Thursday, March 7, 2013

Unidentified aerial object on radar - three days before Westall

Hi all,


In a previous post I drew readers' attention to the fact that Melbourne researcher, Paul Dean, had located a Department of Civil Aviation file which reported an unidentified aerial object on radar, over Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, on 3 April 1966, three days before the Westall incident.

The file, file series MT1298/1, control symbol VTI-66/319 is titled "Unidentified Aerial Object 3/4/1966 Tullamarine" barcode 12598126 was found in the Melbourne office of the National Archives of Australia. It has just been digitised.

The contents:

The 11 page file starts off with a form titled "Report on Aerial Object Observed." The date of the incident is given as 3 April 1966 and the time as 2015 to 2027 local time. The reporter's name was J Reinmuth who was using the CSF radar at Tullamarine.

The object was first seen at a range of 54.5 nautical miles at an azimuth of 55 degrees (ie. roughly north-east.) The observer's attention was first drawn to an "Unidentified plot in proximity to inbound route." Its speed was given as 60 knots in a north-easterly direction. The direction of flight was stated to be north-east from first observed position. It was travelling in a straight line. It was seen at 61 nautical miles bearing 055 degrees magnetic. The wind direction at the time was from the south-west. A check of aircraft in the area at the time revealed that the nearest plane was "TJA on normal inbound route."

At 2040hrs the object was "...still observed on radar at 64 nautical miles." At 2043 hrs still 64 nm where it was last observed.

The next two pages are headed "Department of Civil Aviation Air Safety Incident Report" number VTI-66/319. The date of the event is given as 3 April 1966. The event is labelled "Unidentified Aerial Object." Under the heading "Action by regional investigator" in handwriting is "It appears likely that the object was a met balloon and this aspect is being investigated." Signed Woodward SIAS 6 Apr 1966.

The Victorian Bureau of Meteorology was asked if the object could have been a met balloon. On 4 Jul 1966 they responded "It appears that the object could have been a meteorological balloon, with radar reflector attached, released from the RAAF Base, Laverton. The position and movement of the object are consistent with the time of release of a balloon and the winds which affected at that time."


1. The speed and direction of movement of this radar only observed object, do indeed seem consistent with a weather balloon. However, it should be noted that the Bureau of Meteorology's analysis concludes "...could have been a meteorological balloon." Thus this conclusion is not 100% certain.

2. As an aside it should be noted that the Melbourne newspaper "The Age," on Thursday 7 Apr 1966 page 6, carried a short item about the identity of the object reported at Westall High School, Clayton South, Melbourne, the day before, part of which reads:

"Object perhaps balloon

An unidentified flying object seen over the Clayton-Moorabbin area yesterday morning might have been a weather balloon...The weather bureau released a balloon at Laverton at 8.30am and the westerly winds blowing at the time could have moved it into the area where the sighting was reported..."

3. A search of the RAAF's UAP file file series A703, contrtol symbol 580/1/1 part 5 which carries reports from April 1966 failed to reveal a report from Reinmuth.


  1. Hi Keith good work. I wonder if it's related to the object in the Kibble photo. (Balwyn) Also a couple of days before Westall.
    The above report contains an error...any reference to Tullamarine in 1966 is a reference to a paddock, an area. The airport was not opened until mid to late 1970. Therefore any radar operators in that area would have been in the tower at Essendon Airport in 1966. Not really important I guess, but true.

    1. Hi George, I checked the file again and it states that the radar observation was made from Tullamarine. However, as you say Tullamarine airport did not open until 1970. In 1966 Essendon airport was the one in use.

  2. Keith, I noticed that according to the BOM, in a letter to the RAAF in January 1968, setting out the regular launch times for met balloons in Victoria, balloons were launched daily from RAAF Laverton at 0300, 0900 and 2100. Hard to see this object fitting into that time frame as given for this sighting, unless it was different in April 1966, or perhaps this was an extra launching.

    And, as we know, the wind direction for the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, on 6 April 1966, was forecast to blow from the south west, and was in fact recorded at Aspendale, the nearest daily met station to Westall, to have been doing just that at 0900 that day, and still from the south-west in the afternoon that day.


  3. I flew into Tullamarine in 1968 with a teenage group of flyers in a Cessna 172. We had permission to land at Tullamarine airport. The terminal was still under construction, but the runways were fully constructed and the tower was manned (I remember going up the control tower), it was (pre)operational, but everything was working including radar. So it could have been pre - operational in 1966.

  4. Hi Roger,

    Thank you very much for your comment. As I have found out, on a variety of topics, the "official history" is not always 100% accurate.

    Keith Basterfield.

  5. The official history has most probably been fudged including a variety of bogus people over several decades to throw us all off balance and cause confusion. Test everything Mister Mulder...From deep throat.


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