Another spectacular report followed closely on the heels of the 24 May 1965 Eton Ridge close encounter, which I reported on a few posts ago (click here.) My Australian wide catalogue provides the following summary:
"28 May 1965 Off Bougainville Reef Photo 0325hrs
In the early hours of the morning a DC-6 radioed Townsville control tower that it was being 'buzzed' by a UFO. The object was described as spherical in shape; flat on top and the bottom. Exhaust gases were reported coming from the object. It is said to have paced the aircraft for some ten minutes during which the captain took photographs. The object then moved ahead of the plane and disappeared. An official 'cover-up' is reported to have occurred."
The most detailed account which I have now been able to find of the event was that carried by the former NICAP's "The UFO Investigator", June-July 1965 edition, page 4 (click here) which reads:
"UFO Photos by Airline Captain reported.
Bulletin: The following preliminary report, forwarded to NICAP by an officer of the Criminal Investigation Branch, Townsville, North Queensland, Australia was received just before our deadline. We are trying to get further details for the next issue.
Five nights after the landing described on page 1, an Australian DC-6 airliner was 'buzzed' by an unidentified flying object. According to the police source stated above, the airline captain photographed a round-shaped machine while it paced the aircraft.
This latest encounter, in the early hours of May 28,1965 involved a DC-6 operated by Ansett-ANA. It was on a regular flight from Brisbane to Port Moresby, New Guinea.
At about 3.25am, the airline captain using the flight call sign of 'VH-INH' radioed a Queensland airport control tower that the DC-6 was being 'buzzed' by an unknown flying object. He described it as spherical in shape, flat on the top and the bottom. Exhaust gases could be seen coming from it, he reported.
For ten minutes, the UFO paced the airliner, during which time the captain took several photographs of the mystery craft. He also had two other members of the crew confirm the sighting before the object raced ahead of the aircraft and disappeared.
NICAP note - Although we are reducing the number of censorship stories, following the majority wishes in the recent poll (see page 6) we believe this case will have special interest since it shows UFO secrecy is not confined to the United States.
"He was instructed not to have the film developed in New Guinea" states the report "He was flown to Canberra (on his return) where the film was taken from him...The twelve hour tapes with the pilot's report to the control tower also were confiscated."
It is not clear whether the film was confiscated by a government agency in Canberra, or by a representative of the airline. The understandable uneasiness of airline officials, who fear UFO encounter stories might frighten away passengers, could be a factor. But one reference int the report indicating the Department of Civil Aviation was involved. In the May 24th landing case, the DCA made no attempt to cover up. But since the Royal Australian Air Force is the official UFO investigation agency, the Civil Aviation agency may only be following orders. In the past, Australian authorities have not tried to hide UFO sightings - even official Navy reports. We hope this censorship is only temporary and that the full story will soon be available."
An examination of later issues of "The UFO Investigator" failed to locate any further details of this event. One might, of course, say that this is due to the official 'cover-up.'
The current NICAP websites "Category 11 case Directory sightings from aircraft" (click here) carries a summary of the case, citing their source as "Volume II, The UFO Evidence, A Thirty-Year Report, Richard Hall, 2001. page 128." This source states:
"3.25am local. The pilot and aircrew of an Ansett-ANA DC6-B, (callsign VH-INH) was en-route from Brisbane, Australia to Port Moresby, New Guinea. The pilot called Townsville control tower and spoke to operator William Orr, informing him that his aircraft was being buzzed by a UFO. The pilot gave his position as above, or abreast of Bougainville Reef. The object was a flattened sphere with what looked like exhaust gases coming from it. It paced the aircraft for 10-15 minutes, then accelerated and raced ahead and out of sight. Photographs were taken during the sighting. The pilot was diverted back to Brisbane and from there flown to Canberra where the film was taken from him and we were told he was instructed to tell no person of this incident. The audio tapes of air traffic control transmissions at Townsville also were confiscated. Some days after this air traffic controller was told to "shut his mouth" about the incident, with the added threat that if he didn't he might be dismissed by the Department of Civil Aviation."
The NICAP website account of the incident has a link to USAF Project Bluebook's reports of global UFO sightings. NARA-PBB1-333 (click here) is a list of reported global sightings between 1-31 May 1965. There is no listing for the Bougainville Reef case.
I am aware of two searches undertaken by Australian UFO researchers looking to obtain further information on this case.
1. CAPIO - Peter Norris.
National Archives of Australia file series A703 control symbol 554/1/30 Part 1 page 103, is a letter dated 19 Jul 1965, from Peter Norris to Mr B Roberts, Senior Research Scientist, Department of Air. In this letter Norris asks if Roberts could confirm if a sighting reported in a US UFO magazine re an Australian aircraft 'buzzed' by a UFO, had occurred.
On 18 Aug 1965, Squadron leader Wheeler, of the RAAF responded to the letter that they had no such report, and referred Norris to DCA.
2. Bill Chalker.
In volume 4 number 6 of the Journal of the Australian Centre for UFO Studies, page 15, as part of an article titled "Study of Official Government Involvement in the UFO Controversy- a Progress report" Chalker wrote:
"It has been alleged that evidence about the case, including the film has been confiscated by DCA officials and subsequently covered up. The classified papers I examined consisted largely of internal communciations between the Queensland Regional Director of DCA and the Director-General of DCA, which appears to confirm a lack of knowledge about the event, at least at the level of Directors of DCA."
Bill Chalker's book:
"The Oz Files," (1996, Duffy and Snellgrove. Potts Point. ISBN 1-8759-8904-8) (click here) page 110 carries an account of the incident. Details provided there, follow those in the NICAP version, but the following additional points are included:
1. "Dr Allen Hynek quotes the pilot in his book. "The UFO Experience." "I had always scoffed at these reports but I saw it. We all saw it. It was under intelligent control, and it was certainly no know aircraft."
2/ "The pilot has been identified as Captain John Barker and the duty officer at Townsville control was William Orr. Orr passed on the details of the incident to John Meskell, a detective with the Criminal Investigation Branch."
The Hynek reference mentioned above, appears on page 28 of Hynek's book "The UFO Experience." (Corgi, UK. 1974.) ( click here.) However, Hynek added a footnote which reads:
"Sighting of May 24 1965. Report is not included in appendix 1 because author had no personal contact with the reporter or the investigator."
This date of 24 May 1965 appears to show that the quote attributed by Chalker to Captain John Barker's report of 28 May 1965 may be incorrect. It would instead, appear that the quote came from the main witness to the 24 May 1965 Eton Ridge case, J Tilse, himself a pilot.
RAAF UFO files:
I hoped to find a report on the Bougainville Reef case in the UFO files of the RAAF. However, a close examination of their files revealed absolutely no documentation on the event, apart from the 1965 correspondence to and from Peter Norris.
The aircraft said to have been involved in this case was given as aircraft callsign VH-INH. This probably referes instead to aircraft registration VH-INH. A search of the Internet turned up an aircraft site (click here) of a Douglas DC-6B, which appears to be the correct aircraft. It entered onto the Australian Aircraft Register as VH-INH on 16 Dec 1954. It was registered to Australian National Airways, then cross charted to TAA on 26 Feb 1960 to 29 Aug 1966. It "Operated TAA's first Sydney to New Guinea service - July 9 1960." "Operated final TAA evenue service - August 14 1966." Re-entered service with Ansett-ANA - December 6 1966."
Is this is indeed the same aircaft involved in the UFO case, then on 28 May 1965 it was not an Ansett-ANA aircraft but a TAA aircraft. Thus the Meskell report to NICAP where the aircraft is described as "Operated by Ansett ANA" appear incorrect. Indeed, the cited aircraft wesbite has a photograph of VH-INH at Sydney airport in May 1965 clearly showing it painted out as a TAA aircraft.
In part two of this post I will provide details of my search for the Captain of the aircraft, and the Townsville DCA officer.
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