Sunday, October 22, 2023

Confronting UFOs and UAP - Remembering October 1973

October 1973 was an extraordinary time on the world stage   – the Yom Kippur war, US President Nixon fighting the spectre of Watergate & threatening to use nuclear weapons if Russia intervened in the middle East war, and the energy crisis. (In fact it is extraordinary and worrying to see similar events and threats been played out 50 years later!) And the United States was deep into the biggest UFO wave since the 1960s.  Things were perhaps a little quieter in Australia, but some very strange things were afoot, some even bleeding into dangerous super power plays that appear to put a frightening perspective on the seeming “piss-take” games currently defining Australian Defence’s myopic position on UFOs (and the militarised subset or scientifically “safe” subset referred to as UAP) in the Five Eyes arena.  


Witness the Canberra Times story of 22 October 2023: ‘The truth is out there’: Australia accused of treating UFO threat as a ‘piss-take’ by Jamieson Murphy.The article revealed what Australian UFO UAP researchers have known for some time. “The concern appears to be well-placed. FOI documents show while the world’s most advanced military is taking UAPs(sic) seriously, the ADF (Australian Defence Force) is still joking about it. “You’re right, it may trigger more UFO-flavoured interest. The truth is out there, I’ll just need to determine if interest in this sci-fi is a [Head of Air Force Capability] or [Defence Space Commander] lead,”a heavily redacted email between Defence staff stated.” What seems clear is that the ADF don’t seem well acquainted with their own rich history of direct experience, even with their own personnel, including pilots, commandos, naval staff and even past chief defence scientists.  But all that will be shared in future posts, but much has already been revealed.


Meanwhile, lets turn back 50 years and to just one month, at the end of which Australia was jousting with UFO reality that resonated with military crises on the conflicted world stage.

During early October, 1973, returning home after his cleaning job in Armidale, University of New England student, Graham E. travelled along the Bundurra road, then turned to the left onto the road that eventually leads to the Mount Butler property he was living at.  Just as he passed the university ionosphere research receiver - a grid system of metal poles -on the dirt road opposite the research station receiver array, the student had a dramatic close encounter: 


"... Right in the middle of the windscreen .... it just seemed to float up.... I stopped the car immediately ... this thing ... the best I could describe 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't seem 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. 

I stood there with him several weeks later as he described to me what he called the “grand finale” – his most spectacular sighting in a bizarre milieu of experiences that seemed to focus on a farm near a local landmark named Mount Butler.


Mount Butler had come to my attention only the year before, to be precise, on September 15, 1972, in a very strange way.


On that particular day, consideration of the UFO problem was far from my mind.  At twilight, I was returning from a Chemistry practical class, part of my University of New England science degree journey.  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 seemingly metallic egg-shaped object traversing the twilight sky, north to south.  It was moving in a horizontal trajectory, at a speed roughly 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 possibilities 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 local 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 in "the big smoke".  I was able to quickly confirm my own hypothesis, that the early morning Taree 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 twilight “daylight disc” 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 poltergeist" 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 of the event, it seemed to involve a bizarre form of apparitional "possession" and the locality would become haunted by UFOs.   The growing Mount Butler affair would show that the dimensions of the UFO problem were far from clear and the best approach was to be both critical and open minded.


Had I known what would unfold I would have investigated this experience immediately.  However, circumstances prevented an investigation from being completed until the end of 1973.  


During the early morning darkness of September 15 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 traveled 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.  


By then the milieu that had focused on Mount Butler involved far more than what seemed to be paranormal events such as a strange encounter with a bizarre entity.  The area had become the focus of UFO activity which seemed to center around one individual – Graham E. “Repeater” witness often brought concerns, but those were alleviated with the following development.


Graham E. had started living at the property during 1973.  He began to see some strange lights, 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, turned left onto the road that eventually led to the Mount Butler property.  Just as he passed the university ionosphere research receiver 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 (a Sydney suburb), 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 labeled 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. 


Graham’s UFO “grand finale” seemed to mark the end of the high strangeness being played out around Mount Butler. 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 “the bush chant” 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.  Personally it was my “baptism of UFO fire”, where I experienced an extraordinary range of phenomena. 

Allen Hynek, who had acted as astronomy consultant to the United States Air Force UFO study since 1948, came to Australia during 1973, to lecture on astronomy and UFOs and to promote his ground breaking book, "The UFO Experience - A Scientific Inquiry", published in the US in 1972. His visit was a watershed for both Australia and himself.  Dr. Hynek was in the best position to determine the scientific merits of the UFO phenomenon.  He had consulted for more than 20 years with the US Air Force and had moved from a sceptic to a scientist who was willing to actively promote the validity of the phenomenon.  He championed the need for serious research.  His 1972 book was his case for the scientific merit of the UFO phenomenon. It caused a lot of scientists to rethink their position on the subject.  By 1973, Dr. Hynek lacked an appropriate vehicle for his ongoing research. For years he had quietly encouraged and actively participated in his UFO "invisible college". 

Via my good friend David Buching I had Allen Hynek on the phone to me about what had been playing out around Tryingham.  He had wanted to come to witness what was happening. As much as would have liked him to come I had to tell him that by then (August) the flap had largely died down and I reluctantly told him it probably wasn’t worth coming up to remote Tyringham. He returned to the US and was soon enveloped in the massive 1973 US UFO wave. Hynek would bring his UFO "invisible college" into the open and formed the Centre for UFO Studies (CUFOS) later in 1973.  

The news from America was soon breaking out in extensive news coverage from around the world. My own home town Grafton newspaper carried some of the stories – “The Daily Examiner” of October 16, 1973 reported ‘“Terrifying Experience” for men who claim they were taken aboard U.F.O.’  The October 11 Pascagoula “alien abduction” of Charlie Hickson and Calvin Parker unleashed huge press coverage. Allen Hynek went to Pascagoula. Not only were “alien” “humanoid” stories front and centre in the 1973 US UFO wave, but the the extraordinary Coyne Army helicopter case of October 18, (which also involved Allen Hynek’s long time research associate Jennie Ziedman doing the primary research) gave a potent military focus. The juxtaposition of those 2 events alone powerfully thrust the bizarre nature of the UFO experience into the public and research gaze.


I recommend “Beyond Earth: Man’s contact with UFOs” by Ralph Blum with Judy Blum (1974) and the relevant chapters in Mark O’Connell’s “The Close Encounters Man” (2017) which capture the significance of the 1973 US UFO wave. CUFOs publications – “1973 – Year of the humanoids” by David Webb (1976) and “A Helicopter-UFO Encounter over Ohio” by Jennie Zeidman (1979) – describe the important Pascagoula and Mansfield cases. “UFO contact at Pascagoula” by Charles Hickson and William Mendez (1983, 2017), as well as Philip Mantle’s Flying Disk Press has provided a greatly enhanced examination of the Pascagoula case with “Pascagoula: The Closest Encounter My Story” by Calvin Parker (2018), “Pascagoula – the Story continues – New Evidence & New Witnesses” by Calvin Parker (2019), “The Road to Pascagoula” by Stefanos Panayotakis (2018), “Beyond Pascagoula – the rest of the amazing story” (2020) and “Beyond Reasonable Doubt” by Philip Mantle and Irena McCammon Scott, PhD (2023). “Beyond Reasonable Doubt” provides a striking testament to the significance of the case and an enduring tribute legacy to Calvin Parker, who recently passed away. “Science, Skeptics and UFOs – A Reluctant Scientist Explores the World of UFOs” by B. Timothy Pennington, PhD (2013) provides a remarkable reinforcement of the Pascagoula events, with its exploration of his greater family’s experience of UFOs and abductions in the Mississippi – during the 1970s.

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

Mount Butler and the UFO sightings near the University of New England ionosphere research station aerial array, which bounced radio frequencies off the ionosphere during 1973 and beyond, tantalisingly resonates with another site on the other side of Australia – North West Cape in Western Australia. There the massive aerial array utilises VLF frequency transmissions (operating most often at 22.3 kHz in a range of 14 to 28.5 kHz) to communicate with the US nuclear submarine fleet in the region.  


The fascinating October 25 1973 North West Cape UFO event, may feed into research discussions about the search for tracking frequencies unique to electromagnetic signatures of UFOs and UAP. The connection with the antenna array at North West Cape in October 1973 and a focus Ross Coulthart made in his book “In Plain Sight – an investigation into UFOs and impossible science” (2021)(but initially revealed, in part, in the Wikileaks dump of John Podesta’s emails) to Bob Fish’s claim “that the US was actually tracking UAPs by tracing their unique electromagnetic signature” (pg. 102) is intriguing. Information has been swirling about on this issue for some time. I’ve even had a source of my own referring to this.

I have written about the 1973 North West Cape UFO event of on numerous occasions, particularly:

1979, August, “The Royal Australia Air Force Investigations of UFOs”, ACOS Bulletin, No.20, August, 1979

1985, March, “The UFO connection: Startling implications for North West Cape and Australia’s security”, Omega Science, March, 1985

1986, January/February, “The North West Cape Incident: UFOs and nuclear alert in Australia”, IUR - International UFO Reporter, January/February, 1986, pas. 9-12.
1988 & 1989, “Working with the Government,” in “Phenomenon” edited by John Spencer & Hilary Evans, (UK) Futura 1988 & (USA) Avon Books 1989.
1996, “The OZ Files - the Australia UFO Story”, Duffy & Snellgrove, 1996

1996, “UFOs Sub Rosa Down Under”, circulated between 1997 & 1999, on since 1999.
2012, “DEFCON 3 to Top Secret UMBRA - A National Security Crisis with a UFO Connection in 1973” pgs. 402 - 404, in my chapter “The Australian Military and the Official Government Response”, in “UFOs and Government - a historical Inquiry” principal authors Michael Swords & Robert Powell, Anomalist Books, 2012.  

When I was co-coordinating the Sydney based UFO Investigation Centre (UFOIC) back in 1975-76, a group member had written to the Australian Department of Defence, on behalf of UFOIC requesting cases for “compiling a statistical and comparative survey of the nature and incidence of unidentified flying objects” “for the benefit of my colleagues.” The most interesting of the partially redacted reports was the October 1973 North West Cape event.

In my first article mentioning the event back in 1979, I described the general state of play of our knowledge on RAAF’s role in the Australian UFO story, and included the event as a case example of an “unknown” not listed in the official annual summaries of UAS reports, along with the bizarre Nebo road case, which I got directly from the RAAF with prints of photos taken by the RAAF. This 1979 status was a stepping stone to my heavy focus on the DOD/government data which led to my 4 visits between 1982 and 1984 to the Russell offices in Canberra, and despite my long shopping listing, things like NW Cape, Nebo, Westall, Burkes Flat, Balwyn and others were not found.  Plenty of other stuff of interest was. 

The North West Cape case basic aspects:

At about 1915 hours, on Thursday, October 25th, 1973, Lt. Commander M (Note: maybe Myer - we only have Bill Lynn's handwriting reference to him.  Paul Dean recently pointed out that the Lynn family mention that Bill regularly had a hand writing flourish, particularly on the letter "M" that may give the impression of an "o" or an"e" following the letter "M" - hence the search for Moyer & Meyer) (USN) observed "a large black, airborne object" at a distance of approximately 8 kilometres to the west at an altitude estimated at 600 metres. Lt. Cmdr. M_____ was driving south from the naval communication station towards the support township of Exmouth, along Murat Road. The officer indicated in a written statement that, "After about 20-25 seconds the craft accelerated at unbelievable speed and disappearedto the north." 

The officer's account further states: "7. Hovering at first, then accelerating beyond belief." "9. No noise or exhaust.""11. Have never experienced anything like it." 

Australian Fire Captain at NW Cape 

(photo supplied by the Lynn family to Keith Basterfield) 

and his sketch & some details of the incident

At the base, Fire Captain (USN) Bill L____ (confirmed as Australian Bill Lynn) also saw the extraordinary craft. He provided the following statement: 

"At 1920 hrs, I was called by the POW to close the Officers club. I proceded towards the club in the Fire Dept. pick-up 488, when my attention was drawn to a large black object, which at first I took to bea small cloud formation, due west of Area 'B' (in the vicinity of Mount Athol - B.C.). Whilst travelling towards the Officers club I couldn't help but be attracted by this object's appearance. On alighting from pick-up 488, I stood for several minutes and watched this black sphere hovering. The sky was clear & pale green-blue. No clouds were about whatsoever. The object was completely stationary except for a halo around the centre, which appeared to be either revolving or pulsating. After watching it for approx. 4 minutes, it suddenly took off at tremendous speed & disappeared in a northerly direction, in a few seconds. I consider this object to have been approx. 10 metres in diameter, hovering at 300 metres over the hills due west of the base. It was black, maybe due to looking in the direction of the setting sun. No lights appeared on it at any time." 

This is an extraordinary incident. When I first saw the report on it back around 1975/76 I was surprised, due to its contents, that, firstly, it had been entered onto standard RAAF Department of Defence UAS sighting report forms, and, secondly, that it had been made available to a researcher then associated with UFOIC.

As highlighted in the 1985 article I wrote for Omega Science Digest it was Larry Fawcett and Barry Greenwood’s excellent book “Clear Intent” (1984) that made me focus on the NSA affidavit that had a 1973 SIGINT case reference.  I then recollected the 1973 NW Cape case file and made the SIGINT connection with NW Cape based on my knowledge of NW Cape’s activities via Desmond Ball’s “A Suitable Piece of real estate” (1980) and the date of the Defcon alert through Richard Hall’s “The Secret State” (1978, pg. 184).  

I felt that made the NW Cape case as a probable good fit with the NSA 1973 affidavit reference.  I had acquired Clear Intent on 31/7/84.  Barry Greenwood signed my copy on 24/7/84.  The date connection between the Defcon and the UFO sighting became clearer to me after I had acquired the book “Secrets of State” on 2/4/82, see pg. 12, where the connection between the date & NW Cape & Defcon was confirmed.  The penny dropped at that point and snowballed with the focus on the NSA affidavit date.  That’s why I then came out with the Omega article (March/April, 1984). I wrote another article for CUFOS (Allen Hynek’s organisation) the International UFO reporter “The North West Cape Incident: UFOs and nuclear alert in Australia”, January/February, 1986, pas. 9-12.


October 1973 and its cavalcade of extraordinary UFO events resonate powerfully with the issues that haunt the UAP controversy today.

(Thanks to Grant Lavac and Tony Healy for assistance on the Canberra Times story)

Monday, October 02, 2023

The early days of the public UFO drama in Australia - even an atomic connection of a sort

The contemporary and widespread public flirtation with "flying saucers" in Australia was slow to begin with. Intermittent reports occurred, but media prominence really only got under way in 1950 with reports from Geelong and Avoca, Victoria, during June and July.  The earliest still extant sighting report in the Directorate of Air Force Intelligence (DAFI) files was a nocturnal light account at Bass Point, NSW, on July 16, 1950. The growing number of reports that involved official agencies and highly regarded sources served to heightened official interest, initially from two quarters, namely the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA). 

For Australia at least it would take a rash of sightings in 1950 to give a more substantial public launch for the UFO mystery down under. These included the sightings of Fred Bepps in Geelong Victoria during June 1950 and Alex Holland near Avoca Victoria in July 1950.  

It is ironic that the reporting of a less compelling sighting (a parachute or flare?) in New South Wales in April 1950 on the front page of the "Sunday Sun" of April 23 (THEY CALL THESE FLYING SAUCERS Strange sight scares women) may have registered prominently in the consciousness of the "father of Australian ufology" Edgar Jarrold. Inside the same issue Jarrold was "profiled" in the Sun's "People: Human Stories" but not for any UFO or flying saucer angle. That would come with his own sighting in the following year (1951), which led to him to form his Sydney based UFO group - the Australian Flying Saucer Bureau - in July 1952.

The Sun's 1950 "profile" described Jarrold as "a man with a secret" - "a book with such a weird plot that it frightens him whenever he thinks about it", a mystery novel called "Death's Darkness". Interviewed at the plaster factory where he worked Jarrold lamented the lot of a struggling writer. He indicated, "I received no encouragement from my parents, who simply bought me expensive accountancy courses which I never finished." The piece is accompanied with a photo of the 31 year old Edgar Ruce Jarrold.  The same column reported that E. Stanley Brookes of the Melbourne Society of Psychic and Occult Scientific Research had psychic circle "insights" into the nature of "flying saucers" - "radar-controlled war weapons ... being experimented with by at least two nations". Stanley Brookes, indicated he was also known as "the Graveyard Man" and "the only Australian Red Indian Chief". I think I get his "grave" drift .... lets put it down to the era and a bit of eccentricity. 

Edgar Jarrold's son Karl supplied me with a copy of the original photo of his father and the dusk jacket of Edgar Jarrold's own copy of "they Knew Too Much about Flying Saucers." The latter is wrapped in a clear plastic protective cover of my own copy of Gary Barker's notorious book, which includes his take on Edgar Jarrold's "disappearance" from the "flying saucer" scene.

In July, 1952, in response to a huge wave of sightings at the time, and one of his own, during May, 1951, Edgar Jarrold, 33 year-old foundry office worker, husband, and father of 2 young children, began Australia's first civilian flying saucer organisation. Initially a one man affair, the Australia Flying Saucer Bureau (AFSB) headquartered in Sydney, was by May, 1953, publishing Australia's first UFO publication, the Australian Flying Saucer Magazine. On February 6, 1953, 5 Victorians founded the Australian Flying Saucer Investigation Committee (AFSIC). The organisation's chairman was journalist Donald Thomson. In South Australia, during 1953, the Australian Flying Saucer Club (AFSC) was started by Fred Stone. 

July 1952 was a huge time for flying saucers particularly in the United States when they appeared over the capitol Washington DC on two consecutive weekends and were tracked on radar. The events caused a sensation.  See for example “Invasion Washington – UFOs over the capitol” by Kevin Randle, Ph.D., Captain, USAFR (2001) and “Captain Edward J. Ruppelt – Summer of the Saucers – 1952” by Michael Hall and Wendy Connors (2000). Another take on the same period is provided in Frank Feschino Jr.’s eccentric and overreaching book “Shoot Them Down! The Flying Saucer Air Wars of 1952.” (2007), which was a reworking of his strange celebration and investigation of “The Braxton County Monster – The cover-up of the Flatwoods Monster revealed” (2004). The Flatwoods “monster” was a rather intriguing UFO “monster” story from September 1952.

One the more striking Australian cases from the July 1952 period appeared to have been an aerial encounter belatedly reported 18 months later by Australian National Airways (ANA) pilot Captain Bob Jackson near Sydney, New South Wales. He delayed revealing his experience for fear of ridicule, and only did so when other experience pilots started describing their own encounters. He stated, “I was flying towards Mascot, near Worinora Dam, about 11 p.m., when suddenly I saw a flash of light. I watched the thing with an orange coloured light at the tail flash past toward the coast, near Wollongong. Naturally the first thing I did was call Mascot control to ask if any other planes were in the vicinity. They replied that their radar proved negative. About two minutes later the thing appeared again. It made a complete circle around us and vanished again towards the coast at a terrific speed. I can’t explain it. All I know is it was nerve wracking. I mentioned to control that if their radar failed to pick up an object – and it was a definite object – then it must be a flying saucer. They laughed, so I’ve kept quiet about it,” The account came from the Melbourne Sun, January 5, 1954, “Senior pilots saw “saucers” too: “was nerve-wracking”.” 

The following report is striking not only because of the contents and the calibre of the witness. Just one day earlier, the Minister for Air, William McMahon (a future Australian Prime Minister) had stated in parliament that the "flying saucer" reports were "probably based on flights of imagination". 

The chief test pilot for the Government Aircraft Factories was not given to "flights of imagination" and yet at approximately 1200 hours on August 14th, 1952, while flying in a Vampire aircraft, between 35,000 and 36,000 feet, near Rockhampton, Queensland, he observed something he could not explain. Looking east, towards the coast, the pilot saw a large circular light at a lower elevation which could not be estimated due to bad ground haze. The light was the colour of an ordinary incandescent light globe. After approximately one minute a number of small lights (6 to 10) appeared to come from the main light. The smaller lights appeared to surround the bright light for about 2 minutes before disappearing. After a further 2 minutes the big light also disappeared. That report did not become public knowledge. It may have been embarrassing for the Minister if it had. The report remained classified until I found it in DCA UFO files I was permitted to examine at the offices of the Bureau of Air Safety Investigations during November, 1982. 

Clipping supplied by Keith Basterfield; handwritten annotation by Bill Chalker

Fred Stone, an early “flying saucer” pioneer based in South Australia, described his own UFO sighting, which he dated to a week before the first atomic bomb explosion in Australia. Keith Basterfield sighted an unpublished manuscript by Stone which suggested the year might have been 1953, but the first British atomic bomb test was in the Montebello Islands off the coast of Western Australia on Friday 3 October, 1952.  Perhaps Stone was thinking of the first mainland tests which took place at Emu Field, South Australia. In a newspaper article from 1959 Stone stated, “I was a pig-headed unbeliever a few years ago and thought these flying saucer reports were a lot of hot air. Then, a week before the first atomic bomb explosion in Australia, I was walking along a city street when I saw five cigar –shaped objects apparently hiding in a dark cloud above the city (of Adelaide). Suddenly one of the objects shot out of the cloud and sped away.  Another followed it soon afterwards.  I could see figures in the objects.”  The newspaper article does not elaborate further, but in Keith Basterfield’s account of what he read of the sighting in Stone’s unpublished manuscript, “Stone tells us that “I did not believe in them and considered them a lot of “hooey.” (P.8.) However, in 1953 at about 6.30pm in an Adelaide suburb, he noted “... a very long strange dark cloud in the west, in an otherwise cloudless sky...within this dark cigar shaped cloud, there was a squat shaped saucer-like object.” “To his amazement he could “...see four more of these objects running from the south to the north quite stationary...” After a while “...the southernmost object suddenly shot away at an angle of ninety degrees from the cloud into the west and disappeared at an amazing speed." Sometime later, “...the second one shot away as did the first...” Stone then boarded a bus and lost sight of the remaining objects.” No reference to the “figures”, and in both versions no mention of what happened to the other 3 objects. Keith summed up the manuscript, “… this unpublished manuscript by one of the main drivers of early UAP research in this state … are a product of that era (the 1950s). There was great concern about the future of humanity, due to the atomic bomb and other social and physical factors. This was the message of many a contactee from that era.”

Flying saucers, UFOs, UAP, atomic connections – in the eye of the beholder.