Saturday, August 23, 2014

Further followup to HIBAL/Westall controversy

Further to my blog post on the Westall/HIBAL controversy I noted Keith Basterfield's FB comment that he does not want to engage in social media commentary onhis Westall/HIBAL hypothesis and intended to only respond to discussion "as long as you know the facts, have read all the original material published around that time, and can tell me why:

1. Witnesses at the time, say that the authorities responded so quickly, that they must have known the UFO was coming. How did they know it was on its way?
2. The authorities reacted this way to the Westall UFO, when they have never reacted this way to any other UFO case in Australia?
3. Why there are no documents about the Westall case in Australian government UFO files?
4.Why witnesses disagree about whether there were one, two or more UFOs; one, two or more ground traces; and the location of such traces?

I sent the following to Keith via email:
Here are a few comments:
1. HIBAL is not the only hypothesis that "answers" this. For example, if as my "deep throat" "retrieval team" person suggests:
"I do not concur with Keith Basterfield’s working hypothesis in relation to Westall.
"For what it’s worth, my own verbal enquiries made today into the matter have revealed
little :
"DOS Hibal flight 292 was not launched from Mildura . 292 did not terminate in
"Series records were destroyed as stated.
"I was not able to glean any other factual information.
"My people tell me that American personnel were indeed present in Victoria in 1966.
"Some in connection to Hibal, other personnel were involved with classified military projects around Australia. ( Westall?)
"As per our previous correspondence, I still believe that the Westall incident was tied in with other UAP sightings preceding and shortly following April 6, 1966.
"Unfortunately, as discussed, so much stuff was selectively “lost” or “destroyed” by military & government agencies during project transition.

Of course it is difficult to confirm anything here in terms of a documented informant trail.

This informs a hypothesis that A UFO retrieval team existed and they were following the trending of activity from NW - Western Australia, down thru coast Western Australia, through South Australia, then rural Victoria. How to test it? Documentation would be nice. Like HIBAL/Westall there is no documentation that actually describes such a "retrieval team" activity, but you don't have any person who you can cite that they were actually aware of HIBAL actually coming over Westall school airspace. You are inferring it from a proposed launch date, the preceding day, for which there is no evidence to date that it actually occurred. In the case of the "retrieval team" hypothesis I have someone saying this, but it is probably unverifiable. Another way to test my tentative hypothesis is to seek out "UFO activity" in the areas cited in the alleged "trending of activity." Is Burkes Flat 4 April and Balwyn 2 April a contribution to that hypothesis? You have also highlighted a 3 April Tullamarine ATC radar tracking, with you concluding uncertain that it was a MET balloon:

The 11 page file starts off with a form titled "Report on Aerial Object Observed." The date of the incident is given as 3 April 1966 and the time as 2015 to 2027 local time. The reporter's name was J Reinmuth who was using the CSF radar at Tullamarine.

The object was first seen at a range of 54.5 nautical miles at an azimuth of 55 degrees (ie. roughly north-east.) The observer's attention was first drawn to an "Unidentified plot in proximity to inbound route." Its speed was given as 60 knots in a north-easterly direction. The direction of flight was stated to be north-east from first observed position. It was travelling in a straight line. It was seen at 61 nautical miles bearing 055 degrees magnetic. The wind direction at the time was from the south-west. A check of aircraft in the area at the time revealed that the nearest plane was "TJA on normal inbound route."

At 2040hrs the object was "...still observed on radar at 64 nautical miles." At 2043 hrs still 64 nm where it was last observed.

The next two pages are headed "Department of Civil Aviation Air Safety Incident Report" number VTI-66/319. The date of the event is given as 3 April 1966. The event is labelled "Unidentified Aerial Object." Under the heading "Action by regional investigator" in handwriting is "It appears likely that the object was a met balloon and this aspect is being investigated." Signed Woodward SIAS 6 Apr 1966.

The Victorian Bureau of Meteorology was asked if the object could have been a met balloon. On 4 Jul 1966 they responded "It appears that the object could have been a meteorological balloon, with radar reflector attached, released from the RAAF Base, Laverton. The position and movement of the object are consistent with the time of release of a balloon and the winds which affected at that time."

I guess one can look at what else was reported in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia and see if civilian and military data contributes any coherent support of this hypothesis.

2. Authorities "never reacted this way to any other UFO case in Australia? I supplied a list of cover up claims to DAFI in 1982 asking for comment. Got little, but my letter in their files has a few annotations. Never-the-less there are claims that involve what seems to be the heavy hand of "coverup". More recently my account of "An extraordinary affair near Nowra" in The OZ Files describes similar intense responses, so Westall is not unique.

3. No documents on Westall in govt files. Same with the Nowra case and many others I can cite where official presence was reported by witnesses and yet no documents have been found.

4. Conflicting quantitative info on number of UFOs and ground traces - given the confusion, the lack of detailed investigation by VFSRS at the time, and PRA's claims of alleged involvement by Brian Boyle being unverifiable and non detailed, it is hardly surprising that our efforts to rebuild the jigsaw in the decades that followed is informed by confusion etc.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards, Bill

To date Keith has only briefly responded: 

Thanks for your blog piece on HIBAL and your comments in response to my four questions. As always, there are a number of interpretations to specific cases. I think that we will continue to disagree on certain points on Westall.


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