Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Mutual UFO Network in Australia

Hi all,

Update 4 June 2015.

Please read this update before reading the original post below. Thank you.

In December 2014 I had dinner with the management team for MUFON Australia. During the discussions, I indicated that I would consider potential future roles within MUFON Australia, which were spoken about between the three of us. By May 2015, I had had the opportunity to see how MUFON Australia was operating, and therefore allow me to respond to these dinner discussions.

Now, in early June 2015,  there have been a number of vague "rumours" circulating. I have therefore decided to release the text of an email I forwarded to MUFON Australia, in order that people may read precisely what I wrote.

On 23 May 2015, I forwarded the following email to Cheryl-lee Vanagelis, National Director for Australia for MUFON.

"Dear Cheryl-lee,
Following our December 2014 dinner discussions, and at your request, I have been thinking a lot about any potential, future, role, which I might wish to occupy in MUFON Australia (as opposed to MUFON USA.)
It was my intention to advise you of my decision, at the proposed coffee meeting which we discussed. However, as this meeting did not occur, I write this email to you.
As you are aware, I am currently a MUFON (USA) member, and slowly working my way, as time permits, through the MUFON USA Field Investigators course.
Upon deep reflection, I have decided that I do not wish to take up any role in MUFON Australia (as opposed to MUFON USA) in its current form.
I am disappointed that, after about six months in operation, MUFON Australia still has not published any "scientific and technical" Australian case studies; published no detailed analyses of the numerous Australian sightings reported to the MUFON CMS; and has not added any value to Australian research, which I can find.
In addition, my canvassing of a cross section of Australian UFO researchers, finds little, to no support for a role for MUFON Australia, in Australian UFO research.
In summary, I wish to remain an independent player within Australian UFO research, and feel that to take up any potential, future, role in MUFON Australia would not enhance my ability to contribute to the subject.
I will, however, remain a MUFON USA member, but effective from  the date of this email, I desire no interaction with MUFON Australia, in its current form.
Keith Basterfield."


Many of today's senior Australian UAP researchers, have, at one time or another, been members of the US based Mutual UFO Network (MUFON.) Click here for their website.

Between the 1970's and 1990's many of Australia's "key" UAP cases were documented in the pages of the MUFON Journal, courtesy of Australian researchers. If you were to go back through issues of the Journal, you will find comprehensive investigation reports on the 1978 Valentich disappearance; the 1988 Mundrabilla "UFO lifts car off road" case; the mid 1990's Kelly Cahill abduction, and numerous others.

Some of Australia's most well attended UAP conferences, with a variety of local and international speakers, were organised by Australian MUFON supporters.

However, after that era, the MUFON network in Australia wound down, due to a variety of reasons.


The February 2015 issue of the MUFON ejournal announced that Adelaide based researcher, Cheryl-lee Vanagelis had been appointed as the new National Director for Australia for MUFON. 

The March 2015 issue also advised that Michael Robinson and Brian Johnson were now Australian MUFON Provincial Directors. Previous announcements had been made that Justin Busuttil and Laura Corbett were accredited MUFON field investigators in Australia.

I welcome this new version of MUFON in Australia, and look forward to working with the MUFON Australia team. This will now be our second national level network, the other being, the long standing Australian UFO Research Network (AUFORN) who have openly shared their data over the years,  and publish the "UFOlogist" magazine.

Blog readers who have looked at the monthly Australian national level sightings listings that Melbourne researcher Paul Dean and I publish, will note that we already carry summaries of MUFON reports from Australia, which are carried in the MUFON case management system (click here to go to that publicly open database.)  I look forward to reading details of MUFON Australia's completed investigations, as they are conducted.

(For transparency reasons I must add that I am a current MUFON member and have just signed up to undertake their online field investigator training.)

Monday, March 23, 2015

More air incidents from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau's database

Hi all,

I have previously reported on Melbourne researcher Paul Dean's use of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act to obtain details of air safety incidents from both Air Services Australia (ASA) and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB.) For examples, click here, here, and here.

Paul submitted a further FOI request to the ATSB on 25 November 2014, which requested information on:

* Unusual, unknown or unidentifiable aircraft or objects
* Suspected drones/ unmanned aerial vehicles
* Meteor/fireball events
* Especially unusual weather phenomenon.

ATSB FOI response:

On 19 March 2015, the ATSB provided three PDFs of material to Paul, totalling 158 pages of documents. Paul and I have conducted an analysis of this material, which reveals there are 24 separate incidents involved, with date ranges from 2004 to 2014. Five of these events were already known to us from previous FOIs to the ASA and the ATSB. In addition, many of the others were explainable as sightings of balloons, unmanned aerial vehicles, remote controlled model aircraft and other such mundane causes. However, three are of interest to us. Details of these are provided below.

Abnormal radar returns:

At 0610hrs local time (EST) on 21 March 2014, Williamtown Department of Defence radar experienced what they referred to as "abnormal radar returns." The ATSB documentation states:

"Please note that this occurrence is a notification only and has not yet been investigated. After being issued departure instructions and a take-off clearance [redacted] take-off clearance was cancelled due to multiple unidentified system tracks that appeared on the Australian Defence Air Traffic System (ADATS) Situational Data Displays (SDD). The tracks presented as primary radar returns only, with no associated secondary surveillance radar (SSR) data. These tracks appeared at approximately 30NM south of WLM and disappeared from all SDD screens at approximately 8NM south of WLM. No further returns were observed and [redacted] was subsequently departed without further incident."


At 0956hrs local time (EST) on 26 April 2005, an airprox event occurred near Mount Sandon, New South Wales, at latitude 31deg 19mins south, and longitude 151deg 24mins east. The aircraft involved was a Beech aircraft B200C turboprop belonging to the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, which had left the ground and was cruising at an altitude of about 20,000 feet. Its SSR code was A1055.

The ATSB documentation read:

"4NM north of Mount Sandon the pilot of [redacted] thought they saw traffic just below them coming towards them. They commenced a turn to the right to avoid the object then turned back to the left to see behind and attempt to identify what it was. The pilot subsequently reported that it was a red and white object travelling very fast but it could not be identified for certain as an aircraft. There was no other known traffic to the ATS system within 12NM of the aircraft and there was no cloud. The sun at the time was high and to the rear left of the direction of travel. Air situation playback  (ASPB) confirmed there were no other Mode-C SSR returns. The area is outside of primary radar coverage. The object passed at an estimated distance of less than 500 feet below the aircraft."


At 1000hrs EST on 5 May 2012, a Boeing 737-838 aircraft was on a landing course for Sydney, at latitude 33deg 57.77mins south and longitude 151deg 11.63mins east, when the pilot reported seeing:

A large (approx. double size of a soccer ball) cylindrical shiny object passed by aircraft by our right hand side. Its colour was brown/orange. It caught my eye in the 1230 position and I watched it pass by our right hand side at our level and missed our right hand wing tip by about 5 metres. Reported to ATC (Sydney approach). It happened very quickly and I was the only known witness. It might have been a balloon but it was not round."

Paul is to congratulated for his efforts in obtaining this material, and then sharing it with us all. Further material about this latest find, may be read at Paul's blog at:

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Three more RAAF UAS files digitised by NAA

Hi all,

The National Archives of Australia, at my request, and upon payment of a fee, has just digitised three more UAS files of the Royal Australian Air Force.

A9755 control symbol 21:

This file is titled "RAAF Headquarters Operational Support Group - Unusual Aerial Sightings." It has a date range between 6 Aug 1989 and 31 Jul 1992. The file cover reveals that the original file number was 5/40/Air Part 7. There is a mask on the file which indicates that 47 folios are outside the Archive Act date range and are therefore not available at the moment. 134 digital pages are available to read.
Barcode is 3533564.

This file consists of a couple of dozen RAAF UAS 10 question proformas, handwritten by RAAF personel taking details down from incoming telephone calls from members of the public. Almost all are of distant lights in the sky. Geographically almost all the sightings come from Queensland in the years to 1990. None are of particular interest to us.

A9755 control symbol 20:

The second digitised file is titled "RAAF Heaquarters no 82 Bomber Wing, Amberley, Qld - Unusual Aerial Sightings." This has a date range of 1989-1991. Barcode 3533553. There are only four pages of digital material available. A mask indicates that there are three cms of material on this file but outside the Archive Act date range at the moment. The original file number was 5/113/Air Part 9.

The four pages are of one sighting. "About 15 years ago, at 2000hrs one Lance Raymond Keith Smith, age 44, of Rosewood, Queensland, a railway fettler observed "One large light has been observed for about 15 years and now it has been 'joined' by another smaller the north-west of Venus..." Details recorded 15 Dec 1989.

A9755 control symbol 19:

This file is titled "RAAF Headquarters no 82 Bomber Wing, Amberley, Queensland - Unusual Aerial Sightings." It has a date range of 6 Dec 1988 to 15 Dec 1989. It was originally file 5/113/Air part 8. Barcode 3533548.

 There are several dozen RAAF 10 question proformas completed by RAAF personel from incoming phone calls from members of the public. Almost all are of distant lights in the sky. None are of real interest to our study of the phenomenon.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Re-reading the classics

Hi all,

One of the little pleasures of life for me, is re-reading "classic" books on UAP. I find they often provide historical insights which can be of use today. At the moment I am enjoying "The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry" by J Allen Hynek. Corgi Books. London. 1974. ISBN 0552 094307. (Click here.)

Hynek, as many blog readers will be aware, was a scientific consultant to the United States Air Force, on UAP. He started this work with USAF Project Sign (click here)  in September 1947, to February 1949, then worked with Project Grudge (click here) then Project Blue Book (click here), though to its closure in 1969.

So it wasn't long after the closure of Project Blue Book, that his own book was first published, in 1972 (Corgi edition 1974.)

His views on science:

His views on how science works, included:

"Erwin Schrodinger. pioneer in quantum mechanics and a philosopher of science, wrote "The first requirement of a scientist is that he be curious. He should be capable of being astonished and eager to find out." The scientific world has surely not been eager to find out about the UFO phenomenon and has expressed no indication to astonishment." (p.21.)

Applying this to the subject of UAP, Hynek felt that there were two classes of scientist. Those that denounced the subject without examining the data, and those that studied the data and concluded that it was most probably psychological. He reasoned that the latter group was worthy of debate, whereas the former group was not.

On this topic, Hynek concluded "It is likely that many scientists would have given serious consideration and effort to the UFO problem had they been properly appraised of its content." (p.24.)

J Allen Hynek

Hynek's years of interviewing witnesses led him to a few observations which I feel apply equally today. Among these are:

"In my experience in interrogating witnesses one phrase has been repeated over and over again. 'I never saw anything like this in my life.'" (p.29.)

Time and time again, in my own interviews, I have come across this phrase. This "newness" of the experience, with somehow an inability to put the observation into words, stands out. However, an investigator's job is to extract data, pulling out pieces of information such as colour, angular size, angular elevation, angular velocity, etc and to record these.

"I have seen this process of going from the simple, quick description and explanation, step by step, to the realisation that no conventional description would suffice (escalation of hypotheses.)" (p.29.)

Witnesses often tell you that "At first I thought it was a..." followed by a rationale as to why it wasn't a ...   As an investigator you are looking to exclude conventional explanations, so it is very useful if a witness takes you through their own mental analysis of their observation.

"Essentially, the crucial question is, did what the reporter say happened really happen?" Noting that it is preferable if there are multiple witnesses, Hynek observes "...there are no a priori reasons for dismissing such statements out of hand. The crux of the UFO reporter problem is that perfectly incredible accounts of events are given by seemingly credible persons..." (p.38.)

From my own experience, I would add that often, it is the interpretation of what the witness comes up with that may be in debate. I recall standing on a beach front suburb in Adelaide, looking at what I knew was the planet Venus in the sky, with a credible witness telling me "There's my UFO! It isn't Venus!"


"In terms of scientific study, the only significant UFO reports are, as we have seen, UFO reports that remain puzzling after competent investigations have been conducted." (p.41.)

Too often today, UAP groups place raw UAP reports onto their publicly viewable websites, before they conduct an investigation; or sometimes when no investigation is to be carried out. Viewers then get the impression of hundreds of UAP reports coming out of a particular country or region, when, if only investigations had been conducted, this number would have been reduced to a few, good cases - our "core" UAP.

Hynek's findings:

Skipping over the book's data related chapters to some of his findings, I noted the following:

"... we do not have the means at our disposal by study of highly selected and screened UFO reports to characterise explicitly what needs to be explained." (p.267.)

My own cataloguing work has led me to screen incoming raw reports, examine them and come up with screened observations that continue to puzzle me.

"The general confusion surrounding the subject and the lack of attention by scientists have effectively prevented proper data collection." (p.274.)

Regretfully, 40 years on from this statement by Hynek,  I still see UAP groups who are not properly collecting data. They collect raw reports and publish these, but do little or no investigation of them.

"We may even have to face the fact that the scientific framework, by its very internal logic, excludes certain classes of phenomena, of which UFOs may be one." (p.285.)

Perhaps so, but to me, the scientific method seems our best hope for understanding UAP.

Final words:

Hynek's final words in his book are:

"When the long awaited solution to the UFO problem comes, I believe that it will prove to be not merely the next small step in the march of science but a mighty and totally unexpected quantum jump." (p.288.)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Moe, Victoria - questions to Trevor Brew

Hi all,

I recently published a four part post on the 15 March 1963, Willow Grove, near Moe, Victoria case.

VUFOA "cold case" review:

Ben Hurle and Andrew Arnold recently travelled to Willow Grove, Victoria to interview Trevor Brew, the son of Charles Brew. Trevor was present at the incident, and heard but did not see the UAP.

I took the opportunity to ask Ben and Andrew to pose a series of questions to Trevor, which he kindly answered. The following are those questions and responses, for readers' perusal.

1 How did the story get out into the newspapers so quickly?

A: His father called the papers straight after the incident .

2 Does he recall his father finding an unusual rock at the place where the object hovered?

A: Trevor did recall a "rock" being found - he said it was a meteorite and he thought it was not connected to the incident.
He couldn't recall who collected it , but does remember it being found and taken away.

3. After all this time what does he think the object was?

A:  Trevor is very puzzled by the object. He described the sound as "powerful" and "impressive". He heard the object "power down" when it arrived and "power up" when it took off.
It was a sound he had not heard before , or since and was clearly audible above the diesel engine in the dairy. He deeply regrets not going outside to see the object.

He has no natural explanation for what they saw - rejects the tornado theories outright - and believes that without any logical explanation - that the object was not from here ,or natural in explanation.

He revealed to me there was another local witness (independent ) on that day - he wouldn't reveal identity - but I'm working on him!

4. Did he or his father see anything else unusual after the 1963 event?

A: No further sightings by them - but is aware of other sightings in the district over the years.

5. Can he explain why the RAAF never had a completed Pro forma?

A: He was not able to recall too much from the investigations after it - too much time had passed - I've asked him to consider this question further and will talk to him again soon.

6. Can we ask him for his recollections of the weather on that day?

A: The overwhelming memory was steady rain - as it was on the shed roof and grey cloud. Mainly the sound of rain he recalls from the time of the incident.

The Victorian UFO Action group posted a video interview with Trevor at:

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Felician Andrzej Berson - the CSIRO - and his interest in UAP


There are scattered references, in the civilian UAP literature, to the interest of an individual named Dr. F A Berson, who worked for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research organisation (CSIRO). I thought it might be useful to bring these references together, hence this post.

Dr F A Berson
(Source: Garratt, J et al.  "Winds of Change." CSIRO publishing. 1999. Out of print.)


Firstly, before investigating his interest in the subject of UAP, I present a biography which I found in an article "Clouds on the Horizon" written by Berson himself, which appeared in  volume 72, number 2, February 1991 of the Bulletin American Meteorological Society.

Berson decided to study meteorology and qualified for his doctorate in 1934; then worked at the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute; followed by the Polish State Meteorological institute until 1939. Berson then moved to England where he joined the RAAF as a meteorologist, during the second world war.

In 1946, one of the items on his research list concerned cold fronts. After the war he accepted a post with the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute. Berson writes that at one point (about Carl-Gustav Rossby) "He appreciated the fact that I had imagination and was anything but institutionally inclined, he also enjoyed the eccentric behaviour I displayed on occasions.  p.208.)

In 1952 he "...applied to join the rapidly growing group of English wartime colleagues led by C H B Priestley forming the section (later Division) of Atmospheric Physics in the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) at Aspendale near Melbourne." (p.210.)

Between 1953 and 1974, when he retired, Berson worked at the CSIRO, and was known as Andgei to his colleagues. He researched cold fronts, Antarctic circulation; quasi-biennial oscillation; convective systems and interpreting radar echoes. During this time he worked for a period at the International Antarctic Analytical Center, and another period of time at the US Weather Bureau in Washington, DC. He also spent time at NCAR's National Hail Research Experiment at Boulder and Grover, Colorado in the US.

Ca. 1956:

According to Berson himself, in a letter, dated 28 November, 1966, to Robert Low of the famous Condon Committee, he became interested in the topic of UAP around 1956:

"It was in fact Mr Groodin who first got me interested in the subject. This was some ten years ago. I have since had one or two contacts in this matter, with Government departments, but have established closer contacts with a private agency in Victoria in an endeavour to find out what they were up to and whether scientific research was feasible."

According to Garratt, J; Angus, D and Holper P. (1999. "Winds of Change." CSIRO publishing, page 13,)  Ivan S Groodin was working for the CSIRO's Atmospheric Physics section from 1953, and was there at the time Berson joined that same section.

Ivan S Groodin in a group photograph.
(Source: "Winds of Change." CSIRO Publishing. 1999.)

March/April 1963:

Dr Berson investigated the 15 March 1963 Willow Grove, near Moe, Victoria, case. In an interview between Peter Norris of the Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society, and the witness, Charles Brew; Brew says:

A. "...the CSIRO were here and number one question as far as they were concerned - he asked me did I get a headache. I said..."

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 electro-magnetic or something to that effect - that's beyond me - but he said that would more than likely cause a 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..."

Q. "How long after the sighting, did the CSIRO come down here?'

A. "They were here about 4 days after..."

On 8 April 1963, Dr Berson wrote to Sylvia Dutton of CAPIO, advising that:

"I visited Mr Brew in company of a friend of mine, but we did not take any rock samples. But I know that somebody else did. To obtain more information about the mentioned sighting, please contact the RAAF Department of Air, Canberra who are investigating this case." 

The following is from a letter from Berson to Robert Low, dated 11May 1967:

"...among them a sketch of the distribution of total magnetic intensity (as recorded by an AN/ASQ-1 airborne magnetometer installed in a DC3 aircraft) in a part of Gippsland surrounding the site of the Willow Grove sighting."

Later, in the same letter Berson suggested:

"Following a discussion with a geophysicist in the Antarctic Division of the Department of External Affairs I venture to suggest to you that a statistical investigation should be made on the following lines: place and/or time of (low level?) sightings of high credibility rating be correlated with magnetic data such as the three hourly geomagnetic k index at observatories and the world-wide kp index."

Who was Berson's companion on his visit to Moe in 1963? Berson mentioned he was accompanied by a Mr Clarke. On the website for the Encyclopaedia of Australian Science I found the following information:

Reginald Henry Clarke ( (1914-1990) joined the Bureau of meteorology in 1940, and then joined the CSIRO's Division of Atmospheric Physics at Aspendale in 1957. He retired in 1978 and passed away in 1990. One of his research interests was the subject of tornadoes.

Reg Clarke
(Source: "Winds of Change." CSIRO Publishing.1999.)

19 September 1963:

On Thursday 19 September 1963, Berson had his own sighting. I found the following information in an interview between Berson and James E McDonald dated 29 June 1967.  As far as I can ascertain he was at home in Mt Eliza, Melbourne at the time. He was with his son, when they noticed a cherry-red light in the sky. Far from being a point source of light, he estimated it had an angular size of one quarter of a degree, i.e. half the diameter of the full Moon.

The object appeared stationary, and there was no associated sound. He went inside the house to fetch binoculars, but when he came out, his son said that the object had formed two objects, and disappeared.

There was a newspaper report that an object was also reported from the Melbourne suburb of Dudley South at the same time. He checked the azimuth direction of his observation (it had been near a tree or similar object) and the track passed over Dudley South. He deduced that the object was not a balloon, or a hoax.

I found additional information on page 77 of the book by Michael Hervey, titled "UFOs over the Southern Hemisphere." (Click here.)

"On September 19, 1963, at approximately 8pm, the VFSRS received a telephone call from a man living at Mt Eliza. He and his family had watched an unusual object in the sky a little earlier that evening. The object, about 20 to 30 degrees above the horizon, appeared blood red  and was blinking on and off. It seemed larger than a star and made no sound. The object disappeared in a slightly easterly direction."

"The Express" Newspaper of Wonthaggi, Victoria in its 26 September 1963 edition provided some other information. At 1845hrs South Dudley children at a playground saw an object. An orange ball was seen to the west. There was no sound. Tom Lymer reported "It was flashing on and off like an aeroplane light" but bigger and brighter. It was moving much slower than an aircraft. Suddenly flame shot out and it travelled at a tremendous speed. It was lost for a while then picked up to the south, hovering. Tom Ruby said that after hovering and still flashing on and off, it moved over the sea and disappeared. It was reported that television reception was affected.

The Australian Flying Saucer Review, May 1964, page 1 said that a John Waters, 17 saw two objects. "One appeared first, travelling in an area but not stopping, and the second object came over a little higher and followed the same trajectory." Mrs Sutton said that the Mt Eliza man's object was travelling in a south to south-east direction. Mrs Sutton checked with the RAAF, weather bureau and the Department of Civil Aviation and said that there were no balloons, kites, planes etc in the area at the time.

McDonald in his handwritten notes of interview with Berson wrote that the object was "Not blinking. Review is in error."

April 1966: The Westall incident:

In Ann Druffel's book on James E McDonald, "Firestorm" (click here) she wrote that

"Dr Berson had done his own investigation of the Westall High School sighting. He'd called Moorabbin airport also, but had been told he would have to call four separate companies in order to try to track down the source of the five Cessnas! He'd learned that students at Clayton school had also seen the object at the same time. he went to the Department of Air, but was given no information. There he was told by an aviation instructor, "We have a sub-chasing aircraft with very bright lights that can be misinterpreted."  The Australian officials were reaching as far afield for 'explanations' as project Blue Book."

Berson himself refers to this incident, in a letter to Robert Low dated 28 November 1966. In part it reads:

"On another occasion I established the fact that a similar D.A. team had appeared so quickly on the scene of a sighting made by a group of school children and a teacher in the vicinity of an aerodrome as to make one believe that they had some foreknowledge.The teaching staff was asked by the DA men to "play it down" and the sighting was promptly ridiculed, but quite independently another group of people had reported the unusual phenomenon from the opposite peripheral area of the aerodrome."

July 1966:

An article titled "The Tully Nests: How freakish can whirlwinds be?" appeared in the Australian Flying Saucer Review, number 5, dated July 1966 pages 3-7. The article was "written by a member of VFSRS who has been connected with studies in atmospheric sciences." The references include an article by Reg Clarke. This may have been written by Berson.

May 1967:

In the McDonald archive section of Dr Michael Swords' digital file  collection, I found a letter dated 26 May 1967 to Dr Berson from James E McDonald. McDonald advised Berson that he was visiting Australia in June and July 1967. In part it read:

"I am now convinced it is a problem warranting greater increased scientific attention by a much larger group of workers...In going over one account of the Brew case, near Moe, Australia, I have noted that you are cited as a CSIRO investigator who looked into that interesting case. I should like very much to discuss that and any other Australian cases of which you have direct knowledge...I should like very much to speak to some of the CSIRO meteorologists about this entire problem...I might mention that I know...Priestley and Swinbank of your group."

June 1967:

Also in Swords' files is a letter dated 10 June 1967 from Sylvia Sutton, CAPIO to McDonald. In part it reads:

"The Chief purpose of this letter is to invite you to dine at my home...Dr Berson of the CSIRO, with whom you have been  corresponding, has become a good friend of my I have invited him and his wife to join us. He was particularly pleased about this because he would have liked to arrange some social occasion at his own home at Mt Eliza but due to the travelling distance, this rather ruled it out..."

McDonald met Berson on a number of occasions whilst in Melbourne, Victoria.

In the Australian journal of James E McDonald I found an entry dated 29 June 1967:

"then to Berson office to see geomagnetic anomaly at Brew site, and interviewed Berson re his Sep 19, 1963 sighting. Met Eric Webb who's been interested in UFOs (?) for some time but not until few weeks back did Berson learn of that..."

Eric Webb also worked also worked for the CSIRO.

Eric Webb
(Source: "Winds of Change." CSIRO Publishing. 1999.)

Another McDonald entry dated 30 June 1967  read:

"Phoned Berson. He wants me back. Priestley back and quite interested."

July 1967:

Another entry dated 4 July 1967 reads: "Paul and Geoff drove me to the CSIRO, Aspendale, met Priestley and Deacn (?) and Dyer."

CSIRO files on UAP:

The National Archives of Australia holds two relevant CSIRO files. File series A9778, control symbol M1/F/31, date range 1952-1957 is titled "Flying Saucers."

File series A852, control symbol HM1/30 titled "Miscellaneous Enquiries - General - UFOs."

 Is there anything on these files about Berson's UAP interests, or indeed about that of Groodin? I failed to find anything, however there were three items of general interest:

1. A memo dated 26 June 1968 from the Department of External Affairs addressed to the Secretary, Prime Minister's department, Canberra cc'd to Dr D F Martyn. Officer in charge, Upper Atmospheric Section CSIRO, about the Condon committee in the USA. However, the Upper Atmospheric Section was in Camden, New South Wales and not Aspendale, Victoria.

2. In the period 1959 to at least 1965, a copy of UAP reports were sent to the CSIRO, from the Department of territories (Papua New Guinea). There is no mention of which section/division of the CSIRO they ultimately ended up with.

3. A memo from the Department of Air, to the CSIRO dated 28 November 1968 advised that:

"During the course of an investigation into the unusual sightings made by Mr A S Ricketts of Baccus Marsh, Victoria, it was learnt that a 'team of CSIIRO scientists" had visited him on 7th July 1966. This Department would be grateful for any information on this visit that could be of assistance in assessing the origin of Mr Rickett's sightings."

 On 5 December 1966 the CSIRO replied:

"I have made inquiries from several likely CSIRO Divisions, but with negative results."

RAAF file 580/1/1 Part 6, held by the National Archives of Australia reveals a detailed investigation report on multiple observations by Mr Ricketts. It included:

"Mr Ricketts had a visit from a team of CSIRO scientists who saw something but would not confirm that this that this was a UFO. Mr Rickett's would not divulge the names of the CSIRO scientists."


I welcome any additional information on Dr F A Berson from blog readers.

February 2015 - Australian monthly reports roundup

Hi all,

Here is the fifth in a series of Australian national level sightings report listings, compiled by myself and Paul Dean, from contributions by Australian research groups, and other sources. We wish to again thank all who send in these reports, for us all to be aware of. The March listing will be posted on 4 April 2015. If you have any reports which you would like to see included, please forward them to by 3 April 2015. Thank you.


27 January 2015 Sunset Perth, Western Australia 30 minutes Identified?
A number of reports were made of a bright, white object which travelled from 60 degrees west in a south-south-westerly direction. One observer used a telescope to look at the object and reported seeing what looked like a high altitude balloon.

A Western Australian correspondent advises us that Geoffrey Thomas, Aviation Editor for The West Australian newspaper, on 2 February 2015, wrote a piece about this. A person wrote to him that "there is a helium balloon travelling slowly on the flight tracking website Flightradar. The balloon is east of Port Kennedy at 60,000 feet and moving south-east. It is registered to Google..."

Thomas advised that "The balloon is one of a number owned by Google as part of Project Loon, which is testing the viability of bringing internet access to remote communities."

While not clear if this refers to the 27 January object, it strongly suggests that the 27 January object was one of these balloons. We can look forward to further sightings of these particular balloons. For information on Project Loon click here.

9 January 2015 0230hrs Symmons Plains, Tasmania
A bright yellow light appears ahead of the witness' car. It moved across the sky behind their car as more lights formed around it. The lights then vanished but almost at once reappeared as a triangle of yellow lights. It moved quickly ahead and was lost from sight behind trees. Investigation has ascertained a Melbourne to Launceston freighter aircraft was turning over the area to land at Launceston airport at the time of the sighting.

3-4 January 2015
Jeff Fausch, from Adelaide, has again risen to the challenge for individuals/groups to take a look at any of the raw reports we present here. Jeff took a look at six such reports from our January listings:

1. 3 Jan Bateau Bay, NSW; 2. 3 Jan Burton, SA; 3. 3 Jan Bridport, Tas; 4. 3 Jan Walcha, NSW; 5. 3 Jan Yass, NSW; 6. 4 Jan Deniliquin, NSW.

Jeff proposes that these six reports "most probably  are from the Quandrantid meteor shower, which peaks on the 3rd and 4th January each year. This meteor shower is known to generate bright meteors called "fireballs."

For example, the report from Yass at 2324hrs on the 3 January spoke of a super bright light in the sky travelling from north-west to south-east, with a tail. The Burton report of 3 Jan also spoke of a bright light with a tail, seen at 10 degrees elevation in the north, travelling west to east.

Thank you to Jeff for his analysis of these six reports. A full copy of his analysis is available from Jeff at

February reports:

3 February 2015 0300hrs Hobart, Tasmania ?mins Raw
Sue Farquhar reported seeing "8 lights and probably more in the sky...and watched them move in their usual jerky 3am the brightest light moved in a straight line (from east to west) and then its lights grew bigger. The  object seemed to double in size and its lights flashed outward in every direction (white, blue, green orange..."
TUFOIC reports being unable to contact the witness.

5 February 2015  International Space Station Raw
"Just chilling and getting my live stream on from the ISS and noticed an oddity hanging out in space so I took a quick screen capture and saved it on my computer."
MUFON Case management system.

5 February 2015 2150hrs Macquarie Fields, Sydney, New South Wales ?mins Raw
Cheree reported seeing "what appeared to be a bright orange fireball object in the sky moving rapidly side to side, then quickly disappearing into the clouds."

5 February 2015 ?hrs Melbourne, Victoria?mins Raw
"This white disc was seen over Australia this week and a classic disk shape that attempts to mimic a cloud. At one point it looks like a triangle craft, but I didn't believe its changing shape. Rather its turning and showing us different angles of itself. The camera has trouble focussing on this...A great catch by Brad Morris of Youtube SCW." The 4 minute video shows a small, white dot in blue sky.

9 February 2015 0400hrs Kingsmeadow, Tasmania /mins Facebook
Witness notices a single red flashing light very high at 10,00 feet. The light is heading north. However, it stopped and made a "right angle turn" to the left heading west for about a minute. Again it changed direction, now heading east and disappearing into the distance. No sound was noticed. No follow up possible for full details.

11February 2015 0300hrs Newstead, Tasmania ?mins Facebook
Witness was up early morning and happened to notice something travelling slowly north over Launceston. It was estimated at the 300m elevation and moving at 40kph. There appeared to be four or five on the leading edge of something and a line of lights on the trailing edge.It looked to move to the left and right as it moved away with an unusual engine sound. Bo full upm possible for full details.

13 February 2015 2230hrs Melton Mowbray, Tasmania ?mins Telephone
Two witnesses were travelling on the Midland Highway near Melton Mowbray. They noticed a bright light approaching in the southern sky. The object passes overhead and looks like a triangle with lights at each apex. With a distance hum noise it disappears into the northern sky. Follow up establishes commercial aircraft over location at 2230.

16 February 2015 Ca 2115-2130hrs New South Wales Seconds Raw
(a) Caringbah South. 2130hrs 3secs
Bebi saw a large, bright, orange coloured, fireball.
(b) Grosevale. After 2100hrs
In the south-eastern sky saw a bright white light, which disintegrated into two pieces, blue colour.
(c) Liverpool. Ca.2100hrs 10 secs
"Like a shooting star on steroids."
(d) Carse Park 2115hrs 6-10 secs
Greeny/blue comet at 70-80 degrees in the south-eastern sky to 45 degrees south-east.
(e) Seven Hills 2115hrs
An orange ball of fire in the sky was seen in the south-east.
(f) Cooge. Just before 2130hrs Few secs
A "fireball" was seen in the sky.
(g) Davistown. Central Coast 1-2secs
Large orange ball of fire seen in the sky, at 30 degrees elevation.

16 February 2015 0330hrs Mandurah, Western Australia ?mins Personal observation
On the Facebook page, "UFO Informer Perth," Matthew Turner stated "caught some amazing footage over Mandurah Monday morning 3.30. Check my FB page. Mandurah mail came n got the footage and took my photo. It's in such hd on large screen you can see what it is but these this make morphed color n shape so fast I can't explain it but orbs or something." The video is available on Matthew Turner's FB page (access through his name on UFO Informer Perth FB page.)

21 February 2015 1150hrs West Hobart, Tasmania 2mins Telephone
Witness contacted the Centre within minutes of sighting a white light or spot against a blue sky to the south west over Mt Wellington foothills. The spot was joined by four others which seemed to circle around the first spot. After a couple of minutes they seemed to fade or go off into the distance. Area viewed by investigator but nothing visible to account for the report. However, many high flying seagulls pass over the area en-route to the Hobart tip. The Centre believes this is the probable explanation.

25 February 2015 PM Bruny Island, Tasmania? mins Facebook
Tourist taking photographs of the sun whilst on a visit to Bruny Island. On later inspection notices small greenish spot (light?) in lower right of each picture. No follow up possible as at 28th February although a lens reflection may account for the spot.

Older cases:

28 January 2015 0000hrs Wollongong, New South Wales ?mins Raw
(Reported 21 February 2015)
"Hi, I would like to be contacted so I can send a photo for you to investigate. Its a very clear photo of something I believe to be extra-terrestrial. As I was driving home I saw a hovering craft right above us." The attached picture is a daytime, startling clear photo with reference points. The object appears elliptical with a "dome" on the bottom.
MUFON Case management system.

January 2015 0400hrs Waikiki, Perth, Western Australia ?mins
Sharmain Hope, a Waikiki resident says "It was about 4am and I was waiting outside my house with my sister for her taxi...We saw these balls of light so I started filming, then we saw figures on the roof. We thought they were human initially but there was something eerie about them." Ms Hope called the Police thinking the figures on the roof were burglars. The website states: "Ms Hope did not want to publish the video but the Courier viewed it on Tuesday."

3 January 2015 0000hrs Rockhampton, Queensland ?mins Raw
"3 of them hovered near my home and I was attacked. Still same today and moving from here for good."
MUFON Case management system.

20 December 2014 2030hrs Mt Sampson,??  3mins Raw
Sharon Ann Rowland "captured an unidentified flying (flashing intermittently) interesting object in the night sky. Too close to be a satellite (and also thanks to satview not one of the recorded satellites at the time."

9 December 2014 ?hrs Melbourne, Victoria ?mins Raw
Cheryl "took a series of photos of the sunset from her Melbourne balcony on a mobile phone...she looked at them in February 2015 to discover there are strange objects in the photos." The photos are available at the source.

29 April 2014 1030hrs Between Oxenford Town and Mount Tamberine, Queensland ?mins Raw
"When driving from Oxenford Town to Mount Tamberine, Queensland, suddenly approximately at few metre of top of trees the brilliant and wovering object quite difficult to observe the strange right because the speed of tracking was approximately between 60 or 70kmts. Very slow, and suddenly we saw the object seems in fire, but it was extrane that with plenty of trees it was not news of bushfire aniwere. But we are three testimonies."  (Errors in text are there in the original.)
MUFON Case management system.

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Project Galileo

Project Galileo Or to give it its full name, "The Galileo project for the Systematic Scientific Search for Evidence of Extraterrestrial...