THE RAAF AND THE UFO PROBLEM
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
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."
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
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
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.
There appears to be some confusion concerning Departmental policy
over UFOs ... on file... there is a ministerial statement to the
"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
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 EMERGENCE OF AN "INVISIBLE COLLEGE"
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
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
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
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
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".
A SECRET MILITARY "RAPID INTERVENTION" TEAM
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.
SUB ROSA FALLOUT IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA
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 observed....in 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:
(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.
UFO IMPACT AND THE JIB
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
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.
INTRUDER AT WOOMERA
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
SCIENCE AND THE UFO
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
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
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."
RAAF UFO "COUNTER-INTELLIGENCE" IN SA
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
6/32/ Air (10)
Edinburgh SA 5111
29th May 1972
Department of Air (Attention: D/DAFI IR)
Headquarters Operational Command
COUNTER-INTELLIGENCE - UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS
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
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
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
The second document also to Headquarters Operational Command was
dated 20th June, 1972:
COUNTER-INTELLIGENCE - UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS
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.
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
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
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
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
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
6. (Attached) is a letter from this Headquarters to the
Commissioner of Police, dealing with the incident,
..... 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.
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.
Commissioner of Police."]
and a copy of a report by Inspector Adolf Schlein of Port
7. For your information.
DR. ALLEN HYNEK'S VISIT TO AUSTRALIA
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