Friday, April 29, 2011

"The Day After Roswell"

Dear readers

Autumn in Adelaide is a delight. Alternating between sunny days and rainy days, with daytime maximum temperatures between 19 and 24 degrees C. The leaves on the trees are turning various shades of red and brown.

Introduction:

Roswell is still one of the leading stories in the world of UFO research. Personally, I no longer know what to think of the event. There has been so much argument and counter-argument; witnesses credited and discredited; the USAF's version of what happened; Nick Redfern's alternative perspective, and on and on. I think that we will never really know what happened.

One of the off-shoots of Roswell 1947 came in 1997 with the publication of a book, "The Day After Roswell" by Philip J Corso. (click here.)

Bullard:

I have been slowly re-reading "The Myth and Mystery of UFOs" by Thomas E Bullard (Published by University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 2010. ISBN 978-0-7006-1729-6.) (Click here.)

I am always interested in what various UFO researchers think of the work of others. In this instance, on pages 88-89 is a piece about the book "The Day After Roswell."

"Just in time for the fiftieth anniversary Roswell celebration, a retired Army Colonel, Philip J Corso, declared in The Day After Roswell (1997) that he assumed leadership of a secret research and development project in 1961 to carry out reverse engineering on the wreckage.

"From this work came lasers, integrated circuits image intensifiers, fibre optics, particle beams, and kevlar bullet-proof material. In fact, most of the technological advances since 1947 began with aliens, according to Corso, and many of these developments transferred from his research group to industry.

"The book amalgamated so many UFO-related claims and rumours that Roswell investigator Karl Pflock (click here) dubbed it "a veritable unified field theory of practically everything ufological and ufoological," but despite its errors and implausible claims, despite its round condemnation as a hoax by serious UFO researchers, Corso's tale has settled into the literature to be cited and quoted again and again as undisputed gospel."

Alexander:

I then recalled that John B Alexander's recent book "UFOs:myths, conspiracies and realities" (Published by Thomas Dunne Books. New York. 2011. ISBN 978-0-312-64834-3 click here) has a whole chapter devoted to Corso.

In the chapter's introduction, Alexander states that Corso was a personal friend of his, and he visited Corso on 2 July 1998, just two weeks before Corso passed away.

In March 1996, prior to publication of the book, Alexander, Hal Puthoff (click here)and George Knapp ( click here) visited Corso at his Florida home and heard Corso's story first-hand.

Following the meeting, Corso was invited to visit Las Vegas in April 1996 for three days of discussions. This time it involved Robert Bigelow (click here,) Alexander, Hal Puthoff and Jacques Vallee.

"Corso's story never wavered, but contained both plausible and troubling information. Plausibility came from his reported assignments supported by documentation. Troubling were topics that ran counter to the known history of technological developments." (p.42.)

Alexander checked out Corso's background. "...when it comes to Corso's background, little is easy to follow. The basic reported path seemed accurate, with a fair amount of fluff involved..." (p.43.)

A check by Alexander of Pentagon phone book records revealed "What was found only partially supported Corso's claims concerning his assignment." (p.44.)

"Corso's most fundamentally important claim was that ET technology assisted in many of our scientific and engineering advances. This assertion is fatally flawed." (pp45-46.)

The group interviewing Corso examined his version of these technological developments and found Corso's accounts did not match historically documented facts. "The scientific advances in all areas ran in a linear fashion and no step functions, or unexpected leaps were noted." (p.46.)

Beyond the technological claims, Corso also made other claims. "In the original manuscript there are episodes that are even more incredulous...One included an encounter with an alien while hew was assigned at White Sands Missile Range (p47)...Once incident included what Corso believed to be evidence for time travel...(p.48.)

In summary, Alexander concludes "There is no doubt that he had an illustrious military career...in The Day After Roswell, Corso made many extraordinary claims..Unfortunately, none of these claims have been substantiated, and most are directly refuted by known facts." (pp49-50.)

Comments:

This seems a conclusive and negative evaluation of Corso's claims. Corso's motive for making the claims remains unknown.

For those readers who haven't come across "The Day After Roswell" its details are:

Corso, Col. Philip J (retd) with William J Birnes. Pocket Books. New York. 1997. ISBN 0-671-00461-1.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cold case - 26 February 1942 - Australia

Hi

This post will continue my look at older Australian UFO cases. This one has appeared in numerous global UFO publications e.g. English Flying Saucer Review Volume 3 Number 6, dated Nov/Dec 1957. It is said to have occurred on 26 February 1942 in the Timor Sea to the north of Australia, at midday.

I have now located a typed copy version of the witness' original letter to the Australian Flying Saucer Research Society(AFSRS) in 1957, in the files of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF.)

Research:

I requested the National Archives of Australia to digitize file series A703 control symbol 580/1/1 part 1, titled "Reports on Flying Saucers and other aerial objects" in order that I could read the full documentation.

Pages 87-88 of the digital version are a letter dated 6 April 1957 from UFO researcher Peter Norris to the Secretary of Air, advising that Norris' society was running a radio segment on UFOs, and asking the Secretary if an officer of his agency would appear on the radio program. The letter stated that some good reports had come about because of the radio show, and as an example attached a typed copy of a letter from one William Methorst.

The text of this letter from Methorst reads as follows:

"Dear Sir

After listening to your program on Flying Saucers on Wednesday evenings, I thought I would write you and tell you of an experience I had while in the Timor Sea on Thursday 26th February, 1942.

This happened while on watch for enemy aircraft just after noon.

I was scanning the skies with binoculars when suddenly I saw a large aluminium disc approaching at terrific speed at 4,000 or 5,000 feet above us. This proceeded to circle high above our ship, the cruiser "Tromp" of the Royal Netherlands Navy.

After reporting it to the officer on duty, he was unable to identify it as any known aircraft. After keeping track of this object for about three or four hours still flying in big circles and at the same height, it suddenly veered off in a tremendous speed (about 3,000 to 3,500mph) and disappeared from sight.

I have an account of this in notes made the same day in a diary which I still have in my possession.

Hope you will find this of aid to your investigations.

William Methorst."

Where was the Tromp?

Where was the ship "Tromp" on 26 February 1942?

I checked on the internet for information on the Tromp (click here) This site was invaluable. The Tromp was a cruiser of the Royal Netherlands Navy, and on 20 February 1942 was involved in action with Japanese forces, where it was damaged by Japanese destroyers. On 23 February 1942, the ship left Soerabaja, and went into the Indian Ocean via Madoera Strait and Bali Strait. It arrived in Fremantle, Western Australia on 27 February 1942. A search of the net showed Surabaya (formerly Soerabaja) is now Indonesia's second largest city and is situated at latitude 7 deg 16 min South, longitude 112 deg 45 min East.

It is therefore probable that on the 26 February 1942 the Tromp would have been in the vicinity of the Western Australian coast, sailing south to Fremantle, and not in the Timor Sea which is to the north of Australia.

Was there a Methorst on the Tromp on that date?

I was unable to locate a crew list of the Tromp. I therefore sent an email to the contact person for the website http://www.neverlandsnavy.nl asking if they knew of any way to locate a crew list for the Tromp for 1942? I received a response from Jan Visser. Jan checked his files, but could find no-one by the name Methorst who had been a commissioned officer in the Royal Netherlands Navy in World War 2. However, that still left non-commissioned officers and enlisted men to check.

Jan suggested a number of internet forums on which I could post a request for information on Methorst, which I did. To date, no-one had responded that they have located Methorst on the Tromp. However, I did receive a response from a Paul Joosten on 31 January 2011, who advised that he had located an account of the event which gave the witness' names as William J Methorst.

Further research:

I located Peter Norris, the Melbourne based UFO researcher, whom Methorst had written to about the event. Unfortunately, Peter has retained no papers on the incident.

I conducted a name search on the website of the National Archives of Australia (NAA). I failed to locate any records of a William Methorst or a William J Methorst. However a search of the NAA's "Passenger Arrivals List" located a William J Methorst who had arrived in Australia on 1 May 1949 on board the ship Maetsuycker at Fremantle, Western Australia (source: NAA file series K269 control symbol Methorst, William J.)

I did confirm there was a William Jan Methorst (carpenter) and a Ruth Methorst (home duties) listed as living at 7 Eisenhower Street, Reservoir East, Melbourne (the same address given on the Methorst 1957 letter on the RAAF's file) in the 1959 Commonwealth of Australia, Division of Darebin, state of Victoria electoral roll. The 1961 roll showed the same details. The 1962 roll was not available in the State Library, and the 1963 and 1964 rolls for Reservoir East do not list the Methorsts.

In the Australian Telstra electronic white pages I located 12 individuals with the Methorst name. I sent each one of them a letter seeking information on a William Methorst. I received a phone call from a Jan Methorst of Tasmania, who advised that he was not aware of any William Methrost in his family line. Jan mentioned also that he knew most of the Methorst listed in the phone book. I later received an email from an Andy Methorst of Tasmania, who advised that he was not aware of any William Methorst and that he had checked with other family members in Holland and no-one knew of a William Methorst. In addition several other response letters told the same story.

Conclusions:

It would appear that the Tromp was not in the Timor Sea on 26 February 1942 but sailing down the coast of Western Australia in the Indian Ocean.

I have not been able to confirm or reject the fact that there was a William Methorst on board.

I have not been able to locate a still living relative of William Methorst, nor any signs of his diary said to detail the event.

Footnote:

The so called "Battle of Los Angeles" took place on the night of 24/25 February 1942
(click here.) Some UFO sources for example, (click here) have suggested a link between the cases.

Update: 7 April 2016:

I received an email from a blog reader, Daniel Ferguson, who advised that he had been unable to post a comment here, due to a technical problem with blogger. I therefore paste in his comment here.

"I have reason to believe that William Jan Methorst and Willem Jan Methorst are the same person.
 
_x=1&msbdy_x=1&msbpn_x=XO&msbpn__ftp_x=1&msrpn_x=XO&msrpn__ftp_x=
1&msydy_x=1&msypn_x=XO&msypn__ftp_x=1&gskw_x=1&_83004002_x=1&cpxt
=0&uidh=000&cp=0&gl=35&gst=&ghc=50&geo_a=r&geo_s=au&geo_t=au&geo_v=2.0.0&o
_iid=41020&o_lid=41020&o_sch=Web+Property>. 
 
Notice that there are listings for both names, but more importantly, look at how Ruth's area of residence consistently correlates with both names. Ruth - who is presumably his wife from what I can discern in the above said passage ("I did confirm there was a William Jan Methorst (carpenter) and a Ruth Methorst (home duties) listed as living at 7 Eisenhower Street, Reservoir East, Melbourne (the same address given on the Methorst 1957 letter on the RAAF's file) in the 1959 Commonwealth of Australia, Division of Darebin, state of Victoria electoral roll.") - is listed as living in the same places at the same time as both of the William Jan Methorst and Willem Jan Methorst listings (see below).
 
The following information was taken from Australian Electoral Roles 1903-1980.
 
NAME: William Jan Methorst
GENDER: Male
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1954
SUBDISTRICT: Preston East
STATE: Victoria
DISTRICT: Darebin
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: Ruth Methorst
GENDER: Female
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1954
SUBDISTRICT: Preston East
STATE: Victoria
DISTRICT: Darebin
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: William Jan Methorst
GENDER: Male
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1963
SUBDISTRICT: Fortitude Valley
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Brisbane
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: Ruth Methorst
GENDER: Female
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1963
SUBDISTRICT: Fortitude Valley
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Brisbane
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: Willem Jan Methorst
GENDER: Male
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1968
SUBDISTRICT: Ashgrove
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Ryan
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: Ruth Methorst
GENDER: Female
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1968
SUBDISTRICT: Ashgrove
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Ryan
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: William Jan Methorst
GENDER: Male
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1972
SUBDISTRICT: North Brisbane
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Brisbane
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: Ruth Methorst
GENDER: Female
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1972
SUBDISTRICT: North Brisbane
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Brisbane
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: Willem Jan Methorst
GENDER: Male
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1977
SUBDISTRICT: Greenslopes
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Bowman
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: Ruth Methorst
GENDER: Female
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1977
SUBDISTRICT: Greenslopes
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Bowman
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: Willem Jan Methorst
GENDER: Male
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1977
SUBDISTRICT: Greenslopes
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Griffith
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: Ruth Methorst
GENDER: Female
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1977
SUBDISTRICT: Greenslopes
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Griffith
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: Willem Jan Methorst
GENDER: Male
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1980
SUBDISTRICT: Greenslopes
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Bowman
COUNTRY: Australia
 
NAME: Ruth Methorst
GENDER: Female
ELECTORAL YEAR: 1980
SUBDISTRICT: Greenslopes
STATE: Queensland
DISTRICT: Bowman
COUNTRY: Australia
 
See a Pattern Here?
 
These records seem to indicate that they lived together and remained thus as they moved from place to place. One can only assume either that he interchanged the spelling of his name on the ballots between 1968-1972 before finally deciding to stick with Willem prior to the next registered ballot in 1977, or that the printing of the name was an error on the part of the person(s) who maintained the records. Regardless of which is the case, it's beside the point.
 
My point is that if his & her descendants could be tracked down & contacted, it's not unlikely that they would have kept the journal as memorabilia of their father. Assuming that the journal does exist and has survived being stored away up until now, radiocarbon dating could prove a useful method to assert the time in which the journal was printed; or possibly even when the entry was made. 
 
Still, this doesn't confirm that he was on the Tromp on February 26th, 1942; however, the carbon dating method could help prove the plausibility of his claims if the journal can predate this time. Furthermore, family kept military records could potentially reveal whether or not he was on the Tromp during its passage from Soerabaja (now Surabaya), India to Fremantle, Australia between February 23rd & February 27th, 1942. At any rate, I hope this helps."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Peter E Norris and the Australian Government UFO files - 1957 to 1968 Part three

This is the third and final post re Peter E Norris.

CAPIO Campaign:

On the 18 March 1966 Peter again wrote to the Department of Air concerning a film of a UFO which had been taken at Port Moresby on 23 August 1953 by Mr T Drury, then in the Department of Civil Aviation.

"Mr Drury has advised my association that the film was handed to the Commonwealth Security Branch in Port Moresby where it was referred to your Department for further action...I would be obliged to receive your advice as to your Department's evaluation of Mr Drury's sighting..." (Source: Digital version of file 580/1/1 Part 5 p.126.)

The Department of Air responded on 31 March 1966 to Peter, that an exhaustive search of old records, including a 1955 file, had failed to locate a relevant 1953 file, or copies of the film. "Record of the evaluation was destroyed with the Department's copies of the photographs." (Source: Digital version of file 580/1/1 Part 5 p.124.)

Call for action:

On 23 April 1966 the Honorary Secretary of CAPIO, Sylvia Sutton wrote to Mr Peter Howson, the then Minister of Air.

"1. My association is aware that the Commonwealth Government has for some time been receiving and evaluating information concerning the existence of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) and believes that this fact together with a detailed analysis of all sightings investigated, should be published, with the object of removing the obstacle of public ignorance from this research. There is considerable misapprehension among the public at large concerning UFOs and a policy of secrecy can engender only further misapprehension. On the other hand a frank and open discussion of the subject would enlist the full cooperation of the Australian public.

2. My association is concerned that much information is withheld by persons who have made sightings of UFOs but who decline to report their information for fear of ridicule. A favourable Government statement on UFOs would therefore result in much valuable information on UFOs being received from members of the public.

3. As there is considerable evidence indicating that some UFOs are manned, instructions should be given to defence forces and all police, not to commit unprovoked acts of hostility towards UFOs.

4. There has been a marked increase in reports of UFOs during 1965 (maintained in 1966) resulting in obvious need for further investigations into the UFO phenomenon. Since the RAAF is primarily concerned with questions of defence, my association submits that responsibility for scientific investigation of UFOs should be vested in the CSIRO. Any project inaugurated by your government along the lines indicated would receive the full support of my association." (Source: Digital version of file 569/5/451 Part 1 p.65.)

The Minister of Air referred this letter to DAFI for advice, on 26 April 1966.

The Government's view on UFOs:

DAFI drafted a reply and the final version was dispatched to CAPIO from Peter Howson on 17 May 1966. The Minister noted that the government did indeed receive UFO reports as did the United Kingdom and the USA. "The first point I would like to make is that during the course of the investigations in these three countries no information has come to light which indicates the existence of extraterrestrial vehicles, or that we are being observed by beings from outer space."

"Your letter infers that the Government is anxious to keep secret the results of inquiries into reports of UFOs...I therefore hasten to advise you that such is not the case at all." It goes on to say that anyone could apply to the DOA and receive a summary of reports investigated, and that the DOA made occasional press and radio comments about UFOs. "However, I consider that too much publicity on UFO reports would be likely to cause concern and even alarm in the minds of the public who are not so well informed on these matters as members of your organization."

"The Government believes the appropriate authority to investigate UFOs in Australia is the RAAF and I assure you that scientific advice is sought from appropriate authorities whenever necessary." (Source: Digital version of file 569/5/451 Part 1 p.61.)

Just before the above letter, on 16 May 1966, Peter wrote to the Department of Air referring to their letter to him dated 11 February 1966 about the Tully case. Peter sent the Department a copy of CAPIO's evaluation of the Tully case, by CAPIO's meteorological consultant. (Source: Digital version of file 580/1/1 Part 5 p.56.)

On 21 October 1966 Peter asked the Minister for a copy of the RAAF's summary of UFO reports. (Source: Digital version of file 569/5/451 Part 1 p.59.) The Secretary DOA forwarded a copy of the RAAF's summary to Peter, on 2 November 1966.

Several months went past and then on 6 March 1967 CAPIO again wrote to the Minister of Air and mentioned that in the USA the University of Colorado had received a grant to investigate UFO reports in that country. "We in Australia would like to see similar assistance given here to some approved official organization such as the CSIRO or perhaps a university. We have it on good authority that already the University of Colorado has approached an Australian scientist with a request for co-operation and suggesting as to the best methods of research. It is obvious that large-scale work cannot be achieved without financial assistance." (Source: Digital version of file 569/5/451 Part 1 pp42-43.) Again, this letter was referred to DAFI for a response.

What appears to be a first draft DAFI reply to CAPIO was found at page 38 of the file. The RAAF was concerned "...from the aspect of the air defence of Australia. In the absence of any evidence of a threat to air defence, the RAAF could not justify the type of research into and scientific analysis of reports of UFOs which you contemplate..." The final reply (p.37) dated 26 April 1967 referred to the CAPIO letter of 6 May (they meant 6 March). It is longer than the draft response. It reinforced that the RAAF is the correct authority to be investigating. "The Government is satisfied that our national interests are adequately serviced by this arrangement." In short, there was no need for a financial grant to study UFOs.

Just prior to this, Peter had written directly to the CSIRO on 19 April 1967. The subject was the possibility of the CSIRO undertaking a University of Colorado style investigation into UFOS. (Source: Digital version of file 554/1/30 Pat 1 pp10-11.) The CSIRO responded on 28 April 1967, and declined to be involved.

On 31 October 1967 CAPIO wrote to Minister Howson. Peter sent the Minister a description of the work of the University of Colorado. "My organization maintains that a similar Project inaugurated in Australia with Commonwealth funds would be of assistance in helping to solve the great international problem of UFOs. Your assistance in bringing this matter to the attention of the government will be greatly appreciated."

At the same time, 31 October 1967, Peter, on CAPIO letterhead also wrote to Mr P W C Stokes, Member of the House of Representatives and sent him information on the University of Colorado study. This led to an exchange of letters between Stokes and the Hon J M Fraser, MP, about CAPIO's request for assistance in studying UFOs. The long and the short of the response was that the Commonwealth Government declined to assist CAPIO.

Interestingly, DAFI, internally, was responsive to the argument of scientific research into UFOs. In a DOA minute dated 9 November 1967 a Group Captain in DAFI wrote "The weight of evidence suggests that scientific, as opposed to defence, investigation of these phenomenon would be more appropriate if any further investigation is desired by the government." (p.32.)

The Minister wrote to Peter 0n 22 November 1967 (p.31) to reinforce that the RAAF was best placed "However, I am keenly aware of the developments taking place overseas and I shall continue to watch them with interest for their possible implication to the situation in Australia."

Into 1968:

On 16 March 1968 the then Secretary of VUFORS, Mrs Judith Magee, wrote to the Chief of the Air Force Intelligence, DOA, Canberra "I have been directed by the Committee to write your Department requesting a conference, for the purpose of discussing current investigations carried out by the Air Force, into Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs.) We await your reply with anticipation." The VUFORS letterhead indicated that Peter was still President. (Source: Digital version of file 554/1/30 part 2 p.199.)

In June 1968 CAPIO made it into the Government's House of Representatives' question time. The 4 June 1968 Hansard, page 1888, records in part:

"Mr Stokes - I ask the Minister for Air a question which relates to representations which I have made to him on behalf of the Commonwealth Aerial Phenomena Investigation Organisation, requesting a government grant to assist with research into unidentified flying objects."

Mr Freeth's response was that the matter "...is being considered..." (Source: Digital version of file 554/1/30 Part 2 p.193.) Ultimately, the Government simply decided not to assist.

Comments:

The correspondence reviewed above, indicates that Peter was looking to:

1. Seek to determine the Government's views on classic UFO cases such as Boianai; Cressy and Tully. In all cases, the Government indicated that it felt there were mundane explanations for each case.

2. Push for a scientific study of UFOs, as opposed to a study to determine if there were any defence implications to the cases. The Government declined to do so.

3. Use political processes, by writing to Ministers, heads of Government bodies, and members of Parliament.

Question to Peter:

I posed a number of questions to Peter by email, and these, together with his responses are reproduced below:

Peter wrote me "I am only too happy to answer the questions you put to me with the caveat that time and age have taken their toll of me and my answers may be present day reconstructions of what I think I felt, rather than what I actually felt."

Q1 When interacting with the RAAF/DOD, what were your thoughts on the way they dealt with the subject of UFOs?

A1 I thought the prevailing attitude was one of "We don't have the resources to worry about this matter unless it constitutes a security concern which we don't think it does. At any rate the Americans are throwing money at the problem and will tell us anything we need to know." In other words, it was stuff-up rather than cover-up.

Q2 You wrote at one stage to the Government (CSIRO if I recall correctly) suggesting they consider undertaking a Condon scientific style investigation into UFOs. What were your thought processes behind this action?

A2 I don't remember much about this but surmise I was probably indulging in a bit of old fashioned 'stir' rather than believing I would get positive results. I was more aggressive in my youth than I am today! Perhaps I was a bit more optimistic too.

Q3 In the 1950's and 1960's what were your thoughts as to the cause of the UFO phenomenon?

A3 Tentatively, I believed the UFOs exhibited intelligent control and, since a terrestrial source seemed unlikely, their origin was probably extra-terrestrial.

Q4 Looking back in 2011, what are your current thoughts as to the cause of the UFO phenomenon?

A4 Given modern cosmological research into parallel universes and the nature of time (vide Stephen Hawking, Paul Davies et al) I would look for a more esoteric cause, perhaps as timetravel machines. Despite a life-long interest in parapsychology, survival, apparitions and similar subjects I have never detected a correspondence between these and UFOs.

Q5 Did you ever find anyone in the Australian Government, who was conducting serious scientific research into UFOs? If so, who were they and what were they doing?

A5 We had a number of scientists who worked with us on investigations, but strictly under anonymity.

Q6 Did you ever come across an individual named Harry Turner, who was a Melbourne physicist who worked with the RAAF from about 1954? If so, what are your recollections of him?

A6 I recall the name but don't remember anything else about him.

Q7 What got you interested in the topic of UFOs?

A7 A general reluctance to accept the consensus view on anything, which I still possess.

I'd like to thank Peter for his assistance in preparing these posts.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The future of UFOlogy?

Hi readers

Another beautiful Autumn day here in Adelaide, South Australia. A predicted high of 22 degrees C; blue skies, almost no wind. It's good to be alive!

After reading a number of new books about the UFO phenomenon recently, I took time out the other day to reflect on what was contained in these works.

Martin Plowman in his book "The UFO Diaries" (click here for my review post) concludes at one point that UFOlogy "...it's as far from proving the existence of UFOs as it ever has been." (p.281.)

John B Alexander in his book "UFOs:Myths, conspiracies and realities" (my review is here) wrote (p.273) "I conclude that the ufo observations are manifestations of issues that are anfractuous and beyond current comprehension."

These statements made me wonder, what is the future of UFOlogy? There is little doubt in my mind that the popular cultural version of the UFO phenomenon will continue, and perhaps even grow. However, what of serious research?

Leslie Kean in her book "UFOs" (click here for my review) calls for the establishment of a small "UFO Office" based in a US Government agency. John Alexander doubts the political possibility of this happening.

Disclosure:

Disclosure style projects are predicated on the premise that Governments know what is behind the UFO phenomenon. However, if, as people such as John Alexander point out,Governments don't know what is the source, then no amount of demands for release of "the truth" are going to work. Since Governments cannot meet this demands as they just don't know.

Exopolitics style projects assume there is a galactic collective of alien civilisations out there. However, this "knowledge" seems, on my research (click here)to be based on disputed methods such as "remote viewing."

Media conferences in which high profile military witnesses tell their stories seem to have have had absolutely no effect on Government interest in the topic.

Breakthrough events:

Are there any breakthrough events on the horizon? Perhaps one of the following might occur:

1. An unassailable "crashed" UFO - one which is not hastily removed by the Government, and which is publicly documented by a major news outlet.

2. A UFO lands on Sydney harbour bridge, witnessed by thousands of people.

3. An ambulance brings the dead body of an alien, killed during a failed abduction event in someone's home, to a major hospital. The body doesn't disappear and is autopsied there.

4. An independently witnessed abduction event, leaves forensic DNA evidence.

Failing one of these breakthrough events happening, what can the average UFO researcher or UFO research group continue to do to further research?

1. Re-examine "cold cases" and eliminate IFOs.

2. Research new "core cases" as they arise. However, it should be noted that fewer and fewer strong, hard evidence cases are emerging of late.

3. Catalogue these "unexplained" events.

4. Look for patterns in this accumulated data.

5. Ensure publication of these findings.

What do readers think is the future of UFOlogy?

Peter E Norris and the Australian Government UFO files - 1957 to 1968 Part Two

Cressy sighting:

The UFO sighting of a large cigar shaped object and accompanying several smaller discs, by the Reverend Browning of Cressy, Tasmania, was the subject of Peter's next letter dated 4 November 1960, to DAFI. "We feel that UFO activity in the vicinity of the Great Lake area of northern Tasmania is of particular significance, having regard to the fact that a large hydro-electric project is currently under construction in that region." Again, Peter asked if Browning's sighting had been officially investigated and if so, what were DAFI's conclusions. (Source: Digital version of file 554/1/30 Part 1 p.151.)

DAFI responded on 18 November 1960 that they were investigating and committed themselves to advising their findings. (p.149.)

After interviewing Browning, DAFI, in a letter dated 7 March 1961, advised that Browning had seen the Moon rising, and together with 'scud' type clouds this had "...produced the impression of flying objects." (p.124.)

I had the pleasure, in 2010, of interviewing Gordon Waller, the RAAF officer who was sent to interview the Brownings. Gordon's perspective was that he had been sent to investigate the report, following political pressure for the RAAF to do so.

Another Tasmanian case:

Peter, on VFSRS letterhead, dated 3 May 1961 wrote to DAFI "Representatives of this society recently interviewed Mrs Webster and her daughter, Sally, of 'Charnak' Cressy, Tasmnaia, concerning their alleged sighting of an Unidentified Flying Object in October last year...Would you kindly inform us of your Department's evaluation of this sighting report." (Source: Digital version of file 580/1/1 Part 3 p.153.) Peter needed to jog the Department's memory, by letter dated 23 June 1961. The Department replied on 28 June 1961 with a short letter that said "Sighting...was most probably T.A.A. Viscount VH-TVC..." i.e. an aircraft.

The Drury film:

At 1200hrs on 23 August 1953, Mr T Drury, Deputy Director of the Australian Department of Civil Aviation, in Port Moresby, saw an object in the sky. In the cloudless south-western sky he noticed what seemed to be 'cloud building up' which grew in intensity for several minutes. Suddenly, an object appeared from one side of the cloud and climbed fast in a north-west direction. In size, Drury said it seemed slightly bigger than a pin-head. The soundless object left a clearly-defined vapour trail. It finally disappeared with a rapid gain of altitude. Drury had a movie camera with him, and filmed using a telephoto lens. (Source: Digital version of file 114/1/197.)

In a letter dated 15 February 1962, Peter, on VFSRS letterhead, asked about the Drury film of 23 August 1953. "Would you be so kind as to inform me whether the film would be available for inspection by representatives of this society. Furthermore, what is the Department's evaluation of the Drury sighting? (Source: Digital version of file 580/1/1 Part 3 p.86.)

DAFI responded dated 22 February 1962 "I regret to inform you that this Department can find no trace of this film or the report referred to in your letter dated 15th February 1962." (Source: Digital version of file 580/1/1 Part 3. p.85.)

CAPIO:

The Commonwealth Aerial Phenomena Investigation Organisation (CAPIO) was formed in 1965 at a convention held in Ballarat, Victoria. As a 'peak body' it represented the interests of a number of Australian UFO groups. Air Marshall Sir George Jones was its patron, and the RAAF sent a Mr B G Roberts to give a presentation on behalf of the Government.

The next correspondence from Peter was on CAPIO letterhead, dated 19 July 1965, asking if Mr Roberts, Senior research Scientist, Department of Air, could confirm if a sighting reported in a US UFO magazine re an Australian aircraft 'buzzed' by a UFO, had in fact been reported to the RAAF? (Source: Digital version of file 554/1/30 Part 1 p103.) Peter signed the letter as President of CAPIO.

DAFI's Squadron Leader Wheeler replied on 18 August 1965 (Source: Digital version of file 554/1/30 Part 1 p.100) that they had received no report of the incident and referred Peter to the civilian Department of Civil Aviation. "From the article you enclosed for information it appears that photographs were made of the UFO. This is most interesting and if copies can be made available should provide some interesting discussion."

Nebo:

On 12 November 1960 Peter, on CAPIO letterhead, wrote to DAFI asking if they could please reply to a letter he had sent them on 17 September 1965, about a case at a place called Nebo? (Source: Digital version of file 580/1/1 Part 5 p.205.)

The DAFI response came dated 1 December 1965. It responded to both the letters of 17 September and 12 November. "Mr Robert's report of 4th June referred to an 'unusual occurrence' rather than an unidentified flying object and concerned a strip in the scrub which he considered to have been subjected to extreme heat. The sample of gum leaves which was forwarded to us was analyzed but showed no unusual characteristics. This Department is unable to determine the cause of the phenomenon." (Source: Digital version of file 580/1/1 Part 5 p.202.)

The Tully event:

The classic UFO trace case of Tully, Queensland occurred on 19 January 1966. On that morning, George Pedley reported seeing an object close to the ground. It was light-grey in colour, shaped like two saucers face to face. In size he said it was 25 feet long and 8-9 feet deep. There were no structural features visible. It was in view for a total of about four seconds. An area of flattened, swirled grass/reeds was found at the point below where the object had been seen.

On 2 February 1966 CAPIO wrote to the Secretary, Department of Air, Mr A M McFarlane. McFarlane's reply dated 11 February 1966 included "Investigations of the area surrounding the reported 'nests', testing of samples taken from around them and interrogations of persons involved in the report failed to reveal anything of significance." The nests "...could have been the result of a severe turbulence, which normally accompany line squalls and thunderstorms." Later, "There is no explanation for the visible phenomenon reported but it could have been associated with or the result of "downdraughts", "willy willies" or "water spouts." VUFORS commissioned its own meteorological analysis of the weather conditions and disagreed with the RAAF's findings. (Source: Digital version of file 580/1/1 Part 5 p.182.)

(To be continued.)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Peter E Norris and the Australian Government UFO files - 1957 to 1968 Part one

Introduction:

Between 2003 and 2008, while undertaking a search through Australian Government UFO files during the Disclosure Australia Project,I came across a number of individuals who had a serious interest in the UFO phenomenon. One of these individuals was Peter E Norris, of Melbourne, Victoria.

Recently, while looking at one of the Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF) UFO policy files, I came across a 1957 letter to the RAAF, written by Peter. It concerned a 1942 UFO reportedly observed by one William Methorst. As part of my investigations into this report, I contacted Peter, who is still living in Melbourne. He was able to recall the report, even though it was 54 years ago.

Following our initial e-mail exchange between us, I decided to take another look at Peter's contribution to the UFO debate, via exchanges with government officials, as found in the Government's own UFO files.

The start:

On 4 February 1957, on Australian Flying Saucer Research Society (AFSRS) letterhead, Peter wrote to the Officer in Charge of the Air Department, at Victoria Barracks, in Melbourne.

The purpose of the letter was "...to inform you that a group of Melbourne citizens have decided to establish a branch of The Australian Flying Saucer research Society..."

"The decision was made following the news item reported in "The Herald" of January 7th, 1957, concerning the inauguration in the U.S.A. of the National Investigating Committee on Aerial Phenomena under Admiral Delmar Fahmey. This body aims at encouraging the formation of saucer clubs throughout the national to supply trained observers."

Peter then asked the following questions in this letter:

"1. Is the Department still actively engaged in the investigation of UFO reports? If so, is it interested in receiving details of any reports made to the Society by members of the public?
2. Are reports investigated by the Department classified material? If not, have members of the public access to reports and evaluations made to and by the Department?
3. Would the Department be prepared to co-operate with the Society to the extent of providing data which would assist the latter in evaluating reports received by it?

The letter was signed P E Norris, Honorary President. (Source: Digital version of file 554/1/30 Part 1 pp237-238.)

I was unable to find a reply to this letter on this file.

The AFSRS had been formed by Frederick Phillip Stone of Adelaide, in 1955. Stone carried out frequent correspondence with the RAAF, prior to 1957. This correspondence is to be found on a number of Government UFO files.

On 6 April 1957 Peter wrote to Mr F Mulrooney, Secretary of Air, Department of Air. "My father has suggested I should write you in regard to the recent inauguration in Melbourne of the Victorian Branch of The Australian Flying Saucer Research Society of which I am Honorary President." The Society was running a radio show segment on station 3KZ. "...the interest exhibited by the public is truly tremendous."

"During the last few years, officers of the Air Department have occasionally made statements to the press expressing the Department's interest in the investigation of Unidentified Flying Objects. Would it be possible for us to visit one of your officers for the purpose of recording an interview with him for broadcast on 3KZ?" (Source: Digital version of file 580/1/1 Part 1 pp87-88.)

F J Mulrooney responded on 8 May 1957 (p.86.) "I regret that it is not possible to make an officer available for this purpose." There are no internal discussion papers on the file to explain the rationale behind the decision. However, I do recall another internal discussion on Directorate of Air Force Intelligence (DAFI) papers, where the fact that it was the Defence Intelligence area of the RAAF which was investigating UFO reports, was thought might give the wrong impression, that there really was something to the UFO subject.

1959:

On 31 August 1959, Miss D Gillman, Secretary of the Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society (VFSRS) (the former Victorian Branch of the AFSRS), wrote to the Air Department asking "..if it would be possible to procure information on UFO sightings..." (Source: Digital version of file 554/1/30 Part 1 p220.)

DAFI responded on 3 September 1959 and referred in part, to their reply to Peter's letter of 4 February 1957, citing a file reference of 114/1/201 folio 22A. "This letter sets out the RAAF's attitude towards investigations of reports of Unidentified Flying Objects which has remain unchanged." (Source: Digital version of file 554/1/30 Part 1 p219.)

I looked for file 114/1/201 in the National Australia Archives, but their search engine directed me back to file 554/1/30 Part 1, on which there is no reply. So, unfortunately we are unable to read what the "RAAF's attitude towards investigations of reports of Unidentified Flying Objects" was, as set out in this letter.

The Boianai sightings:

In 1959 there were a number of UFO reports which originated in New Guinea, including a close range observation of several beings on board a UFO, which occurred at Boianai and involved a Reverend Gill, amongst the witnesses.

On 12 September 1959 Peter wrote to DAFI on VFSRS letterhead. The letter advised DAFI that VFSRS had "...been undertaking investigations into the alleged sightings of unidentified flying objects reported by the Reverend Father W B Gill of Boianai..." Peter asked if DAFI had looked into Father Gill's claims, and if so what conclusions they had reached. The third question was "If the Department has not in fact investigated the reports, is the Department satisfied that these incidents do not constitute the infringement of Australian territorial jurisdiction by air-craft emanating from an alien earth nation?" (Source: Digital version of file 554/1/30 Part 1 p216.)

DAFI's short, undated response was that "We have no official information of any sightings by Gill in New Guinea, but we are now making inquiries into the matter."
(Source: Digital version of file 554/1/30 Part 1 p215.)

On 20 October 1959 Peter again wrote to DAFI, on the Gill sightings, advising DAFI of Gill's Victorian address. (Source: Digital version of file 554/1/30 Part 1 p213.)

Later, on 16 November 1959, Peter sent DAFI a copy of "Father Gill's sightings report, with an evaluation annexed thereto." Peter asked DAFI for a response to his questions posed in the 12 September letter. (Source: Digital version of file 554/1/30 Part 1 pp197-212.) The copy of Gill's report was quite detailed, and included in the introduction "The reports described in the following pages constitute the most remarkable testimonies of intense UFO activity reported to civilian investigators in the entire history of UFO research." (Source: Digital version of file 554/1/30 Part 1 p.198.)

The VFSRS evaluation concluded that:

"4. The Boianai UFO's are advanced craft, manned by humanoid beings, capable of a fantastic range of aerodynamic performance.
5. The Boianai sightings do not PROVE ipso facto that the UFOs are non-terrestrial spaceships; they indicate a strong LIKELIHOOD that they are such." (Source: Digital version of file 554/1/30 Part 1 p.199.)

DAFI's response dated 26 November 1959 was that they were still investigating Gill's report.

Peter's group put pressure on the Department of Air by sending a letter dated 25 November 1959 to the Minister for Defence about the Papua events. (Source: Digital version of file 554/1/30 Part 1 p193.)

After interviewing Gill, DAFI responded to Peter on 22 February 1960 (Source: Digital version of file 554/1/30 part 1 p166.) DAFI confirmed that they had investigated Gill's claims. They declined to release a copy of their internal investigation report, but stated "However, although it is not possible to reach any positive conclusions, we do not believe that the phenomena observed by the Reverend Gill and his party were manned space vehicles. An analysis of bearings and angles above the horizon does suggest that at least three of the lights were planets..." (Source: Digital version of file 554/1/30 Part 1 p.166.)

(To be continued.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Andrija Puharich and "space kids"

During my research into the 1970's contactee, Valerie Ransone (see my earlier post here) I came across a reference to her being one of Dr Andrija Puharich's "space kids" in the mid 1970's. I decided to take a look for further material on these "space kids."

Literature searches:

Firstly, I took a look at the book "My Story" authored by Uri Geller, published by Corgi Books in 1977. ISBN 0552 10391 8. It is Geller's own story. Although it provides an interesting account of Geller's involvement with Puharich, it only covers Puharich's life between 1971 and 1973. There are no mentions of "space kids."

Next, came a look at Jacques Vallee's book "Forbidden Science-Volume 2." Despite the fact that it covers the years 1970-1979, and has several mentions of Puharich, it too offers no information on "space kids."

I then tracked down a copy of a book titled "Briefing for the Landing on Planet Earth" authored by Stuart Holroyd, and published in 1979 by Corgi. ISBN 0 552 10997 5. The work is about another chapter in Puharich's life between 1974 to 1977 but again, no mention of "space kids."

Finally, I did find a reference in H G M Hermans' book "Memories of A Maverick." Hermans was a former wife of Puharich. "A series of events that had taken place in May 1975 made him decide to start a program with children. While in England he'd met several children ...who could bend spoons, blades, or pocketknives and keys...he took the kids to Glastonbury Tor...this experience with the kids was the first time that Andrija thought about a program for children. The second time occurred two weeks later in Mexico." (pp130-131.) He went to Mexico at the request of a Mexican TV station and as a result of his visit, "...three boys, Jaime, Jonathan and Octavio were so impressive that he decided to invite them to Ossining for a summer program." (p.131.)

In July 1975 Puhrich wrote to Hermans that "I am now turning my attention to healing work, and work with children. I started an experimental school. The 9 "space kids" are all here." (p.132.) Hermans' 14 year old son Andy was at Ossining at that time. "All the kids lived by themselves at the "Turkey Farm" a house on the estate and maintained a strict daily routine of meditation, dream telling sessions, hobby time workouts and swimming. They took turns cleaning the house and do the cooking. Either Andrija or somebody else would give talks on the hazards of drugs or smoking..." (p.132.) Speaking of her son Andy, Hermans said "...Andy never told me what it meant to be a 'space kid' until recently. If he had told me then that each kid was hypnotized in order to go back to his 'parent civilisation' I would probably have flipped and kept him home." (p.132.)

"According to Andy, most of the kids present came from another planet. They had voluntarily returned to planet Earth to help in the raising of human consciousness." (pp132-133.) "That's why daddy set up the program," Andy told me "to remind these kids of their mission in life..." (p.133.) "The program with the kids lasted until the end of August, but all through 1975 and 1976, young people from all over the world kept coming to Ossining." (p.133.)

My comments:

This is the clearest understanding I found of what Puharich meant by a "space kid" i.e. someone who he said came from another planet. There are no references to Valerie Ransone in any of the four books I read about Puharich. In addition, at age 28 in 1978, she was not in the age range that Hermans ascribes to "space kids." Has any reader come across additional original source material on Puharich's "space kids?"

Saturday, April 9, 2011

New book alert - Plowman

Hi readers

Adelaide's changeable autumn weather is here! 31 degrees C yesterday and sunny; 21 degrees today and raining.

Today's post is about the book "The UFO diaries:travels in the weird world of high strangeness" by Australian Martin Plowman. 2011. Arena. Crows Nest, Sydney. ISBN 978-1-741-759-815.

Prologue:

Plowman undertook his PhD at Melbourne University and wrote "...a comprehensive history of the belief in UFOs, as seen through the eyes of the world's true believers." (p.xi.)

Is Martin a ufologist? "I'm not a ufologist myself, but I am fascinated by their fascination with UFOs." (p.x1.)

Interestingly, Plowman announces here "If you are looking for answers, talk to a priest or a psychologist, for you will not find them in this book." (p.xi.)

Study:

Research for his PhD commenced with visits to the State Library of Victoria to digest their UFO book collection. Then it was off to visit the Victorian UFO Research Society "...to actually meet ufologists, to walk among them and interact openly in their natural habitat..." (p.19.)

The audience viewed a video taken in Melbourne. "UFOlogists absolutely live for moments like this; for them, the next 'unexplained sighting' could be the one that finally proves the existence of UFOs." (p.23.)"...after this brief immersion in the UFO subculture I wanted to see more of the world of high strangeness." (p.31.)

Travel:

Plowman decided to travel (in 2002) first to the USA and Roswell. He spent a week at the International UFO Museum and Research Center. (Click here.) He was presented with the opportunity to read rare UFO books and he interviewed Walter Haut, co-director of the museum

From Roswell, he went to the White Sands Missile Range. "I wanted to compare the official story of how the V-2 missiles were brought to America with the findings of my research, which drew intriguing parallels with conspiracy theories explaining what happened to the crashed Roswell flying saucer after it was captured by the US Air Force (p.62.)

The next stop was Area 51. "Nuts-and-bolts ufologists never did prove the existence of UFOs. And yet...they were not alone. In the 1950's their greatest rivals in the search for the Truth were a motley bunch of mystics, charlatans, false professors and self-appointed gurus known collectively as the contactees." (pp77-78.)

Plowman reviews the accounts of George Adamski; takes a swipe at Theosophy; George Van Tassell and the contactee group led by Mrs Marian Keech. "Such were the contactees...No, I don't believe any of it either..." (p.97.)

He moved on to Argentina, then Chile for a visit to the Elqui Valley- "...the valley is famous for its UFO sightings. My research led me to believe that latter-day contactees had colonised the Elqui's upper reaches in an effort to get closer to the space brothers." (p.103.) (Click here.)

More adventured followed in Bolivia, to Samaipata "The ruins of a pre-Inca temple...ufologists believe, it's an ancient astronaut landing site." (Click here.)

Peru was next on his itinerary, to see the Nazca lines. Finally, after seven months in South America he returned home to Melbourne. Here we find out more about his UFO interests. "I'm not a believer or a sceptic...I'm more of a historian of the strange, and analyst of the improbable. The stories about UFOs are what I'm interested in, not the things themselves.(p.200.)

Mexico:

After completing his PhD, he travelled to Mexico. The chapter detailing his Mexican saga is about abductees. "What we saw in Mexico, and what I encountered in my earlier travels in Chile, Bolivia and Peru, was a folk ufology that drew upon pre-Hispanic legends...Catholic imagery...and modern ufology in the attempt to make sense of UFO sightings." (p.280.)

Conclusion:

"Lets face it, despite ufology's enormous output-surely it must be one of the longest-lived and most popular alternative cultural movement of the last century-it's as far from proving the existence of UFOs as it has ever been. (p.287.)

Comments:

I did find this a different sort of UFO book. The author extensively travelled parts of the world, talking first hand to people who had either seen or researched UFOs. The author's style of humour put me off in parts, but overall it should be read from the point of view of an anthropologist' study of the UFO tribes.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Looking for patterns in the data

Dear readers

I was out walking through parts of the River Torrens linear park, in Adelaide, this morning. It was a glorious day, 17 degrees c, blue sky, with some of the trees in autumnal splendour.

My eyes were drawn to such things as two aircraft condensation trails in the sky; a spider's web in the branch of a tree; and a number of ducks on a pond. This got me thinking about patterns in the UFO data! Then later in the day, at my local library I came across the following article in issue 271 of the English Fortean Times (click here) magazine, page 27. Synchronicity.

Hidden patterns:

Jenny Randles (click here) is the author of the article titled "Hidden Patterns."

She examines two UFO sightings. The first occurred at a place in Staffordshire, England, called Tittensor, in December 1978. At 9.56pm a farmer saw two bright lights approaching. He stopped his motor vehicle and got out, and watched a soundless, low flying object which came within 37m of him. It had "...a long oval base, tapered at both ends and a pillbox-like dome on top. It was about 35 feet long and 120 feet wide (11 by 3m.) The dome was about 10ft by 10ft..." It left the area.

At 9.30pm on 24 November 1981 "...again on a dark country lane surrounded by open land, hedges, trees and power lines," at Darco, Texas, USA a man and a woman in a car saw two bright lights approaching them. They stopped the vehicle to watch. It was soundless and came very close to them. It banked in the same way as the UK object had done. "The two craft were also physically alike. The Darco object was another cigar shaped oval (about 25ft/7.6m wide) with tapered edges and a small cupola-like dome on top."

"Overall, the impression of studying these files is of the same object, repeating its encounter in similar locations, at the same time of day and year...However, there were some minor differences..."

Jenny suggests that "...we should be searching for further examples in the extensive UFO records-they may form a pattern revealing further pieces of a puzzle that belongs together."

Committee members of the VFSRS/VUFORS : 1959 - 1972

Introduction Between 1959 and 1972, there were over thirty individuals who served on the committee of the Victorian Flying Saucer Resea...