UFO FLAPS - A CONTEXT FOR SCIENTIFIC STUDY
Bill Chalker ©
One of the more frustrating aspects of the UFO phenomenon is its unpredictability. One of the mainstays of the scientific method is the repeatable experiment. In the case of an unpredictable and elusive phenomenon this is rather hard to organise. Occassionally UFO phenomena occurs in specific localities for an extended period. These are refered to as localised "flaps".
One of the potentially powerful tools available to researchers is determining the validity of so called "UFO flap" areas. Sometimes they are referred to as "UFO windows". Either way, specific areas for some reason become the focus of UFO activity either for limited intense waves of sightings, or they maintain an enduring legacy of UFO activity. UFO haunted locations in Australia, described in Bill Chalker's book, include St. George, Queensland and Kempsey, NSW. Numerous localities experience intense short lived waves, such as Tyringham-Dundurrabin, NSW, during 1973, Leitchville-Echuca, Victoria and Gisborne, New Zealand during 1977-78, and Cressy, Tasmania in 1960.
In a position statement in Ronald Story's Encyclopedia of UFOs (1980) Bill Chalker indicated: "Researchers documenting this elusive phenomenon have up until now relied largely on the sporadic testimony of random witnesses. I suggest that it would be legitimate and sound scientific method for researchers to become the hunters, to go out and seek the phenomenon as it is occurring. The best way to do that is to determine the reality of UFO flaps. The periodicity of flaps, and their propensity for seeking out particular localities, places in the hands of UFO researchers a potentially powerful weapon. "Localised flaps that are ongoing can bring UFO research under the scrutiny of direct experimentation, which can provide us with the repeatable phenomena that legitimate science accepts. Personal experience has shown that such research activity yields considerable data, and it is this sort of data that will thrust UFOs into the mainstream of scientific inquiry."
In the manuscript for his 1996 book, "The OZ Files", Bill Chalker wrote:
"A challenge exists for researchers to determine if there is something about these areas that makes them attractive for UFO sightings. If the factors can be determined then it provides researchers with a powerful means to predict localties that might be the focus of UFO "flaps". To date there has been mixed success. Sometimes researchers can be lucky and learn about a "flap" area as they are unfolding. This happened to me with Tyringham-Dundurrabin during 1973. Some researchers such as Paul Devereux and Albert Budden hypothesise different mechanisms as a source of UFO manifestations, thereby providing an opportunity for predicting "UFO" activity. For Devereux it is the concept of "earth energies" leading to the appearance of "earth lights" or UFOs. He has had some success in predicting so-called "places of power" and monitoring "earth light" activity. I have assisted Devereux in checking out possible Australian localities. Albert Budden has come up with his "el! ectroh ypersensitivity" hypothesis, which has enabled him to "explain" some UFO events in terms of a complex interaction between "sensitive" people and affected sites, be they electromagnetically polluted or naturally "charged" "places of power".
"In terms of Australian "flap" areas some correlations appear, but most are relatively uncompelling and full short of enabling us to predict confidentially the location of future flap areas. Extensive limestone, or specific geological factors seem to figure at Tyringham-Dundurrabin, and at Mount Sebastopol, in the Kempsey area. The "electrical connection" existed at Tyringham, with major feeder power-lines crossing the property. Isolated localties figure strongly, but obviously that is not a very compelling criteria. Research needs to continue in this area as the potential results could be very worthwhile."
The middle of 1973 and a remote locality between Armidale and Grafton called Tyringham - Dundurrabin provided Bill Chalker with an opportunity for a repeatable experiment. Locals started observing unusual light phenomena and other strange occurrences. Fortunately details about the situation were reported to the University of New England and thus came to Chalker's notice shortly after they began. Indeed he was eventually able to witness some of the range of apparently anomolous activity in the area, including unusual aerial lights and objects, and auditory phenomena. Bill Chalker was fortunate that the strange activity persisted for months and knowledge of it remained largely limited to locals and a few researchers. It was both an intriguing and bizarre time.
Bill Chalker describes one episode during this intriguing "flap":
"One of the most extraordinary nights for me personally in the Tyringham flap took place on August 23rd. At about midnight, from the Mollydale property house, I noticed a bright white light in the SSE same between trees. There were no observable scintillation effects, but at one point there appeared to be a weak beam of light
"At 12.15 am, a dull silvery object passed overhead, from about the SSE position of the previously observed light, to the SW where its trajectory, was obscured by trees. The object was not a bright light source and did not trail any sort of vapour. It appeared to be a consistent solid body, with a relative diameter at arms length of about 3/4 of an inch. It was inconsistent with a satellite and seemed to be moving quite a bit faster than "Skylab", which I had seen pass over on several occassions, from several different locations.
"A few minutes later while standing at the wire house gate, I experienced a very localised body of cold air about me. I stepped back 2 or 3 feet and was back into the warmer air I had been in. I was soon able to determine that this distinct body of cold air was of a quite definite and rigid confined volume. It had appeared quite suddenly, and after a few minutes dissapated very quickly. Being a little tired by this stage, I put this down to perhaps misperception or a physiological abberation, but at the time I felt my faculties were quite sharp. I retired soon after this at about 12.40 pm. Some 10 to 20 minutes after I had gone to sleep at the back of the house -
"Warwick's wife, Sandra had been a little sick at the time with flu, and early in the night she experienced some sort of dream impression, the likes of which she had never had before, even when the flap was at its height. She had never had any conscious inclination to have such a mental "impression". The "dream impression" occured at about the time I was outside (experiencing the cold column of air, and observing the light and the dull silvery object passing overhead), i.e., at about midnight. Sandra was half awake, feeling listless, when she "saw" distinctly the impression of a peopled transparent disc, observed in the "negative", in the "classical" edge-on position. Sandra estimated the disc to be about 10 feet in diameter. She had the impression of little structural material being involved in the object, and that the 2 or more occupants were apparently at work, comfortably inside the transparent disc. Sandra said she first "saw" the disc near the watertank (qu! ite cl ose to where I was at the time in reality). It followed the old fence line of the grass, travelling at about 10 feet above the ground, finally disappearing over the hills in the SSE. Sandra emphasised that the impression was quiet vivid, but thought there was little value in me being interested in her "dreams".
"At about 4 am, I was woken up by a constant droning noise, like a plane passing nearby at a low altitude,but with no attendant echo effects. Once again, as with the previous night the sound seemed to come from the direction of the well. Jill Gotmore also heard it. I could not determine the source of the strange auditory phenomenon. I told Warwick about it the morning without mentioning the time it had occurred. Warwick indicated that the electric clock had stopped again that night at about 3.20 am. He added that a little earlier during the night he had noticed that the house had vibrated perceptably during 2, 3 to 5 second intervals, while a low droning noise was heard.
"The value of this in-depth field study of an extended and confined flap of UFO sightings and other anomalous phenomena is self evident. It provided a situation in which a continued and dynamic study of UFO phenomena could take place. From a personal point of view it provided, in a sense, a "repeatable experiment" in that personal observations of UFO phenomena and experiences of anomalous phenomena occurred. A connection betwwen UFO activity and psychic phenomena was suggested by the nature of some of the perhaps unrelated events."