Reverend Gill has described how he and the mission people called
out to the men, even shouting at them, and beckoned them to descend,
but there was no response beyond what has already been noted. Two
smaller "UFOs" higher up remained stationary. By 6.30 p.m. the scene
had remained largely unchanged. Rev. Gill records that he went to
dinner. At 7.00 pm, the "No.1 UFO" was still present "but appeared
somewhat smaller". The group of observers went to Church for Evensong.
After Evensong (about 7.45 pm) visibility was very limited with the sky
covered in cloud. Nothing else was seen that evening. At 10.40 pm, a
very penetrating "earsplitting" terrific explosion woke up people on
the station. It sounded like it had come from just outside the window
of the mission house. Rev. Gill felt it did not sound like a
thunderclap. Nothing had been seen, but the whole sky was overcast.
Other less compelling activity occurred the following night. Then it
seemed the Boianai visitants had gone. The controversy had just begun.
Reverend Gill was at the time of his sightings already scheduled
to return to Australia. This presented civilian groups with an
excellent opportunity to assess the bonafides of the reports. All
investigators found Gill to be very impressive. His credibility was
enormous. This lead one of the leading civilian groups, the Victorian
Flying Saucer Research Society, to view the Gill reports as
constituting the most remarkable testimony of intensive UFO activity
ever reported to civilian investigators in the entire history of UFO
research. VFSRS indicated that they were unique because for the first
time, credible witnesses had reported the presence of humanoid beings
associated with UFOs. The VFSRS report concluded that the Boianai UFOs
were advanced craft, manned by humanoid beings, capable of a fantastic
aerodynamic performance. VFSRS now felt that UFO researchers no longer
needed to enquire as to the nature of UFOs, now only their origin was
to be determined.
The major civilian groups of the day, in a spirit of new found
cooperation inspired by the significance of the Boianai observations,
distributed copies of Reverend Gill's own sighting report to all
members of the House of Representatives of Australia's federal
parliament. A circular letter accompanied the report, signed by the
presidents of the participating civilian UFO groups, urging members of
parliament to press the Minister for Air for a statement about the
attitude Air Force Intelligence had of the New Guinea reports.
On November 24th, 1959, in federal parliament, Mr. E.D. Cash, a
Liberal politician from Western Australia asked the Minister for Air,
Mr. F.M. Osborne, whether his department (specifically Air Force
Intelligence) had investigated "reports of recent sightings of
mysterious objects in the skies over Papua and New Guinea." The
Minister's reply did not address this question, but instead he focused
on the general situation indicating that most sightings were explained
and "that only a very small percentage -- something like 3 percent --
of reported sightings of flying objects cannot be explained".
Peter Norris, VFSRS president, was advised by the Directorate of
Air Force Intelligence that the Department was awaiting "depth of
evidence" on the New Guinea sightings. However the department hadn't
even interviewed Father Gill. Given the growing political fallout, the
Minister for Defence requested a report on "the alleged sightings of
UFOs in the Boianai area of NG by Rev. W.B. Gill." The RAAF finally
visited Rev. Gill on December 29th, 1959. Rev. Gill's recollections of
the visit were that the 2 RAAF officers from Canberra talked about
stars and planets and then left. He indicates that he heard no more
from them. The interviewing officer, Squadron Leader F.A. Lang, AI1
DAFI, concluded after what could have only been best described as a
cursory investigation that:
"Although the Reverend Gill could be regarded as a reliable
observer, it is felt that the June/July incidents could have
been nothing more than natural phenomena coloured by
past events and subconscious influences of UFO
enthusiasts. During the period of the report the
weather was cloudy and unsettled with light thunder
storm. Although it is not possible to draw firm
conclusions, an analysis of rough bearings and angles
above the horizon does suggest that at least some of
the lights observed were the planets Jupiter, Saturn
and Mars. Light refraction, the changing position
of the planets relative to the observer and cloud
movement would give the impression of size and rapid
movement. In addition varying cloud densities could
account for the human shapes and their sudden
appearance and disappearance".
A close analysis of the reports argues powerfully that the RAAF
"explanation" of "either known planets seen through fast moving cloud,
or natural phenomena" was unsatisfactory.
Over the years there have been a number of attempts to explain
the Boianai sightings, including astronomical misidentifications, hoax,
cargo cult effects, and that Rev. Gill had myopia and astigmatism
(Rev. Gill was wearing correctly prescribed glasses). None of these
explanations have satisfactorily addressed the evidence. Astronomer and
former US Air Force consultant, Dr. Allen Hynek, and his Center for UFO
Studies (CUFOS), went to great lengths to investigate and research the
affair. Dr. Hynek and Allen Hendry, the then chief CUFOS
investigator, concluded the "lesser UFOs' are attributable to bright
stars and planets, but not the primary object." Its size and absence
of movement over three hours ruled out an astronomical explanation.
My own discussions with Rev. Gill led me to the same conclusion. Most
recently there was an attempt at explaining the whole affair away as
Rev. Gill and the other witnesses being confused by a false horizon,
and that all they had been watching was a brightly lit squid-boat and
crew too busy to do more than just wave at the people on shore. This
idea is not tenable when one realises that Rev. Gill was certain that
the object he saw was at a 30° elevation in the sky. Only a massive
tidal wave might have elevated the horizon ocean line to have a boat
high enough to fit that viewing perspective. I suspect Rev. Gill and
the Papuans may have noticed that! A mirage is also not tenable given
the circumstances of the event.
The Boianai visitations are even enshrined in a classic piece of
Australian fiction. Award winning Australian novelist Randolph
Stow's 1979 book Visitants, which has the Boianai visitations as a
backdrop to a striking story of confrontation and disintergration,
emerged from Stow's experience as a cadet patrol-officer in Papua-New
Guinea. He was an assistant to the Government Anthropologist. His
novel opens with this sentence: "On 26 June 1959, at Boianai in Papua,
visitants appeared to the Reverend William Booth Gill, himself a
visitant of thirteen years standing, and to thirty-seven witnesses of
The Boianai "visitants" still stand as remarkable evidence for an
impressive aerial anomaly and are regarded as some of the best entity
reports on record. At the time of writing I spoke again with Rev.
Gill. He still remains puzzled by what he saw and was pleased that an
authority like Dr. Hynek had independently interviewed him and some of
the other witnesses and travelled to the site. While he accepts that
the sightings remain unexplained, Rev. Gill questioned my
characterisation of some attempts to explain them as "silly". He felt
that these "explanations" were serious attempts to bring understanding
to the events. I think that attitude encapsulates the integrity of Rev.
Gill and the reality of the affair.
THE CRESSY AFFAIR
The Cressy area of Tasmania became the centre of a spectacular
wave of sightings in October and November, 1960. An entirely credible
witness was at the centre of the milieu. Once again, an Anglican
priest reported that he had seen a UFO. The Reverend Lionel Browning
and his wife witnessed a fantastic sight from the dining room of the
Cressy Anglican rectory on 4th October, 1960. A detailed account
appeared in the Launceston Mercury of October 10th headlined
"'FLYING SAUCER' SEEN AT CRESSY. Mysterious ships in the sky". A succession of media stories followed elevating the sighting in to national
Again, because of the undeniable credibility of the witness, the
RAAF were in a difficult position in their efforts to contain the
rapidly escalating public clamour.
Wing Commander Waller interviewed Rev. Browning and his wife on
November 11th, at their Cressy home. Waller concluded that the couple
were "stable, responsible and unexcitable individuals who would not
perpetrate a hoax", and were "genuinely and firmly convinced that they
saw actual objects." He confirmed this assessment in a letter to Dr.
James McDonald, who undertook a retrospective investigation into the
sighting during his 1967 Australian visit.
Wing Commander Waller's report provided a statement based on the
Reverend Browning written statement:
"He and his wife were standing in the dining room ... looking out
through the window at a rainbow over some low hills approximately
8 miles to the east. The hills, the highest of which are
approximately 800 feet, were partlyobscured by low cloud and rain.
...(His) wife drew his attention to a long cigar shaped object
which was emerging from a rain squall.
"The object was a dull greyish colour, had 4 or 5 vertical dark
bands around its circumference ... and had what looked like a
short aerial array which projected outwards and upward from the
northern facing end of the object. The object seemed to be
slightly longer than Viscount aircraft which
Mr. Browning frequently sees flying in that area and he therefore
estimated the objects length as about one hundred feet. The
outline of the object was well defined and was even more so a
little later when it had as a backdrop the tree covered slopes of
a rain free area of the hills...
"The object after emerging from the rain squall moved on an even
keel in a
northerly direction at an estimated speed of sixty to seventy MPH
and at a constant height of approximately four hundred
feet....(It) moved approximately one and a half miles north ...
and then abruptly stopped. Within seconds it was joined by five
or six small saucer like objects which had emergedat high speed
from the low cloud above and behind ... (They) stationed
themselves at positions around the cigar shaped object at a radius
of one half of a mile and then, after an interval of several
seconds the cigar shaped object accompanied by the smaller
objects, abruptly reversed back towards and then into the rain
squall from which it had emerged ... In all, the cigar shaped
object had been visible for approximately one minute..."
The Brownings watched the area for several more minutes but the
objects did not reappear. Another person, a Mrs. D. Bransden, also
witnessed the spectacle, describing it as like "a lot of little ships
flocking around a bigger one".
In a minute dated November 14th, 1960, the Director of DAFI
(operations) reported to the Staff officer to the Australian government
Minister of Air that "a preliminary analysis of the available
information indicates that this sighting was some form of natural
phenomena associated with the unsettled weather conditions."
Wing Commander Waller, in a letter to Dr. James McDonald,
indicated that the couple "impressed me as being mature, stable, and
mentally alert individuals, who had no cause or desire to see objects
in the sky other than objects of definite form and substance." Such
comments by the RAAF investigative officer are difficult to reconcile
with the Air Force Intelligence statement released a few days after
Wing Commander Waller's interviews. It dismissed the observation as "a
phenomena (caused by) a moon rise associated with meteorological
conditions at the time." The intelligence report further stated,
"The presence of 'scud' type clouds, moving in varying directions
due to turbulence in and around a rain squall near where the objects were
sighted, and the position of the moon or its reflections, produced the
impression of flying objects."
Reverend Browning indicated that at no time during the 90 minute
Air Force intelligence interview was he asked about clouds. He added,
"At no time was there cloud or scud when I saw the objects. The
mountain was not the backdrop to what I saw. The rain cleared in front
of us although it was still raining near the mountains. I saw the
objects in the sky where there was no rain and the rain near the
mountains provided the backdrop..."
Dr. McDonald, an acknowledged international expert in meteorology
and atmospheric physics concluded "the official suggestion .... seems
entirely out of the question."
The RAAF's attempts to explain the Cressy sighting away were
rather hollow, particularly given an intriguing sighting report I found
buried in the DAFI UFO files. On November 15, 1960, some 50 kilometres
north of Cressy, a United States Air Force JB-57 aircraft, operating out
of East Sale RAAF base, encountered a UFO. The USAF pilot's report in
the RAAF UFO files stated:
"Approximately 1040 LCL while flying on a mission track 15 miles
north of Launceston. My navigator ______ called out an aircraft
approaching to our left and slightly lower.
"Our altitude at the time was 40,000 feet, TAS of 350 knots,
heading of 340 degrees.
"I spotted the object and immediately commented to __ (the
navigator) that it was not an aircraft, but looked more like a
balloon. We judged its altitude to be approximately 35,000 feet,
heading 140 degrees and its speed extremely high.
"From a previous experience I would say its closing rate would
have been in excess of 800 knots. We observed this object this
object for five or seven seconds before it disappeared under the
"Since it was unusual in appearance, I immediately banked to the
left for another look, but neither of us could locate it.
"The colour of the object was nearly translucent somewhat like
that of a 'poached egg'. There were no sharp edges but rather
fuzzy and undefined. The size was approximately 70 feet in
diameter and it did not appear to have any depth."
THE CLASSIC WILLOW GROVE ENCOUNTER
At 7 am, February 15th, 1963, Charles Brew bore witness to a
classic close encounter. With his 20 year old son, Trevor, Brew was at
work in the milking shed on their farm, "Willow Grove", near Moe,
Victoria. It was light, but rain clouds lay overhead. Charles Brew
was standing in an open area, with a full view of the eastern sky. It
was from that direction that hesaw a strange object appear and descend
very slowly towards the milk shed. The objects approach was coincident
with the cattle and a pony reacting violently. The 2 farm dogs fled.
A local newspaper even reported that the cows turned somersaults, a
suggestion the Brews denied.
The UFO descended to an apparent height of between 75 and 100
feet, hovering over a large Stringy-Bark tree. It was about 25 feet in
diameter and 9 to 10 feet high. The top section appeared to be a
transparent dome of a glass-like material, from which protruded a 5 to
6 foot high mast or aerial. The "aerial" appeared to be as thick as a
broom and resembled bright chrome. The top portion of the disc itself
was battle-ship grey in colour and appeared to be of a metallic lustre.
The base or underside section glowed with a pale blue colour and had
"scoop-like protuberances about 12 to 18 inches apart around the
outside edge." This section rotated slowly at about one revolution per
second. This spinning motion apparently caused the protuberances to
generate a swishing noise, somewhat like a turbine noise, that was
clearly audible not only to Brew but also to his son Trevor, who was
located inside the shed near the operating diesel powered milking
Charles Brew described how he felt his eyes were drawn towards
the ob ject "as though beams of magnetic current" were between it and
him. He also experienced a peculiar headache which came on with the
approach of the object. Even though Brew normally did not suffer
migraine, the use of tablets did not subdue the headache.
After hovering for a few seconds the object began to climb at
roughly a 45 degree angle, continuing on its westward course and
passing up into the cloud deck again. Trevor did not see the UFO, but
confirmed the unusual sound, like a "diggerydoo" or "bullroarer" -
aboriginal artifacts which can produce a pulsating wind rushing noise.
Flt. Lt. N. Hudson and Sqd. Ldr. A.F. Javes of the RAAF
interviewed Charles Brew on site on March 4th, 1963. While impressed
with his credibility, the weather at the time of the sighting - heavy
continuous rain with very low cloud and poor visibility, and with a
fresh wind in an easterly direction, caused them to focus on weather
related explanations. Their report describes the basis of their
somewhat extraordinary "explanation" for the incident:
"On 6th March, Dr. Berson and Mr. Clark (of the CSIRO
(Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation)
Meteorological Physics division) were interviewed to see if clouds
give this type of phenomenon. They agreed that a tornado
condition could give this effect. The direction of rotation of
Brew's report of the object was consistent with known facts for
the Southern Hemisphere. The blue-ish colouring has been reported
previously and is probably due to electric discharge and there
would be a smell of ozone. The only difference in Brew's report
was that the object moved from East to West because all previous
reports to the CSIRO Met section of this nature have been from
West to East. Mr. Brew stated that the wind was fresh from an
easterly direction. However, (a) meteorological report states
that wind was westerly at 8 knots."
The report notes that the met report was from a Yallourn observer,
which is about 20 kilometres away, therefore local variations in the
weather would not have been unusual.
Despite this lack of rigour in determining how relevant their
hypothesis was, the RAAF officer' report concluded, "There is little
doubt that Brew did witness something, and it is most likely that it
was a natural phenomenon. The phenomenon was probably a tornado. There
was no reported damage along its path, therefore one could assume that
it was weak in nature."
The Department of Air responded to a civilian UFO group enquiry
about the incident with the following statement, "Our investigation and
enquiries reveal that there are scientific records of certain
tornado-like meteorological manifestations which have a similar
appearance in many ways to whatever was seen by Mr. Brew. The
information available is such however, that while we accept this is a
possibility, we are unable to come to any firm conclusion as to the
nature of the object or manifestation reported." The official sighting
summaries removed any such doubt. By then the "possible cause" was
listed as a "tornado like meteorological manifestation." In
correspondence with the Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society, the
CSIRO's Dr.Berson indicated, "we are unable to come to any firm
conclusion as to the nature of the object or manifestation reported."
It seems clear that the RAAF were largely parroting the CSIRO's
conclusions and taking things a little further without any realistic
justification. Their musings pre-empted Terence Meaden's "vortex"
hypothesis by some 2 decades.
Dr. Berson and an associate visited Charles Brew at the Willow
Grove property. According to Brew, Dr. Berson was interested in the
headache that he had, and indicated that Berson had said that it tied
in with their theory of a possible electromagnetic nature of the
incident. The CSIRO's field investigation had in fact preceded that
the RAAF by about a week. There was evidently extensive interest from
the military and government scientists. Brew indicated that the RAAF
officers told him that the object he saw was similar to those seen
overseas and that it was the best sighting they had looked at.
What the Department of Air referred to as a "tornado-like
meteorological manifestation" elicited the following emotive
description from Charles Brew. It mirrors the striking nature of his
encounter with the "unknown". He said, "I wished it would come again.
It was beautiful. I could feel the life pulsating from it."
Dr. James McDonald visited Charles Brew during his 1967
Australian trip interviewing him at the site of the 1963 incident.
McDonald concluded, "like that of many other UFO witnesses, it is
extremely difficult to explain in present-day scientific or
Despite the extraordinary nature of the Willow Grove incident and
the high level of official interest in it, the sighting was listed in
a subsequently released "Summary of Unidentified Aerial Sightings
reported to Department of Air, Canberra, ACT, from 1960" as having a
possible cause of "tornado like meteorological manifestation."
THE "FIRST" OFFICIAL "UNKNOWN" -
LIGHT WHEEL NEAR GROOTE EYLANDT
According to the summary we have to wait until January 23rd, 1964,
for the first official "unknown" in the RAAF Directorate of Air Force
Intelligence (DAFI) files. For a list of "Aerial sightings" it is
unusual for it was reported as located in water. The summary describes
the report as follows:
"Seen at sea by crew of a vessel NE Point of Groote Eylandt, WA.
Large lights in water, made compass go 'Haywire'. Shadow in centre of
lights rotated clockwise, causing lights to pulsate."
Biologist, Ivan T. Sanderson, lists it in his book Invisible
Residents - A Disquisition upon Certain Matters Maritime, and the
Possibility of Intelligent Life under the Waters of This Earth in a
listing of submarine "Lightwheels". Sanderson sourced his brief
listing from a newspaper article.
The Air Force Intelligence files hold a report of the unusual
sighting made by the crew of the landing craft Loellen M. The
incident was located between Cape Grey and the north east point of
Groote Eylandt, a large island on the western side of the Gulf of
Carpentaria, Northern Territory. The official summary incorrectly
lists the incident as occurring in 'WA" (Western Australia). The
report mentions that the vessel encountered a number of submarine
"C. W__ turned on the compass light and found the vessel approx
60° off course. The compass went 'Haywire'.
This is a fascinating report but its origins may lie in some form
of extraordinary bioluminescence.
As soon as he had corrected the vessel as best he could, he
switched off the compass light and found the un-natural light was
about 6ft. on the Starboard side. The light was in the water. It
was described as a ghostly white light, in the centre was a shadow
which rotated in a clockwise direction causing the light to
pulsate. The light appeared to draw away to the stern. It is
estimated that it was miles across and a few hundred yards
"The light on the water passed about 100 yds to port. As the
barge began to return to course, another light was seen coming at
the barge at an angle of about 45° which [sic? - with?] the Bow.
It came to within inches of the starboard side and appeared to
rebound at 45° with the stern and moved away. It disappeared in
a few seconds....
"All lights were the same colour, with this strange rotating
shadow, causing the lights to pulsate. The pulsations timed at
12 for 9 seconds, then completely irregular, then settled down to
12 for 9 seconds.
"The compass swung out of control, but became worse as the light
"THE THING ON THE BEACH"
Another striking case occurred near Vaucluse Beach, one of
Sydney's beach suburbs, at about 5.30 pm, on July 19th, 1965. Between
showers and high winds, Dennis Crowe, a former technical artist with
English aircraft companies, was walking along the beach, near his home.
He became aware of a glow coming from what appeared to be a huge disc
shaped object resting on leg-like structures. The object's diameter
was estimated at some 20 feet. It had a glowing, greenish blue rim,
while the top and bottom halves were dull silver grey in appearance.
Crowe thought a hollow in the top could have been a glass dome. He
could not make out any sign of movement in the object. When he
approached the object to within 50 to 60 feet, it suddenly lifted off
the ground. A noise, like air being forcibly released from a balloon,
was noticed. The UFO climbed rapidly and within 10 seconds had
disappeared into clouds. There were no other witnesses to the
encounter save a dozen or so dogs. While the object was stationary
they were all barking loudly at it. After it took off they were all
strangely silent. A geologist made independent calculations at the
landing site which confirmed definite traces of an unusual object
having rested there. He stated that the vegetation there was dying and
would remain dead for a number of years. The Royal Australian Air
Force (RAAF) put forward a possible explanation for this extraordinary
incident. They suggested it was a "tornado"!
The Vaucluse "tornado" was another remarkable example of an
unlikely explanation put forward by the RAAF, that perhaps anticipated
meterologist Terence Meaden's "plasma vortex" hypothesis and his
extreme applications of it to English "crop circles" of the 80s and
90s, and significant UFO physical trace events.
THE 1966 TULLY SAUCER "NEST"
1966 was again a major year for UFO activity in Australia. The
classic UFO landing at Horseshoe Lagoon near Tully, far north
Queensland, and witnessed by farmer George Pedley, entered the term UFO
"nest" into popular UFO parlance. The locality was the centre of an
extended UFO milieu that continued for many years, particularly in
1969, 1972 and 1975. The area was also the site of controversial and
fascinating experiments in UFO detection through remote sensing and
Farmer, George Pedley's sighting at Horseshoe Lagoon and the
physical evidence found there caused a media sensation. The Tully "UFO
nest" affair of 1966 is one of the best known accounts of an apparent
UFO landing report. It has been mentioned extensively in the UFO
literature over the years,and yet surprisingly many inaccuracies and
misconceptions have developed. These problems became more critical when
the famous Tully incident of January 19, 1966, once again became the
focus of attention, this time due to the English "crop circle"
controversy. The prominent schools of thought on the crop circle
formations adopted the 1966 Tully incident as a classic example of
their percieved explanations for the circle complexes. Their claims
about the relevance of the Tully incident as an example of the
currently percieved crop circle phenomenon were flawed and generally
The RAAF files describe the famous Tully incident in the following
At about 9.00 a.m. on 19th January, 1966, Mr. G.A. Pedley, a banana
grower of Tully, Qld, observed a light grey non reflecting dull
object, reported to be about 25 feet long and 8 feet deep, rise
vertically then climb on an angle of 450 from a height of about 30
feet above marshland which was situated about 25 yards away from
his position. There was an associated hissing noise which
descreased as the 'object' rose. The apparent shape was described
as 'two saucers, face to face', but no structural detail was
observed. The duration of the observation was approximately 15
seconds and it disappeared in mid-air whilst receding into the
distance (not assessed).
A clearly defined near circular depression remained in evidence in
swamp grass at the point from which the object was seen rising,
and measured about 32 feet long by 25 feet wide. The grass was
flattened in clockwise curves to water level within the circle and
the reeds had been uprooted from the mud. There was no scorching
of grass or surrounding trees and the observer stated that there
was no smell of combustion..."
My research of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) files
uncovered the original police report on the incident. As these are the
earliest documented sources extracts of it are included here of details
not included in the above statement made in 1973 in response to an
enquiry from the "Australian" newspaper.
George Pedley reported his experience to Tully Police at 7.30 pm,
on January 19th. At 7 am, January 20th George Pedley and Sgt. A.V.
Moylan went to the site of the incident. Sgt. Moylan, then contacted
Townsville RAAF Base by telephone, on the morning of January 20th.
Flt. Lt. Wallace advised Sgt. Moylan that he would forward a proforma
questionaire for completion by George Pedley. On Friday, January 21st,
Flt. Lt. Wallace confirmed despatch of two copies of the sighting
proforma by mail that same day and also requested Sgt. Moylan obtain "a
sample of the grass from the scorched area." At 3.30 pm, on the same
day, Moylan returned to the site and took a sample "of the grass from
the depression in the swamp grass at the site. The proforma was filled
out by Moylan based on his interviews with George Pedley and was dated
26/1/66. Sgt. Moylan despatched the report and the sample on 26/1/66.
The following details are extracted from the RAAF "REPORT ON
AERIAL OBJECT OBSERVED" Moylan filled out with George Pedley. Because
so many conflicting claims have been made about what George Pedley said
at the time, it is worthwhile to go back to the documentation filled
Name of Observer: George Alfred PEDLEY aged 28 years.
[Sgt. Moylan, in his report, had typed in anti-clockwise initially and
then corrected it to clockwise, by overtyping 'anti' with 'xxxx'. The
direction of the swirl at the site of the 19 January 1966 incident was
to become a matter of ongoing confusion. The clockwise direction was
the correction direction - B.C.]
Manner of observation:
travelling on a tractor about 1/2
mile from farm house of Albert PENNISI, Rockingham Road,
Euramo. Attention attracted by hissing noise, clearly
heard over noise of tractor-similar to air escaping from
tyre; checked tyres and was looking about for source of
noise when he saw object about 25 yards ahead. No optical
instruments used in sighting.
Height or angle of elevation:
First seen at treetop height
30'. Rose vertically to about twice that height, then
departed, climbing at about 45 degrees.
Speed, or angular velocity:
Extremely fast; No estimate of
speed, but much faster than an aeroplane.
It was near treetops and these gave observer a good basis
for estimating height.
Direction of flight with reference to landmarks or points
of the compass:
Rose vertically to about 60 feet and
departed south west climbing at about 45 degrees; appeared
to be rotating for full time observed. (object appeared to
remain on) straight climbing path.
Existence of any physical evidence:
Clearly defined near circular depression in swamp grass at
point from which object seen rising, about 32' long and
25' wide. Grass flattened to surface of 4' of water lying
in xxxx-clockwise curves.
Weather conditions experienced at time of observation:
Clear sky; Hot sunshine.
Location of any air traffic in the vicinity at the time of
sighting: Unknown but checked by RAAF Garbut.
[Flt. Lt. Wallace of Townsville RAAF base in a covering minute paper
confirmed that "there were no service or Civil aircraft operating in
the area.. at the time of the sighting.." - B.C.]
Any additional information: (Sgt. Moylan wrote)
(Sgt. Moylan further added:)
Observer reported this matter to Tully Police at 7.30pm on
19/1/66 and at 7am, 20/1/66 went with me to the site of
the depression in the swamp. His version then included
the information that the object rose vertically, appeared
to dip slightly and then went off in straight climbing
path. He then said...further that there was no smell of
combustion and no scorching of grass or trees visible;
that the the flattened grass or rushes was quite green
when he first saw the depression; on his return that
afternoon the grass had turned brown.
In this matter I formed the opinion that the depressed
area in the swamp grass had been caused by a small
helicopter and that the observer, in the early morning
bright sunlight shining on the rotor may have mistaken the
shape. His description of the takeofflent some strength
to my opinion. However there was cleared land to the east
for about 200 yards where such an aircraft could have more
safely landed instead of the position indicated by the
observer, close to trees. Later I was informed by Wallace
Evans of ...Tully, an electrician that he has seen similar
markings in a swamp at Kurrumine Beach and is quite
certain that it was caused by a whirlwind, sucking up
water into a waterspout, uprooting the grass and laying it
out in a similar pattern. At 3.30pm, 21/1/66 I took a
sample of the grass at the site and have forwarded it
under seperate cover on even date.
Flt. Lt. T.D. Wright, for Air Officer Commanding, Headquarters
Operational Command, RAAF, Penrith, New South Wales (NSW), on-forwarded
police Sgt. Moylan's report on George Pedley's UFO sighting and Flt.
Lt. Wallace's covering minute paper, to the Department of Air, Russell
Offices, Canberra. His communication classified RESTRICTED, which was channelled to the Directorate of Air Force Intelligence (DAFI), also
indicated, "This headquarters believes that the depressions of the
swamp grass were caused by small isolated waterspouts."
In response to an enquiry, dated 2nd February, 1966, from the
Commonwealth Aerial Phenomena Investigation Organisation (CAPIO), the
Secretary, Department of Air, Mr. A.B. McFarlane, wrote on 11th
"Investigations of the area surrounding the reported
"Nests", testing of samples taken from around them and
interrogation of persons involved in the report failed to
reveal anything of significance.
"However, during enquiries a number of local residents
stated that the reported "nests" are fairly common during the
onset of the "wet". Furthermore, the University of Queensland
stated that there was nothing unnatural in the samples
submitted and assessed that the "nests" could have been the
result of severe turbulance, which normally accompany line
squalls and thunderstorms prevalent in NORTH QUEENSLAND at the
time of the year.
"There is no explanation for the visible phenomena reported
but it could have been associated with or the result of "down
draughts", "willy willies" or "water spouts" that are known to
occur in the area.
".. for information ....in January of this year from an
airfield in the tropics (a number of photographs taken give) a
fine example of the type and growth of a cloud formation
occuring with a severe "down draught"
This whirling mass of tropical air associated with thunderstorm
activity, on reaching the earth's surface may dissipate and
subside or persist giving rise to dust eddies, water spouts,
etc, and leaving a telltale circular pattern on the ground.
Should it occur over a swampy reed bed the effect would be
to flatten the reeds with a circular pattern. resultant
photographs and investigations of the "nests" seem to fit in
with this theory and is accepted as a possible cause of the
It is fascinating to note how Secretary McFarlane's cursory
explanatory exposition, no doubt inspired by "the tornado-like
metereological phenomena" infested skies over Willow Grove, Victoria
and Vaucluse Beach, NSW, anticipated by almost 2 decades Dr. Terence
Meaden's early theoretical attempts to explain the English "crop
circles" of the 1980s. Dr. Meaden would mistakingly assume that George
Pedley saw his "vortex" at 9 pm, not 9 am, which is a fatal flaw in the
mechanism he put forth to explain the report.
The only other significant official statement on the Tully
sighting I found in the RAAF files was included in a letter by Mr. G.J.
Odgers, Director of Public Relations, Department of Defence (Air
Office), dated 17th December, 1973, directed to Charles Wright, a
journalist working on a article for the national newspaper, The
George Odgers' Air Office public relations department had clearly
gleaned from the 1966 DAFI files details of an explanation of what
George Pedley seen that the original RAAF officers and Department
officers back in 1966 had not determined:
"Although a conclusive determination could not be made, the
most probable explanation was that the sighting was of a 'willy
willy' or circular wind phenomenon which flattened the reeds and
sucked up debris to a height of about 30 feet, thus forming what
appeared to be a 'flying saucer', before moving off and
dissipating. Hissing noises are known to be associated with
'willy willies' and the theory is also substantiated by the
clockwise configuration of the depression.
Mr. Odgers further added, more generally,
"All to often unusual occurrences are reported in
sensational terms with little or no attempt made at rational
assessment. The general subject is 'newsworthy' and lends itself
to sensationalism and guesswork, but in most cases logical
explanations follow from careful investigation. You will
appreciate that there is nothing to be gained from reopening old
cases." [a sentiment I would not agree with - B.C.]