Tuesday, June 25, 2024

“Tommy Leader”: Tom Dalton-Morgan and the 3% UFO solution

In my 1996 book “The OZ Files – the Australian UFO story” I drew attention to Ken Llewellyn’s account of Tom Dalton-Morgan’s UFO sighting at Woomera, in South Australia, which apparently took place in the late 1950s. I also described the story in my Australian chapter in the 2012 book “UFOs and Government – A Historical Inquiry” – “The Australian Military and the Official Government Response.”



From the OZ Files: 



“It came as a great surprise to many when the RAAF Senior Public Relations Officer in Canberra, Ken Llewellyn, wrote a book called Flight into the Ages, about ‘incredible true stories of airmen on the earth plane and beyond’. The book, released in February 1992, carried the disclaimer that it did not represent the official view of the RAAF on paranormal activities. It described ghost encounters, past lives, psychic experiences, and most interestingly of all, accounts of UFO experiences…


“(One) of Ken Llewellyn’s prominent sources was Group Captain Tom Dalton-Morgan. He had been part of a combined Royal Air Force and United States Air Force committee in the late 1940s investigating UFO sightings. It had concluded that most reports could be explained except for 3 per cent. Dalton-Morgan was the Officer in Charge of Range Operations at Woomera between 1959 and 1963. In about the late 1950s, shortly before the test firing of a Black (K)Night rocket, he received a radio call from Percy Hawkins, the Recovery Officer, reporting an exceptional bright light at about 4,500 metres travelling at high speed directly towards the test site, Dalton-Morgan and his team, who were about 140 kilometres south-east of Hawkins’ position, were able to view the incoming light from their elevated control building. They watched it fly in, then orbit around the range buildings some eight kilometres to the south. When the UFO was east of the control building, it seemed to accelerate and climb very steeply away. Dalton-Morgan concluded, ‘I am unable to conceive of any object, plane or missile during my posting to Woomera that was able to perform the manoeuvres seen by my team. Observers at the control tower and the launch site all agreed on the brilliant white-greenish light; the high degree of manoeuvrability, including rate and angle of climb; complete lack of sound; the lack of positive identification of the vehicle fuselage because it was a dark moonless night; and the exceptionally high speed of which it was capable.’

(ex "Fire across the desert")

Clearly Tom Dalton-Morgan’s report was a significant story, and he had a very impressive life.  Here is how the UK Telegraph reported Tom’s passing in their 24 September 2004 issue: “Group Captain Tom Dalton-Morgan, who has died in Australia aged 87 (on 18 September), was one of the RAF's most distinguished Battle of Britain fighter pilots; he later achieved considerable success during the German night attacks on Glasgow before playing a prominent role in co-ordinating fighter operations for the D-Day landings.

“Dalton-Morgan had virtually no experience as a fighter pilot when he was appointed a flight commander of No 43 Squadron - "The Fighting Cocks" - in June 1940. The squadron was flying Hurricanes from Tangmere, near Chichester, and together with others in No 11 Group, bore the brunt of the Luftwaffe attacks.

“He quickly established himself as a fearless leader. On July 12, he shared in the destruction of a Heinkel bomber; but he was forced to bale out the following day when he destroyed another and then was hit by crossfire. With no badges of rank in evidence - he was wearing pyjamas under his flying suit - he was "captured" by a bobby who placed him in the cells along with the German bomber crew he had just shot down.

“Despite being slightly wounded, Dalton-Morgan was soon back in action, accounting for four more enemy aircraft in the next three weeks. In early September, he shot down three Messerschmitt fighters. After one engagement he was wounded in the face and knee, and had to crash-land. His DFC praised him for "displaying great courage when his behaviour in action has been an inspiration to his flight".

“Despite his wounds, Dalton-Morgan returned to take command of the depleted squadron after the death of the CO, and took it to Northumberland to train replacement pilots.

“A descendant of the buccaneer Sir Henry Morgan and the Cromwellian general Sir Thomas Morgan, Thomas Frederick Dalton-Morgan was born on March 23 1917 at Cardiff and educated at Taunton School. He joined the RAF on a short service commission in 1935, and trained as a pilot.

“Following service with No 22 Squadron, flying the Wildebeeste torpedo bomber, he joined the training staff at the Air Ministry. In April 1940 he applied to return to flying, and was appointed to No 43.

“After the Battle of Britain, Dalton-Morgan's primary task was to train new pilots for service with the squadrons in the south. He was also required to establish a night-fighting capability with the Hurricane; a task he achieved with great success. Few enemy night bombers fell victim to single-seat fighter pilots, but Dalton-Morgan, hunting alone, destroyed no fewer than six.

“Three of his victims went down in successive nights on May 6-7 1941, when the Luftwaffe embarked on a major offensive against the Clydesdale ports and Glasgow. On June 8, Dalton-Morgan achieved a remarkable interception when he shot down a Junkers bomber, having made initial contact by spotting its shadow on the moonlit sea. After two more successes at night, he was carrying out a practice interception on July 24 with a fellow pilot when he saw another Junkers.

“Dalton-Morgan gave chase and intercepted it off May Island. Despite his engine failing and fumes filling the cockpit, he attacked the bomber three times. He had just watched it hit the sea when his engine stopped. Too low to bale out, he made a masterly landing on the water, but lost two front teeth when his face hit the gun sight. He clambered into his dinghy before being rescued by the Navy.

“His station commander, Wing Commander H Eeles, commented: "I consider this to be a classic example of how a first-class fighter pilot can attack an enemy while his engine is failing, shoot it down, force land on the sea, and get away with it." Dalton-Morgan was awarded a Bar to his DFC "for his exceptional skill". He scored another night victory on October 2, off Berwick-on-Tweed. Finally, in February 1942, after 18 months in command, the longest spell by any of No 43's wartime commanding officers, Dalton-Morgan was rested, having shot down at least 14 aircraft and damaged others.

“After a spell as a fighter controller at Turnhouse, near Edinburgh, he returned to operations in late 1942 to become leader of the Ibsley Wing. Here he had eight fighter squadrons under him, with the task of mounting long-range offensive sorties over northern France and providing scouts for the tactical bomber squadrons. After damaging an Me 109 in December, he shot down a Focke Wulf 190 fighter and damaged another during a sweep over Brest. He was awarded the DSO in May 1943, which recorded his victories at the time as 17.

“His experience of escort operations led to his being attached to the 4th Fighter Group of the US 8th Air Force, which was just beginning long-range bomber escort work. He flew more than 70 combat sorties with the group. Promoted group captain early in 1944, he served as operations officer with the 2nd Tactical Air Force.

“For a period he worked on an air-to-ground fighter control system with Major John Profumo, whom he rated as the most capable and generous Army officer he had met.

Dalton-Morgan engaged in planning fighter and ground attack operations in support of the campaign in Normandy, then moved to the mainland with his organisation after the invasion. Years after, his CO at the time (later Air Marshal Sir Fred Rosier) commented: "It would be impossible to overstate Tom D-M's importance and influence on the conduct of fighter operations for and beyond D-Day".

“A month before the end of the war in Europe, Dalton-Morgan learned that his only brother, John, who also had the DFC, had been shot down and killed flying a Mosquito. Dalton-Morgan remained in Germany with 2nd Tactical Air Force after the war before attending the RAF Staff College, and becoming a senior instructor at the School of Land/Air Warfare. Later he commanded the Gutersloh Wing, flying Vampire jets, before taking command of RAF Wunsdorf.

“On leaving the service in 1952, Dalton-Morgan joined the UK/Australian Joint Project, at Woomera, where he managed the weapons range for the next 30 years before retiring in Australia.

“He made regular trips home to visit the missile testing range at Aberporth, to see his family and to attend service reunions. He was a vice-president of the Hawker Hurricane Society.

Dalton-Morgan was recognised as one of the RAF's finest fighter leaders. Slightly scarred by his wounds, he had the dashing good looks of the archetypal fighter pilot, and always attracted the greatest admiration from his air and ground crews. In an article on leadership written after the war, one of Dalton-Morgan's former pilots wrote: "He had an awesome charisma; some sort of special aura seemed to surround him. He was the epitome of leadership, he was a born leader."

“He was appointed OBE in 1945 and mentioned in dispatches in 1946, the year President Harry Truman awarded him the US Bronze Star.

“Tom Dalton-Morgan died on September 18, the eve of the annual Battle of Britain Anniversary service at Westminster Abbey, which he had hoped to attend.

“His first marriage in 1939 ended in divorce. In 1952 he married Dee Yeomans who had been widowed during the war. She and their six children, together with a son and daughter from his first marriage, survive him.”

Tom Dalton-Morgan certainly lived up to his biography title: “Tommy Leader”, which writer Clive Williams helped to put together. The book was published in 2007.  Whenever I enquired about the availability of “Tommy Leader”, it seemed it had become a collector’s item, and was valued as a memoir of a “Battle of Britain” air war hero, and was generally very expensive and hard to acquire.  


Tom Dalton-Morgan was a significant presence, in his capacity as being in charge of Range Group operations for the UK/Australian Joint Project, as described in Ivan Southall’s popular 1962 book “Woomera.” Tom’s UFO story was not mentioned, even though UFOs got a mention – “the question of the numerous unidentified flying objects alleged by scores of thousands of observers to have been seen in the earth’s atmosphere during past centuries.  These so-called flying saucers either exist or do not exist. There cannot be a half-way house,” wrote Southall, even mentioning his own personal indirect experience, of a “foo-fighter” kind.  “Members of my air crew, from different gun turrets and the astro-dome, observed several dozen unidentified lights over the Bay of Biscay on the night of 10th-11thAugust 1944, and kept them under observation for 40 minutes. Our aircraft, Sunderland P/461, was the only machine of Allied or Axis origin in the area, though I did not know it at the time.  As pilot, on a strict patrol, and frankly not anxious to make contact with so numerous a force, I saw nothing.  I was facing in the wrong direction.”  Southall wrote, “Woomera, perhaps better fitted that any other place on earth to observe and track these mysterious manifestations, cannot produce a single item of documentary or photographic evidence to prove that they are real or unreal. Butement (the Australian Department of Supply Chief Scientist) says: “Flying saucers representing something extra-terrestrial are extremely unlikely.  I think we have to look to the earth for the answer.” J.D. (the Principal Officer, Range Group), too, points out that Woomera has been in a unique position to secure the evidence during the period of maximum sightings, but has failed to do so, and not from any desire to turn a blind eye.  The flying-saucer theory has its adherents in Woomera and any one of them would have given a month’s pay to prove it. Among the operators there are a few who have observed puzzling phenomena, but none can state dogmatically that this was a flying –saucer or this was not.”


Ivan Southall’s comments in his book “Woomera” (1962) were not reflected in compelling arguments from people like Norm Gerrard of the Radar & Electronic Tracking Group, WRE (Weapons Research Establishment) who was working at Woomera, and whose views were strongly amplified a decade later in a Department of Supply internal memorandum from the Radar and Electronic Group: “Regarding Recent Symposium on UFOs” which discussed a 1971 ANZAAS UFO symposium.  This 3-page internal Department of Supply memo dated 2 December 1971, was written by Gerrard and sent through the Controller Research & Development to (Tom) T.F.C. Lawrence, then Deputy Secretary, Research & Engineering, Department of Supply, in response to Lawrence's enquiry of 25 November 1971.  Gerrard was a veteran of the Department of Supply and in Peter Morton's "Fire across the desert - Woomera & the Anglo-Australian Joint Project 1946-1980" (1989) was described as "a quiet conscientious man who had worked on radio and radar in (V.) Bosher's instrumentation section of Bomb Ballistics Group. He duly spent some months with (F.H.) East (the RAE expert) at RAE (in Britain) and then returned to take over the scientific direction of the VT (variable time) fuze trials (1952-53)." Gerrard emphasised in his memo to Lawrence that the views expressed were his own and not WRE's. He described the ANZAAS UFO symposium held in 1971, the work of some of the scientists, particularly highlighting that of Dr. Michael Duggin, who he described as "probably the leading advocate of serious UFO studies in Australia."  I described Mike Duggin's impressive contributions in my article "The Australian scientist who was a potent part of the UFO "Invisible College" - Dr. Michael Duggin (1937-2016) - a tribute" which appeared in slightly different forms in both the Australian magazine "Ufologist" and the UK e-magazine "UFO Truth".

(ex "Fire Across the Desert")
Norm Gerrard gave a good insight to the views of the scientists present on the subject of UFOs and science and also highlighted the limitations of the symposium.  His own views, while not advocating "a deliberate search for U.F.O.'s", did highlight that he thought "the official Australian investigation should not be as biased as the Department of Air (RAAF) effort appears to be, and I would like to see that effort assisted by more scientists to make careful analyses and correlations of existing reports, looking for similarities which might suggest intelligent control, or purpose, or method of propulsion or communication."  He was apparently unaware of Harry Turner's secret attempt to do precisely this (described to some extent in the JIO & DSTO files) and the fact that Harry himself attended in an undisclosed capacity, while his secret research associate Mike Duggin took the public profile.  Gerrard stressed to Lawrence "that we (should) keep an open mind on U.F.O.'s and would like to see some scientific effort devoted to the investigation of U.F.O. sightings, because it may throw light on the exciting possibility of extra-terrestrial intelligence."


Southall’s commentary on UFOs & Woomera would also be greatly challenged by compelling sightings that had already occurred at Woomera, such as Tom Dalton-Morgan’s well witnessed experience from the late 1950s and a striking 1954 radar visual Woomera encounter described to me by nuclear physicist Harry Turner.  He had been involved in the war time pioneer radar research and told me that this radar case impressed him the most in his secret study of the DAFI UFO files and led him to advocate attempts to secure more radar cases. Turner’s classified report on Australian Air Force Intelligence files up to 1954, indicated that radar at the restricted Woomera rocket range facility in South Australia picked up a UFO on May 5th, 1954, when at about 1630 hours 3 witnesses saw a “misty grey disc” at a 355 degree bearing, at some 35 miles, and at an altitude of more than 60,000 feet. The object appeared to have an apparent diameter of about 10 feet. The visual observation which lasted 5 minutes was aided by binoculars. The object travelled south then west, with the radar echo confirming a speed of 3,600 mph! The case, originally classified secret, indicated that the UFO was witnessed by an English Electric scientist and a radar operator. The EE scientist was outside talking to the radar operator when the radar confirmed the presence of a UFO. The scientist watched the object with binoculars. One of his functions at Woomera was to monitor rocket tests. He was experienced in observing movement in the sky. The radar tracked the UFO until it went out of range, however they were able to confirm distance and size. Some tests were being undertaken with a Canberra bomber in flight. The UFO was moving in formation with the Canberra. The Canberra crew could not see the UFO, but both the plane and UFO were confirmed on radar. This was the description of the case he gave to me back in the 1980s. Fortunately the case file has emerged which confirms the account Turner supplied to me. 


5 May 1954 Woomera SA approximately 1630hrs 5 minutes 3 witnesses.Three documents containing statements by the two key men involved and a covering letter forwarding the statements, from the Superintendent Long Range Weapons Establishment Range, Woomera, to the “Chief Superintendent”, which stated “The persons reporting were separated by a distance of approximately three hundred yards and give corroborative accounts of what each observed.”


A statement dated 6 May 1954, indicated, RE: “UNIDENTIFIED TARGET OBSERVED ON RADAR 5TH MAY, 1954Sir,At about 1600 on 5th May, an unidentified Target was observed on radar AA Number 4 Mk. 6.The target appeared on High Beam at a range of about 60,000 yards Bearing 355degrees approaching ‘R’, described a Hyperbols (sic) over ‘R’ and went out at a bearing of approx. 90 degrees. On its way out it passed behind Spotting Tower, “S2”. I timed it over 15,000 yards 10 seconds which would make its speed approximately 3600 M.P.H.  KEANE observed this occurrence with me. Since the target was followed to 70,000 yards on High Beam the height would be greater than 60,000 feet.”

The remaining statement (7 May 1954), “Vickers-Armstrong” stated: 

“REPORT ON A FLYING OBJECT SIGHTED ON 5TH MAY, 1954I was at Range R1 (Post R1), the Radar Post, standing by the Security Officer’s Hut, and looking towards the radar Post at approximately 1645 hours, observing one of our trials through binoculars.This object appeared to be travelling towards me or directly across a path of the approaching Canberra (aircraft). When it got to the path of the Canberra it turned to my right and was going in the direction from which the Canberra had just come.


“When it got directly over the Canberra it slowed down. During this time, I found it very hard to believe what I was seeing, so I shut my eyes and then looked again through the binoculars and the object was still stationary over the flight path of the Canberra. Since it appeared to be the same relative size as the Canberra through the binoculars, I thought it would be possible to see it with the naked eye. However, when I looked over the top of the binoculars the object had either gone or I could not see it with the naked eye, and when I looked again through the binoculars I could not pick it up.  The object appeared to be travelling about three times as fast as the Canberra, but of course it is impossible to estimate, since I did not know what height it was. It was perfectly circular all the time and a dark grey colour, and gave the appearance of being translucent. It did not glisten at all when it turned or was it shiny.” 


Given Harry Turner’s experience in early radar development in wartime Australia, it is clear why he was impressed with the May 1954 radar visual case at Woomera.


I was approached recently by the grandson of Tom Dalton-Morgan, Rhys Dalton-Morgan, who was trying to get more information about him, and his apparent UFO involvement. Rhys has had a difficult time navigating both British and Australian military archives, with only very limited information being gathered.  I recommended he contact Dr. David Clarke who had undertaken outstanding research into the early days of official British UFO research.

Dr David Clarke's recent exploration 
of the early secret days of UK UFO investigations
(Fortean Times, Issue 445)

Rhys contacted David indicating,I just wanted to introduce myself. I’m the grandson of a Battle of Britain Ace, Group Captain Tom Dalton-Morgan or Thomas Fredrick Dalton-Morgan. I was given your name by Bill Chalker. I live in Sydney, Australia and have been doing some research into him of late. I requested his file from the national archives in the UK, but they told me they don’t have it or it hasn’t been transferred from the ministry of defence yet. I’ve had similar issues with the national archives and department of defence in Australia and the US. While doing my own research, I recently discovered a chapter from his history that has been completely unknown to the family. Apparently he had been apart of a joint RAF and USAF committee in the late 1940’s investigating UFO’s. 

Now my grandfather was a private person and very matter of fact. But as time has gone after he passed, it has been discovered that he has an interesting history, much he never spoke of. From being a secret “Ghost” pilot in the US 8th Air Force, to being a participant in the formation of the Western Union Defence Organisation, to then managing the Woomera Rocket Range in Australia for the Weapons Research Establishment for 30 years.
A lot is not known about him. 

I was wondering if you might have any information or resources I may be able to follow up to find out more about his history. Do you also know anything about this joint RAF and USAF committee in the late 1940ʼs investigating UFOʼs. 

Cheers, Rhys 

Dear Rhys, Thank you for your email regarding your grandfather and his interest in UFOs.
 As you have spoken to Bill Chalker, I guess you must be aware of the account published in Ken Lewelyn's 1991 book Flight into the Ages? This refers to Tom Dalton-Morgan's UFO sighting at the Woomera rocket range in the late 1950s? Lewelyn's account also refers to the 'joint RAF and USAF committee' that investigated UFOs in the 1940s, from information provided by your grandfather. I have checked my files and found that I interviewed your grandfather by phone on 4 November 2002. Unfortunately, I did not record this so I have only brief shorthand notes... I recall he was about to leave for a trip to Australia at the time and I have his address noted as Jasmine Cottage, Wendover.
 The notes cover his Woomera experience and generally confirm the account in Lewelyn's book. He said it was reported to both RAAF HQ and to London - but he heard nothing back.
 Not surprised that you have had little success at The National Archives. Virtually all the MoD/Air Ministry files on UFOs covering the period 1949-1961 were destroyed, so no chance of tracing original documentation.
 Your grandfather, in the interview, did confirm that he served on a joint US/UK committee that investigated UFOs in the 1940s and 50s... and that he had asked to be on it (he did not explain why) - it included both military and civilian pilots. All he could remember was that all the sightings they were asked to examine were resolved except 3% 'which were unknown' I have not been able to find any trace of this 'committee' apart from the existence of a MoD 'Flying Saucer Working Party' that existed circa 1950-51 and produced a report that is in the archives DEFE 44/119 see: https://drdavidclarke.co.uk/national-archives-ufo-files-7/flying-saucer-working-party/andhttps://drdavidclarke.co.uk/radar-uaps/mod-dsi-jtic-report-no-7-unidentified-flying-objects-1951/
 The FSWP was terminated in 1951 but continued in 1952 under Professor RV Jones when responsibility for UFOs was transferred to the Air Ministry.
 The FSWP certainly liaised with USAF Intelligence and CIA on UFOs and CIA were present when the report was completed and circulated in London.This maybe the committee your grandfather refers to? If so I suspect if any further evidence is in existence, it will be held by the US National Archives either Project Grudge or Project Bluebook.Hoping this is useful.
 Have you discovered anything else? bests

Dr David ClarkeTweets: @shuclarkeWebsite: http://www.drdavidclarke.co.uk/ Blog: https://drclarke.substack.com/

I thanked David for assisting Rhys.  


Fortunately, Rhys had a copy of Tom’s biographical book “Tommy Leader” and confirmed that it included an account of his Woomera UFO experience.


Here is Tom Dalton-Morgan’s account from the book “Tommy Leader":


“One night at Woomera when we were setting up to launch a Black Knight vehicle there was a most unusual incident.  I was in the Control Room talking to Alan Mole who was setting up for the countdown to launch.  A call came for me over the intercom from Percy Hawkins, our Recovery Officer, who was down range near the expected impact areas of the Black Knight and launch vehicles.  He reported a very bright light that was heading towards the Range head.  I stepped out on to the balcony of Test Control building followed by Alan Mole and others.

                     (ex "Fire across the Desert" (via "Flight" magazine and Mrs. E.A. Wren)

(ex "Fire across the Desert")

“Sure enough we soon picked up a very bright light heading at high speed towards the Rangehead.  It appeared to be at about 5,000 ft.  As it orbited around us, we could see what appeared to be a circular outline of the vehicle.  A cabin protruded from the top of the vehicle, it was brightly lit and showed up the circular outline of the vehicle.  As it passed behind us it accelerated and climbed away, almost vertically, to the East and disappeared.  No sound came from it.  The apparent circular shape of the vehicle, its speed, rate and angle of climb were beyond that of known aircraft of the time.  Our Rangehead radar failed to pick it up.  I reported the incident immediately to RAAF HQ in Canberra to RAAF Base Edinburgh and to Defence Research Establishments.  It was seen by our Recovery Team down range and by at least six of us at the Rangehead.  I would say that it was one of the three percent of such sightings that could not be easily explained away.”

(ex Wikipedia)
(1958 launch of a Black Knight rocket ex Pathe)

From the references such as “Fire Across the Desert”, “Woomera”, C.H. Hill’s “A Vertical Empire – History of the British Rocket Programme” (2012), and Wikipedia’s Black Knight entry, and the information we currently have on the Tom Dalton-Morgan Woomera UFO report, it would appear the date of the sighting would come from 5 possible Black Knight Woomera launches, namely 7 September 1958, and 12 March, 11 June, 29 June and 30 October 1959.  Ken Llewelyn in his book “Flight into the Ages” reflects, “It was a very sensitive time, with missiles being cleared for nuclear capability …. Tom cannot recall the exact date of the incident, and the official report is now buried in Defence Department archives, but it is one of great interest …. High security surrounded the firing of the Black (K)Night because it was specifically designed to test the fusing system for a nuclear bomb and to obtain data on the radar signatures of an incoming nose cone, somewhat similar to a nuclear warhead.”  Such security issues, one would think would not be an issue that would effect release of files more than 60 years later, but its seems such issues run into deep time. Rhys Dalton-Morgan advised me on 24 June 2024, “The Defence Department or Information Access Unit specifically have come back to me today and said no records on Tom could be located. I know that's nonsense because I've spoken with the national archives on the phone, who can see on their end DST have released files on Tom then taken them back.”  We hope, with persistence, progress may be made on the release of Tom Dalton-Morgan’s file, which may also answer many questions and provide more detailed information about Tom’s sighting. 


So there we have it, “Tommy Leader: Tom Dalton-Morgan and the 3% UFO solution”, determined by his time on a joint US/UK committee that investigated UFOs in the 1940s and 50s, an apparent fore-runner of the 1950-51 MOD Flying Saucer Working Party, and his own well witnessed late 1950s UFO sighting at Woomera in Australia, just prior to a Black Knight launch. Somebody’s “Big Science” checking out our “Big Science” out there, down Woomera way, something seemingly beyond our abilities, perhaps something of a non human intelligence.  Tom Dalton-Morgan certainly thought it wasn’t one of ours.

Friday, May 24, 2024

"The Bill Chalker UFO Encounter: An Australian Researcher’s Sighting" - a reality check

 On the "Above the Norm News" web site, 7 May, 2024, a story appeared: "The Bill Chalker UFO Encounter: An Australian Researcher’s Sighting" 

Naturally I was interested. 

Well, did it really happen this way? I should know. I was there. Read below for a reality check.

The imaginative painting, quite a nice one, but hey, the object represented in it was not quite so big, it wasn't quite that dark (did you know that Armidale is apparently Australia's highest city?), I have never been an engineer. At that point I wasn't a chemist, just training to be, the object's speed was not "incredible", but it sure was striking:

Here is my account, which has been available on line for some time:

"Consideration of the UFO problem was far from my mind at twilight, on September 15th, 1972, as I was returning from a Chemistry practical class. Weighing heavily on my mind was the thought of dinner and a chance to relax after an exhausting day. What followed was therefore totally unexpected and came as a stunning surprise.

"As I crossed the grounds of Earle Page College, my residence on campus, at about 5.50 pm, my attention was drawn to two students, not known to me, who were intent on something in the sky. As I drew closer to them their conversation could be heard. "Do you see that?" "Yes", said the other, "But I don't want to." Curious I turned in the direction of their gazes and saw what appeared to be a metallic egg-shaped object traversing the twilight sky, north to south. It was moving in a horizontal trajectory, at a speed roughly equatable to that of a low flying light plane.

"The object was in my view for about 15 seconds, until it was obscured by college buildings. I rushed through the college buildings, and out to the other side, which afforded a clear panoramic view for some considerable distance. To my surprise, the aerial object was not in sight.

"It had an apparent angular size at arms length of about one inch, and gave me the subjective impression of a sizeable object flying at several hundred feet. Obviously there was no way of being certain of that impression. The object appeared to be completely silent, in contrast to the noisy aircraft that frequently pass over the university. To my eye, its shape was very well defined, with no surface protrusions noticeable.

"What was it? I was never able to identify the object, despite attempts to reconcile it with aircraft, balloons and similar prosaic explanations. Any of these possiblities should have been still observable as I came through the college buildings.

"I was puzzled. "UFOs" had been in the news that week, but much of the coverage was of a dubious nature. The focus of the media attention was on "a bright silvery light", observed on several consecutive mornings at Taree, on the mid north coast of New South Wales. The afternoon papers in Sydney, particularly the "Daily Mirror", were having a field day, complete with front page photos and huge headlines about the aerial "mystery". The details available made me wonder if news was a little slow down in "the big smoke". I was able to quickly confirm my own hypothesis, that the early morning apparition was "the queen of UFO misidentifications", namely Venus. Predictably when this became clear to the tabloid press, the prominence given to the answer was a lot less than the original coverage. There was intriguing activity happening elsewhere in Australia at that time, but it did not get the attention it deserved.

"Earlier on the same day of my sighting, a student told me of some unusual events that had occurred at about 3 am that morning on a property to the west of Armidale (Mount Butler) and apparently involved a bizarre apparition, looking like "a monk in a shroud". The student was acquainted with me through meetings of the fledging university psychic phenomena society. I had been co-opted to chair its "ghost and poltergiest" subcommittee, which I saw as an opportunity for a net to catch all manner of "fringe" phenomena, and hopefully some UFO phenomena.

"Later when I further clarified details the event seemed to involve a bizarre form of apparitional "possession" at a site that became haunted by UFOs - the Mount Butler affair. What it would show was that the dimensions of UFO problem were far from clear and the best approach was to be both critical and open minded."

I wrote to David Freeman: 

Hi, as my 1972 UFO sighting was the subject of this piece, I am curious to the background to the preparation of the piece.

Was it based on any access to actual research of articles written by me or was it in part or whole generated through AI tools.

While the artwork is striking it and the article bare only a passing resemblance to the reality of the event.

The post event discussion is generally consistent with my approach, it seems almost generic in nature, being possibly generated or mediated by AI.

I would be grateful for any clarification. I’m planning to do a response to this piece on my blog, and would like to quote some feedback.


Bill Chalker


David Freeman quickly responded: Hi Bill,

It's great to hear from you, and I apologize if the article didn’t fully capture your experience. As the sole person responsible for Above the Norm News, I handle all the research, writing, website management, and social media. I do use AI tools as writing aids, which may have contributed to any discrepancies in the article.

I discovered your story on http://www.ufoevidence.org/cases/case1069.htm while researching another case and thought it would be a compelling addition to our UFO archive. Your sighting was fascinating, and I wanted to share it with our readers. If you'd like, I'm happy to expand the article or include links to your own writings to provide a more comprehensive account.

Thanks for reaching out.



When I have referred to my 1972 sighting in the past, I have shown this Powerpoint slide:

Here I include copies of faded Polaroid photos I had taken in daylight soon after the event.  Note that the tree heights at the time were nowhere as developed as in the colour photos below, taken in 2016.


Circumstances prevented an investigation from being completed until the end of 1973. By then the milieu that had focused on Mount Butler involved far more than a strange encounter with a bizarre entity. The area had become the focus of UFO activity which seemed to centre around one individual. 


During the early morning darkness of September 15th– the same day as my “daylight disc sighting” - three university students were in their lodgings on the Mount Butler property, engaged in conversation and musical relaxation. A commotion was heard amongst the farm animals outside. One of them went outside to investigate. What he saw caused him to call the others outside. There floating in a slow semi-circle near the house, was a monk-like apparition. No limbs were noticed and a black void was present where the face would have been. 


One of the students, Greg, apparently made a sudden move, and the other two thought they saw the apparition vanish in a flash of light. It was their impression this flash of light travelled towards Greg and entered him at chest height. Puzzled, the two men went over to Greg and found him in a much distressed state. He was shaking almost uncontrollably and was inarticulate, except for garbled attempts to convey that he was "really sick inside." His friends helped him inside. He stayed in much the same condition until they ventured outside again. Two of the farm horses galloped up to meet them. One of them, a favorite of Greg's, came up to him and the other two students then thought they saw a flash of light leave Greg, enter the horse and then leave it, dissipating finally into the night. The horse reared up and fled. The two men now found that Greg was no longer distressed. The two friends came to think that the apparition was the spirit of Greg's father, who had died a few months earlier, and it had "possessed" him. Whatever the explanation, my investigations made me feel that the students had had a genuinely unsettling experience. 


Graham, another student, started living at the property during 1973. He began to see some strange sights, particularly since he had started finishing late as a cleaner in town. During 1973 he had at least 8 UFO sightings. I found his retelling convincing as he took me to each of the locations involved. One, unknown to him, provided a sense of authentication for his experiences. 


Late in March, 1973, he was coming home from university, at about 1.30 am, after completing a radio program on the student radio network. He drove out of town, along the Bundurra road, the turned to the left onto the road that eventually leads to the Mount Butler property. Just as he passed the university ionosphere research receiver - a grid system of metal poles - he stopped to answer a call of nature: "I was just sort of looking at the sky, and I ... noticed that the sky was sort of shifting ... About 5 or 6 lights ... were just sort of moving slowly ... in a curve (formation)... like 5 lights in an arc ...They were sort of only fractionally moving.... they moved very slowly for about 5 minutes 


.... then all of a sudden, they just sort of all slide around out of the arc, into a straight line ... and they all just ... seemed to accelerate (towards the south..." The Sydney group UFO Research Projects of Australia (UFORPA), coordinated by Frankh Wilks, logged a report at Rozelle, NSW, between 1.00 and 1.30 am, on March 24th, 1973, of 5 flat yellow lights travelling in a loose V or "arc" formation moving quickly from south to north. This report was not publicised and only became known to me through being listed in the short- lived and limited circulation UFO Network newsletter. Graham certainly would not have been aware of this event. 


Graham also saw two other different types of UFOs on a number of occasions - "golden balls" and what he labelled green "plasmic balls". Once he saw 3 of the “golden balls” jumping around on top of trees. They appeared to zoom about each other for about a 10-minute period. The green lights were often closer but seemed to be generally of short duration. The first time he saw one of these was very vivid to him. It seemed to be a spinning circular mass, apparently about 2 metres in diameter, which zoomed across the trees in front of him. He smelt a “burnt air” smell (ozone?) and observed a sort of light trail. Graham thought the green “plasmic ball” – “a sort of green comet” – was only about a 100 metres away and about 10 metres in the air. About 2 weeks later all the leaves along the side of the trees the “ball” passed went brown leaving a very clear effect which lasted for a few months. 


His most spectacular sighting occurred during early October, 1973. Returning home after his cleaning job, he was on the dirt road opposite the research station receiver again: "... right in the middle of the windscreen .... it just seemed to float up.... I stopped the car immediately ... this thing ... the best I could described it, was like a cigar, or like a French loaf .... It was fairly regular in shape, except it was sort of tapered at the ends, and on each end of it, there seemed to be a type of yellow light, but one end was sort of greeny and one end was red, and the middle seemed to be the same yellow .... It didn'tseem very far away. There was no impression of movement or sound ... I watched it for about 10 to 15 seconds (positioned in an oblique orientation) and then it rotated itself 4 times...." It then seemed to suddenly shoot off up at an oblique angle and disappear into the night. 


Other unusual phenomena also occurred at the farm that may have fallen into "earth energy" type episodes – one involving an early evening experience – the “strangest day” – when the mountain “spoke.” A distinct humming turned into a “bush chant” impacting on the 3 people who experienced it as a tremendous feeling of euphoria. Graham likened it like “the hillside was singing in a choir.” The others felt a sense of communication. As they came down off the mountainside and returned to barn area of the property they were astonished to witness about 10 “falling stars” zooming across the evening sky. Graham concluded, “We just went to see the sunset, like we normally do ... and the mountain spoke to us ... it was just a sense of humming, a sense of power, manifesting itself in noise, and then it changed from a sort of familiar noise, like a generator noise to a more, sort of human, more vocal noise – a wash of sound ... to the others it was more crudely primitive.” To the group was distinctly far stranger than a typical Australian bush hum, like cicadas and other sources of bush noise. Others reported strange phenomena like impressions of “space or time warps” on the property, where a particular locality would change significantly in perspective. Some areas of landscape seemed to quiver as if it seemed to want to shift around. Shifting ones location would return the effect to normal. Could this area be seen, given more recent parlance, as a “portal”? 


Whatever was going on, the Mount Butler area certainly seemed to be the focus of some strange UFO and possibly paranormal phenomena. It was a locality which to me qualified as another Australian UFO “hot zone.” While I have investigated many other localised flap areas such as the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Kempsey, Coonabarabran, St. George, Tully, and Leitchville- Echuca, and gathered information about others such as the Grampians, Wycliffe Well and Toowoomba, none came close to the intensity of personal experience that I experienced during the 1973 Tyringham flap. 


Locals started observing unusual light phenomena and other strange occurrences.


Fortunately details about the situation came to my notice shortly after they began. Indeed, I was eventually able to witness some of the range of apparently anomalous activity in the area, including unusual aerial lights and objects, and auditory phenomena. I was fortunate that the strange activity persisted for months and knowledge of it remained largely limited to locals and me and a few other UFO researchers. It was both an intriguing and bizarre time. 


I had no idea that the phone message waiting for me at the University of New England would usher me into an extraordinary situation. After several calls with Warwick Ford, a Dorrigo district electronics technician, it appeared that there seemed to be recurring unusual nocturnal light activity in the remote area of Tyringham and Dundurrabin, both small timber towns, approximately 57 miles from Armidale, on the Ebor road to Grafton. 


This had begun on May 29th, 1973, when Warwick’s wife, Sandra, had noticed “a very agile object, with very bright flashing lights” (red and blue), which seemed to variously zigzag or make vertical or horizontal accelerated movements. Sandra, Warwick and their border, Jill Cotmore, from their “Mollydale” property, just ENE of Tyringham, saw the strange nocturnal light displays on consecutive nights. Others in the area also noticed them. Indeed, on May 31st, a Tyringham local, Marwin Copland, managed to photograph the lights. On that night, at least 9 adults in 4 independent groups watched the “antics” of 2 very agile lights for over an hour. Marwin succeeded in capturing the light’s performances on 5 photos. During that time, it had moved down obliquely over a large angular distance, on 3 to 4 occasions, disappearing behind the mountain range to the NNE. 


It was this preliminary information that drew me to the area on June 11th. By then it was clear that some sort of localised UFO flap was underway. I was flat out that day interviewing locals who had witnessed UFO activity in the area. Eventually I would visit the area on June 17th, June 22nd, June 24th, and for an extended visit from August 19thto 29th. During that time, I learnt that apart from the inevitable misinterpretations of prosaic nocturnal sky phenomena, something quite striking was going on. Over several months I was able to gather information on 44 nocturnal light reports and 23 reports of what seemed to be unexplained aerial objects. There seemed to be 5 clear reports of apparent UFO landings, and another 15 possible landing reports, the latter usually featuring anomalous nocturnal lights going down behind hills or mountains. With these we were never certain if we were dealing with apparent landings. Other unusual events also occurred, including strange auditory phenomena, electrical-type clock stopping incidents, and what seemed to be psychic or paranormal events. 


While intriguing in its own right, what fascinated me even more was that for the first time in my experience I was present on site during a UFO flap, and actually witnessed a range of apparently anomalous activity. While most of this activity was happening in an elusive and erratic way, it never the less provided me with sufficient evidence, much of it based on personal experience, to satisfy myself that something truly extraordinary was going on. From a scientific point of view, it had a sense of being repeatable, at least allowing myself and others to witness a measure of what was going on. 


A selection of events from my involvement in examining what went on at Tryingham during my most intense investigations there in 1973 are described here. 


Two UFOs were seen at about 11 pm on Saturday June 2, 1973, by the people at Mollydale, at magnetic N and NW (which put these objects over major high power tension lines connecting Armidale and Grafton. These lines run directly across the Ford property). Marwin Copland at Tyringham also witnessed part of this activity. The NW object joined the N one preforming synchronous “antics” (i.e. horizontal zigzags, backwards and forwards, and vertical & horizontal accelerations etc.). Then one came over to the SSW, stopped, did a loop-the-loop (of sorts), and then dropped like a stone, lighting up the area behind a mountain range locally known as Boney Mountain, with a brilliant blue-white light. It appeared as though the UFO flew horizontally across a substantial part of the sky at high speed (in 1-2 seconds), gave the distinct impression to the observers that perhaps it saw something (or its objective), overshot the mark, looped up and back, to re-align the spot (in 4-5 seconds) compensated by moving forward a little, then dropped like a stone on “target”. This observation is particularly striking in that the trajectory of the light was truly anomalous. I was not able to fit this motion into anything conventional. 


Marwin Copland, Jill Cotmore, Sandra and Warwick Ford, drove out behind Boney Mountain, following Sheep Station Creek road. When they got close to the “assumed” landing area, they noticed that the compass was spinning wildly. Spotlights were used to check the immediate area. Nothing was found. They drove on, and the compass returned to normal, so they returned to Tyringham. A subsequent check in the same area indicated no effects on the marine compass used. The majority of subsequent observations were centred in the direction of Boney Mountain. During all my investigations, it was difficult to determine how far behind the mountain this and subsequent “landings” were being made. Some seemed close, indeed on or on the far side slopes, while others appeared to be a great distance away, even though in some cases the objects seen would have been very large. Therefore, no estimates could be made with regard to the size of most of the objects seen. 


On several nights during that week, the Fords had heard strange droning noise apparently coming up the access road to the farmhouse. The noises sound like large trucks, making a constant noise. The Fords would go out to look and although the noise persisted and sounded as if it was approaching, they never saw anything. The road is quiet rough and a heavy vehicle would find gear changes a necessity, which would result in a pitch change. None was ever noticed. The sound usually suddenly stopped. The witnesses were quite familiar with regular truck noises, which they often heard travelling along the main road, about a mile from the farmhouse. These sounds were christened as “phantom trucks”. They were usually quite obviously emanating from a source either on or quite close to the ground. The area lay in a high altitude aircraft traffic corridor. Some RAAF jets occasionally made low level flyovers but both these and the high level flyovers were easily identifiable both by sight and sound. Their sounds were usually quite distorted by echo and atmospheric effects. 


On Friday, June 8 about 9 pm, a group of 6 boys, along with Mrs. Dorrington, from nearby Dundurrabin, saw a circular object, yellow and red, with alternating red and green lights, following what appeared to be a military jet in a NW- direction. The jet and the object, apparently following only some 100 yards behind, came from the direction of Tyringham. The jet passed over Dundurrabin, apparently oblivious to the object trailing it. The strange object however came to a sudden halt over the town, and “hovered” there for another half an hour. Mrs. Dorrington gave up watching and went inside, but the boys claimed that soon after, it started to move and finally disappeared in a westerly direction. 


Early on Saturday morning, June 9thbefore dawn, Dale Dorrington had to go to the toilet, so his mother accompanied him out to the back yard. Together they saw a rotating circular object in the NW, at about 45-degree elevation, flashing red and green lights. A globular uneven lemony coloured object, extended from the bottom of the object on the end of a yellow “tongue”. It extended to almost twice the diameter of the main object for about 10 to 15 seconds, and then was “sucked” back into the perfectly circular object again. The main object appeared to have “spears” of light radiating from its surface. It disappeared in the WNW. 


At about 12.30 am, June 14th, Trevor Butler, a local blacksmith and welder, was driving from Bostobrick to Tyringham. Initially in the NW sky at about 45 degree elevation above the roadside forest, he saw a large circular object with a green light and a brilliant red rotating light. On top of the object a lemon light was noticeable. Butler drove along slowly following the gently winding bumpy, gravel road, keeping the object in view. It appeared to keep pace with his car, staying above the trees, to the front and the right-hand side of the road. After about 20 minutes Butler had reached the outskirts of Tyringham. At about 2 or 3 hundred yards from his house he pulled up and climbed up onto a small hill. By then the object had appeared to have swung around to the right, putting it over Boney Mountain almost directly to the west. He estimated that the object was hovering over the mountain at about 200 or 300 feet above the trees. The object then appeared to move down slowly in a pendulum motion, with an associated constant “bullroarer-like” noise. Butler also likened it to the sound of a flicked ruler vibrating on a hard surface. It disappeared behind the mountain with a small quivering motion, lighting up a dead tree as it went. The sound quickly diminished, then there was just the almost inaudible sound of the creek, between the witness and the mountain. 


When I was interviewing Mr. Butler on June 17th, my friend Janice queried the feasibility of he being able to declare that the UFO came down so close to the mountain. Butler had said that it appeared that the object had come down just on the far side ridge of the mountain. The estimation in his opinion was strengthened by the fact that the object appeared to actually light up the dead tree. He vigorously objected, becoming almost hostile (perhaps a little hurt by a woman questioning his ability to make accurate observations), and the whole interview, made me feel that his story was in fact his perceptions of a real event. 


At the “Mollydale” property at about 8 pm, June 21st, Warwick Ford and his brother Greg, had just got into a car, when they saw a large oval red glow, flashing and slowly moving in an undulating jerking motion, between trees some 100 yards from the farmhouse. It stopped, hovering and lighting up the trees around it. The men drove the car up quickly to within 50 yards of the phenomenon. They turned high beam of the car light on it. It immediately disappeared. The whole observation lasted for about a minute. Subsequent investigations of the area, including one by myself the next day, did not uncover anything of significant ant value, although an area consistent with the spot, at which the UFO appeared to hover, was greyer in colour and the grass a lot thinner. 


Perhaps as a possible supporting event, Mrs. Lindout, the Dundurrabin postmistress, heard strange noises at about 2 am, either that same morning or the subsequent morning. She described them as being like a very close heavy helicopter. At the same time, she noticed an eerie “suspended moon light” coming through her bedroom window. Next morning, she noticed that her clock had stopped for half an hour some time during the night. The clock ran by a battery. 


Several groups of people driving, at about 6 p.m., on June 16th, made independent observations of a strange object resting on top of the mountain behind the small timber town of Bostobrick, on the road from Tyringham to Dorrigo. The top of the mountain stands at some 3300 feet above sea level. One couple, Sandra Ford and Jill Cotmore, were driving to Dorrigo, when they saw the object - a vertically elongated red object- on their right, apparently resting on the top of the mountain. At first they surmised that it was a fire but they soon dismissed this idea. Initially they could only see the bright red thick column of light, and then 6 “squarish” lights were noticed around its base. The bright red elongated top alternately glowed brightly then dimmed, with the base lights continually flashing. Then the whole “object” went out for about 2 minutes, and then it came back on. They watched it for another 10 minutes, until they lost might of it near North Dorrigo. At the top  of MacDowell’s Hill, near Dorrigo, the couple saw a yellow oval object, some 5 times larger than a star, drop out of the sky. It appeared to come down in about the same position, as the earlier object had been noticed. 


The combination of persistent bad weather during July and University studies prevented me from investigating the site of the Bostobrick mountain “landing”, until late August, when in the company of one of the witnesses, Jill Cotmore, I made the climb to the summit. Once we were on the top of the mountain it was not difficult to see how the object had been seen over a wide area. We found an area that seemed to be consistent with the locality of the object. Evidence of burning was present, but the ambiguous nature of the site and the time that had elapsed made it of limited value. 


North of the two villages of Tyringham and Dundurrabin, during March and April 1973, the Thompson family - Bill and Dorothy, and their 4 children (2boys and 2 girls) started experiencing strange phenomena, at their Cockatoo Creek property, just NE of Billy’s Creek. The observation of green lights and flashes close to the property was followed soon after by the sound of a noise like a humming “fridge”. It lasted for about 20 minutes, and then it would stop, and then return. The noise was heard on numerous nights. No source could be determined. 


On an overcast night, Bill went out once again, to check the humming, and found farm animals (cattle and horses) moaning and considerably agitated. In contrast, the dogs were bunched up unusually subdued, in a corner of the house. On the third night, Bill had got up out of bed, a little annoyed, to investigate the noise. At the end of the bed, he noticed a volume of cold air, quite distinct in its confined and formed presence. Outside the air was quiet warm. The column of cold air seemed to dissipate with the humming. The noise had been heard over I5 times during the 6-month period up to August. On a number of foggy nights moving green lights were seen usually in close association with the humming noise. On one occasion a green diffuse ball of light flashed passed the house disappearing into the fog. 


The noise returned the next night, and once again the following night, both times at about 2 a.m. Bill went on one of the clear nights to investigate the source of the noise. It always appeared to be concentrated over the house, seemingly directly above it, at about 100 feet. The sound was likened to the humming of a “dynamo”, but everything, including a nearby signal box was checked. 


The audio phenomena seemed to reoccur, periodically at 2 or 3 night intervals, every 3 or 4 weeks. The phenomena more or less persisted for several months even up to August, during my extended field trip to the area. During August it was heard several times. July proved to be the most unnerving month for the family because the noise persisted on several occasions, often during heavy fog periods, and persistent rain. 

At a loss for an explanation, in terms of mundane physical phenomena, and seeing that the humming vibrating noise could be perhaps erroneously connected with subdued poltergeist activity, I decided to look at any aspects, even those of a perhaps unrelated psychic nature. This course of action introduced a new and perhaps patently bizarre aspect to my investigations in the area. The only member of the family, who exhibited some sort of psychic background, was the mother, Dorothy. She intimated several strange incidents to me including suggestions of precognition, Deja-vu, and a near death type of experience. 

The following incident seemed to be more pertinent to the UFO activity unravelling around Tyringham and Dundurrabin, to the south. While living Sydney, Dorothy had an unfathomable preoccupation with “day-dreams” of transparent peopled discs. These seem to come in unrelated impressions, often quite vivid. She had no explanation for these “dream impressions”, for she gave next to no thought to UFO and kindred phenomena. Interestingly enough, Warwick Ford, indicated to me, that during his childhood, he had had “dream” impressions of men in silver clothes in transparent objects. We will see later that Warwick’s wife, Sandra, had similar dream impressions, which had a bizarre connection with me. 


At her Sydney residence, Dorothy would often look outside her window “dreaming”, and she would get the impression of a country scene - grassed bushland. This only occurred when she used to look out a northern window. She would see “missiles” soaring about the sky. Once again there seemed to be no point or recognizable stimuli to produce such an impression. Soon after, near the end of I972, the family moved to Cockatoo Creek. Her husband soon started making extensions to the house and had built on a new kitchen on the northern side of the house. Just after these extensions were completed, Dorothy was standing at the kitchen window facing north. She suddenly realised that this was exactly the same country scene she had often seen in her Sydney suburban “daydream” impressions, but without the missiles. At first this scared her a little, and at the time vaguely interpreted the precognitive impressions as some sign of visitations of this type in the area (i.e. the “missiles”). Within 5 or 6 months the immediate area would be besieged by “unknown missiles” - UFOs. 


Greg Hardy, a fellow university student, and I were at Tyringham on June 24th. With Jill Cotmore  we observed some unusual light activity. Other locals joined us and during the evening we observed a number of curious aerial lights. However, it was after 10.30 pm, when most locals had retired, then Greg and I witnessed more striking phenomena. We noticed an unusual glow and a strange related and changing light display. We attempted to get closer, but failing torchlight and retreating farm animals passing nearby in the dark, encouraged us to return to our car. While I was trying to find fresh batteries, Greg alerted me to the approach of a strange repetitive noise. It sounded like very heavy “clomping”, “thudding” noises. These seem to turn towards us, and came right at us. Greg turned on the car headlights and I used the torch. Nothing could be seen, save a mob of cattle moving away to our far right. I had spent enough time in the area to familiarise myself with the wide range of night noises, particular from cattle, horses, and kangaroos. This strange noise was unlike anything we had heard before and since. It was quite unsettling. The lights could no longer be seen. Subsequent searches of the area revealed that the strange display we saw was over a thick rain forest area that falls rapidly away into a steep ravine. We could not see any way how a prosaic source could account for the light phenomena we observed. 

On about June 25th, members of the Dorrington family, at Dundurrabin, observed a large disc-shaped UFO, for about 15 minutes, between 6.30 and 7.00 pm. It hovered over Boney Mountain. The whole of the object was surrounded by a green glow. There appeared to be a rotating brilliant red around the middle of the object. A V-shaped green “solid” beam seemed to oscillate up and down, more than a dozen times, before retracting into the main object. It disappeared from view, after 15 minutes, by moving straight down behind the mountain. The relative size estimates pointed out to be on site made for a very large object. 


On a Wednesday, during July (probably July 18th), a married couple from Dorrigo, with their young daughter, were returning from Sydney, via Armidale, on a dark drizzly night. By about 9.30 pm, they were a few miles out of Ebor. Suddenly on the dark road ahead they saw a group of blinking white lights, with light radiating out at all angles. These lights were alternately pulsating in a confused and meaningless sequence. After apparently sitting on the road for about 5 to 10 seconds, the group of lights moved off slowly to the right, then travelling up at an oblique angle, they disappeared over trees on the top of a hill. The witnesses felt the strange object had been resting on the dirt road ahead of them. 


At about 7.I5 pm, August 4th, 2 teenagers, John Shaw and Noel Boyde, were driving to Deervale, when they saw a cone-shaped light, in the west, at about 30 degrees elevation above the horizon. It had a red top, a green bottom and a bright yellow base light. The object appeared to hover for about 25 minutes, with a rocking motion being noticed through low-powered binoculars. At arms length the object was the size of about one third to one quarter of a thumb. It disappeared suddenly at 7.45 pm. I contacted the farm owner whose property the object was apparently hovering. He knew nothing about it. 


On August 7th, at about 9 pm, Marwin Copland, at Tyringham, had just stepped out of his house. He immediately noticed a huge brilliant white light, over the left-hand ridge of Boney Mountain, almost due west of his house. He soon noticed that at the top of the brilliant V-shaped light, there was a small orange “knob”, which appeared to be “relatively insignificant” compared to the brilliant white light. Copland called his wife, and together they watched the display for about 5 minutes. The light suddenly “switched” off, leaving nothing but the orange “knob” sitting in the sky. It then moved straight down, disappearing behind Boney Mountain in 4 or 5 seconds. Copland kept on watching the area for almost 2 hours. He was about to give up watching, when he saw an orange glow developing apparently just behind Boney Mountain in the spot the orange “knob” disappeared. The glow appeared to build up, slowly moving up. It appeared as if the source of the glow was about to come into view, but then it slowly went down behind the mountain again, with the night sky returning to its normal darkness. This observation quite “startled” Copland and his wife. It had been the most obviously alien thing, he had seen to date, and it was not funny to him, to have something like that being soon so close. But it occurred to him that whatever these things were, they were apparently not hostile. He had pointed out that he had enjoyed watching the “UFOs” over the past few months, and even photographing them, but most of the earlier sightings had consisted of agile manoeuvring bright lights and as such appeared to constitute little in terms of possible hostile intentions. This sighting made him think twice. 


On August 19th, I was with a group of people at Dundurrabin, at about 7.20 pm. We had arrived due to a call a few minutes before about UFO sightings in the area. We noticed what I took to be a planet in the sky. However, others saw it rapidly fall behind the mountain. Then over 5 minutes we all witnessed a phenomenon similar to what Marwin Copland saw on August 7th. A glow slowly built up at the point where the “planet” had dropped down behind. This developed to a point where a substantial glow was present. We expected the source to appear over the mountain, but it began to recede and finally disappeared. 


One of the most extraordinary nights for me personally in the Tyringham flap took place on August 23rd. At about midnight, from the Mollydale property house, I noticed a bright white light in the SSE between trees. There were no observable scintillation effects, but at one point there appeared to be a weak beam of light emanating from this light. The beam appeared to play over the house area of the “Mollydale” farm. It exhibited perceptible flashing, but this could have been attributable to optical effects. Both the light and beam suddenly disappeared. 


At 12.15 am, a dull silvery object passed overhead, from about the SSE position of the previously observed light, to the SW where its trajectory, was obscured by trees. The object was not a bright light source and did not trail any sort of vapour. It appeared to be a consistent solid body, with a relative diameter at arms length of about 3⁄4 of an inch. It was inconsistent with a satellite and seemed to be moving quite a bit faster than “Skylab”, which I had seen pass over on several occasions, from several different locations. 


A few minutes later while standing at the wire house gate, I experienced a strikingly localised body of cold air about me. I stepped back 2 or 3 feet and was back into the warmer air I had been in. I was soon able to determine that this distinct body of cold air was of a quite definite and rigid confined volume. It had appeared quite suddenly, and after a few minutes dissipated very quickly. Being a little tired by this stage, I put this down to perhaps misperception or a physiological aberration, but at the time I felt my faculties were quite sharp. I retired soon after this at about 12.40 pm. 


Some 10 to 20 minutes after I had gone to sleep at the back of the house - Warwick Ford’s “Mollydale” - Warwick heard a weird whirring sound (quite like the other “phantom truck noises heard already), coming apparently from about 400 yards from the house in the direction of the water pump (the scene of a multiple witnessed sighting of 2 oblong lights some 3 weeks earlier). He noted that the electric clock indicated the time as 11.40 pm, but as it was known to be over an hour slow, the time of this incident was between 12.50 and 1.00 am. The noise consisted of a fluttering harmonic pitch, lasting for some 20 minutes, and increasing and decreasing in “revs”, associated with the distance - 400 cycles/second - similar to a generator (Warwick is a electrical technician hence the analogy). As the pitch increased the sound “softened”. This continued as if the source of the noise was moving about. The frequency was annoyingly loud at times, and Warwick confessed that the noise frightened him a little. Although it sounded as if “it” was moving about some 400 yards to half a mile away, Warwick first thought it was a truck, but there was no echo effects or gear changes, which would be necessary for a truck to navigate the road through the area. In fact, a truck did pass during the night among the road, about half to one mile away, and the effects described were noticed. 


I had become very familiar with the area by this stage. Echo effects and gear changes were necessitated by the area concerned. Similarly planes that passed over had their engine noises distorted considerably, because of atmospheric effects. After the first 30 seconds to a minute of the noise, Warwick checked the electric clock. The humming was quite loud. He saw the second hand titter a little from side to side, then stop. He listened for another 15 to 20 minutes and saw nothing. As he was about to get me the noise died away.


Warwick’s wife, Sandra had been a little sick at the time with flu, and early in the night she experienced some sort of dream impression, the likes of which she had never had before, even when the flap was at its height. She had never had any conscious inclination to have such a mental “impression”. The “dream impression” occurred at about the time I was outside (experiencing the cold column of air, and observing the light and the dull silvery object passing overhead), i.e., at about midnight. Sandra was half awake, feeling listless, when she “saw” distinctly the impression of a peopled transparent disc, observed in the “negative”, in the “classical” edge-on position. Sandra estimated the disc to be about 10 feet in diameter. She had the impression of little structural material being involved in the object, and that the 2 or more occupants were apparently at work, comfortably inside the transparent disc. Sandra said she first “saw” the disc near the water tank (quite close to where I was at the time in reality). It followed the old fence line of the grass, travelling at about 10 feet above the ground, finally disappearing over the hills in the SSE. Sandra emphasised that the impression was quiet vivid, but thought there was little value in me being interested in her “dreams”. 


At about 4 am, I was woken up by a constant droning noise, like a plane passing nearby at a low altitude, but with no attendant echo effects. Once again as with the previous night the sound seemed to come from the direction of the well. Jill Cotmore also heard it. I could not determine the source of the strange auditory phenomenon. I told Warwick about it in the morning without mentioning the time it had occurred. Warwick indicated that the electric clock had stopped again that night at about 3.20 am. He added that a little earlier during the night he had noticed that the house had vibrated perceptibly during 2, 3 to 5 second intervals, while a low droning noise was heard. 


The value of this in-depth field study of an extended and confined flap of UFO sightings and other anomalous phenomena is self-evident. It provided a situation in which a continued and dynamic study of UFO phenomena could take place. From a personal point of view, it provided, in a sense, a “repeatable experiment” in that personal observations of UFO phenomena and experiences of anomalous phenomena occurred. A connection between UFO activity and psychic phenomena was suggested by the nature of some of the perhaps unrelated events, but the connection based on the evidence compiled in this particular area can only be considered as being at best circumstantial. A number of possible factors are worth noting as being possibly relevant: 

(1) the isolation of the area. The observable trends of the UFO phenomenon suggest that generally UFOs tend to be seen in isolated areas. The Tyringham- Dundurrabin area is thinly populated and the surrounding country is quite rugged, 

(2) the area is apparently rich in a wide variety of precious ores and minerals - uranium, limestone, and magnesium, etc., but their situation makes it uneconomic to mine, 

(3) major high-tension feeder power lines pass through the area from Armidale to Grafton. The lines, in fact, pass across the “Mollydale” property only a few hundred yards from the farmhouse. 

(4) Warwick Ford was a ham-radio operator, and had been using VHF radio transmission. 

Some or none of these factors may be of relevance to understanding the nature of the strange phenomena that focused on this area during 1973. There is some evidence of earlier activity, with strange auditory phenomena - like “the roar of an aeroplane engine or an approaching hurricane” - being described as early as 1928. 


Since those extraordinary days of the 1973 Tyringham UFO “hot zone” I have returned to the area on a number of occasions, noting occasional activity, but never the intensity of those wild days and nights. 


During a return visit in 2010, I learnt of a near close encounter just over the hill behind the local Tyringham store from late in 2009. Most of the people who witnessed the UFO apparitions of 1973 with me are no longer in thearea. So it seems a new generation of witnesses might be beginning to witness the haunting presence or memory of this “hot zone.” Still these are isolated events. Nothing suggests a return to the heady days of 1973 but the watching and monitoring continues .... just in case. Here was a very small community of a few houses and a store on the back road between Grafton and Armidale, which for me back in 1973, became an extraordinary experience of what it was like to be caught up in a real UFO “hot zone.” So I feel an affinity for the Skinwalker milieu, even if some of its multi-media manifestations might get “lost in translation.” My exposure to the milieus of Mount Bulter and Tyringham inform that experience – two old favourite UFO haunts of mine. 

For reference I have include David Freeman's version of my experience:

The Bill Chalker UFO Encounter: An Australian Researcher’s


In September 1972, as the evening sun dipped below the horizon, Bill Chalker found himself on the grounds of Earle Page College in Armidale, Australia. As an engineer and UFO researcher, he was keenly aware of the surrounding environment and noted two students staring at something high above. Their focus directed him to an unusual object gliding across the twilight sky—a metallic, egg-shaped craft moving at incredible speed without a sound. For Chalker, this fleeting yet clear sighting would reshape his view on what might be out there.

The incident left an impression that wasn’t easily dismissed. Chalker’s meticulous analysis, driven by his scientific background and investigative mindset, couldn’t reconcile what he witnessed with any conventional explanation. The craft didn’t resemble any known aircraft or weather balloon, nor could it be a celestial object. The silence of its movement and the precision with which it flew stood out as defining features. This unexpected encounter planted a strong desire in Chalker to uncover the origin of what he saw.

Chalker’s credibility added significant weight to the sighting. His professional background gave him a discerning eye for detail, and he methodically ruled out mundane explanations like conventional aircraft or balloons. The Armidale region itself had a buzz of reported unusual sightings around that time, hinting at a broader pattern of strange activity.

Chalker dove deeper into his investigation, pooling information from his sighting and those of others across the country. He focused on cases that shared common characteristics: metallic, oval-shaped objects with unexplainable movement and silence. He noted how many accounts included electromagnetic interference or strange physiological effects, further setting them apart from typical aircraft. By cross- referencing multiple reports, he aimed to build a clearer picture of what was happening in the skies over Australia.

During this era, the media played a significant role in shaping the public’s perception of UFO reports. Some were overly sensationalized, while others were met with skepticism. But Chalker understood the importance of separating fact from fiction. He knew that a scientific approach would provide legitimacy, so he began collecting witness testimonies and systematically ruled out each conventional explanation.

His research group carefully documented each sighting, highlighting similarities in their shapes and the way they moved. Witnesses often described objects that moved with unmatched agility compared to known aircraft. They could hover in place and then accelerate at speeds no aircraft could replicate. Such consistent descriptions suggested that there was more to these sightings than mere hoaxes or flights of fancy.

Chalker’s findings attracted the attention of other researchers, building a network that crossed regional boundaries. They debated potential origins of the crafts, from advanced military projects to technology of otherworldly origins. Despite speculation, Chalker maintained a careful balance, documenting each encounter and avoiding conclusions without solid evidence. He knew that reliable data and a thorough investigation would be needed to make meaningful progress.

Over the years, Bill Chalker became known as a respected researcher in the field. His approach was recognized for its careful attention to detail and its balanced skepticism. He shared his findings through articles, conferences, and discussions with like-minded researchers. The sighting in 1972 remained a focal point in his work, a constant reminder that unexplained phenomena deserve careful investigation.

The importance of his efforts became increasingly clear as governments started sharing more information on unusual sightings. What was once dismissed or ignored started gaining recognition, and Chalker’s methodical research stood as an example of how to handle these cases with credibility. He showed how dedicated research could lead to meaningful insights, even in a field often clouded by speculation.

Bill Chalker understood that the questions raised by his 1972 sighting couldn’t be answered easily. But his commitment to finding answers shaped his entire approach to investigating these aerial phenomena. He understood the importance of witness credibility, diligent documentation, and ruling out conventional explanations. His approach, driven by his engineering background, continues to inspire researchers who follow in his footsteps. His sighting from that September evening became a cornerstone that encouraged future investigations and helped build a framework for understanding.

In the fading light of that evening, Bill Chalker witnessed an object that defied explanation. Decades later, the questions it raised continue to motivate researchers who share his commitment to seeking answers.