Thursday, January 29, 2015

Cold case review - Moe, Victoria - the VFSRS investigation


This is the second 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 Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society.

A prime piece of original documentation, which few researchers have ever seen, is a transcript of a "Tape recorded interview with Mr Charles Brew by Mr Peter Norris, President, Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society."

 A snip of part of the VFSRS transcript.

It reads:

"Question. What time did you make the sighting, Mr Brew?
Answer. It would be about 10 past 7, it was. Yes, 10 past 7, definitely.

Q. What were you doing at the time?
A. We were milking and half way approximately half way through, I'd say.

Q. Yes , how did you first notice the object come down?
A. Well I was lookin' out over the cows as I referred to you a while ago and it came down very steeply out of the east, oh, I'd say at about 45 degrees.

Q. And what did the object look like when you first saw it? What were your reactions?
A. Well I thought it was a helicopter at first.

Q. What made you think that?
A. On account of it being round and I've naturally never, ever seen one of these turnouts before. That would be asking too much!

Q. Yes, and what did you see when the object came fairly close to you?
A. Oh well, I noticed first of all the colouring, and after that the top 2/3 when it came down and hovered, was stationary and the lower section was turning in an anti-clockwise direction - noticed that - and also as I pointed out, those scoop-like protrusions around the side which I think was making the noise-the swishing noise, that is.

The VFSRS sketch.

Q. And at this stage, how far was the object from you?
A. Oh, I'd say 75 feet away - perhaps a little further - and about the same distance up in the air.

Q. How did you calculate the height of the object?
A. Well I calculated the height by those trees. I'd say they were approximately 75 feet high. It might have been a shade higher that those, of course.

Q. Yes, that would be quite right I would say. Now once again, getting back to the general appearance of the object, can you describe the top point of the object?
A. Well, the top, the very top section, the dome section, that is, was sort of what we would call perspex or glass material or whatever you like but whatever that was, I couldn't say. The middle section, that is the middle section between the perspex and the part that was rotating, was sort of battleship grey and looked to me like some sort of metallic material. I couldn't say for sure, of course, and the bottom is I said, was rotating in an anti-clockwise direction. Well, I couldn't say what sort of material it was definitely made of but the Air Force chaps asked me that too. As near as I could say, it seemed something the same material as motor cars. Just by lookin' at it, you know.

Q. What was the size of the object?
A. Well I'd say as near as I could judge about 25 feet across - perhaps a little more - if anything a little more.

Q. Well what about the height?
A. Oh I'd say overall, about 9 feet as near as I could judge. Might have been a bit more of course it's hard to judge when you only see a thing for a few seconds, but I'd say 9 or 10 feet.

Q. You didn't actually seen anybody in it through what appeared to be a glass portion on the top. On the dome?
A. No, on a clear day you may have but as I said, it was raining heavy, and no, I can't honestly say I did see anybody although I was lookin' hard enough.

Q. Looking at the object from the underneath part, what could you see there?
A. Well when it was hovering, I could see the scoop-like protrusions, or whatever they were, which seemed to be making the swishing noise. After that, when it took off, it was the blueish or sort of pale blueish colour underneath. That's as near as I can tell you, as much as I can tell you really, about the lower section.

Q. And when it took off, what did you notice? Well first of all, of course it did hover, for some little time?
A. Well, I'd say for a space of 4 or 5 seconds, which is  not long I know.

The VFSRS sketch of the scene. 

Q. Yes, and then after that it took off, did it, and if so, at what speed would you calculate?
A. Oh well, we reckon, Trevor and I reckon, a jet would probably have to add up speed to match the speed.

Q. And it took off instantly?
A. Yes, flying from a flying start - you know, not a flying start but a standing start - and very fast and very steep.

Q. It went straight up did it?
A. I'll say it came in and went out at about the same angle at 45 degrees, as near as I can judge.

Q. Getting back to the appearance of the object. I think you said you noticed something on top of the dome?
A. Yes, it seemed to be an aerial sort of thing - I'd say about 5 or 6 feet long and it did seem to be either chrome or some lightish metal thing. Whether it was the aerial or not, I couldn't say. I was speaking to the other chap and he said it was.

Q. I know there were some cows and other stock in the yard at the time of the sighting, Mr Brew?
A. Yes, we had half done. We were half-way, half of them are milked out and the other half still had to go through.

Q. What was their reaction to the sighting?
A. Well, as I said to your other chap who was here, they done everything bar turn somersaults. They put in the paper that they did turn somersaults but that's carrying it a bit far! They certainly played up. I've never seen cows play up like that before and they never take any notice (quite happy before) of an ordinary jet. A jet can go over and they just take not notice at all but they really played up this day.

Q. Did you have anyone helping you milk the cows?
A. Yes, we had Trevor there and as I said, unfortunately he never seen it but he did hear it and he said "What was that?" and I said "A flying saucer" and he said "Don't be so and so silly, you know those things don't exist" or something to that effect and I said "Well this was a flying saucer, definitely." He said "Well it certainly moved off the mark, it travelled twice as fast as a jet." I said "Well it certainly went away fast, just like somebody had it on a blooming Yo-yo or something. Really went off with a bang."

Q. So he didn't hear it until it actually moved away and then of course, it was too late?
A. No, he didn't see it, unfortunately, but he certainly heard it go.

Q. Have you been interviewed by any representatives of the Government?
A. Yes, as I said the CSIRO were here and number one question as far as they were concerned - he asked me did I get a headache. I said "Well, it's strange that you should ask me that because I thought it was too ridiculous I would never have mentioned it. But I did get an awful headache just behind the eyes. I never suffer from headaches normally and I took a Bex and I went in but it didn't seem to have any effect. It just wore off itself towards night - took all day long to wear off.

Q. When did you first get the headache?
A. Oh when I was sort of gazing at the perspex canopy business I noticed it.

Q. It came on immediately, did it?
A. Yes, more or less. Yes. Yes.

Q. What did the CSIRO man say? Incidentally, do you know his name? What's his name?
A. Er, Mr Berson. Yes Mr Berson was his name.

Q. And what did he say about the headache?
A. "Well" he said, "that ties in with what our theory, we always had the impression that it was (what would you say?) he gave me the impression it was electromagnetic or something to that effect - that's beyond me - but he said that would more than likely cause the headache and it certainly took all day to get rid of it, anyhow. I know that.

Q. What else did the CSIRO do?
A. Well, as I said he took away samples of rock - they were very interested in that - because he said being a sort of an ironstone, it may have some attraction for it. And there is the reef as I said and it winds right though here and it came over that reef, more or less parallel with it.

Q. How long after the sighting occurred, did the CSIRO come down here?
A. They were here about 4 days after and the Air Force about a week or near the best part of a week after that.

Q.  Oh, the Air Force came down as well did they? Who came down from the Air Force?
A. Well Mr Murdoch was one of them, the only name I can recall.

Q.  Was he in uniform?
A. Yes, they were all in uniform.

Q. They were officers, were they?
A. Yes, I would say high officers, high ranking officers, anyhow.

Q. What did they do?
A. Well they photographed the surrounding country, that was the Baw Baws, Mt Macdonald. Long distance cameras and took light cloud and cloud plus, you know, how much blue was showing in the sky - all that sort of thing. It's a bit beyond me, some of the things they done but all those things.

Q. Did they have instruments?
A. Yes, they had the cameras and they tapping the rocks and took particular notice of the rock formation also. Don't know for what reason but they did. Yes, they said that after I drew them the sketch, that it was similar to other sightings to what had been seen in other countries. It tallied also exactly with what's been seen over there, but they didn't think it was quite as big as that. Yes, they said it was approximately, to the best of their knowledge, the lowest it had been and the best sighting.

Q. That was in Australia, was it?
A. Yes, from what I could gather, here.

Q. Did anyone else come down from the Government?
A. Yes, I had the Aeronautical expert from, I think liaison officer, I think that was the Sale Air Base. He asked similar questions and he wanted to know if there was any engine noise but we never heard any engine noise, not as we know engines today.

Q. To get back to the object itself, did you notice any light coming from the object itself at any time?
A. No. There was no light, no light in the dome business and no light underneath."

That is the end of the transcript.

CSIRO letter:

On 8 April 1963 Dr F A Berson of the Division of Meteorological Physics, CSIRO responded to a letter from the VFSRS,  which included:

"I visited Mr Brew in company of a friend of mine, but we did not take any rock sample. But I know that somebody else did."

My comments:

1. Given the data in the VFSRS transcript, at one point Brew states that the object was 75 feet away from him, and it was 25 feet in diameter. It is now possible to work out an estimate of angular size. An object of 25 feet across at 75 feet distance subtends an angle at the observer's eye of 18 degrees, which is equivalent to placing 36 full Moons side by side in the sky. This is a very large angular size indeed.

2. Trying to estimate a sense of the total duration of the event, we have Brew's three stages, initial descent, hovering point, and fast departure. Brew estimated it hovered for  4or 5 seconds, so we are left with a total duration for the event of greater than 4-5 seconds.

3. We can estimate its angular elevation at one point. Brew states that it was 75 feet away and about the same distance up in the air, ie 75 feet. Trigonometry shows that at this point, it was therefore at 45 degrees elevation from the ground. This appears to be at the point it hovered.

4. However, Brew did not state in which compass direction this point of hovering occurred. Can we work it out from the sketch of the property, assuming the traditional method of upwards being north? If so, then the point of hovering was to the north of Brew.

5. In my post about the sketch attached to the RAAF's report, I concluded that there was no way to be certain who actually drew that sketch (even though in the VFSRS transcript Brew says,  "they said that after I drew them the sketch..." but which sketch is this referring to?) and therefore no way to judge how accurately the RAAF sketch reflected the object Brew saw.

Now, looking at the sketch in the VFSRS material, are we any the wiser? Unfortunately, I don't think we are. The VFSRS sketch is not  signed "Drawn By Brew;" or "Drawn under the direction of Brew." It contains handwritten notes. The handwriting on the sketch appears the same as the handwriting on the sketch of the property, but again the sketch of the property is also not signed "Drawn by Brew" or "Drawn by Peter Norris." However, one clue is that the sketch of the property says in one place "Mr Brew's house." If Brew had done this sketch, you would imagine he would have used the phrase "My house." This suggests to me that neither the sketch of the object, nor the sketch of the property were drawn by Brew himself, but by others.

In summary, if Brew did not draw the VFSRS object sketch, I have to ask how accurately does it represent the actual object Brew saw?

Part three of this four part series will present the investigation by James E McDonald.

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