Thursday, January 29, 2015

Cold case review - Moe, Victoria - McDonald investigation


This is the third in a four part series of posts about the classic 15 February 1963 incident near Moe, Victoria. In this post I present details of the investigation conducted by the US researcher, James E McDonald.

James E McDonald.

James E McDonald interviewed Charles Brew and his son Trevor, in 1967 during a visit from America to Australia. Courtesy of Dr Michael Swords I obtained a copy of McDonald's handwritten notes. McDonald's handwriting is difficult to read , so I will simply summarise the relevant notes, in three categories. Firstly, points of information which agree with that given by either the RAAF or VFSRS investigations; then points of difference, and finally information which I did not come across in either of these investigations.

Points of agreement:

1. Object came down from the east.
2. It was raining heavily at the time.
3. It was not dark.
4. Colored tin top. Bottom flat. Top was glass, something transparent.
5. Took off to the west, uphill from shed.
6. Climbed out at 45 degrees.
7. Spun anti-clockwise from above.
8. Headache that day.

Points of difference:

1. Time was 0700.
2. Hovered 10 seconds at tree top height.
3. Dome was not completely clean. Murky. Frosty. Thinks may have seen figures. Head, shoulders - no movement, not small.

New information:

1. Trevor was at the south end of the shed, blocked view.
2. Drop in milk for a week or so.
3. For 6 months couldn't get them past the spot.
4. While hovering, revolved, but no rocking motion.
5. Saw no jets or flames.
6. More than a second per revolution.
7. Trevor - sound not like engine noise. Loud. Like a throwing stick. Magnificent sound. Pleasant.
8. Total time of sighting 15-16 seconds.
9. Came out of cloud base, perhaps half a mile away.
10. Trevor did not get a headache.

It should be noted that these notes were made nearly four years after the event, with whatever might have been the effect on Brew's memory, with the passage of that amount of time.

Although we do not have access to an investigation report by McDonald, we do have the text of a talk which McDonald gave to the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute Astronautics Symposium on 12 March 1968 titled "UFOs-An International Scientific Problem." This talk features a section on the Moe case.

"Case 10. Moe, Victoria, February 15, 1963.

To maintain a certain international tone, in keeping with the title of my remarks, I close with another interesting sighting made in a distant area. With the aid of the Melbourne VFSRS group, I was able to interview Australian farmer Charles Brew and his son Trevor last summer. They operate a small dairy farm east of Melbourne, near Moe, Victoria. My interview was carried out in the milking shed where Brew and his son Trevor were working at about 7am Feb 15, 1963 when an unusual object swooped down nearby.

It was already light on this summer morning, although rainclouds lay overhead. Trevor was working in a part of the milking shed where his view of the eastern sky was obscured and he did not see the object during its short duration passage nearby.

Charles Brew however, was standing in an opening, with a full view to the eastern sky when the object descended towards his shed and cattle-pens at an angle that he put at about 45 degrees. The object might be loosely described as a domed disc, estimated by Brew at 25 feet in diameter, gray in color except for a transparent dome on top. Around the circumference of the object he saw an array of scoop-like or bucket-like vanes or protruberances.

As the object swooped down, almost as if to land on the hillside nearby, the cattle and horses reacted in a violent panic which Brew described in his own words as unprecedented  It descended to an altitude that he judged to be 75-100 feet, as estimated by the height of a tree near its point of  minimal altitude. Then, after seeming to hover near the tree for a few seconds, it began a climb of roughly 45 degrees continuing on its westward course and passing into the cloud deck again.

The dome was not rotating, but the central section and  bottom section appeared to be rotating at about once a second, Brew judged. The spinning motion caused the protruberances (Brew thought) to generate the swishing noise, somewhat like a turbine noise, that was clearly audible not only to Brew but also to Trevor, located inside the shed and not far from a diesel unit powering the milking machines. The sound was even audible over the latter local noise sources, Trevor said.

 It took some time to recover the animals that had bolted, and those already inside the fenced area were strongly disturbed for some time. Brew stated to me that it was many days before any of his cattle would walk over the point of the hillside over which the object had momentarily hovered. Brew himself reported that an uncommon headache persisting for a number of hours after the incident, but whether this was fortuitous cannot be concluded.

Brew has been interviewed many times by Australian investigators without any reason being found to discount his unusual sighting. My reaction to Brew was similar.

It is unfortunate that the son was not in a position to confirm the sighting but he confirms the unusual sound ("like a diggerydoo" as Brew put it.) The object is similar in its general features and size to that seen by a witness I interviewed in New Zealand, Mrs Eileen Moreland. Her July 1959 observation, like Brew's, and like that of many other UFO witnesses is extremely difficult to explain in present-day scientific or technological terms."

In Michael Swords' digitised files, is a copy of the July 1963 APRO Bulletin report on the case. It has been annotated by McDonald in his own handwriting. In part, it reads:

"Berson regarded his story as beyond reproach, but stated in his analysis that the only (two words unable to be read) explanation was "some weather phenomenon" and this was taken up by RAAF as the explanation, and case was called 'closed.'"

Part four of this series will present my analysis of the incident.

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