Australian UFO Researcher
Bill Chalker


Bill Chalker
(Copyright © B. Chalker - 1996)

The author is a leading Australian UFO researcher and a contributing editor to the International UFO Reporter. An industrial chemist with an honours science degree from the University of New England he has worked in quality assurance and laboratory management. His book, The OZ Files - the Australian UFO Story, was published in 1996. He coordinates the NSW based UFO Investigation Centre (UFOIC) and can be contacted at:

P.O. Box 42,
West Pennant Hills,
NSW, 2125
Telephone: (02) 9484 4680

*Sub Rosa: refers to "under the rose", meaning "in secret".


A Department of Air minute paper, dated February, 1966, revealed that there were "no written responsibilities for (RAAF) Operational Command in the UFO field." It indicated that the minute writer (Squadron Leader ____ AI-2) had "reviewed the current 'Ad Hoc' system in the practice of processing U.F.O reports and with 'minor criticisms', found that it appeared "to be working satisfactorily, entailing the minimum of work by this Directorate [i.e. Directorate of Air Force Intelligence - DAFI - B.C.].'" After much discussion a DAFI directive was issued to both Commands (Operational and Support Commands - B.C) in March, 1966. Group Captain I.S. Podger (for the Chief of the Air Staff), wrote in it:

The main purpose of the investigation of any UFO is to establish whether or not the subject of the report poses a threat to the security of Australia. The identification of the cause of the UFO report and its classifications as aircraft, balloon, missile, astronomical body or phenomena etc, is of minor importance and mainly for the benefit of members of the public whose interest may have been aroused by the report.

The directive also specified:

No attempts should be made to answer public enquiries at unit or command level. Requests by members of the public for information on UFOs in Australia and for the RAAF assessment of their origin etc should be referred to the Department of Air where they will be dealt with by the Directorate of Public Relations.

It was not long before a conflict arouse between the Directorates of Air Force Intelligence and Public Relations. It came to a head with the director of the Directorate of Public Relations (DPR) forward a detailed minute paper to DAFI, dated 16th August, 1966. It was entitled UFOs - RAAF HANDLING OF PROBLEM. The conflict was over whether "the distribution to interested members of the public of the `Summary of Unidentified Aerial Sightings Reported to Department of Air from 1960'" was to cease.  

The Directorate of Air Force Intelligence (DAFI) was "keen to soft-pedal the UFO business" and gave "the reason for this cessation (as) the undesireability of wetting the interest of the public in UFOs."

DPR's reaction was terse and to the point: The `Summary' grew out of a requirement for certain statistical UFO information to provide material for a ministerial reply to a parliamentary question."

DPR willingly undertook to draft an answer for the Minister (a task which entailed folio-for-folio research through some four or five parts of the relevant file), because it felt that the otherwise burdensome task had some distinct side-benefit, namely, the collation of an unclassified and innocuous summary of UFO 'sightings' in Australia for the past five years.

DPR envisaged the day when it would be able to reply to all public UFO enquiries by the mere despatch of the 'summary' covered, if thought necessary, by a letter in which we explain that we are not prepared to engage in any subsequent disputation (i.e. take our 'Summary' or leave; we have told you all we know).

In order to keep this 'Summary' current, D/DAFI (Ops) was good enough to agree to provide DPR with the basic information which DPR would expect to have been security cleared for general release before adding the information to the 'Summary'.

The DPR director made, "a plea to remove the present restriction on the sharing of our unclassified UFO information with the public...."

The DPR director said, "In summary: by continuing with the old policy of playing our UFO cards close to the chest, we only foster the incorrect (but nevertheless widely held) belief that we have much vital information to hide. On the other hand, by maintaining a current `Summary' (which DPR is prepared to do, with your continued help) we dispose in one blow, of the UFO enthusiasts belief that:

(a) He is not being taken into the RAAF's confidence; and

(b) The RAAF is desperately determined to suppress UFO information to prevent national panic...

The Director of Public Relations concluded his Minute Paper to the Director of Air Force Intelligence, by stating, "while security is not DPR's affair, our relations with the general public (cranks and all) certainly are and I feel strongly, from the PR point of view, that we are handling this whole UFO business in an unnecessarily rigid and unimaginative way."

This theme was continued in another Department of Air Minute Paper, entitled "Unidentified Flying Object - RAAF policy" and dated 12th October, 1966. It emerged following a request from author, Richard Tambling, who had requested permission to publish B.G. Roberts' Ballarat UFO conference presentation, in his forthcoming book, as an official view.

DAFI were not inclined to do this. The minute paper confirmed that uncertainty and confusion were keynotes in RAAF UFO policy during 1966 - hallmarks that would continue, albeit waxing and waning, right up to today.

It stated:

There appears to be some confusion concerning Departmental policy over UFOs ... on file... there is a ministerial statement to the effect:

"Anyone who is interested in sightings of UFOs can apply to the Department of Air for information on the subject and is welcome to a synopsis of UFO sightings which includes a very brief assessment of the probable causes."

"This statement was made in answer to ministerial representation.

It would appear, however, that the policy represented by this statement may not have reflected the view of DAFI, despite earlier, although inconclusive evidence of his concurrence.

...DAFI has proposed to DGPP who in turn referred to DCAS that our approach to UFO reports be liberalised. It does not appear that either DGPP or DCAS were aware of the Minister's statement. In my opinion we must either comply with the terms of that statement or inform the minister of our 'new' approach, if it is not intended to provide the synopsis of sightings and on this I am not at all together clear from reading the files.

It would, however, seem that agreement has not been reached that DPR is to handle all enquiries for information, however, it does not appear that DPR has been consulted on the extent of the liberalisation proposed by DAFI in answer to his (DPR) submission [the August 16, 1966, minute paper - B.C.] and could DPR indicate his views.

It would also appear that there is some need for rationalisation of our files on this subject. There are at least 4 different files which contain a confusion of policy, reported sightings and requests for information. Three of these files are classified, two of which are SECRET although there appears to be nothing in the files consistent with this classification. Could DAFI and DPR consider rationalising these files please...

As it turned out, the `Summary' did indeed become the public front of the RAAF involvement in the Australian UFO controversy. By the end of the sixties, the `Summary' crystalised as a largely annual affair.

No. 1 covered reports from 1960 to 1968. No. 2 covered 1969 accounts, while 1970 and 1971 reports appeared in `Summary' No. 3. From 1972 to 1977 inclusive, the summaries appeared somewhat erratically, covering each year with numbers 4 to 9. The RAAF had embarked on a course that locked them into a bureaucratically orchestrated formula for handling the "UFO problem."


The RAAF files also held a copy of a detailed 1967 report written by Dr. Michael J. Duggin, of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) National Standards Laboratory, Division of Physics. It was a report about a striking close encounter in the Sydney suburb of Canterbury.

The report was directed by Dr. Duggin to Dr. Allen Hynek. Duggin, an Australian physicist, had recently joined Hynek's informal international "invisible college" of collaborating scientists. From Dr. Hynek Dr. Duggin had secured a letter of introduction dated 16 November 1966 on Dearborn Observatory, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois stationary.   It stated:

Dr.M. Duggin is collecting information on UFOs and is part of an International effort to collate information on this phenomenon from several countries. For many years I have acted as a scientific monitor on this scientifically vexing problem of UFOs, and a number of colleagues and I have agreed to act as a "clearing house" for the investigation of which Dr. Duggin is a part. Any cooperation which may be expended to Dr. Duggin would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely yours, J. Allen Hynek, Director, Dearborn Observatory."

Dr. Duggin contacted Squadron Leader Baxter of the RAAF in his initial attempts to get official cooperation. In a 20 December, 1966, letter to Sqd. Ldr. Baxter he wrote,

I would like to add a few details to today's telephone conversation. Dr. Vallee, an astronomer at the University of Chicago and Professor J. A Hynek, whom I saw in Chicago a few weeks ago, are very interested in the UFO phenomenon from the point of view of a scientific investigation. So am I and so are many other scientists in other countries.

These gentlemen have carefully documented files on many (about 6000) sightings in many different countries. Many of these sightings are doubtful but there are a large number which it has not so far been possible to explain in terms of natural phenomena. These are the cases of interest.

Dr. Vallee has at his disposal a computer program for an automatic question-answering system (which was originally developed for stellar astronomy). He has asked Dr. O. Fontes in Brazil, Professor (sic?) Michel in France, myself and several other scientists in different countries to collect data on sightings and where possible interview those who originate the report in order to determine its reliability and so weight it for future statistical analyses. This information will be coded, so that it can be punched onto an IBM card and later fed onto a magnetic library tape for use with the question-answering system.

Present investigations have indicated the existence of certain patterns in this phenomenon but unfortunately much more data is required before great reliance can be placed on the results of such an investigation. Several reports from isolated observers, contiguous in time and consistent in description, would appear to suggest that perhaps some observations are made sequentially along great circle routes. Again more data is needed.

"Landing" reports have been quite frequent in South America and, I believe, in the Southern hemisphere as a whole.

What is needed is information,   (1) as soon as it is turned in, so that the case can be correlated with other information, if possible, at Dearborne Observatory,   (2) results of the follow-up.

I would like to investigate cases myself where possible and would be very willing to be of any help I can.

Dr. Hynek is the scientific advisor on UFOs to the U.S. Air Force. I am enclosing a letter from him to substantiate my request. I stress that this is a scientific investigation and that although my interest is extracurricular, I feel that it is very necessary to subject those unexplained phenomena to scientific investigation.

The Directorate of Air Force Intelligence (DAFI) reviewed Dr. Duggin's request. A Department of Air Minute Paper from Wg. Cdr. N.G. Marshall, D/D AFI (Ops) to DAFI addressed the issue:

You will note that one of the scientists involved in this UFO investigation is Dr. Hynek who is stated to be the scientific advisor on UFOs to the United States. Dr. Duggin, however is acting in an extracurricular capacity. You will note that these scientists are mainly interested in the unexplained UFOs, but as far as I can make out they would like information on all sightings.

As you know, we already have an official arrangement with CSIRO whereby we can pass to them any report on which we would like their assistance, so it would really be only a question of stretching this arrangement slightly to pass them a copy of all reports. However, Dr. Duggin's interest is unofficial as far as CSIRO is concerned and this may cause embarrassment.

These scientists, with all the documents and facilities available to them, are obviously in a position to assist us in this matter, and though I am not keen on releasing the details of the RAAF investigations or anything which may increase the interest of the general public in this field, I think we should give these scientists the information they require.

However, although they would like the information as soon as possible, I recommend that we stick to our present system for UFO investigations, i.e. the nearest RAAF Base investigates the report and passes it up through Command Headquarters to Department of Air. If we change the system to allow CSIRO to get a copy of the report before it has completed the RAAF process, we may get two concurrent investigations of the same report.

Annotations to this minute paper indicated, "Seen by DAFI who agrees."   Other file folios indicated that CSIRO were asked if all reports could go to Dr. Duggin and that CSIRO agreed to Dr. Duggin acting in an unofficial capacity. Thus Dr. Duggin's report to Dr. Hynek on an impressive close encounter in 1967 was an extension of the process that had been put into play. The RAAF were sanctioning, albeit sometimes in a token fashion, the activities of the "invisible college".


By 1968, Harry Turner, who prepared the classified 1954 report on the DAFI UFO reports, was working in the Directorate of Scientific and Technical Intelligence (DSTI) of the Joint Intelligence Bureau (JIB). At the end of 1954, Turner, a University of Western Australia trained physicist, went to England, where he worked at Harwell - the British atomic energy research establishment.

He returned to Australia in 1956 and until 1964 was stationed at Maralinga. There he was the Australian Health Physics Representative during the controversial atomic bomb trials. When he joined DSTI, Turner functioned as a JIB liaison with DAFI and used the connection to try to once again encourage serious research within the secret world of Defence Science and intelligence.

Harry Turner requested access to DAFI's UFO reports. This was granted. In May 1969, at Turner's suggestion a new RAAF UFO report form was devised which was intended to give a more scientific slant to the reports. At this time Turner was working with other scientists to set up a "rapid intervention" team to scientifically investigate cases of UFO physical evidence.

A firm proposal was developed with the team to operate within the Defence Science and Technical Organisation (DSTO). The team was to consist of 4 or 5 scientists, with its mainstay to be rapid intervention into UFO "landing" events, for which an aircraft was to be on standby. Turner, in a memo dated November 8th, 1969, to the Director of JIB, indicated that he had Dr. Morton from ANU, Dr. John Symonds from the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and Dr. Mike Duggin, then of the National Standards Laboratory.

George Barlow, of Defence Science and Technology (DST) had also offered the help of his group. Turner indicated that Arthur Wills, then Chief Defence Scientist "had agreed to this." The plans for the scientific team had been almost completed and authorisation to proceed appeared imminent. However fate had already intervened.


In the middle of 1969 a major flap broke out in Western Australia, centred in Perth. One of the reports included an impressive radar visual event at Cloverdale and tracked on Kalamunda radar on May 23rd. The Director of Air Force Intelligence felt that things had gotten out of control and made an appeal for the Defence "intervention" group to assist. Unfortunately the group had not been finalised, and Harry Turner was seconded to help out.

Turner supplied me with a copy of his report. The radar visual incident was described as follows:

On the 23rd May, 1969, (Mrs. C___' s) 13 year old son, who has an interest in the night sky, noticed from the front door of their house... that to the south and about 10 degrees above the horizon, there was a moving light which he first took to be an aeroplane. As it approached to the SE of the observer, it became apparent to him that its behaviour pattern differed considerably from that of an aircraft.

He called his mother who an easterly direction a steady red light on top of a more diffused blue-white light, and darting haphazardly in a zig-zag pattern, but in general travelling towards a northerly direction until it disappeared behind the house.

The two witnesses proceeded to the NW side of the house where they observed a luminous object stationary against the clear starry sky, at an elevation between 10 and 15 degrees and at a bearing of 015 degrees. The light observed was circular - about half the diameter of a fool moon. It was steady in position and intensity for some 15 - 20 minutes. It no longer had a red light on top and had the brightness of a fluorescent streetlight.

The edge was not clean cut but was somewhat hazy, even though the night air was perfectly clear. The time at which the object was first sighted was estimated as being 1835 hours.... Shortly before 1900 hours the object moved at extremely high velocity, away from the observers in a general N to NE-ly direction.

Mrs. C____ ...telephoned the shift operator on site. (He) was still talking to Mrs. C___ when a request came from the meteorological radar situated near Perth Airport as to whether he could check out an unidentified echo seen on the meteorological radar. [Turner concluded the met returns were possibly prosaic and unrelated to the main incident - B.C.]

The Kalamunda radar operator had not been watching his screen as no aircraft were in the vicinity, but on checking the radar P.P.I. screen, he observed a large echo some 9 miles away at 300 degrees from his position which placed the echo some 21/2 miles north of Mrs. C___ 's position. Initial contact was made at 1901 hours and held for only 30 to 40 seconds.

The echo which reappeared for short durations on 5 further occassions was twice the size of a large aircraft at that position. The echo has not been seen since it finally disappeared at 1942 hours.

One unusual feature of the Kalamunda report is that the radar is equipped with Moving Target Indicator (MTI) which supresses all permanent echoes and all targets moving at speeds less than an estimated 6 knots... The night in question was clear and calm and there is no justification for an MTI break-through in the region of the target.

Despite the operation of MTI, the unknown target was clearly visible, even though there was no noticeable displacement of its position. The operator had never before met an apparently stationary target that was recorded so clearly despite the operation of MTI. (The operator) paid particular attention to this echo over the whole period of 41 minutes that it occurred, because it was a potential traffic hazard to two aircraft in circuit at about that time, and they had to be warned to avoid the area of the unknown target....

The operator is quite sure ... that the echo's appearance never lasted more than a minute at any one time.... ....Just before 1900 hours the object moved away from the observer, disappearing from sight in a fraction of a second, and it is possible that it correlates with the stationary echo on radar at 1901 hours. The unusual features of the radar echo are:

(a) Size;

(b) The fact that it was seen despite the operation
          of MTI; and

(c) The spasmodic appearance.

It is not possible to readily conceive of an explanation for these observations. All observers were obviously sincerely puzzled individuals with an aversion to publicity...."

Harry Turner, a physicist and analyst for the JIB, concluded, "Neither the Kalamunda radar observation nor Mrs. C___'s sighting can be readily explained by conventional objects or phenomena."   His report also in part criticised the DAFI system for handling UFO reports, in particular referring to the lack of assistance given to the Air Force Intelligence officer "on the spot".
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, however at the time the DAFI "empire" was under threat. Some years earlier the RAAF had asked JIB to take "the UFO problem" over, but the clandestine side of JIB did not want "a bar of it", as they considered they would then be caught up in what they regarded as a complex conjectural matter, which might drag them into the limelight - the last thing an intelligence organisation would want.

However in 1969/1970 with the DAFI empire under threat, the Air Force did not take kindly to criticism, particularly when it came from what DAFI saw as an "outsider" a JIB scientist. The upshot of this was that Harry Turner's access to the DAFI UFO files was withdrawn.


Soon after, the plan for the "rapid intervention" team was dropped.

While this development may not be linked to the intelligence "empire" wars, as it was at this time that the US Air Force sponsored Condon Report on UFOs appeared (which concluded there was nothing of scientific worth involved), it is still obvious that political considerations had again frustrated attempts to undertake official scientific UFO research in Australia.

Harry Turner in a JIB report indicated that "the conclusions of the Condon report conflict with its own contents and had been discredited by many reputable scientists including the UFO scientific consultant to the USAF."   For a number of years Turner tried unsuccessfully to encourage JIB or DSTO to undertake a serious scientific interest in UFOs.

In January, 1970, he even utilised Dr. Jacque Vallee's so called Magonia listing of 1000 worldwide UFO landing or near landing reports to highlight to JIB the potential military threats involved:

"The information suggests the existence of 3 "weapon systems" -

(1) A device to interfere with electrical circuits

(2) A device to induce paralysis

(3) A heat ray.

There is circumstantial evidence that these weapons are at times used deliberately, although mostly in a defensive role. A number of reports allege that a lone car at night has been followed, and after being stopped by a beam, some kind of interaction has developed between the car occupants and the landed craft occupants.

Information is included which deals with residual effects on the environment of the landed craft. It is these residual effects which offer the greatest potential reward to scientific investigation at this stage.

Even reports of this nature within JIB that went to the heart of defence issues failed to get Turner's proposed study off the ground. The status quo had prevailed.


In the wake of Harry Turner's abortive "sub rosa" efforts, the scientific investigation of UFOs at an official level had all but disappeared, with the primary goal being the resolution of any defence and/or political implications.

The attitude can be seen in the Woomera "intrusions" of late in 1971. In one case just prior to the launch of a Black Arrow rocket (in part a DSTO project) an unidentified "aircraft" was observed by a trained site meteorology observer over Woomera prohibited airspace.

Yet another sighting lead to a Department of Supply letter to the Director of Air Force Intelligence, dated January 7th, 1972 which stated that "this sighting appears to be sufficiently authenticated, yet there is no official knowledge of any military or civil aircraft that could have intruded into the Woomera air space. It is therefore now a matter of speculation that some foreign aircraft passed through a Restricted Flying Area on December 20, 1971, without the knowledge of the appropriate authorities and this is cause for concern."

Rather than accept that maybe the "Russkies" or perhaps something else entirely was the problem, it was more politically expedient for DAFI to suggest an alternative. They suggested that a more plausible explanation was re-entering space debris, even though it was impossible to confirm that possibility.


Ironically, in light of this ascendancy of the political and military ethic over scientific enquiry, it perhaps should be observed that exactly 2 days after the first of Woomera "intrusions", to the south on the campus of the University of Adelaide, the South Australian division of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science (ANZAAS) organised a one day symposium to consider the UFO problem, namely on 30th 0ctober, 1971.

The symposium had about 300 attendees and, because of its prestigious backing, attracted widespread publicity. Dr. Brian Horton's introduction to the ANZAAS symposium pointed out that while the UFO question was on the fringe of our current knowledge and indeed was often ridiculed, it should still be scientifically investigated. He cautioned against forming opinions with incomplete information.

Local South Australian UFO researcher, Colin Norris presented a history of UFOs, described their apparent characteristics, and showed numerous slides and a film. ANZAAS secretary, Dr. Bill Taylor, delivered a paper by Mr. B. Roberts of the Department of Air. This was simply Robert's 1965 Ballarat presentation recycled again.

Dr. Duggin's paper, "The Analysis of UFO Reports", called for closer cooperation between UFO organisations and scientists. Micheal Duggin was then a senior research scientist at the Mineral Physics section of the CSIRO, Sydney. Because of the lack of concrete action from existing official studies, Dr. Duggin felt it was up to individual scientists to form world-wide panels. He indicated that they could expect to face ridicule from colleagues, but that the UFO phenomenon warranted attention.

Dr. Duggin had been secretly working with JIB scientist Harry Turner, sharing information and data. Indeed Harry Turner attended the symposium despite the frustrations he had experienced over the years in his secret attempts to ensure that scientific investigations were undertaken at an official level in Australia.

Lynn Mitchell, Deputy Regional Director of Meteorology in South Australia, gave a detailed address on meteorological phenomena relevant to the UFO subject, referring to scintillation, green flash, crepuscular rays, mirages, and iridescent, noctilucent and lenticular clouds. He indicated that meteors, ball lightning, Saint Elmo's fire, stars, planets, balloons and satellites were often the source of sightings.

He reported that not one inexplicable sighting had been reported in the last 20 years, attributed to meteoroloical observers, people trained to observe and record. Mitchell's research was obviously quite limited. In 1964, the US group, NICAP (National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena) produced a detailed study entiltled The UFO Evidence. It listed 4 UFO sightings by scientists from the meteorology field in 1950, 1954 (2), and 1961.

Psychologist, Dr. Peter Delin, addressed "Psychological Aspects of Belief and Disbelief" highlighted that sceptics and believers were "at the two ends of a continuum" Their acrimony "springs from mutual lack of comprehension, but part of it is justified, in that there are nuts on both sides." He argued that both sides tended to confuse and blend theoretical and observational issues.

Through comparisons of UFO and psychical research, evidence supported the view that sceptics and believers showed similar faults of reasoning, biased observation, and "similar evidence of strong internal motivation unrelated to the subject matter under discussion, but predisposing them to the point of view they take up." Dr. Delin stressed it was important to seperate a witness' report from his interpretation of the report or observation.

Further papers addressed the possibilities of extraterrestrial life and possibility of contact with such life.

Dr. Don Herbison-Evans, Lecturer in the Basser Computer Department, Sydney University, offered a cheap practical approach to obtaining hard scientific evidence for UFOs. His idea involved the use of diffraction gratings and cameras, in order to secure spectra of anomolous light sources. Dr. Herbison-Evans developed a "UFO Investigation Kit", consisting of 3 slides, a diffraction grating and 2 polaroids.

He pointed out, "Scientists are only willing to look at the UFO problem if there is hard evidence, not just witness' testimony." He encouraged people to use the diffraction grating and polaroids in conjunction with a camera if they photograph a possible UFO. No one has provided Dr. Herbison-Evans with that hard evidence to date.

The following motion was moved at the ANZAAS symposium: "The Symposium as a group feels very strongly that some action on the problem of UFO reports be taken.... (and) that the possibility of setting up a subcommittee for the study of UFO reports be considered by the Executive Committee of ANZAAS (S.A. Division)." This motion was favoured by the Divisional committee of ANZAAS in November, 1971.

They felt that there was sufficient evidence to demonstrate that there were sightings and evidence for phenomena that had not been adequately explained. The committee concluded there was a need to investigate unexplained sightings and they constituted "an unsolved scientific problem as there were no answers under current hypotheses."


In the ferment of unidentified intrusions during sensitive Woomera rocket launches and attempts by ANZAAS and "invisible college" scientists at engaging a puzzling, but frustrating phenomenon, the RAAF in South Australia were busy trying to assert their official responsibility to investigate UFOs.

In my examinations of the RAAF UFO files I came across 2 documents prepared by RAAF Edinburgh Base South Australia personnel that address their frustration with "the UFO problem". Their documents carried the extraordinary title of "COUNTER-INTELLIGENCE - UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS".

Neither document indicated specific classic "counter-intelligence" activities and the choice of title therefore is either unfortunate, inappropriate or sinister. Extracts give an insight into the UFO milieu:

6/32/ Air (10)
Edinburgh SA 5111

29th May 1972

Department of Air (Attention: D/DAFI IR)
For Information:

Headquarters Operational Command


1. Enclosed is an UFO report forwarded to this Headquarters by "The Australian Flying Saucer Research Society - (Adelaide)", together with an accompanying letter from Mr John Burford which, inter alia, outlines recent moves to amalgamate the various UFO "research" societies in South Australia...

2. As on many occassions in the past, the report arrived at this Headquarters too late to make an investigation possible without considerable embarrassment and possible adverse publicity. The various UFO societies in this State, while aware of the RAAF's responsibility to investigate UFO sightings in an official capacity, are nonetheless reluctant to pass on information on UFO sightings to the RAAF until they have "picked the bones clean".

3. Every attempt has been made by this Headquarters to elicit the co-operation of local UFO organisations, and in particular the AFSRS, in an endeavour to gain some first-hand information on UFO sightings....

4. Also enclosed for your information is a list of alleged sightings investigated by the AFSRS alone in 1971. It is significant that of the 112 sights, not one was reported to this Headquarters in the first instance. Indeed, it was only at the personal whim of Mr. Norris that the RAAF received copies of investigations (without "findings") in the long term.

It would appear that, in spite of sparse and rather patronising publicity by the mass media to the effect that the RAAF is the responsible UFO-reporting organisation, and arrangements with the police to have any individual sighting a UFO contact this Headquarters, the public at large in this State remains either ignorant of the correct procedure, or chooses to contact the more glamorous - and credulous - "flying saucer" society.

Furthermore, we are not aware of any effort on a national scale by higher authority to inform the public of the RAAF position in this matter, which is very active in South Australia.

5. From the foregoing, it can be seen that, if the proposed amalgamation of UFO groups in this State comes to pass, and timely reports of UFO sightings are passed to this Headquarters as indicated by Mr. Burford's remarks, the volume of work involved in investigating and processing such sightings will increase considerably.

In fact, it is doubtful whether the Officer-in-Charge UFO's at this Headquarters (a secondary appointment) would be able to cope with such an increase, without significant and non-acceptable inroads being made into his primary role.

Air Commodore,
Officer Commanding

The second document also to Headquarters Operational Command was dated 20th June, 1972:

Reference: ....

1. Peculiar ground markings discovered on a farming property at Tooligie Hill, Eyre Peninsula, in late December 1971.

2. The matter first came to the notice of this Headquarters through the "Day by Day" column of The Advertiser on 27th January 1972 (which mentioned the markings) "... sighted by Eyre Peninsula farmer Robert Habner in the middle of a wheat paddock.   "Farmer Habner found it while he was reaping.   No tracks led to or from it.   Peter is investigating"...

3. This Headquarters' OIC UFOs ... contacted the Peter Powell referred to in the clipping and ... received assurances of co-operation. Mr.Powell stated that considerable interest in the Tooligie Hill "phenomenon" was being evinced by local UFO groups and added that a meeting of several of the groups, including the Australian Flying Saucer Research Society (of Colin Norris notoriety), was to be held that Sunday (30th January 1972)...

At this juncture it became apparent that a belated RAAF investigation of the "phenomenon" would attract unwanted publicity, and would in any case probably be paralleled by simultaneous investigations by civilian groups. The question of "co-operation" between the RAAF and local UFO groups would then be a matter for speculation and individual interpretation by the media.

This Headquarters therefore deemed it prudent not to initiate an on-site investigation into the incident at the time.

4. (Newspaper accounts referred to) a projected "safari" to Eyre Peninsula to investigate the "phenomenon"....[Flt. Lt. King (O i/c UFOI) minuted the following:

This morning I received a phone call from Mrs Habner of Tooligie Hill. She said that Messers Ianson and Mackereth (of AFSRS) had arrived and were investigating the "phenomenon" on the Habner property. As might be expected, Mr. Norris had arranged the usual publicity and the ABC, 5KA and the Advertiser, according to Mrs Habner, were on the scene or on tap.

She said that she had not expected so much publicity and in any case it was Peter Powell who was supposed to be doing the investigating. His "safari" is due to arrive on Saturday and she had tried to contact him without success to tell him that he had been pre-empted. I informed Mrs Habner that there was nothing the RAAF could do about the situation and offered my condolences.
Mrs. Habner seemed surprised that this HQ had not been informed officially of the "phenomenon" in the first instance as she had reported it to the police in the area.

ORWO this morning noticed a leave application submitted by Cpl. A_____ of Catering Section. The address given on the application for the week's leave was c/- the Habner property. I interviewed Cpl A_____ who said he had answered an advertisement inserted in the local newspapers by Peter Powell for people to accompany him to Eyre Peninsula to investigate the finding. I briefed him on the "no-publicity" requirement and asked him to keep me informed of events."

The airman referred to (above) was also mentioned in our (message) to your department. On his return from leave he was again interviewed by OIC UFOs. The "safari" had taken soil samples and photographed the markings, and also interviewed a number of people in the district, but after a week on the site had not made any findings.

Present on the Habner property at the same time were two members of the Australian Flying Saucer Research Society, who also fossicked without discovering the origin of the markings.

5. (Mrs. Habner wrote to Flt. Lt. King):

I am sending you, as promised, some slides and information on the mark we found in our paddock on December 28th 1971. This mark was made in the middle of a wheat crop, with no tracks or marks leading in or out. The diameter of the rim-shape which is spun into the clay soil is approximately 7 feet. 2 feet from the outer edge of the mark the crop was laid flat in an anti-clockwise spinning motion, and in the centre, which measures 45 inches across, the crop was cut to a height of 9 inches.

The crop was also laid flat (anti-clockwise again) in a small crescent which joins onto one side of the mark. About 12 feet away from the main mark is the same shaped marking spun into the wheat straw, but not with as much force as the main mark. This mark was just on the top of the straw and not cut into the ground. We can only think that whatever tried to land here was put off because of a small mallee stump, and, wanting a smoother place to land, rose up and hovered over to finally land on the main "site".

One family in our district say they saw a strange light which would have been in that position. They saw this on Christmas Eve. We were away from home all that evening. We have had approximately 200 visitors from surrounding districts to see it and they all wonder what could have made this mark. The cut out circle is still there and will be until we plough it up for seeding. There are still markings of the spun down straw etc too, although they are not as clearly defined as they were when fresh....

6. (Attached) is a letter from this Headquarters to the Commissioner of Police, dealing with the incident,

[Dear Commissioner,

..... A telephone conversation between my Officer-in-Charge of UFOs and Mrs. Habner reveals that police authorities in the area were informed of the incident and indeed visited the Habner property prior to the "phenomenon" becoming public knowledge....

I am sure you will agree that, as this Headquarters was not informed of the incident in the first instance, any post-event official RAAF investigation of the incident, with attendant publicity, would prove not only unfeasible but also embarrassing to some extent.

In view of the above, I would appreciate your once again bringing to the notice of your staff the necessity of referring all UFO reports to this Headquarters with the minimum of delay.

Yours faithfully,
(E.T. Pickerd)
Air Commodore]
and (also enclosed) is the Commissioner's reply;

[Dear Air Commodore Pickerd,

... I enclose copy of a report furnished by Inspector R.A. Schlein of Port Lincoln.

It appears that there was no actual sighting of a U.F.O. at Tooligie Hills in December last, and although the Inspector was aware of strange markings in a field, he did not consider there was sufficient evidence at that time to connect them with a U.F.O. Moreover, as there was already growth from the dislodged wheat heads, it seemed that some time must have elapsed since the disturbance.

... we are sorry that you have been hindered or embarrassed by the lack of an earlier report. Although members generally are already aware of the necessity to report such matters for your information, a further instruction will be issued by a notice in the Police Gazette.

Yours sincerely,
(J.G. McKinna)
Commissioner of Police."]

and a copy of a report by Inspector Adolf Schlein of Port Lincoln Police.

7. For your information.

Flight Lieutenant

Officer Commanding

For something generally dismissed by the RAAF all this seems to be a great amount of effort and activity, either in the name of bureaucracy or "counter-intelligence". Think about it. The 2 documents were classified RESTRICTED.


Dr. 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 the "invisible college".

Following his visit and the massive resurgence of UFO activity in America during that year he brought the "invisible college" into the open and formed the Centre for UFO Studies. It continues as an ongoing focus for serious research into the UFO phenomenon. During his stay he researched many of the classic cases. As indicated earlier in this history he met with Shamus O'Farrell and discussed his famous 1954 Sea Fury incident.

Dr. Hynek was also able to meet with Rev. William Gill and also journeyed to Papua, enabling him to undertake a detailed on site investigation into this famous case. He came away still convinced of the bonafide nature of the Boianai "visitants". While in Australia he had discussions with researchers to try to set up a local focal point of case material which could then be forwarded to his group in Chicago.

Out of those discussions, ACOS - the Australian Co-Ordination Centre for the Centre for UFO Studies was formed by Harry Griesberg and David Seargent.

Hynek met privately with Harry Turner and Michael Duggin, and had an informal meeting with Group Captain K.R. Janson, Director of Air Force Intelligence. He described their meeting in the following terms:

"Opportunely, an informal meeting was held at the Department of Air between Professor Hynek and myself on 24th August when the Professor was visiting Canberra on other matters. During the meeting, discussions covered a wide range of matters relating to investigation procedures of unusual phenomena in both the USAF and RAAF. The Professor's wide experience in this field was very evident, and the discussion will undoubtedly be of benefit to my officers and myself in the conduct of future investigations."


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