Thursday, July 20, 2017

National Library of Australia's PANDORA Project

PANDORA is the name of a digital archive, originally established by the National Library of Australia (NLA) in 1996. Today, it is a collaboration between the NLA and nine other Australian libraries and cultural collection agencies.

PANDORA is short for Preserving and Accessing Networked Documentary Resources of Australia. It is dedicated to the preserving of, and long term access to, Australian online electronic websites. Its aim is to preserve a selective collection of documents about the cultural, social, and political life, and activities of Australians.

Accessing the PANDORA website you will find a listing of subjects, e.g. arts, media, sciences; a 'complete listing of titles,' or you can search the titles alphabetically.

Naturally, I decided to search under 'U' to see what sources are devoted to the topic of this blog. I found:

1. UFO Research Queensland Inc.

'UFO Research Queensland Inc was selected for preservation by the State Library of Queensland. This title was not selected for re-archiving.'

Archived 21 October 2015.

2.  UFOs - Scientific Research. (Blog of Keith Basterfield.)

'UFOs - Scientific Research was selected for preservation by the National Library of Australia. This title is scheduled to be re-archived regularly.'

Archived 7 February 2014; 10 February 2015; 10 February 2016; 10 February 2017.

3. (Website of Alan Ferguson.)

' was selected for preservation by the National Library of Australia. This title is scheduled to be re-archived regularly.'

Archived 18 December 2015.

These are the only three UFO related websites listed under 'U.' However, if you use the search engine with a variety of other keyword,s the following sites also appear, as archived by PANDORA.

4. Australian UFO Research Network - archived 4 August 2008; 4 August 2009; 26 August 2011; 26 August 2013.

5. The UFO and Paranormal Research Society of Australia - archived 7 October 2016.

6. Eidolon Paranormal - archived 7 December 2011; 19 December 2012.

7. Weird Australia - archived 16 March 2015; 16 March 2016; 16 March 2017.

8. David Reneke's World of Space and Astronomy - archived 4 April 2014; 4 April 2015; 4 April 2016; 4 April 2017.

9. The Secret Visitors Project - archived 20 August 2015; 20 August 2016.

It is nice to know that websites dedicated wholly, or partly, to our subject are being archived and preserved by the National Library of Australia,

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Brilliant fireball over South Australia - 30 June 2017

At about 2356hrs local time (UTC plus 9.5hrs) on 30 June 2017,  a brilliant fireball (meteor) exploded over South Australia. Some Facebook sites are claiming it was a UFO.

Media reports

It was initially reported in the Adelaide media as having been observed from a number of Adelaide suburbs, and also in other places in South Australia. It was visible to the north-west.

Later media reports, indicated that it had been seen from places as far apart as Tanunda, and Riverton, in the mid-north of South Australia, and also across the Eyre peninsula, from locations which included Elliston; Port Lincoln; Whyalla and Streaky Bay. The Port Lincoln Times of 3 July 2017 carried this account which included security camera footage.


On the Eyre Peninsula, it was described as lighting up the night sky as if it were daylight. In colour it was said to have been an 'orange fireball.'

At Streaky Bay, resident Luke Sidler reported 'hearing a hissing sound' which seems to me, to fit in with  this being an electrophonic sound. Other residents stated that the duration of the event was only a few seconds; and that a few minutes after it had disappeared there were 'thunder-like' rumbling sounds heard, which would indicate a sonic boom.

Interestingly, Luke Sidler is also quoted as saying that he felt 'an impact,' 'it moved us off our deck chairs' and that one of his children in a campervan fell out of bed.

Other residents on the Eyre Peninsula reported that windows rattled, and shook.

Teresa Gameau of Koppio Hills reportedly said 'we could smell what smelled like burning sparklers.'

A camera belonging to the Desert Fireball Network, located at Mt. Ives, south of Lake Gairdner, South Australia captured an image of the fireball.  The fireball was also captured on a number of dash cams and home security cameras. 

Fireball over the eastern states

This South Australian fireball in June 2017, follows another very bright meteor seen over North Eastern New South Wales, and South-Eastern Queensland, around 1800hrs local time (UTC +10hrs) on 16 April 2017. As with the South Australian fireball, this 16 April eastern states fireball is reported to have caused sonic booms and vibrated houses.

Both fireball meteors led to much ill informed speculation on Facebook pages about them being UFOs.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Joint Intelligence Organisation; satellite re-entries, and UAP


On 26 May 1981, G A Perske, Group Captain, Directorate of Air Force Intelligence and Security (DAFIS), Department of Defence, wrote a memo to the Directorate of Chief of Air Staff. The title of the memo was 'Investigation of Unusual Aerial Sightings (UAS).'

Paragraph 6 is of interest to me, as it reads:

'6. The only advantage I see in retaining UAS investigation responsibilities are:

a. it allows a security oversight of unusual events which, on the odd occasion, may have some military implication;

b. it provides 'cover' if we wish to investigate some incident, not necessarily related , in more detail; and 

c. it provides some minor PR advantages (questionable) to the RAAF.'

(Source: NAA file series A703, control symbol 554/1/30 part 3.)

I always wondered what paragraph 6b meant. Now I think I know.

Chinese launch failure

On 12 January 1981 the then Director of the Joint Intelligence Organisation, A W McMichael, forwarded a three page 'Confidential' minute to R N Hamilton, First Assistant Secretary, Strategic & International Policy Division. (Source: NAA file series A4090, control symbol 529/1/16 part 1. )

Paragraph 11 of this minute reads:

'The Missiles, Space and Electronic Section of the Defence Scientific and Technical Intelligence Branch JIO, maintain a link with DAFIS, and often, we are able to isolate and identify space objects re-entering the earth's atmosphere over Australia. The RAAF's routine procedures for investigating Unusual Aerial Sightings were extremely valuable in the field investigations associated with the Chinese satellite launch failure and subsequent re-entry in July 1979.'

Here then, we have evidence that JIO conducted field investigations of fallen satellites/rockets, and the implied reason was the possible retrieval, and examination, of such material for intelligence value, similar to the USAF 'Moondust' retrieval system.

Other retrievals?

If the JIO used UAS observations in July 1979, searching for clues as to where the re-entering debris may have landed (debris from the US Skylab fell, and was retrieved, in Western Australia also, in July 1979) are there any other mentions of similar things in the UAP literature?

On page 400 of the book,'UFOs and Government,' Bill Chalker wrote:

Image courtesy of Amazon Books

'The JIO maintained a secret 'BOLIDE' file which seemed to be anchored to the premise that UFOs could involve the chance of retrieval of secret hardware and therefore contribute some useful intelligence.

It appeared JIO had a rapid intervention capability, as they were able to institute prompt widespread ground searches in suspected hardware crashes. They did this through special access channels. A specific example occurred in October 1979, when reports of a fireball over the Esperance area of Western Australia had JIO's DSTI Branch investigate "through special access channels a search over a 1,500 nautical miles radius of Esperance and covering the time frame of the reported sightings, but with zero results."'

Destroyed sightings files

Unfortunately, we no longer have access to the RAAF's UAS sightings files for 1979. In 2004, an FOI Officer for the Department of Defence advised me that the Department had destroyed (consistent with  Archive regulations) file series AF 529/1/3 and AF 84/3265 part 1. These covered the years 1974 to 1982. Therefore, I have been unable to check UAS sightings for the months of July and October 1979 to see what reports may have been made.

That Chinese launch failure

I forwarded a query to Ted Molczan, an amateur expert on satellite re-entries, who lives in Canada, and asked him if he had any information concerning a Chinese launch failure in July 1979. Ted responded:

'The Chinese satellite launch failure in question occurred in late July 1979. The launch vehicle was a Feng Bao 1 rocket. It carried three scientific satellites.

Jonathan McDowell's launch log reports the launch time as 1979 July 27 21:28 UTC, but over the years he has seen dates of July 27, 28 and 30, and he is not confident that we know the correct date. I am not certain that we can trust the launch time either, because it happens to be the nearly identical to that of the replacement launch on 1981 Sep 19. It's not clear that there was an operational requirement to launch at that time, so the coincidence seems unlikely, leading me to question whether someone mistakenly assigned the time of the replacement launch to the failed launch.

Despite the uncertain date and time, it is plausible for the vehicle to have descended over Australia. The launch was from Jiuquan, near 40.9581 N, 100.2912 E. The intended orbit is unknown; however, it is reasonable assume that it was similar to that of the replacement launch: 59.5 deg, 233 X 1595 km. The launch azimuth would have been approximately 140 deg, which would have passed over the Gulf of Carpentaria, headed toward Queensland and New South Wales, on a track parallel to the NE coast of Australia, roughly 1,000 kilometres in-land.

If any details of the Australian UFO sighting(s) are found, I would be pleased to attempt to verify the correlation with the failed launch.'

Another piece in the puzzle

This information, especially the track over Queensland, may link in to another piece of the puzzle.

Melbourne researcher Paul Dean, obtained, under the FOI Act, the release of background Department of Defence/RAAF papers concerning the cancellation of Australia's longstanding UFO policy (click here, here, here and here, for Paul's four part blog series.)

Part of his work provided an extract from an Australian government document, which in part read:

Imges courtesy of Paul Dean

'4 (S) In the past, responsibility for UAS has allowed (redacted words) acting on (redacted words) to locate pieces of space junk of high intelligence interest. The most recent example known to me occurred in the late 1970's/early 80's when a RAAF SQLDR was despatched at short notice to central Queensland on the lookout for pieces of (redacted words) that failed to achieve its correct trajectory. This work may become relatively more important in future if regional nations move to develop and acquire medium and long range SSMs.'

It seems reasonable to conclude that this Queensland recovery attempt, was in fact of the July 1979 failed Chinese launch.

Esperance October 1979

If we acknowledge that there was a search for a failed Chinese launch in Queensland in July 1979, what of Bill Chalker's information about something re-entering over Esperance in October 1979?

I took a look at Ted Molczan's list of 'Visually observed Natural Re-entries of Earth Satellites.'
to see if I could locate any information on an October 1979 event. There was only one listed:

5 October 1979 at 0732UTC. SSN11562, Russia, Ekran4r. Type R Model 85812.

This re-entry however, was not over Australia, but over Canada. So this doesn't match Esperance, Western Australia. Checking further I did find that the very next entry indicated a re-entry over Esperance. The date was 11 June 1980 at 1157UTC, when SSN11828, Russia, Cosmos 1185r, type R, model 15510 was seen over both Esperance and Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. (Source: NAA Bureau of Meteorology file PP956/1/45/38, pp10-13; 40-45.) Could Bill's date be incorrect?

Have we located any JIO files which could be the JIO 'BOLIDE' file?

Researcher Paul Dean came up with one ingenious idea to find such a file. After I located a JIB/JIO NAA file JIO63, control symbol 3092/2 titled 'Scientific Intelligence - General - Unidentified Flying Objects,' date range 1957-1971, Paul approached the Department of Defence and asked them for a listing of files held by the JIO, which had a file number similar to 3092/2. His reasoning was that if they opened a file on UFOs, maybe they opened a file on satellite re-entry retrievals.

After a while, the JIO responded to Paul's query and provided a list of such files. Interestingly, JIO file 3092/3 was titled 'Space Rockets and Earth Satellites' with a date range of 1958-1971. Paul immediately asked that this file be examined and made available to him. That was two years ago, and he is still waiting.

Meanwhile, a search of the NAA revealed another possibility. NAA file series A9737, control symbol 1990/1755 Part 1 is titled 'Outer Space Uncontrolled Re Entry of  Satellites and Other Space vehicles' but originates not with the JIO but with the Department of Foreign Affairs. It contains information about the known re-entry of Cosmos 1402. So, this file was of no real assistance.

So, to date, we can say that no civilian researcher has located the JIO Bolide file.

Did researchers get it wrong?

After reading about the JIO interest in the retrieval of downed satellites, I wondered if UAP researchers had got it wrong about certain UAP cases? Perhaps some JIO retrievals have been written off by UAP researchers as UAP?

I therefore reviewed Bill Chalker's list of alleged 'UFO crashes' in Australia

I found two possibilities:

1. '1983 - Coen - Qld - probable meteorite (letter to editor alleging retrieval operation involved.)'

2. Ca. 1977. A purple/green fireball was seen to crash near the South Australian/Western Australia border. Retrieval team sent. Large damaged object. Two men entered the object. Occupants seen.

Could these have been 'cover' stories about a JIO re-entry retrieval?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Can the 'Sea Fury' case Joint Intelligence Bureau files be found?

Recently, an Adelaide researcher conducted a 'Cold case' review of the 31 August 1954, Australian 'Sea Fury' incident.

When I was examining some of the background information about this fascinating sighting, I was reminded that, although we have copies of two Navy files on the incident (NAA file series MP926/1, control symbol 3079/101/1 and SP338/3, control symbol 13/4/10;) that the Joint Intelligence Bureau (JIB) files, have never been seen by UAP researchers. Although, I have made previous attempts to locate these missing files, I was unsuccessful. However, I have decided that it is worth one final effort.

Letter to the Minister of Defence

So, I have despatched the following letter by registered snail mail.

'Senator the Hon Marise Payne
Minister for Defence
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Minister,

In 1991, Ken Llewellyn, then Public Relations Officer for the RAAF, authored a book titled 'Flight Into the Ages' (Felspin, NSW.) In it, inter alia, he discussed a number of sightings of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. One of these sightings was an alleged observation of two 'unknowns' by an Australian Navy pilot, Lt James Aloysius O'Farrell, near Goulburn, NSW, on 31 August 1954. In his book, Llewellyn states that, the then Secretary of the Department of Defence, Sir Arthur Tange, made available to O'Farrell, two DOD Joint Intelligence Bureau files, on the sighting.

In addition, the RAN 'Navy News', dated 9 March 1984 page 4, in an article about O'Farrell, included the words 'The Joint Intelligence Organisation holds a file on this sighting.'

These two JIB/JIO/DIO files are not in the National Archives of Australia.

The purpose of this letter is to ask:

(a) If the DOD currently retains JIB/JIO/DIO files about this 1954 sighting?

(b) If so, may I, either obtain a digital copies of them, or failing that, can the files be forwarded to the National Archives of Australia for retention and reviewed for release through them.

There is a precedent for release of JIB UAP files to me. In 2008, the then Minister for Defence arranged the release of a JIO files, JIO63, 3092/2/000, titled 'Scientific Intelligence-General-Unidentified Flying Objects' with a date range of 1957-1971. There was nothing on this file concerning the 1954 sighting.

Thank you for your response.'

The process of obtaining the previous JIO file took two years. Naturally, it may turn out that the current DIO no longer holds the relevant files. After all, they would now be 63 years old.

Comments on the 2017 paper
A number of people have responded to the anonymously authored Adelaide researcher's 2017 'Cold case' review paper, by way of private emails to me. I have passed all of these comments on to the paper's author. The consensus so far, is that while the hypothesis about Sabre jet fighters being involved, is possible; that it is not very likely. However, one of the purposes of conducting 'Cold case' reviews, is to generate peer discussion, based on an intelligent review of the data presented. The paper has certainly achieved this aim.
1. For a complete listing of Australian government files concerning UAP, click here.

2. Update. 4 July 2017. Bill Chalker has pointed out to me, that the Llewellyn book does not in fact say anything about the two JIB files. The information about O'Farrell and the JIB files instead came from an interview between Bill and O'Farrell. I wish to correct this here.

Defence Science and Technology Organisation records on UAP - part four


This post continues my report on the contents of a newly available Australian government UAP file. I am providing a folio by folio description, plus comments to place the documentation into context.

A query to the Chief Defence Scientist

Folio 143 and 144

143. A memo dated 14 January 1981 from R N Hamilton (FAS SIP) to the Chief Defence Scientist (CDS), titled 'Investigation of  Unusual Aerial Sightings in Australia' forwarded folios 140-142.

Hamilton sought guidance from the CDS as to whether UAP responsibilities should be identified more clearly; more predictable procedures should be initiated; whether the DSTO should be assisting in any way, and whether DSTO should have some role in the matters to be investigated or should even be in the investigation itself?

144. Dated 16 January 1981, George E Barlow, then acting CDS, DSTO, wrote back to FAS SIP. Barlow acknowledged that there was a small core of unexplained UAP, especially those involving physical traces. He also stated that two former CDS, namely H A Wills and Dr J L Farrands had an interest in the physical cases of the reported phenomena. However, he ended by saying that "Staff ceilings and financial restrictions intervened...'  

There is an intriguing handwritten note on the bottom of folio 144:

'Original held by Ross Thomas. FASSIP commented What I have established is a record of 'studied neglect.' "What the hell do I do?! Subsequently he discussed with Paul Dibb and matter finally left with Ross T to raise sometime with Military Space Cmtee.' 3/6/81.


1. This 1981 memo is an important one in that it shows that the matter of who should be investigating UAP, was taken up right to the level of the DSTO Chief Defence Scientist.

2. The FAS SIP appears to refer to the First Assistant Secretary, Strategic and International Policy Division.

Folio 145

Press clippings including 'Beating off the space invaders is proving costly.' ('Weekend Australian' 9-10 May 1981.)

Folio 147

Hand drawn flow chart, showing possible flow of investigation of scientific interest reports, via the Department of Supply.

Folio 148

Handwritten chart of possible CSIRO assistance to WRE and DSL.

Folio 149

One sheet typed list of books on UFOs for 'Library requirements.'

Folios 150 to 157

Blank Unusual Aerial Sightings forms.

Folios 158 to 160

'Suggested amendment to RAAF (DAFI) form issued under Operational Command ASI 3/A/5.'

Folios 161 to 162

Undated, unauthored two pages of a four phase plan for 'possible action.'

The four phase plan

Folios 163 and 164

An undated, unsigned memo to the Secretary, DOA, from Secretary, DOD, titled 'Unidentified Flying Objects.' The memo included:

'With reference to RAAF responsibility for the investigation of UFO reports, we wish to discuss the possibility of arranging prompt scientific investigations of selected cases that are amenable to scientific study.'

Folios 165 to 185

Data on various aspects of UAP, prepared, listing case after case from UAP literature.


This material is also to be found on JIO file 3092/2/000.

JIO file cover

An overall view of the new file

Thanks to the excellent, earlier work by Sydney based researcher Bill Chalker, and his interviews with Harry Turner, and others, we have long known about some of the material on this file, even though the file itself has only just been released. 

However, what we have now, are public copies of official Australian government documents, which, confirm, and build upon, Bill's earlier work. 

In addition, the documents on this file provide previously undisclosed aspects of the internal thinking of individuals who worked for the DST and DSTI (JIB) areas of the Department of Defence, as regards UAP.

The discovery, and contents, of this file are of the utmost importance to our understanding of the approach taken by areas of the Australian government about UAP.

I urge my Australian colleagues to spend some time in the National Archives of Australia, conducting their own research into this area. There may be other material still lying dormant. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

The three phases of interest by intelligence and scientific areas of the Australian Department of Defence


My examination of the newly available National Archives of Australia (NAA) file series A4090, control symbol 529/1/16 Part 1, titled 'DSTO records of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena,'  combined with the earlier comprehensive work of Sydney based researcher Bill Chalker, has now given us a detailed look into the intelligence and scientific interest about UAP, within the Australian Department of Defence, in the period 1968 to 1981.

Front cover of file

Three phases

I now see three phases of this interest:

1. 1968-1970. The idea of a Departmental 'rapid investigation team.'

2. 1971. The idea that UAP investigations be moved from the RAAF to the Department of Supply. (On 10 October 2010, I published a blog post about what we then knew about the Department of Supply's UAP interests.)

These two phases were described by Bill Chalker in his review chapter ('The Australian Military and the Official Government Response') in the book 'UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry' (2012. Swords, Powell et al. Anomalist Books. San Antonio, Texas.)  Both phases were directly initiated by Australian physicist Harry Turner.

Third phase

A third phase is revealed in public documents now available on NAA file series A4090, control symbol 529/1/16 Part 1, which were not detailed in 'UFOs and Government.'

Document one

On 12 January 1981, the then Director of the Joint Intelligence Organisation (JIO), Department of Defence; A W McMichael, forwarded a three page 'Confidential' minute to the First Assistant Secretary, Strategic and International Policy Division, R N Hamilton, Department of Defence.

'You asked for an outline of the principles and procedures which govern UFO sightings in Australia.

2. This note outlines briefly JIO understanding of policy and procedures for the investigation of unusual aerial sightings (i.e. UFO reports) in Australia.

Origins of Australian Investigation

3. In the early 1950's, at a time of Public U.S. concern about UFOs, the U S Air Attaché in Australia asked for copies of any Australian UFO sighting reports, but this concern was not sustained.

4. Later, in 1954, parliamentary queries about the defence significance of such sightings led to the Department of Air setting up a formal system of investigation managed within RAAF.


5. There are effectively two types of interest in unusual aerial sightings:
(a) the defence interest in the possibility of an intrusion of military significance; and
(b) the scientific interest in unusual phenomena.

6. By the time the RAAF set up its systems in 1954, the Americans had concluded that there were no grounds for associating unexplained sightings with foreign military - i.e. Soviet activity. We have evidence of continued US scientific interest in unexplained phenomena - much of it classified - but after the direct military interest was judged to be minimal the USAF public attitude became one largely of minimising the importance of unidentified aerial sightings. This also became the general view held in RAAF.

7. In 1971 the matter was examined by DSTO and by JIO Scientific and Technical Intelligence, and some thought was given to transferring the responsibility for examination  of reports from the Department of Air to scientists in the Department of Defence. The transfer did not eventuate, however the then D JIO did not see the investigation of Australian phenomena a JIO responsibility. (Nor do I quite frankly.) However, informal liaison and assistance continues to be provided by JIO when sought by RAAF.


8. Present RAAF practice is to designate an officer at each RAAF base as responsible for the investigation of reports of unidentified aerial sightings which are brought to RAAF attention. The task is additional to the officer's normal duties and can only be described as a marginal responsibility. As a rule the RAAF does not itself take the initiative to pursue sightings, e.g. press reports.

9. The difficulties which RAAF faces in dealing with reports can be readily imagined; many are vague and unsubstantiated, and from witnesses of widely varying reliability. Given the limited military interest, and the other pressures on the investigating officers, there is, as we understand it, no attempt at exhaustive examination, beyond eliminating likelihood of a practical military or aviation interest.

10. Where possible or judged important, the RAAF investigating officer visits the observer at the site of the sighting to complete Part I of the attached Unusual Aerial Sightings report. On returning to the RAAF station the investigating officer completes Part II of the Report and finally makes an evaluation of the possible cause of the sighting in Part 3. This evaluation is conveyed to the observer, and the completed Unusual Aerial Sightings Report is forwarded, to the Directorate of Air Force Intelligence and Security (DAFIS.) DAFIS maintains a chronological file of all Unusual Aerial Sightings Reports but they do not initiate any follow up action unless requested by another division within the Department.

11. The Missiles, Space and Electronics Section in the Defence Scientific and Technical Intelligence Branch JIO maintain a link with DAFIS, and often, we are able to isolate and identify space objects re-entering the earth's atmosphere over Australia. The RAAF's routine procedures for investigating Unusual Aerial Sightings were extremely valuable in the field investigations associated with the Chinese satellite launch failure and subsequent re-entry in July 1979.

12. The press cutting from "People" dated 10 December 1980 was he work of freelance journalist John Pinkney, founder of Australia's UFO Research Society. He also has a column or so in such journals as "Australasian Post" and the recently introduced "Omega." You may recall that "Omega" carried a Brian Toohey article entitled "Nuclear Terror: Australia's Secret Role" featuring a double page coloured photograph of Pine Gap. John Pinkney's thesis, developed along with other "crackpot" theories in his book "Alien Honeycomb" (Pan Paperback, $3.90) published in June 1980, is the existence of a conspiracy between the Australian and American governments (RAAF/Defence - Pentagon etc) for a mass cover-up of Unidentified Flying Objects.

13. I hope that the above meets your requirements.'

(Source of the above are folios 140-142. Citing an internal file reference of 4/794.)

Document two

On 14 January 1981, R N Hamilton, First Assistant Secretary, Strategic and International Policy Division, DOD, wrote a 'Restricted' one page minute, titled 'Investigation of Unusual Aerial Sightings in Australia' addressed to CDS (Chief Defence Scientist) DOD.

'I asked DJIO recently to give me an outline of the principles and procedures governing the Defence interest in and response to UFO sightings in Australia. I had in mind initiating this enquiry that in all likelihood there would be no response to such sightings - other than by crackpots - unless conducted or at least initiated by this Department.

2. DJIO has responded and I attach a copy of that response dated 12 January 1981.

3. I have to conclude on the limited advice contained in DJIO's minute that the responsibility for examining UFO reports is in fact nowhere near clear in the sense that RAAF do not hold it to be important or binding upon them or upon the officers to whom they delegate.

4. I don't think that the matter falls within the normal spread of SIP responsibilities. It does occur to me, however, that it cannot be entirely without interest to DSTO.

5. May I invite you to read DJIO's minute to me and make your own decision on whether you feel that:

a. responsibilities should be identified more clearly;
b. more predictable procedures should be introduced;
c. DSTO should be associated in any way with the development of a. and b; and
d. DSTO should have some role in the identification of matters to be investigated or even in the investigation itself.'

(Source of the above is folio 143. No internal file reference cited.)

Document three

On 16 January 1981, G E Barlow, acting Chief Defence Scientist, replied to FASSIP in a 'Restricted' minute, titled 'Investigation of Unusual Aerial Sightings.'

'Thank you for the reference, which raise a matter which has been discussed with DSTO from time to time. Two previous Chief Defence Scientists took an interest in the physical bases of the reported phenomena ( Mr H A Wills and Dr J L Farrands) and DSTO was involved with JIO in the design of the form attached to your minute.

2. In culling the forms held by RAAF, there remains a small core of reports which are competently reported, and cannot be readily ascribed to astronomical objects, artificial satellite re-entry or meteorological/optical phenomena.

3. The most interesting of these are those which leave physical evidence, which most frequently consists of burnt or flattened vegetation. In more affluent days, DSTO had proposed one or two 'flying squads' equipped with magnetometers, radiation counters etc. to try and capture some hard-core evidence.

4. Unfortunately, staff ceilings and financial restrictions intervened, and that situation still persists a fortiori.'

On this minute there is a handwritten note which reads:

'Original held by Ross Thomas. FASSIP commented - What I have established is record of 'studied neglect.' "What the hell do I do?!" Subsequently discussed with Paul Dibb and matter finally left with Ross T. to raise sometime with Military Space Cttee.' (illegible initials) 3/6/81.'

(Source for the above is folio 144, citing reference DST 529/1/16 CDS 13/81.)


1. None of this 1981 material mentions Harry Turner, whose work lay behind phases 1 and 2. When the Disclosure Australia Project interviewed Turner, he advised the Project, that he left JIO in 1984, hence he was still in the area in 1981.

2. It remains unclear to me, why R N Hamilton, FASSIP, DOD, asked for a report on the subject.

3. Named players in all this were:

When the Disclosure Australia Project interviewed Harry Turner in 2004, Turner advised that George Barlow, of Defence Science and Technology was one of the individuals involved in development of the proposed rapid investigation team. (Source: Newsletter 16 of the Project, dated September 2004.)
'George Barlow was the number two man in Defence Science. He had an intellectual interest in the subject of UFOs and had read on the subject. He thought there was something to it which needed to be investigated.'

On page 397 of 'UFOs and Government,' Bill Chalker notes (in respect to the rapid investigation team concept) 'George Barlow of Defence Science and Technology (DST) had also offered the help of his group.Barlow passed away in 2005.

Page 397 of 'UFOs and Government' states 'Turner indicated that Arthur Wills, then Chief Defence Scientist, "had agreed to this' (referring to the rapid investigation team concept.) An Internet search revealed that Wills was Chief Defence Scientist between 1968 and 1971. Wills passed away in 1989.

Was the CDS between 1971 and 1977. In discussing the 31 August 1954 Sea Fury incident, Bill Chalker (1996. 'The Oz Files.' Duffy & Snelgrove. Potts Point, NSW, p85) states 'O'Farrell told me that Dr John Farrands, Australia's Chief Defence Scientist, had been equally impressed when the reviewed the case.' Bill interviewed Farrands (Oz Files p232.) Farrands passed away in 1996.

Was Director Joint Intelligence Bureau between 1968 and 1969, and Director, JIO between 1978 and 1982. I found very little other information on the Internet about him.

Internet research indicates that the Paul Dibb mentioned is Emeritus Professor Paul Dibb, AM. He was previously Deputy Secretary of the Department of Defence (1989); Director of the Defence Intelligence Organisation, and head of the National Assessments Staff. Also Director JIO between November 1986 and December 1988.

Chapter three of 'Geography, Power, Strategy & Defence Policy: Essays in honour of Paul Dibb' (2016. Australian National University Press. Canberra) indicates that in 1981 Dibb had an unspecified position within JIO.

Melbourne researcher Paul Dean located two digitised JIO files in the NAA. One of them, NAA file series A1838, control symbol 668/11/1/2 Part 1 titled 'Joint Intelligence Organisation [JIO] 0 ONA - Office of Current Intelligence paper' reveals that in February 1977, Paul Dibb was acting head of the Office of Current Intelligence.

I located Paul Dibb, still alive, at the Australian National University in Canberra. I sent him an email, together with a copy of folio 144 which mentioned his name. I enquired as to his recollections of the UAP events of that era in 1981. His response email was short, and read 'I am now almost 78 years old and I have no recollection at all of the issues you raise.'

An Internet search found some words by him on a school site. In it Thomas writes that he worked in the JIO and later Strategic and International Policy of the Department of Defence. He left Defence in early 2000, and was at the time of writing, in semi-retirement in Brisbane. I am attempting to locate if he is still alive with the purpose of interviewing him about UAP matters.

R N Hamilton

Was First Assistant Secretary, Strategic & International Policy Division, DOD, in 1981. I have found little information during an Internet search. I am unaware if he is still alive.

Further notes

Although there are a couple of previously unknown internal file references provided by documents on this file, i.e.

1. CDS 13/81 (Folio 144, DST 529/1/16;)
2. 4/794 (Folios 140-142 DST 529/1/16)

a viewing of the NAA's RecordSearch database, found not trace of any relevant files associated with these numbers. However, a reasonable deduction is that somewhere there is a file (or series of files) used by the Chief Defence Scientist with  copies of correspondence relevant to UAP. In addition, it is possible also, that further files may have been held by the current DIO (renamed from JIO). Whether such files exist today, is not known. 

In summary

Now we have internal documents, from both the Intelligence and Science areas of the Department of Defence, which relate to UAP. One question remains, and that is, are there further Australian government UAP documents in existence which we have not previously seen?

Bill Chalker has just published a blog post which reveals that the answer to this is yes. He has held these documents for many years, and has just released images of them.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Defence Science and Technology Organisation records on UAP - part three


This post continues my report on the contents of a newly available Australian government UAP file. I am providing a folio by folio description, plus comments to place the documentation into context.

Folios 69 to 103

Copies of the Department of Air's annual summaries of explanations for UAS, between 1960 and 1971.

Folios 104 and 105

A two page internal DOD minute, subject UFOs, dated 27 July 1971 from R S Royston, Gp Capt DAFI, to S/Air/SS. It provides background to the discussion re the Department of Supply interest.


This minute is previously known from RAAF file 554/1/30 (67.)

Folio 106

A one page memo, dated 5 August 1971, from DOA, Canberra to Mr S T M Johnstone, Defence Science Division, attaching folios 104 and 105.

The memo


1. This is a reply from DAFI/DOA re the DOS idea.
2. SAIRSS is R Cartwright, DOA.

Folios 107 and 108

An article from 'Pix' magazine dated 25 December 1971, pp8-9, titled 'UFos own the world.'

Inquries in the United Kingdom

Folios 109

Is a letter dated 27 January 1972 to Commodore J W McClure, RAN, DST representative in London, from S T M Johnstone, Attached are folios 107 and 108. It asks about the alleged statements attributed to Dr Fred Hoyle.

Folio 110

Appears to be a sample UK government letter to a witness of a sighting.

Folio 111

Appears to be a sample of a UK government letter to someone who asks about UFOs.

Folios 112 and 113

Appears to be a blank UF UFO report form.

Folios 114

Appears to be a table showing UFO sighting stats for the UK 1 January 1959 to 31 December 1971.

Folio 115

Is a response to folio 109, dated 15 June 1972. It includes the following text. 'The officers at MOD are naturally reluctant to show much public interest but a good deal of cataloguing and quiet investigation takes place.'

Folios 116 to 120

Articles from the UFO Subcommittee of the US AIAA organisation.

Folios 121 and 122

A two page memo from Commodore J W McClure in London, to S T M Johnstone, dated 16 November 1972. It describes the UK government's UFO process, and this explains why folios 110 to 114 are on this file.

J Allen Hynek

Folios 123 to 125

A three page article from the magazine 'New Scientist' dated 17 May 1973 titled 'The man who spoke out on UFOs.' It is an article about Professor J Allen Hynek.


In August 1973 Hynek was in Australia and together with Dr M Duggin and Harry Turner, met with DAFI on 24 August 1973. Was someone gathering background material on Hynek prior to his visit here?

Folios 126 to 127

A two page letter from J Allen Hynek, to the Editors of 'Physics Today' dated 15 February 1971.

Folios 128 to 129

A two page letter from the Minister assisting the Minister for Defence to a 'Richard' who had asked the DOD for information on UFOs.

Folios 130 to 133

Various newspaper clippings about the subject.

Folios 134 to 139

A blank DAFI UAS sighting questionnaire.

Moving into 1981 - UAS and a Chinese satellite

Folios 140 to 142

A confidential minute dated 12 June 1981 from A W McMichael, Director of JIO, to FASSIP, DOD. The FASSIP asked for ' outline of the principles and procedures which govern UFO sightings in Australia.'

Part of the minute


Interestingly as part of the minute, JIO stated 'The Missiles, Space and Electronics Section in the Defence Science and Technical Branch JIO maintain a liaison with DAFIS...The RAAF's routine procedures for investigating Unusual Aerial Sightings were extremely valuable in the field investigations associated with the Chinese satellite launch failure and subsequent re-entry in July 1979.'

(Continued in part four.)