Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Significant Release Of Never-Before-Seen Australian Government UFO Policy.... 

And Get Excited.... Because Some Of It Is Still Classified 

Part 1   

After months of too’ing and fro’ing, I have successfully had the Australian Department of Defence (DOD) declassify and release never-before-seen UFO policy material, and a significant fraction of it is very interesting, to say the least.

But, first, I would like to do what researcher Bill Chalker calls “due diligence” and clarify a few things… Way back in 1984, The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) downgraded its investigative responsibilities in regards to UFO sightings. No longer did the RAAF’s Directorate of Air Force Intelligence (DAFI) base-level officers have to investigate all UFO sightings submitted by the general public. This wasn’t a huge blow, as RAAF officers were not compelled or trained to investigate properly anyway. However, continuing RAAF policy stated that any UFO sighting, or “Unusual Aerial Sighting” (UAS), which appeared to show a defence or security threat would still be investigated. A Department of Defence press release on 2nd May, 1984 stated, in part:

“The RAAF in future will investigate fully only those Unusual Aerial Sightings (UAS) which suggest a defence or national security implication. The Minister for Defence, Mr Gordon Scholes, said today that while the RAAF would continue to be the first point of contact, UAS reports not considered to have a defence or security implication would not be further investigated.”

Fast forward 10 years, to 1994, and the RAAF’s UAS Policy was downgraded further, to virtually nothing. “Enclosure 1 to Air Force file AF 84 3508 Pt 1 – RAAF POLICY: UNUSUAL AERIAL SIGHTINGS” clearly laid out, once and for all, that the RAAF would not accept or investigate any reports of UFOs events. On January 4th, 1994, RAAF Wing Commander (later Group Captain) Brett Biddington stated, on behalf of the Chief of Staff, Air:

“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.”

I have always wondered about this “scientific record”? Likewise, I have often been puzzled why more isn’t known about this period of dying RAAF involvement with UAS. In November, 2013 I asked RAAF officer Group Captain Brett Biddington (ret) about this interesting period. The results of that short interview can be seen on Keith Basterfield’s blog site here:

But what about an official paper trail? The DOD doesn’t conclude a policy without some sort of administrative action and tasking. There is always paperwork. On the 23erd September, 2015 I submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for:

“copies of any and all material that was created or used to draft this policy conclusion… …including any briefs; draft copies; memoranda; minutes of meetings; references to secondary material used in decision making processes; loose minutes; interagency correspondence; etc.”

On the 21st of December, 2015, I received a 42 page PDF from the Defence FOI desk which certainly contains a never-before-seen administrative records from 1993 that helped formulate the RAAF’s shift away from any UFO investigation. The first item of interest is a facsimile transmission, dated 26th August, 1993, from Wg. Cdr. Brett Biddington at the Directorate of Air Force Policy, Intelligence, Russell Offices, Canberra to either Sqd. Ldr. Wright or Mr Barnett, RAAF Intelligence Office, Melbourne. The “SUBJECT” of the transmission is a handwritten note stating “Draft UAS Policy”. Immediately below is a section called “INSTRUCTIONS/MESSAGE”, under which this brief note is made:

“Chris, Draft UAS policy + background info as discussed. Hope this helps as an interim measure. I sense no real problem exists in A block  –  minor  changes only are expected, Regards….”

Below is an image of this transmission.

Enclosed with this facsimile is Wg. Cdr. Biddington’s first, lengthy drafting of background information and suggestions which would soon morph into the minimalist 1994 UAS Policy. The first surprise is the security classification stamped top and bottom of every page. Traditionally, Australia’s Defence community assigned one of five levels of sensitivity to records: UNCLASSIFIED, CONFIDENTIAL, RESTRICTED, SECRET and TOP SECRET. The material presented here is stamped SECRET which is, despite what people think, actually very rare for Australian UFO records. And, as we shall see, some of this release still remains SECRET, or, rather, has been redacted, even now in 2015! Still, most of Wg. Cdr. Biddington’s efforts have been released. I will present each page, and focus on some quite notable highlights. It should be noted that each paragraph starts off with a letter indicating what security classification was assigned to that particular section. (U) indicates it is UNCLASSIFIED, (C) indicates CONFIDENTIAL, (R) indicates RESTRICTED and (S) indicates SECRET. Page 1 begins with a paragraph of administrative and clerical text, which gives way to a more interesting second paragraph, which was formally classified CONFIDENTIAL:

“2. (C) The nub of current policy is that RAAF only investigates UAS deemed to have defence or national security significance (whatever that means). I do not know when the RAAF last conducted a thorough UAS investigation. It was probably in 1983 when I was involved with the sightings in the Bendigo area and, in a separate incident, when Mirages and F-111s were brought to high states of alert because of level Mach 3 paint on the Sydney radar. These were the incidents that caused former policy to be reviewed and the current policy to be determined.”

Paragraph 3, which was classified RESTRICTED, states:

“3. (R)  There remains significant interest in the community in UAS and the potential exists for the RAAF to be accused of:

a.         withholding documents about particular sightings incidences, or

b.         neglecting our national security obligations by not taking these matters seriously.”

At the very bottom of the page, paragraph 4, which was classified SECRET, is where things get really interesting. In fact, we can only see half the text in this paragraph, both on this page and onto the next, because the DOD has redacted (blacked-out) it under Section 47E of the FOI Act! More on this later. Here is the text we can read. X X X X X’s signify such missing text:

“4.  (S)  In the past, responsibility for UAS has allowed X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X

Below is the page in question.

 The next page of Brett Biddington’s draft material continues in this rather extraordinary manner:

“X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X The most recent example known to me occurred in the late 1970s/early 80s when a RAAF SQDLDR was dispatched at short notice to central Queensland X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X 

How fascinating. A full four lines of text are redacted. I will look at what the contents of this hidden material may be in due course. Continuing on, paragraphs 5 and 6, which mention the vanishing of pilot Frederick Valentich, raises a curious point about a logistical benefits of official study of UAS:

“5.  (U)  At a more mundane level, the UAS mechanism has provided information about missing and crashed aircraft. The disappearance of the pilot Valentich into Bass Straight (flying a Cessna) is a case in point.”

“6.   (R)  For these reasons I do not think the RAAF can or should completely abrogate its responsibilities regarding UAS.”

Paragraph 7, classified SECRET, is very cryptic and may warrant much further study:

“7.   (S)  I think that an extra-terrestrial threat to Australian security is not likely to develop without some foreknowledge from astronomical and other surveillance systems.  X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X The means by which such searches might be conducted are numerous and will vary with particular circumstances.”

Paragraph 8, UNCLASSIFIED, reads:

“8.   (U)  RAAF resources available to handle UAS reports and investigations are going to become increasingly limited. Policy and procedures need to reflect this reality whilst preserving our essential interests. Reference to the Project Blue Book study of the 1950’s and 60’s is no longer considered relevant or necessary.”

Beyond this, a whole new section, titled “Suggested Policy”, begins:

“9.   (U)  Suggested policy is:

The RAAF is that part of the Department of Defence that is formally responsible for handling UAS at the official level. Careful 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 understand or 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 should be referred to a civil UFO research organisation in the first instance. Known organisations are listed at Annex A to this policy.”

The page ends there. The image is below.

Continuing on with the “Suggested Policy” section, the next page reads:

“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. Developments in procedures, communications and surveillance technologies are such that these sorts of events are considered unlikely to occur without there being some indication to appropriate areas in Defence and to other civil authorities.

Where members of the community feel they may have witnessed an event of this type ie of human origin, they are encouraged to contact local authorities such as the police or else civil and military aviation authorities, including the RAAF.

The RAAF has accumulated a series of UAS reports dating back to the 1960s. The records that still exist are located centrally in Air Force Office (AFPOL INT). These may be accessed by researchers subject to them agreeing to respect the privacy of individuals who made the reports.”

Beyond this, another section begins. Titled “Policy Implementation” and spread over two paragraphs, it reads:

“10.   (U)   The suggested strategy for implementing this policy is:

a.       approve policy at appropriate level (DCAS?);

b.         centralise all extant sighting records in AFO (AFPOL INT);

c.         write to UFO organisations, notifying them of the change; and

d.         prepare and promulgate a press release outlining the new arrangements.

11. (U) A longer term task will be to place all sighting records in the Australian Archives at which point the final paragraph of the proposed policy will require change. The privacy implications of placing the records in the Archives will need to be understood before this occurs.”

At the end of this page, the second last section of the draft ensures. Titled “Conclusion” and classified RESTRICTED, it reads:

“12.  (R) UAS matters can lead quickly to adverse publicity. It's a ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ situation. The mere announcement of a change in policy is likely to provoke some (limited) reaction. Carefully managed this can be minimised at the same time that essential, enduring interests are protected.”

Below is the page.

Finally, the last page of Brett Biddington’s draft contains the inevitable “Recommendation” section. Oddly, there may be a typing error here, as he numbers it “12” when it should be, judging by the numbering of paragraphs on the previous page, numbered “13”. Whatever the format, it merely states:

“12.  (U)  It is recommended that:

a.         the new policy as stated above (para 9) be endorsed, and

b.         the implementation strategy (para 10) be endorsed.

B. Biddington
EXT  52422
            Aug 93

This scant page is imaged below.

Note on the above last page there is also the listing of an annex titled “Current UAS policy, dated Arp 84” which of course refers to what was then the current UAS policy apparently in need of the complete overhaul that Biddington was prescribing. We’ve seen some of the 1984 UAS material, so I will discuss it only briefly, and further along. For now, what of the above material? The security classification level gave me degree of surprise, but I take the common sense angle: In any lengthy DOD publication, some paragraphs will be classified differently than others, and, indeed, the above material ranged from UNCLASSIFIED to SECRET. But, overall, the publication in its entirety has to be classified at the level of the highest classified paragraph. I have seen bulky US Air Force squadron histories classified SECRET merely because a few lines were classified at that level; but in reality the vast majority of the publication does not warrant this level of restriction. In the case of Brett Biddington’s draft UAS material, it is expected that any such Directorate of Air Force Policy, especially coming out of the Intelligence section, or “AFPOL3”, would have some sensitivities.

That is, if we still lived in 1993….

The redactions that we are interested in here were done under Section 47E of the FOI Act. In one section of the DOD’s final letter to me, it was stated that:

“…disclosure of the information under section 47E would prejudice Defence’s ability to obtain similar information in the future and would compromise the ability of the RAAF to complete its mandated role, namely defending Australia and its national interests from the air.”

Moreover, another paragraph stated, in regards to the person making the final decision about the documents being redacted:

“GPCAPT Wallis is satisfied that the expected effect of disclosing to you material identified exempt under section 47E(d) could have a substantial adverse effect on the proper and efficient conduct of the operations of Defence, in that once the information was made publically available it could divulge areas of capability interest.”

So what do we think they may say under that black ink?

Take a look at parapgraph 4, which, again, states:

“4.  (S)  In the past, responsibility for UAS has allowed X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X The most recent example known to me occurred in the late 1970s/early 80s when a RAAF SQDLDR was dispatched at short notice to central Queensland X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X

This tells me that the RAAF has been able to use civilian UAS reporting to find, or attempt to find, manmade space junk that has re-entered and crash landed – something absolutely inevitable in a nation large as Australia. Various US Air Force collection memoranda and policy justifications have stated that downed space junk, especially of Soviet or otherwise Eastern Bloc origins are of considerable value. A November, 1961 USAF HQ Intelligence memoranda laid out that crashed space junk was considered “items of great technical intelligence interest” and that some of the duties of specialised intelligence teams were to “expeditiously retrieve downed Soviet Bloc equipment”. The text in our Biddington draft document mentions a RAAF officer having to dispatch to central Queensland, and I presume it is regarding one of the numerous instances when spherical cryogenic fuel containers came down there. There is a possibility the redacted text is referring to something more exciting, like an incident we have no idea about, or an especially large or technically noteworthy piece of space hardware.

A look again at another section of the document that has significant redaction:

“7.   (S)  I think that an extra-terrestrial threat to Australian security is not likely to develop without some foreknowledge from astronomical and other surveillance systems.  X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X The means by which such searches might be conducted are numerous and will vary with particular circumstances.”

I believe this may refer to Australia’s ability to engage in long-range surveillance – either simply atmospheric, or out into space. The RAAF’s Jindalee Over-the-Horizon Radar Network (JORN) was, at the time of this policy change, being developed and, interestingly, Brett Biddington was involved in the implementation of the huge JORN program. It is quite possible that the above redacted material relates to detection of unearthly craft, on the very off chance they should come! If not JORN, then maybe the blacked-out text refers to Australia’s use of US space tracking systems? Or novel height finding radars quietly in use by our armed forces?

So far, I have only had this FOI release in front of me for two days. I am continuing to study it, and, at 42 pages, there is much more yet here. In Part 2 of this series I will focus on the final copy of Brett Biddington’s material, and some other oddities in the release. This is a somewhat major piece of history – that is if you are interested in the official handling of the UFO issue by Australia’s government. Finally, I mentioned above that the draft document contained an annex titled “Current UAS policy, dated Arp 84”. To build or downsize a current policy, the official doing the work must have to hand that paperwork, and, though we have seen much of the earlier 1984 material before, I think it worth a quick look. After the heading RAAF POLICY ON UNUSUAL AERIAL SIGHTINGS (UAS), the text goes like this:

“1.       Project Blue Book conducted by the USAF between 1953-65 resulted in the ‘Condon Report’ which was published in 1968. The report concluded that, ‘nothing has come from the study of UFO's in the past 21 years that has added to scientific knowledge. Careful consideration of the record as it is available to us, leads us to conclude that further extensive study of UFO's probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby’. Experience in the RAAF since the early 1950's supports the Condon Report conclusion.

2.         The RAAF accepts reports on UAS and attempts an allocation of reliability. Those which suggest a defence or security implication are further investigated and a probable cause determined. Air Force Office (DAFIS) is to assess the report after Command investigation. Reports considered not to have defence or security implications are not investigated further, are filed at Formation Headquarters and reference to civil UFO research organizations may be offered to the observer.”

Below is this page.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Found Or Forgotten? Not So Fast

Recently I published a blog post titled “Found Or Forgotten? An Impressive UFO Case File From The CIA, And A Little Help From A New Friend”, which can be found here:


In it, I eluded to the possibility that I had discovered a UFO case report that had been only recently declassified, or, otherwise unseen by researchers. I also stated that the only substantial reference to the case I could find was in Loren E. Gross’s outstanding series “UFOs: A HISTORY”. However, this time I have been incorrect. Researcher Brad Sparks pointed to a range of other outlets that have detailed this case, including further copies of the actual documents I “discovered”. This is UFO research at its best. It we aren’t pulling each other up for things, we aren’t doing our jobs.

Firstly, this case material was in fact released in 1978 when Ground Saucer Watch (GSW) successfully compelled the CIA to release over 900 pages of UFO records after somewhat drawn-out Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and a law suit. Secondly, copies of the CIA file that I highlighted can be found in the USAF’s Project Blue Book case files, and, unlike the CIA version, they are not redacted! Also, the case and documentation appears in Carl Feindt’s Water UFO Catalog. Don Ledger sent him the CIA released copy and Feindt retyped what he could read of it. It should be noted that the redacted sections in the CIA version, now in full view, contain the names of those involved, as well as security warnings, reliability of information grading’s, and other administrative jargon. Probably the most important item now fully readable  is where – in the CIA version – it is stated “Officers...........who reported the following observations at 10:00 am EDT on 4 Aug 50 at 39° 35’ North, 72° 24 ½ West” in fact reads fully “Officers of M-V ‘Marcala’, owned by the Savannah Steamship Company, Jacksonville, Florida who reported the following observations at 10:00 am EDT on 4 Aug 50 at 39° 35’ North, 72° 24 ½ West”. Below are copies of the full documents, found in Project Blue Book files.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Found Or Forgotten? An Impressive UFO Case File From The CIA, And A Little Help From A New Friend  

Note: This post has been amended, and can be found here:

America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has a long history of involvement in the UFO matter. By the 1970’s researchers already knew that they had a large body of internal records, including raw intelligence information reports, discussion papers, foreign press items, etc. In 1978 UFO research group Ground Saucer Watch (GSW) successfully forced the CIA to release some 900 pages of UFO records after lengthy Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. But was this all the CIA had? Researcher Brad Sparks ascertained that 200 more documents were directly referenced in those 900 pages, but suspiciously not included in the 1978 release. More documents of CIA origin have been released since 1978, but their contents are usually of low level significance. Of late, I have been spending some time using the CIA’s electronic search engine known as “CIA Records Search Tool”, or “CREST” and recently I discovered a hitherto classified and unseen CIA record related to the infamous and still unsolved 1975 “over flights” which intruded on myriad nuclear-armed bases across the USA. That work can be viewed here:

But how many more records does the CIA have yet unreleased? And how many more are released but as yet unseen by researchers? I may have found another example of one such record – and a very early example at that –  which means that unnoticed CIA records are not so rare after all. What is rare, however, is getting any enthusiastic and competent help with projects like this, especially when that help comes from a Scottish girl who – if you can believe this – is just 17 years old. Glasgow based UFO researcher Lara Elliott, who has already aided Fran Ridge’s exemplary NICAP case chronology listings, studies the “core” UFO phenomenon, and thankfully hasn’t been sucked into the puerile theater of UFO “entertainment”. 

But I digress. The newly found CIA record seems to be a copy of information supplied to them by US Air Force Intelligence. Loren E. Gross has highlighted the case in Volume 7 of his outstanding “UFOs: A HISTORY” series. I haven’t seen the Air Force material, but the CIA record I found is a 4th August, 1950 case report from the Atlantic Ocean. The first page is headed “CENTRAL INTELIGENCE AGENCY” with “INFORMATION REPORT” underneath. The subject is “Unidentified Airborne Object”. “At Sea – North Atlantic” is the location. Interestingly, a huge area of text at the top of this first page is blacked out, or, redacted. Next to that sea of ink is the familiar phrase “THIS IS UNEVALUATED INFORMATION”. Listed next to the word “SOURCE” is “Officers…”, then the names and other details are blacked out. Finally, “…..who reported the following observations at 10:00 am EDT on 4 Aug 50 at 39° 35’ North, 72° 24 ½ West”. Below is an image of this page, with a transcript typed out underneath for clarity.

For easy reading, the above page, with XXX representing redacted text, reads:


1.On 4 Aug 50 at 10 am my ship, while on a heading of 2450 true, with a smooth sea and clear weather, visibility 14 miles, barometer reading 30.03, was underway from Walton, Nova Scotia, to an East Coast US port. I was in the chart room just aft the bridge when Third Mate, who was at mid-bridge checking the compass, shouted that there was a  flying object off the starboard bow. I immediately ascended the conning tower and by this time the object was on our starboard beam. It was travelling on a reciprocal course to ours about 50 or 100 feet above the water at an estimated speed of over 25 mph. From the conning tower i observed it with my binoculars for a period of approximately a minute and a half when it disappeared into the horizon in a north-easterly direction. I would estimate that the closest it approached my ship was one thousand feet and it was an ovular cylindrical shaped object the like of which i have never seen before. The object was quite small and I would judge that its diameter was approximately 10 feet. It had a depth but to what extent I was unable to observe. The object made no noise and as it passed abeam our ship it appeared to pick up considerable speed. It was not flying smoothly but impressed me as having a churning or rotary motion. It had a shiny aluminium colour and sparkled in the sunlight.


2. I was on the main deck, port side, just forward of the bridge when the Third Mate shouted there was an object on our starboard bow. I looked off to the starboard and saw an object elliptic shape looking like half an egg cut lengthwise travelling at a great rate of speed on a course reciprocal to our own. I immediately ran out to the stern, port side, and with my glasses was able to observe the object disappearing into the horizon. From the time I was first alerted to its presence until it disappeared for site, 15 seconds elapsed. I believe that it was travelling at a tremendous rate of speed, probably faster than 500 mph. During the time I saw it, it was approximately 70 feet off the water and i judge it was approximately 10 miles away. I clearly saw its shadow on the water. I last observed it off the starboard quarter and it seemed to be increasing its speed and ascending. It had an elliptic shape and I could clearly see that it had three dimensions. It wobbled in the air, made no noise, and was a metallic white in colour. The length was approximately six times the breadth and its belly had a depth of possibly 5’.

How interesting. The second page of this case report is imaged below.

Again, For clarity, the above page reads:


3. At 10:00 am on 4 Aug 50 as I was checking the compass at mid-bridge through a bridge port hole, I observed a flying object off the starboard bow. I immediately shouted to the Captain, who was in the chart room, and the Chief Mate, who was below on the port deck, of my observation and went out onto the flying bridge myself. The object was approximately 70’ above the horizon at a distance of 12 miles. It came toward us, then ran on a course reciprocal to our and turned off into the horizon in the northeast. I clearly saw its shadow on the water. Its impression of the object was that it was elliptical, not unlike a Japanese diamond box kite in shape. I have no idea of its size but length was ix times the breadth and it had a depth of from two to five feet. It made no noise and was travelling at a tremendous rate of speed. As it traveled through the air it made a spinning or wobbly motion. After it disappeared in the horizon, I saw it reappeared several seconds later, ascending at even faster speed than when I first observed it. I have no idea what this object was, I never saw anything comparable to it before, and it was one of the most frightening experiences I have ever had. I roughly estimate that the object travelled 28 miles during the 15 seconds I had it under observation.

Collector’s Note: The Chief and Third Mates were interviewed on 8 August by two Intelligence Officers. The Captain who was absent at that time, was interviewed on 9 August by only one of the two Intelligence Officers. In describing the occurrences, the Chief and Third Mate reenacted their behaviour at the time of sighting, and the period from the time the Chief Mate saw the object abeam until he reached the after deck and saw it disappear off the starboard quarter was timed at 15 seconds. In laying the angles of observation out on a chart and assuming the object was ten miles distant and taking the time into account, it is evident it was certainly travelling at a very high rate of speed, which approximated 400 to 500 miles per hour. It will be noted that there is a tremendous discrepancy between the Captains estimate of speed and the estimate of the two officers which could not be explained as they were very careful in making their statements and asserted that their observations had been correct. All three men were quite evidently very much upset by the sighting. Aside from the discrepancies, it was quite evident to the Intelligence Officers who interviewed these men that they had certainly seen some conventional type of aircraft. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Obviously this, by anyone’s measure, is a UFO case. It’s the usual story: qualified witnesses, classically unfamiliar visual description and performance, and indisputable CIA paperwork regarding the event. As stated, Loren E. Gross has detailed the same case, and provides very similar information. Starting on page 4, that work can be found here:


Furthermore, the above example demonstrates that the CIA has more records in various states of availability. How many more, and probably more importantly, what the significance of such records will be, is anyone’s guess. As for Scottish researcher Lara Elliott, I wish to thank her for transcribing the above document for this blog post. As far as I am aware, she is the only very young person in the field who wishes to contribute to the serious side of UFO research. Without new and young people, we are somewhat doomed. Lara’s level-headedness is exemplified at Fran Ridge’s gigantic archive – one of the best in existence – here:


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

The Australian "Fireball" Wave of 1902 

Normally I wouldn’t do a blog post on ball-lightening and the like. But when dozens of cases, according to old newspaper articles, occurred in an three or four week period across southern and eastern Australia – some resulting in severe injury and considerable property damage, and some occurring at high noon – I take a bit more notice. Recently, I, plus long-time Adelaide based researcher Keith Basterfield and American researcher Barry Greenwood, have been loitering on the huge digitised newspaper section of “Trove”. Maintained by The National Library of Australia (NLA), Trove is an online library “database aggregator” and “free faceted-search engine”. For UFO researchers, the digitised newspaper zone is invaluable. It already contains more than 100 million newspaper articles, documenting more than 150 years of Australian history. Recently, Keith and I published some new findings:



However, aside from just seemingly “classic” UFO events, Australia’s digitised newspapers contain something stranger still. From mid-November to late December, 1902, Australia’s southern and eastern states were the scene of widespread and focused aerial phenomenon that hardly fits into any category. An explosive outburst – literally – of ball lighting, or “globular lighting”, plus maybe far more complex, electrically charged atmospheric activity, plus traditional “fireballs” of the meteoric type, is one of the oddest manifestations of  pre-Arnold aerial peculiarity I have seen in a while. Interestingly, experts of the day were, in fact, already clearly likening the reports to what we now term ball lightning, which was then very controversial.

Barry Greenwood, author of the game-changing UFO blockbuster Clear Intent, very kindly supplied me with dozens of Trove-sourced newspaper clippings on these events, rather than me go and find them all from scratch. Time is precious, and many hands make light work. Some of those clippings are imaged further on in this post. I asked Barry for his thoughts:

“Given that it was scientists were making the statements, this made the events that bit more extraordinary. With reports of meteors tossed into the mix, not necessarily part of the meteorological oddities, fireballs were the talk of the time. It seems like it was one of the greatest ball lightning outbursts ever, seemingly unique to Australia if you will check fireball reports there in other times.”

Unique indeed… But what do the articles of the time say exactly? And what can we deduce from these reports? In the Melbourne Leader, November 22, 1902, readers were greeted with this the headline “FIREBALLS IN AUSTRALIA”, and “PROFESSOR GREGORY’S OPINION” underneath. The article reads:

Professor Gregory, of Melbourne University, was asked for his views on the cablegram indicating that Sir Norman Lockyer, of South Kensington, believed that the fire balls seen in Australia last week were of volcanic origin. “Sir Norman Lockyer,” replied the professor, “is one of the most eminent of living authorities on atmospheric electricity, and his opinion, therefore, is of the greatest weight. I do not for one moment think, however, that he intended, to convey the opinion that the fireballs seen in Australia were of volcanic origin. What he no doubt meant to say, was that the fireballs seen at Mont Pelee and at La Souffriere were of the same nature as those seen in Australia though produced by different causes. The fireballs produced by volcanic action were the result of dust being driven through the air with such force as to cause friction between the particles; the friction producing electricity, and the electricity expressing itself in globular form. The fireballs which were observed during the great dust storm of last week were produced by the same mechanical action, with the exception that it was not volcanic but cyclonic, energy that set the dust in motion. There was no doubt a good deal of organic matter in the dust which found its way into Melbourne, and that of course would readily take fire.”

Some newspapers made it a regular feature titled “THE METEOROLOGICAL DISTURBANCES”. Under this banner, the Sydney Daily Telegraph, 14th November, carried the headline “FIRE-BALLS IN VICTORIA” and  sub-headlines “SOME REMABKABLE PHENOMENA” and “SCIENCE AT FAULT”. The article contains the comments from a Mr. Russell, a “government astronomer”, and reads:

“Now seriously Mr. Russell, what about these fire-balls in Victoria?”   The government astronomer however had no idea of treating the question flippantly.
“Have you ever been to sea?” he retorted.  
“Then you’ve probably heard of what sailors call St. Elmo Fire. It’s exactly the same kind of thing they seem to have had in Victoria.”  Now, St. Elmo Fire, though it belongs to the traditions of the sea, is witnessed about once in 10 lifetimes.
But Mr. Russell feels impelled to believe in these fire balls from Victoria. A strong wind ‘passing over a parched country would naturally create curious electrical disturbances – “pockets” of electricity which would travel in irresponsible directions, and burst somewhere in the vicinity of a prominent chimney stack or church steeple. They would always seek the nearest point. There are some remarkable instances on record of these erratic electric balls, but science is at a dead loss to account for them. Francois Arago, the “daddy” of meteorologists in all the ages, says: – “Globular lightning of which I have cited so many examples, and which are so remarkable, first for the slowness and uncertainty of their movements, and next for the extent of damage they occasion in exploding, appear to me to be at present one of the most in explicable problems within the range of physics. These balls or globes of fire seem to be agglomerations of ponderable substances, strongly impregnated with matter of lightning. How are such agglomerations formed? In what region are they produced? What is their nature? Why do they sometimes pass over in their course, and are afterwards precipitated with great rapidity, etc? To all these questions science returns no answer.” But because science cannot explain the phenomena, scientists do not utterly disregard evidence of fact. Arago himself relates many remarkable instances which have been vouched for by reliable witnesses.

Some of the articles deal with phenomena of clearly celestial and meteoric nature, but even some of these are oddities. The Hobart Mercury, December 1st, carried a small article which reads:

ALBURY, November 23.  At an early hour yesterday morning members of the police force on duty observed a fire ball in the western sky. The phenomenon was of startling brilliancy, illuminating the sky with almost daylight clearness. It proceeded slowly and then appeared to part in two, one portion falling towards the earth and the other becoming lost in space. The light emitted was of a pale greenish color, and of blinding brilliancy.

I’d like to find someone – at atmospheric physicist I suppose – who may shed some light on all this. Can a “wave” of intense, near-nationwide ball-lightening and plasma occur? Over 4 or 5 weeks? Often in the middle of the day? Barry and I are still finding more of these articles. There may be hundreds. I would challenge others to give it a go. Below are what we have so far.