Saturday, March 15, 2014

"Unidentified aircraft" and "Unusual sightings"

Hi all,

Melbourne based researcher Paul Dean continues his in-depth research into additional UAP files held by the National Archives of Australia. His latest find is file series J63, control symbol 5/18/Air titled "Movement of Unidentified Aircraft." It has just been digitised at Paul's expense, for us all to read.

Darwin 1938:

I had previously located and read file series A795, control symbol 56/3/2 titled "Department of Defence - Air Board - Unidentified aircraft at Darwin" with a date range of 1938-1940. The file tells of an official investigation into sightings of what appeared to be "aircraft" over the Northern Territory, in that date range.

There are also numerous files held by both the National Archives of Australia and the Australian War Museum, which relate to sightings of "unidentified aircraft" over Australia, during World War Two.


This file has a date range of 1949-1956. To give you an idea of the kinds of documents on it, I will select a few of them.

1. A 'secret" memo from the Director of Intelligence dated 12 August 1949, to Headquarters RAAF Townsville lists ten reports of  "unidentified aircraft" over New Guinea, together with a request for the North Eastern Area Intelligence Officer to be sent to New Guinea to investigate. Later papers on the file confirm that "..there are unidentified aircraft conducting flights mostly at night."

2. In April 1950, the North Eastern Area Intelligence Officer was once again sent to New Guinea to investigate further reports of "unidentified aircraft." His report concluded "...although no immediate solutions resulted from the visit...(it) stimulated interest amongst District Officers...and more prompt and detailed reports can now be expected."

Possible explanations:

Later papers on the file offer a number of possible explanations for the aircraft.

1. One possible explanation for some of the sightings was given in a memo dated 17 October 1950. When mentioning a RAAF mobility exercise code named "Swift Patta" that " would have been of such interest to the Indonesians as to warrant an investigation."

2. Other sighting may have been due to American B-52 bombers from Number 514 Squadron based on Guam.

3. In other cases, the conclusion was that " New Guinea based aircraft were the times reported."

Unusual sightings:

Although not mentioning the term "flying saucer," the file contains a memo dated 16 January 1951 from the Air Board to various RAAF bases. It included "A number of reports have been made by Areas regarding unusual sightings which have been brought to the notice of various authorities." Attached to the memo was a 16 question proforma to gather information for the Air Board. Folios141 to 162 are multiple copies of blank proformas titled "Report on Aerial Object Observed." Each are a two page, 27 question form.

Airline pilots:

Some reports came from airline pilots. For example, folio 183 is a previously unknown sighting from a pilot of a Qantas DC4 flying between Brisbane and Port Moresby on 9 May 1953. "Whilst flying between Mackay and Bowen, called Mackay Tower to check whether any aircraft were in his immediate vicinity, as he had flying alongside of him what appeared to be an aircraft. On receipt of reply of negative aircraft in vicinity this captain ceased transmission.

Folio 184 is a report from captain B Jones, flying an ANA DC3, registration VH-AMP,on 10 May 1953 at 1812 hours, who reported observing an unusual light in the sky. We have previously known about this sighting via contemporary newspaper accounts and documents on other files.

Folio 185 is a covering memo from HQ RAAF Townsville to the Director of Air Force Intelligence covering details of the above two reports.

Folio 186 is a Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) memo dated 31 August 1953 to the Regional Director Port Moresby, about the 23 August 1953 Port Moresby movie and visual sighting by Drury. This document had also previously been seen on another DCA file.

Folio 190 is a 16 November 1953 memo from the Air Board to various RAAF bases, forwarding a new proforma to record details of sightings of "Unusual sightings."

Reports of "unidentified aircraft" over New Guinea continued to be forwarded to the RAAF until at
least 1956 ( the end of this file.)

In summary:

This file contains a large number of reports of "unidentified aircraft." It also contains a number of documents relating to "unusual sightings" such as the 1953, Drury film, and the 1953 Jones observation. Thank you once again to Paul Dean for arranging to have this file examined and digitised. Apart from myself and Paul, I know of no other Australian researchers who are currently mining the NAA for such files. If you are doing this kind of research, I would certainly appreciate hearing from you via email to

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