Sunday, 21 June 2015

U2 Spy Plane In "Unusual Incident"

One of the things that never ceases to stagger me about the UFO issue is the sheer quantity of governmental material that has been generated because of it. Its now been 70 years worth. For a subject that is, supposedly, mere fantasy, there seems to be no limit, no slowing down even, to the discovery of unseen, unappraised, once classified documentation pouring in from a growing assortment of sources. If one knows what they are looking for (which is half the battle) they can pretty much be sure to discover something that they, and no one else often, have ever seen before. This may sound baffling to a person who has never tried. The notion that so-called “UFO files” (a term that gets thrown around too loosely, too often) can be simply weeded out of official sources whenever one feels like it, seems implausible, right? Well, to my daily and nightly amazement, it’s not. I recently stumbled upon a couple of large databases of American military and intelligence publications at the site that have been wholly, or at least partially, declassified by their “originating agency”, or, more formally, their “Office of Primary Responsibility” (OPR). Now, for those interested, and most people sadly are not, any file created by any Directorate, Major Command, Field Agency, Fleet, Component or whatever, within any branch of the US Department of Defence (Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines), is “owned”, or “promulgated”, by that organisation, or its successors, for eternity; and, in the case of the lists I am going through now, we are spoilt for choice. There are hundreds of files from seemingly every major component of the whole US DoD represented. 

One I came across is a modestly laid out 9 page document which lists various important events and milestones of the US Air Force’s 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing for the year 1982. Titled “CHRONOLOGY 1982 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing”, the document is a loose tabulated list with dates on the left-hand side of the page, and events in the main middle-to-right-hand side. Typical entries include things like “5 Mar  The 9th and 100th Wings participated in a joint Short Sprint readiness exercise” and “16 April The Joint Chiefs of Staff decided to continue Operating Location – OF at Patrick AFB, Florida indefinitely”. Important stuff most would agree, no? What then do we make of this entry on page 7 which states:

“9 Oct   A detachment 4 U-2 on a higher headquarters mission experienced an unusual incident”.

What is meant by “unusual incident” is unclear. Such phrasing is usually a euphemism for an event that higher headquarters would prefer not to be known. How many options for this are there for a U-2 in flight? A mechanical issue would likely be stated as such. It is possible that the aircraft experienced a missile attack from the air or ground, again something likely to be stated as such in an internal document. Could there have been a UFO sighted, surely an unusual incident? UFO incidents have been known to be described in unit histories as "unusual incidents", not unlike this Chronology. Maybe someday this event will be better known. Below is an image of the page in question.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Another 500 Pages Of Unseen Australian Government UFO Files Unearthed

question for my readers.. What Australian federal government agency, other than the three armed branches of Department of Defence (DOD), or, the three air safety and/or transport regulation outfits, would be maintaining over 500 pages of hardcopy files related to the UFOs, or as I like to often say, the UAP (Unusual Aerial Phenomenon) riddle?? If you guessed the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) you’d be close, but I have tried them, and they drew a blank in their systems. If you guessed the Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO), well, that would be lovely, but I have barely even started on them yet, so I know nothing of what they may have. If you guessed the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), you’d be spot on; and I now have a bunch of information regarding their UFO files, in black-and-white, directly from their understaffed Freedom of Information (FOI) desk, as we shall see. 

Firstly though, back in early 2013, when trawling through the National Archives of Australia (NAA) using the RecordSearch database, I came across a BOM file titled “Observations - General By Outside Authorities (Includes UFO)”. Its date range was listed as 1972-1981. Immediately, I had the NAA staff examine this material and release it to me in hard copy. Indeed, it contained reports from the general public, and other records, related to UAP. For anyone who wants to go over this file using the NAA’s system, file series is PP956/1 and the control symbol is 45/38. The barcode is 1854167. More on that later.

On the 17th January, 2015, I sent the BOM a very reasonable FOI request which stated:        

I wish to submit a subsequent request under the Freedom of Information Act. I am seeking to obtain any files or other materials held by the BOM regarding the topic of “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” (UAP) and/or “Unidentified Flying Objects” (UFOs). Specifically, I am looking for files containing: 1) Copies of enquiries from members of the general public to the BOM relating to UAP and/or UFOs; 2) Further BOM correspondence with the members of the public relating to the UAP and/or UFOs; 3) Copies of any previously and/or currently used standard templates or standard letters in such correspondence; 4) Internal BOM policies or guidelines for responding to Ministerial enquiries on the UAP and/or UFO topic; 5) Any files relating to the UAP and/or UFO matter itself, such as actual UAP and/or UFO case reports made to the BOM; studies or investigations related to UAP and/or UFOs; correspondence with other government departments, embassies, etc related to UAP and/or UFOs.

I also went on to say that their agency had maintained such files previously, and I gave them actual details of such material, thus, potentially avoiding any misunderstandings regarding exactly what I thought they may have in their archives. The BOM’s FOI officer, Erin MacLatchy, rang me a week after my initial request to firstly clarify exactly what I was looking for, and secondly, to explain to me that she was inundated with difficult requests of late and that my enquiry would take some time to process. Fair enough. On the 4th of March I finally received a formal reply letter, known as a “Notice of Charges”, which also contains a official determination regarding if they have actually found anything to furnish me with. In this material, the BOM stated, amongst other things:

“The Bureau has undertaken a range of searches for documents, and is now in the process of decision-making. I have decided that you are liable to pay a charge pursuant to section 29 of the FOI Act in respect of a request for access to the documents that fall within your request. A copy of this section is provided with this letter.”

So,  this basically says that they found the sort of material I was asking for, and it is going to cost me a bit of money to have them released. That was the good news. Here is the bad news:

“My preliminary assessment of the charge is $1005.00. This is based on 27 hours of searching for the documents requested, and 30 hours for decision-making beyond the first 5 hours of decision-making time (which have been excluded from this assessment).

Over $1000 dollars? Not happening. Not on my watch. On the 11th of March, I appealed this fee on the grounds that it was by far the most expensive charge that I had ever encountered from an Australian government agency, including the complex encounters I have had with the Department of Defence, and, also, that the UFO topic was of public interest, because, you know, if one of these things slams into a packed airliner one day, then I think the average man on the street would be fairly concerned. Anyway, back comes the reply to my appeal on the 8th April 2015. In it, they clearly took my appeal efforts into account, however, those efforts resulted in merely this:

“Taking the above matters into account, I have decided to reduce the charges by 25 percent. Subject to my comments below, the total charge you are liable to pay is $753.75.”

I won’t detail what is involved in a second appeal, however, I will detail what was said on the phone when I rang the BOM FOI Desk officer two days later. The FOI staffer, Erin MacLatchy, explained to me that a hefty 500 pages of UFO-type files had been located, and the rest. She wasn’t able to say how many files made up this 500 pages worth of records exactly, or where they came from on a state-by-state basis, or the date ranges of found files, but, the mentioning of 500 pages was enough to put it all into perspective. See, if an FOI officer has to go through that much material to redact names, addresses, phone numbers, etc, and then color photocopy the whole lot, as well as handle administrative issues related to the FOI request, then, well, maybe a partially waived fee of $753.75 isn’t so unrealistic after all. So, instead of jumping in and spending a fortune, or, at the other end of the spectrum, throwing the towel in and forgetting it all, I decided to re-review the currently released BOM file that we do happen to have available: The very file I got released from the National Archives of Australia over 2 years ago.

As mentioned above, the old 1972-1981 BOM file which I got released in 2013, titled “Observations - General By Outside Authorities (Includes UFO)”, is held now physically by the NAA and available to all to review. It contains 297 pages of general public generated reports of meteorological phenomena, reports of apparent astronomical phenomena, reports of UFO/UAP activity, and various pieces of interagency and intra-agency correspondence.

The UFO/UAP events include:

1. A Mr G. Neads of Kelmscott, WA, took a picture in New Zealand about 1979. In the picture were bright circles of light. The Bureau passed the photograph to RAAF Base Pearce.

2. On the 14th Mar 1979 the BOM sent a letter to a G Hume of UFO Research Group, Perth. It said that the photograph you forwarded “...does not appear to show any object which could be recognised as part of a balloon train... I am not able to offer any alternative meteorological explanation of the object in the photograph.” The associated letter from PUFORG dated 28 Feb 1979 stated that the object was photographed at Ceduna, SA in Dec 1977. The photo is unfortunately not on file.

3. One the 27th May 1978, in Kings Rocks, Hyden, WA, at 2050hrs, apparently a dull orange object, low on the eastern horizon travelling north to south. It was described as faster than an aircraft, but slower than a meteor. No sound was heard, and the duration 1.5 to 2 minutes. It moved from north-east to south-south-west, above the clouds, and had a long orange tail. Furthermore, 3 or 4 weeks before, at dusk, a similar object was seen travelling in the opposite direction in the eastern sky.

4. A 16 Dec, 1976; 1225WST; Kalgoorlie meteorological office. M. Winterbourne saw an object travelling north-east to south-west. It passed south of overhead. It was white in colour, glowing, fuzzy at the edges and slightly pulsating. The shape was like a rugby ball, with an angular size of about half a degree. The duration of the sighting was some 10-12 seconds. Also, when at about 50 degree elevation in the south-west it seemed to stop for five seconds then dissolved in the same spot. On the same day at 1330WST Winterbourne received a telephone call from Dave Bower at the Scotia Mine, near Kalgoorlie reporting a “Strange object in the sky which was hardly moving. He gave me the bearings, but I failed to locate it at that time.” The same day at 1445WST Winterbourne saw the same object as at 1225hrs. This one flashed across the sky from east to west. It was lost to sight as it diminished in angular size apparently due to distance. The duration of this event was stated as being, similar to the earlier sighting, 12 seconds.

So, if these cases about are some of the “best” reports in the currently available BOM file, what are the chances that the 500 or so pages of unavailable BOM records would contain anything significantly “better”? At a price-tag of $753.75, I have, at least for the moment, decided to drop this one and spend my money on other various FOI requests that will be far more likely to yield more fruitful and usable results. Most likely, the currently unreleased, unsanitised 500 pages of BOM files would almost uniquely contain low level sightings and various unrelated reports of meteorological and astronomical oddities, just like the above BOM file at the NAA contains. Certainly, if anyone wishes to contribute to getting this bunch of unknown records released I would be open to sharing the cost I think; or, better still, a whole bunch of us could chip in and share the material. The other option is to merely bide time until the BOM records management area simply box up the files and truck them to the NAA for cataloguing and storage. It would be then that we should have the material released for all to see. 

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Investigation Report On The May, 2015 Blue Haven, 

NSW Case

By Keith Basterfield and Paul Dean - 31 May 2015

Its not an overwhelming tale, but, the following possible UFO case is worth a look nonetheless. On the 13th of May this year, a short report came to me via astronomer David Reneke. I contacted the witness by email, and he supplied the following information: 

“I am open minded, and like things explainable if you know what I mean, what I saw was strange and could not work it out, must have been some size for me to see it with the naked eye from a distance, I’m in Blue Haven. On the 11th of May, 2pm just above Wyee a town in NSW Central Coast, I was checking the mailbox, and saw a black/grey object, had no shape just look like a mass or round dark colour, wasn’t a plane or helicopter, and just hovering not moving, then a light flash, like sunlight on a window and it was gone, went inside to get the camera and binoculars but it was gone, no sign of anything, the weather was clear no clouds. Checked the web to see if anybody else had seen anything but could not find anything at all.”

In reply, I asked a number of questions, and received the following information; the Direction of UFO was stated as North; Angular elevation – 30-45 degrees; Any sound?  None; Angular size? – Jumbo plane size. General description – Blob. Round. Grey dark in colour. Duration of observation? – 2 minutes. And, other comments included: “Saw a flash, like the Sun hitting the window, then gone.” and “The flash was close to the electricity power lines …but over the lines…the flash was on the left hand side of the object looking north.” I decided to send this information to Keith Basterfield who went about putting some important data on the table for us to review. In short: Blue Haven is situated on the Central Coast of New South Wales at latitude 32.20 degrees south and longitude 151.48 degrees east. For the day in question, a check of the Bureau of Meteorology website revealed the two nearest stations were:

Station 061412 Lake Macquaries NSW 12.4 kms distant. Min temp 10.3 deg C; max temp 21.3 deg C. Rain 0.2mm. Max wind gust from the west at 65km/hr at 0611hrs. At 9am 18.3 deg C; 48% relative humidity; wind from WNW at 11km/hr, 1011.7 hpa. At 3pm 20.5 deg c; 41% relative humidity; wind from WNW at 20km/hr; 1011.0 hpa. No details of cloud coverage.

Station 061366 Norah head NSW 12.7km distance. Min temp 15.2 deg C;Max 21 deg C; 0mm rain; Max wind gust from the west at 48km/hr at 0706hrs. 9am 18.2 deg C; 49% relative humidity; wind from WNW at 11km/hr; 1010.9hpa. 3pm 20.1 deg C; 48% rh; wind from WNW at 17km/hr 1009.9hpa. No details of cloud coverage.

Keith contacted the the Gosford, Central Coast, Express Advocate. There were no mention of UFO reports. A letter to the editor was published in the newspaper, asking for additional witnesses to this event. No such witnesses contacted the us. A check was undertaken of the blog site for radio station 2GO, Gosford. There were no mention of any UFO reports around the 11 May 2015. There is a local UFO group run by Joann Kanda, at Tuggerah Lakes, close to the location of Blue Haven. Joann was unaware of this case, and knew of no similar reports from around 11 May 2015. Joann advised us that:

“...maybe six weeks ago I recall reading the neighbourhood watch fb page and chat site where there had been much discussion about large helicopters in that area and wanting to know what they were. Looked grey from a distance but black and white. Admin eventually intervened and said they were ausgrid helicopters.”

Following that, we wondered if there was any evidence that there was a helicopter in the area at the time? In fact there is: At 2.08pm on 11 May 2015, the Air Services Australia WebTrak website showed that secondary radar images recorded at Sydney International airport. Indeed there was a helicopter, heading north towards Blue Haven, at an altitude of 500 feet.

In looking at the case, we noted that:

1. Our Blue Haven witness stated that the object was “hovering.” Also that the object was close to the electricity power lines. Joann mentioned AusGrid helicopters in the area. AusGrid is a large electricity supply company. They use helicopters to patrol power lines.

2. Joann refers to the colour of the AusGrid helicopters being grey when seen from a distance. The Blue Haven witness says his object was grey, dark.

3. Helicopters do of course make noise. The witness however says there was no sound associated with his object. But hearing noise from a chopper depends on wind direction and distance from the witness.

4.  There was a helicopter in the general area at the time. 

5. However, our Sydney research associate contacted AusGrid in Newcastle, and was advised that “records do not show any helicopter patrols in the Wyee/Blue Haven area on 11th May.” This rules out an AusGrid helicopter as the cause of the Blue Haven sighting.

6. However, the behaviour of the object, i.e. “hovering” over the power lines is still suggestive of the possibility that the object might have been a helicopter. We have not been able to identify the helicopter shown on the WebTrak screen. We must, however, note that the witness stated that in his opinion, the object was neither a helicopter nor an aircraft.

7. Our Sydney research associate visited the area of Blue Haven; looked at the location of the power lines; and noted that the area is not on the usual aircraft routes into/out of Sydney. In his view, the object appears not to have been a helicopter or aircraft.  

So far, unless a fair bit of new information comes forward, based on the information available to us, we have not been able to conclusively ascertain the identity of the object seen at Blue Haven. I am hoping someone saw something, remembers something from that day. If so, feel free to email me on the email address listed above.