Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The 4 December 1980, Perth, radar/visual case - new data

Ray Brooke

In a previous post I mentioned the passing of South Australian UAP researcher Ray Brooke, and the fact that Ray's daughter Louise had given me some of Ray's UAP papers. Buried in these papers were details of the Perth radar/visual case of 4 December 1980, some of which I had never heard of before.


It turns out that five years after the event was briefly summarised in "The ACUFOS Bulletin" of January 1981, Peter Zehmeister of the group South-West UFO Research & Investigations (Tasmania) had quietly conducted an investigation into the incident. Ray Brooke had acquired a copy of Peter's investigation papers.

Media articles

One of the things which Peter had done, was to contact the West Australian Newspaper Limited and obtain relevant press clippings from them. namely:

1. The "West Australian" dated 5 December 1980.

"Mystery objects tracked.

Unidentified Flying Objects were tracked on radar at Perth airport yesterday. Air traffic Controllers made two or three visual sightings between 8am and 11am. Danielle Russell (12) of Jennings Way, Lockridge saw four objects moving quickly across the sky from north to south about 11am. She said "When I first  saw them through the lounge-room window I thought they were birds or a plane. They were changing colour from red, blue and green."

The Regional Director of transport, Mr Ellis Kell, said last night that the silver tumbling discs were tracked on radar at a height of more than  8000 metres until they disappeared at more than 20,000m.
There were no aircraft or weather balloons in the area to explain the sighting.

A spokesman at RAAF Pearce, Wing Commander Ian Lindsay, said last night that an object picked up by radar at the base between 1pm and 1.30pm turned out to be a weather balloon. It had been released after the airport sightings. A Macchi jet had gone up after Perth Airport reported the first sightings, but had seen nothing."

2. The "West Australian" dated 6 December 1980.

"Riddle of UFOs unsolved.

The mystery of the Unidentified Flying Objects that were seen and tracked on radar on Thursday may never be solved. The RAAF is handling the investigation but is concerned only with establishing that there were no aircraft or obvious objects such as weather balloons in its air space.

Two or three sightings of the objects were made at Perth Airport by air traffic controllers between 8am and 11am. They were tracked on radar at a height of more than 8000 metres till they disappeared at more than 20,000 metres. 

It has been established that there were no aircraft in the area. An RAAF spokesman said that the atmospheric conditions were unusual on Thursday and this could have accounted for the sightings."

3. The "Western Mail" dated 5 December 1980.

"Mystery objects baffle RAAF

Four unidentified flying objects, sighted over Perth, have the RAAF baffled. The UFOs were seen by Mr Graham Moyle, an air traffic controller at Perth Airport. And the Department of Transport confirmed that they had been tracked on radar from 8000 metres to 20,000 metres. Then they disappeared.

Wing Commander Ian Lindsay, Administrative staff officer at Pearce Air Base, said the RAAF had "eliminated all sequences of events" in their air space and could not account for the UFOs. They also sent up a Macchi jet after Perth Airport reported the first of three visual sightings. But the pilot saw nothing.

The airport sightings were made between 8am and 11am yesterday and a 12 year old girl also reported seeing four objects speed across the sky about 11am. Danielle Russell of Jennings Way, Lockridge said they were changing colour from red, blue and green. "At first I thought they were birds or a plane."

A spokesman for the Commonwealth Department of Transport in Perth said the objects may have disappeared from the radar screen at 20,000 metres after moving into a "cone of silence" a sort of radar blind spot, or because they were out of range of the equipment being used to track them. Or they might have just disappeared."

Air traffic control "daily journal"

Another item which Peter was able to secure was a copy of the Air Traffic Control "Daily Journal" which recorded details of events from that day. This was supplied to him by Duncan S. Asquith-Ellis, of the Department of Aviation, Perth Airport. 

2338 [GMT 3 Dec 1980 - KB]  UFO Reported by TWR. First sighted by RFF 15 min ago glinting in sun. Sighted by TWR. Radar had a paint for 5 mins (From 097 degrees/6nm -  into cone of silence of radar). Tower also lost sight of it then (5min ago). Radar estim G/s 120 kts in S/E direction (against wind). Painting quite clearly seen until cone of silence. PE FPO advised PR radar not yet manned. 

0330 [GMT 4 Dec 1980 - KB] Mrs? Russell 2796181 reported watching 4 discs "tumbling" and flashing in the sun.Moving from a very high posn near Lockridge moving towards PH AD. PE FPO will ask UFO Officer. PH radar reports 4 returns 045 degrees/5 PH AD moving SE 20 kts. Will check with PE App.

Lockridge and Perth Airport

0340 PH TWR sights 4 objects. Radar positions of 4 returns agrees with TWR sightings.

0405 PH radar advise the tracks taken by these 4 would be identical with 2338 sighting.

0422 Radar adv PE had return on QUAD radar 18nm due south of PE @ 26,000ft. TWR sighted an object vertically above Rwy 20 paralleling centreline to S. 5min later altitude now 72000 ft."

Pearce (in suburb of Bullsbrook) and Perth Airport
You need to know the following to be able to decipher parts of the above text:

All times are GMT. 

PH = Perth  AD = Aerodrome  PE = RAAF Pearce  FPO = Flight Planning Office  NM = Nautical mile  QUAD = Quadrant radar RFF = Fire fighting unit. 

Ground observers

On Friday 20 October 1985 Peter interviewed the Russells. His notes read as follows:

" Q1. Mrs Russell, I was wondering if you could tell me the events of 4 December 1980?
 A.  I was sitting in the lounge, and my daughter was looking out the lounge room window north towards Broome, and she said, what's that up in the sky, and we didn't take much notice of her, you know, we made the usual small remarks about  "Superman" and what not, and the look on her face was pretty intense so we looked  and sure enough there were these four objects there. And they seemed to b changing colour, they went from red, to green, but they were spinning you know, and as they were spinning the colours where they were catching the light or not, but the colours were changing. They actually did a ballet up there with very intricate passing and maneuvering. They were up there for quite some time.

I came in and phoned the airport, and they said they were tracking them. I phoned the airport and they phoned Pearce. Apparently  Pearce did have a plane up, but we did not hear any more about it, because the media chose to use my daughter's name. She was only twelve at the time. But apart from being told that they were tracking and they did have a plane up, nobody said yea, we saw it too. We have got a six foot wall around our home, we had a barbecue and we  watched them, for, it must have been for a good 2-3 minutes after I made the  phone call. But the strange thing about it was, that it was a beautiful day, it was not hot, everything was deadly quiet! There wasn't even a bird! No birds made any noise it was just no noise at all, everything seemed to stop.

Q2. Are there usually birds in the area?
A2. Oh yes, we are a part of the bush. There wasn't a sound. We all remarked on that.

Q3. What were the shapes of the objects?
A3. They were circular.

Q4 Did they seem to change shape at all?
A4. No, no change of shape at all, only this sort of a "ballet dance": and going round each other. It was very disciplined very disciplined. And at terrific speed, and then they sort of came over the house, and stopped above us. They just sort of stayed there, and we said we have got a boarding kennels for cats here and as I said oh perhaps they have some monkeys on board they want to drop off. They hovered there for about three or four seconds and then they went at terrific speed south. 

Q5. Was there any physical reaction at all?
A5 No, nothing.We were awed, just completely fascinated by this.

Q6. How did you feel when all this was going on?
A6. Ah, we were interested and fascinated,but no displacement, we talked about it a lot afterward. No we did not have any adverse effects at all. I always said I was a skeptic, from seeing that I definitely agree that there was something.

Q7. So obviously you have not seen anything like this before?
A7. No, but about six or seven months later we were at the drive in and this thing hovered around the screen and shot off north. But that particular road is known for that sort of thing, there is always sightings there.

Q8. What actually caught your attention to these craft in the first place?
A8. Just my daughter looking out the window, she just looked up and said what that up in the sky? We didn't rush but we eventually looked out the window and they they were. It couldn't have been a plane coming down from the north because there were four of them to start with and it was the change in colour in them all the time, they were silver, green, red, blue and they were spinning, they seemed to be spinning.

Q9. Do you think there may have been an aura or blurry layer around these craft?
A9. No., They were very high and were very sharp in my vision. They really stood out. The sky was completely blue. There were no clouds. They were definite object up there. They left across us to the south. They came from the north and went south. North would be Broome. Then I rang the tower, all they said is that they were tracking, that they had picked up some interference and that they would phone Pearce. Danielle is here now, she's 17 now and she may be able to tell you some more.

Q. Can you remember what happened on the morning of Dec 4 1980?
A. I was sitting on the couch, and I looked out of the window and i said to my mum and sister what's that in the sky? And they started cracking jokes and everything and I said no, there is something up there. It's not a plane and they looked and then we all went outside. I was about 12 at the time.

Q. Could you be able to describe what you actually saw on the morning?
A. There were our or five of them. There was one in the middle and the rest were around him. They were all changing colours and going from the outside into the middle to where the other one was and coming back out again. They were sort of dancing all the time.

Q. Did they conform to any shape at all? In their maneuvers.
A. No really, there was one in the middle and the rest were dancing around him.

Q. So there was one stationary craft and the rest were dancing around him?
A. Yes."

Other sightings

Peter was able to retrieve details of other reported sightings for the relevant time period. These were:

3 Dec 1980 Wanneroo 1955hrs
Oval, brilliant white light fluctuating to grey. 2 miles east of Lanejandabup. Middle ring rotating around main body. Shining red, blue, green, flashing light causing eye strain. Seen for 20  minutes. Airliner to south-east.

4 Dec 1980 Lockridge 1035hrs
Danielle (12) saw four objects changing colour red, blue, green, rapidly from north to south.

4 Dec 1980 Burrendah 1120-1130hrs
Mrs M Gamble saw brilliant white object, oval in shape with a "dart" on top. Stopped in flight. Quivered. Rose up quickly then descended.Disappeared low to the south.

4 Dec 1980 Kelmscott 2035hrs
S Chiverton saw a red ball of light south of Kelm. Moving slowly, then hovered about 90ft above power lines near a small lake.

5 Dec 1980 Lesmurdie 1915-1930hrs
Five objects in an inverted v formation appeared to be observing a jumbo jet approaching Perth Airport. Then four left, one stationary. Took up positions around the jet. Moved into straight line, then formed 2 different v formations with the previously stationary object. 

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