Thursday, October 28, 2021

"The US Department of Defense Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force actions or reporting are outside of Defence's remit," Australian Defence states

Updated 2 November 2021 to include Hansard record on the Senate Estimates discussion on UAPs.

Further updated to include the background on why the question came up.

"Remit" in this story context means: "The task or area of activity officially assigned to an individual or organisation". 

Hmm ... one needs deep historical context and more contemporary deep dives of research and investigation in order to attach much significance to these passing statements:

Australia’s ABC News reported today (28 October 2021) reported the following story:

Defence won't follow Pentagon to launch an investigation into UFO sightings or Unexplained Aerial Phenomena 

By defence correspondent Andrew Greene Posted Thu 28 Oct 2021 at 6:13am 

Key points: 

A declassified US report found analysts lacked sufficient data to determine the nature of mysterious flying objects seen by military pilots 

Australia's Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, joked in Senate estimates that it was the first time she had witnessed a parliamentary examination on UFOs 

In June, the Defence Department said it "does not have a protocol" that covers recording or reporting of UFO sightings 

The Royal Australian Air Force chief says Australia has no plans to follow the Pentagon by formally investigating UFOs, insisting his pilots have not reported any recent sightings of unexplained objects in the sky. 

At a Senate estimates hearing, RAAF Chief Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld was quizzed about a declassified US report into the topic released in June by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence. 

The report, submitted to US Congress, found 

defence and intelligence analysts lacked sufficient data to determine the nature of mysterious flying objects observed by military pilots, including whether they are advanced earthly technologies, atmospherics or of an extra-terrestrial nature. 

Under questioning from Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson, the RAAF chief confirmed he was not "formally aware" of the report's findings but had noticed it in the media. 

Air Marshal Hupfeld told the committee he had not seen any reports of "unidentified aerial phenomena" — or UAPs — in Australian airspace. 

"I'm not familiar with, nor have seen any reports or information regarding UAPs in an Australian airspace context, and there's no air force-led task force that looks into this phenomenon," he said. 

The RAAF chief was then quizzed on whether Australia's Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN) could detect UAPs. 

"It's not possible for me to determine whether the JORN would see something like an unusual airborne phenomenon, without knowing the construction materials and other performance parameters of such an object, if indeed it was an object," he said. 

Photo & Caption from the above quoted ABC story: Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld has been the Chief of Air Force since 2019.(ABC: Cameron Best)

Foreign Minister Marise Payne later joked that it was the first time she had witnessed a parliamentary examination on the topic of UFOs. 

"I can say with some confidence that, after over two decades of participating in the Senate estimates process, this is the first occasion on which, in any capacity, I have had the opportunity to observe a conversation and a question-and- answer session on such an issue. 

"So, thank you for bringing it to our attention," she told Senator Whish-Wilson at the end of the RAAF chief's evidence. 

In June, the Defence Department told the ABC it "does not have a protocol that covers recording or reporting of unidentified aerial phenomena/unidentified flying object sightings". 

"The US Department of Defense Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force actions or reporting are outside of Defence's remit," a spokesperson told the ABC.

Here is a link to ABC’s AM programme on 28 October, 2021, which includes audio of the main comments:


Here is a video link to the exchange that led to the news item:

Thanks to Philippe Ailleris for posting me the link.

Transcripts of the Senate Estimates meeting completed by November 1, 2021. The relevant exchange now on the parliamentary Hansard record is included here:

Senator WHISH-WILSON: I'm not sure exactly who to ask to respond to these questions, because they may well not have been asked before. I was wondering if I could have someone senior from the Air Forceparticularly a pilot, if that's possible.

CHAIR: Who knows how to fly a plane!

Senator Payne: We'll do our best to find you a pilot from the Air Force. I'll call the Chief of Air Force; there's a plan!

Senator WHISH-WILSON: The Chief of Air Force would be great, if that's possible.

Senator Payne: He's a pilot; I've seen him fly.

Air Marshal Hupfeld: I am a pilot. I used to fly aeroplanesnot currently now. I think I've got the information you might need, pending your question.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: I know we have close ties with the US. We share intelligence. My questions relate to the release of the report on 25 June 2021 by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence,Preliminary assessment: unidentified aerial phenomena. This is an issue that has been raised in Congress; the Department of Defense has submitted a report. It's become a significant matter of public interest. I suppose my first question is: are you aware of that report?

Air Marshal Hupfeld: I'm not formally aware of the report. I think there was an article in the newspapers and commentary about that at some stage. But I'm not quite sure of the content of the report.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Okay. Just as a matter of interest, what questions did you think I was going to ask?

Air Marshal Hupfeld: I thought you were going to ask questions about aircraft, but it sounds like you're going to ask questions about UFOs.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: We'd be very interested to hear your views on this. Yes, it has been reported in the media extensively both here and internationally. I'll just read you a few statements or the executive summary from that report. It basically talks about UAPs as being something that the US Department of Defense is taking seriously, and that the Pentagon has a taskforce assigned to better understand the data interpretation of recent sightings. The report says: 'UAP clearly pose a safety of flight issue and may pose a challenge to U.S. national security.' Then it goes on to talk about the 144 cases that the Pentagon looked at. Only one was clearly explainable; the others remain unexplained. It says that, after carefully considering the information, the taskforce reported that UAPs largely witnessed firsthand by military aviators were 'collected from systems that were considered to be reliable.' It went on: 'Most reports described UAP as objects that interrupted pre-planned training or other military activity.'

Could I ask whether the Australian Air Force or the Australian military also have a taskforce looking at UAPs? Is this something that you're familiar with at all in your brief?

Air Marshal Hupfeld: I'm not familiar with nor have I seen any reports or information regarding UAPs in an Australian airspace context. There's no Air Force led taskforce that looks into this phenomena.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: We don't do any monitoring of this at all?
Air Marshal Hupfeld: There have been no reports that I'm aware of, Senator.
Senator WHISH-WILSON: No informal reports from pilots or across other military activities?

Air Marshal Hupfeld: None from any aircrew or aviation organisation that I'm aware of. The only experience that I have in this was over 40 years ago when some reports were made and we launched Mirage aircraft. The phenomena turned out to be errors on the radar screens in our normal civil air-traffic control system, but no physical objects were detected.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Does the characterisation of the DOD, in relation to their report, of both intent and advanced technology concern you? Basically, they're saying they can't explain what these things are, but they would like to better understand them.

Air Marshal Hupfeld: I can't answer for another sovereign nation. That is a matter for the US and the Pentagon and the Department of Defense in the US.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Would it be possible for you to see if, across the other services, there has been any kind of reporting system in relation to this in Australia?

Air Marshal Hupfeld: Certainly, I can take that on notice. But I feel confident that, as the airspace control authority within Australia, if there had been any detections or items such as this, I would have been aware of them. But I can take that on notice to double-check.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Okay. Typically, would something like Jindalee be able to pick-up fast-moving objects, or is it more designed to look at ships and

Air Marshal Hupfeld: Senator, the Jindalee Operational Radar Network is designed to detect aircraft and some ships. I won't go into the details of the nature of that detection, as we would then be getting into very classified areas. It's not possible for me to determine whether the JORN would see something like an unusual airborne phenomenon without knowing the construction, materials and other performance parameters of such an object, if, indeed, it was an object.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: As a pilot, have you seen any of the video footage that's been released by the US military? It's unclassified and it's been reported on by either the New York Times or the Washington Post. EvenThe Conversation here in Australia, which, as you know, is quite a respectable, conservative media outlet, has written a report. They're not saying they agree that these things may be more than aberrations, but they are saying, 'Finally, there's a mature conversation now happening around UAPs and we're trying to better understand them.'

Air Marshal Hupfeld: Through professional curiosity, I did look at some of the videos that were attached to those media reports. They were interesting but not compelling to me. I don't believe everything that I read in the media.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: No, nor do I. It's certainly something we learn in Canberra. It's just interesting. Do you think it would be possible for pilots to spoof that kind of thing?

Air Marshal Hupfeld: I'm not sure what you mean by 'spoof'. Are you talking about the
Senator WHISH-WILSON: Obviously the video has come from US Air Force pilots. I think there are 80

different sources, and the DOD and Pentagon are taking this seriously.

Air Marshal Hupfeld: I'm not really able to comment on that. There are too many variables to even form a view.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: Thank you for that. If you could just take that on notice, that would be excellent.

Senator Payne: I can say with some confidence that after over two decades of participating in the Senate estimates process this is the first occasion on which in any capacity I have had the opportunity to observe a conversation and a question-and-answer session on such an issue. So thank you so much for bringing it to our attention.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: My pleasure, Senator Payne. I do notice our key ally is taking this very seriously.

Senator Payne: I heard you.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: It is now emerging as a matter of public interest. So I'm glad you appreciate that.

Senator Payne: I listened with great interest. I'm glad we could find you a pilot.

(End of Hansard extract)

For a bit of background perspective, I’ll quote from an interview I did with Robbie Graham back in 2018, which was published on my blog back on September 27, 2018:

and published in a 2019 special issue of New Dawn.


Robbie asked me:

What is the Australian government’s official stance on UFOs? When was the last time it issued a statement on the subject?


My 2018 response:

While I would argue that Australia’s “official stance on UFOs” (that there was largely nothing to it all) was fully expressed back in 1984, it was restated and expanded upon in 1994 and again in 1996 and even later still. See my chapter in the UFO History Group’s monumental study, “UFOs and Government” (2012). My friend Paul Dean describes the drawn out Australian “swan song” in 2015 and 2016 posts on this theme:

“In the 1994, and further in 1996, the Australian Defence Department increasingly and officially washed their hands of the UFO/UAP matter. This came after some 44 years of official Defence handling of the issue, with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the old Department of Air (DOA) begrudgingly doing the lion’s share of the investigative work – if you can call it ‘investigative work’ that is. See, judging by the thousands of declassified and released pages held now at the National Archives of Australia (NAA), its crystal clear that those in RAAF and Aviation officialdom did a sub-standard job of chronological filing, policy development, and last, but definitely not least, actual investigation. Veteran researcher Bill Chalker stated to me in my first phone conversation with him 6 years ago, that his opinion of the government’s handling of the matter, after looking through the files, was ‘an entirely lost opportunity’ for a proper ‘scientific appraisal’ of the UFO matter. He was right then, and he is right now.”

I describe my own take on this:

“Despite cases like the 1973 North West Cape event, the 1983 Melton/Rockbank incident and the 1987 SAS Learmouth report, during December 1993, the RAAF formerly concluded its long love-hate relationship with UFOs, or ‘Unusual Aerial Sightings’ (UAS) as they preferred to call them. The Department of Defence ‘swansong’ was dryly expressed in Enclosure 1 to Air Force file AF 84 3508 Part 1 folio 18 – RAAF POLICY: UNUSUAL AERIAL SIGHTINGS.”

In correspondence dated January 4, 1994, civilian UFO groups around Australia were informed by now Wing Commander Brett Biddington, on behalf of the Chief of Air Staff, that “The number of reports made to the RAAF in the past decade had declined significantly, which may indicate that organisation such as yours are better known and are meeting the community’s requirements.”


The “new” policy, which was an inevitable outgrowth of the downgrading of the RAAF’s role back in 1984, stated:

“For many years the RAAF has been formally responsible for handling Unusual Aerial Sightings (UAS) at the official level. Consideration of the scientific record suggests that, whilst not all UAS have a ready explanation, there is no compelling reason for the RAAF to continue to devote resources to recording, investigating and attempting to explain UAS. 


The RAAF no longer accepts reports on UAS and no longer attempts assignment of cause or allocation of reliability. Members of the community who seek to report a UAS to RAAF personnel will be referred to a civil UFO research organisation in the first instance…


Some UAS may relate to events that could have a defence, security, or public safety implication, such as man-made debris falling from space or a burning aircraft. Where members of the community may have witnessed an event of this type they are encouraged to contact the police or civil aviation authorities.”

Given the rich history of political and military machinations that quite often effectively prevented opportunities for real science, the policy statement alluding to “the scientific record” is particularly perplexing. As a scientist who has examined in detail the RAAF “record” I can state with some certainty that their record was not particularly scientific and was largely defined by two criteria—national security and political expediency. This appeal to “the scientific record” is particularly puzzling as the RAAF regularly highlighted that national security not scientific investigation was their main focus. For example, in a 6 December 1968 memo from DAFI to HQSC in 554/1/30 Part 2, DAFI mentions, “As you are probably aware the Department of Air (later (DOD (Air Office)) is concerned solely with any possible threat to Australian security and does not go into detailed scientific investigation of UFO reports.”


Keith Basterfield reported Melbourne researcher Paul Dean’s recent interview with Brett Biddington who had since retired from the Air Force, who stated, “I wrote the 1994 policy and had a hand in the 1996 policy as well. After the Melbourne sightings I conducted an informal (in the sense I did not document it) literature review of UAS. I also sought help from civilian UFO organisations which claimed knowledge and understanding of the domain. I could find nothing on record that was defensible or sustainable. This is the reference to the “scientific record.”

I had spoken with Brett Biddington back in 2008. He indicated he had left the Air Force as “the most senior Air Force intelligence person in Australia during the 1990s.” He saw himself as still “the RAAF UFO/UAS expert” and regularly got RAAF enquiries. He regarded the “UAS regime” as a response to the Cold War and a way of finding data on “space debri.” He felt he encountered paucity of data in every respect, with “the veracity of the entire system in doubt.” He felt the UAS data had limited historical relevance. The RAAF’s response was always about the doubtful and limited veracity of UAS reports and the grief they caused for the RAAF. He told me that he never saw any case that grabbed his attention, not even the Melton case.

While I would agree that much of the data collected and assessed by the RAAF’s UFO/UAS programme was of limited merit, I also feel strongly that the lack of scientific investigations revealed numerous lost opportunities to do real science. Many impressive cases came to the attention of the RAAF, but rarely were they given the investigation they deserved—both a focus on national security where appropriate, and a scientific investigation. The scientific approach was not part of the RAAF’s investigations in any really significant way, hence the irony of a claim of “a consideration of the scientific record” informing the decision to end the RAAF’s reluctant and erratic embrace with the UFO problem. I wondered why the 1994 and 1996 policies were developed as the RAAF involvement had long since faded to a very low ebb and was always problematic. The UFO problem was always unwieldy and unmanageable for the RAAF. Controversy rather than resolution was a frequent feature. At times it seemed the RAAF were barely doing even a token effort. The RAAF largely resolved any dilemmas they had with intractable or unexplained cases by either burying them with unlikely explanations or simply ignoring the implications of often robust and unexplained events.


I have interviewed highly placed scientists within the Australian intelligence and defence community such as nuclear physicist Harry Turner who headed up the nuclear section of the Directorate of Scientific and Technical Intelligence within the Joint Intelligence Organisation and led a fight for a “UFO science” response within the Australian intelligence and military science community. The chief Defence scientist Dr John Farrands also had a deep interest in the UFO subject. He shared information, his perspectives and told me he had even contemplated writing a book on the subject, but would instead wait for mine. Sadly he passed away about a week after my book The OZ Files—The Australian UFO Story was published, so I never got the opportunity to see what he thought of it.


If the Department of Defence had a sense of an efficient “burial” of “the UFO problem,” someone had forgotten to inform the alleged corpse. The UFO phenomenon has never really passed away, but you would be forgiven for believing it has had many resurrections. Remarkable events continue to occur, providing a challenging testament for the legitimacy of the UFO phenomenon.


Robbie: Does the Australian Ministry of Defence have an official UFO investigations unit?

My reply:

While the Directorate of Air Force Intelligence (DAFI) historically had the central responsibility for investigating UFOs (or UAS—Unusual Aerial Sightings—as they preferred to call them), the drawn out nature of the Australian government’s disengagement from the UFO subject has led to a somewhat fragmented and ad hoc current picture. Paul Dean has elaborated on this, indicating:

“There are currently two Australian government agencies who are equipped to, and indeed do, accept UFO reports from civil aviation flight crews. They are the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and Air services Australia (ASA). Of course, they do more than deal with infrequent UFO reports, and, in fact, are responsible for airspace management, the functionality of airports, pilot licensing, air safety, navigational systems, etc. Australia’s Department of Defence (DoD) also accepts and processes UFO reports, but their system is quite different from those of the ATSB and ASA. The DoD’s Directorate of Defence Aviation and Air Force Safety (DDAAFS) accepts reported military UFO cases via a form called an Air Safety Occurrence Report (ASOR). ASOR’s are processed through the Defence Aviation Hazard Reporting and Tracking System (DAHRTS), and are studied within the Closed Loop Hazard/ASOR Review and Tracking System. DDAAFS military UFO reports have proven very hard to obtain. But ATSB and ASA reports have been somewhat easier.”


Robbie: Has the Australian government shown more or less transparency on the UFO subject than the US and British governments?

My reply: 

The Australian government’s approach was more of a middle ground, but defined in a somewhat ad hoc way by the principle of “the ties that bind,” namely Australia’s relationship with its major defence partners—the US and the UK. While Australia routinely followed the lead from the much larger scale UFO investigations of the US Air Force, the government also took stock of the approach of the UK, which only in more recent years had become more open with their UFO files.


My own direct access of the Australian government UFO files was generally pretty open. During 1982 to 1984 I was able to examine a continuity of DAFI UFO files from 1955 to 1982, and since then filled in many of the gaps before and after those years. Through those investigations I was able to make contact with a lot of official players, particularly Defence scientist Harry Turner. Keith Basterfield, through an Australian disclosure programme, extensively supplemented and complemented my earlier investigations of official government files.


There is way more to discuss on this brief exchange at the Senate Estimates meeting. History will express the fallout of the comments.  

Back on October 31st I highlighted a link on my Facebook page to the Tasmanian Greens Senator's interview with Brian Carlton on Triple M Hobart 107.3 radio on 28 October in which Senator Peter Whish-Wilson gave an explanation as to why he asked the UAP question in Senate Estimates, paraphrasing:

"Over 20 years ago (presumably prior to 2000? - B.C.) a friend of mine, who I grew up with, he went into the Special Forces.  He went to Iraq & he went to East Timor.  He told me over 20 years ago, he was on a exercise.  He didn't tell me exactly where it was of course, on a boat.  Early in the morning they were basically followed by a metallic Tic Tac - an object.  He told me about this years ago - he and his mates didn't do anything about it because they were embarrassed. I was back in Western Australia in July, a month after the Pentagon report release and I caught up with him for a beer.  He said, you remember when I told you about this.  I said yes I do, it was out of character for you, because he was a no nonsense kind of fellow.  He said, Well, its out there now, people are talking about it it.  There are a lot of people in the services who have seen similar things."

Lets hope the new push to more openness might persuade this man and his many service colleagues to come forward with details of their experiences.  Many have come out over the decades, but it is an indictment on the toxic culture of ridicule and silence, that people have been constrained to reveal their experiences.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

"Skinwalkers at the Pentagon" and its strange correlates with cases from the OZ Files

The book Skinwalkers at the Pentagon: An Insiders’ Account of the Government’s Secret UFO Program, by James T. Lacatski, D.Eng., Colm A. Kelleher, Ph.D., and George Knapp, released in October 2021, gets a strong endorsement from retired US Senator Harry Reid.  It was his focus that got the program off the ground. 


                                                         George Knapp (Mystery Wire)

From Harry Reid’s forward:

“I believe in science. Powerful countries like China, Russia, and France are studying UAP encounters. The United States should be at the forefront of these global efforts.”

“In a functioning democracy, we must constantly balance the competing priorities of government secrecy and transparency. I believe that there is information uncovered by the government’s covert investigations into UAPs that can be disclosed to the public without harming our national security. The American people deserve to know more, and Skinwalkers at the Pentagon: An Insiders’ Account of the Government’s Secret UFO Program is an excellent start.” 

“Transparency is the best medicine for good government. We’ve made progress, but there’s more work to be done.” 


The book clarifies a lot of issues that have swirled around the events, corrects some matters, and spotlights some intriguing and controversial activities.  It focuses on the DIA’s (Defense Intelligence Agency) AAWSAP (Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Applications Program) and Utah business man and space entrepreneur Robert Bigelow’s BAASS (Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies) and clarifies that AAWSAP was not Lue Elizondo’s AATIP (Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program – which was skewed to military events).  AAWSAP examined both military and civilian UFO/UAP experiences, possible “paranormal and correlates”, and was was strongly anchored in Bigelow’s Skinwalker ranch.


The book suggests, “… an eerie cause-and-effect lineage exists beginning in 1996 with NIDS’s research forays onto Skinwalker Ranch, Lacatski and Axelrod reading Hunt for the Skinwalker in 2007, continuing through the creation of AAWSAP in 2008, then of AATIP years later, and eventually to the UAPTF in 2018. Like a creepy miasma, Skinwalker Ranch lurked behind the creation of these organizations, and its baleful influence was felt by their most important participants.” 


It was Dr. James T. Lacatski, an intelligence officer serving in the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Defense Warning Office (DWO), and his strange personalised “vision” at the ranch on 26 July 2007, that were the direct casual factors that led to the creation of AAWSAP.


Of Lacatski’s “vision” the book indicates “(he) was transfixed by something behind where Bigelow and the couple were chatting: an unearthly technological device had suddenly and silently appeared out of nowhere in the adjacent kitchen. It looked to be a complex semi-opaque, yellowish, tubular structure. Lacatski said nothing but stared at the object, which was hovering silently. He looked away, looked back, and there it still was. It remained visible to Lacatski for no more than 30 seconds before vanishing on the spot.”


“Lacatski‘s mind was racing. Here he was, a ballistic missile physicist, a senior analyst at the DIA without any history of encountering anomalies, and he had just seen a vision unlike anything he had ever witnessed in his life. Lacatski confessed later that prior to that stunning vision he had never seen anything unusual in his life. Yet within a mere 60 minutes of being on the Skinwalker property, he had seen clearly, in broad daylight, a technological device in the adjacent room within a few feet of where he stood… The fact that he, and he alone, of the four people in the room had seen it, was also not lost on Lacatski.” 


According to Lacatski, the image on the album cover of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells was similar to what he saw. 


The bizarre and personalised experience of Lacatski at the Skinwalker ranch motivated him “to follow up with his superiors at DIA on the need to study the threat potential of technology of unknown origin in United States airspace, including UAPs.“


The book argues, “There were two remarkable things about AAWSAP. The first was that it existed at all. Between September 2008 and December 2010, the Pentagon spent those millions investigating UAPs as well as the paranormal and psychic correlates to UAPs.”


“The second remarkable feature that has been secret until the publication of this book was the breadth and scope of AAWSAP.... and delved deeply into the psychic and paranormal relationships to UAP interactions…. an enormous body of data concerning the psychic and paranormal connections to UAP interactions currently exists at the Defense Intelligence Agency.” 


The authors of the “Skinwalkers at the Pentagon” reveal, “The decision to research paranormal phenomena that co-locate with UAPs and to examine psychic effects in UAP witnesses in addition to scrutinizing the core UAP technology itself was not taken lightly because of the controversial nature of the UAP-paranormal debate. A significant constituency existed both inside and outside DIA that argued AAWSAP should only focus on researching the technology of UAPs.” 


They elaborate, “The logic behind adopting this strategy came from many years of boots- on-the-ground experience in investigating the UAP at Robert T. Bigelow’s National Institute of Discovery Science (NIDS) as well as decades of experience of AAWSAP advisers investigating UAPs. Much of this logic is also written into a seminal paper on UFOs and incommensurability, written by Dr. Jacques Vallee and Dr. Eric Davis…. The philosophy of AAWSAP was to study all phenomena observed in relation to UAPs.” 


This broader approach, rather than the recent narrow skewed approach of focusing on US military (in particular US Navy) cases, that has dominated attention since the watershed December 2017 New York times story, is certainly not unfamiliar to me.


From 1971 to 1974 I completed a degree in Science majoring in Chemistry and Mathematics. During that time, I was chairman of “the ghost and poltergeist subcommittee” of the University of New England (UNE) Psychic Phenomena Society 1972-1973, which allowed me to investigate and research a broad range of events that seemed to fall into the broad categories of UFO and paranormal phenomena. After relocating to Sydney in 1975, to begin working as an industrial chemist, and working with the Sydney based UFO Investigation Centre (UFOIC).  I began writing about UFOs and possible paranormal connections for the Australian magazine "Psychic Australian." My first article was a 2-part article - “UFOs – the psychic connection” (published in December 1976 and January 1977).

Throughout my decades long UFO investigation and research career, from the 1970s through to now, many close encounter cases I examined, often featured what seemed paranormal, psychic or parapsychological linkages. Such features often seemed to be more apparent in intense UFO highly localised flap areas. It was during the 1970s that I had an intense “baptism of fire” with UFO flaps (or “UFO hot zones”) at a number of specific locations, such as the Australian localities Tyringham-Dundurrabin, Mount Butler and Kempsey.  What seemed like “psychic storms” also featured in some “alien abduction” situations.  

Bill Chalker at Tyringham in 2010

Before I describe some examples from my Australian case files, I want to further highlight some accounts in the “Skinwalkers at the Pentagon” book than had me contemplating major deja-vu moments.


One of the significant players in the AAWSAP/BAASS/Skinwalker ranch milieu was named Jonathan Axelrod in the “Skinwalkers at the Pentagon” book. George Knapp confirmed to me that “Axelrod” and his 2 associates were identified with pseudonyms at the direction of the Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review (DOPSR). The book elaborates on Axelrod’s background and involvement: An Afghanistan and Iraq veteran, “a senior aerospace engineer in Naval Intelligence, his career had already spanned an upward trajectory, and his calm demeanor and infectious sense of humor enabled him to move easily in Pentagon circles. That same year, 2009, Axelrod was also the lead investigator of the now infamous “Tic Tac” case that had embroiled the Nimitz Aircraft Carrier Strike Group in a series of cat and mouse high stakes games off the coast of San Diego a few years previously. The so-called Tic Tac had out-maneuvered and out-performed multiple F/A-18 Hornets, leaving these top gun fighters from the Nimitz in the dust.”


“He had no inkling that his covert UAP investigation would explode onto the front page of The New York Times in December 2017. Axelrod was well versed in investigating anomalies, utilizing a thoroughly professional approach.” 


“Axelrod” and his two associates visited the Skinwalker ranch during July 2009. It was this description that caught my attention:


“About a half a mile into their hike, the temperature suddenly dropped like a stone. From 75 degrees, the air was now 20 degrees colder. All three stopped and silently looked at each other. There was no wind blowing, the air was still, and the zone they were standing in gave them a deep chill. Axelrod silently raised his hand and motioned backwards. All three walked backwards and within a couple of yards, the temperature had gone back to high 70s. Axelrod motioned forward and the three moved silently in unison. Again, they walked into a wall of coldness. “Weather front?” muttered Costigan. “Probably,” answered Axelrod, and again the trio retreated. Again, they exited the wall of chilled air into the warm night. Three times they repeated the maneuver and three times the sharp boundary that defined the wall of cold air remained in the same location.” 


“Thirty yards further on, all three began to feel anxious, and as they walked further, the anxiety deepened and turned into fear. No one said anything; they continued on their journey. But every step they took, their fear seemed to escalate. There was no external reason. No one wanted to be the first to mention the alarm they felt. Ten yards further on, the fear had escalated to mortal fear, and eventually Axelrod raised a hand and all three stopped. “Do any of you feel that?” Axelrod asked, his heart beating madly, the adrenaline surging through him. The other two acknowledged they felt intense alarm. All three looked around a full 360 to find what was causing this nameless dread, a fear for their lives that was more intense than they had ever felt.” 


Two separate events at the intense Tyringham-Dudurrabin” UFO flap during 1973 I witnessed and documented back then, featured, for me, something like the description of “a wall of coldness” and in the other the sense of “mortal fear”.

Here, the following account comes from my original report on the flap, prepared over 1973 and 1974, some 36 years before the experiences of “Axelrod” and company:


“One of the most extraordinary nights for me personally in the Tyringham flap took place on (Thursday) August 23(1973).  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 ¾ 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 airabout 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 (my main contact in the area) 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 was 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.” 

Two days later, Saturday August 25, 1973, Sydney based UFO researchers, David Buching and his wife Penny, had arrived to assist (and possibly experience) the flap.  “(We) travelled out along the Sheep Station Creek road, to “Shady Acres” – a farming property owned by a Mr. Freeman. This area had been of interest to me since I interviewed Mr. Kevin Neaves, of Sheep Station Creek road, back on June 11th, during my first field trip to the area. He had told me at the time that the only strange thing he had ever noticed was that on 2 occasions during the previous 2 or 3 years he had noticed a large bright yellow glow “like city lights” in the direction of the Freeman farm … 


“Between 7.10 and 7.15 pm, we arrived at the front gates of “Shady Acres” and we immediately noted a ground illumination, some 30 to 40 feet in diameter, inside and to the left of the gate, in the direction of the house, which was over a quarter of a mile from the gate.  After a few minutes it went out, then it slowly came back on.”


I contacted Warwick Ford, back at “Mollydale” by 2-way radio, and asked him to contact the property owner, who in turn confirmed no house lights had been on previous to the call. “We saw the house lights come on from our observation point at the front gate.”


“Just before this, for a fleeting moment, I caught a glimpse of a very bright white ball above the ridge, immediately above the direction of the “illumination”.  It appeared to be stationary, then it suddenly disappeared. No ground “illumination” was subsequently noticeable.  The house light then came on.  After determining that the owner had not seen anything strange we returned along the road to to the Chaelundi road turn-off, on Sheep Station Creek road.


“At this spot the only observation made was of a bright white light in a SE direction among trees. It was stationary for some time, at about 8.00 pm, then it disappeared.  At 8.03 pm, a white light, with a reddish tinge, appeared in the same spot, disappearing a minute or so later,”


Something occurred at this point that I did not record in my field notes, but it was profoundly etched in our memories.  David Buching and I went over to the area were the lights had been seen and began walking up the hill side, intent in going over the hill top to see what was happening on the other side.  Near the top of the hill both of us were simultaneously overwhelmed by an intense fear.  Neither of us were particularly prone to nerves and David had been a trained commando, so the “fear” seemed bizarre.  As we progressed forward the feeling became more and more acute.  We quickly agreed that we should returned to the car. As we walked down the hill the overwhelming sense of intense fear left us both. After several minutes we both went up the hill again.  No sense of fear occurred and at the summit we looked around, but nothing of note was evident, so we returned to the car.  David and I discussed this temporary simultaneous fear state we had experienced.  We agreed that it seemed something did not want us going over the hill on the first occasion.  Whatever it was, it wasn’t present when we went up the hill again.

Bill Chalker, local witness and David Buching off Sheep Station Creek road in 1973 
The similarity of the two 1973 episodes – the “cold column” and the intense fear state – to what was described by Axelrod and his companions is intriguing.  I had made a point of not describing any of my experiences to locals in the Tyringham area, in order to not influence anybody. However, others did experience similar things and “paranormal” aspects seem to be featured.


For example, consider the following: 

“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.  

“…. 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 in 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.” I have already mentioned 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, that 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.”

I could describe many more experiences from this 1973 flap in Tyringham Australia, but rather I’ll end with an extraordinary episode that resonates with bizarre experience focuses in the book Skinwalkers at the Pentagon – the “wolfmen”, “dogmen” and “skinwalker” observations that people had encountered at Skinwalker ranch and also encountered by family member at their distant homes.

From the book, commenting on the so-called “hitchhiker” effect, “Jonathan Axelrod and his family are the “poster children” for the eruption of anomalies in the home following trips to Skinwalker Ranch... For more than a dozen years following his July 2009 and subsequent trips to the ranch, Axelrod’s wife and (then) teenage children were subjected to nightmarish “dogmen” appearing in their backyard; to blue, red, yellow and white orbs routinely floating through the home and in the yard; to black shadow people standing over their beds when they awoke; and to a relentless barrage of loud, unexplained footsteps walking up and down the stairs in their house. What was once a normal middle-class home in suburban Virginia became an inferno of bizarre unexplained phenomena. And Axelrod and his family were certain that the trigger for this transformation was his first trip to Skinwalker Ranch. It is indeed lucky that the Axelrod family was, and is, extremely stable, psychologically well-adjusted and grounded and prone to matter-of-fact reactions to these events.” 

These sorts of bizarre experiences have featured in many places, but I’ll describe one that came from an unexpected quarter.

In 2001 I visited the home of Oliver Harry Turner. Harry Turner was a retired Australian Government scientist. A nuclear physicist, he was the chief health physics officer for the controversial Maralinga atomic bomb trials during the 1950s and early 1960s. But it was his secret and strange odyssey through the UFO mystery that took me to his home. He had authored a classified “scientific appreciation” report on UFOs for the Australian Department of Defence Directorate of Air Force Intelligence (DAFI) back in 1954 which concluded, rather provocatively, “The evidence presented by RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) tend to support the ... conclusion ... that certain strange aircraft have been observed to behave in a manner suggestive of extra-terrestrial origin.” During the late 1960s and early 1970s he had fought a secret battle to encourage a more scientific and comprehensive examination of the UFO mystery within the clandestine world of intelligence and the military. By then he was a scientific analyst with the Directorate of Scientific and Technical Intelligence (DSTI) of the Joint Intelligence Bureau (JIB). 

Harry Turner and me in June 2004

As the focus of my visit was fleshing out Harry Turner’s odyssey through the UFO mystery we had been discussing his dealings with the military and intelligence on the subject. I was not anticipating the bizarre tilt into a “twilight zone” that was to come. During our discussions he handed me what turned out to be a particularly remarkable document – 10 pages of his handwritten notes – devoted to his investigation during 1971 and 1972 of a Canberra woman, Mrs. Klein. 

One particularly remarkable aspect of Harry Turner’s 1971-72 notes on Mrs. Klein’s bizarre experience was that they prefigured extraordinary elements of the UFO abduction scenario or phenomenon that would not become generally known until Budd Hopkins described them in his best selling 1987 book “Intruders”. In fact, there were many features that are better known today, that at the time of Harry Turner’s interview were completely unknown. Thus Mrs. Klein’s story as captured in Harry Turner’s notes revealed a potent revelation of the alien abduction contact drama yet to come. Her story was relatively unpolluted by the fixation modern culture now has on the alien vision. 

I describe Vicki Klein’s strange experiences in a chapter of my 2005 book “Hair of the alien.” 

My 2005 book "Hair of the Alien" (available through Amazon) - the Vicki Klein chapter is Chapter Nine: "An Early Abduction Odyssey" pgs. 136-152. The extract below is on pg. 146.

While context is important there is too much detail to describe here other that the episode that powerfully resonates with those of Axelrod and others in the “Skinwalkers” book.

“The neighbour Mrs. Z. claimed that during the evening of September 7 1971 she had gone to the rear of the house because her dog was playing up. Turner’s notes state, “as the dog retreated indoors, she noticed two figures in Mrs. Klein’s backyard near a tree. Mrs. Z. thought they must be Mr. And Mrs. Klein but was puzzled as to why they should be standing in that position and be so still. So she went towards them and shone her torch on them. They turned out to be a tall metal-meshed clad figure (like ‘Claude’ – the entity Vicki Klein had been interacting with, unknown at that point to the neighbour) with his ‘dog-faced’ companion. They were smiling at her as though a joke was being played on her and then gradually faded away. No signs remained. Mrs. Klein’s dog was not disturbed. 

Vicki Klein from her appearance on the Australian TV science show "Quantum" in 1988
Harry Turner in his notes reports: “These two disparate types claim they are ‘one people’. The tall blonde one is similar to the Nordic race, but the ‘dog-faced’ one has pointed ears, eyes with large pupils and no iris (or is it no white –Turner), longish flattened nose, thin mouth, dressed in blue-grey tunic with tight banded collar and oval (?) shoes. The dog-faced type can appear to look more human-like if they wish to (swarthy, 5’-5’6’).”  

Some of the contents of Skinwalkers at the Pentagon(2021) were starting to make me think that James Lacatski and the BAASS/AAWSAP teams were shaping up like latter day reflections of the network Harry Turner was developing in Australia back in the late 1960s and early 1970s from Defence Science and other scientists. BAASS/AAWSAP would have got hints of the “high strangeness” elements from their meetings with Brazilian General Paulo Roberto Yogda Miranda Uchõa.  The investigations of Uchõa and his father were already known to civilian researcher by the early 1970s.

The Skinwalkers at the Pentagon book is intriguing and important. I intend to discuss it further, but for now I have shared why I haven’t dismissed some of its more bizarre elements. The decision of AAWSAP to focus broadly on UFO/UAP observations and their apparent stranger correlates provides for a wealth of comparative data that reflects what has long been available outside the clandestine and compartmentalised orbits and activities of AAWSAP and BAASS. A more transparent and open approach could have profound results for the potential of developing a broader based open and transparent UFO/UAP science.  Let’s hope their data is more openly shared for detailed assessment and comparison to existing civilian data from right around the world. For now, Skinwalkers at the Pentagon may prove to be a fascinating and worthwhile start, and a veritable “shot across the bow” for more more skewed and narrower UAP focuses that are seemingly dominating the UFO/UAP show lately.

The opening Powerpoint slide from my 2014-2015 talk