Sunday, October 5, 2014

Drury film - 1953 - right angle turns?

Hi all,


At about midday, on Sunday 23 August 1953, Tom Drury, then Deputy Director of the former Australian government Department of Civil Aviation, in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, observed and filmed an unusual object in the sky. On various Internet sites, there is discussion that the object made right hand turns.

However, an examination of Drury's official report, e.g. copy on National Archives of Australia file series MP1279/1 control symbol 99/1/478, reveals that Drury described seeing a silver, dart-like object, which shot out of a cloud and climbed very fast to the north-west. There is no mention of right angle turns in this documentation.

Where did the idea of right angle turns come from?

It appears that the original source of this incorrect information came from a statement made by Edgar R Jarrold, Director, Australian Flying Saucer Bureau, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, which appeared in the February 1955 issue of the "Australian Flying Saucer Magazine" page 2.

Other sources:

I thought that this 1955 reference was the only pre-Internet source for the belief that the Drury object made right angle turns. However, there are at least two other sources for this.

The "Australian Flying Saucer Review" Volume 1 Number 1, dated January 1960, on page 5 states:

"A strip of motion picture  containing ninety-four frames corroborates the New Guinea sighting of Rev. W B Gill. This is the so called Port Moresby film...This illustration, drawn from the actual frames of the film, shows a disk shaped object in flight...the object did not decrease speed on ascent and made ninety degree manoeuvres." I reproduce the illustration below.

The same claim also appears in the "Australian Flying Saucer Review" of January 1962, where on page 3, there appears a reverse image (left/right) of the January 1960 illustration with a statement:

"Artist's sketch of the flight path of an unknown object - from a 94 frame movie film taken by T C Drury, Deputy Director of Civil Aviation Department in Port Moresby, New Guinea, August 23rd, 1953. The film is still in government hands."

Failure to go back to the original 1953 Drury report, has led to the incorrect conclusion that the object Drury filmed ,made right angle turns.


  1. Hello Keith. Between your sources and Bill's page, it seems likely that the unidentified object was a missile test. Drury renders the legend as rather humdrum.

    It's in the 'legend' where we see the familiar tendency to reconceptualise events by elements of ufology. The 'right-angle turns' and shades of mystery have long been added to reinforce the position that UFOs are alien spacecraft.

    Like yourself, I have a genuine interest in the reports and prefer explanations over mystery. Despite that, it's a lamentable fact that some proponents finesse the details to stack the deck in favour of their beliefs.

    With regards to the 'missing' frames, is it possible that Kodak agents had a policy of censoring received photos or footage that potentially crossed over into national security areas? The CIA have had a partnership with Kodak for decades and maybe it stretches back to the 50s? They're described as 'private-industry mission partners' in a history of the U-2 on the CIA website (The U-2 Program: The DCI's Perspective).

    1. Fred Durant told me he had not encountered the Drury film during his tenure at the CIA. The USAF had access to the film, but the Project Blue Book file is sparse with no indication of analysis. If it were a mission test, whose missile and where were the testers? The film is still a mystery with no good answers yet!


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