Thursday, 29 January 2015

So Australian Pilots ARE Reporting UFO Incidents!

As of 1995, the two government agencies responsible for air safety are Airservices Australia (ASA) and the Civil Aviation Safey Authority (CASA). Of the two, ASA describes itself as “…a government owned corporation providing safe, secure, efficient and environmentally responsible services to the aviation industry.” It has responsibility for airspace management and air traffic control, aeronautical information, aviation communication, radio navigation, etc. Indeed, ASA is one of the agencies that pilots can report a UFO event should that sort of extraordinary situation arise.

On the 30th of May, 2012, researcher Keith Basterfield submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to Airservices Australia for:

“any documents held by Air Services Australia, on the subject of “unidentified flying objects”.”

On the 18th of June, Keith was furnished with internal ASA material containing a number of media enquiries to ASA, enquiries to ASA from the general public, etc. The only significant material given to him was a 2004 “Event Report” involving a Qantas flight and an “unidentified object”. This material can be viewed on Keith’s blog site here: 

This was all ASA, apparently, had on unidentified flying objects.

Unfortunately it seems Keith was misinformed.

             In May, 2014 I found out, through a source within Airservices Australia, that any pilot UFO sighting reports would be kept in the “Electronically Submitted Incident Report” (ESIR) database. Furthermore, in September 2014 I consulted the Operations branch of ASA regarding the validity of this information, and was told that the ESIR database would indeed be the final resting place for UFO reports by pilots, and, furthermore, the ESIR database was being superseded by a new system called the Corporate Integrated Reporting and Risk Information System (CIRRIS).

            On the 24th of November, 2014 I submitted a formidable FOI request to ASA specifically asking for:

“….any incidences where flight crews have reported any:

1) Unusual, Unknown, or Unidentifiable Aircraft or Objects;
2) Suspected Drones/Unmanned Aerial Vehicles;
3) Meteoric Events, fireballs and the like;
4) Especially unusual weather phenomenon;

which are held on ESIR or CIRRIS database(s).

            After receiving an acknowledgment reply on the 25th of November, I waited for what I thought would be the usual “no material responsive to your request can be found” type nonsense. However, on the 10th of December, 2014 I was pleasantly surprised when I received quite the opposite:

“Dear Mr. Dean,

Please find attached an FOI access decision, table of documents and documents being released under the access decision re your request dated 25 November 2014.

Freedom of Information &
Privacy Contact Officer/Legal Inquiries Coordinator
Office of Legal Counsel
Airservices Australia”

Contained with this email were 3 attachments. One was the usual “Access Decision” which all FOI requests end with; one was a “Table of Documents” which is a list of any material being furnished; and the final PDF was the one that contained the smoke and fire… Dryly titled “Documents Being Released Under The Access Decision” this PDF was a full 3 pages, and in tiny font size at that, of tabulated pilot reports of UFO events over Australia. Below is an image of the “Table of Documents” page:

            The first thing that jumped out was the fact that some of these reports date back to 2007. So Keith Basterfield’s FOI request to ASA in 2012 failed to secure any of this material. Either ASA had done a very bad job with his very reasonable FOI request, or, someone at ASA simply didn’t want so much material coming out at that time. Infamous American FOI Act user and abuser Robert Todd, who filed approximately seven thousand FOI requests in just a 19 year period once said:

“Either we are dealing with morons at these government FOI and information branches, or, they are not morons and they are deliberately hiding the material I have asked for, and am entitled to, as an American citizen.”

Whatever the truth of the matter, we now have, for those who are interested in real data and real cases - rather than the pathetic “UFO theatre” that goes on in this caper – actual reports from pilots to Airservices Australia. The only problem is, I cannot understand half of it, and I am waiting on advice from people who can. Until then, here are some of the better cases in absolute raw form:

            Case ATS0126807, which occurred on the 26th of January, 2014, above Adelaide, states:

“At 2315Z TGW484, inbound on the ALEXI 05V STAR reported having traffic at 12 o'clock, 5NM. AAE reported there was no observed traffic in that vicinity. TGW484 then requested a turn onto heading 210. TGW484 then reported the traffic in their right, 3 o'clock 2.5 NM "visual", and were turning back for the VSA. TGW484 then asked if AAE had the traffic on radar, 3' o'clock at 4NM. AAE replied they had an A320 past the 3 o'clock at 6.8NM. AAE confirmed whether that was the traffic they had reported, which TGW reported they were not sure, they had had traffic showing 2.5 NM same level. Shortly after JST774 following TGW reported TCAS showing something at BATIP, "hovering" at A020, which then disappeared.”

            Case ATS0075593, which is listed as occurring on the 10th of April, 2009, in the region of “TOPS”, wherever that is, states:

“ANO332 tracking DNKU on descent, reported an airprox with an unknown aircraft approximately opposite direction, at approximately A090. Subsequent questioning of the crew elicited that the aircraft was observed approximately 34 NM east of the flight planned track and followed on TCAS, but there was no RA, nor was the aircraft sighted. Weather conditions were VMC. ANO332 reported unable to raise the aircraft on VHF.ATS surveillance is not available in this part of the airspace so the report was unable to be corroborated by ATC. No flights matching the aircraft were known to the ATS system.

            Case ATS0105506, which occurred on the 25th of April, 2010 in the Canberra region states:

“Unidentified (upside down pyramid shaped) object drifting close to final rwy 35. First spotted at approximately 400ft AGL on the Western edge of Mt Jerrabomberra. Initially drifted West, towards final for rwy 35, before climbing and drifting to the Northeast. Two aircraft (QFA814 and VOZ259) were diverted through noise abatement areas (Southwest of YSCB) to avoid the object.”

            Another one, ATS0098025, 26th September, 2012:

“TGW581 reported a red cylindrical object passing the aircraft in the opposite direction when climbing through FL200 approximately 20 nm miles south of Sydney.”

            And so they go on. For three pages. All of this is completely raw data: No internal ASA opinions, no emotive statements by the pilots, no conclusions; just the actual tabulated entries on ASA databases, and little else. Even a cursory look at a not insignificant number of these entries tells me that the offending “UFOs” are nothing more than lanterns or model aircraft. But some are not. Right now, I am trying to have these cases – which admittedly come with limited data – put “into English” by the contacts I have to gain a clearer picture of what was actually happening in the skies to cause the pilots to submit such reports, some of which I suspect may have been made quite urgently.

            Aside from having this bundle of material analysed by my contacts, I have submitted a further FOI request to Airservices Australia for more details on some of the better looking cases. Specifically, on the 20th of January – just a few days ago – I have asked ASA to provide me with any documents (internal emails, investigation notes, pilot statements, messages, minutes of meetings, etc) which relate to some of these pilot submissions, and I will not be satisfied until the trickle becomes a deluge. Which brings me to another point: It occurred to me, when submitting a bunch of other FOI requests to other agencies last week, I seem to be the only one doing this in Australia. Why so? Why am I doing all the heavy lifting in relation to governmental enquiry and correspondence with those that may hold some keys? If Airservices Australia can furnish me with three pages of pilot UFO reports alone, imagine what the Defence Department’s Directorate of Aviation and Air Force Safety (DDAAFS) databases may hold? What might the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s (ATSB) Accident and Incident Notifications files tell us? I would encourage other researchers out there to get acquainted, preferably sooner than later, with the current state of possible governmental UFO material, and attempt some correspondence with these agencies. The next “Halt Memo” may be sitting somewhere, and I don’t have to be the one to find it. 


  1. Well done Paul. Excellent FOIA research. I look forward to what your contacts elaborate in terms of the jargon used. NARCAP contacts may also be able to help. There are potentially a large number of pilot reports that don't make it into any system, mainly because of concerns about being stigmatised by employers, authorities etc. This in itself is so toxic as it prevents excellent reports being carefully analysed by appropriate authorities. In this era of all sorts of potential aerial threats a system that doesn't potentially penalise pilot UFO/UAS witnesses should be a given, not something that one needs to fight for.
    An example of an impressive pilot case that was deliberately kept out of "the system" out of concern for potential impacts was reported to me only because I had investigated a much earlier sighting he had and because media publicity about a series of "UFO photos" over suburban Sydney featured 2 "objects". The pilot 's sighting by coincidence involved 2 objects in the approximate area of the photo event. There the events part company in terms of similarities. I investigated the photo case and ultimately found it to be of limited value as a possible UFO photo case.

    Here are details of the pilot case. One wonders if any "contacts of interest" were generated around the same time 10 April 1994 around 11 am near Badgerys or Kemps Creek in suburban Sydney.

    – a pilots dramatic encounter in 1994 in suburban Sydney (investigated by Bill Chalker)

    Here is an an email from the pilot (with some editing):

    Hello Bill,

    I saw you this morning with Kerri-Anne (you are looking well). I met you 19 years ago when a friend and I reported a sighting at Picnic Point on 1 Dec 1991 (12:30am). Amazingly, you advised us at this time that we would probably see another incident in our lifetimes.

    Attached is a document where I have detailed an incident that occurred to me (and another friend), on 10 April 1994. For reasons I have noted below, I did not keep a record of this incident at the time.

    At the time of the incident, I was trying to obtain my private pilot licence. I copped some pretty severe ridicule from friends and acquaintances who I told of my earlier incident. So I did not report this second incident in case CASA found out about it and deemed me to be crazy. I eventually got my pilot licence in 1998 and the subject seems to be more acceptable these days.

  2. Part 2 from Bill Chalker:

    In any case the reason I have decided to let you know about this is because it occurred so close to the recent Chipping Norton report and also the two objects that I witnessed were flying very close to each other, similarly to the small objects in the right field of the photo.

    I was taking my first passenger on a flight into the Bankstown training (area). We departed Bankstown at about 10:30am. We had been flying for about 30 minutes (and we were at 2,000 feet) when (the passenger) advised me that she was feeling air sick and she wanted to return to the airport.

    We were headed in a northerly direction just south of the Warragamba to Prospect reservoir pipeline. We were approximately over Badgerys or Kemps Creek. As I began to descend to 1,500 feet (the approach altitude for Bankstown), to our right and just above us I saw two saucer shaped objects which were glowing brightly of sparkling gold. They were about 1.5 kms away.

    The objects followed our descent to 1,500 feet and during this time I noted that they were performing impossible aerial acrobatic manoeuvres. Firstly they were flying very close to each other, then on top of each other and then visa versa all within about 40cm. Each craft was between 2 to 3 meters across and about half a meter in depth.

    As we approached the pipeline, I began to turn to the east to follow it to the reservoir. Both objects turned with us and took a course directly in front of us at the same altitude.

    As I tried to halt our descent at 1,500 ft I found that the aircraft continued to descend. I applied full power in an attempt to arrest the fall. This put our revs into the red zone however our descent continued.

    Knowing that I could maintain these high revs for only 1 or 2 minutes, I thought that I was experiencing some kind of engine malfunction. I began looking around for a suitable place to perform an emergency landing.

    The two objects remained in front of us and continued their impossible manoeuvres.

    I asked (my passenger) ‘What are they’; she replied that she did not know.

    I then turned the radio to the ATIS weather for Bankstown to check if the wind had suddenly started to blow strongly from the east. I found this not to be the case.

    The objects were still there as I then turned the radio back to Bankstown tower frequency.

    When I looked up from the radio, the two objects had vanished. Simultaneously the engine began to over-rev and the aircraft immediately began to regain altitude. I pulled back the throttle.

    I asked (my passenger) if she saw where they went. She said that she thought that they had slowed, then descended and had passed underneath us.

  3. Part 3 from Bill Chalker

    We then proceeded to Bankstown where we made a normal approach and landing.

    I interviewed interviewed the pilot, examined his log and records, maps and other matters to detail this intriguing sighting.

    The incident powerfully suggests that whatever UFOs are, they represent a potential hazard to our aircraft, and for this reason alone (there are of course many other reasons) the UFO mystery should be taken seriously and should be investigated openly by science.

    The pilot would report another curious sighting of a strange cone shaped object seen from his Hurstville Sydney area home in daylight on 13 March 2011 for about three minutes from 6.58 pm. He was checking the operation of his front yard security camera system and was just checking to see if the camera lens was clean. As he was looking up at the lens he heard “a muffled noise similar to a high flying jet.” It was more “like a humming or vibrating noise and he began to think it was like a tree mulching machine but none were in the vicinity. He caught something in his periphal vision apparently flying over the backyard of his house. Although thinking initially it might have been a black garbage bag in the sky he began to study the thing more closely.

    What he saw upon more detailed and focused inspection was “a black cone shaped object, like a witches hat,” - “a black pyramid shaped object” - with “a round base,” with an apparent size of a small car. It appeared to pass by at about 2 to 3,000 feet (without out any framing reference it could have been lower) above and to the witness’s right at about the speed of a helicopter or light aircraft, travelling in a south westerly direction. No wings or helicopter blades were seen and there was no discernible exhaust or engine noise.

    He told me, “It then rotated in an anticlockwise direction and the sun shone on the right hand side … I saw the distinct shape of a triangular shaped right side. It had a scaly black surface. It then rotated back in a clockwise direction and I could see that the side closest to me (and in shade) was also a black triangle shape. It kept rotating clockwise and I then saw the front side of it, also a black triangle. It then rotated back in an anticlockwise direction (alternatively) as it proceeded along.”

    “I again wondered what the noise was and I took a quick look around to see if there were any other aircraft around but I could not see any. I then realized that the noise was fading as the object proceeded away from me. I concluded that it was coming from the object.”

    “I looked back at the object and continued to watch it for about 60 to 90 seconds and I saw it change course slightly towards the south, it was travelling between the roof of the road house (across the road) on my right and some trees that were on my left. The a pedestrian (walked by) distract(ing) me as he passed. When I looked back up I could not locate the object in the sky again. It was gone…. It was 7.01 pm.”

    Here is a credible witness, trained as a pilot, would impressed me as an excellent witness, who has had three unexplained UFO sightings – 1991, 1994 and 2011. He remains puzzled by each of his sightings, as I do, but most of all his frightening April 1994 aircraft remained the most confronting for him and the most striking for me.

    1. Hi, yes. Have you published this? I can't find it. As for COI's - any objects around Sydney, for example, can be seen from "Round Mountain" - RAAF Williamtown, where, incidently, the JORN Fusion Center and Air and Space Operations Center is for data combining 1RSU (JORN) and 3CRU data, plus incoming imaging downlinks from AWACS, etc. Anyway, the Round Mountain facility is a standard medium-long range primary radar, and if it is operating, then sure, a COI track file may have been created for the above incidents. Have you still got the contact of the pilot? Email his contact details to me if he is interested in the matters still?

  4. Hi Paul, Yes I did write this up in the same detail here, in the Australian magazine Ufologist, back in the Vol.14 No.1, May-June 2010 issue page 47 as one of the more positive things to have come out of the "The Chipping Norton Incident - a journey through the UFO theatre" as part of my UFO History Keys column and I also very briefly referred to it on my main blog back in April 2010 but that was mainly a reference to the main article and the issue As the pilot was concerned about fallout with any name disclosure I will revisit my archives and associated material and reinitiate contact with him. I suspect he may be concerned about drawing attention to the specific time and location for any "contacts of interest" but also he was keen to share the information for the purposes of research. At the time I drew his attention to the NARCAP site to show him that there was interest out there in documenting this important events if only for the sake of aviation safety. Richard Haines has been in contact with me seeking more detail. Just remember the pilot did not formally report the incident out of concern for possible repercussions on his developing flying career. I we recontact him and see what his position is on further documentation.