Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Wonders in the skies

Hi all,

In recent times I have been re-discovering the TROVE digital newspaper collection of the National Library of Australia. Here you will find hundreds of Australian newspapers digitised, and ready for you to view. In the most part, newspapers are available only up until 1954.

The TROVE opening webpage
However, there are some papers, which reach into the 1980's such as the South Australian "Victor Harbor Times" or indeed to as recently as 1995 , with the ACT's "Canberra Times."

A sample article
Historically, the modern UAP phenomenon is said to have started on 24 June 1947 with the dramatic sighting of Kenneth Arnold. However, as even a cursory glance at TROVE newspapers before that date will show, there are some tantalising observations reported in older newspapers, which cause you to wonder if some of them were samples of today's UAP. Two examples are the mysterious "airship" over Minderoo Station, near Onslow in Western Australia in 1910

Mysterious airship in 1910
and a number of mystery "aircraft" over Darwin, Northern Territory in 1938.

Darwin 1938
 A close examination of these older observations, will reveal that undoubtedly many are sightings of aurora; planets; stars; meteors and other such natural phenomena. Still, there are quite a few which give pause to wonder.

Wonders in the skies
With wonders in my mind, I thought back to a review of a book by my former co-blogger, Pauline Wilson, who wrote a delightful review of a book with the catchy title "Wonders in the skies." It is so relevant to the topic of today's blog, and the fact is, many readers of this blog today have probably never heard of the book. So, I reproduce here in full Pauline's five year old blog post.

Dear readers,

Well, Adelaide, South Australia is in for two very hot days. Today's forecast maximum is 39 degrees Celsius, and tomorrow is going up to 43 degrees. Time to retreat to an air-conditioned room with a good book.

Today's post is about such a book; in fact a new book by Jacques Vallee. Any new book by Vallee is worth waiting for. His new book is co-authored by Chris Aubeck, and is titled "Wonders in the sky: Unexplained Aerial Objects from Antiquity to Modern Times." Published in 2010 by Jeremy F Tarcher (Penguin.) New York. ISBN 978-1-58542-820-5.


The foreword to the book is written by David J Hufford, Professor Emeritus of Humanities and Psychiatry, Penn State College of Medicine.

Hufford's PhD was in the field of Folklore, and Hufford reminds us that he "...was taught that such beliefs were both non-empirical and non-rational...However, I was pursuing the heretical idea that folk belief traditions might actually incorporate accurate observations, and that if they did they might point to important new knowledge."

Hufford comments that Vallee's book "Passport to Magonia" "...recognised the difference between the core phenomenonology of reports and the local language and interpretations that clothed that core in traditional accounts." (p.2.)

Hufford praises Vallee and Aubeck. "Their rigorously scientific insistence allows Vallee and Aubeck to retain the most challenging and interesting aspects of these events without the distraction of premature commitment to any particular interpretation."

The book:

Speaking about reports of UFOs, the authors believe that "Influenced by books and movies, most people have jumped to hasty conclusions: they believe that unidentified flying objects are spaceships from another planetary civilization..." (p.7.)

They state that "The phenomenon did not begin in the 1940's, or even in the nineteenth century. It is much older that that." (p.7.)

The book presents a catalogue of 500 reported sightings "...from antiquity to the year 1879..." The cut-off year was deliberately chosen so as to be able to exclude any possibility of observations being due to "...airplanes, dirigibles, rockets and the often-mentioned opportunities for misrepresentation represented by military prototypes." (p.8.)

The authors "...have emerged with four major observations:

1. Throughout history, unknown phenomena variously described as prodigies or celestial wonders, have made a major impact on the senses and the imagination of the individuals who witnessed them.

2. Every epoch has interpreted the phenomena in its own terms, often in a specific religious or political context. People have projected their world view, fears, fantasies, and hopes into what they saw in the sky. They still do so today.

3. Although many details of the events have been forgotten or pushed under the colorful rug of history, their impact has shaped human civilization in important ways.

4. The lessons drawn from these ancient cases can be usefully applied to the full range of aerial phenomena that are still reported and remain unexplained by contemporary science." (p12.)"

The authors argue that "...if the phenomenon has existed in fairly constant form for a very long time, it becomes harder to hold to a simplistic "ET visitation" scenarios to explain it." (p.13.)

The collation of material about older cases has been undertaken by "...several teams of historians, anthropologists, folklore specialists and philologists..." (p.19) aided by the availability of the Internet.

Citing historical references, the authors argue that claimed sightings have always changed the course of history.

Image courtesy of Amazon books


The book is divided into three parts:

Part I: A chronology of wonders, pages 27-352.

Part II: Myths, legends and chariots of the Gods. Pages 353-449.

Part III: Sources and methods.

Part I:

The 500 "Wonders" start with an observation in about 1460BC in Lebanon, where a "star" defeats the Nubians (p.29.) Each entry provides a date, a location, the text and a source. Many entries have comments added by the authors.

Among the "Wonders" we find 'moving stars'; 'abductions'; 'hovering objects'; 'heat generating globe'; 'self-propelled cloud'; and many other descriptions.

Part II:

This section of the book looks at "...the stories we have rejected from the main chronology, under four major categories..." (p.354.)These are:

"1. Deceptive story, hoax, fictional account or tall tale.
2. Religious vision.
3. Natural astronomical phenomenon.
4. Optical illusion or atmospheric effect."

This section provides an examination of some of the weird and wonderful tales which have emerged in the past, and which keep circulating despite evidence that the account is incorrect.

Part III:

The authors relate how they screened and selected the material for inclusion in the book. Their rules for inclusions included credibility; specific rather than general date/time and elimination of known hoaxes.


Finally, the authors describe some of the things which they have learnt from undertaking this work. "...from all this work, how significant are the findings, do they teach us anything new about the modern phenomena generally called "UFOs" and is there more yet to be discovered?" (p.477.)


This book was a delight, both to browse through as soon as I received it, and to read through thoroughly which I now have made time to do. I have always looked favourably on the concept that the UFO phenomenon has deep roots and that the July 1947 "start" was only of the modern interpretation of what was being seen. I have always found compelling the arguments for a long history for the phenomenon, and to find it including other elements of the paranormal.

Two Australian cases feature in the 500 "Wonders."

Mount Wingen - case 408

"March 1828, Mount Wingen, Australia
Cigar shaped object lands
A mysterious flying object was said to have descended upon Mount Wingen at the Burning Mountain Nature Reserve. It was "cigar-shaped and had a funny silver colour" and made a loud banging noise. According to the report, "when it landed it set fire to all the vegetation and killed the cattle."

Allegedly, tall strangers appeared in the town at the same time. "They never said anything but always pointed to the things they wanted."

The event must have caused quite a stir as the folk of Wingen began linking it with strange disappearances among them: "Quite often people just disappeared and dogs and domesticated animals disappeared too," wrote the informant, referring to the tale his grandfather used to tell.

Source: Australian Post, June 17, 1989, and W Chalker, Project 1947, Australian Aboriginal Culture & Possible UFO connections (1990.)"

I was disappointed that the source for this entry was not some newspaper in 1828, but had only been set down in 1989. I turned to the reference by Bill Chalker at http://www.theozfiles.com/history_australian-ufo-history.html retrieved 27 December 2010.

"About six kilometres north of Wingen an underground coal seam has been burning for possibly 5,000 years...Kisha, who wrote a psychic column for the Australasian Post, recorded a bizarre story of a strange flying object landing at Burning Mountain (or Mount Wingen). She attributed the following text to a man named Ted:

"Grandad used to say that it was cigar-shaped and had a funny silver colour. When it landed it set fire to ll the vegetation and killed the cattle. The noise was dreadful and there was a series of loud bangs. Grandad also spoke of tall strangers appearing in town. They never said anything but always pointed to the things they wanted." Quite often people just disappeared and dogs and domesticated animals disappeared too.

"We always thought that Grandad's stories were good but he knew they were true and never made light of them."

"Kisha did not indicate a date for the events in Ted's grandfather's tale, but presumably its vintage would have to be at least contemporary with the first settler awareness of the burning mountain back in 1828."

Unfortunately, this account is ultimately sourced to a man called Ted who related it to a psychic named Kisha who published it in the Australasian Post magazine dated 17 June 1989.

25 July 1868, Parrammata, New South Wales - case 474.

"Mr Frederick William Birmingham, an engineer and local council alderman...saw what he described as an "Ark" ...a distinct voice, said, slowly, 'That's a machine to go through the air'...the machine then...descended...to the grass..." Birmingham was then "...lifted off the grass and gently carried through the air and into the upper part of the machine..." He was shown various things and given a set of papers "...the witness later experienced paranormal phenomena."

Source: Memorandum Book of Fred Wm. Birmingham, the Engineer to the Council of Parramatta. The authors of the Wonders add "The following account based upon a transcript of a manuscript that has never been located, must be taken with great caution."

Overall comments:

The book is an excellent example of the dedicated work undertaken by a number of people, in locating, screening and compiling material, from often hard to locate sources. I will be returning from time to time to browse sections of the material.

If you are at all interested in pre-1879 aerial phenomena, or simply wish to check if that ancient days story of yours has been determined to have been a hoax, then I would strongly recommend this book to you.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Australian sightings 1947 (prior to 24 June)

Hi all,


If you browse the TROVE digitised newspaper collection of the National Library of Australia, using the keywords "1947" and "flying saucer," you will find hundreds of press articles.

However, most of these are non-Australian related; in fact most refer to United States sightings. There are also comments by interested individuals, about this novel phenomenon.

Occasionally, you will, with a lot of effort, find little gems about pre 24 June 1947 Australian sightings.

Pre 24 June 1947

I recently came across one such report, in an obscure Australian regional newspaper, dated Tuesday 8 July 1947. Page two of this edition of "The Murrumbidgee Irrigator" (Leeton, News South Wales, 1915-1954) carries the relevant article. Granted, it wasn't reported until after 24 June 1947, but it is claimed to have happened in May 1947. Here are the details:

"In May last during the rice harvest, Mr H Nettlebeck was out in the field when he heard a swishing noise as if a mob of ducks were flying overhead.

On looking up he saw five metal bodies flying in V formation with the Sun glistening on them. They appeared to be about 2000 feet up and each looked to be about the size of a large duck. He estimated the speed as about 1000 miles per hour.

Mr Nettlebeck states that the whole thing was too fantastic at the time for him to report the sight, but on reading in the City press yesterday of the  "flying saucers" or radar controlled missiles he sees a similarity.

Mr Nettlebeck would like to know if any other settlers saw the five metal parts whizz through the sky in May last."

February 1947

I do know of at least one other TROVE digitised newspaper account of a pre 24 June 1947 sighting, which was published before that date.

The article appeared in "The Adelaide Advertiser" of 7 February 1947 on page 1. It tells of three railway workers at Port Augusta in South Australia, who reported seeing five egg shaped objects, in formation, pass over in a few seconds, from north to south, casting shadows. The full report appears in a previous post on this blog.

Another witness, to what appears to be the same objects as those observed at Port Augusta,  wrote a letter, which appeared in "The Adelaide Advertiser" dated 17 February 1947 page 2. Here is an image of that letter:


Interestingly, both the New South Wales, and Port Augusta accounts speak of five objects in formation. The letter from Lock, South Australia also speaks of five objects.

I welcome input from readers who know of any other pre 24 June, 1947 Australian sightings.

Friday, November 13, 2015

UAP at Victor Harbor - TROVE digitised newspapers

Hi all,

In a previous post, I examined "The Producer" (Balaklava) newspaper for relevant articles on UAP. This followed on from the fact that Melbourne researcher Paul Dean, had advised that several new newspapers had been digitised by the National Library of Australia's TROVE scheme.

The only other South Australian newspaper on Paul's list, was "The Victor Harbor Times." Victor Harbor is a seaside tourist/retirement location, some 80 kilometres south of Adelaide.

"The Victor Harbor Times" now been digitised between 1932 and 1986. I therefore used TROVE to locate a number of articles in this newspaper which I summarise, for the historical record.

Friday 9 August 1963

"Was it a flying saucer?"

"A diary farmer returning home at 9.45pm on July 25 believes he may have seen a flying saucer. He is Mr Arnold Maslin of Hindmarsh Tiers. The object was also seen by Mr Maslin and members of his family the following night.

"Speaking for he husband who is partially deaf, Mrs Maslin said this week that he had described the object as about 30 foot long slightly resembling a new moon on its back, with an orange glow at the centre. It was pointed at one end.

"With Mr Maslin was his 11 year old son George, they climbed from their car and watched the glow for about 10 minutes before it disappeared.

"The next night, Mr and Mrs Maslin; their oldest girl Judith and two other young children saw a large orange light low down in the western sky when they were returning home from the drive in theatre at Port Elliot. It was visible for about a minute as they drove towards the Victor Harbor-Adelaide turnoff and then it disappeared in the direction of Green Hills.

Mrs Maslin said that it was "a terrific size" and too big to be a moving light. I have never seen anything like it before added Mrs Maslin."

Thursday 15 November 1973 page 1

"Two young Victor Harbor men believe they sighted an unidentified flying object Tuesday night last week. Daryl Jones and Robert Hook were driving towards Strathalbyn at 10.40pm and when a mile past the native canoe tree saw three bright lights in a triangular formation from about 45 degrees in the sky slowly moving easterly.

"They kept the lights under observation for perhaps two minutes and then more lights appeared until there were thirteen.

"After watching four or five minutes the men continued on towards Strathalbyn. At the Finnis turnoff six miles from the initial sighting six lights were again sighted.  This time lower in the sky and they seemed to settle in among some trees about a half mile distant. From the roadside the lights were seen by a tree for about five minutes.

"The sightings were reported to police at Strathalbyn and the officer received authority from Adelaide to accompany Messers Jones and Hook to the scene in a police car. When the party arrived, however, the lights had disappeared."

Thursday 23 May 1974 page 1

"Two unidentified flying objects were sighted by76 a family, two visiting friends and a police officer near Victor Harbor last Monday night. Mr Neville Dunn  of Maud Street, Encounter Bay, said yesterday that at 8.30pm Monday he and his family and two friends  from Bordertown saw two strange flashing white lights appear from the north-east at about 45 degrees.

"After rising to a higher altitude one of the objects apparently disappeared into cloud. Mr Dun then drove to the nearby home of First Class Constable Max Griffiths in Philip Drive and from there Mr Dunn, Constable Griffiths and Mrs Griffiths saw two separate flashing lights travelling from east to west in the direction of the AMSCOL factory just out from Victor Harbor.

"Mr Dunn said the first two lights seen by his family and friends seemed to come from the direction of AMSCOL about a quarter of a mile apart.

"After leaving Constable Griffiths Mr Dunn did not again see the flashing lights which had been visible altogether for about 20 minutes.

"Did any other readers see flashing lights in the sky, Monday night?
"It has since been verified that an aircraft was in the vicinity of Victor Harbor about 8pm Monday night. The pilot was having radio trouble and was directed to land at Murray Bridge."

Wednesday 30 January 1980 page 2

"Three Inman Valley people saw what could have been a UFO on Saturday night. They saw the object, described as being like a big aircraft on fire, with a 200 yards of flame behind it, at about 10pm.

"The object was travelling fast, but not making  any sound. It appeared to have come from the direction of Yankallila and to travel up the Inman Valley before exploding in a mass of sparks as they said."

Wednesday 10 February 1982 page 1

"A strange light in the southern sky was sighted by a Victor Harbor man in the early hours of Friday. Mrs Meredith Thornton of Bay Road described it as "like a floodlight." It was stationary for about 30 minutes she said. Then it started to move. I was too frightened to watch it any longer. Mrs Thornton said her husband also saw it. She said she would be interested to hear from any other witnesses."

Wednesday 28 May 1986 pp 1 & 13

There were sightings across a wide area, including the south-east of South Australia and south-western Victoria, and from Victor Harbor. The time was around midday on Saturday. Various sighting details were collected from witnesses. The object was considered to have been a "fireball" meteor. The best write up can be found here.

Friday 29 May 1987 page 6

"Former local sights UFO"

"Wayne Trembath had a close shave with the twilight zone recently. Wayne and two friends were interviewed on current and social affair program, Terry Willisie on Tuesday and told of their encounter with a UFO in the far north of Western Australia.

"While on a delivery run, a semi truck and utility were followed by an object for 50 kilometres with the men recording four sightings during four hours.

"One of the reasons the encounter has gained media attention is the credibility of photographs taken by the group during the sightings."

Wednesday 23 March 1988 page 20

"UFO sighting

"Drivers on the Goolwa to Middleton Road on Sunday night saw an unidentified flying object. The object was seen as a bright light glowing red and green, rising over the hills before moving towards the cars which had parked to watch it. Witnesses said it appeared to be controlled, but could not have been an aircraft as no noise was heard."

1995 outbreak of flying garbage bags

There was an outbreak of garbage bag UAP. The Tuesday 12 September 1995 issue (page 3) reported that on Wednesday night (6 September) ten people saw orange lights at about 2030hrs. One person took a video. There was no noise as they flew in from the north-east travelling north. There were four orange lights reported in all.

The 29 September 1995 issue (page 3 revealed that the cause of these sightings had been garbage bags with the headline "UFOs all hot air." Len and Louisa Quick were among those who sighted the lights. Len pointed his spotlight at one of these lights which landed in a nearby lake. An inspection revealed a plastic garbage bag.

The 3 November 1995 edition (page 4) revealed that Freda Jones found  a hot air balloon burning fiercely, on her washing line, on Sunday night. Victor Harbor police called for information from the public about who was launching these bags.

Friday 1 September 1995 page 1

"The Times has received two separate accounts of a UFO over South Coast sites on Tuesday night.

"Mrs Karen Lee of Port Elliot says her ten year old son and nine year old daughter had called her from the kitchen about 7.10pm because they were frightened by an object in the sky. Her son Paul said the UFO was "big, round and red" and after hovering close to their house for a short time, Mrs Lee said "it shot off toward the sea."


This review of newspaper articles from "The Victor Harbor Times" represents the usual mix of garbage bag balloons; lights in the sky, and the more "classic" flying saucer."

I hope that others, will examine the interstate newspapers on Paul's list and write up what they find.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Trove digitised newspapers - Balaklava 1948 - flying saucer or aircraft?

Hi all,

In a blog post dated 9 November 2015, Melbourne researcher Paul Dean advised that the National Library of Australia's TROVE digitised newspaper collection, has added a number of new Australian newspapers to their list.

There are two additional South Australian newspapers (I live in South Australia), namely "The Producer" (Balaklava) and "The Victor Harbor Times" (Victor Harbor.)

Paul challenged readers of his blog to review these new resources and look for any relevant article on UAP. I thought I would take a look at each paper and see what I could find. Therefore, this blog post will take a look at "The Producer" (Balaklava.) I used nine different keywords, such as "flying saucer;" "flying object;" "strange;" "unusual" etc., both singularly and in combinations. I found only two relevant articles.

Where is Balaklava?

Balaklava is situated 92 kilometres north of Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia. It is situated in the wheat and sheep belt of the state.

Courtesy of Google maps

"Flying saucer seen near Balaklava." The Producer" (1940-1950) dated Thursday 2 December 1948 page 1.

Part of the article - courtesy of TROVE
The whole article reads:

"Two Balaklava residents claim to have seen a flying saucer or similar phenomenon in the south-west sky on Tuesday about 5.15pm. They say the object appeared in the direction of Avon  and lasted for a minute or so. It first appeared to be travelling away but later lost height and seemed to be approaching in the direction of Balaklava,. A vapour trail or smoke trail was also visible it is claimed.

"This statement follows other recent reports in the state of eerie lights and strange phenomena.

"Readers of the News reported a green ball of light seen at 1.50pm last Thursday and a Sandy creek reader and a companion claim to have seen a ball green light with a yellowish tail travelling at high speed in a north-westerly direction. On first appearance they thought it to be headlights of an approaching car. The time was 11.20 last Saturday night and both men claim to have been perfectly sober.

" We are interested to know whether Tuesdays report can be substantiated by any other readers of The Producer.

"Many people saw vapour trails last on Monday afternoon. "The Producer" Thursday 9 December 1948 page 1.

Part of the article - courtesy TROVE
"Further evidence of the oft reported vapour trails, flying saucers and other queer phenomena in the sky was given on Monday with the appearance of a 4 engine plane flying at about 25000 feet and leaving a double trail of vapour in its wake.

"The plane appeared about 4 o'clock when it was flying rapidly in a northerly direction. When over Balaklava it turned in a wide arc and returned towards the city.

"Many people who had only previously read of the mysterious vapour trails had ample opportunity to see for themselves and several, including one Upper Wakefield resident reported it to the Producer office..

"Mr J D Harkness of Own who witnessed the trail reported on Tuesday last, had his vision confirmed when he read the report in The Producer. A letter also appeared in the News on Thursday night.

"After Mondays appearance Mr Harkness said the phenomena was much the same as last week. On that occasion the plane appeared  from about 3.30 to 5pm and after going into  dive during which the vapour escaped giving the impression it was on fire. He was fairly sure that it took off and returned to the Mallala drome on that occasion. Earlier in the day he had noticed a plane steadily climbing to a great height after it had left the take off area there.

"As the plane disappeared from view on Monday much the same technique as referred to by Mr Harkness was used again. When the trail faded out a vertical plume of smoking vapour appeared as though it had dived to a lower level The plane could then not be seen.

""A Mallala resident who lives within sight of the RAAF station said on Tuesday morning that no large plane had been noticed landing about that time referred to. However, they were used to planes coming and going and may not have necessarily see them land or take off. Three large 4 engine planes had been at the drome in recent weeks. They were thought to be Lincoln bombers."

Lincoln 4 engine bomber
There is only a limited description of the object made available in the text of the 2 December article, namely "a flying saucer or similar phenomenon...A vapour trail or smoke trail was also visible."

It would appear that the focus of the 9 December article was on the vapour trail generated by what was said to be a 4 engine aircraft.

Mallala RAAF base

 There was a RAAF base at Mallala between 1941 and 1960. It was used for advanced training for RAAF pilots in both fighters and multi-engine aircraft. The map above, indicates that Mallala was mid way between Adelaide and Balaklava.

Sightings from Mallala itself
One of my catalogues has the following sightings from Mallala:
14 January 1954 Mallala SA
At 1120hrs for five seconds one witness reported seeing a silver square at 190 degrees bearing, 25 degrees elevation. It was moving westwards and disappeared in mid-air. Balloon with tin reflector (1954 Turner report.)  1125hrs a Mr Huxtable reported seeing a shiny, silver object which moved horizontally at first, then shot up at high speed and disappeared. (The Mail, Adelaide 16 Jan 1954 page 8.)
15 January 1954 Mallala SA 2105hrs
"Silver object in straight path with yellow tail disappeared in mid-air. Object in sight only momentarily. Passed overhead in northerly flight. Sound like aircraft with motors cut assumed to accompany object." (US Project Blue Book card entry courtesy of Jan Aldrich.)
Was the object seen on 30 November 1948 an aircraft?

It would therefore seem possible that the object described in the 2 December 1948 article was also an aircraft.


Monday, November 9, 2015

What was it in the sky?

Hi all,

A recent email inquiry from the United Kingdom, sent me looking into old RAAF UAP files. I was asked to look for any documents relating to an observation by an air traffic controller at Essendon airport, Melbourne in the 1950's. I found several documents in the National Archives of Australia on file series A703, control symbol 580/1/1 Part 1, digital pages 51-60.

When I read these documents I immediately thought of the famous 1965 incident at Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. Here, a number of air traffic controllers also saw an unusual object in the morning sky.

Canberra, 15 July 1965
The government media release on the incident
Before I provide details of the 1957 Melbourne incident, it will be worth while going back to the 1965 incident, for there are many similarities between the two sets of observations.

The source most quoted in books on UAP, is from "The Australian" newspaper 16 July 1965 page 16.

"While Earth was looking at Mars, somebody from out there could have been looking at us.

"An unidentified flying object was sighted over Canberra airport yesterday morning. And that put it in a position to eavesdrop Tidbinbilla.

"It was described as a metallic silvery object, hovering in the sky to the north-east at an elevation of between 20 and 30 degrees.

"Air traffic control staff in the main  control tower spotted the visitor about 11am.

"The officer-in-charge of Civil Aviation at the airport, Mr A B Lindeman saw it too.

"So did Flight-Lieutenant Weston, the RAAF base operations officer. But the first was an air-traffic controller Mr Tom Lindsey. He was scanning the sky to the north-east looking for a light aircraft due from Bankstown.

"Another controller, Mr A F Frodsham said it hung in the sky for about 40 minutes. He said it could have been a reflection from an aircraft. But there were no planes departing from Canberra at the time nor was there any record of other aircraft in the area.

"Mr Lindsey said there were definitely no civil aircraft in the area at the time. "I don't know what it was - your guess is as good as mine."

"Said Flight Lieutenant Weston "It's hard to say whether it was stationary. At one time it seemed to be approaching us but I'm not sure."

"He had never seriously thought about flying saucers before but he supposed they were possible. "There must be a reasonable explanation for it, but I wouldn't like to hazard a guess."

Mars paying a return visit perhaps."

The mention of Mars is in reference to Mariner 4's visit to the red planet. Tidbinbilla tracking station was the receiving point for the second picture to be beamed back from Mars.

RAAF files

I conducted a search through the National Archives of Australia for any mention of this case in RAAF files. On file series A703, control symbol 580/1/1 part 4 folio 83, there was a one page telex, dated 16 July 1965. The sender was Headquarters Operations Command. The recipient was the Department of Air. It read:

"Restricted. AI32/CINTELLO for DAFI. UFO sighting Canberra airport 15 Jul. This headquarters has concluded that object was planet Venus. No further action will be taken."

So, the RAAF's conclusion was that the observation was of the planet Venus.

The Canberra Times 16 July 1965 also carried an article

My own check

A check with an astronomical software program showed me that Venus was above the horizon. It was due north-east, at an angular elevation of 23 degrees. It was very bright, at magnitude -3.8.

 So, Venus was in the specific location mentioned by all the observers in the newspaper article. Venus as the 'UFO' fits all the details given. Over a 40 minute period it would have moved roughly northwards, through an angle of some 10 degrees, which may not have been enough for ground observers to think, during a discontinuous observation (it would appear no one watched it continuously for the whole 40 minutes,) it was other than north-east at between 20-30 degrees elevation.

 It is therefore reasonable, to suggest that this 1965  'UFO' was in fact the planet Venus.

The 1957 incident

F R Soden was a Supervisor, Air Traffic Controller, at Essendon (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) airport on 19 August 1957. At 0950 EST (UTC 2320hrs 18 Aug 1957) his attention was drawn by a phone call, to the north-eastern sky. Here he observed a "globular" shaped object, white/gray in colour. There was no structure observable. He was unable to provide an estimate of the object's height or its angular elevation in the sky. The object was stationary over a period estimated as five minutes.
Soden's RAAF proforma page 1
 During the course of the observation it appeared to change colour from white to half-white/half-gray. It "just disappeared" after five minutes. Visibility was good and there was middle level cloud to the north-east.
There was a RAAF aircraft in the area, "who could not see anything." "Radar requested to search for echo in area mentioned - nil sightings, however did pick up a blip in the Preston area.. The object had disappeared by this time and there were no known aircraft either from ML or MRB in the Preston area."
Also on the government file were proformas completed by Air Traffic Controllers named N T Burge; I C Lewitzka; and trainee Air Traffic Controller G E Fletcher.
Each of these three additional proformas told the same story as that of Soden. Some additional details supplied by Burge was that the object was observed at 045 degrees true, azimuth; its colour was "off white;" there was no sound; its elevation was approximately 25 degrees. It "disappeared in mid air."
"C47 RAAF pilot was asked for his impressions, he said the object observed from the tower may be reflection of the moon in cloud."
Burge's RAAF proforma page 1
 Lewitzka had the angular elevation down as approximately 30 degrees.
Lewitzka's RAAF proforma page 1
 Fletcher's form says the colour was "greyish-silver"; elevation 25-30 degrees."
Fletcher's RAAF proforma page 1


So, could the 1957 object also have been Venus? A check of two astronomical software programs revealed the following:

1. The Sun was up at an elevation of about 23 degrees, in the north-east sky (azimuth 50 degrees.)

2. The Moon was up at an elevation of 19 degrees, in the north-western sky (azimuth 314 degrees.)

3. The planet Venus was in the sky, in the east-north-east (azimuth 82 degrees.)

So, if the 1957 object was at an angular elevation between 25-30 degrees in the north-east (azimuth 045 degrees true) then it wasn't the planet Venus. Readers will note that the Sun was very close to the object in the sky, so the Air Traffic Controllers were looking at something very close to the Sun, which suggests that although the stated duration of the sighting was five minutes, due to the Sun's glare (if not hidden by the cited middle level clouds) they probably would not have stared in the direction of the Sun for the entire five minutes.

The cause of the 1957 sighting therefore remains a mystery. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

New book alert - "Illuminations."

Hi all,

I have just been reading a book about a very different approach to the subject of UAP. Author Eric Ouellet has written a book titled "Illuminations: The UFO Experience as a Parapsychological Event." The work is published by Anomalist Books, San Antonio, Texas, USA; ISBN 978-1-938 398 537.

Image courtesy Amazon Books
The Author

"Eric Ouellet is a professor of military sociology with the Royal Military College of Canada, and he is Head of the Department of  Defence Studies at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto...He is a professional member of the Parapsychological Association...he graduated with a PhD in Sociology from York University in Toronto."


Ouellet argues that "...since the early days of the modern UFO phenomenon...we have been stuck between two untenable alternatives: they are either aliens from another planet (or dimension), or they are all misperceptions...The enigma persists mainly because of another problem. Only a few of those who are seriously studying UFOs are willing to look at alternate approaches." (p.1.)

"This book proposes a way out of this situation...It proposes that UFOs are parapsychological phenomena." (p.2.)

Chapter one

This chapter reviews "What is known about UFOs." "UFOs tend to have electromagnetic properties." (p.16.)

Ouellet reviews the work of John Keel; Jacques Vallee; Paul Devereux; Michael Persinger and Albert Budden,in this area. Noting the elusive nature of UFO physical evidence, the author closes by noting that "A small number of UFO researchers have actually advocated since the late 1960's that the UFO phenomenon could be paranormal events. " (p.24.)

Chapter two

Here the author takes a look at what various researchers have noted about UFOs  and paranormal events. He cites the psychoanalysts Carl Jung "...eventually concluded that UFOs are probably shaped mental images triggered by socially stored anxieties." (p.26.) He remarks that Jacques Vallee "...came to believe that the UFO experience might indeed be a paranormal or parapsychological phenomenon." (p.27.)

On the topic of John Keel, "...led him to think that the UFO phenomenon was difficult to distinguish from the paranormal." (p.28.) He goes on to note that  "Scott Rogo, one of the very few parapsychologists who seriously studied UFO phenomenon, also found a number of parallels between the UFO experience and the poltergeist disturbances." (p.29.)

Also mentioned are the views of Pierre Vieroudy; Bertrand Meheust; Jenny Randles; Berthold Schwartz and Manfred Cassirer.

Chapter three

Ouellet opens with an important differentiation. "This book is based on what I called the 'parapsychological hypothesis" which I wish to distinguish from the paranormal hypothesis regarding the origin of the UFO phenomenon." (p.34.)

The author elaborates "...the parapsychological hypothesis on UFOs does not incorporate any notions that UFOs are related to "dimensional beings", "ultraterrestrials" or any other non-human entities." (p.35.)

"Hence the basic assumption of the parapsychological hypothesis I will explain here is that humans are responsible for subconsciously producing paranormal phenomena - including UFOs." (p.35.)

Parapsychologists refer to the idea of "psi," in two forms, i.e. ESP and psycho-kinesis, with the subconscious or unconscious playing a key role in generating psi effects.

Parapsychologist Dean Radin has proposed "social psi" which "...implies that when many people are engaged in a common experience, this collectively contribute to, and are affected by, psi effects." (p.37.)

Walter von Lucadou noted that poltergeist events go through four phases ...they first tend to increase in intensity, then peak, followed by a decline, until finally they disappear."(p.41.)

Ouellet postulates that "...the following set of criteria could help us assess not only if a series of UFO events could possibly be unfolding like a poltergeist event, but locating a possible source of social psi that could account for the more impersonal dimensions as well." (p.46.)

These four criteria are:

1. "The observation system is social;" i.e. the general public note the UFO event.

2. "Geographical proximity" i.e.sightings will occur in areas where social tension is released.

3. "Chronological proximity" i.e. sightings will occur around the time of this social tension release.

4. Symbolic relationships"  i.e.events will carry emotional tensions.

Testing his hypothesis, Ouellet cites the 1954 French wave and notes it was a public event; hence the observation system was social; it was centred in one country - geographical proximity ; the Algerian/French conflict provided chronological proximity; and finally the symbolic relationship is between the conflict and things seen in the sky.

Subsequent chapters

Multiple chapters that follow, examine the 1952 Washington wave; the Belgian wave of 1989-1991; the Rendlesham incident of 1980, and tests his working hypothesis that they "unfolded like a large scale RSPK (poltergeist) event." (p.75.)

The author concludes that the Washington wave "...unfolded in ways that are structurally quite similar to a poltergeist disturbance. Left no tangible physical traces...was characterised by a high degree of elusiveness... These characteristics are the fundamental features of a paranormal event." (p.65.)

On the Belgian wave, it was "...a mixture of very personal experiences occurring simultaneously with those on a larger and much more impersonal scale...The synchronicity of the Belgium wave with the fall of communism in Europe is striking..." (p.89.)

As regards to Rendlesham, it "unfolded very much like a RSPK event, except that it happened within the social realm of people in positions of authority." (p.105.)

In later chapters, Ouellet looks at the Canadian wave of 1966-67 and the Betty and Barney Hill abduction, in the light of the parapsychological hypothesis.


"I argue that the paranormal is actually the core of the phenomenon." (p.161.)

"I think that by systematically integrating ideas and models from parapsychology into the study of UFOs we can get one step closer to making sense of the strangest aspects of the paranormal." (p.161.)

It is important to realize that psi phenomena are produced within a context of what sociologists call the social construction reality. What this means is that the actual experience is constructed based on our social and cultural assumptions. We see UFOs in the space age as we once saw ghost carriages in the pre-industrial era." (p.162.)

"The parapsychological hypothesis I have presented here is based on the notion that truly enigmatic UFO events are psi-related. The implication of this hypothesis is that, ultimately we are the ones producing UFOs, both as subjective projections of ourselves and as objective, but temporary, alterations of physical reality." (p.162.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

New book alert - "The Compelling Scientific Evidence for UFOs."

Hi all,


I found an excellent new book, titled "The Compelling Scientific Evidence for UFOs: An Analysis of the Delphos, Kansas UFO Landing Report" (made in the USA Lexington, KY, 16 October 2015; ISBN 978-1502 715 524), by Dr Erol A Faruk, on Amazon Books.

Front cover image courtesy of Amazon Books

The author

The "About the author" section, tells us that Faruk has a BSc (Hons) in chemistry; and a PhD in chemistry. He is a British born scientist, and his PhD thesis was on "...the organic synthesis of unstable carotenoid..." He is now a retired pharmaceutical development chemist. An early interest in Astronomy "...indirectly led to his curiosity into the UFO phenomenon."

The case

At about 1900hrs on 2 November 1971, in Delphos, Kansas, USA, a 16 year old boy named Ronald Johnson reported seeing an illuminated object near the ground, about 75 feet away from him. He estimated the dimensions of the object as 9 feet in diameter and 10 feet high.

A rumbling noise was also audible at that point. After a while, the object departed. Ronald went to his parents and the three of them all observed a bright object, to the south, receding into the distance. A glowing ring of soil was noted where the object had been.

The family reported the incident to the local sheriff and samples and photographs were taken.


UFO investigator Ted Phillips visited the site about one month later, and took samples and photographs. A number of analyses were conducted by various groups, with a range of findings. Faruk notes "Unfortunately, because of lack of sufficient funding and resources none of these laboratories were able to offer any clues as to the nature of the chemical changes that had arisen to cause the ring soil absorption anomalies."

Later, Faruk contacted the US Center for UFO Studies, and through them located Ted Phillips. Phillips "...duly sent me several grams of the material held within airtight opaque containers..." (p.3.)

His analysis

The book is in two parts, firstly an overview of the UFO phenomenon; followed by Faruk's analytical methodology; and findings. This second part, is full of technical details, but Faruk, however, also provides a basic level description of his findings.

In 1990, Faruk worked with another analysis, Phyllis Budinger, who conducted an independent analysis of more of the original soil sample. Her interesting results are discussed by Faruk. To read her full report click here.


Faruk attempted to get a paper about the case and the analytical findings, in a number of peer reviewed scientific journals. Unfortunately he was ultimately unsuccessful. His description of this process is illuminating.

In summary

For those who have followed this case, and analysis of soil samples, you may not find much new material here in this book. However, what is invaluable is to have all this material in one place.

I recommend this book, to anyone interested in the physical evidence aspects of the phenomenon.