Happy New Year from Adelaide, South Australia! What a start to 2012, with our maximum temperature today climbing to 41 degrees C. I'm settling down with a glass of cold Queen Adelaide wine, and reading a copy of the new book "UFOs and Aliens" (details below.)
Hot weather and a lazy day always gets my brain pondering UFO cases; strange but true. While reading a passage in this book, my thoughts turned to the 1966 Westall case (click here .)
At about 11am on 6 April 1966, something travelled through the air over the Westall High School, in the Melbourne suburb of Clayton, Victoria. It is said that military personnel, possibly RAAF, Army, USAF, and Commonwealth Police attended the scene, some in so short a time as to appear that the authorities knew about the aerial object beforehand.
Some researchers have suggested that there is a conventional explanation for the event (e.g. click here.)
While sipping my wine, and reading "UFOs and Aliens" I thought that if you were looking for a conventional explanation, you would need to find some secret project, which was operational in 1966 over Australia; which had something known to be in the Melbourne area, and something which the USAF were involved with.
In earlier blog posts, my co-blogger, Keith Basterfield explored the possibility of a link between Westall and the USAF Australian U-2 program, Operation Crowflight (click here and here.) Ultimately, after studying previously unpublished Australian Government files, he concluded that there appeared to be no link.
So, now to that passage from "UFOs and Aliens," edited by Michael Pye and Kirsten Dalley (New Page Books. 2011. Pompton Plains, NJ. ISBN 978-1-66163-173-2.) In a chapter titled "A Cosmic Watergate: UFO Secrecy," UFOlogist Stanton T Friedman writes about the formerly secret CIA Corona spy satellite program. These American satellites were in use between June 1959 and May 1972, and certainly around in 1966 the time of the Westall event. They photographed various parts of the world and "The de-orbited film containers were snatched out of the sky and captured, usually away from populated areas (over the Pacific Ocean or the deserts of Australia, for example.)" (p.12.)
The program remained secret until 1995.
So, here came my line of thinking. A secret program, in operation in 1966; involving USAF personnel in which something came down from orbit at a known date and time, which sometimes occurred over "the deserts of Australia." Suppose something went wrong with one of these descending film containers and it veered over Melbourne?
In this scenario, the question of course, is, was there a Corona spy satellite in orbit and de-orbiting a film container at 11 am on 6 April 1966?
I located a NASA website (click here) which listed each of the Corona program satellites (the KH range). KH 7-26 (NSSDC ID 1966-022B) is shown as being launched 18 March 1966 and decaying on 23 March 1966. KH 7-27 (NSSDC ID 1966-032A) was launched 19 April 1966 and decayed 26 April 1966. Thus according to this source, there was no Corona program satellite in orbit on 6 April 1966.
However, I then located another website (click here) which also had a list of launches. Here, we find:
Mission number 1030
NSSDC Id 1966-018A
Launched 9 Mar 1966
Decayed 29 Mar 1966.
Mission number 1031
NSSDC Id 1966-029A
Launched 7 April 1966
Decayed 26 April 1966.
A check back with the NSSDC catalogue shows that these two missions were also apparently Corona program satellites. Again, though none was in orbit on 6 April 1966 (even allowing for time differences between locations on Earth.)
Like the U-2 program which involved USAF personnel, the Corona spy satellite program appears to have no link to the Westall event.
For those readers now intrigued to read more on the Corona program please take a look at the CIA History Staff, Center for the Study of Intelligence, book on Corona edited by Kevin C Ruffner (click here to read a copy.)
UFO crash lore:
Interestingly, this secret program may have contributed to "UFO crash" lore, e.g. on page 33 one reads that Corona mission 1005 was launched on 27 April 1964. On 26 May 1964 observers in Venezuela saw five burning objects in the sky. On 7 July 1964 workers found a "battered golden object" on the ground on a farm near La Fria, Tachira state. "A team of CORONA officers, ostensibly representing the USAF, flew to Caracas to recover the remains." "...CORONA officers...quietly dismissed the event as an unimportant NASA space experiment gone awry." (p.33.)
I found a very informative website with an excellent report on the Venezuela incident (click here.)
Have any readers come across Corona related "UFO crashes?"