Saturday, April 27, 2013

Operation Lost-ball, GHOST balloons and Detective Meskell

Hi all,

National Archives of Australia (NAA) file series A703 control symbol 580/1/1 part 7 has now been digitised, courtesy of Melbourne researcher Paul Dean, and is now available for viewing at the NAA website.


The digital version of the file consists of 371 pages, and covers the years 1966 and 1967 (for readers who are aware of the 6 April 1966 Westall event, no it does not have any documentation on this case!)

However, inter alia, it does have:

* A 27 Nov 1966 observation from Eildon Weir, Victoria where an orange/yellow light was reported travelling in a north-west direction. The RAAF attributed the cause of this report to either "ball lightning" or a "plasma." It should be noted that very few of the thousands of UAP reports made to the RAAF received this "solution."

* A 30 Dec 1966 sighting from a ship at sea, of UAP travelling ESE at supersonic speed, parallel to the horizon. At least four groups, of several objects per group, were seen. Each object was circular and showed light streams astern.

* On 15 Feb 1967 a man in a car north of Townsville reported seeing a dark triangular object in the sky travelling SW to NE at an estimated height of 20,000 to 30,000 feet, in a straight path. The RAAF found that the only known aircraft in the area was a Pan Am aircraft which wasn't the object seen.

* A mention of a mystery "Operation Lost-ball." A man found an unusual object on his property in a paddock. A file note states that the material was handed to "...a Mr Mills at the Department of Supply Perth who was nominated by NASA as the W.A. Handling Authority for Operation Lost-ball." A search of the NAA website and the Internet, found no information at all about an Operation Lost-ball. Have any blog readers ever come across it?

* A copy of a telex dated 18 Apr 1967 from "External Canberra" which I take to be the Department of External Affairs, Canberra, to the Department of Civil Aviation, Melbourne; the Melbourne Bureau of Meteorology, and the Department of Air. It was headed "Ghost balloons." It read "Further launching on 27 March -no. 91022, code DDD, transmitting on 15022 kc/s." As I had not previously heard of "Ghost balloons" I checked the NAA for files. I found only one, file series A432 control symbol 1971/15 barcode 9009307, Canberra office, status "Not yet Examined." Its title is "Agreement with United States Government for release of "ghost" balloons from Darwin." The file belonged to the Deputy Crown Solicitor's office, Canberra.

An Internet search found that "The Global Horizontal Sounding Technique (GHOST) program was an atmospheric field research project for investigating the technical ability to gather weather data using thousands of simultaneous long-duration balloons." 231 GHOST balloons were launched between March 1966 and December 1969. The balloon s were only flown around the southern hemisphere, and one flight lasted over a year. For more on this program click here and here.

* A copy of a memo, dated 18 Mar 1967 from the Police Station at Goolagong to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) about "mysterious happenings" centred around a satellite re-entry.

* A report of an object sighted on 22 Apr 1967 by a Detective Meskell c/- the Police Station at Coolangatta, Queensland. He sighted a light travelling North which then changed direction.

Detective John Meskell, was the central character of the reported Bougainville Reef aircraft, photographic case of 28 May 1965. To read about this case and Meskell's part in it, click here and here.

* A memo dated 27 Jul 1967 from RAAF Headquarters Supply Command to the Department of Air including  copy of a lecture given by James E McDonald in Washington. The memo noted "Professor McDonald has recently been in Melbourne for discussions with the CSIRO on meteorological problems, and at the same time, took the opportunity to present an address to members of associations interested in UFO activity." To read this paper click here.

End notes:

There are always interesting bits of information to be found on any of the RAAF file series A703 control symbol 580/1/1 files. Currently we are waiting for parts 12, 27 and 33-35 to be digitised, courtesy of  a request by Paul Dean.

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