Sunday, September 25, 2016

UFOs: An anfractuous phenomenon - part 3

UFOs: An anfractuous phenomenon
Keith Basterfield

I recently presented this talk to UFO Research (NSW). They have uploaded it to YouTube. You will find it at:

B3: Now to take a look at my own methodology

  • Perhaps the most important single thing to me, is that although the witness owns the story, it is the investigator who extracts the data, e.g. compass directions, angular size; angular velocity. The investigator then reconstructs the event, based on the data gathered from the witness. In some cases the investigator and the witness may never agree as to the cause of the sighting
Interviewing witnesses
I attempt to locate additional witnesses, eg an appeal in the media, by conducting a doorknock, or by using Facebook. Independent observations may triangulate the path of an object
  • USAF Project Blue Book consultant Allan Hynek wrote two things which I always remember:

“The problem is compounded by the fact that most UFO reports are frustrating in the extreme. They contain so few facts.”


“In terms of scientific study, the only significant UFO reports are…UFO reports that remain puzzling after competent investigation has been conducted.”

  • I am analytical- I attempt first to find a conventional explanation for the event. When I can’t do this, then the report becomes interesting
  • Contrary to what some people may think, I actually enter the investigation of any sighting with no bias – I have no-preconception of the outcome of any particular observation – I follow the evidence to deduce a cause for the sighting
  • I offer out of the square thinking in some cases
  • I examine every avenue – I try and locate witnesses today, to see if they still hold any original documentation, eg. notebook, diary
  • I look to locate original ufo group documentation – eg Journals, Newsletters, magazines, and particularly recorded original interviews between witness and investigator. For example, I recently located a copy of the original audio interview of Maureen Puddy, who reported two major sightings which I cannot explain, near Frankston, Victoria
A rare copy of the Australian UFO Report
After my investigation, I look to put forward an hypothesis, as to the cause of the sighting for discussion, peer review, and debate. Remember that an hypothesis is merely that, an idea, not a definitive statement.

Paul Dean and I did this with the 11 May 2015 sighting at Blue haven, New South Wales. A witness sighted an unusual object at 2pm. It was hovering over power lines. We hypothesised that the object may have been a helicopter. The use of the WebTrak aircraft tracking website found that there was indeed a helicopter travelling along the coastline northwards in the direction of Blue Haven.
The blue cross is a helicopter heading north
On 29 May 2015 a Townsville resident reported seeing three oval/circles of light in clouds. My hypothesis was that the lights were searchlights.
One of the Townsville photographs

On 23 August 2015, a woman driving through Point Cook in Melbourne, reported a strange shiny, ring like object, in the sky. Weather data suggested it was wind borne debris of some kind.

Bureau of Meteorology weather data
Sometimes, other people agree with your hypothesis, sometimes other people disagree. This is all part of the peer review process which the scientific approach uses.

To summarise my methodology. All in all, my process is collection, collation, interpretation, dissemination, and debate.


The next section of my talk, themed investigations, is to take a look at raw data from Australia.

At the September 2014 VUFOA conference, I suggested that we needed to compile Australian national level sighting reports and take a look at them to see what the big picture was. Paul Dean and I took up the challenge and for the last 12 months, with the assistance of Australian UFO groups and individuals have been compiling and widely publishing monthly listings of Australian reports.
An example of the listings
When publishing the listings, Paul and I deliberately made no effort to assign a possible interpretation as to the case of each report. However, I have now been through the listings recently and made my own rough assessment of the several hundred or so individual reports, over the last 12 months.

As has been shown time and time again, many of our several hundred raw reports are explainable in conventional terms. We have observations of satellites; planets; wind borne debris; computer generated fake images; Venus and Jupiter; fireballs; aircraft; sundogs  etc etc.

On the negative side, much of the material and particularly that coming in via Youtube and other social media, is of little value to the serious study of UFOs, because no one analyses it!

On the positive side, the more interesting reports, as for many years, continue to come from rural and isolated areas.

For example,

In February 2014, a lone yachtsman off the coast of Tasmania, reported seeing a white to gray coloured, cigar shaped object, with associated lights, near his boat. The object moved away and was lost to view into a cloud.
The Tasmanian sailor's report
However, some of the more apparently spectacular reports cannot be followed up as the witness did not provide contact details.

For example, in November 2014, a man reported that an egg shaped object fell from the sky and impacted the ground in Queensland. He said that three fire trucks turned up to fight the resultant fire. He did not leave any contact details. It remains to be seen whether or not this was a genuine report or a hoax.

There are other seemingly interesting reports which lie in the US MUFON database, but come from Australia. As these reports, when investigated, go to MUFON in America, we are not able to judge their value to us.
Sample page from the MUFON CMS

In the final part of my talk I would like to explore a number of areas concerning the theme of investigations and make some observations, and recommendations for the future.

Firstly, electronic databases.

There are a number of civilian UFO groups, both here in Australia and overseas who use electronic databases to collect details of raw observations from the general public. The raw content of each report is usually able to be accessed by anyone, excluding witness details. You can even open submitted photographs and videos on some databases.

What I have noticed,  is that local and overseas researchers who publish blogs and have websites, often extract these raw sightings from such databases and publish them within a day or two of the witness submitting the raw report. They do so, almost invariably without checking any facts about the event, even whether or not it seems a hoax. This is unfortunate, for if later on, a competent investigation determines a mundane cause for the event; this fact is often lost. The original, often distorted version of the event is out there in cyber space.

Besides a later finding of a possible mundane cause for the event, there is also the possibility of a hoax. It is all too easy with a few key strokes, to report a spectacular hoax case to these databases.

I suspect, on the basis of 100% knowing that some recent Australian database reported events were definitely hoaxes, that there are more hoaxed cases in databases than we would care to admit. And no, I haven’t been the one who has been submitting these hoaxes!

I would recommend that we discontinue placing raw reports in publicly available databases.

As regards the national monthly listings, I recently conducted a survey of the three dozen individuals who receive them directly. I asked questions such as, are the listings of value to people? The consistent answer was yes they are. I asked should we report only investigated reports. The answer was people would like to see raw as well as investigated reports, if Paul and I have the time to continue gathering all these.

Secondly, the Australian national level sightings reports listings have clearly shown that today, Australian UFO groups and individual researchers are more likely to publish sightings on their website in raw, rather than investigated form. It is clearly less labour intensive to simply repeat what a witness reports than to spend time investigating it. In my view,

We seem to have lost the desire to actively investigate incoming reports.

Perhaps we should not expect a UFO group, which has been in existence for decades, to investigate reports anymore. After all, if they know that the UFO phenomenon is due to extra-terrestrial visitation, why would they investigate new reports? But if so, following this logic, why do such groups still collect any reports? Why do they bother?

I would recommend that each Australian group needs to have an investigation cell, whose job it is to follow up incoming sightings, investigate and document them, and then publish full investigation reports. Few Australian groups are doing this today. Indeed we have no UFO group in the whole of Western Australia.

Thirdly, notwithstanding that you publish cases in your own group’s newsletter, blog or magazine,

I would recommend that you also submit full investigation reports to Rob Frola at the UFOlogist magazine.

This would provide you with a broader outlet for your material.

Fourthly, as to scientific consultants. As I mentioned earlier, years ago, most Australian groups each had a number of scientific consultants in fields such as astronomy, physics and meteorology. Today there are almost none of these consultants. I would recommend that we need a national pool of such consultants, accessible to all Australian groups and serious individuals.

I would recommend that a discussion commence among groups to prepare a list of such consultants which we already have, and to seek new ones. I would also recommend that all investigated and documented unknown cases, be submitted to such a panel, for peer review before publication.

Fifthly, as happened in the 1970’s through to the 2000’s, the Australian monthly reports listings have shown that the more interesting cases come from rural and regional Australia. However, most UFO groups here that I have spoken to, have lost their contacts in these areas.

I recommend that groups, initiate a media campaign in rural and regional Australia seeking witnesses to sightings, to come forward and report them to us.

Finally, I would urge MUFON in the US to make available to the general research community in Australia, MUFON’s investigated Australian cases. Today, some Australian cases are looked at in this country but fed back to the US, where they are not available to anyone not associated with MUFON.

I would recommend that MUFON’s current Australian national director take up this issue with MUFON Headquarters in the US and advise us of the outcome.


There is clearly a wide spectrum of belief systems in the Australian UFO research community, and this is clearly reflected on what you can find on the Internet.  

On a recent count, I found 38 Australian Facebook pages, discussing in part, Australian UFO sightings. Most spent hardly any time on analysing and investigating these reports. A fact I find discouraging for serious research into the phenomenon.

I put myself squarely in the scientific ufology end of the spectrum. I believe in evidence based research, no matter what conclusion this leads you towards.

While I respect the views of others who sit at other places on the spectrum, I don’t necessarily have to agree with these views.

In closing, let me return to my use of the word anfractuous in the title of this talk.

The UFO phenomenon, and research in to it, is full of twists and turns. I think this is nicely summed up by a quote by US researcher John B Alexander who said:

Front cover of Alexander's book
 “I conclude that the UFO observations are manifestations of issues that are anfractuous and beyond current comprehension.”

To which I would add, perhaps beyond current comprehension, but that doesn’t mean that we should give up trying to understand in the future.  

2016 update

I gave this talk in 2016 to UFO Research (NSW) Incorporated. You may watch it at:

UFOs: An anfractuous phenomenon - part 2

UFOs: An anfractuous phenomenon
Keith Basterfield
Part two

I recently presented this talk to UFO Research (NSW) Incorporated. They have just uploaded it to Youtube. You will find it at:
Section A3 – what about private enterprise?

Over the years, several aerospace companies have investigated the phenomenon. Perhaps the biggest study was the one conducted by McDonnell-Douglas for USM$1/2. They invested this money on the hope of discovering clues to advanced propulsion systems used by UFOs, which they could then duplicate. They studied reports from witnesses; reviewed the UFO literature; and even created a purpose built UFO detection van to undertake trips within the US to attempt to directly observe the phenomenon.
Front cover of McDonnell-Douglas report
Ultimately though, this work did not lead to any break throughs.

Section A4 – Finally, global civilian UFO groups

There have been a large number of civilian UFO groups who have attempted to collect UFO reports on a global scale. In former years APRO and NICAP spring to mind. Today, perhaps the most well-known is MUFON based in the USA. There are also organisations which focus on one specific facet of the phenomenon, such as NARCAP.
NARCAP website
I would next like to take a look at the investigation aspects of some of the cases reported by civilian researchers.

Case one:

Captain Ray Bowyer, a pilot of 5000 flying hours experience was piloting a passenger plane when, in April 2007, while crossing the English Channel, he and his passengers saw two unidentified objects. These objects were also apparently picked up on ground radar from two locations, and one object was observed by another pilot from a different position.

On a clear afternoon they saw a brilliant yellow light close to the horizon, where none should have been. Viewed through binoculars it looked like a thin cigar with a ratio, of length to width, of 15 to one. It had sharply defined edges and pointed ends. A second identical shape was then seen at a distance beyond the first. They were lost to view, when the plane began to land.


The pilot reported the incident to the English Civil Aviation Authority. However, it was UFO researchers who made a detailed study. They studied the visual observations and air traffic control radar, plus weather data. A search of the available weather radar data found nothing that was clearly anomalous.

An examination of the air traffic control radar data also turned up no clear evidence of anomalous propagation that day. The radar evidence was not useful in establishing the presence of unusual phenomenon. They considered such explanations as sundog, subsun, sun ray patches on the sea, aircraft contrails, specular greenhouse reflections, but none was a definitive explanation for the observations.

Case two:

On 7 November 2006 a number of reliable airline employees and others, reported seeing a round, revolving, grey coloured, metallic appearing object hovering over the O’Hare Airport, Chicago in the US. Based on the known height of the cloud base, the object was at a height of less than 1900 feet. It was there for at least three minutes. It departed at speed, apparently causing a hole to form in the cloud cover.


NARCAP investigated. FOI was used to obtain some of the documentation.

They obtained eyewitness testimony from ground witnesses. Recorded conversations on inbound controller tapes were obtained. FAA tower controllers did not see the object and the FAA stated that, nothing was observed on radar.

Their opinion was that it was a weather phenomenon. Explanations examined included that it was a weather balloon; a US military stealth aircraft; a lenticular cloud; or a helicopter.

However in the end NARCAP was unable to assign any mundane explanation to the event. It remained an unknown object.

Case three:

Between 6-6.25pm on 8 January 2008, a number of citizens of Stephenville, Texas, in the USA reported sighting a UFO. It was described as very bright, large and silent.


MUFON investigated this event, which was part of a much larger set of observations extending weeks. MUFON members interviewed numerous witnesses and obtained radar data from five different radar sites. MUFON stated that the radar data indicated the presence of two unknown objects.
From the MUFON report on Stephenville
SECTION B: Australian approaches to investigation

B1: Firstly, the Royal Australian Air Force

The Royal Australian Air Force and other areas of the Department of Defence looked into the subject of UFOs between around 1951 and the mid 1990’s. The RAAF was the only officially nominated area of the Australian government to receive and investigate reports from the public, pilots and air traffic controllers as well as its own personnel.

Other Australian government departments did maintain files on UFOs, but these were almost exclusively administration type files. The former Department of Civil Aviation was a notable exception, as numerous documents on its own files, refer to sighting reports.

The RAAF collected reports of sightings, and attempted to attribute a cause to the observation, via a network of base level, intelligence officers. However, it rarely launched major investigations, or reacted immediately, to incoming UFO reports whatever their nature. There were however, a few instances where RAAF aircraft were despatched to check out reported UFOs.

Flt Lt Biddington was sent to Bendigo to investigate sightings
Essentially, RAAF investigation findings, were that the vast majority of reports could be explained in mundane terms and that the percentage of “unknowns” in their files was in the neighbourhood of 3-4% of all incoming reports. There was no known major scientific investigation of UFOs by the Australian government.

We do know that at the time of the Condon report, the CSIRO were asked by one civilian organisation, if they would establish a similar scientific research study here in Australia. They declined.

Today, no Australian government agency admits to openly studying the subject of UFOs.

However, Paul Dean and I, in our correspondence and FOI requests, to such areas of government as the Australian Transport Safety Bureau or Air Services Australia, over the last two years, have demonstrated that interesting reports continue to be made to such agencies. However, despite such reports as the 19 March 2014 Perth near miss, between a civilian airline and an unknown object, no one officially admits that any of these could be potential UFO reports.

B2: Now to civilian groups

Within Australia there has been civilian interest in the subject of UFOs since 1947. Formal groups entered the picture at the beginning of the 1950’s and continue today. Both state and national level UFO groups have existed; and continue to exist today, a testimony to the long lasting interest among numerous individuals over the last 68 years.

At times, over the years we have had a number of national level groups, with acronyms such as AFSRS; CAPIO, UFORA, ACUFOS and AUFORN. Here, investigation methods have been to attempt to capture, collate and analyse incoming reports at a national level. Volunteers at local and state level take to the field to interview witnesses, document their findings and post them upwards.

I would like to take a moment to talk about the current status of AUFORN. The Australian UFO Research Network has had a lengthily involvement with Australian research. At times it has been supported by the majority of civilian UFO groups in this country. It has conducted in-depth investigations; funded conferences and published sightings, investigated through a national level, free call telephone hotline. A while ago I asked Daniel Sims Co-facilitator of AUFORN to pen some words for me about the current status of AUFORN in order for me to present them here.
AUFORN website
“AUFORN has undergone some significant changes in the last three years. It is currently overseen by myself and Robert Frola. We are and always will be a non-profit organisation…A lot of people come and go, and chose to volunteer in participating in investigations when they have time…Like most organisations, we do not pay for people’s research or pay them to carry out investigations…

AUFORN is now consolidated with our UFOlogist magazine. So, in return for people providing their efforts, we provide the opportunity for our volunteers to have their sightings, research, or articles, published, promoted and fully credited to them…

Many other groups become very busy…and slowly stop supplying investigations or articles…we understand they have a commitment to their own groups…we respect that. However we will continue to encourage that they provide material in order to maximise the success of UFO and paranormal research in Australia…AUFORN has restructured its operative model in order to become the tool that others can utilise to keep the information flowing.

The 1800 sightings report hotline unfortunately has now come to an end…we have reluctantly had to close down the free call report line…we ran the free call number for over 10 years…It was receiving approximately 60 to 80 calls per month for many years, then slowly decreased as social media became a prominent source for communications…

This is what we are here for. To enable others to supply articles, research and investigation reports so we can completely pack our magazine with Australian content and in return, giving any group or researcher full credit and publication for their efforts…”

Moving away from AUFORN, beside verbal interviews, in the past, a number of groups undertook some basic scientific analysis of trace cases, utilising such diverse techniques as magnetic signatures of motor vehicles; soil analysis; photographic analysis, and thermoluminescence.

Many of you in the audience are probably unaware of many of these scientific efforts, for they were most heavily undertaken in the 1970’s and 1980’s when many groups had regular scientific consultants, who quietly accessed work equipment for their personal use.

Today we have few reported vehicle interference cases, and the majority of UFO group members would have no idea how to conduct a motor vehicle signature test. Similarly, with almost no ground trace cases, few would have the skills of how to take relevant soil samples. I believe you could count on one hand, the number of scientific consultants available to Australian UFO groups today.

I think it would be fair to say that most Australian civilian UFO groups, in my opinion, have lost their capacity to do any real science on UFO cases.

Let’s take a look at a few Australian case examples, and what investigative tools were used:

Case one:

At nine pm one night a man was driving a vehicle near Liverpool Creek, in Far North Queensland. He noted a dull white light, apparently sitting on the side of the road. As his vehicle drew closer, he saw the object was a dark, beehive shape. This rose vertically into the sky. His car’s headlights, dashboard lights and engine failed. He stopped his car. The vehicle’s headlights, and dashboard lights came back on of their own accord. He was then able to restart the car’s engine.
Magnetic signature check by UFOR (FNQ)


A very competent investigation was conducted by UFO Research FNQ. The witness was interviewed and the car and site of the encounter examined. A magnetic signature test of the car was carried out. The same test was conducted on a control vehicle, both Ford Falcon station wagons. The magnetic field of both vehicles was similar, suggesting that the witness’ vehicle had not been exposed to a high intensity magnetic field.

Case two:

Four people in three separate vehicles, travelling independently of each other, on a remote stretch of road, near Kimba, South Australia, all saw an unusual object on the side of the road.

They all described seeing an orange-red coloured, rectangular shape, three metres high by 1.5m wide. Inside the rectangle, floated a white space suited figure. None of the occupants of the vehicles stopped to investigate, but all reported the bizarre encounter to the local police.


The local police were out at the site of the encounter about an hour after it happened and inspected the area, but could find nothing out of order at the site. Together with three others I went to Kimba, interviewed the two main witnesses; interviewed the police constable involved; obtained copies of the statements of one of the other witnesses, and later received a letter from the fourth witness. We also went to the site and inspected it. An unusual event for which I do not have a conventional explanation.
Kimba - on site with the local police
Case three:

The crew of a charter aircraft flying between Adelaide and Perth, was at 8000 feet, flying at a speed of 190 knots, tracking 270 degrees at 1740hrs local time. Both pilots saw a large object and 4-5 smaller objects ahead of the plane, at their flight level. A check with ground control revealed that there was no known traffic in the area. Then radio communications between the plane and the ground were lost for some time.

Over ten minutes the pilots watched the formation of objects. Finally, all the objects merged and left at speed. Radio communications were then restored. The weather was fine at the time.


The details of their observations was documented by the pilots in writing and submitted to both the RAAF and to the civilian UFO group VUFORS. The RAAF undertook a cursory investigation but published no findings. VUFORS did not manage to interview either pilot.

Here we have a long duration visual observation of a group of unusual objects, although no radar confirmation, by two experienced pilots.
The actual aircraft involved in the encounter
I tracked down one of the pilots a couple of years ago and spoke to him. He was still as puzzled by the event, as he had been at the time.

Case four:

Four people from one family were travelling together by car across the Nullarbor Plains. An unidentified light approached their car and over a period of time they reported, a car tyre exploded; a mist entered the windows; they felt unusual; they noted odd smells. Later they reported finding a black dust inside the car, and on the outside of the vehicle. They believed a UFO had lifted them off the road.


Investigations were conducted by civilian UFO groups; and the South Australian and West Australian police forces, plus one Adelaide based television station.

UFO researchers, including myself interviewed the family involved; and three truck drivers who were travelling along the same road. The TV station had the Australian Mineral Development Laboratory examine the car. No unusual radiation readings were detected. AMDEL concluded that the dust found was typical dust, from wearing brake pads and discs. The burst tyre was due to the tyre having been underinflated.

As part of the investigations, I secured part of a sample of dust from the roof of the car, which had been taken by the South Australian police by a forensic detective. Analysis revealed simply salt and clay particles, consistent with a car driving along the Nullarbor Plains, by the great southern ocean. US researcher, Dr Richard Haines also analysed samples of internal floor dust and concluded that it consisted of particles, found in abundance on the Earth’s surface.

Case five:

At 0913hrs on 19 March 2014, a passenger aircraft was on descent to Perth International airport when the crew reported an approaching unidentified object.
The aircraft involved in a near-miss near Perth
At 4000 feet, the crew managed to manoeuvre the plane to avoid a perceived collision with the object. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s report on the incident called the object an “unknown.”


Between Paul Dean and I, we interviewed the pilot; obtained weather details; got primary and secondary radar data; and submitted Freedom of Information requests to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Air Services Australia and the Department of Defence.

The object was not picked up on radar, either by the plane or the ground. The object did not trigger the aircraft’s Transponder Collision Avoidance System.

In summary, in my opinion, Australian civilian UFO research organisations, in general, have gone backwards in terms of their investigatory capacity.
(Continued in part 3.)

2016 update

I gave this talk in 2016 to UFO Research (NSW) Incorporated. You may watch it as:

UFOs: An anfractuous phenomenon - part 1


Keith Basterfield

Part one

I recently presented this talk to UFO Research (NSW) Incorporated. They have uploaded it to Yotube. You will find it at:


I am going to start my talk by taking a look at four approaches to investigation. Those undertaken by governments; by science; by private enterprise and by civilian UFO groups.

A1: Firstly that of Governments

Over the years, many world governments have taken a look at the UFO phenomenon. Perhaps the most well known explorations are those of the United States, the United Kingdom and France. However, many other countries, such as Spain, Brazil, New Zealand, and of course, Australia, have, at times taken a look at the subject.

The French government GEIPAN website
The term Government, is of course, very broad. It has, in fact, been very specific areas of Governments which have been the lead body. In some countries, such as Australia and New Zealand and the USA, the task was delegated to that country’s Air Force. In other countries, the task fell to the broader Defence Organisation. In the United Kingdom, Defence Intelligence Units assisted with both active field investigations and specialist knowledge. In yet other countries, such as Chile, civil aviation authorities have been the lead agency.

Whoever has led the investigation, a similar outcome has eventuated. Governments tell us that “there is no threat from UFOs to national security.” By saying this, various Governments have been able to wash their hands of researching the UFO phenomenon. Governments have been able to withdraw from having a UFO policy; a UFO study unit, and any ongoing official overt active interest.

On the theme of investigations, I would now like to take a brief look at a number of cases which were investigated by various Governments.

Case one:

Japan Airline flight 1628, was a cargo flight with a crew of three, and north of Anchorage, Alaska about 1700hrs local time. All three crew members described seeing unusual lights, which at times illuminated the cockpit.

Sketch drawn by the JAL 1628 pilot
The captain manoeuvred the aircraft but the object also turned. At various stages the object was level with the aircraft; appeared to jump from one area of the sky to another; was visible on the aircraft’s radar, and could not be identified by the crew.


Federal Aviation Authority officials, including the Division Chief of the Accidents, Evaluations and Investigations Division of the FAA, looked into the incident. The relevant radar data from the ground was obtained. John Callahan, the FAA Division Chief, found there were primary targets on the radar, which were in roughly the same time and place as the visual observations.

Interestingly, Callahan in a write up on the case, in a book by Leslie Kean, said radar specialist were in conflict as to the cause of the radar data. Hardware engineers said that the radar target was a software problem, and the software engineers said the target was a hardware problem.

What did Callahan conclude? “During the playback of the event I clearly observed a primary radar target in the position reported by the Japanese pilot. But the radar signals were intermittent because the UFO was painted as an extremely large primary target and so the FAA computer system tracked the UFO radar return as weather. Regardless, the target could be seen near the 747 on and off for thirty one minutes.”

So that was Callahan’s viewpoint. However, what was the official US FAA conclusion? “The final FAA report concluded that the radar returns from Anchorage were simply a split image due to a malfunction in the radar equipment, which showed occasional second blips that had been mistaken for a UFO…it was just coincidence that the split image matched the UFOs position.”

Case two:

A film crew aboard a New Zealand freighter aircraft, and its crew, observed and filmed a number of apparently anomalous lights in the sky. Unusual radar returns were also reported. US UFO researcher Bruce Maccabee visited New Zealand, interviewed visual observation witnesses; obtained radar and weather details and then published a detailed research report about the case. However, it is the response of the New Zealand government that I wish to draw attention to here.


Both the New Zealand Air Force and the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research looked into the events; interviewing primary witnesses and examining the radar data.
 The NZAF stated “The unidentified radar and visual sightings reported by aircraft and the Air Traffic Control radars of the north east coast of the south island recently, are the result of natural but unusual atmospheric phenomena.”

The DSIR prepared a number of reports by various areas, bearing such impressive titles as “Optical quality of the windows of Argosy aircraft in relation to photographs with lenses of large aperture.”

This examined photographs of a bright object taken by the Australian film crew. The DSIR concluded that the object was most likely due to imperfections in the aircraft window causing natural external light sources to appear abnormal.

A second report “Photometric properties of an unidentified bright object seen off the coast of New Zealand” concluded that the most likely source of the bright light was a number of squid boats on the ocean surface. Their analysis disputed that of Maccabee and suggested that the observation are not inconsistent with a near stationary surface object.

Case three:

In Trans-en-Provence, France, a man watched an unusual object rapidly descending with a whistling sound and land in his yard.

The object whistled again and took off. Immediately after its departure a circular ground imprint was noted.


The gendarmerie interviewed the witness, and collected soil and vegetation samples. The samples were examined by various government owned laboratories. Analysis of the soil indicated that strong mechanical pressure had been applied to the soil. Analysis of vegetation revealed changes to chlorophyll levels and other signs which seemed to suggest accelerated ageing of plants.

Case four:

On 5 March 2004, a surveillance aircraft of the Mexican Department of Defence was conducting operations, when the crew observed “invisible” targets on their infra-red equipment and also viewed radar targets.

Infra red image - courtesy of Bruce Maccabee's investigation report

The best documented investigation was conducted by US researcher Bruce Maccabee. His research indicated that the first object detected by radar remained unexplained.

However, other radar targets seem to have been reflective objects on the ground. Many of the forward looking infra-red sightings were of objects much further away than the aircraft crew believed.

Some of these may have been distant oil field, gas burn off flames.

Case five:

In 1989 according to Major General Wilfried De Brouwer of the Belgium Air Force, there were 143 UFO sightings, mostly of unusual triangular shapes, in a short period of time. De Brouwer was head of operations for the Belgium Air Force.


Did the Belgium Air Force investigate the sightings? The answer is no. Brouwer stated “Although the defence minister insisted on a transparent approach, especially to show the public that there was no cover up, the Air Force was not authorized to establish a dedicated office for conducting its own inquiries.”

So what happened? The investigations were conducted by a civilian UFO group, SOBEPS, supported by the Belgium Air Force. Between the two, scientific investigations were conducted. Numerous incidents remained unexplained at the end of these investigations.

These five examples show the diverse responses by national governments to reported UFO events. The US government was dismissive; the New Zealand government suggested mundane causes; the French government conducted a serious investigation; the Belgium government cooperated with a civilian UFO group, and the Mexican government was embarrassed.

Section A2 – Secondly, the approach of science

Science as a field of human endeavour had its big chance to contribute to our knowledge of the UFO phenomenon, back in the 1960’s. It blew the opportunity.

I doubt if many of you in the audience have read the full report of the University of Colorado’s multi year, and multi hundred thousand dollar study of UFOs.

The United States Air Force paid for what was supposed to be a scientific review of the subject, but specifically whether or not UFOs were a threat to national security, and whether the further study of UFOs would contribute anything to scientific knowledge? The report concluded “no” and “no” to these questions. However, the study report was flawed as the overall conclusion did not reflect the rest of the content. About one third of the cases studied remained unidentified after analysis.

Since then, science as a field of study, has not undertaken another detailed look at the topic. There are however, individual scientists who have privately studied the subject, and many of these who do, find the phenomenon has unexplained aspects. I’d like to briefly mention two such individual scientists of whom you may not be aware.

Harley D Rutledge was the Chairman of the Physics Department of the Southeast Missouri State University. He became aware of a number of UFO reports coming in from the Piedmont area of his state. There were reports of stalled cars, television signal interference, and crowds of people were swarming to that area every night to see the UFOs.

Front cover of Rutledge's book
As a scientist at a university, and thinking of his career, Rutledge debated whether or not to investigate personally. But he and others at the university ultimately decided they would investigate. They made an initial trip to the area and saw some unusual lights for themselves. They observed anomalous lights both from the ground and from an aircraft. Over the next several months, some 35 scientists, engineers, students and others associated with the university studied the phenomenon using a variety of scientific equipment. They were able to measure angular size, angular velocity and calculate the height of some of these lights.

This Project demonstrated that a scientific team with equipment could see, photograph and obtain data on numerous anomalous lights and a lesser number of structured objects, some seen during the day.

Another scientist, Frank B Salisbury was a US researcher in botany and biochemistry at the University of Utah. There were a series of both daytime and nocturnal observations of both lights and structured objects, some at close range. As a scientist, he decided to go to the area concerned and conduct personal interviews and research.  He later wrote “I could not think of any reasonable explanation to account for the objects sighted in the Unitah basin except for extra-terrestrial machinery.”

Front cover of Salisbury's book
He also stated “The UFOs in the Unitah basin wanted to be seen. They performed for their witnesses. They put on a display. When we examine UFO accounts, however, we encounter events that just don’t seem to fit within our understanding of natural laws.”

In summary, individual scientists have undertaken field investigations and found there are indeed anomalies to investigate.

(Continued in part 2.)

2016 update

I gave this talk to UFO Research (NSW) Incorporated in 2016 and you may watch it at:

Friday, September 23, 2016

Valerie Ransone - some further insights


Some interesting individuals come and go in the field of UAP research. One of these, is an American woman named Valerie Jean Ransone. She moved in high circles in the USA in the 1970's and 1980's, and was associated, among others, with US astronaut Gordon Cooper.

I first wrote about her in a post in 2011; after my former co-blogger, Pauline Wilson, mentioned Ransone's name in connection with Dr Christopher (Kit) Green. After finding additional information, I provided an update. Later, after locating Ransone in Hawaii; and several unsuccessful attempts to engage her in dialogue, I published a 'final post.'

Since Novermber 2012, as various individuals have read my posts about Ransone, I have been provided with additional snippets of information by some people; while others have merely been curious, as to whether or not, Ransone ever contacted me.

A timeline

For such enquirers, I now provide a timeline of information, together with a source.

1950 - Ransone born in the Chicago area of the USA. (Vallee, 2009, 'Forbidden Science Volume Two,' diary entry dated 9 July 1981.)

Image courtesy of Amazon Books

1971 - Studied journalism at NorthWestern University. (Vallee, 2009, diary entry 9 July 1978.)

1971-1976 - PR person for an energy information group - meets Wes Thomas (Vallee, 2009, 9 July 1978.)

1976 - Thomas introduces Ransone to Dr Puharich. (Vallee, 2009, 9 July 1978.)

June 1976 - Ransone in Hong Kong. ( Viewed in 2011, but currently not available.

March/April 1977 - Ransone and Puharich met Bob Beck. (Vallee, 2009, 19 May 1978.)

May 1978 - Kit Green visits Ransone in Houston. (Vallee, 2009, 19 May 1978.)

9 July 1978 - Thomas says he has known Ransone for years. (Vallee, 2009, 9 July 1978.)

11 June 1978 - Ransone establishes a company 'to disseminate messages she believes to be of extraterrestrial origin.' Center for Advanced Technology - 'reportedly financed by Security Around the Globe, an industrial protection and private detective firm.' (Vallee, 2009, 11 June 1978.)

8 August 1978 - Ransone organising 'Signs of the Spirit' conference - Washington - December 1978. Ransone aims to 'establish a foundation for those who will meet space people in December.'  (Vallee, 2009, 6 August 1978.)

14 October 1978 - Ransone said to be holding files labelled 'Soviet Research' and 'Military Intelligence.' FBI reportedly conducted an investigation. (Vallee, 2009, 14 October 1978.)

December 1978 - Cooper's 'shuttle problem.' ( )

Late 1970's - Cooper/Ransone research company fails.( )

Late 1970's - Ransone lectures. (Maccabee - )

1980 - 'Interplanetary Network.' California. Valerie Jean Ransone. (MUFON Journal, December 1980, p.20.)

1982 - Ransone founds the Mai Kalani Foundation. (Lyra Ransone Facebook page.) Viewed in 2011, currently not on the public Facebook page.

1996 - Ransone publishes 'The Universal Intelligence Consortium:Conversations with an Interdimensional Correspondent on the Coming Earth Changes.' ( )

Image courtesy of Amazon Books

2011 - Ransone active on a forum dealing with the works of Nikola Tesla. ( ) Forum accessed 2011, but now longer on that site.

Finding Ransone

After writing the 2011 blog posts, I wondered if it was possible, to find out if Ransone was still alive, and if so, what she was currently doing? Via a combination of internet websites on genealogy; snippits on various Internet forums, and some 'out of the box thinking' on my behalf, I located Ransone still alive, and living in Hawaii.

I found:

1. A Facebook page in the name 'Lyra Ransone,' Ransone's full name being Valerie Jean Lyra Ransone. This Facebook page stated that this Ransone had studied at NorthWestern University and was from Kenilworth, Illinois, very close to Chicago in the USA. This information is consistent with that given by Vallee in 1978.)

Image courtesy of Facebook
In addition, the Facebook page at that stage, mentioned this Ransone was the President/Founder of the Mai Kalani Foundation, founded in 1982. A search for information on the Foundation revealed that its 'Mission Statement,' 'Is to contribute to world understanding through Transformational initiatives that enhance self-discovery, encourage open and direct contact with Universal Intelligence, and to develop and distribute well-researched educational materials that encourage life-long learning and reinforce a positive World view full of possibilities and promise.'

2. I found that a 'Lyra Ransone' had contributed to an American website forum, discussing the work of Nikola Tesla.

I was already aware, that in the 1970's, Gordon Cooper had looked into starting up a company using some of Tesla's ideas, according to Bruce Henderson, co-author of Cooper's book 'Leap of Faith.' Valerie was cited as Cooper's business partner in this venture.

Image courtesy of Amazon Books

I was therefore fairly certain that the 1970's and 1980's Valerie Ransone, was the same person as the 2010's Lyra Ransone. I therefore attempted to contact Lyra Ransone via snailmail; email; Facebook and the Tesla forum. I advised her that, I simply wanted to find out what she had been doing since the 1980's. I never received any response to any of my communications.

Enter Vallee 2016

I had not intended to write anything further about Ransone. However, just recently I received and read, a copy of Jacque Vallee's new book 'Forbidden Science Volume Three.' This book covers the time period 1980-1989, and fills in more gaps of our knowledge of Ransone.

There are several diary entries concerning Ransone.

1. 22 October 1980 p.52

'On my way through D.C. I spoke to Kit at length at the Marriott in Dulles. He told me that UFO contactee Valerie Ransone was in La Jolla after some sort of crisis.'

2. 22 February 1981 p.59

'Kit came to see me last night...Little has changed: news of contactee Valerie Ransone.'

3. 23 June 1985 p.189

Dr Richard Niemtzow. '...Richard went on to tell me about his activities with John Schuessler in Houston in the days when Valerie Ransone was stirring up ufology. "When we entered the offices of the organisation where she worked all phone conversations stopped; no documents were visible on the desks. We were asked about our research, and left with no new information, convinced the group worked for a clandestine outfit."'

4. 30 July 1989 pp 411-412

Richard Niemtzow. 'This lead us to a wide ranging discussion of the role of various agencies in the UFO business and we came to talk about Kit. Richard reminisced about the time when he and John Schuessler were almost 'recruited' by a woman who claimed to be working for a private investigation service in Houston. When they came to her office for a meeting about UFOs they found a dozen people working behind desks which were so neat and devoid of paperwork as if to seem unnatural, and they quickly came to a conclusion the whole thing was a setup.

"Was the woman named Valerie Ransone?" I asked Richard.

He seemed puzzled to find that I knew her and her operations.

"Did you ever find out who she was working for? he asked. I confessed that I did not.

"Schuessler tracked her down through his channels at McDonnell-Douglas. It turned out she was an agent for NRO, working with the Navy. Kit, who took care of her medically, once told me that she was amazing; she knew four times as many people as the both of us did."

I laughed at that" "She also looks a lot better than both of you guys." I pointed out. "A woman as beautiful and articulate as she was would have no difficulty being invited to lunch by any company president. That didn't necessarily mean she had access."

"There's something else Jacques. When I revealed to Kit, over lunch, that I knew her affiliations, he practically chocked on his food. He told me not to mention her again at the restaurant. I've only had that reaction from him twice in all the time I've known him."

5. 24 August 1988 (should be 1989) p.424

'Kit's involvement also appears in connection with Valerie Ransone. According to Niemtzow he was her medical handler. It is through her that Niemtzow met Kit; she put them in touch with each other...Then following the famous episode in which Schuessler and Niemtzow found themselves being recruited by Valerie's outfit in Houston.'

6. 17 September 1989 pp 435-436

'Speaking of trying to locate evidence of an active 'Black project." What about Valerie Ransone?'

7. 14 December 1989 p.468

Speaking of Kit. 'There are several burning questions I would like to put to Kit: Who was Valerie really working for?'


1. Presumably the NRO referred to in Vallee's diary entry dated 30 July 1989, is the National Reconnaisance Office. Its current website states that 'The NRO is the US government agency in charge of designing, building, launching and maintaining America's intelligence satellites.'

2. I have not been able to find out anything about the private investigation firm, Security Around the Globe.

3. I am aware of several researchers who have, in recent times, tried to communicate with Ransone. I have not heard of anyone who has been successful.

4. A check of Facebook, conducted on 21 September 2016, revealed that the 'Lyra Ransone' account is still active.

5. A check of the internet using various key words located only one piece of information which I had not found previously. Amazon books website revealed that they listed a work titled 'The Universal Intelligence Consortium: Conversations with an Interdimensional correspondent on the coming earth changes' authored by Valerie Jean Ransone, with a publication date of 1996.

Have any blog readers further information about Valerie Jean Lyra Ransone?

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