Sunday, April 04, 2021

Richard Tambling - author of Australia's 2nd UFO book & UFO contactee

Australia's second UFO book, "Flying Saucers - Where do they come from?", emerged during 1967.  Its author, Sydney Sales Manager and former Royal Air Force photographer, Richard Tambling,  had several UFO sightings of his own.  

                                             Richard Tambling on ABC's "This Day Tonight"         
9 December 1967 with Paul Bennett
(via ABC Retro)
Here is a link to the 1967 interview:
Richard Tambling in 1978
Tambling had his first UFO sightings in Hong Kong during 1954.  His 1967 book gave an account of these sightings:
While Tambling's book covered some of the better recent local sightings,  it was Tambling's infatuation with contactee photos (particularly those of Dan Fry and Paul Villa) that set the tone and with hindsight revealed his calling.  As an Air Force photographer Tambling should have been a bit more critical, but subsequently all pretence was put aside.  
Tambling was a full blown contactee.  His space visitors came from Uranus no less.  A 400 year old alien named Namoi revealed to Tambling and his followers that catastrophe was at hand.  Tambling's journey into the world of contactees ostensibly began in 1967, the year his book appeared.  A slightly revised edition of his book appeared in 1978, but his contactee background remained unstated, despite having appeared on a television programme during August, 1977, describing his contacts with Naomi.  
I interviewed him at length at that time and confirmed a classic story of a contactee nature with elements of doomsday prophecy.  I was quoted anonymously in an article on the "Flying saucer syndrome" as saying that Tambling had seemingly learnt from experience not to get too specific about dating of the planetary catastrophe.   "Although he doesn't like to admit it, Tambling predicted several years ago that a `last wave' was going to swamp Sydney within a few months.  Of course he was wrong,  but in a subsequent interview he gave the impression that he felt his actions within the contactee group were pivotally significant in preventing the `wave' from occurring.  This is typical of the saucer sects:  instead of falling apart when their prophecies fail,  they come back even stronger because they believe they've saved the world." 
The last sighting I had of Richard Tambling was when I dropped into a McDonalds at Lane Cove during the late 1970s.  There he was with his wife.  We caught eye contact and I thought he recognised me, but I didn't get the impression he wanted to engage in conversation, so I didn't.  Later I heard he had moved to the Central coast of New South Wales.  Since then I've heard nothing of Richard Tambling, flying saucer book author and UFO contactee. 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Bill Chalker interview on George Knapp's "Mystery Wire"

Here is a Zoom interview I did with George Knapp. What I think is more important is the linked article with all the links to enable you to dig a bit deeper in to some of the issues brought up in the interview. I plan to do a more detailed post to expand on the matters discussed and to iron out some of "lost in translation" aspects. Thanks to George and Duncan for the excellent job in putting this together:
The "Mystery Wire" link provides further links to some of the issues raised and a 4 page profile on my research and experience I provided to Gary Heseltine editor of UFO Truth. It gives a brief indication of my UFO research and investigations.

Monday, February 22, 2021

June Marsden: "Alien Sirens came calling"

When examining a deep mystery over a long period of time, occasionally one notes something odd, something that seems puzzling, that might incongruously stick out. It might start as a small strange thread, which upon a little tug, begins to wildly unravel. You might wish you could put it back, but once unravelled, “the can of worms” beckons.  You want to know, what was all that about?  Sometimes, you wish you didn’t.  This is one of those moments – explore or not?  Lessons aplenty, cautionary tales await.  Read on.


The State Library of NSW (New South Wales, Australia) recently gave recognition to a strange celebrity traveller of esoteric pathways.  June Marsden, aka Erica (or Edna Grace) Ingram- Moore, ‘the White-Haired Pimpernel’, astrologer and cosmic society hostess, was indirectly responsible for a story that has long haunted me.  No, it was not about “June Marsden” or her strange beliefs and obsessions - that was what I will describe here as deep background – one hell of footnote.  

Instead, it was about her apparent annotation on a copy of a strange document that would ultimately led me into an extraordinary historical odyssey.  Without it, I doubt I ever would have heard of June Marsden, let alone, when I did, go to trouble of undertaking a deep background dive into her odd story. At best, a short profile that appeared in an early UFOIC publication would have been the sum of my knowledge about June Marsden.  While sometimes, it might not be an enriching story, what follows reveals at lot about the fringes and eccentricities of early Australian ufology.

June Marsden, famous astrologer of Sydney, Australia, 1937

Life is full of many little pleasures. One of mine, soon after moving to Sydney, during the mid 1970s, was spending time with Fred Phillips and his wonderful library. Fred was then honorary president of the Sydney based UFO Investigation Centre (UFOIC). Until then, I had been a country based member of UFOIC since 1969 (home town – Grafton, plus 4 years (in Armidale), at the University of New England, completing an honours science degree majoring in chemistry and mathematics). 

Fred Phillips is 4th from right in this Australian Post photo from late 1956
While many of Fred Phillips’ ideas were a little quirky, he was a gentle soul and simply offered his thoughts as grist for the mind mill. Fred was also for me a link to the early days of Australian ufology and the possible occult dimensions of ufology, both of which he had extensive links to via his interests and acquaintances. It was during one these reveries at his house in about 1975 that Fred asked me had I ever seen the document he handed me. 


I had not seen it before. Fred was unsure of its origin, but had found the “copy” while he was organising papers for tax purposes for June Marsden, an acquaintance and local astrologer.  On the copy was a hand written annotation - “Who sent this to me? Inside a New Zealand Trade Magazine, Dec -1958.” This was apparently written by June Marsden at the time she found it.


Much later, it would become clear to me who would have sent the curious document to her – Tasman V. Homan.  They both shared an interest in one of the stranger aspects of the UFO controversy – the claims of George King, who form a UFO religion – the Aetherius Society.


Little wonder her involvement in the document’s journey to me was just a very curious footnote, in the much more important saga, for me at least – the 19thcentury memorandum book of Parramatta surveyor Frederick William Birmingham – “A machine to go through the air”. I have revealed part of that story in my columns – see for example issues 5 (2014) & 31 (2018) of UFO Truth and the January-February 2016 of the Ufologist. If you search for Birmingham in my main blog you will get an idea why the story has occupied my mind for a long time. 


What follows is not about that remarkable historical mystery that centred in 1868 and Parramatta. Instead, this is a curious footnote’s “deep background” story – part of process that originally drew me into the main mystery back around 1975.  That “footnote” began to draw me in, particularly since “June Marsden” got noticed by our state library. Their take on her “flying saucer” connections was limited. What follows is more detailed, complex and bizarre.  


I will leave it to you, dear reader, to take from this what you will. After all, it is the eye of the beholder, or perhaps more appropriately, the mind of those that process the detail, that will draw conclusions, maybe shaped by one’s own life experiences.  


For me, much of the story revolves around what can happen if one uncritically embraces beliefs that abound in the flying saucer realm. Belief unbound in the garden of what may seem to be strange cosmic delights, here clearly takes us a long way away from the much more certain aspects of the UFO story – a cautionary tale, perhaps? Given the eccentricities of UFO belief, I see it as a very timely lesson, one that should be considered relevant right now. However, I fear, the lessons will be lost on those that it should matter most to. Think about it.


Margot Riley, Curator, Research & Discovery, for the state Library of NSW, wrote back on July 22, 2020, about an interesting piece of Sydney’s historical past.  Entitled “June Marsden: celebrity astrologer and ufologist” the piece gave a snapshot of quite a colourful lady. In an interview on an ABC radio “Focus” programme on August 6, 2020, with host Cassie McCullagh, the state library curator fleshed out the lady’s story in a bit more detail:

I had also written about June Marsden, but more about that below.

Here is the text of Margot Riley’s charming piece, in case it disappears. I sighted it at:


“Not long before the Covid-19 shutdown, a 1937 publicity photo of astrologer and radio broadcaster June Marsden came into the Library’s collection. 

“Perhaps Australia’s first celebrity astrologer, ‘June Marsden’ was the pseudonym of Sydney socialite Mrs Erica Ingram-Moore who, in later life, would also be associated with Australian ‘ufology’ (the study of UFOs).”


Curator Margot Riley’s profile continues:

“While the woman herself has long since slipped from public memory, astrology and psychic pursuits hold an interesting place in Australian media history. 

“In times of uncertainty people often go in search of answers from unconventional sources. The interwar period saw a huge upswing of public interest in alternative forms of spiritualism and pseudo-scientific explanations for global and everyday events. These new ideologies found an outlet in popular culture via newspapers, magazines and the radio. 

“The birth of Princess Margaret Rose in August 1930 — almost a year after the Wall Street crash — was a chance for Britain’s popular press to print a ‘good news story’. Looking for a new angle, the editor of the Sunday Express commissioned a horoscope to predict the baby princess’s future. 

“The idea was copied by newspapers around the globe, triggering requests for further forecasts, and the modern horoscope column was born. By the end of the 1930s reading your ‘stars’ had become a way of life.

“On 16 November 1935, the Australian Women’s Weekly launched its first ‘Written in the Stars’ column. Authored by June Marsden and produced ‘in response to repeated appeals from readers’, it ran until 1949. Marsden was already well known to the Australian public through her popular horoscope broadcasts and ‘bestselling’ book, Follow Your Stars to Success, which included astrological charts for the southern hemisphere. 

“Heralding its ‘attractive new astrology feature’ under the enticing headline ‘How to Chart Your Life Course’, the Weekly declared that ‘none is better qualified than Miss Marsden to undertake this task’. Readers were advised that, ‘Astrology is almost as old as the stars themselves, but its interpretation in the light of modern developments and conditions rests with a gifted few.’ 

Born Edna Grace Goode in the Sydney suburb of Glebe in 1896, Marsden had studied the ‘last developments of astrology’ in the United States, where her First World War veteran husband Eric Ingram-Moore worked in radio construction. 

“Marsden’s reputation in the North American radio and newspaper world had preceded the couple’s return to Sydney in 1932, where her ‘amazing horoscopes’ and ‘remarkable anecdotes about important places and famous people ... gleaned through her astrological career’ soon found an enthusiastic local following. 

“The couple were also members of the Australian Theosophical movement, which was at its height during the interwar years in Sydney. The movement provided platforms for discussing astrology in print and through its own radio station, 2GB.

“But despite astrology’s growing professionalisation and popularity in Australia during the 1930s, there were many sceptics. When asked for clarification about her predictions, Marsden stated that ‘the average life is as complex as a many-colored tartan because of the varied planetary influences which happen to be in operation at the time of the individual’s birth’. She went on to define astrology as ‘the science of starry-vibrations and the sub-conscious response to those vibrations by human beings’. 

“From 1936 Marsden’s presidency of the Astrological Research Society of Australia affirmed her as the country’s foremost astrologer. By April 1937, she was reporting in the Sunday Telegraph that leading American businesses had astrologers on staff and wouldn’t attempt any venture ‘unless the stars are propitious’. The Weekly began printing a disclaimer against the statements contained in Marsden’s column, which was ‘presented as a matter of interest only’. 

“Marsden was widowed in 1940, and her Weekly column came to an end in 1949, after which she travelled overseas. Spending 1949–50 in the troubled European city of Trieste, she helped save 700 Australian–Yugoslavs caught on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, operating with the local underground under the code name of ‘The White-Haired Pimpernel’. Back in Australia by 1951, she reported the dangerous political situation in Cold War Europe through her eyewitness accounts. 

“A final chapter in June Marsden’s extraordinary public life is linked to the Australian visit in February 1959 of controversial American ufologist George Adamski, who had documented his sensational encounters with a man from Venus in the Californian desert in his book Flying Saucers Have Landed (1953). Marsden had met Adamski in the US in 1957 and offered to host him during his Sydney stay. 

“Marsden claimed to have seen unidentified flying objects herself three times — twice near her home at Palm Beach, on Sydney’s northern beaches, and once in America. ‘The first time was in February 1951. It was huge,’ she told the Daily Mirror, ‘about the size of a battleship and going through the air at a terrific rate. It was travelling horizontally to the ocean and in a straight line between Sydney & Newcastle and it would have covered the distance — about 30 miles — in about eight seconds.’ 

“UFOs had been a matter of public interest in Australia since 1947, when witnesses began to declare their sightings and experiences openly, forming scientifically focused voluntary associations to record and investigate sightings. Adamski’s visit was a big event on the local saucer scene, although the spectre of unscientific contactees — like June Marsden — was seen to put ‘serious’ research efforts at risk. 

“Marsden’s linking of astrology and ufology was seen as problematic. According to her, ‘Nearly all the people who see flying saucers are born under the sign of Aries, Taurus, Libra or Scorpio and are under the influence of either Mars or Venus.’ 

“Adamski later wrote that his hostess was ‘an astrologer ... endeavouring to associate astrology with the space people and their craft. I explained to her that no connection existed between the two, but she refused to accept the logical facts.’”


So in the NSW State Library profile we have a curious and interesting piece of social history.  But, lets go deeper.  Recollect, at the beginning of this piece, I mentioned June Marsden was already someone I had written about. On March 6, 2007 I published on my “UFO Investigation Centre Australia” blog the following story: “UFOIC and the 1959 Adamski visit.”


This episode was the controversial visit to Australia in 1959 of notorious American contactee George Adamski. One of the earliest UFOIC members, Judith Croser, who also became a friend, provided me with a revealing diary entry which records that Dr. Greenwell resigned from the UFOIC presidency on the same day as the George Adamski public meeting at Adyar Hall Sydney on Friday 27 February 1959, apparently "because of all (the) trouble". It also indicated that there was much trouble with the arrival of June Marsden who "hosted" George Adamski's visit to Sydney. The diary records that Adamski and Marsden "were fighting like mad".

What was that all about? The following information explains what happened. Judith Croser’s diary entry led me to re-examine the UFOIC UFO Bulletins and other sources to clarify this provocative entry. Dr. Greenwell's resignation was announced in the April 1959 issue "for personal reasons." Miran Lindtner became president in late February 1959.


June Marsden was "profiled" in the Jan 1959 issue of the UFOIC UFO Bulletin: 

Unstated in the piece was that June Marsden held the position that astrology had a significant connection with UFOs. June was by 1959 a noted socialite, her real name Mrs. Erica Ingram-Moore.  She was also a prolific writer, particularly in the field of astrology. Her book "Follow Your Stars to success" was published in the US in 1956. It was originally published in Sydney, twenty years earlier, in November 1936. 


In the wave of Adamski publicity, June Marsden was featured in a Daily Mirror article Feb 19 1959 which described her odd ideas about astrology and flying saucers:


The piece indicated that “Miss June Marsden, who returned eight weeks ago from America after more than three years absence,” had met Adamski during her stay.  I also have a letter dated Nov 13 1957 from Adamski to June Marsden which was pretty cordial, confirming she had visited Adamski in California.  This no doubt led to her being his hostess when he came to Sydney. But, that wasn’t to last long.


The Daily Mirror piece revealed: “Miss Marsden is extremely interested in flying saucers and their connection with astrology.” “Nearly all the people who see flying saucers are born under the signs of Aries, Taurus, Libra or Scorpio and are under the influence of either Mars or Venus,” the article indicated.  The reason, she contended, was that “the flying saucers – or unidentified flying objects – originate from the planets Venus and Mars and therefore there is a sympathetic vibration between the people born under their influence and the beings in the saucers.” “You never hear people suggesting that the saucers could come from Neptune, Uranus or Pluto,” she said.  June Marsden said, “I come under the influence of Mars.”  She claimed she had seen UFOs 3 times – twice from her home in Palm Beach and one in America.


“The first time was in February, 1951.  It was huge, about the size of a battleship and was going through the air at a terrific rate.  It was travelling horizontally to the ocean and in a straight line between Sydney and Newcastle and it would have covered the distance – about 50 miles – in about eight seconds.  That would mean it was travelling at more than 20,000 miles an hour.  At that time, it seemed impossible, but now the Russians are claiming they have a satellite travelling at that rate.”  She added that “reliable people believe they have been in telepathic communication with the drivers of these craft.” 


Journalist Ray Castle, in his 25 February 1959 column in the Daily Telegraph newspaper, chimed in the fun, highlighting that George Adamski was presented with a basket of lowers from “The Northern Suburbs Flying Saucer Research Association, and quoted an unnamed June Marsden, “I might tell you, that some of those Northern Suburbs members have seen flying saucers.” That’s something my own research can expand on. David Osborne Moore (a participant in the Edgar Jarrold’s Australian Flying Saucer Bureau and the early UFOIC) formed the group called the Northern Suburbs Flying Saucer Research Association.  It rose to some prominence with the 1959 visit of George Adamski, the controversial contactee figure, then slipped into obscurity.  By June 1962 David Moore would claim he had seen 26 separate UFO sightings mainly from his Manly home since 1955. One afternoon in 1955, after having watched fruitlessly for UFOs for 11 years he claimed (1944?), David Moore and his wife saw three within a few hours.  David Moore often reported his sightings to the RAAF.  On one RAAF file Sgt. Cusick of the RAAF Provost Service, Field Security Section, Sydney (March 1958) wrote, "Mounted in the backyard of his residence (North Manly) was a 7" telescope with which (Mr. Moore) claimed he and fellow members of the UFO (?) kept watch on selected nights.  Also in his possession were numerous publications and charts containing information regarding UFO sightings.  The services of this group were offered to the RAAF by Mr. Moore, who stated that they would keep watch on a "hush hush" basis."  Not surprisingly, nothing seemed to come of this offer.  Mr. Moore passed away in 1975.


Stan Seers gave an unflattering picture of the Sydney Adamski tour in his book "UFOs - the case for scientific Myopia" (1983). Stan was the Queensland Flying Saucer Bureau president at the time of the Adamski visit and he was in Sydney during the period. He also made some unflattering comments about "a well known Sydney socialite", clearly June Marsden (but unstated in his book).  Adamski himself, in his book "Flying Saucers Farewell" (aka "Behind the FS mystery"), refers to his hostess "an astrologer. She was endeavouring to associate astrology with the space people and their craft. I explained to her that no connection existed between the two, but she refused to accept the logical facts. Like many people, she had closed her mind to any ideas which differed from her preconceived notions." Adamski's book also describes problems in Sydney such as no "work permit" or the lack of UFOIC sponsoring, and an alleged run-in with "the censor's office" about the "saucer" films he was showing. UFOIC was touchy about the issue of sponsoring Adamski, wanting to distance themselves. It seems that these issues came to a head at meetings in Adyar Hall and the Metropole on 27 February 1959.

It seems clear that UFOIC was struggling to ensure it was seen as a credible organisation. Adamski's visit to Sydney in 1959, and the lightning rod it provided for all manner of bizarre takes on the flying saucer controversy, was putting all those efforts at risk. Dr. Greenwell's resignation from the UFOIC presidency was one apparent result. However, Dr. Miran Lindtner took up the UFOIC presidency and his long energetic leadership facilitated a strong UFOIC group.


The State Library of NSW researcher, Margot Riley (Curator, Research & Discovery), suggested in her 2020 June Marsden piece that the 1959 Adamski/flying saucer astrology story was “a final chapter in June Marsden’s extraordinary public life.”  It wasn’t. There were far stranger waters to travel for June Marsden. 


Within a year of the Adamski controversy, George King of the Aetherius Society beckoned. I reached out to the local chapter of the religion in Brisbane to confirm my research.

 Photo: The Aetherius Society Annotations: Bill Chalker

I wrote: “I am hoping you may be able to assist me with detailed background on the attached annotated photo.  It was taken at Mascot airport Sydney on November 10, 1960, on the arrival and airport interviewing of George King.  I would like to use this photo in a profile piece I am doing on June Marsden.  I believe the lady I have highlighted is June Marsden, who also was apparently known as “the white pimpernel” or “the white-haired pimpernel” (and appears to be wearing one?) for her activities in apparently helping some 700 Australian-Yugoslavs "caught on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain” during 1949-50.  Cosmic Voice Volume 6 records that “Miss June Marsden, the world famous astrologer … made it possible for George King to appear so many times in the press, radio and television whilst in Australia.”

Tas Homan (left: around 1968-69 & right: 1960 detail from above photo)
“I am also wondering if the man in the brown suit is Tas Homan, who I know was transcribing recordings of George King for the flying saucer groups in Australia, during the late 1950s and perhaps into the 1960s?  I have included a close up of the gentleman next to a UFOIC photograph of Tas Homan. Given the connections highlighted and the photographic similarities, I feel the man in the brown suit is Tas Homan.

“I know that Tas Homan coordinated the preparation of a document (probably during the 1950s) entitled “Copy from the Memorandum Book of Fred Wm. Birmingham, the Engineer to the Council of Parramatta. A machine to go through the air. A.D. 1873.” I know that June Marsden sighted this document, possibly around December, 1958.  I was wondering, given Tas Homan’s Interest and support of the Aetherius Society, whether he shared this document with the society and if any members have knowledge of it?

“Any information you may be able to share I would be most grateful.”

The Aetherius Society Brisbane helpfully replied:


“Dear Bill,

“Please accept this tardy apology in reply to George King’s visit to Australia in late 1960.

“Xmas & what followed seemed to interfere with our normal protocols, so no excuse really!

“Regards the photograph:  Your identification of June Marsden, George King & Tas Homan all seem accurate both visually & compounded with a Pendulum Dowse.

“My late father in law Rudy Lehmann who was organiser of The Sydney Group for many years did know both June Marsden & Tas Homan, the latter introducing The Society’s Teachings to this part of the world in the late 50’s /early 60’s

“Rudy was a accomplished astrologer himself & spent 60 odd years of his long life (passed at 104) using this science to help guide himself & many others through the matrix of life’s journey

“He, Rudy spoke often of June Marsden & her help in facilitating Press activity for George King’s Australian visit to The Holy Mountains here.

“Other than that I can’t elaborate further & hope the above information is of some assistance.

“Kind regards & the very best for 2021

“Rod & Megan (Middleton).”

I thanked them for this unusual and fascinating confirmation of my photographic detective work.


Still stranger attractions drew June Marsden’s attention.  One was revealed in an undated or attributed newspaper clipping I found in the files of Harry Turner, retired Joint Intelligence Bureau head of their nuclear intelligence section.  Harry Turner allowed me to copy some of his UFO files.  The article entitled “The 8.15 Saucer Was Right On Time” most likely from 1961, was written by Phil Bodeker, who in the 1960s worked for the Perth Daily News. Apart from standard local journalism, Phil was known for his fishing interest, but this story was about very strange “fish” indeed. 

Phil Bodeker’s main source was June Marsden. She was in Perth attending a flying saucer meeting in Leederville. June attended as President of what she referred to as ‘The South Pacific Skywatch Association” as part of “a lecture tour.” Claiming she had by then seen “38 flying flying saucers in many different countries” June revealed “the visit was more deliberate than any she had seen before.” She indicated, “These sightings seem always to occur when there is some activity, a meeting or something, among flying saucer groups on Earth.”


The article indicated, “Seven people standing in Tower St., Leederville, last night watched a flying saucer go overhead – by appointment.  The seven are members of different flying saucer associations, attending a meeting in Perth.  By “mental telepathy” appointment, the seven members filed out of the meeting at 8.15 and gazed skywards.

“Then we saw it,” June Marsden told the journalist, “A great, elongated, yellow disc, the shape of a big watermelon, moving leisurely and quite deliberately across the sky.” She indicated “all seven witnesses were prepared to swear that they had seen the object.”


The meeting took place at the premises of Leederville printer Cyril Jones.  He told the reporter, “I was just sitting at home yesterday morning when the message came – quite easily.  The message said: “Be on the lookout between 8.15 and 8.30 p.m. – coming from the south-west.” Responding to questions from the journalist, Cyril Jones indicated, “It was very hard to define.  It’s not like a voice, and I’m hardly aware of it.  I didn’t tune in.  I didn’t even ask a question.  But if you’ll just pause for a second and keep silence, I may be able to find out.” After some silence, Jones stated, “I feel it was from a ship from Venus.  I got the message just then.  Time and space means nothing to these people.  If I could bring them done to shake hands with you, I would be glad to do so.  They are always on a peaceable mission.”

Miss Marsden added, “we were all so excited, we nearly missed it. Suddenly a South Australian delegate yelled: “There it is.”  “It came out of a hole in the clouds and moved across clear sky with the stars behind it.  It went across a clear patch and disappeared into clouds after being visible for about six seconds.  I believe it was a mother ship – one that has little ones aboard.”   She suggested the object was flying about 5000 feet, looking like “a yellow watermelon with furry edges,” adding “in perspective” (perhaps she meant relative size?) (it was) “about 18 inches long and 8 inches deep.” She also indicated she would report the sighting to the RAAF – the Royal Australian Air Force.

RAAF Unusual Aerial Sightings summaries from 1960 through to early 1967, do not show Western Australian sighting that would fit the description.  Did the event actually get a serious investigation to determine if what was seen was unexplained?


The National Archives of Australia (NAA) lists a number of book title registrations linked to June Marsden.  Most are astrology titles from 1935 to 1946, and 2 in 1959 (“Strange Happenings” and “Who can explain it”), but in 1962-63 there is a listing for the title “New Age Prophecies Aquarian Researchers.” The applicants: June Marsden & Eric Yul Verner.  


Yul Verner (aka Erik Werner Svensson?) - The name Yul Verner” certainly rang a bell.  He was the author of a obscure flying saucer book “The Book of Yul – The Secret Life of a Space Incarnate” by Yul Verner published1977 by Vantage Press – a “vanity” publication press based in New York.  The book in acknowledgement indicates, “I would like to express my appreciation to Young Mike for his cooperation during the years 1963-1966.” The author notes “since this book is based on my personal experiences all names of persons mentioned in it are changed.”

Hakan Blomqvist blog briefly mentions “Yul Verner” in the context of failed prophecy, as mixing bible prophecies with messages from “his space friends.” Hakan quotes a letter from Verner to Edith Nicolaisen, a Swedish UFO and New Age Book publisher dated 26 August 1973: “… I was contacted directly in 1963 by spacemen from the Andromeda constellation. It was from them that I positively learned that Jupiter was the Sun of Justice to be glorified `in a short time´, which I take to mean in 12 years, that is from May 1963 + 12 = May 1975. By that time the Earth ought to feel the impact of this event. There could be some astronomical reports beforehand, although we may have other matters on our minds then for the prophesied Great Tribulation is to take place just ahead. This means that time is at hand for a great world crisis to burst suddenly upon us. As a matter of fact, I have reason to believe there will be an event this November warning us about it. The contact with my space friends also made me certain that I was an incarnate from their planet MICHAEL of the Andromeda constellation. I had prior to this contact made journeys in spirit to other worlds.”


I had “The Book of Yul” in my library. I didn’t think much of it at the time I acquired it, but probably only got it as a “contactee” reference work, as it had the promo, all in caps: “IN AUGUST 1961 A SPACE EXPEDITION FROM THE PLANET MYKAL LANDED IN THE BLUE MOUNTAINS WEST OF SYDNEY IN AUSTRALIA. WHAT WAS ITS MISSION?” It still does not impress me much (as it seemed so much like quaint “space opera” and poor “science fiction”), but a closer reading was undertaken, after I noticed the apparent connection with June Marsden. Notice: “MICHAEL” in the letter above, and “MYKAL” in his book?


Yul Verner indicated that “Five people in Sydney were subsequently contacted”. The first being “Joan D’Arcy.”. Its clear from the description given that this is June Marsden” (pages 57 & 59): “Joan” “who had been invited to attend the U.F.O Convention in Perth (in 1961 – where the alleged psychic mediated witnessing of a possible UFO apparently took place). She had just returned from the United States, where she had met all the important people in the flying saucer and psychic fields. She was also interested in prophecy and the New Age, and was in fact a quite well known astrologer and fan of Nostradamus… Since Sydney was where Joan lived and had most influence, we set up our base there, and for this cause, I left Adelaide for Sydney in early 1962.”  He adds, “It was much later that I learned about Joan’s record in her dealings with people.  She had been a public figure, and had been smitten by not a little bit of limelight fever.  God save anyone who dared as much as much as cast a fleeting shadow on her glorious image. To be fair, she did a lot of good works too. People were literally magnetised into better health and brighter outlooks by her cheerful appearance on stage.  Many migrants knew her as a daring and resourceful lady.  She had led a personal rescue mission in the border areas of the communist countries in Europe after World War II. The Pope had been so impressed by her courage that he granted her special audience in the Vatican.”

‘Further Verner writes, “Joan was, moreover, respected in certain circles of the Australian Government, because of the excellent pioneering work in radio and electronics by her late husband, who had been an air ace and war hero in the First World War.” Most of these facts equate with “June Marsden.” Her husband Eric Ingram-Moore died 11thMay 1940. While her real name was Edna Grace Ingram-Moore (nee Goode) she had adopted the first name Erica – adopted out of memory of Eric, her late husband perhaps.  While I’m not sure of this, I wondered about the possible name I had for Yul Verner – Eric Werner? 


Things becomes clearer, when Verner identifies their mutual venture as “the Aquarian Pioneers.” Recollect the 1962-63 registration of “New Age Prophecies Aquarian Researchers.”


They started to form a “communication Nucleus of Five,” beginning with “Young Mike”, apparently a younger reporter who had covered Joan (June)’s “ghost programmes” she had been making a couple of years before. The next person considered, Verner identifies as Joan’s (June’s) “old friend Tall Thomas, the customs officer … (who) has read every worthwhile book on the occult and flying saucers.  Trouble is, he is so damned sceptical.” (page 63) “Olivia” – “a sensitive”, who had been attending meetings of “another occult group” made up “the Nucleus of Five.”


“Old friend Tall Thomas” was clearly my “old friend”, the tall honorary president of the new UFOIC of the 1970s, and president of UFOIC, upon the tragic death of long time UFOIC president Dr. Miran Lindtner in 1969 – Fred Phillips – in whose wonderful library I first heard the name of June Marsden back around 1975.  It was through Fred (Tall Thomas) that Yul & June’s contact “Nucleus” began to crack. (page 74) He objected to disclosing the “MIKAL” “communications, he did not want to be the “contact” “circle leader”, and was unhappy about “Joan” (June) and Yul playing “space music.” Verner writes (page 74), “Worst of all, Joan had made some acid comments about the activities of the local U.F.O. group, and this clearly displeased and embarrassed Thomas a great deal.” In reality, Fred Phillips was Vice president of the group concerned – the UFOIC group of the 1960s. 

Fred Phillips in his library 

The rifts that apparently June Marsden had contributed to with the the Adamski visit of 1959 and the activities of the contact group contributed to the fracturing of the “Nucleus of Five.”  I’ll not burden you with the outcomes of Yul Verner’s story of incarnated space brothers (and sisters), beyond the inevitable break with “Joan” (June Marsden). 


According to Verner, June had “reverted to her fascination for spiritual contacts after meeting a medium in England (perhaps Ena Twigg? – B.C). This medium completely satisfied Joan’s (June’s) desire for greatness, even though to any sane person the stories she was now getting were pure fantasy. When Joan (June) returned from England in 1966, it was with dismay that I watched her go on radio and TV and claim space trips in odd looking spacecraft, which had no likeness to those of the MYKAL expedition.” According to Verner, Joan (June) turns on him, “even making out (Verner) had joined the Dark Forces, because (he) had been inspired to find a vital prophecy for our times …”


We don’t have to rely on Yul Verner’s take on this.  The final curtain on June Marsden’s cosmic stardom was writ large in a cynical and comical profile article by the iconic journalist Ron Saw.  By the mid 1960s Saw was recognised as a “celebrated and controversial columnist” and “perhaps the best-known humorous writer in Australia” (“Ron Saw” by Pauline Curby). Most of his pieces in his “Daily Mirror” column “Sydney” were light hearted.  His profile of June Marsden, acquired over the phone, was no exception, delivered with a satirical bite.   It appeared in the Daily Mirror, 28thJanuary, 1966.


Ron characterised June Marsden as “probably the nation’s foremost saucer-fancier, yet she will stand no nonsense.” He added, “She was once Australia’s and possibly the world’s best-known Scientific Astrologer.  But for the last five years she been a sort of high hostess for extra-terrestrial visitors; and it is a dull day on which she has no contact with the crew of some saucer or other.” 


Talk of UFOs and flying saucers was at that point big news across the nation, with the reports of “the flying saucer nests” and a daylight sighting of one landing at Tully in far north Queensland.  Indeed, it was an extraordinary event, but you wouldn’t have gotten that from Saw’s piece on June Marsden. It was all about June Marsden and her beliefs, allegedly in her own words.  Saw wrote, “she is difficult to question.  At the first hint of facetiousness she clams up; and when I called her she was cordial but wary.”  If that was really the case, it seems a wonder that Saw got the interview he quotes.  It was either the testament of a “true believer” who was really familiar and comfortable with being way, way “out there”, or it was a skilful ambush peace delivered in a flood of apparent quotes.


About Tully, Ron Saw quotes June Marsden: “The people at Tully reported most of the facts accurately.  The flying saucer type is about nine feet high and it does rotate at terrific speed. I was in one myself only a few months ago.”  There was no retreat from that and Saw was on-board for the story ride.  Asking where it took her, June Marsden replied, “Over Rhodesia and Vietnam.  It was a fore-runner of a great fleet which left the planet Michael (at the head of Andromeda) on January 6.  The fleet was of 526 flying saucers under the command of a great lord of space, Commander Michael.”   As it was a phone interview, Saw was picking it all up as Michael of the Planet Michael, but June Marsden was probably referring to Mykal.  It wouldn’t have mattered to the reporter.


No wonder there was bad blood between Marsden and the group UFOIC. UFOIC was trying to navigate a scientific approach under CSIRO scientist Dr. Miran Lindtner.  Physical evidence had been reported in Tully in the form the circular impressions of an extraordinary kind with linked daylight close encounters.  But here, in this interview, even if she truly believed everything she was being quoted as saying, she was by default empowering the toxic fog of ridicule. 


June Marsden went on to reveal that the glowing human like Commander Michael’s fleet was here to help us, but it is difficult for them to directly intervene as their vibrational state could be dangerous to humans. She reports that seven of the fleet, including Commander “Michael” are lowering their vibration states to acclimatising themselves to a presence on Earth – like us physically, but spiritually far superior and needing only a diet of milk. Saw starts thinking leprechauns, and learning that one of “them” is already here, arriving two years before in Melbourne, not Sydney, thinks he “could imagine no better spot in which to keep one’s vibrations in check.” She says as “Michael’s” (Mykal’s) “main contact on earth” she has been informed serious upheaval will begin in 1968.  By 1972 Earth “will have turned over completely one and a fifth times. It’s going to be a great shake up. Britain will be moved into a better climate.  Much of Indonesia will go.  Limuria (Lemura) and Atlantis will come up …. Australia will be lucky.  We’ll be moved up to where the Hawaiian islands are now. Australia will become the holy land.” It gets worse, but read the original clipping, with June Marsden highlighting her importance, but finally saying, “I have my own work to do.  And I can say no more they’ll get in touch with you themselves.”

Saw ends his interview and his column with the following. “I hung up, felt the need for spirit, walked dreamily to the refrigerator and poured myself … a glass of milk.  Gently but steadily I began to vibrate.” 

June Marsden (1896-1971) was buried next to her First World war veteran husband at St. Matthew Anglican cemetery at Windsor, under her real name Edna Grace Ingram-Moore.  Maybe June believed all she embraced, but it did little to validate the UFO mystery. Instead, it seemed to hinder, and possibly hurt, the cause of serious UFO research in the 1960s.  Only a year later (1967) the potent presence of a visiting American atmospheric physicist, Dr James McDonald, advocating serious UFO research, was a tremendous breath of fresh air, and a great boost for local UFO enthusiasts and researchers.  

Why tell June Marsden’s largely forgotten story now? Despite the apparent mainstreaming of the UFO/UAP mystery and the strong current of serious efforts to scientifically examine the mystery, the beliefs that sustained people like June Marsden, still form an uncritical undercurrent that may undo the striking progress of recent years. Let’s try to better understand the dynamics of these uncritical beliefs, and see if we can establish a deeper understanding based instead on verifiable evidence empowered by deep experience, investigation and research.

Friday, January 15, 2021

UFO WITNESS: Jennie Zeidman, Mark O'Connell, CUFOS & the legacy of Allen Hynek

I just watched the first two episodes of this series. While it features Ben Hansen as the main guy, its nice to see it also includes Allen Hynek & Bluebook references, Jennie Zeidman in person (sadly she passed away during the filming of the series) along with Hynek biographer Mark O'Connell (his book "The Close Encounter man" - read it and educate yourself about the fiction visited upon us by the History channel's "Project Bluebook" - fictionalised history)

The "UFO Witness" show, with Mark O'Connell as an executive producer, plays with the standard UFO documentary model, and delivers a good approximation of the facts that were encountered by Allen Hynek, Jenny Ziedman and CUFOS, and now re-discovered by Discovery and Ben Hansen. Enjoyable so far. 


First Three Episodes Available on Thursday, January 14 Exclusively on the All-New discovery+ Streaming Service
NEW YORK (January 11, 2021) – We are definitely not alone! For more than 70 years, the U.S. government has been documenting sightings and cases of unidentified flying objects. In cooperation with former Project Blue Book investigator Jennie Zeidman, former federal agent and paranormal investigator Ben Hansen reopens case files of some of the most astounding UFO encounters in history, files that have been hidden from the public for decades. In the new series, UFO WITNESS, launching Thursday, January 14 exclusively on discovery+, these findings are finally seeing the light of day.
Zeidman was the last surviving member of the Air Force’s top-secret UFO investigation called Project Blue Book, which looked into sightings from 1952 through 1970. She has broken her silence, speaking publicly for the first time about her decades of research – motivated to share her expertise because she believes we’ve been visited by UFOs before – and fears Earth is under extraterrestrial surveillance. Sadly, Zeidman passed away in April 2020, but she has given discovery+ exclusive access to the files from the chief scientific consultant of Project Blue Book, Dr. Allen J. Hynek, to help continue his investigations.
With unprecedented access to more than 10,000 of Dr. Hynek’s case files, Hansen believes the answers to UFOs in America are hidden in the cases of the past. Also aiding Hansen on his quest is Mark O’Connell – an accomplished UFO investigator, Dr. Hynek biographer and member of J. Allen Hynek’s Center for UFO Studies. Together, they will uncover the secrets of the past to shed new light on today’s freshest UFO encounters.
UFO WITNESS is comprised of eight one-hour episodes. The first three will debut on discovery+ on January 14, with the remaining five episodes added weekly on Thursdays beginning January 21.
Season One Overview:
Episode 1: “Secrets of the State” – Begins Streaming Thursday, January 14
In 2017, the Pentagon leaked three videos showing wild military encounters with UFOs. All three had an object resembling a “tic tac.” But this is not the first reported UFO encounter regarding an object of this shape. In 1973, a National Guard helicopter nearly collided with an object as well, but the government worked to hide or destroy all evidence of the encounter. And with “tic tac” shaped cases still being reported today, Ben Hansen must dig deep into the records to figure out what these objects are and whether or not we’re dealing with technology from out of this world.
Episode 2: “Alien Crash Secrets” – Begins Streaming Thursday, January 14
Over the past year, numerous UFO sightings have taken place in Kecksburg, Pennsylvania, home to an infamous UFO crash and supposed military cover-up. Ben Hansen heads to the tiny town to find out if the current sightings are linked to the 1965 incident.
Episode 3: “Alien High Tech” – Begins Streaming Thursday, January 14
A startling, new report claims a prominent astrophysicist worked on an aircraft reverse-engineered from the parts of downed UFOs. Ben Hansen aims to find out how the U.S. government got its hands on alien technology and where it might be hiding it.
Episode 4: “Close Encounters” – Begins Streaming Thursday, January 21
Ben Hansen heads down to Florida to investigate a woman’s claim that an extraterrestrial approached her in her backyard. He wonders if this highly credible sighting is connected to a similar 1955 incident known as the Kelly-Hopkinsville Encounter.
Episode 5: “The Mothership Returns” – Begins Streaming Thursday, January 28
In 1997, over 20,000 people witnessed bright lights hovering over Phoenix, Arizona. Despite the numerous claims, the U.S. government refused to acknowledge the event. Ben Hansen launches an investigation to find out how these mass UFO sightings are covered up.
Episode 6: “Claws in the Night” – Begins Streaming Thursday, February 4
While thousands of people witness UFOs every year, only a handful claim to have been abducted. Piles of evidence corroborate their stories, yet they are not taken seriously. Ben Hansen sets out to discover exactly why these claims are swept under the rug.
Episode 7: “Aliens Underground” – Begins Streaming Thursday, February 4
The small town of Dulce, New Mexico, may harbor one of America’s darkest secrets – an underground alien base. Ben Hansen travels to New Mexico to figure out if the rumors are true and uncovers multiple reports of UFO sightings, alien abductions and more.
Episode 8: “The Hybrid Secret” – Begins Streaming Thursday, February 11
Evidence of a possible extraterrestrial breeding program sends Ben Hansen to the Bay Area, San Francisco, California, in search of answers about alien-human hybrids. He suspects there may be a link to the Betty and Barney Hill case, one of the world’s most famous abduction stories.
UFO WITNESS is produced by Anomaly Entertainment for discovery+. For Anomaly Entertainment, the executive producers are Michael Sorensen, Matthew Kelly and Andrew Nock. For discovery+, the executive producer is Cecile Bouchardeau Weiland.
About discovery+
discovery+ is the definitive non-fiction, real life subscription streaming service. At launch in the United States, discovery+ will have the largest-ever content offering of any new streaming service, featuring a wide range of exclusive, original series across popular, passion verticals in which Discovery brands have a strong leadership position, including lifestyle and relationships; home and food; true crime; paranormal; adventure and natural history; as well as science, tech and the environment, and a slate of high-quality documentaries. For more, visit

The photo below was taken by my good friend Jeff McLaren, who was working at the Australian Embassy, when I was lecturing at the MUFON symposium of 1987 at Washington DC. Right to left is Jennie Zeidman, myself, Jenny Randles (partially obscured by me), Stanton Friedman, and CUFOS's Dr. Mark Rodeghier.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Let's Hope They're Friendly - Quentin Fogarty and the Kaikoura Lights

The Christmas holiday season back in 1978 spawned a remarkable UFO display in New Zealand.  It became known as the Kaikoura lights. These events came at the end of an extraordinary year for UFO reports in the Australia New Zealand region, in particular, the disappearance of Melbourne pilot Frederick Valentich, in the direct wake of a UFO encounter over Bass Strait in October 1978, was a world wide media sensation.  The Valentich story remains unresolved to this day. The Kaikoura events caused a similar sensation.  The story haunted the lives of those that participated. The prosaic explanations appeared to fall short of explaining the mystery.


It wasn’t until late October 2020, while reading journalist Ross Coulthart’s book manuscript - his “deep dive” investigation into the UFO phenomenon (due out in 2021), that I was saddened to learn of the passing of New Zealand born journalist Quentin Fogarty.  Quentin had played a prominent role in the Kaikoura lights story. I got to know him back in 1979 as the events became a world wide controversy.  We kept in sporadic contact. 


Quentin Fogarty even shared with me an intriguing “UFO crash retrieval” type tale (or a tale of a saucer shaped experimental vehicle), he had heard from a journalist friend, who was one of the alleged participants. Quentin told me that sometime during the seventies the TV crew camera man known to him had allegedly been at Salisbury, in South Australia, as part of a media contingent, apparently involved in a corporate film, or some such similar project, for the RAAF. During their presence at the facility they wandered off without a military escort. They came upon a hangar which housed a saucer type of craft. Their examination of it was cut short with the arrival of military security who hurried them away very quickly and pressured them to not disclose what they had seen. Such stories are of an apocryphal nature and do not invite a lot of confidence. In isolation they are just provocative stories. When such stories start to pop up on a regular basis, it is reasonable to ask what is going on. Are these tales legitimate or are they the stuff of "urban legends"? 

The last time I spoke with Quentin was on 23 March 2016.  An e-book version of his book had appeared and he was still intrigued about aspects of the event.  A New Zealand researcher, apparently then a professor living in China, had sent him an enhanced frame from the Kaikoura footage. Quentin had the impression that this process could provide an extraordinary degree of image resolution, that yielded great detail. Given what I understood about the circumstances of the filming, I thought perhaps this may have been spurious artefacts, results of the process, rather than enhancement of previously unnoticed detail. If there is anyone that can elaborate on this aspect I would be pleased to learn more.


The Kaikoura light mystery, was an early echo of the long fight for scientific validity of the UFO phenomenon, strikingly revealed some solid science that suggested that the affair was “the world’s first verified film encounter with an unidentified flying object” (from the subtitle of Quentin Fogarty’s 1982 book “Let’s Hope They’re Friendly”).  In this sense, the New Zealand sightings prefigured the debate and controversy that has nested around the 2004 USS Nimitz UFO/UAP encounters, which dominates current UFO/UAP debate. Anyone, seriously interested in the UFO controversy and debate, would greatly benefit with a deeper understanding of the UFO mystery, that would develop from understanding what has gone before. Understanding UFO history, gives a long and sustained argument for UFO reality.

Quentin Fogarty’s former wife, Sue Ahern, penned an obituary: “All-round media man a Logie winner” (which had appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, (July 17, 2020) and elsewhere, which I quote here: 

“Quentin Edward Fogarty September 28, 1946 - July 5, 2020 

New Zealand-born Quentin Edward Fogarty, the journalist known as the UFO reporter, has died suddenly in Melbourne.  

“The 73-year old Fogarty was found dead at his St Kilda home by emergency services in early July after being alerted by his children, who couldn’t raise him. He was due to go on a long bike ride with his youngest son, Sam.  

“Fogarty will be remembered for the Kaikoura UFO incident off the coast of the South Island of NZ in 1978. The incident remains the world’s first verified film encounter with a UFO.  

“Fogarty was working for Channel 10 Melbourne and was with a film crew on board a freight aircraft which filmed several bright objects that were also tracked on radar. 

Three months after that flight, at a press conference in New York City, a group of American scientists said the light sources captured on film could not be explained by conventional means. This was despite the sceptics who said it was Venus, squid boats, or radar returns from a field of cabbages. 

“Fogarty, who started his career at Dunedin’s Evening Star wrote a book about the experience, Let’s Hope They’re Friendly. 

“He was always convinced that enhanced computer analysis of the film might get closer to finding what he saw that night and was working on this project at the time of his death. 

“Fogarty described himself as an all-round media man. He worked for all the major TV networks in Australia – Nine, Seven, 10, the ABC and SBS. He claimed to be the first person hired to work for SBS when it was established in 1980. He won Australia’s most prestigious TV award, a Logie, in 1985 for his documentary Frontline Afghanistan. 

“He made documentaries, trained hundreds of politicians and executives in media training and in his later career worked in issues management, corporate and government communications. He was a close friend of WWII war hero Sir Edward Dunlop and made a documentary retracing his journey on the Burma-Thailand railway. 

“Fogarty had planned to move to Perth to be close to his eldest son, Dan. He had triple bypass surgery a year ago and had been told he was good for another 15 years. 

“Q-Ball, as he was known, is survived by his former wife, journalist Sue Ahearn, sons Daniel, Ben, Sam and Jason and seven grandchildren. He had five sisters in New Zealand and a rascal of a brother on the Gold Coast in Australia.” 


Here is my account of the Kaikoura UFO display from my 1996 book “The OZ Files” (pages 172-73): 


During the early hours of 21 December 1978, two separate Safe- Air Argosy cargo planes were making flights between Blenheim, Christchurch and Wellington in New Zealand. Both flights encountered anomalous objects. The most spectacular incident involved the Argosy 2, when ‘a bright, flashing, white light, almost like a strobe’ passed in front of the plane at a velocity estimated to be 17,000 kilometres per hour. It disappeared after making a sharp right-hand turn. The plane’s own weather radar confirmed the existence of the object. Quentin Fogarty, a Melbourne TV Channel 0- 10 reporter on holiday with his family in New Zealand, was asked to do a story on the events of 21 December. He hired a local TV crew to accompany a flight from Blenheim to Wellington, and from Wellington to Christchurch, in order to gain background footage for the story. The flight from Blenheim to Wellington was uneventful.

The plane took off from Wellington at 11.46 p.m. Saturday 30 December and travelled out over Cook Strait, reaching a cruising altitude of about 4,000 metres and an airspeed of 215 knots. At a point just south east of Cape Campbell, unusual lights were seen in the direction of Kaikoura. Wellington radar began picking up targets that were in the vicinity of the plane. The first thing the TV crew noticed was four or five unusual lights near the town of Kaikoura. They were variously stationary and moving, and their number kept changing. The cameraman tried to film these lights but he described them as too far away, however he said they were just visible in the blow-ups that were eventually made. Other lights were seen, also recorded by Wellington radar, and at one point the aircraft did a 360 degree turn to confirm the presence of a light which appeared off the right wing. After this manoeuvre, they no longer had visual contact, however Wellington still indicated the presence of an anomalous object in the vicinity. The plane landed at Christchurch at 1.01 a.m.

When the Argosy took off for the final leg back to Blenheim, one member of the film crew refused to continue the flight out of fear of what had happened. A few minutes after take-off, the moon, travelling parallel to them. It was also described as a bright yellow white orange light. Captain Startup turned on the plane’s own radar and a strong return was obtained. The radar blip gave an estimate of the target size as being three to five times larger than the blip size of a fishing boat. All of those on board had a clear view of the radar screen and the object, and were able to satisfy themselves that the radar target and the object outside the aircraft correlated. The radar distance was initially 30 kilometres, but decreased as the plane reached cruising altitude. The decision was made to turn towards the UFO. It made an abrupt change in course and moved away.

The object was filmed and in Australia Channel 0-10 broadcast the footage on 1 January 1979, and it was briefly a media sensation around the world. Attempts were made by the Royal New Zealand Air Force to explain away the sightings, but these were discredited by meteorologists and other scientists. The mystery remains.

My references included:

Dykes, Mervyn,Strangers in Our Skies: UFOs over New Zealand, Taita, Lower Hutt, INL, 1981

Fogarty, Quentin, Let's Hope They’re Friendly!,Melbourne, Angus & Robertson, 1982

Startup, Capt. Bill, with Illingworth, Neil, The Kaikoura UFOs, Auckland, Hodder and Stoughton, 1980 

Stott, Murray, Aliens over Antipodes,Sydney, Space-Time Press,


In 1998 New Zealand researcher Peter Hassall in his book “The NZ Files – UFOs in New Zealand” also addressed the affair. 

It was Dr Bruce Maccabee’s detailed analysis and field work that was the focus of the case for real UFO events at Kaikoura in 1978.  Dr. Thomas E. Bullard in his 2010 book “The Myth and Mystery of UFOs” describes some of the difficulties Dr. Maccabee had in getting his research to the attention of mainstream science. 

“The experience of Bruce Maccabee, an optical physicist for the U.S. Navy, illustrates that the scientific gate seems barred to UFOs without even a hearing of the evidence.  Multiple witnesses, movie footage, and radar tracking combined in UFO sightings at Kaikoura, New Zealand, in 1978 to create an intriguing case. He spent a month in New Zealand interviewing witnesses and analysing the data. When an article appeared in the Journal of Atmospheric and Terrestrial Physicsconcluding that refracted lights from Japanese squid boats were responsible for the sightings, Maccabee submitted a rebuttal that argued a strong case against mirages in favour of an unidentified phenomenon. The editor rejected his article, saying it contained no “real science,” in an apparent demonstration that a study based on extensive investigation did not merit publication if it arrived at an unacceptable answer, while a study based on nothing more than newspaper reports breezed into print as long as its results conformed to proper scientific opinion.”

More than a quarter of a century on, the 2004 Nimitz UFO encounters are running similar gauntlets, but some real science is slowly emerging, but much of it is emerging in specialised scientifically orientated associations, such as SCU – the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies, rather than previously established conservative “mainstream science” bodies and publications.


Quentin Fogarty was a key participant of the main radar-visual sighting events of 31stDecember, 1978.  During October 1979 he stayed with me in Sydney, while attending UFCON 4 – a national UFO conference, where he gave the keynote presentation – “The New Zealand UFO film” – describing the “complex affair” and enabling researchers to see the full version of the controversial TV UFO film taken on the flights that night.

(Bill Chalker (left) & Quentin Fogarty (right) speaking at UFOCON 4 in October 1979)
At the same conference my friend David Reneke gave a presentation on research into another UFO film, and photos, taken at Benboyd National Park on the south coast of New South Wales, during the total solar eclipse on 23 October 1976. 

The Benboyd images - GSW computer enhancement - 
"edge enhancement", "colour conturing", "Digitization" - (far right - original image from film)
I gave 2 presentations at UFOCON 4 – “Physical Evidence for UFOs in Australia” (an analysis of 237 “physical trace” cases, focusing on compelling UFO landing cases) and “Australian “Interrupted Journeys”” (focusing on cases suggestive of “contact”, “time loss” and “abduction” in Australia).

Quentin Fogarty continued his focus on the Kaikoura Lights responding to critics with a report “The NZ Film: A Reply to the Debunkers” (see for example FSR (Flying Saucer Review) Volume 26, No. 2, 1980). I contributed an article to FSR entitled “A Re-viewing of the great nocturnal light” highlighting that “the affair provided researchers with an excellent scenario of events, characterising in sharp relief the problems that plague the whole UFO subject, and balancing the whole with a wealth of data.” (FSR‘s Silver Jubilee issue, Volume 26, No.1, Spring 1980). 

In 1980 Quentin Fogarty had his book on the whole affair published – “Let’s Hope they’re friendly! The remarkable story behind the world’s first verified film encounter with an unidentified flying object.” There-in, he included an extract of an interview I had done with him, where he highlighted his feelings, during one critical part of that memorable flight. 

“Whatever the case, I did experience something psychic, be it real or imagined.”

“I was on the right-hand side as we turned back on course (after turning towards the target north of Christchurch). Dennis (Grant) was behind Bill (Startup) on the left.  I was further back as David (Crockett) was in the front filming.  I was out of Dennis’s line of sight and I felt this strange vulnerability.  I looked behind me.  The lights were out on the plane and we looked behind us, Dennis and myself.  We didn’t say anything.  I had this dreadful feeling of something in the plane. Dennis felt it too.  It felt like a warning.  Maybe it was just a psychological feeling.  I had the feeling, especially on the return leg, that we were being allowed to film.  I was not thinking of spacemen, or extraterrestrials, or anything.”

I asked Quentin, “It was just completely foreign?”

“Yes. To me it was just that they were some sort of intelligence of their own, not having occupants or anything.  Whatever they were, that was the entire thing.  I didn’t have a feeling of anything inside them. It gets a little weird and wacky. I had another feeling at the time, which I have not written about, like they were collecting souls of the dead. I can’t explain this feeling. They were far more psychic than anything.  I felt that there was something incredibly spiritual and emotional about it all, but I could not come to terms with it, I couldn’t work out what it was. Throughout the whole thing I cannot be convinced about an extraterrestrial origin, because it doesn’t feel right, for no other reason.”

                       Bill Chalker (in 2007) pointing out on a detailed topographic map found near Christchurch, 
                                 New Zealand, the Banks Pennisula, just below the Kaikoura coast 

                "kaikoura_UFO" ex Stuff Co NZ 01 January 2014 & the Marlborough Express

Quentin Fogarty was a hell of a nice guy, who struggled with the human impact of the UFO experience, but did not shy away from telling the world of the UFO reality he felt he had confronted in the phenomenon of the Kaikoura Lights.  To Quentin - a good life, and good journeying - I hope you found, or find, your answers.