Monday, February 16, 2015

The Coyle photographs - Hallam, Victoria - 5 March 1967

Hi all,

A recent post about John and Miriam Coyle's sighting on 8 July 1967, of a large number of UAP and several light aircraft, made me take another look at their earlier sighting of 5 March 1967, during which a number of photographs were taken.

Original material:

The cover of AFSRS Number 7 showing three of the Hallam photographs
 I located a copy of the Australian Flying Saucer Review (Victoria) number 7, dated December 1967. On page 17 there is an article about the 5 March 1967 incident. The headline reads "UFO Photographed over Hallam." The text reads:

"A series of six photographs showing an aerial object has been handed to the VFSRS by a society member. The member, John Coyle of Alexander Street, Hallam says he took the photographs on the 5th March last about 5.30pm while in the company of his sister Miriam.

John's report to the Society read as follows:

'Miriam and I were walking across a paddock near our home when we saw a UFO. I had just bought a camera for one dollar to Coles and we got started off to the station to take photographs of the trains. However, before getting to the station we realised it was too late and decided to turn back.

A 1966 Melway street directory map showing the location of the Hallam railway station
As we were crossing the paddock, Miriam suddenly noticed what she thought was a fast-moving plane. When I saw it, I said "Oh, it's a UFO" and she replied "Don't be silly."

I got the camera ready and took six photographs. The UFO came very close and circled round us for about two and a half minutes. When I first saw the UFO it was only about 15 degrees above the eastern horizon. It came in a straight line, turned fast and circled over us and then went away into the west near enough to the sunset.

When it was circling round us it was going very slowly, almost at stalling speed. In fact, if it had been a small aircraft it certainly would have crashed.

We felt that the object had seen us when it started circling around us, otherwise it wouldn't have stayed around - there was nobody else in sight. We heard no sound from the UFO at any stage. In appearance, it was silver like aluminium or polished aluminium. It had a slight rise on top and was very  black underneath. It was shaped like a disc and was approximately the size of a five cent piece held at arms length.

The sky was very overcast at the time and the weather was cold. The UFO kept right below the clouds at all times and when it disappeared out of sight on the horizon, it was still below the clouds. Apart from that I am unable to estimate the altitude of the object.'

The AFSRS article on the 5 March 1967 incident

The report continues:

Miriam Coyle corroborates her brother's report as follows:

"When I first saw the object I thought it was a plane. I didn't believe in UFOs and when John said that was what it was I laughed. But when I looked at it again I realised that it was a UFO. We became very excited and John took some photographs.

The UFO looked like a disc with a slight rise on top. It was silver coloured and very dark underneath. I heard no sound from it.

It circled around us for about two and a half minutes at a very slow speed - it was hardly moving - and then it went away towards the Sun at the same speed it came to us."

John and Miriam's mother, Mrs Coyle takes up the story from the time John and Miriam returned home after seeing the UFO. "I heard shouting and saw John running down the road. He was waving his arms around and I couldn't see Miriam and I thought there had been an accident to Miriam. I was quite concerned and ran out and said 'What is it?' and he said 'Mum, we saw a flying saucer' and I said 'Calm down' because I thought I'd better talk to him a little bit more about this and he was so excited that I just wanted him to calm down so that I could speak to him. Normally he doesn't get excited about anything. Then he told me about the photographs and asked me to take the film to McKeon's pharmacy in Dandenong to be developed. John told me that in his excitement he had broken a knob on the camera and because of this he couldn't get the film out. So I took the camera to the store and they removed the film and developed the photographs.

Photographic experts:

The article continues:

"The Hallam photographs have been submitted to VFSRS photographic experts for analysis and a full report will be published in our next issue.

However, other experts have cursorily examined the prints and have been impressed by their apparent authenticity as were several American scientists who were shown the photographs by Mr Paul Norman during his recent visit to the US.

Investigators (including Professor McDonald) who have spent many hours with John and Miriam Coyle feel completely satisfied with John and Miriam's statements which have been given in a sincere and entirely self-conscious manner.

Mrs Coyle's testimony of John's state of mind immediately after the incident is further strong evidence of the photographs' authenticity."

Photo analysis:

The next issue of the Australian Flying Saucer Review (Victoria), number 8 came out in October 1968, but did not contain any report of an analysis of the Coyle photographs.

A December 1963 aerial photograph of Hallam (compare with street directory map below.)

McDonald investigates:

A second original source of material about this incident comes from the files of James E McDonald who visited Australia in 1967. The following text is from a draft manuscript of the 2003 book, "Firestorm" by Ann Druffel.

"One series of photographs had been taken on March 5th 1967 by a 15 year old boy, John Coyle. John and his sister Miriam, age 13, were walking on a clear, cloudless day towards a wooded area 3/4 mile from their home. The time was about 5.30pm. John was carrying his first camera - a 95 cent Anny. The winding knob was jamming, so John decided to use up the film shooting pictures of trains, his favourite hobby. He then planned to take the roll of film to be developed and get the camera fixed at the same time.

As they approached the wooded area, a glint of light in the south east caught Miriam's eye. She glanced over and saw a silvery object moving very fast, which she first thought was a plane. She quickly realized that its appearance was very different and called her brother's attention to it.

John hadn't seen the original glint but saw the object as it quickly came closer - the teenagers could not estimate the distance. It was waving up and down "in a peculiar way" as it circled them, repeatedly at about 45 degree elevation. The bottom of the UFO was dark, and the top was an "aluminium" color. It slowed while circling. They estimated it took about ten seconds per revolution and circled them about seven times. Then it went off towards the west, sped up and in 4-7 seconds was gone. John took six photos of the object, as it approached and also as it circled them. His last picture was taken when the object was almost out of sight.

A 1966 Melway street directory map
showing Alexander Street where the Coyles lived
Judith Magee and Paul Norman took McDonald to the sighting location, where he interviewed John and Miriam. He staked off the position from where John Coyle had photographed the object and later measured the shadows of a fence post and nearby trees. He confirmed that John was standing where he'd said he was when he photographed the object.

When the photos were enlarged, a dark rim could be seen around the object during its nearest approach. John however, had not been aware of seeing this dark rim. McDonald doubtless found the dark rim very interesting. He'd been working for over a year with the Los Angeles NICAP subcommittee (LANS), participating in the study of UFO photos from Santa Ana, California which also involved a black ring...McDonald was given copies of Coyle's photographs to bring back to the States.

'McDonald analysed the Coyle photos," states Paul Norman. "They remain unknown. (36)"

[Reference (36) reads "Letter from Paul Norman to author dated August 30, 1994."]

APRO Bulletin:

The May-June 1967 edition of the APRO Bulletin, page 10 covers a report on this incident, including:

"APRO's Australian representative Peter Norris forwarded the photos, and the following information to Headquarters. Kodak company examined the photos and were impressed by the consistent shape of the UFO shown in the six prints. Mr Norris and his colleagues spent considerable time with the children who seemed to be completely sincere about the incident. The photographs were developed by a local chemist so that there was no possibility of any tampering having taken place with the negatives. Hallam is a small, semi-rural town about 25 miles from Melbourne. Six photos were taken but the object is barely visible in the sixth."


A search of the Internet revealed that John Coyle had himself posted some of the photographs to the website flickr:

On 20 November 2009 one photograph appeared with the following text:

"John Coyle
A UFO that I saw in March 1967 at Hallam, Victoria. John Coyle photo.
This is one of six photos taken of the UFO. NASA in the US investigated the photos but "lost" the negatives! About 90% of photos on this Flickr pages are transport related, but I thought that a few non-transport photos might interest people..."

To take a look at the photograph click here.

On 27 January 2013 two photographs were posted:

"John Coyle
UFO photo taken on the 5th of March 1967. John Coyle photo.

"I was with my sister, walking to the Hallam Railway station, over paddocks, when a silver disk flew overhead and circled the area. I had a cheap camera but the photos turned out OK. Thw disk flew right over  farm, and the farmer saw it. The negatives were taken to the US but "lost" over there. Yeah, lost, confiscated is a better word. The photo was publish at least twice in a newspaper and book at the time."

To see the photographs click here.

In summary:

A sighting, and a set of six photographs from 1967, with original documentation based on an at the time investigation.

If any reader has any further information, or is aware of the current location of John or Miriam Coyle, I would appreciate hearing from them.


1. I found no mention of the specific type of Anny camera used to take the photographs. However, provided some general details of Anny cameras as follows:

There were two versions of Anny No W.20 cameras. a) had a fixed focus and a fixed f11 aperture. b) Had three aperture settings of f11, f13 and f19. It was a camera made of plastic. The shutter speed was 1/60th of a second. There were 16 images per roll of film. Made between the 1960's and 1970's.


  1. Hiya Keith,

    I've sent a message with your contact details.

  2. I am the youngest daughter of John Coyle, the man you have discussed in this article. I just wanted to say that I really appreciate the time that you took to research and write this article. My father has had experiences that may be hard for many people to believe, so I believe that he really appreciates your support.

    1. Hi Cheryl,

      If I can assist further, my email address is


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