Wednesday, March 20, 2019

UFO Weirdness in the West

I'll be lecturing at the following Penrith event along with Paul Cropper, Tony Healy & Damien Nott.  Hope to see you there:
Ufo Weirdness In The West
Penrith City Library, Peter Goodfellow Theatrette
601 High Street, Penrith, NSW 2750
On Sunday 7 April 2019 at 1:30pm

Here is an event you don't want to miss.
Book via this link:
Bill Chalker - 1.30pm
The Great UFO Death & Resurrection Show:
UFO history, fact and fiction
The New York Times piece from December 2017 which highlighted both the secret Pentagon UFO programme AATIP, revealing its project head Luis Elizondo, and an extraordinary UFO encounter back in 2004, the USS Nimitz encounter, also revealing one of the key witness Commander Fravor, was a watershed of a huge amount of mainstream news coverage.
The turbulent interface of UFO history, fact and fiction - the media’s wild dance with UFOs - case study of Dr. Allen Hynek and the History Channel’s 'Project Blue Book' and the religious impulse - Dr. Diana Pasulka’s 'American Cosmic - UFOs, Religion & Technology'.
Rock star Tom Delonge, Dr. Hal Puthoff and To The Stars Academy.
The phenomenon: UFOs & 'solid light' - case studies: Kiama, NSW, Australia and Port Jervis, USA
Using science to try to understand whats really go on - DNA & forensic investigation - case study: 'Hair of the Alien'
Paul Cropper - 2.15pm
The Yowie Phenomenon
Stories of giant, hair-covered creatures are common in Aboriginal tradition. Europeans have described similar encounters since the early 1800s. What is the source of these mysterious reports? Is there really an undiscovered animal lurking in the Australian bush or are skeptics correct in dismissing sightings as hoaxes or mistaken identity? Author Paul Cropper reviews the evidence.
Tony Healy - 3.00pm
Mysterious New Zealand
Like Australia, New Zealand has produced a wide range of strange animal reports, ufo sightings and even weirder stories.
Alien big cats, moa survivors, lake monsters, giant, hairy ape-men and the elusive waitoreke.
Tony will take us to several of NZ’s cryptozoological hot spots:
To the Canterbury Plains in search of mysterious black panthers and cougars.
To the swamps and streams of Southland in search of the semi-mythical, otter-like Waitoreke.
To several lakes and rivers that Maori people believe are guarded by spirits called Taniwhas, which can take the form of giant lizards. Coincidentally (?) many British settlers reported seeing “crocodiles” in those same lakes and rivers.
To several North Island locations that, in Maori tradition, were/are frequented by giant, hairy, yowie-like cannibals; the Maero aka Moehau. At two of those locations he will introduce us to Pakehas (non-Maoris) who have encountered the fearsome creatures and lived to tell the tale.
To Arthurs Pass, South Island, to interview one of the three people who saw what they believe was a Moa in 1993.
Phantom airships, Min Mins, UFOs, great balls of fire:
While on the trail of those mysterious animals, Tony found time to visit places noted for other types of strange phenomena:
A North Island property reportedly plagued by Min Min-type nocturnal lights and repeated lightning strikes.
The ufo and fireball-plagued town of Greymouth.
Several localities in Southland that featured in the “phantom airship” flap of 1909. (A couple of those locations have produced ufo and “spook light” reports in the modern era).
Damien Nott 3.50
Paranormal aspects of UFO phenomena
Damien will be presenting his hypothesis on the possible links between UFO and other paranormal phenomenon, a subject known as 'high strangeness'.
He will be showing possible links he has uncovered, as well as talking about his own experiences with multiple witnesses and showing video/photographic evidence pertaining to this.
Damien will also be presenting an experiment that has kept him busy for the past few months relating to UFO captures taken using multiple cameras with composite exposure techniques. Be prepared for some highly unusual footage and a thought-provoking afternoon.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

A look back at a close encounter in Beaufort, Victoria, Australia, in 1969 - a formative year in my UFO research

UFO Close encounter at Beaufort Victoria in 1969
my artist impression drawn in 1971
of Tim Oliver's 1969 sighting 
1969, mid July (either Friday 11 or 18July) UFO Investigation Centre (UFOIC) report Close Encounter Beaufort, Victoria 
Report by Bill Chalker, UFOIC 
Bill Chalker was originally alerted to this incident via Greg Hardy, who had been a high school student with Bill at Grafton.  Both then went to the University of New England at Armidale, Greg doing Economics and Bill doing Science.  1971 was the first year of their university studies.  The primary witness to the encounter Tim Oliver (name originally (1971) not for publication, but Bill Chalker confirmed in 9/3/19 phone call that Tim was ok with his name being associated with the report in any publication) wrote a 15-page letter to Bill Chalker in the wake of his “UFOs and the solid Light Enigma” article appearing in the UFO special issue of New Dawn magazine (January/February, 2019). Bill spoke with the witness again (9/3/19) after relocating original source material on his investigations back in 1971 (48 years ago). Bill Chalker also spoke with Tim’s 92-year old mother who witnessed the event.  She confirmed Tim’s account provided initially to Bill back in 1971 and reconfirmed in 2019. 
(extracted from letter by Bill Chalker to Bill Moser UFOIC secretary dated 31/8/71.  Fortunately I had retained a carbon copy of my letter. I have not been able to locate the “full report” I referred to in the letter) 
“A 1styear Economics student (very studious and consistently trains) (Tim Oliver) told me that around 8.30, on a Friday night in middle July, 1969 (either 11thor 18th) he was training near a golf course, on the outskirts of Beaufort, Victoria, when he saw a red “star” over a hill about a mile away. On closer inspection it proved to be a hovering saucer. He quickly returned home, and by the time he returned with his mother in the family car, the saucer had been joined by another, the same in all respects. They were travelling slowly about 50 feet in the air, about 200 feet apart and approx. parallel to 3-tierred high powered tension lines (66,000 volts), at about 20 mph (miles per hour), heading eastwards, roughly in the direction of Ballarat (about 40 miles away).  As they drove the car up to the outside of the golf course, both UFOs appeared to respond to their presence by turning towards them, but they resumed their parallel course, once the car engine was turned off (i.e. EM effects – (2019 comment: well maybe.  Tim confirmed they had turned the car on and off at least twice getting this response each time.  He and his mother were becoming concerned, so they did not persist)). Tim got to within 50 feet of the object leading.  Each were about 30 feet in diameter, saucer-shaped, with an upper flat topped cupola, bearing about 24 square windows from which came the bright red lights.  They did not spin and they made absolutely no noise, and both he and his mother (who had watched from the golf course fence) watched as the UFOs disappeared in the direction of Ballarat, still flying parallel to the power lines.  This incident could be interpreted in the same way John G. Fuller considers in the famous Exeter sightings revealed in his book, “Incident at Exeter.”  By the way the witness requested that his name be withheld, and that of a friend, who had seen 2 or 3 UFOs, 3 weeks after his own sighting, just north of the Beaufort township.  I have made a full report on this sighting and I honestly believe that he and his mother had in fact seen 2 real metallic UFOs.” 
In his letter of 1/2/19 Tim Oliver describes his sighting from nearly 50 years before:
(he refers to August, 1969, but his mid July 1969 dating he supplied to me in 1971 would be more reliable):
“I’d like to present an “11thcase” of my own(he was referring to my top 10 list that was carried in an interview of me by Robbie Graham that was published in the early 2019 New Dawn Special Issue) on/in August 1969, while living in Victoria near Ballarat.
“Background- I was always into exercise & fitness & have run 4 miles/day most days since 1968. Ran in City-to-Surf, won lap of lake @ Ballarat, won cross-country’s @ University of New England, ran a 4-minute mile etc. (Armidale, 1974) was a student @ UNE(University of New England) in Economics & Accounting 1971-73.
“8.00 p.m. @ night. No sound from these craft & “red” port holes. They came closer & closer & revealed a “classic” grey saucer shape like 2 dinner plates, one inverted on the other to make a dome on the top with a shallow dish on the bottom.
“Both were tree height & moved intelligently, independent of each each other, just drifting along @ about 50 feet height (no sound), no props, no jets.
“I was 16 @ time, 1969, & studying Leaving Certificate (Form 5) Physics & Chemistry & heard of flying saucers but that’s all.
“Ran home, got my mother & we drove down to the Golf Club.
“The 2 Space ships were still “drifting” along following the 66,000 volt power lines towards Ballarat.
“The car generator? (In those days), no alternator & lights seemed to attract them, as they “responded” to the starting and stopping the motor, coming towards us each time we started engine.  We had an old 1958 Morris Marshal with no electronics, as it didn’t cut our lights or engine, as you hear in some cases.
“I stood right under both as they drifted east.  There was no wind – a cold clear night typical of Ballarat weather in Winter.
“Red Port holes” & Saucers the size of an airliner.  Many trees were in the golf course of 200 acres & whole the space craft dodged these in complete darkness at such low height was a miracle, especially with no apparent drive/noise system.
“After much time they accelerated east @ an “unbelievable” speed, far beyond helicopters or aircraft of that time.
“Sorry for poor writing as I’ve written this “off the cuff” in about 20 minutes after all theseyears past!  My mother Joan is 92 & still alive as a witness.  She could verify thison(phone number supplied – and indeed she does – see below).
“It was a “miracle” of my life @ 16 years, never seeing anything like it again.
“Many people see strange lights etc but this was the close up real thing, like seeing planes land @ an airport, only I was even closer. These craft were intelligently controlled!!
“The Golf course was basically a dairy farm for cows.  You should have seen the “bloodshot fear in their eyes & the “mooing,” their upset.  Even though the spaceships came over with no sound, the cows “knew” this wasn’t any normal aircraft.  They are basically placid creatures, as Dad had cows.  They were scared by the abnormal crafts!!” 
I contact Tim’s mother Joan, speaking with her on 10/3/19. She confirmed Tim’s account and went on to describe her take on the events. Tim had gone riding to check if anything was wrong with it. He had witnessed this strange light and had returned to get her to witness it as well.  They had stopped in the middle of the street to watch the strange lights.  They were in their car and the 2 lights approached them. His mother was scared and had wanted to run into nearby houses to get more witnesses. They flew away over pine plantations towards Ballarat. She told Tim that they should tell Bill, his father, but Tim not to as he’ll think you are mad. Indeed, that’s what Bill said when Joan told him. 
Joan told me they were round, apparently spinning and a greyish colour.  They had portholes and looked like what you see in classic flying saucer photos. They appeared bigger than cars.  
“it really did happen … I was scared.  I was there. It did happen,” Joan told me. 
Their sighting occurred in mid July 1969.  
Only a month later I had an intriguing experience.  I would not learn of the Beaufort sighting until 1971.  
My own experience at Grafton on 30 August 1969:
Mid afternoon on found me relaxing on a surfboard in the middle of the Clarence River.  My reverie was interrupted when I noticed streams of fine white filament coming down over the river.    I was immediately fascinated as this was a great opportunity to directly sample what I took to be a good example of a fascinating natural phenomenon.  I took the streams to be the floating web of migratory balloon spiders.  I also knew that in UFO lore exotic material of a similar appearance was occasionally linked to UFOs - namely "angel hair" - thought by some researchers to be a by product of whatever strange processes powered flying saucers.  So that afternoon I paddled over to the riverbank where large amounts of this "spider web" were coming down.   I thought that getting a good look at this stuff and keeping samples would be a handy resource or a calibration for the unlikely prospect of coming across alleged UFO related "angel hair" - an exotic item of UFO physical evidence.   
What I was not prepared for was the improbable.   There in my hands was material that did not quite fit into the migratory spider web category.  There were no tell-tale baby spiders.  As the baby spiders can quickly detach themselves from the web, the absence of spiders did not in itself intrigue me.  What followed did.   I began rolling up a copious amount of the material in my hands.  The filaments diminished in size (not too unusual given the viscous changes that can occur in those conditions, particularly with the possible addition of water from my hands), and then the material eventually dissipated into nothing visible and leaving no trace.  It gave the impression of rapid sublimation from solid to gas, but no vapours or odour was noticed.  The properties of spider’s web are well known, and apparently disappearing to touch is not one of them!   
With the realisation that that I may be dealing with something exotic I raced to a nearby friend’s residence to get some sample jars.  The fall of filaments had been quite profuse and much of it had come down along the riverbank.   When I returned a few minutes later there was none in evidence.  While only a very light breeze was apparent, the topography was such that spiders web should have been still in great profusion.  I even entered the water and investigated the riverbank for a considerable distance in the direction of apparent travel.   There was no trace of the filament fall.  The material did not seem to be spider’s web.   So called "angel hair" had the reported characteristic of quickly disappearing.   Was this the apocryphal "angel hair" - the "manna" of the saucers!  
I subsequently found out that at the same time, a number of Grafton people, including my own parents, had seen a possible UFO, described by some as an elongated white mass", traveling in a trajectory that would have passed over my river position but in a direction at right angles to the aerial flow of material I had witnessed.   Perhaps the "UFO" may have been a more compacted mass of the filaments I had seen traveling in a different direction?   I have since wondered if the “UFO” was even connected with what I saw at low height above the riverbank.  I did some checking and found that there may have been a HIBAL Ashcan high altitude balloon launched the day before from Wilcannia.  It may have also been seen at Kyogle, as reports were also made on the same day or the following day.  This may suggest that the “elongated white mass” could be explainable.  What I handled – the web like material that appeared to sublimate, cannot be as easily explained.  While tantalising the experience with this strange material was ultimately frustrating.  I had it right there in my own hands.
Earlier in 1969 the north coast of New South Wales (NSW) was the scene of widespread UFO reports and physical trace finds - "UFO nests". One of them was my primary entry point into the physical dimensions of the UFO phenomenon. 
I joined the curious throng that descended upon the strange crop damage site at Bungawalban, on the property of local parliamentarian Ian Robinson. The story became a nationwide media sensation. I would later learn of striking UFO encounters in the region such as at Harwood Island that seemed to involve levitation of the witness caught in the beam of light from a disc shaped craft.
  my sketch of the Harwood Island encounter

Thursday, February 28, 2019

John Pinkney – UFOs, “Alien Honeycomb” & the Australian Lord “Flying Saucerer” – some timely lessons from the past?

I only recently learnt of the passing of John Pinkney (He passed away peacefully on 28 August 2018 aged 84) and the following article is a look at part of his long and colourful part in the UFO story in Australia.  It begins with the “alien honeycomb” story – surely a cautionary tale for our current hunt for mysterious alloys, meta-materials and UFO “ejecta.” Following that by way of a tribute is a fascinating story of John’s encounter with the Australian Lord “Flying Saucerer” - Governor General Lord Richard Casey. 

Given the current controversies and intrigues about mysterious “alloys”, “meta-materials” and such, in the custody of the likes of the Pentagon, Robert Bigelow and others, and “the Artifact” – a center-piece in Diana Pasulka’s new book from Oxford University Press “American Cosmic – UFOs, Religion, Technology”, being examined by people like Gary Nolan, Jacques Vallee and Hal Puthoff & Luis Elizondo of TTSA, and others, it is worthwhile to retell this cautionary tale. In the absence of detailed analytical data prosaic possibilities need to be carefully considered before “alien” associations are obsessed with.  Should the results merit extraordinary claims lets see the detailed data. What follows is what happens if caution is not followed along with attempts at verification and peer review.
John Pinkney (1934 to 2018), journalist, writer (including the vampire novel “Thirst” which was the basis of the 1979 film of the same name), puzzle-maker and co-founder of the Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society with Peter Norris & Kevin Arnett back in 1957.
John had a long career in journalism. His October 1978 headline story on the Valentich story in the Australian newspaper drew a lot of attention. He started writing paranormal and unexplained mystery columns that appeared in the magazines like Pix-People. Through those he would get a lot of stories from readers and these would provide content for his many later books (such as “Haunted” (2011), “Great Australian Mysteries” (2003), “A Paranormal File: An Australian Investigator’s casebook” (2000) and “Alien Airships over old America: Plus 18 other tantalizing mysteries” 2011)). But it was his first UFO book in 1980 “Alien Honeycomb – the first solid evidence of UFOs” that really caught my attention.

As an industrial chemist it quickly became evident to me that a prosaic answer was likely.  In fact, he and I undertook a debate on the topic within the pages of the magazine he then wrote a column for – “the Great UFO Debate” – the editor’s title to our exchanges over 2 issues, although I had concluded that the material had nothing to do with UFOs – a position that put John and I in conflict at the time. 

If only John had considered a fascinating and sobering anecdote in R.V. Jones remarkable book “Most Secret War”. During the Swedish “ghost rocket” flap of 1945-46, then Director of British Scientific Intelligence, stated, “since there had been allegedly hundreds of (ghost-rocket) sorties, there ought to be at least several crashed bombs already in Sweden, and yet nobody had ever picked up a fragment.  I therefore said that I would not accept the theory that the apparitions were flying bombs from Russia until someone brought a piece into my office ….”  It turned out that the Swedes had several pieces of a “bomb.” “When I asked whether it had actually crashed, the answer was that it had not, but that various pieces had fallen off it,” Jones wrote.
These fragments were forwarded to British Intelligence.  Among them was “a lump 2 to 3 inches across that was hard, shiny, grey and porous.” Although Jones knew what it was, he sent it to the Chemical Analysis Section at Farnborough.  Many people in intelligence believed in the reality of the Russian flying bombs, and jumped upon the resultant analyses of one of the fragments: “… one of the lumps consist of more than 98 percent of an unknown element!”

Jones got in contact with the head of chemistry at Farnborough, who confirmed the startling result.  “I then asked him whether he had taken a good look at the lump, and whether it had not struck him as being remarkably like an ordinary piece of coke.  There was a gasp from the other end of the telephone as the penny dropped.  No one had stopped to look at the material, in an effort to get the analysis made quickly, and they failed to test for carbon. The other lumps had similarly innocent explanations.”

(a title I owe to Queensland researcher Paul Hebron)

"Alien Honeycomb - the first solid evidence for UFOs" by John Pinkney and Leonard Ryzman was published during 1980.  It professed to tell the story of a UFO explosion near Greenbank, Queensland, which led the authors to recovering some of the debris.  They claimed it contained "unknown elements and configurations".  The book revealed no details about chemical analyses and the authors resisted any attempt at confirmatory, independent analysis.  They were only prepared to have their material examined by the United Nations.   The story that allegedly connects the debris to a UFO is fragmentary and dubious.  In fact not enough information was given to verify a clear correlation.  Subsequent investigation indicated the original discovery of the material by locals was covered by the Brisbane Telegraph on November 13th, 1970.  The authors tried to link the debris with a sighting of a "flare" like "UFO" back in about 1966.

Pinkney and Ryzman indicated that most of the material was retrieved by RAAF officers, and then clandestinely dispatched to Pentagon testing laboratories.  They presented absolutely no evidence to back that statement up. The only reference to "Alien Honeycomb" I found in the RAAF files were internal memoranda from 1980. DEFAIR CANBERRA wrote to HQOC - SOINT on August 1st, 1980, regarding "Confirmation of Data in Book 'Alien Honeycomb'":
"The text of the book is sufficiently vague to make tracing information from service records a very tiring and difficult task.  A check of files held at Air Force Office has proven negative.
"Unfortunately, a 'no comment' or 'no information' response from the RAAF is only going to encourage this type of journalism. Accordingly, it is requested that HQOC initiate a check of records (including those of HQ AMB (Amberley - B.C.)for data which could relate to this matter". 
A telex dated September 5, 1980, and categorised as "unclassified/routine", from HQOC to DEFAIR Canberra, stated:
"Further to ref A the following is retrans of info received from HQ AMB. Quote:
"1.  Summaries of unidentified aerial sightings prepared by Dept of Air between mid 1968 and mid 1969 have been checked for mention of the case.  No mention of that particular sighting appears in the summaries.
"2. This is unusual because it is our understanding that the summaries were comprehensive and not edited lists of reported sightings.
"3. Unless requested by command the HQ does not propose to take this matter further".
I didn't see any evidence of a dark, pervasive coverup there.   Other RAAF files refer to retrieval of mundane debri, but none refer to the Greenbank "alien honeycomb".  More likely the key to this affair is languishing, not in a UFO or UAS file, but in aircraft accident files.

As an industrial chemist and someone who was promoting serious research into possible physical evidence for UFOs, I was interested in finding out more when the book first appeared. The authors did not assist independent research into their material.  Based on visual assessments I had concluded the material was AEROWEB high strength honeycomb, some of which is made from fibreglass - a clearly human-sourced material.  Soon other researchers, such as Paul Hebron, of UFO Research (Queensland) (to who I owe the heading “Not so alien honeycomb”), had acquired samples of the material from the site in question.  A researcher working for sceptic Dick Smith received some of the "alien honeycomb" from the same person who provided the authors with their material.  A clear relationship was established between this material and the material held by Pinkney and Ryzman.  Dick Smith financed an analysis through Unisearch laboratories, and not surprisingly confirmed that the "alien honeycomb" was not so alien - it was fibreglass!  So much for "the first solid evidence of UFOs."  More compelling examples of unusual debris or material related to UFO events have been documented.  However, in this case it was clear that the material had nothing to do with UFOs.  
From my personal collection of Greenbank "Alien Honeycomb"

And now John Pinkney’s encounter with our Lord “Flying Saucerer” and some of John’s more erudite journalism. I sought John Pinkney out to verify this fascinating story. 

“Guess What? UFO Men have been talking with our Leaders”

In 1972 there would be potent echoes of Lord Casey’s high level deep engagement with the UFO enigma.  It would be the 82-year-old political warrior’s last tilt at the alien UFO sirens that had ensnared him in their toxic and bewildering embrace since the 1950s.  One of the last great Anglo-Australians, Richard Casey, an Australian federal minister for External Affairs (now Foreign Affairs) (and minister in charge of the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) and ultimately Governor General of the country), had developed a passion for flying saucers during the 1950s.  He used his highly prominent position to get answers – answers that came to him via his Australian embassy appointees around the world, through scientists from the CSIRO and from his connections with the clandestine intelligence world in both Australia and Britain.
The Australian Lord "Flying Saucerer"
Richard Casey
Here before him was a startling story in one of Australia’s leading newspapers of record, the Melbourne Age. Using his connections Lord Casey knew he would simply have to find out if the article had any substance.

The article in question dated Saturday 7 October 1972 was headlined “Guess What? UFO Men have been talking with our Leaders”and was by John Pinkney, a piece for his regular column “Pinkney Place.”  It began eruditely enough, for John Pinkney was an accomplished wordsmith. The “charabancs” he refers to here were an early form of bus, used typically for pleasure trips, but John is using the term as a cosmic pleasure machine of transport :
“UFOs, the cosmic charabancs of inscrutable star-beasts are becoming as commonplace as rice pudding.
“For so long have these celestial soar-abouts been tracked on radar at 25,000 mph and up, photographed, watched by awestruck crowds, and goggled at by pilots and passengers, that their novelty is swiftly wearing off.
“Man has begun to itch for some fresh trick – such as a landing and disembarkation in Bourke Street.  The mystery is becoming an irritant.
“According, however, to Hoyle (namely Dr. Fred, the English astrophysicist) the saucer enigma is no mystery to Earth’s major Governments.
“At a special press conference, Hoyle claimed that the island universe folk, who had sped here in their careening kayaks, had been keeping man under benign surveillance for millennia.
“And that they had already introduced themselves to Nixon, Heath, Chou En-Lai and their ilk.
“Whether Mr. McMahon scored even a small, chipped saucer, Hoyle did not record.
“Administrations, alleged the scientist, were keeping quiet about the star creatures’ presence, for fear of drowning their populations in waves of cultural shock ….”

The article had a point to make:
“When the white men swarmed like a grey virus among the Aborigines, they smashed tribal modes which had survived for tens of thousands of years.
Awed, the black man gazed up at the monumental peaks of the invaders’ technology, and was lost … just as were the Red Indians and Maoris.
“And that’s what could happen to us if flying saucers landed.
“But ultimately, everything floats in the black, interstellar gulfs of conjecture.”
“With solicitor Peter Norris (now head of the UFO Research Group) I toured Victoria for two years, tape-recording the experiencers of saucer-sighters.
“Not all of our approximately 1000 interviewees found Hoyle’s alien galaxy denizens kindly.”

John Pinkney described a Fern Tree Gully schoolteacher being paralysed with fear as “a milky, road-spanning light, which, as she stood, turned bright yellow.”  Then there was the New Guinea missionary and natives who saw a UFO and “clearly recognizable men emerged” and waved at them – of course a reference to the famous Father Gill sightings.  Several of Norris and Pinkney’s “screened 1000” experienced electrical car failure.  Pinkney concluded, “I have spoken to too many witnesses (who can’t all be neurotic liars) to entertain the faintest doubt that UFOs do exist.”  He then pondered the origin of the visitors – from space or “the fearsome fruits of a fifth dimension.”

Casey, who had in the 1950s and 1960s, been one of the political elite and “their ilk,” immediately dispatched personal letters to his brother Dermont Armstrong Casey, an archaeologist, and to Lieutenant Colonel E.H.B. (Ted) Neill, chairman of Directors of the Age newspaper.  

Of his brother he asked, “What’s all this about? I’ve asked Ted Neill if it’s a leg-pull or what. Does it ring any sort of a bell with you?” Dermont Casey responded in a letter dated 12 October, “Dear Dick, I really have no idea at all as to why the Age publishes such silly rubbish … But from some of the rather strained school-boy humour in it – I can only think that it is supposed to be frightfully funny and ‘clever.’ He then ridicules “a quite stupid book published recently that has received a good bit of notice and publicity – called The Chariots of the Gods.  It is about the doings of extraterrestrial beings who are supposed to have been on the Earth in the past.” As an archaeologist he saw it as having “not a scrap of real evidence” that things like the Easter Island figures and the Pyramids were made by them.  Casey’s brother did write he hadn’t actually read the book, just some notices on it.

Lt. Col. Ted Neill’s letter of 13 October followed, assuring Lord Casey that the piece was not a “leg-pull” and that while he often wrote in “a highly imaginative way,” John Pinkney was formerly on the Age staff, but by then freelanced as a regular contributor, with 2 TV columns, his Saturday column and a daily puzzle feature “Murgatroyd’s Mind Stretcher” which Pinkney prepared in conjunction with some university scientists and mathematicians. Neill then quoted the 10 May 1971 Hoyle press conference details that informed Pinkney’s column.

Hoyle was knighted in 1972 for his work in theoretical physics and the study of the Universe.  Apparently his 1971 press conference didn’t weigh against him with British government and royalty.  He was President of the Royal Astronomical Society from 1971 to 1973. In his popular 1983 book “The Intelligent Universe – a new view of creation and evolution” which argued for an extraterrestrial origin of life on Earth via panspermia, he no longer endorsed his alien UFO relevations.  He wrote, “If there were any truth to the UFO stories something of a drastic consequence would have emerged unequivocally by now.  Although vastly more romantic and exuberant, I fear that UFO stories are just as misplaced as the (ghostly) medium stories of my boyhood.”  There seems a big disconnection between his 1971 statements and the 1983 book quote.

Sir Fred Hoyle had stated on 10 May 1971, “The only reason I called this press conference is that no Government in the world would release this information.  They fear panic among the people, and think that if the people know that some intelligent force is controlling them, they will no longer listen to them.”
“They (the aliens) are so different from what we know that to try and describe them in language that everyone would understand would be impossible.
“They seem to be totally free of any physical restrictions such as bodies.  They are like pure thought and can be anywhere at any time they please. The weirdest thing about it is that at times they actually appear in physical forms.  In this way they have been responsible for almost all the legends in different countries, which are scoffed at today.”

Neill wrote, “At the end of his press conference he said that his scientific colleagues agreed that enough of this information must be divulged to the public to soften the shock when the full revelations came, and that “A little at a time, more facts will be released (by us) until everyone has access to all the information.”

Neill added that Hoyle clarified the nature of the aliens, quoting, “It is not an alien intelligence from another planet.  It is actually from another universe which entered ours at the very beginning and has been controlling all that happened since.”

Beyond Neill’s briefing of Lord Casey were further rather astonishing statements by Dr. Hoyle at the same press conference:
“Human beings are simply pawns in a great game, being played by alien minds, which control mankind’s every move…
“These alien minds come from another universe, one with five dimensions…”
“These super-intelligent entities are so different from us that to apprehend them or to describe them in human terms, is impossible…”
“They have been here for countless eons and they have probably controlled the evolution of Homo-sapiens. All of what man has built and become was accomplished because of the ‘tinkering’ of these intelligent forces.”

Casey replied to his brother Dermont writing, “…I’m afraid I don’t agree with you about the Pinkney article … his quotation from Hoyle, I believe, has unusual sense.  I’ve since looked again at Harlow Shapley’s book (“Of Stars and Men”) who is the American equivalent of Hoyle (at Harvard) who in effect says the same thing as Pinkney quotes Hoyle as saying – i.e. in addition. “that there is some element yet to be found and formulated in our human assessment of what makes things work – i.e. in addition to the accepted four (Space, Time, Matter and Energy). He (Harlow Shapley) says “that a fifth entity exists we can’t scarcely doubt.  It must be a cosmic force and not merely human or earth bound.”  I suppose you might use the word “supernatural” for this fifth sense, although I don’t think either Hoyle or Harlow Shapley used it. When you get Hoyle and Harlow Shapely saying practically the same thing, you can’t laugh it off.  There are, each of them, the accepted tops of scientific thinking in the world, particularly in this field.”

Dermott responded, “It seems to me that what Hoyle has said is not very different from what many people think about God….” Then cautioned his brother Dick, However, it seems to me that this conception is only an hypothesis which trys to provide an explanation of things in an absence of any real concrete evidence.  But all this is all a very long way from Pinkney’s statement, that extra terrestrial beings have been operating on Earth and that they have been in communication with men.”
Casey had a meeting arranged to talk with John Pinkney at the Melbourne Club for 5pm Tuesday 24 October. He described some of that meeting in a letter written the next day to his brother Dermont:
“The only peculiar thing about him is that he has very long hair, so I had him on the verandah of the Club so that sight of him wouldn’t offend some of the more orthodox members!  His main interest is clearly in U.F.O. on which he is inclined to concentrate.  Of this I’ll ask the Defence Department if I can meet (in Melbourne) one of the R.A.A.F. Committee on investigation of U.F.O. and hear what he has to say.
“One mildly interesting thing that Pinkney had to say when I asked him what his plans and expectations were as regards U.F.O. – was “I don’t really suppose I’ll ever know more than I know at present” – which was a modest and sensible thing for him to say.”

Lord Casey was advised that Squadron Leader R.R. Roddy, Command Intelligence Officer for H.Q. Support Command, RAAF, Victoria Barracks, St. Kilda Road, Melbourne (which covered responsibilities in Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and parts of New South Wales) had been requested by his superior in Canberra to arrange to talk with him about UFOs.  Roddy dealt with counterintelligence and security – an interesting skill set for someone briefing  a person of Casey’s stature. Casey agreed to a meeting on 31 October 1972.

Squadron Leader Roddy gave Lord Casey a briefing including the standard description of Australia’s official involvement in UFO investigations:
“The investigation of reports of U.F.O.s in Australia is carried out by the Royal Australian Air Force, Directorate of Air Force Intelligence, at the Department of Air in Canberra.  A considerable amount of effort is spent in investigating each report and the majority of observers are interviewed by selected by selected RAAF personnel. 
“Between 23rdJanuary and 30thDecember 1971, the RAAF received 595 U.F.O. reports. Department of Air has assessed that 93 percent were explainable by present scientific knowledge.  Six percent of the reports did not provide sufficient information to permit proper analysis and evaluation.  One percent of the reports were attributed to unknown causes.”

The situation in the United Kingdom and the USA, mediated by the Condon Report, revealed similar statistics. The briefing also stated, “U.S. and Soviet space exploration has found no evidence to support the theory of life on planets in our solar system.  It seems that the Mariner series of space exploration to Mars has proved it a ‘dead’ planet.  The only other source of extra-terrestrial life, then, would have to be in another ‘solar system’.  It would seem, therefore, that whilst it may be possible for extra-terrestrial life forms to visit Earth, it is improbable.”

Roddy gave Lord Casey three summaries of U.F.O. sightings occurring in Australia between January 1960 and December 1971. The Department of Air used the more neutral term Unusual Aerial Sightings (UAS) for UFOs or flying saucer sightings.  In a letter to Sqd. Ldr. Roddy dated 6thNovember 1972, Casey thanked him “for being good enough to come see me to talk about U.F.O’s – and for your frankness in telling me about them.  It is (as you will know better than I do) a matter of quite considerable public interest, as is reflected in the prominence given to it in the Press by “so-called” sightings.  However you personally leave one in no doubt that you can find no reason to indulge in fanciful (non-material) explanations.”

With that, in his twilight years, Casey’s decades long journey through the mystery, that is the allure of the UFO, came full circle.

In the end, the ebbing flying saucer interest of Casey himself was enriched by the vision of an extraordinary woman (Maie Casey had a UFO sighting of her own in September 1967 – she saw a “bullet-shaped” object flying near her Berwick home), who Australian Prime Minister According to Diane Langmore “Glittering Surfaces – A life of Maie Casey” (1997) Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies once described as “Lady Macbeth”, because of her driving ambition for her famous husband – Lord Richard Casey. Lord Casey died on 17 June 1976.

Lord Casey’s 1972 UFO redux is documented in the National Archives of Australia (NAA) File series M1148, barcode 31415782, under Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) with the file title of “Department of Air: unusual aerial sightings: summary 3, January 1970-December 1971; correspondents include Lieutenant-Colonel E H B Neill.”

I reviewed my account of John Pinkney’s meeting with the Australian Lord “Flying Saucerer” Casey with John several years ago in a round of cordial conversations although the passing of time had dimmed his recollections.  He was pleased to hear that I was researching this curious piece of Australian UFO history. John’s embrace with the UFO and alien sirens was long, colourful, controversial and entertaining. John Pinkney could always tell a good story and write a great yarn. It was the dance with facts that made our paths cross, but even that was entertaining.     

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

"Project Blue Book" - the History channel's exponential descent into fiction inspired by a bit of fact & real history

 The History channel's fiction
Dr. Allen Hynek and me at his Chicago home in 1984
Holy Cow! This is not a bad piece of reporting.
It puts the TV show in a proper perspective - entertainment inspired by some real history. Having watched the first five episodes the descent in fiction somewhat inspired by fact and real history has been exponential. Understand that means a little bit a fact has inspired a whole of entertaining historical dramatic fiction. Read Mark O'Connell's excellent biography "The Close Encounters Man" to get the real story.
The History Channel's new show "Project Bluebook" "inspired" by Dr. Allen Hynek's research and investigations of "flying saucers" and UFOs is essentially fragmented and often invented "history" in the service of driving a historical drama. While you might be entertained by the drama of the series it seems like a game of spot the "facts", get use to the inventions of dramatic flourishes and let the show just serve to entertain. At least the history channel are putting up summaries of the real facts on the individual cases chosen each episode to shape the drama narrative. The first 3 episodes were based very loosely on the Fargo aerial "dog fight', the Flatwoods encounter and the Lubbock Lights. Check out the fact sheets the History channel are putting up for each case featured in the episodes. The UFO historian in me then suggests you check out the facts and do your own research. In particular read Mark O'Connell's excellent biography of Allen Hynek: "The Close Encounters Man", Allen Hynek's books of the subject "The UFO Experience", "The Edge of Reality - a progress report on UFOs" (co-authored with Jacques Vallee and Hynek's own take on Bluebook "The Hynek UFO Report". and Jerome Clark's 2 volume "The UFO Encyclopedia" (which I contributed to) just recently re-emerging in its 3rd edition. 
If the show helps draw attention to Allen Hynek's real contribution to a UFO science it might make up for its disconnection from the real history. 
Why invent history when the real story should be what is told? Allen Hynek's real history needs to be shown rather than the promotion of pseudo-history, but we live in strange times, where invented history dramas are apparently needed to get people interested. 
Do yourself a favour and go beyond the History channel's dramatic fictionalisation of Allen Hynek's fascinating life. 
Here is a link to my review of Mark O'Connell's biography of Allen Hynek's real story - a good start to exploring the facts rather than limiting yourself to fake historical dramatic narratives:

"UFOs & the Solid Light Enigma" & "The Untold Story of Australian Ufology - An interview with Australia's leading UFO researcher Bill Chalker" & a lot more in New Dawn special UFO issue…/new-dawn-special-issue-vo…
Just out is this new UFO special issue from New Dawn magazine which features Robbie Graham's interview with me under the title of "The Untold Story of Australian Ufology - An interview with Australia's leading UFO researcher Bill Chalker" plus an article by me - "UFOs & the Solid Light Enigma". Click on the link and there is a 2nd image that gives the contents of the special which also includes Suzy Hansen's fascinating piece "Alien Technology Transfers?" and Ben Hurle's "UFO Encounters - Victoria, Australia". Lots to digest and consider. Enjoy.
My examination of 2 famous UFO cases - the 1966 Westall incident and the 1978 disappearance of Frederick Valentich will appear in the March-April issue of the New Dawn magazine according to the editor.

Jerome Clark's magisterial 2 volume work "The UFO Encyclopedia"

I highly recommend Jerome Clark's massive 2 volume work - "The UFO Encyclopedia".  I am biased to a degree as I am a contributor to all 3 editions:
First edition - Volume 1 :UFOs in the 1980s - "Australian Ufology" (1990), Volume 2: "The Emergence of a Phenomenon: UFOs from the Beginning through 1959" - "UFOs in Australia and New Zealand through 1959" (1992) & Volume 3 "High Strangeness: UFOs from 1960 through 1979"
Second Edition - Volume 1: A-K 7 & Volume 2: L-Z: "Airship Sightings in New Zealand and Australia," "Cressy Sighting," "Drury Film," "Jarrold Affair," "Tully and other UFO nests," and "Valentich Disappearance." 
Third Edition - Volume 1: A-M & N-Z: "Airship Sightings in New Zealand/Australia," "Cressy Sighting," "Drury Film," "Fernvale Episode," "Jarrold Affair," "Khoury case," "Tully and other UFO nests," and "Valentich Disappearance." 
I got a contributors copy which came to Australia via Austria, courtesy of a geographically impaired mail person at the US publisher Omnigraphics. Despite its wayward trip it is well worth the wait. I recommend it to all serious UFO researchers and libraries.
Contributors to the 3rd edition only had a very short amount of time to contribute only new material, with the possibility that contributions to the previous editions might also be used. Given these constraints in what really was a very short time frame only a limited number of my contributions could be completed in the format required, which involved detailed referencing. Most of my time was spent on trying to complete a broad overview of Australian ufology, which in the end couldn't be used because much of the referencing needed to be reconciled with the total encyclopedia. So in the end, in terms of new material I managed to get in "Airship sightings in New Zealand/Australia" (which include 1868 Parramatta), "Fernvale Episode (1927), and "Khoury case" (1988 & 1992). 
While the Westall '66 case has recently risen in prominence it was not covered in this edition, but was covered in some detail in Volume 3 of the first edition ("High Strangeness" (1996). Parts of previous editions contributions that made it into the 3rd edition included "Tully and other UFO nests", "Valentich Disappearance". Other cases include Gill CE3", "Cressy Sighting", "Drury Film". These are specific entries. References to other case material appear in non specific entries. Just remember this is not an encyclopedia of Australian UFOs. 
More contributions might have made it if there was not such an insanely short period to get new material together. But still there is a lot of new material. My Brazilian friend Thiago Luis Ticchetti managed to get a lot of Brazilian representation into the 3rd edition, including a 20 page coverage of Operation Prato (Plate), Brazil had not been that well represented in previous edition. One big disappointment I have is not having enough time to get an Asian/Chinese presence in the 3rd edition. If all the contributors had been given more notice a lot more material could have made the deadline. 
To get a fuller picture of UFOs in Australia all 3 editions need to be looked at. Any reader, researcher, experiencer, witness & investigation would get a lot out of getting all 3 editions. Its been an extraordinary effort from Jerry Clark.
The Third edition has a huge amount of new material and updated entries. I have enjoyed trawling through this excellent publication. The page count for the entries alone is 1462.. While Jerome Clark has done the biggest part of the encyclopedia extensive contributions come from Dr.Thomas (Eddie) Bullard (such as the 38 paged "Abduction Phenomenon" entry which opens the huge number of entries, Brad Sparks (such as "Sensor Networks to Track UFOs in the Vietnam War" (discovered by Australian researcher & friend Paul Dean), Thiago Luiz Ticchetti (who brings a wealth of Brazilian material to the new edition, including a 20 page entry on Operation Prato (Plate), Thomas Tulien (includes a 16 page entry on the extraordinary 1968 Minot Air Force base radar/radar visual case) and myself (as stated above include detailed entries on the 1868 Birmingham affair ("Airship Sightings in New Zealand/Australia"), "Fernvale Episode" (the 1927 prophecy of the 1967 Mothman affair) and "Khoury Case" (a 4 page overview of the Khoury DNA investigations and research). Well worth your reading.
The founding editor of "Fortean Times" Bob Rickard (who escorted me on a very pleasant and enjoyable Fortean bookshop tour in London back in 2002) reviews the 3rd edition in the December 2018 issue indicating, "Few books on ufology are more valuable than this massive enterprise from ufology's foremost historian .... UFOE3 is magisterial in its scope, content, execution and trustworthiness.  It has no rivals and is unlikely to be improved upon in a long time." Bob recommended to readers they get out to their nearest library or university and "insist (nicely) that it is absolutely vital - especially in this age of fake news and conspiracy-mongering - that they have a copy and make it available to all."
There is a whole lot of UFO knowledge packed away in this cross section of UFO encyclopedias - general & specific. In the horizontal the 7 volumes contained in the 3 editions of Jerome Clark's extraordinary accomplishment - the UFO Encyclopedia series. I have had the honour and pleasure of contributing to all 3 editions. The edition with the yellow spine is the latest. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

UFOs around the world - Australia

Here  is  the link  to  Robbie Graham's interview with me about  UFOs in Australia
UFOs Around the World: Australia | Mysterious Universe 
and here is the  interview without the ads:

Bill Chalker.
Over the next several weeks, I’ll be conducting interviews with leading UFO researchers from countries around the world in an effort to paint a picture of global UFOlogy today. This week, our global UFO trek takes us to Australia, and to Bill Chalker, a veteran UFO researcher based in Sydney with a background in chemistry and mathematics. He has contributed to such publications as Rolling Stone and Reader’s Digest and has written chapters for books including UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry and all three volumes of Jerome Clark’s The UFO Encyclopedia. He is the author of The OZ Files (1996) and Hair of the Alien (2005) and Coordinator of the Sydney-based UFO Investigation Centre (UFOIC) and the Anomaly Physical Evidence Group (APEG)
RG: Who have been the defining figures in Australian UFOlogy over the past 70 years (for better or for worse), and why?
BC: Edgar Jarrold is generally seen as a foundational figure in Australian ufology with his 1952 group, the Australian Flying Saucer Bureau, and his publication, The Australian Flying Saucer Magazine. More controversially, it is his departure from public ufology that helped spawn Gray Barker’s version of the “men-in-black” saga with his colourful book, They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers (1956). South Australian ufologist Fred Stone tried unsuccessfully to take over Jarrold’s national reach. By the end of the 1950s, individual state groups began their rise with people like Peter Norris (the Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society, later VUFORS), Stan Seers (the Queensland Flying Saucer Bureau, now UFO Research (Qld)) and Dr. Miran Lindtner (the Sydney based UFO Investigation Centre (UFOIC) which I continue today). Judy Magee and Paul Norman became prominent in the Victorian group. Colin Norris provided a focus in South Australia, until the efforts of Vladimir Godic and Keith Basterfield during the 1970s encouraged a number of the state groups to adopt the generic group name of UFO Research and a scientific investigation focus. The 1970s also saw the rise of a national focus, following Dr. Allen Hynek’s 1973 visit, ultimately leading to the Australian Centre for UFO Studies operating from 1980.

Edgar Jarrold, a foundational figure in Australian UFOlogy.
It limped into the nineties a pale shadow of its former self. Most serious researchers had long since abandoned it in favour of the national networking vision established by ACOS and the earlier ACUFOS manifestation and UFORA, and because ACUFOS had lost direction and credibility with what was seen as the uncritical promotion of dubious material by its final incumbent co-ordinator. Vlad Godic led a revived national focus with his UFO Research Australia Newsletter and with Keith Basterfield, the UFO Research Australia organisation, which ended with Godic’s untimely death. The national focus was effectively re-empowered with Robert Frola and Diane Harrison’s Australian UFO Research Network (AUFORN). Robert Frola also focused on a national newsstand magazine—the Ufologist—which continued for two decades. While the Internet helped break down a lot of the barriers of a big country like Australia, it effectively energised individuals and state orientated groups. For example the blogs of Keith BasterfieldPaul Dean, and myself in terms of the individual approaches, and in terms of state orientated groups—UFO Research Qld, UFO Research NSW, and Victorian UFO Action (VUFOA). Other organisations and individuals provide alternate focuses such as my own low profile networking continuation of UFOIC, Moira McGhee’s INUFOR (Independent Network of UFO researchers), the Campbelltown based UFO-PRSA (The UFO & Paranormal Research Society of Australia), Rex and Heather Gilroy’s Blue Mountains UFO research, John Auchettl’s rather secrecy obsessed group PRA (Phenomena Research Australia) and Damien Nott’s Australian Aerial Phenomena Investigations (AAPI).

Syndey, Australia.
RG: What do you consider to be the most compelling Australian UFO incident on record, and why?
BC: I prefer to put forward my own list of “top ten” regional Australian cases, rather than one single case, as the list better reflects the complexity and nature of the UFO phenomenon.  Despite various efforts to explain away some of my listed cases, they have stood up well.  You can explore the details of each case, in part, through entries about each on my blog along with a whole lot of other cases.
My personal top ten regional Australian case list: (in italics the reason for each case being chosen):
  1. 1954, August 31 – Sea Fury case, near Goulbourn, NSW, Australia(experienced naval pilot, radar visual confirmation, independent ground witnesses, apparent intelligent responses to witnesses’ thoughts about possible collision)
  2. 1992, July 23—Peter Khoury “Hair of Alien” DNA case—Sydney, Australia (abduction type encounter with female Nordic blonde yields anomalous hair sample that suggests “hybrid origin” and unusual genetic profiles. This case also led to my book Hair of the Alien (2005) and my on-going research into the “alien DNA paradigm” hypothesis – for further details see here.
  3. 1959, June 27—Father Gill UFO entity sighting—Boianai, Papua New Guinea (credible multiple witness sighting of animate entities on UFO with intelligent interactions)
  4. 1980, September 30 – George Blackwell’s Rosedale UFO landing physical trace case – Rosedale, Victoria Australia (compelling array of physical evidence—ground trace, missing water, effects on witness, other witness)
  5. 1993, August 8—Kelly Cahill’s abduction experience—Narre Warren North, Victoria, Australia (possible independent multiple witness UFO encounter with abduction dimensions and physical evidence)
  6. 1966, January 19—George Pedley’s Tully UFO nest encounter—Tully, Queensland, Australia (daylight close encounter with UFO take off leaving physical evidence – “UFO nest”)
  7. 1966, April 4—Ron Sullivan’s “bent headlight beam” experience—Burkes Flat, Victoria Australia (striking UFO encounter, physical traces, bent light beams, possible related fatality)
  8. 1966, April 6—Westall school daylight UFO landing” encounter—Westall, Victoria, Australia (multiple witness daylight landing, physical traces, “cover-up” dimensions)
  9. 1977-78—Gisborne UFO abduction milieu—Gisborne New Zealand(complex and high strangeness UFO and abduction milieu – entities, multiple witnesses, multiple abductions)
  10. 1973 May—August—Tyringham Dundurrabin intense UFO flap area, NSW, Australia (long term intense UFO flap, multiple witness, physical effects, paranormal dimensions, much of which was personally witnessed)
RG: What is the Australian government’s official stance on UFOs? When was the last time it issued a statement on the subject?
BC: While I would argue that Australia’s “official stance on UFOs” (that there was largely nothing to it all) was fully expressed back in 1984, it was restated and expanded upon in 1994 and again in 1996 and even later still. See my chapter in the UFO History Group’s monumental study, “UFOs and Government” (2012). My friend Paul Dean describes the drawn out Australian “swan song” in 2015 and 2016 posts on this theme:
“In the 1994, and further in 1996, the Australian Defence Department increasingly and officially washed their hands of the UFO/UAP matter. This came after some 44 years of official Defence handling of the issue, with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the old Department of Air (DOA) begrudgingly doing the lion’s share of the investigative work – if you can call it ‘investigative work’ that is. See, judging by the thousands of declassified and released pages held now at the National Archives of Australia (NAA), its crystal clear that those in RAAF and Aviation officialdom did a sub-standard job of chronological filing, policy development, and last, but definitely not least, actual investigation. Veteran researcher Bill Chalker stated to me in my first phone conversation with him 6 years ago, that his opinion of the government’s handling of the matter, after looking through the files, was ‘an entirely lost opportunity’ for a proper ‘scientific appraisal’ of the UFO matter. He was right then, and he is right now.”
I describe my own take on this:
“Despite cases like the 1973 North West Cape event, the 1983 Melton/Rockbank incident and the 1987 SAS Learmouth report, during December 1993, the RAAF formerly concluded its long love-hate relationship with UFOs, or ‘Unusual Aerial Sightings’ (UAS) as they preferred to call them. The Department of Defence ‘swansong’ was dryly expressed in Enclosure 1 to Air Force file AF 84 3508 Part 1 folio 18 – RAAF POLICY: UNUSUAL AERIAL SIGHTINGS.”
In correspondence dated January 4, 1994, civilian UFO groups around Australia were informed by now Wing Commander Brett Biddington, on behalf of the Chief of Air Staff, that “The number of reports made to the RAAF in the past decade had declined significantly, which may indicate that organisation such as yours are better known and are meeting the community’s requirements.”

Parliament House, Canberra, Australia.
The “new” policy, which was an inevitable outgrowth of the downgrading of the RAAF’s role back in 1984, stated:
“For many years the RAAF has been formally responsible for handling Unusual Aerial Sightings (UAS) at the official level. Consideration of the scientific record suggests that, whilst not all UAS have a ready explanation, there is no compelling reason for the RAAF to continue to devote resources to recording, investigating and attempting to explain UAS.

The RAAF no longer accepts reports on UAS and no longer attempts assignment of cause or allocation of reliability. Members of the community who seek to report a UAS to RAAF personnel will be referred to a civil UFO research organisation in the first instance…

Some UAS may relate to events that could have a defence, security, or public safety implication, such as man-made debris falling from space or a burning aircraft. Where members of the community may have witnessed an event of this type they are encouraged to contact the police or civil aviation authorities.”
Given the rich history of political and military machinations that quite often effectively prevented opportunities for real science, the policy statement alluding to “the scientific record” is particularly perplexing. As a scientist who has examined in detail the RAAF “record” I can state with some certainty that their record was not particularly scientific and was largely defined by two criteria—national security and political expediency. This appeal to “the scientific record” is particularly puzzling as the RAAF regularly highlighted that national security not scientific investigation was their main focus. For example, in a 6 December 1968 memo from DAFI to HQSC in 554/1/30 Part 2, DAFI mentions, “As you are probably aware the Department of Air (later (DOD (Air Office)) is concerned solely with any possible threat to Australian security and does not go into detailed scientific investigation of UFO reports.”
Keith Basterfield reported Melbourne researcher Paul Dean’s recent interview with Brett Biddington who had since retired from the Air Force, who stated, “I wrote the 1994 policy and had a hand in the 1996 policy as well. After the Melbourne sightings I conducted an informal (in the sense I did not document it) literature review of UAS. I also sought help from civilian UFO organisations which claimed knowledge and understanding of the domain. I could find nothing on record that was defensible or sustainable. This is the reference to the “scientific record.”
I had spoken with Brett Biddington back in 2008. He indicated he had left the Air Force as “the most senior Air Force intelligence person in Australia during the 1990s.” He saw himself as still “the RAAF UFO/UAS expert” and regularly got RAAF enquiries. He regarded the “UAS regime” as a response to the Cold War and a way of finding data on “space debri.” He felt he encountered paucity of data in every respect, with “the veracity of the entire system in doubt.” He felt the UAS data had limited historical relevance. The RAAF’s response was always about the doubtful and limited veracity of UAS reports and the grief they caused for the RAAF. He told me that he never saw any case that grabbed his attention, not even the Melton case.
While I would agree that much of the data collected and assessed by the RAAF’s UFO/UAS programme was of limited merit, I also feel strongly that the lack of scientific investigations revealed numerous lost opportunities to do real science. Many impressive cases came to the attention of the RAAF, but rarely were they given the investigation they deserved—both a focus on national security where appropriate, and a scientific investigation. The scientific approach was not part of the RAAF’s investigations in any really significant way, hence the irony of a claim of “a consideration of the scientific record” informing the decision to end the RAAF’s reluctant and erratic embrace with the UFO problem. I wondered why the 1994 and 1996 policies were developed as the RAAF involvement had long since faded to a very low ebb and was always problematic. The UFO problem was always unwieldy and unmanageable for the RAAF. Controversy rather than resolution was a frequent feature. At times it seemed the RAAF were barely doing even a token effort. The RAAF largely resolved any dilemmas they had with intractable or unexplained cases by either burying them with unlikely explanations or simply ignoring the implications of often robust and unexplained events.
I have interviewed highly placed scientists within the Australian intelligence and defence community such as nuclear physicist Harry Turner who headed up the nuclear section of the Directorate of Scientific and Technical Intelligence within the Joint Intelligence Organisation and led a fight for a “UFO science” response within the Australian intelligence and military science community. The chief Defence scientist Dr John Farrands also had a deep interest in the UFO subject. He shared information, his perspectives and told me he had even contemplated writing a book on the subject, but would instead wait for mine. Sadly he passed away about a week after my book The OZ Files—The Australian UFO Story was published, so I never got the opportunity to see what he thought of it.
If the Department of Defence had a sense of an efficient “burial” of “the UFO problem,” someone had forgotten to inform the alleged corpse. The UFO phenomenon has never really passed away, but you would be forgiven for believing it has had many resurrections. Remarkable events continue to occur, providing a challenging testament for the legitimacy of the UFO phenomenon.
RG: Does the Australian Ministry of Defence have an official UFO investigations unit?
BC: While the Directorate of Air Force Intelligence (DAFI) historically had the central responsibility for investigating UFOs (or UAS—Unusual Aerial Sightings—as they preferred to call them), the drawn out nature of the Australian government’s disengagement from the UFO subject has led to a somewhat fragmented and ad hoc current picture. Paul Dean has elaborated on this, indicating:
“There are currently two Australian government agencies who are equipped to, and indeed do, accept UFO reports from civil aviation flight crews. They are the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and Air services Australia (ASA). Of course, they do more than deal with infrequent UFO reports, and, in fact, are responsible for airspace management, the functionality of airports, pilot licensing, air safety, navigational systems, etc. Australia’s Department of Defence (DoD) also accepts and processes UFO reports, but their system is quite different from those of the ATSB and ASA. The DoD’s Directorate of Defence Aviation and Air Force Safety (DDAAFS) accepts reported military UFO cases via a form called an Air Safety Occurrence Report (ASOR). ASOR’s are processed through the Defence Aviation Hazard Reporting and Tracking System (DAHRTS), and are studied within the Closed Loop Hazard/ASOR Review and Tracking System. DDAAFS military UFO reports have proven very hard to obtain. But ATSB and ASA reports have been somewhat easier.”
RG: Has the Australian government shown more or less transparency on the UFO subject than the US and British governments?
BC: The Australian government’s approach was more of a middle ground, but defined in a somewhat ad hoc way by the principle of “the ties that bind,” namely Australia’s relationship with its major defence partners—the US and the UK. While Australia routinely followed the lead from the much larger scale UFO investigations of the US Air Force, the government also took stock of the approach of the UK, which only in more recent years had become more open with their UFO files.
My own direct access of the Australian government UFO files was generally pretty open. During 1982 to 1984 I was able to examine a continuity of DAFI UFO files from 1955 to 1982, and since then filled in many of the gaps before and after those years. Through those investigations I was able to make contact with a lot of official players, particularly Defence scientist Harry Turner. Keith Basterfield, through an Australian disclosure programme, extensively supplemented and complemented my earlier investigations of official government files.
RG: Does Australia have a national UFO investigations organisation today (something akin to MUFON), and how many smaller Australian UFO groups are you aware of?
BC: The Australian UFO Research Network (AUFORN) was the last and most recent of the national UFO investigation organisations in Australia, but this slowly lapsed, particularly following the closure of the national UFO magazine, the “UFOlogist.” Prior to AUFORN there was CAPIO in the 1960s, ACUFOS (and its ACOS roots) in the 1970s and 1980s, UFORA in the 1980s and early 1990s. In terms of smaller groups, these exist with most having either local or state focuses, the main ones being UFO Research Qld, UFO Research (NSW), UFO-PRSA, UFOIC, VUFOA, and AAPI. Sadly one of the best civilian groups, the Tasmanian UFO Investigation Centre (TUFOIC), has ceased operations. Many Internet/social media groups exist as I indicated in response to your first question about personalities. MUFON in Australia has had a rather ad hoc history in recent years. Its most recent reincarnation appears to be playing out under the umbrella of the Internet site Australian UFO Action. It remains to be seen if this will be a positive development. Unfortunately the proliferation of Internet and social media sites has made detailed UFO investigation by experienced researchers more difficult and problematic than in the past.

The Australian UFO Research Network (AUFORN) was the last and most recent of the national UFO investigation organisations in Australia.
RG: What are the most active regions of Australia for UFO sighting reports?
BC: Northern Queensland around Tully has had a rich UFO history particularly since the classic 1966 daylight UFO physical trace in Horseshoe Lagoon. St. George and Boulia Queensland also had a prolonged history. Coonabarrabran in NW NSW has a prolonged UFO focus, as well as the Bourke area. Tyringham on the Dorrigo Plateau and around Mount Butler/Armidale in the New England district has had a recurring focus. The Kempsey area, the Central coast and Blue Mountains regions of NSW also have long UFO focuses. The South coast of NSW, particularly around Kiama has a lot of UFO activity. Leitchville- Echuca, Rosedale- Gippsland and the Mallee district of Victoria seem to host a lot of activity. Northern South Australia, the Nullarbor and Bass Strait are often associated with extensive UFO activity. NW Western Australia, NW Cape/Exmouth and Corrigin in Western Australia seem to have regular UFO visits. Cressy, Maydena and central Tasmania are frequent locations as well. Pine Creek, Pine Gap and the north of the Northern Australia also host UFO activity. So there are a lot of areas to pick from and this listing is not complete.

The Pine Gap spy base near Alice Springs, Australia, operated by the NSA, CIA and NRO.
RG: Have you personally had any UFO sightings?
BC: In 1972 returning from a late chemistry practical class I had a “daylight disc” sighting just on dusk as I was crossing my college campus at the University of New England, on the outskirts of Armidale. At least another 2 students also saw this object. During the early hours (pre-dawn) of the same day on a nearby farming property—Mount Butler—3 students experienced a bizarre entity “possession” episode. This location became the focus of protracted UFO activity.
In 1973 I experienced my “UFO baptism of UFO fire” on the Dorrigo plateau at the remote Tyringham-Dundurrabin villages where locals were experiencing extensive UFO activity and apparently paranormal activity. I witnessed a number of sightings there and experienced some very strange phenomena. When I read Hunt for the Skinwalker it was kind of like UFO deja-vu for me.
Also back in 1969 I witnessed a so-called “angel hair” fall while others in my hometown at the same time witnessed a UFO. I handled the material and witnessed what my later chemistry training would describe as sublimation—the material disappeared in my hands.
RG: How long have you been involved in the UFO subject; roughly how many cases have you personally investigated; and what conclusions, if any, have you drawn about the underlying nature of UFO phenomena?
As a kid in my hometown of Grafton in 1966 locals, including police, but sadly not me, reported UFO sightings that made international headlines. That sparked my interest. But it was a strange ground trace episode at Bungawalban (to the north of Grafton) in April 1969 and my August 1969 “angel hair” experience that finally started to push me into active field investigation, first in the Grafton area, than Kempsey in the early 1970s, and New England when I went to university in Armidale. From that I was seconded into joining the Sydney based UFOIC group when I moved to Sydney. Since 1969 (I’ve not really counted), I’ve investigated easily hundreds of UFO cases, indeed probably thousands. In terms of conclusions the evidence I have personally examined tells me the core UFO phenomenon is probably rarer than we think, but it its far stranger than just the physical phenomena that is certainly at the heart of the mystery. I was examining the so-called paranormal aspects back in the 1970s, so the recent embrace of such aspects is simply revisiting aspects I have already examined extensively for decades.
I’m an advocate of open scientifically based investigations that are open to many other approaches, but also far greater mainstream support is needed. I have extensively researched high strangeness close encounter cases and hundreds of so-called abduction and contact cases. With the latter, evidence and critical thinking or common sense need to be our guides, along with regular reality checking and informed peer review. I am optimistic rather than pessimistic about the future of UFO research, but the uncritical nature of many approaches needs to be regularly confronted with calls for reality checks and sensible investigation.
RG: How can Australian UFOlogy better itself?
BC: Common sense, reality checks and critical thinking should be regular pit stops in research. More co-operative and less politicised scientific investigations need to be the norm rather than the exception. Sharing of quality documentation should also be a focus rather than a rarity. Deep investigations utilising a broad range of disciplines need to be more frequent, rather than uncritical acceptance of the wilder shores of ufology. History and science should be our allies rather than our enemies. If ufology continues its uncritical trajectory it will continue to be marginalised. There are a lot of competent investigators and researchers out there and greater networking, sharing and cooperation is needed. Try not to be too compartmentalised and isolated in approaches.  Learn from others and keep an open mind.
Robbie Graham has lectured around the world on the UFO subject and has been interviewed for the BBC, Coast to Coast AM, Canal+ TV, Channel 4, and Vanity Fair, among many others. His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including The Guardian, New Statesman, Filmfax, and Fortean Times. He holds first class degrees in Film, Television and Radio Studies (BA hons) and Cinema Studies (MA) from Staffordshire University and the University of Bristol respectively. He is the author of Silver Screen Saucers: Sorting Fact from Fantasy in Hollywood’s UFO Movies (White Crow Books, 2015) and the editor of UFOs: Reframing the Debate (White Crow Books, 2017). Visit