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

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 robbiegraham.uk

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Old and the New

The Old and the New
Two striking aspects of the UFO mystery have been preoccupying me a lot lately. 

The Old – the 150th anniversary this year of the enduring mystery of the UFO vision of the “flying ark” that landed in Parramatta Park, Parramatta, on the night of 25-26th July 1868 – the wonderful vision of Frederick William Birmingham – which in some ways can be called the Parramatta Park Prophecy. This is a story that has haunted me since I first became aware of it during 1975.
On Sunday 29th July 2018, from 2 pm I will be undertaking a walk which will take in the main locations and elements of this historic "Oz File" (or "X-File"). If people are interested in joining me for this walk (which will begin outside Birmingham's home - now 1 Trott Street Parramatta and then take in  Lennox Bridge which he named, and Parramatta Park - the focus of his "UFO vision" and the "prophecy" it suggested - a focus of early aviation efforts in Australia - the location of Australia's first pilot Billy Hart's landing in Australia's first air race) I will provide a commentary, and for a donation of $20, a copy of a souvenir guide to the event, the experience and the walk.  People wishing to join me should register their interest via email to billozfiles@tpg.com.au and they must understand they undertake the walk at their own risk.
The New – the fascinating Port Jervis New York UFO encounter of 25 November 2009.  This case was initially reported as an intriguing example of a “car stop” case.  For me, it became even more intriguing when I learnt that it might be a remarkable example of a type of UFO phenomena that I had been studying for some time, namely “solid light.” This aspect was not evident in the initial public MUFON reporting of the case and became a contested part of the case when primary MUFON investigator Chuck Modlin described the event in the Canadian Close Encounters TV series during 2013.  In the show the episode dealing with the case – “Christmas Lights” – included me talking about the phenomenon of “solid lights” in a generic way. I had gone to Toronto to be filmed in a number of specific cases.  My linkage to the Port Jervis case was unknown to me until I saw the early drafts of the episode.  Up until then I merely knew the case to be a striking recent example of a “car-stop” case, often referred to a possible “EM” or “electromagnetic” car-stop case, the latter, because of the sense of a possible mechanism for the apparent stopping of a car.

The 1868 case was discussed in my UFO Truth column back in issue 5 (January/February 2014): “Frederick William Birmingham: 19th century Australian UFO witness & early aviation visionary.”  This case will be included in an entry I have written for the forthcoming 3rd edition of Jerome Clark’s book “The UFO Encyclopedia.”  My account in the early UFO Truth column did not include much detail on the July 1868 incident and was more of an overall case study investigation report into its historical verification.  Given that this column will come out about the time of the actual 150th anniversary – July 2018 – I have included here Birmingham's detailed account of his 1868 vision:
“A UFO VISION” IN 1868 “A Machine to go through the Air”
Is this a photo of Frederick William Birmingham?
Taken in 1868 by Henry Burgin. 
Birmingham in a Parramatta council meeting 
a few years earlier was responsible for naming Lennox Bridge.
The Memorandum book, A.D. 1873, attributed to the hand of one “Fred. Wm. Birmingham, C.E. & Lic. Surveyor, Parramatta, Australia,” gives an account of an "aerial machine”—“A machine to go through the air":
On the night of the 25th–26th July Anno Domino [original spelling] 1868, I had a wonderful dream—a vision . . . .
Birmingham described standing under the verandah of his rented cottage in Duck’s Lane, Parramatta, when he saw up in the sky, to the northeast, the passage of a bizarre apparitional procession of the faces of two prominent people of the state (that of the Lord Bishop of Sydney and the premier of the state), moving one after the other! The first “travelled to the east it dimmed—just as one loses his focus by quickly drawing in or out the slide of a telescope.” The second appeared twice, dimming like the first, then moved away in another direction.
Birmingham dropped his gaze to ponder the strange and confronting display. “After some considerable time I determined to look at the head or heads again. . .,” but they were gone.
I retraced the course the head had taken and just in the spot where I first saw the head I saw an “Ark” and while looking at it—moving along the same track as the head had taken—I said to myself aloud, “Well that is a beautiful vessel.” I had no sooner ended the sentence than I was made aware that I was not alone, for to my right hand and a little to the rear of my frontage a distinct voice said, slowly—“That’s a machine to go through the air.”
In a little time I replied—“It appears to me more like a vessel for going upon the water, but, at all events, it’s the loveliest thing I ever saw.”
I then felt that somehow or another the spirit and I were as it may have been spiritually on the highest part of the Parramatta Park."
By this time, “the machine” had moved through the air in a zigzag fashion, “then quite, stopped, the forward motion and descended some twenty feet or so as gently as a feather on the grass,” at a distance of about 20 yards from Birmingham and the “spirit.”
Birmingham described the ark in the following way:
. . . though a brown colour (rubber!) all over at a distance . . . its peculiar shapings are well impressioned upon my mind and the colour seemed to blend with faint, flitting shades of steel blue, below and appearing tremulous and like what one might term magnified scales on a large fish, the latter being as it were flying in the air, (the machine has not the shape of anything that has life).
The “spirit” was described by Birmingham as being “like a neutral tint shade [white?—B. C.] and the shape of a man in his usual frock dress.”
It said to him, “Have you a desire or do you wish to enter upon it?” Birmingham replied, “Yes.”
“Then come”—said the spirit, thereupon we were lifted off the grass and gently carried through the air and onto the upper part of the machine. . . .
On the machine, the spirit showed Birmingham two cylinders, located at the front and back of it, indicating their purpose, “by downward motion of hand.”
The spirit beckoned the surveyor to enter the “pilot house” [as Birmingham termed a part of the machine] saying, “Step in.” Birmingham described how he went down about three steep steps. They led into the pilot house room, which was about three and a half feet lower than the deck of the machine. The only feature of the room was a table, about five feet by three and a half feet and two and a half feet high covered with material like oilskin, “or perhaps iron covered with rubber cloth tightly.” About two feet separated the table and the walls of the room.  Birmingham referred to how, “everything appeared very strong, the sides I noticed were extremely thick, about six inches—and I [then] wondered why they were so strong in ‘a machine to go through the air.’”
Birmingham’s surprise is consistent with the contemporary conviction that flight would only be achieved with lighter-than-air “machines,” namely balloons, and later the “airships.” Jules Verne in his prophetic book, Robur the Conqueror (or The Clipper of the Clouds), published in 1886, not only pre-empted the American “airship” waves in 1896 and 1897, but anticipated the future of “heavier-than-air” aerial machines.
Standing alone at the rear end of the table, whereupon he rested one hand, Birmingham began to repent agreeing to “entering upon” the “ark.”
I felt miserably queer—just like one who undertaking a billet or post he knows nothing of. So I remained for some considerable time, when I was aroused as it were from my reverie by the voice of the spirit on my right hand, who said, “Here are some papers for your guidance.”
The hand of the spirit was resting on the table and within it were several printed papers. The first paper was covered with figures and formulae.
. . . Thinking the formulae and figures of other kinds might be too intricate for my comprehension I said to the spirit—"Oh! Will I want them?” The spirit replied slowly, but with marked emphasis, “It is absolutely necessary that you should know these things, but, you can study them as you go on.”
. . . I again cast down my eyes between my hands as it were on the table and considering silently the words of the holy spirit and when I looked about I found I was alone in the ark!
So I fell, I suppose, into my usual sleeping state, and waking next morning deeply impressed with that vision of the night. . . .
Birmingham pondered his “vision” occasionally but could only rationalize (to his own satisfaction at least) the first portion, namely that it reminded him “that I must serve God by conforming to the Christian doctrine and laws of his church [Christ’s Bride]. As to the second portion of the vision I could not conclude what it meant—at least in any satisfactory way (“a machine to go through the air”—or in other words, the ark mentioned in the Book of Revelations!)”
Birmingham also described a daylight UFO sighting he made in March 1873.  The 1868 and 1873 events inspired him to try to create a flying machine.  He even made a model and tried to interest parties in both Australia and the United States, but to no avail. 
From  Birmingham’s memorandum book:
1868: “The machine then, quite stopped, the forward motion and descended some twenty feet or so as gently as a feather onto the grass at P.P. (Parramatta Park).”
1873: “...I came down from the hill in the Parramatta Park firmly convinced that the vision was gradually unfolding itself and ‘the machine to go through the air’ was a thing (through God’s mercy) to be accomplished.”
Birmingham’s “vision” and its association with Parramatta Park had its prophetic aspect.  The holder of Australia’s first aerial pilot’s licence was William E. Hart, a Parramatta dentist.  He taught himself to fly a Bristol biplane well enough to qualify for the Royal Aero Club’s Aviator’s Certificate in November 1911. On June 29, 1912, Hart won Australia’s first air race.  He challenged the visiting American flier, “Wizard” Stone, to a 20-mile race for a stake of 250 pounds.  Stone lost his way, landing at Lakemba, but Hart, a much less experienced pilot, finished the flight in 23 minutes and landed as planned in Parramatta Park.
More than 4 decades earlier a Parramatta surveyor – Frederick William Birmingham - had contemplated the meaning of a different “machine to go through the air” - one with striking implications for a modern day mystery that has taken hold - the UFO mystery, the alien abduction experience and now Birmingham’s obsession has potent implications for the early history of aviation in Australia. One wonders what inspired Parramatta dentist William Hart to take up his flying obsession.  Birmingham died in 1892.  Billy Hart was born in Parramatta in 1885.  At a young age he would make objects out of wood and paper and glide them through the air for hours, according to a memoir by Phillip Hart-Johnson.  Billy Hart was his great uncle. He reported that Billy Hart had wanted to be “the Birdman of Parramatta.”  Perhaps Billy Hart had encountered Birmingham in his declining years, his ‘vision” and “obsessions” inspiring the young lad to become himself obsessed with flying.
The old story of Birmingham’s 1868 “UFO vision” continues to haunt.

The new story of the 2009 Port Jervis “car stop” case may even be connected with the breakout New York Times of December 2017 reporting on the secret Pentagon study. The AATIP programme and Robert Bigelow’s BAASS group were focusing on possible disruptive breakthrough technologies that may be involved with UFO or AAV (Advanced Aerial Vehicle) encounters.
The timing of the AATIP’s funded activities and Robert Bigelow’s involvement had me wondering. With MUFON’s James Carrion, Jan Harzan, Chuck Modlin & John Schuessler meeting with Bigelow in 2008, leading to the short lived BAASS/MUFON marriage and AATIP running from 2007 to 2012, at least in terms of funding, I'm wondering if this dynamic at all explains the big disconnect between the public MUFON version of the striking November 2009 Port Jervis close encounter event being a "EM" case and then to have a "hidden" aspect of the case - the possible "solid light" aspect emerge via Chuck Modlin with the Canadian Close Encounters series I was involved with.  I was pushing "solid light cases" with the film group but I was dismayed to have Port Jervis emerge with this aspect, given that up until then it was only viewed as a striking "EM" case.
I learnt that Bigelow was keen to buy the car involved, but I gather the witness did not want to part with it.  I learnt of some of the MUFON data on this case, but it didn't really give any detail on a "solid light" aspect.  Chuck Modlin pushed the “solid light” aspects, previously unknown, in the CE programme coverage of the incident. I was surprised to find myself being used in this episode as up until then I was not aware of the “solid light” aspects of the Port Jervis case.  Neither were my MUFON contacts.  So the question that needs to be asked is whether MUFON publically described a limited account of the case to their membership and to the UFO community, and a more detailed version, incorporating details about “solid light” was communicated to Mr. Bigelow’s organization.

I aired these speculations on my OZ Files blog back on 1 March, which drew a critique from a MUFON board member, but he has since accepted that there does indeed appear to be a “solid light” aspect to the Port Jervis case, particularly after I highlighted that I had contacted Chuck Modlin soon after the Close Encounter segment came to my attention, namely in December 2013.

I had written:
You may have seen the preliminary video without the CGI that had you and Richard Lang talking about the 2009 Port Jervis event.  In that piece I am also included but I am talking generally about "solid light" type cases. 
Robert Powell contacted me as I was included in that incomplete segment.  I told him that I was not speaking with any knowledge of the Port Jervis case.  Indeed up until I saw the preliminary video I saw it mainly as an excellent recent example of an "EM" style "car stop" case and was not aware of any "solid light" dimension to it.
It was not drawn to my attention while I was in Toronto so I assume it came up later.  I had focused through my coverage of a number of cases (1966 Burkes Flat Australia, 1972 Taize France & 1994 Plauen Germany) rather curious "light" aspects and got into "solid light" phenomena in Toronto.
As background, over the last few years, I have been increasing my focus on "solid light" cases worldwide and have received assistance and data from researchers around the world.  Part of my initial motivation was an early 1970s case at Kiama in Australia and a more recent Chinese military case from 1998 which had very striking "solid light" elements.
Here is a link to a piece I did recently which covers some of that background:
I have also included another similar piece (text only - with photos it's a big file) that was published in the new e-magazine "UFO Truth": "Solid light Descending."
Given this background, you will understand why I am interested in the focus of the "Close Encounter" segment on the Port Jervis event.  The Newroad video implies a discrete "solid light" beam coming down (in a telescope fashion?) impacting on the car in the locality where the high magnetic readings were recorded, as well as you referring to the witness saying the beam stopped 6" from the ground - truncation, another characteristic of solid light cases. 
The only reference I came across in the MUFON database was "When he looked at the lights they seemed very bright but they didn’t illuminate the ground; the witness said he can’t explain this aspect as it doesn’t make any sense to him."   
I have now seen part of the CGI "reconstruction" of the case in the Discovery teaser trailer just released.  It seems to have a very low altitude object and a "solid light" beam coming down onto the "windscreen area."  Is this accurate?
I would be extremely grateful if you are able to tell me as much as possible about this element in the case.  
Was the "solid light" aspect evident from the beginning of the investigation or did it come up later?  
Is there any interview - video/tape - in which the witness describes the detail of the "solid light element?"
As the CGI "recreation" has the beam "impacting" with the windscreen and the voiceover (?) referring to the high Trifield meter readings correlating with the "light beam" impact point - I'm assuming the recreation might not be accurate or incomplete or we haven't seen it all yet.  
How did the witness describe the "beam" appearance, progression", duration, apparent contact location(s) with the car? - was it the windscreen, the bonnet and/or elsewhere?
Was there an actual correlation? I gather the high readings were "full scale" readings, nothing quantitative? 
Was any video taken of the Tri-field meter readings of the car in question and the control vehicle?  I have seen some photos?
If any "beam" contact occurred with the windscreen I am wondering if there was any evaluation of optics/spectral changes in terms of transparency etc referenced with the control vehicle.
Many questions I know, but this "solid light" aspect fascinates me and I am looking for a precise account of it with any witness account of it.
I look forward to hearing from you on this most fascinating case.
Chuck Modlin did respond:
“I remember the event quite well; the beam touched the car from the doors forward. This part of the car became magnetized with the windshield and all parts that were illuminated by the beam. There were a number of strange effects noted; the windshield and the hood of the car seemed to have electrostatic field effect best way I can describe it, feeling like a repulsive field. I did tape the witness remembering what happened, he was going to exit the vehicle opening his door he saw the beam stop 6 inches above the ground. The other effect noted was my instruments which contained metal nickel hydride batteries were drained to zero in about 45 seconds, my Nikon D700 auto-winder pack and the primary battery. My other gauss meters rechargeable battery too. The only meter functioning was my Tri Field meter; it had a Duracell 9 volt battery.
“What was of concerned to me when I tested for an electrostatic field with the Tri Field indicated none present, (I attempted to discharge the vehicle NO effect) my instruments meter reading magnetics’ showed full scale deflection. “I then switched my instrument to read RF no movement of the meter it was indicating zero deflection; which indicated my analog meter movements function was working. Since this case I purchased a gauss meter which is an analog instrument similar to a compass measuring gauss, I also purchased a flat transparent screen with metal filings suspended in oil and a cube with oil and metal filings. These are intended to show a picture of the magnetic flux lines. If you saw the compass readings in the report no matter where we put the compass in the magnetic field it pointed North indicating a possible monopole magnetic, South only; Which is not possible with our current technologies. We can produce one in a lab for a few microseconds. 
“Here are some of my thoughts regarding this case. The video showing the part of the case with the beam going in the window is incorrect it actually illuminated the whole front section of the car to the door posts on both drivers and passenger’s doors. This was one of those cases where I wish I had about 3 more EE's and a like number of PHD physics people at my side trying to explain what we were seeing.
“I hope this gives you some insight to this case it had so much going on it was hard to gather all the facts. I asked the witness to go in and have his oil filter and oil changed at my cost he did not. It sure would have been nice to hand the oil filter to a lab and them explain a monopole oil filter. We have had some Orbs next to other cars which magnetized parts of the vehicles, we now ask to do an oil change and filter change our lab has noted strange changes in the oil chemistry. With changes to the particulates in the filter as well.”
Chuck Modlin has reconfirmed the “solid light” aspect more recently with the MUFON board member who had contacted me.  I am hopeful that an updated report will be issued by MUFON on this intriguing case, that will more fully reflect the “solid light” aspects.

The old and the new of UFO research continue to intrigue me in so many different ways.

(Text from my "OZ Files" column in "UFO Truth" magazine issue 31, May-June, 2018)