Wednesday, April 03, 2019

A “UFO science redux” – the SCU Nimitz report: “A Forensic Analysis of Navy Carrier Strike Group Eleven’s Encounter with an Anomalous Aerial Vehicle”

Thanks to Robert Powell of the SCU – the Scientific Coalition for Ufology – which advocates “scientific Inquiry of UFOs, USOs and UAPs” – I have had an opportunity to review SCU’s excellent study of the popularly called Nimitz encounters that occurred in 2004. I highly recommend the SCU study which can now be read in full on their site at:
along with some of SCU’s interviews with key witnesses Kevin Day, Jason Turner and Gary Voorhis. 
The report - “A Forensic Analysis of Navy Carrier Strike Group Eleven’s Encounter with an Anomalous Aerial Vehicle” is authored by Robert Powell, Peter Reali, Tim Thompson, Morgan Beall, Doug Kimzey, Larry Cates, and Richard Hoffman.  
Its format is an excellent template for future case studies – namely that of a peer reviewed scientific report with detailed referencing, documentation and extensive appendices backing up the content of core 21-page report.  Given that the total document is 270 pages long the SCU Nimitz report will serve as a foundational reference point for the debate, discussion and further research. 
The abstract of the report highlights the strengths and limitations of this case study but also notes that further study of this case would be enhanced by access to further the military data that is out there, yet to be revealed in the public domain.
The abstract:
"On November 14th of 2004, the U.S. Navy's Carrier Strike Group Eleven (CSG 11), including the USS Nimitz nuclear aircraft carrier and the USS Princeton missile cruiser, were conducting a training exercise off the coast of southern California when the Navy's radar systems detected as many as 20 anomalous aerial vehicles (AAV). These AAV's were deemed a safety hazard to an upcoming air exercise and the Captain of the USS Princeton ordered an interception with two F/A-18F Navy jets. This paper examines the publicly available subset of those data: Eyewitness information from the pilots and radar operators; Freedom of Information Act releases of four Navy documents; and a Defense Intelligence Agency released video taken by an F/A-18 jet using an AN/ASQ-228 Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infrared (ATFLIR). Analytical calculations based on radar notes, testimony from pilots, and the ATFLIR video are used to derive the velocity, acceleration and estimated power demonstrated by the AAV maneuvers. Calculated AAV accelerations ranged from 40 g-forces to hundreds of g-forces and estimated power based on a weight of one ton ranged from one to nine gigawatts. None of the navy witnesses reported ever previously seen military or civilian vehicles with these maneuvering abilities. Manned aircraft such as the F-22 and F-35 are limited to nine g-forces and the F-35 has maintained structural integrity up to 13.5 g-forces. Our results suggest that given the available information the AAV's capabilities are beyond any known technology. The public release of all navy records associated with this incident to enable a full, scientific and open investigation is strongly recommended." 
The core of the report is covered by its introduction, data, analysis, discussion & conclusions. The Appendices reveal a wealth of data – glossary, FOIA Requests and replies (Robert Powell was at this long before the case was made famous by the “breakthrough” New Times story of December 2017, indeed the SCU investigation began in the latter part of 2016), documents referenced, advanced target forward looking infrared radar (FLIR), video provenance, background information on Carrier Strike Group Eleven, acceleration, speed & power calculations based on radar observations, calculations of size, distance & angular size, acceleration, speed, & power calculations based on blind point distance, acceleration, speed & power calculations based on FLIR video, a video analysis, and witness & associated information.  Given that the report is based on limited information gleaned from witness information, statements, limited documents and what seems a lower quality version of the FLIR video released, so much more seems possible if more of the military data and the clearer version of the video becomes available. Witnesses refer to seeing a clear version and confiscation of hard drive data from the aircraft involved in the encounters. 
The wider extent of the encounters is documented, such as the following: “PettyOfficer Voorhis was in charge of the Aegis computer suite’sCooperative Engagement Capability system. He recalls that withintwelve hours of the AAV event a helicopter landed on board. He wasapproached by non-uniformed personnel who asked him to relinquishall of the CEC information including radar data, electronicsinformation, data recordings, communications—everything that was notrequired for the ship’s operation and navigation. He requested their IDbut this was refused. He told the men that the Captain’s permission would be required and subsequently the Petty Officer received orders from the Captain to relinquish the information to the gentlemen and he did so. He turned over all the information which was stored on magnetic tapes. He also erased all other magnetic tapes that were backups. Petty Officer Voorhis stated, As far as my Captain was concerned, you do everything they say period; or you go to jail.” 
Page 10 of the report has a very helpful reconstruction in visual form of Commander Fravor’s engagement with the so-called “TIC-TAC”
and on page 9 is reconstruction of its shape and appearance. 
The conclusions of the core report seem well sustained by the limited data examined:
“In three separate instances we have calculated acceleration rates based on testimonies of military witnesses with years of experience and knowledge related to military aircraft characteristics and capabilities. These witnesses include two United States Naval Academy graduates, one with the rank of commander and the other a lieutenant commander.The accelerations demonstrated by the AAVs are beyond the capabilities of any known aircraft in the public domain. We do not know the origin of the AAVs nor do we have any information on their means of propulsion. We do believe that sufficient information has been provided in this paper to justify the release of all information related to this incident so that a complete scientific investigation can be conducted.”  
The totality of the report represents an important focus of further research on the case. It is hoped that the report, which has already been circulated to select members of the US Congress, might lead to a more detailed release of data on this case and others, thus allowing for an even better analysis.
“To the Stars Academy” (TTSA), which has former AATIP director Luis Elizondo and key scientist Dr. Hal Puthoff as part of their group, have yet to openly publish a strong scientifically orientated report on the Nimitz affair.  I am impressed with a lot of the players within TTSA but transparency and detailed documentation release don’t seem to be key features of their activities to date.  I hope that soon changes and more comes from them beyond the intriguing collaboration with the History Channel – “Unidentified: Inside America’s Investigation.”   Robert Powell told me, “My (NIMITZ) investigation proceeded the TTSA but I don't believe that it proceeded the work that Luis and Hal did as part of AATIP. Both of them were at our SCU conference and were impressed with the work that we have done." But what of the "science" in TTSA.  While TTSA, Luis Elizondo and Hal Puthoff have made some fascinating contributions to this field, openly available detailed documentation and data would enhance their contributions so much more.  I look forward to what may emerge. 
I applaud the efforts of SCU to bring about an environment of intelligent, forceful and open research and discussion in this controversial area. Their Nimitz report is the kind of careful, scientific and peer reviewed report that will help legitimise the UFO/UAP/AAV subject as having scientific merit.  
The SCU analysis argues for technology beyond ours, based on publicly available data.  I note it also make an appeal for DOD/government release of data.
I hope that some day soon that data availability and transparency and open scientific dialogue and research becomes the norm rather than the exception.

I have been a long time advocate of a “serious open (UFO) science.”  In my 1996 book “The OZ Files – the Australian UFO story” I concluded:
Throughout this book you have seen glimpses of “something”.  No doubt some are misinterpretations or insoluble misidentifications of prosaic or unusual known phenomena.  Never-the-less, there are many events here that are the stuff of apparently genuine “unknowns”.  For example 1954 - Nowra, 1959 - Boianai, and 1980 - Rosedale.   The difficulty is that much of this material has been uncovered in a less than satisfactory way.  This has been the remarkable legacy of both amateur researchers and forbidden science. The UFO phenomenon is still waiting to see the transition to serious open science.
“What is needed is unfettered, substantial funding to do good science, not well intentioned limited science that emerges from limited funding and part time committment.  All to often we have a litany of lost opportunities, that have gone begging, due to the lack of resources and an absence of focused scientific and multidisciplinary research.  From time to time through the smokescreen of political and bureaucratic compromises, in both official and civilian efforts, we have seen glimpses of what might have been. 
“For now I wait, buoyed by the extraordinary dimensions of the UFO phenomenon, which this history has revealed to you.  Given what has passed before us, I hope we do not give up the chance to properly confront and understand a fascinating and important mystery.  A lot of Australians have already faced that mystery in a personal way.  It is time we take up the challenge.” 
I have continued with that focus through my UFO research and investigations to this day. My 2005 book “Hair of the Alien” provided a potential DNA template that could be pursued.  I examined the Peter Khoury case from that perspective and put forward an “alien DNA paradigm” hypothesis – controversial I know, but still it was an attempt to do a little science in an extremely controversial area. 
In 2012 I began writing a column for the bi-monthly Australian Ufologist magazine entitled “Science and the UFO controversy” and continued with it until the magazine ceased publishing in early 2018.   
Many important key touchstones were described in that 6-year focus, some of which I also described on my blogs:
"Signposts on the long road to a UFO science" which covered (the July 2014 Paris CAIPAN/GEIPAN workshop) Jacques Vallee stated: "This is really a dream come true for many of us." 
In seems to me that the SCU report “A Forensic Analysis of Navy Carrier Strike Group Eleven’s Encounter with an Anomalous Aerial Vehicle” is yet another robust and welcome “signpost on the long road to a UFO science.”  I welcome it and other contributions that follow.

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: