered away from Eucla but was spotted by several people throughout the afternoon.

The shots were fired at the object by Mr A Hardy a permit control officer with the Department of Agriculture. "I just wanted to see what would happen," Mr Hardy said.

"It zoomed off in a flash to a much greater height and sat there for three or four hours."

A tourist from Tweed Heads also spotted the UFO as he drove towards the border.

"It was like a rocket, three or four times the size of an airliner and hanging in the sky," he said.

Eucla police believe it may be just a bunch of helium filled party balloons which escaped from a dance at a nearby motel.

And Perth weather bureau experts suggest it might be a weather balloon from South Australia or even New Zealand.

The assistant manager of the BP Travellers Valley Motel Mr Geoff Munn today could not completely verify the police balloon theory. "We did have a dance hire on Saturday at which about 80 gas filled balloons were used as decorations" he said.

A Eucla policeman, Constable G Van Rysinge, said today the sightings had caused a stir in the town. "I haven't seen anything myself but the reports seem genuine," he said.

Extracting the data:

What can we draw out of the newspaper article?

1. The events are said to have occurred at Eucla, Western Australia. Eucla is at latitude 3141S longitude 12853E. It is 11kms west of the South Australian/Western Australia border, in Western Australia.

2. Night sightings on Sun 6 May/Mon 7 May; Sat 5 May/Sun 6 May and Fri 4 May/Sat 5 May 1979. Red and silver object.  Daytime sightings: Sunday 6 May. Lunchtime. Cigar shaped shining object coming from the east.


1. There are no available RAAF UAP files for 1979 in the National Archives.

2. The data in the newspaper article is insufficient, in my opinion, to even start evaluating the sightings.

Do any blog readers have additional information on these events?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"Navy looks into UFO story"

Hi all,

Back to mining the newspaper clipping collection on the UFO Research (New South Wales) website.  This time to look behind a clipping dated Friday 13 Nov 1970, titled "Navy looks into UFO story." The text reads:

"Launceston, Thurs

The Navy has asked for a report on the sighting of an unidentified flying object near Binolong Bay in Northern Tasmania.

Mr H C Glatty saw the object from his home in Binolong Bay about a fortnight ago. He said it seemed to rise out of the sea north of Binolong Bay near Eddystone Point.

The Navy Department heard about the object after Mr Glatty reported it to the nearby St Helens police.

Mr M G Bevan and Mr D L Riley of St Helens spotted it  from their backyards as it flew over St Helens about 6.30pm.

Mr Riley said the UFO looked to be about 'the same size as a porpoise and was painted red, white and blue.'

The object seemed to move very slowly - much slower than a jet aircraft. It took a long while before it disappeared he said.

"The strange part about it was it made absolutely no noise.: "It was a bit eerie" agreed Mr Bevan. He said he saw the object first and called his wife and later Mr Riley and his family to look at it. "It went straight up north-east of here, around Eddystone Point, I think," he said.

"It then turned around and headed directly south. I had my field glasses on it and watched it closely for about eight to ten minutes. It was at a terrific height" said Mr Bevan.

"Judging from jets I have seen it would be at least 60,000ft. It happened at six minutes past six on our kitchen clock. The thing is cigar shaped, no wings, just that vapour trail it left behind."

Mr Bevan has seen a similar object before but he said it was going in the opposite direction. It was coming from St Marys and heading towards Eddystone Point."

Australian Navy UAP files:

There are very few instances where the Australian Navy has shown an interest in reports of UAP. I can think of the following times that the Australian Navy is mentioned in UAP files:

1. The 1954 Naval aircraft encounter near Goulburn in 1954  Click here and here for my posts on this case.

2. The HMAS Adroit 1978 report (click here.)

3. A Navy file, NAA file series A6826 control symbol 1361/1/1-3 titled "Earth satellites, space vehicles and Unidentified Flying Objects - general."

4. Some documents on various RAAF UAP file series A703 control symbol 580/1/1 parts 1-35.

5. A Navy file, NAA file series E499/18 control symbol C 21/4/41 titled "Unidentified flying object sightings."

RAAF files:

Interestingly, there are records of these 1970 Tasmanian sightings on the RAAF's UAP files, namely NAA file series A703 control symbol 580/1/1 Part 14.

Pages 153-158 of the digitised version are a report by Mr Glatte. Mr Glatte, age 55, was a book keeper/cashier living at Binalong Bay, Tasmania. At about 1800hrs (TST) for about ten minutes, in his own home, he saw an unusual object. The sky had some cloud but was otherwise clear. The object was first observed 10 degrees to the right of the Eddystone light, and at an angular elevation of 5 degrees. Compass bearing was 010 degrees true (plus or minus 5 degrees.)

His attention was drawn to "What appeared to be an unusual shaped cloud-vapour trail." In colour the object was "White or grey with red tail."

At its nearest approach it reached an elevation of 80 degrees and a bearing of 090 degrees true. No obvious method of propulsion was visible and there was no sound noted.

The object was lost to sight in the south at an angle of 30 degrees, then obscured by trees, bearing 180 degrees true. There was  a 'residual vapour trail long after disappearance.'

There is a note to question 26, which says "Observer pointed out path of object to Flt Lt A E Bentley, navigator at interview.

Question 27 is "How many witnesses to the sighting?" The answer was "I know of six, but they would not be able to make a sighting as early as I did." The names shown were, Mr M Bevan of St Helens and Mr D L Riley plus wives, and Mr and Mrs H C Ponting c/- St Helens.

Question 28 is "Any other sightings?" The response was "Approx 16 mths previous travelling in opposite direction."

A sketch is provided which shows a cigar shaped object with wings and two tail features. There are notes which read "Underside view" and "painted red (refers to red tail features), remainder white or gray."


To me, the sketch shows the object was not a cloud but had an aircraft-like shape.

Mr Glatte dated his report 30 Nov 1970.

Page 177 is a typed statement by Mr H C Glatte dated 29 Oct 1970. in the statement he says in part, "...which makes it obvious it was launched from a sea-going vessel." This statement leads me to think that this is why the Department of Navy took an interest in this report.

Pages 174-176 are a handwritten statement from Mr Glatte which matches the typed statement above.

Page 173 is a memo dated 6 Nov 1970 from the Naval Intelligence Division of the Department of the Navy (file reference 31/16/4) to DAFI. "Following the recent telephone conversation between Lieutenant Commander Oaxley and Squadron Leader Hickey the enclosed  report from Mr Glatte concerns an unidentified flying object is forwarded for your retention."

Page 172 is a handwritten note dated 10 Nov 1970. It is addressed to HQSC Department of Air.

 "Enclosed is a copy of a report by Mr H C Glatte, Binalong Bay, Tasmania, of the sighting of an unidentified flying object.

2. Will you please arrange to have Mr Glatte interviewed by a responsible person. Mr Glatte also says he made a verbal report to the local police station at St Helens. You may wish to  send a proforma to the officer and have him conduct the interview, if no RAAF officer in Tasmania is available."

 Page 171, dated 11 Nov 12970 and is a hand written note:

"1. Re folios 3 and 4.

2. DNI telephoned and asked me to let you know that they have received a press query on this matter and had informed the press that they had referred it to us.

3. I told DNI of the action I had taken."

The memo was signed "Flt Lt Ufologist."

Page 152 is a memo dated 8 Dec 1970 from Wing Commander T S Fairbairn, HQSC to DAFI.
"1. The investigation of a report in connexion with the sighting of an unidentified flying object at St Helens, Tasmania on 28th October was carried out by Flt Lt A E Bentley (GD Nav) of Tasmanian Squadron ATC on 30th November, 1970.

2. The report of the Investigating Officer together with a copy of an enquiry from S Kaufman of Belmont. NSW is enclosed. The original letter has been returned to Mr Glatte for his retention and reply."

What was the cause of the sighting?

Pages 156-157 are the RAAF's "Unit evaluation" of what they thought was the cause of the sighting.

There was a civilian aircraft in the area at the time, namely a Qantas HS125 heading 190 degrees true at 35,000 feet. ATA over St Helens at 0709Z (1809 Tasmanian Summer Time.)

The observer was at 4114S and 14817 East.

No balloons or temperature inversions in the area.

The RAAF concluded that the object was probably the Qantas trainer HS125, call sign VH-ECF. A hand written note says:

"1. There is no doubt in my mind that what Mr Glatte saw was the Qantas HS125 which was  overflying Flinders Island/St Helens hence Hobart at 35,000 feet.

2. A letter received by Mr Glatte is enclosed."

The enclosure is a letter from a Mr S Kaufman of Belmont, NSW and inquires about the sighting from Mr Glatte.

Final comments:

1. It would appear that the part of Mr Glatte's 29 Oct 1970 typed statement which read in part "..which makes it obvious that it was launched from a sea-going vessel..." is what attracted the attention of the Department of Navy.

2. A search of the Internet for information on aircraft registration VH-ECF (click here) reveals that VH-ECF was indeed a Qantas HS125 aircraft. The notes on this website state, in part, "Qantas airlines smallest ever jet aircraft...The aircraft cockpit was configured to represent a Boeing 707..." There is also a photograph of the aircraft taken in August 1968.

3. Taking into consideration all the information given in the RAAF files, it is reasonable to accept that the object was indeed Qantas aircraft VH-ECF."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Condon report and science

Hi all,

It was very early on in my interest in UAP, that the USAF sponsored the University of Colorado to conduct a look at the subject. The resulting findings were published in a document commonly referred to as  the "Condon Report", after the Project Director, Dr Edward Uhler Condon (click here.)

I remember reading the report when it came out in 1969, and a while ago, some 43 years later, re-read it to remind me as to its contents. My re-read reminded me that its recommendations closed down the USAF Project Blue Book; led some scientists to conclude that the subject was not worthy of further study, and left UFOlogists everywhere, unsatisfied.

Perhaps one of the most quoted parts of the report is from section one, titled "Conclusions and recommendations" and written by Dr Condon:

"Our general conclusion is that nothing has come from the study of UFOs in the past 21 years that has added to scientific knowledge. Careful consideration of the record as it is available to us leads us to conclude that further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby." (p.1.)


Was there ever a call for a Condon style investigation of UAP? Indeed there was.

On 19 Apr 1967, Peter Norris, President of the Commonwealth Aerial Phenomenon Investigation Organisation, wrote to the Secretary of the Australian Government Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) as follows:

"Research on UFOs has been hitherto undertaken principally by defence organsiations, such as the Royal Australian and United States Air Forces. Of recent months, however, the subject has become one of general scientific interest following hearings before a committee of the US Congress. Shortly after the congressional hearings the US Air Force announced the making of a grant of $313,000 (US) to the University of Colorado for the purpose of an analysis of the UFO problem by a team of University scientists...The purpose of the letter is to enquire whether the CSIRO would consider establishing as similar investigation in Australia to the Colorado Project..." (National Archives of Australia file series A8520 control symbol HM 1/30, pages 70-71 of the digitised version.)

A draft reply dated 24 Apr 1967, signed by L G Wilson, Secretary, Administration, CSIRO, included the words  "I am afraid I have to let you know that it is felt it would not be appropriate in Australia at this time for CSIRO to embark on such an investigation. As the resources of the organisation are at the present time fully committed, it would not be possible or practicable to give any priority to your suggestion..." (p.69.)

On the same day, Wilson sent a copy of the draft, and Norris's letter to Sir Frederick White, Chairman, CSIRO, Canberra. Referring to the draft reply he asked White "Do you agree please?" (p.67.)

Page 66 is a handwritten note headed "Personal" to "Graham" from "Ken:"

"The Chairman has two comments.

1. He said the University of Colorado has a contract to this group in the States and this might not be clear to you.

2. He does not believe "I am afraid" in your second para. He said he is not afraid! and why not write "I am sorry to tell you...""

The actual response letter, dated 28 Apr 1967, from CSIRO to Norris followed the draft version but replaced "I am afraid I have to let you know" with "I am sorry to tell you..."

Copies of the CSIRO correspondence were sent to the Department of Air.

Second try:

Later, on the 31 Oct 1967, Peter Norris wrote to Mr P Howson, House of Representatives, Canberra. In part, the letter read:

"I have pleasure in enclosing herewith a note describing the work being undertaken on unidentified  flying objects by the University of Colorado under the auspices of the United States Air force.

My organisation maintains that a similar project inaugurated in Australia with commonwealth funding would be of assistance in helping to solve the great international problem of the UFOs.

Your assistance in bringing this matter to the attention of the Government will be greatly appreciated."
(NAA file series A703 control symbol 569/5/451, p.34 of the digital version.)

The letter on the file I read, was annotated "for draft reply for Minister's signature please." Private secretary Minister for Defence. Howson was the Government's Minister for Air (click here.) Attached at pages 35-36 was a typed note containing information on the Colorado project.

An internal minute of the Department of Air dated 7 Nov 1967 referred the letter to Director of Air Force Intelligence for comment (p.33.)

Another internal minute dated 9 Nov 1967 from a Group Captain (DAFI) to Exec O Air reveals:

"1. As stated in F12, the RAAF's prime concern in UFO investigations is to ensure that there is no threat to Australia's security and the present RAAF resources for investigations cannot go beyond this directive. At present there is no evidence to suggest that any UFOs threaten Australian air space and, from a defence point of view, increased effort or expense on investigations would seem unwarranted.

2. The weight of evidence suggests that scientific, as opposed to defence, investigations of these phenomena would be more appropriate if any further investigation is desired by the government." (p.32.)

The Minister, on 22 Nov 1967 replied to Norris:

"Thank you for the report on the work undertaken by the University of Colorado forwarded with your letter of 31st October, 1967.

As you are aware the Government is presently satisfied that the arrangements under which the RAAF is responsible for the investigation of unuidentified  flying objects in Australia adequately serves our national interest..."

On this file are copies of similar corrspondence that CAPIO sent to Mr P W C Stokes, House of Representatives dated 31 Oct 1967 and Aug 1968.

In conclusion:

Norris's campaign to get the CSIRO or another govenrment agency, to conduct a Colorado style investigation in Australia, was a valiant, but ultimately unsuccessful effort.

If you have never read the Condon report or haven't read it for years, why not take a look at the entire text etc (click here) ?

For more on Peter Norris's contribution to UAP research click here, here and here.

For Australian researcher Bill Chalker's take on the Condon report click here. .

Friday, January 18, 2013

"Tasmania - a UFO history"

Hi all,

The Tasmanian UFO Investigation Centre (TUFOIC) has recently produced a new 77 page publication titled "Tasmania: A UFO History." The document was compiled by long-term TUFOIC researcher, Keith Roberts.

It's a fascinating read, covering reports of unusual aerial phenomena since 1898. It consists of copies of newspaper clippings; sketches of objects seen, and text. It is also a potted history of TUFOIC itself, which was founded back in 1965.

Here you will find summaries of such classic cases as the October 1960, Cressy observation; (click here) the November 1960 USAF aircraft encounter; the 1971 Lynchford trace; as well as details of visits to Tasmania by J Allen Hynek, and James E McDonald.

In addition, there are some, even to me, previously unknown events, such as the August 1973 Air Traffic Control, Hobart, observation of a silver, circling object.

The publication notes that the 1970's were the peak times for UAP sightings in Tasmania. "The year 1974 was one non-stop action, with almost 200 reports to investigate, leaving a residue of over 50 unexplained sightings." (p.18.) Older cases were uncovered, e.g. in 1970 "...a pastoralist had to dive his light aircraft to avoid an object." (p.19.)

There were some spectacular close encounters during this period, e.g. the 22 Sep 1974, Tayene event. (click here.) I can clearly remember travelling to Tasmania in 1974 and going to visit the site of this puzzling observation.

Due to the large number of events during this period, other civilian UFO organisations sprang up. "Both the Tasmanian UFO Observers Association (Peter Dunbobin) and the Tasmanian UFO Bureau (Jeremy Holden) operated for a number of years in the early 1970's. Another short-lived operation was Peter Zehmeister's Tasmania South West UFO Centre." (p.26.)

Case after intriguing case is summarised, providing the reader with an overview of Tasmanian events. There are lights in the sky, and close encounters, including 'car stops' and entity cases.

All in all, a great read. Copies may be obtained from TUFOIC at $30 for a colour copy or $20 for a black and white copy. Inquiries to

Saturday, January 12, 2013

New FOI result - Australian Transport Safety Bureau

Hi all,


Following my recent Freedom of Information Act request to Air Services Australia, (click here to read the results) I submitted a separate request to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB.)

Who is the ATSB?

According to their website, "The Australian Transport safety Bureau (ATSB) is Australia's prime agency for the independent investigation of civil aviation accidents, incidents and safety deficiencies. The ATSB is governed by a commission and is entirely separate from transport policy makers, industry operators, and from transport regulators such as the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA.)"

FOI Act request:

I asked for:

"1. Any documents held by the ATSB, on the subject of "unidentified flying objects" (UFO), including a search of the ATSB's OASIS aviation occurrence database, or other similar databases."
2."A copy of all papers dated 1 January 1983, on an  Air Accident Investigation file, file reference V116/783/1047 titled "DSJ-Cape Otway to King Island 21 October 1978-aircraft missing."


I have already posted the details of documents I received as per request 2 (the Valentich disappearance) (click here to read my post on these.) This post will therefore report on the documents received as per part 1 of my request above.

I received copies of the following "Occurrence detail reports." Each report was a two sided proforma filled in with very little information, as follows:

1. 2 Jul 1969: 196901691.

"Burn marks rep on 2 golf courses reported as poss UFO landing. RAAF notified." Sydney, NSW.

2. 31 Jan 1969: 196902473

At 21:25 hrs at Diamond creek, Vic.
"A (deletions made under section 22 of the FOI Act) of Rosanna rep sighting a UFO white in colour moving very fast in a straight line."

3. 12 Jan 1975: 197502943.

At 9:09hrs at Albury, NSW 15W. "UFO sighted on radar at 20000ft in CTA - Not possible to identify."

4. 16 Apr 1977:  197703195.

At 22:45hrs near King Island, TAS. A Cessna 401 pilot on a charter flight from Melbourne to Hobart. "UFO report from pilot - passed to RAAF for study. CFT beacon abeam." Altitude 7500ft. At night (dark). Wind speed 6-10. VMC conditions.

5. 21 Oct 1978:   197802563.

At 19:12hrs near Cape Otway, Vic. VH-DSJ Cessna 182L. "Plt reported UFO then rough running eng. Tx ceased - Acft missing." Flying Moorabbin Vic to king Island Tas. VFR. 4500ft. Visibility 15km. Dusk.

The ATSB provided me with a copy of the Aircraft Accident  Investigation Summary report. Also a copy of an article by a Rolf Rebner titled "Valentich Plane Disappearance: a seismic solution."

6. 22 Sep 1979:  197905600.

At 7:05hrs near Banka Banka, NT. "Object in area. Search acft found burnt trees and white  ash but no object. (Sneaky Martians?) Misc - UFO consisting of white light trailing smoke sighted by three witness. F27 plt reported white."

7. 19 oct 1979:  197904657.

At 19:45hrs near Broken Hill, NSW. An F27 MK 200. Flight Broken Hill to Adelaide. "Acft, however no known acft in area. Misc- F27 crew sighted UFO whilst on climbout. Flashing white light similar to strobe on high flying." Night (dark). Wind speed 6-10.

8. 7 Apr 83: 198300234.

At 14:27hrs near Manly West, Qld. "No known acft or balloon activity in area. Inside radar coverage but no radar return. UFO reported silvery object size of Cessna without wings flying from east to west at 2000ft.

9. 8 Nov 1998: 199804923.

At 15:51hrs 28km NW Perth Aerodrome, WA. "The pilot reported an unidentified flying object, bright red/orange in colour 100ft below and travelling very fast as the aircraft passed 9,000ft. The object was approximately 2 meters across and the pilot believed that it may have been a model aircraft." 8900ft.

10. 25 Jan 2011:  ATSB telephone notification form.

23:29hrs Mackay, Qld. "Reported  seeing a bright orange light with a dark centre appearing from the horizon, turning 90 deg and took off into the distance at high velocity with no sound. The object was captured on the iphone. (2 photos and a movie.) I referred him to the UFO hotline."

Previous post:

In a post dated 18 Jun 2012 (click here to read) I provided the results of a 2004 FOI Act request to the federal Department of Transport and Regional Services. This request resulted in a response from Rob Graham, Director , Safety Investigations, and utilised the OASIS aviation occurrencee database of the ASTSB.

Comparing the 2004 and 2012 FOI Act requests reveals that of the occurrence detail reports mentioned in this current request, numbers 1-9 were also provided to me in 2004 (although with less details.) Only number 10 of the current request is new, perhaps due to its date of 2011.

It is also interesting to note that the 25 Jan 2011 report was referred to a UFO Hotline, presumably that run by AUFORN. A check of the 2011 reports on the AUFORN website database (click here to look at hundreds of their report) failed to locate any such report made to them. I contacted AUFORN directly and Rob Frola advised me he had never heard of this report.

In conclusion:

I have now completed my FOI Act requests to the two main Australian Government agencies which are likely to receive UAP reports from civilian airline pilots. As you can see they responded with limited data.

Prior to the closure of the RAAF's UFO investigations, there were dozens of pilot reports to the RAAF. The question therefore remains as to whether the number of UAP observations by pilots has declined in recent times, or whether pilots simply do not report sightings of unusual objects in the skies?

I'd appreciate hearing from any blog readers who are also pilots.

Friday, January 11, 2013

U. S. President Lyndon Johnson's secret UAP study

Hi all,


A range of books and Internet sources provide accounts of various American presidents and their involvement with UAP. You can easily find details of President Jimmy Carter's 1969 observation of a light in the sky ( e.g. Kean, p.214;) and the fact that President Ronald Reagan had two UAP sightings ( e.g. click here.)

Going deeper:

If you dig deeper, you will locate such insider knowledge as Vallee (pp376-377) writing about President Carter and the 1976 Tehran aircraft encounter (click here). Vallee wrote "One of the most troubling UFO cases I have recently studied took place in Iran...The press hasn't been told that the Shah personally called Jimmy Carter after the sighting. The United States had just sold some AWACs to Iran. The planes were equipped with radar equipment impervious to  jamming. "What is going on?" The Shah asked Carter. "What's wrong with your equipment? This object jammed those radars you sold me!"

Similarly with President Bill Clinton, "President Clinton privately expressed some interest in UFOs, but certainly had no special knowledge. In his memoirs, a close confidante of the Clinton's, Webster "Webb" Hubbell, wrote that while working in the White house Clinton had asked him to look into two of the most controversial conspiracies of the United States...the second was to find out what the truth was about UFOs. According to Hubbell he failed on both counts and was unsatisfied with the response he received." (Alexander, p.108.)

Lyndon Johnson:

I found a number of references I was not previously aware of relating to Lyndon Johnson in the recent book "UFOs and Government" (Powell et al 2012.) (Click here for Amazon Books details.)

In 1947:

"A young congressman from Texas, Lyndon Johnson, was questioned by a constituent, and followed up with a formal request for information from the Pentagon." (p.38 citing "29. Lyndon Johnson to the War department, 8 July 1947, FOIA (USAF.")

In 1958:

"...the Air Force got another request for information. This time it was from Lydon Baines Johnson. We do not know the response of the Pentagon, when the powerful senator's letter came in, but we suspect that everyone jumped. Johnson's constituent (called the "source" below) was complaining about Air Force handling of some obscure incident in Texas...(p.277 citing "26. Blue Book microfilm roll 32. Colonel H K Gilbert to Major Tacker, memorandum, subject: Results of investigation requested by Senator Lyndon Johnson, 19 May 1958.)

In the late 1960s:

President Johnson was reportedly involved with a hitherto little known secret study of UAP.

"One unknown-to-the-public result of this was that McDonald cajoled President Lyndon Johnson about UFOs. Johnson had always been curious about the subject, but did not want to be assaulted continuously by McDonald. So he asked for an informal, internal; staff study by top people who would report back to him so he could "get McDonald off his back."

Johnson's study involved important people committed to the reality of UFOs, such as Kelly Johnson of the famous aero-engineering "Skunk Works," and Art Lundahl of the National Photographic Interpretation Center.

A handful of other scientists was involved, administered by Hubert Humprhey's advisor for aeronautical and aerospace matters. They concluded that UFO phenomena in all likelihood involved advanced technology created off the planet. We have no information to indicate that McDonald, who served as an information-feeder early in the study, saw these conclusions and the informal study was, of course, never made public." (pp.308-309, citing "10. Frank Rand, untitled draft manuscript of a book, written c. 1996, and revision following, CUFOS files.)

A note on page 234 expands on the above information:

"John Timmerman of the Center for UFO Studies received, in the early 2000's, a series of letters and then draft manuscripts from Hubert Humphrey's former advisor on Military and NASA Affairs, Frank Rand. These materials described in detail a "private" UFO study done for President Lyndon Johnson by Rand, Kelly Johnson and several other prestigious scientists in the late 1960's. Kelly Johnson is described by RAnd as one of the two group members absolutely convinced of UFO reality as technological devices. (Materials all seen and read buy current writer [MDS}."

For further information on Lundahl click here. For more on Kelly Johnson click here.

James E McDonald:

I was surprised to see James E McDonald's name mentioned in this context, as I had recently re-read Ann Druffel's excellent 2003 book on McDonald (called Firestorm.) I didn't recall any mention, in the book,  of McDonald interacting with President Johnson.

I turned to the index of "Firestorm" and there actually is a reference to Lyndon B Johnson in the book on page 203. However, it is not a reference to the late 1960's but to the year 1961.

"NICAP distributed a report "NICAP Report on Secrecy Dangers" to several members of Congress, including then Senator Lyndon Johnson...This powerful document helped convince congressmen that UFO hearings should be held. Sen. Lyndon Johnson ordered the Senate Preparedness Investigating Committee to keep close watch on UFO developments and on Air Force investigations of recent, significant sightings." (p.223.)

I examined "Firestorm" for other references to Lyndon Johnson but failed to find any.

Frank Rand:

What of Frank Rand? There are actually two "Firestorm" references to Rand. On page 201, Druffel, writing about McDonald says:

"In a self-typed memo to Frank Rand on February 12, 1968, he wrote 'If you know of any loose money, let me know. As a result of some criticisms of USAF made while in  Australia, no ONR-renewal! Please don't mention this in casual conversation much, as it nettles me - it's not a point to air just now. Maybe I'll have to if all leads on UFO funding fall through." (27)

Druffel's footnote 27 reads " The identify of Frank Rand is unknown to this author. However, he is mentioned in a letter from McDonald to Dr Edward C Welsh of NASA in Washington DC. He was apparently a close friend and colleague of McDonald."

Rand is also mentioned in a 1967 note on page 203. Again writing to Dr E C Welsh of the National Aeronautics and Space Council. McDonald wrote  "I believe that the UFO problem is one to which the National Aeronautics and Space Council should give careful attention. If you have had a chance to talk  with Frank Rand about my visit with him last spring, you will have some impressions that may go beyond the remarks I made at the AIAA [Seattle] talk. 31." (Citing 31. Letter from McDonald to Dr Edward C Welsh, September 15, 1967.")

End note:

Do any blog readers have any further information that they can share on this Presidential "secret" study? You may be aware of another "secret" study conducted at around the same time, by McDonnell-Douglas (click here for my post on this second study.)


Alexander, John B. 2011. "UFOs:Myths, Conspiracies and Realities." Thomas Dunn Books. New York.

Druffel, Ann. 2003. "Firestorm." Wild Flower Press. Columbus, NC.

Hubbell, Webster. 1997. "Friends in High Places." William Morrow. New York.

Kean, Leslie. 2010. "UFOs: General's Pilots and Government Officials Go on the record." Harmony Books. New York.

Swords, M; Powell, R et al. 2012. "UFOs and Government." Anomalist Books. San Antinio, TX.

Vallee, J. 2008. "Forbidden Science Vol. II." Documentica Research, LLC. San Francisco.

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