When my first UFO book was published, way back in 1981 (click here) it contained a catalogue of Australian UFO cases up to that date. One of the events listed, happened in Wittenoom, Western Australia (click here). I categorised the event, based on the data I had at the time, as a close encounter type one. This was based on details which appeared in a 1967 book by Michael Hervey (click here) titled "UFOs Over the Southern Hemisphere." Horwitz. Sydney. My catalogue entry read:
"Residents called police to tell them they had observed a cigar-shape lined with windows which shone with red, white, orange and yellow lights. There was a red tail, and it was some fifty metres long, being only some ten metres above the ground." (Hervey, p.157.)
I catalogued it, based on this information and didn't come across any more material on the event until this year. I was reading a RAAF UFO file (file series A703, control symbol 580/1/1 part 4.) Pages 152-161 of this file contained four eye witness reports and a sketch.
The sketch, was to say the least, dramatic. It features a long, cylindrical object with definitive edges. There are eight, square, windows from which red, white, orange and yellow light is indicated to come. There is a blue rear glow, and a red tail. The object is shown over hills and the height of the object above these, is indicated as "between 30 feet and 19,000(?) feet." I guess the ten metres (30 feet) mentioned in the catalogue entry comes from this number.
However, an examination of the sketch shows that none of the witnesses drew it. The drawing, says on it, that it was by a Const (presumably police constable) Roce "...from descriptions of attached reports."
There are four completed proformas on the file, by Antoni Uchanski; Gary Juszcyk; Edo Rossi and Alexander Brian Elder.
Uchanksi was a crane driver. At about 3am on 2 Aug 1964, for approximately one minute, he saw the object. He was located outside a tailing bin at ABA mine in Wittenoom. Coming from behind a hill, the object travelled above the Hammersley Ranges. His attention was drawn by a "storm of light in the sky." The single object was "similar to a rocket." When asked about the colour of the object, he wrote "Colour of object not known." He did note it had yellow-orange light coming from it, and blue close to the object. As to shape, he wrote "Appeared as a rocket. Body longer than aeroplane." He wrote "no" to the question "Was any detail of structure observed?" There was no sound at all.
To the question of height, he wrote "Hard to say. Could not judge. But at least 30 feet above the ranges." Regarding speed, he wrote "Estimated to be the same speed as Fokker-Friendship, maximum ground speed at takeoff." The object travelled south-west to north-east, in a straight line. There was a "trail of red flame." It was lost "behind a hill." The weather was good, visibility clear.
Juszczyk was a shift boss at the mine. It was at 3am, duration 2 minutes. First seen coming from behind a hill, the object appeared "like a rocket." The colour of the object was "not known." There were orange and yellow lights inside the shape. There was no sound. He estimated its height above the ground as 200 - 300 feet above the ranges. Its speed was about 200-250mph. It travelled horizontally. Gary said the object travelled from south to north, from the mine towards the township. It travelled in a straight line, until lost from view over the ranges. There was a trail of red from its rear.
Rossi was a mill foreman, when at 3 am for about 1 minute he saw a light coming from behind a hill, looking "similar to a rocket." It had red lights and white lights in windows. The actual colour of the object itself was unknown. Its shape was "similar to an aeroplane body, but longer and wider." It was soundless. It seemed "about 100 feet above the ranges." Speed - about "the same as a Fokker Friendship." It was travelling south to north in a straight line and went out of view over the ranges, behind a hill.
So far, we have a consistent description from three witnesses, all at the Wittenoom mine. At 3 am a silent, rocket-like object, came from behind one hill, travelled across the sky in a straight line and disappeared, between 1-2 minutes later, behind another hill. It moved south to north. It was emitting multiple colours. It had a red tail. One witness reported seeing "windows." Height estimates vary between 30 feet and 300 feet.
There is a fourth witness report form on the file, from an Alexander Brian Elder. Elder was an electrician, but he was not at the mine when he sighted the object. He states he was "on the road between second and third crossings in Wittenoom Gorge, travelling south from the town to ABA mine." He says he initially saw one object, at 3.10am, "coming from behind a hill on the side of the Wittenoom Gorge." His attention was drawn to a single bright light. However, the single object became several objects. There were "approx six or seven objects - the long object appeared as a streak of light attended by discs of light." Their colour was golden-yellow. There was no structure visible and no sound was heard. he estimated its height as "over 20,000 feet." Its speed was "Through 90 degrees in 2 minutes." The object was travelling south to north from ABA mine to townsite. The object travelled in a straight line and disappeared behind another hill.
Despite the 3.10am timing, Elder's observation appears to be of the same object as that described by the other three witnesses. However, unlike them, Elder reports seeing first one, then several objects.
What was it?
Hervey's size for the object as fifty metres long appears nowhere in the material on the RAAF file. His altitude above the ground of 10 meters appears drawn from Uchanski's estimate of "at least 30 feet." However, he first wrote "hard to say. Could not judge" then took a guess. Other estimates are 100 feet; 200-300 feet; and "over 20,000 feet."
A check of the night sky (in Sky View cafe) as seen from Wittenoom for 3am on 2 Aug 1964 shows that the Moon was up, in the north-eastern sky. The planet Jupiter was near the Moon, and the planet Saturn was at 70 degrees elevation in the western sky.
On reading the descriptions on the file, my first thought was that the event was due to a bright meteor. The object was described as bright, soundless, travelling in a straight line, from horizon to horizon, and was multi-coloured. Elder also said it consisted of several objects. Only one witness reported seeing "windows" and analysis of other reports of meteors and re-entering space debri ( e.g. click here ) have shown that some people report seeing "windows" in these mundane events - a trick of the brain. No details given here are inconsistent with the object being such a bright meteor.
Far from being a close encounter type one event, the 2 Aug 1964 Wittenoom event is highly likely to have been an IFO.