Saturday, April 26, 2014

An unusual account set in southern California, and one from New South Wales

Hi all,


From time to time, I come across intriguing accounts, about which I would like to know more. Over the years there have been numerous such stories. Some, I have been able to enlarge upon, while others remain in fragmentary pieces, which I have never been able to put together. In this post I would like to share details of two such accounts, and ask for any blog readers who might be able to throw more light on either of them, to do so.

Southern California:

Back in October 2011, I interviewed an Adelaide man who recounted an observation of a UAP over Canberra, ACT, at around the time of the Valentich disappearance.

During our conversation, he advised me that at one time he had related his story to a well know Australian engineer and motor car racing identity (name on  file, I will refer to him as Mr. P.)

My informant said that Mr P had told him the following. Back in the 1960's Mr P was driving test cars for Ford in southern California. The car had previously crashed, killing two test drivers. Mr P drove another one of these cars and also crashed. Mr P survived the crash and some part of his recovery process was undertaken at Edwards Air Force Base. There, Mr P related, he saw (1) an unusual metal, and (2) an object the size of an orange which could hover by itself.

Fact checking:

1. A search of the Internet confirmed that Mr P had indeed been involved as a test driver for the Ford J-car program in the aftermath of Ken Miles' fatal Bridgehampton accident.

2. Another website provided details of Miles' accident which took place at the Riverside International Raceway in southern California in August 1966. The site confirmed that there had been two fatal accidents in five months in the Ford program.

3. Edwards Air Force Base is indeed in southern California.

4. However, I could not locate any Internet account concerning Mr P being injured in a Ford J car crash; nor of him being hospitalised at Edwards Air Force Base. There was also nothing about an unusual metal, or a hovering orange object.

5. I did locate an Australian website created by Mr P's family, to honour his work. I forwarded an email to the site, recounting the details I was aware of, and asked them if they had ever come across this story? I never received a reply.

Crash retrieval in New South Wales?

A friend of mine in Tasmania has recently spoken to a man about an incident reported to have happened about 20-30 miles outside of Moree, New South Wales, Australia, in about 1963-1964.

The account is of an incident which happened to the informant's father. At about 2 am farmers in the area reported a bright light which lit up the area. There was a reported ground trace found, and the area was said to have been cordoned off by the police and the military.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Westall - read the original documentation yourself

Hi all,

Original documentation:

I have become aware, through reading recent comments on social media, that many people, including individuals who were present on site at Westall High School on 6 April 1966, have never had the opportunity to carefully read all of the original documentation which exists on the event.

Certainly, almost no-one has had the opportunity to hear the audio interview between US UAP researcher Professor James E McDonald, and Westall teacher Andrew Greenwood, recorded in Melbourne in June 1967.

I have therefore arranged with John Stepkowski of the Project 1947 website, for that site to host a document which provides the text of all the relevant newspaper articles; UAP magazine articles, plus comprehensive summary notes of the 1967 McDonald/Greenwood interview.

I would ask that, whatever perspective you hold on the Westall event, that you take half an hour to carefully read through this documentation and let the facts contained in it, inform your views.

The material may be viewed at:

Relevant HIBAL documents:

I have been challenged by one correspondent to produce any official documents to back up my claim that the Australian Government was concerned at the possible liability which might have arisen from HIBAL program balloons landing in an "inhabited area."

One such document is to be found on National Archives of Australia file series A1838, control symbol 694/7/23 part 2. This file originated with the former Australian government Department of External Affairs.

Another correspondent asked me to post an official document which showed that there were other balloons flying from Mildura, which were not part of the US Atomic Energy Commission air sampling program. Again, from the same file series as the two documents above, here is a chart which clearly shows proposed balloon launches in March/April 1966 (remember Westall was 6 April 1966) by the US Government Office of Naval Research/NASA.

I am conducting further research on these "special balloon launches" to determine if they had any relevance to the Westall incident.

Last point:

To those who do not favour my line of argument that the authorities knew that the Westall object was coming, because they were tracking the HIBAL balloon, parachute and payload which caused the incident. If it was a "UFO" how did the authorities react so quickly? How did they know that the "UFO" was coming down at Westall? I have never read an explanation of this from any pro-UFO supporter. I would certainly like to hear what they have to say on this point.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Westall - HIBAL - further information you may not know

Hi all,

I want to add some further information in support of the hypothesis that the 6 April 1966 incident at Westall High School was due to the recovery of a HIBAL payload and its associated 12 metre diameter parachute (for previous post, click here,) and the subsequent desire by authorities to "hush" the event up.


Most of the modern day accounts of the Westall incident, draw upon the 40 plus year old memories of people who are alive today, and were in their early teens when the event occurred. Much of this material has been documented, and discussed only post 2005, on social media sites ( e.g. see here, and here.) In my opinion, while such sites have allowed people who were former students at Westall High School, to come forward and share their recollections; they are simply that; 40 plus year old memories of "something which happened." I understand that not one individual has been able to come forward with say, a 1966 diary entry, where we can all read their 1966 account of what they saw that day. We are relying on their memories.

Here then lies my first issue, the 40 year plus old memories.  General public opinion suggests that memories are like a video recording of the event, i.e. you can play it back in your mind at any time and the results will be consistent, accurate and the same time after time. However, this is not what modern scientific research has found.

"Important, surprising and impactful public events sometimes produce flashbulb memories. These are vivid and long lived recollections of the personal circumstances associated with learning about such events...Subsequent researchers have used a test-retest design to assess the accuracy and stability of these memories over fairly long delays...This line of work has demonstrated that memory reports collected months or years after the flash-bulb eliciting event sometimes differ from ones collected days or weeks after the event." (Lee, PJ and Brown, NR. 2003. "Delay Related Changes in Personal Memories for September 11, 2001." Applied Cognitive Psychology. 17:1007-1015.)

A 1992 piece by Neisser, U and Harsch, N (in Winograd, E and Neisser, U (eds.) "Affect and Accuracy in Recall: Studies of "Flashbulb Memories". 1992. pp9-31) titled "Phantom flashbulbs: False recollections of hearing the news about Challenger" is of particular relevance. Here, accounts of the space shuttle Challenger disaster from the day following the event, were compared to memories of the event after some 2 and a half years. Only 7% of the participants were able to recall the information accurately. 68% recalled memories containing varying amounts of accurate and inaccurate details. Despite this issue, participants were highly confident that they had in fact accurately recalled the incident. This study was based on such simple questions as where they were when they found out, and what they were doing at that time?

Numerous other pieces of research have shown the fallibility of human memory. "An accumulation of data refutes the necessity of a uniquely accurate memory process, instead showing that FBMs often include errors." (Talarico, JM and Rubin, DC. 2007. "Flashbulb memories Are Special After All; in Phenomenology, Not Accuracy." Applied Cognitive Psychology. 21:556-578.

In summary, I have serious doubts about the accuracy of many of the accounts collected and discussed in social media forums post 2005, about the Westall incident.

What do I think is accurate?

I think that instead of relying on old, often inaccurate memories, we should take a closer look at the documentation which exists from 1966. I have been able, with the kind assistance of Westall researcher Shane Ryan, and "Westall 66" documentary film maker Rosie Jones to compile a listing of such documentation. This includes local newspaper accounts from 1966; a one page report form filled in for the Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society (VFSRS) in 1966, and a student's written account from 1966.

1. The VFSRS report form is in the name of 12 year old student, Joy Tighe. In it, she states that she saw "Circular 2 UFOs." "Round on top Flat on Bottom." She describes the trace as "Flattened waist high grass for 10 yards diameter."

Under the HIBAL hypothesis, I would suggest that Joy saw the HIBAL 12 metre diameter parachute and the associated (but separated by a distance) attached payload. Note that Joy says there were two UFOs not the one (or three) suggested by post 2005 accounts.

2. The "Dandenong Journal" dated 14 April 1966 page 1, states that the shape was "a round humped object with a flat base..." Under the HIBAL hypothesis I would suggest that this refers to the 12 metre diameter parachute. The colour given in the Journal piece was grey or silver grey. I have not yet been able to determine the colour of HIBAL payload parachutes.

Regarding the ground trace (described by post 2005 reports as varying in number between one and several, and recollected, if my memory serves me correctly, in seven different locations by post 2005 accounts), VFSRS researcher Judith Magee is quoted in the Journal as seeing "a couple of circular patches where the grass had been flattened." However, the Journal then goes on to say "Mrs Magee said strong winds had been blowing during the week, and these could have caused the grass to be flattened."

If the ground trace, described in some post 2005 accounts as neat, circular shapes similar to crop circles, was in fact caused by high winds, then this aspect of the Westall incident needs no other explanation from the HIBAL hypothesis. I will add, that there is no 1966 account of the Westall UFO making the ground trace. Its association with the UFO appears to be one of inference, i.e. other UFOs have left ground markings, e.g. 19 January 1966 Tully "saucer nest."

Andrew Greenwood:

The Dandenong Journal dated 21 April 1966 cites an interview with Westall teacher Andrew Greenwood and has him describing what he saw as "Like a thin beam of light, about half the length of a light aircraft. It was silvery-grey and seemed to 'thicken' at times." Greenwood is cited as saying the object he saw was never stationary and seemed to move from side to side and up and down. This is so unlike what student Joy Tighe reported that one wonders if she and Greenwood were describing the same object, or two separate things. Could Greenwood have been looking at the deflating HIBAL balloon itself, as opposed to Tighe's sighting of the parachute and payload?

Regarding the departure of the object, post 2005 accounts have it departing at speed. What did Greenwood say in 1966? The Journal cites him as saying that after about 20 minutes, he "looked away and when he looked back it had disappeared." He did not say he saw the object departing at high speed. Interestingly, in a 1967 interview with Professor James E McDonald, Greenwood says that he lost sight of it as it vanished by accelerating away. So, only one year after the event, Greenwood himself may well have been the source of much later accounts of the object accelerating away. This may well be an example of a flashbulb memory being faulty, after some time has elapsed.

Clayton Calendar:

In a newsletter style publication "The Clayton Calendar" published somewhere between April and July 1966, a student wrote about his own observation of the Westall object. He describes what he saw, not as a domed object but like  a very thin, silver object. Its departure motion was described as moving into the distance, gradually gaining height. Again this is so  at odds with student Tighe's description, that one wonders what this 1966 student was actually observing? Note his description is identical to Greenwood's. Again, could this student have been looking at the actual deflating HIBAL balloon?

So, there we have three original accounts from 1966. This is all we have to go on if we believe that post 2005 accounts may be inaccurate, as modern psychological studies would suggest.

Back to HIBAL:

I would argue that the original 1966 documentation, sparse as it is, as much supports the HIBAL hypothesis as it does the UFO hypothesis. Of particular importance, in my mind, is the inability of UFO researchers to demonstrate that there was any link at all between UFO and "ground marking." Recall that it was VFSRS researcher Magee who commented that the mark may have simply been due to high winds.

Other important questions:

One additional point to mention is that no UFO researcher, myself included, has been able to locate even one single piece of official documentation from any Australian government UFO, or other, file, that relates the Westall incident as a UFO landing. The HIBAL hypothesis would suggest this is because the Westall incident was not UFO related. The UFO hypothesis suggests there was a major "cover up" of the event, and this is why there is no "paper trail."

A second point, is that some Westall witnesses, post 2005, commented upon the speed with which the authorities were on the scene, almost as if they knew the object was going to be there. The HIBAL hypothesis has a simple answer to this, the authorities knew that a parachute and payload dropped from a balloon was on its way because they were tracking it from a chase aircraft. A chase aircraft followed every flight. Recall that multiple light aircraft were said to be in the general area of the Westall object. It is known that some light aircraft were doing circuits from Moorabbin airport at that time which may account for most of the aircraft reported, leaving one to be a HIBAL chase aircraft.

A third point is that I know of no Australian UFO incident where it has been proven that the authorities tried to silence witnesses. Westall witnesses in 1966 documentation describe being told to keep quiet about the incident. The HIBAL hypothesis would point out that Department of External files I found in the National Archives of Australia show that authorities were deeply concerned about the possibility of a HIBAL project balloon and associated 200kg payload doing some damage on the ground, or indeed hitting an aircraft. Thus the hypothesis suggests the authorities would try and keep the fact that a 200kg payload nearly descended onto a school yard, as quiet as possible. One HIBAL flight in August 1966 landed on a chicken farm near Bendigo according to two former Department of Supply HIBAL personnel, whom I interviewed.

In summary:

Although I have the highest regard for the individuals who have come forward on social media sites to describe, often in quite confident terms, their recollections from 40 plus years ago, I would suggest that we cannot place confidence in their memories of the 1966 Westall event. Instead, in trying to work out what happened way back then, we need to better analyse the original 1966 documentation which is available to us.

This is why, I would like to see us analyse and debate non-UFO explanations for the 1966 Westall incident, along with those who propose a UFO explanation.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Project HIBAL - the answer to Westall? - files destroyed

Hi all,


A research project I conducted a little while ago, concerned Project HIBAL, which launched high altitude balloons from 1960 onwards from Mildura, and several other Australian locations. In previous posts, I provided details of the HIBAL program, and suggested these very large balloons might explain some UAP sightings from that era.

In addition, while conducting a cold case investigation of the 6 April 1966, Westall case, I began to look for a Project which involved the former Australian Department of Supply (DOS) (Westall researcher Shane Ryan was contacted by the family of a former DOS employee who maintained their father knew the solution to Westall); the American government (some Westall witnesses reported people wearing what some professionals have described as American uniforms); a light aircraft (Westall witnesses maintained several light aircraft circled the UAP); and some form of flying object, which could have come down near Westall High School. This cold case investigation brought me right back to Project HIBAL!

These very large balloons lifted a heavy payload high above the Earth. A "chase" aircraft followed each flight, and "cut down" the balloon via radio signal. The payload (weighing about 200kgs) then dropped to Earth, below a 12m diameter parachute, taking an hour to get to the ground. The balloon went on to land elsewhere. Chase vehicles with DOS personnel then retrieved the payload.

Balloons on the loose:

HIBAL flights in 1966 were launched from Mildura, and some payloads were retrieved as far away as the Eyre Peninsular in South Australia; Nowra, NSW; Canberra, ACT; and close to Melbourne (in August 1966.)

My research unearthed previously unseen Bureau of Meteorology and Department of External Affairs files, in the National Archives of Australia. I also located and interviewed five former DOS employees, who had all worked on the HIBAL program.

A working hypothesis:

As a result of my intensive research, I developed a working hypothesis. In summary, it was "Could a Project HIBAL balloon's payload and 12 metre parachute, and subsequent retrieval of the payload by a ground crew, have caused the Westall incident?"

There was a HIBAL balloon scheduled for launch on 5 April 1966, flight 292 of the series. Flights were quite often delayed by a day due to too strong winds on proposed launch dates. The Westall incident occurred on 6 April 1966.

As part of my research, I located the logbook of the pilot of the chase plane (now deceased). Strangely, there was a logbook entry for flight 291 and one for flight 293, but no entry for flight 292!


I located a National Archives of Australia file series on RecordSearch, namely MP1472/25, which was a series held by the Controller of the Section of DOS, responsible for the Department's part of the joint US Atomic Energy Commission (the American connection I was after) and DOS HIBAL program.

From the Bureau of Meteorology HIBAL files I had a DOS HIBAL program file reference, so I knew that the MP1472/25 file series held the DOS HIBAL files.

I inquired at the National Archives of Australia (NAA) about the present location of the file series MP1472/25? The recent NAA response to me informed me that the file series "...was destroyed by the controlling agency CA46 Department of Defence in 1996. There are no item lists for this series in our finding records." So, any hope of finding official information on flight 292, and where it came to ground, from DOS files, is gone.

Former employees:

In addition, none of the former Department of Supply employees I interviewed was able to tell me what happened to flight 292. I posed the question, could the 5 April 1966 payload have come down in Melbourne, to one of the former DOS employees, who sometimes flew in the chase plane. His response was that he wouldn't be surprised if one had!

So, unfortunately, I now have no way of testing my hypothesis that the 6 April 1966 Westall incident was caused by the landing and retrieval of the payload of HIBAL flight 292.

I must, for the sake of transparency, let blog readers know that I have provided details of my HIBAL hypothesis to key Westall researcher, Shane Ryan, who does not support the hypothesis. I have also provided details to Westall documentary film maker Rosie Jones, and she doubts that it is the answer to the Westall incident.

I welcome comments from blog readers, particularly former DOS employees or their families; or former members of the US Atomic Energy Commission HIBAL program; or indeed any of the Australian "official" Westall investigation team, which Westall witnesses  report "silenced" witnesses to the event.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

New book alert - Pennington

Hi all

An important new (2013) book has recently been published, which I recommend you read. It is titled "Science, Skeptics and UFOs: A Reluctant Scientist Explores the World of UFOs." Written by B. Timothy Pennington, it is published by Dog Ear Publishing of Indianapolis. ISBN 987-1-4575-2312-0.

Author's background:

Pennington, who retired in 2009, after many years working as a chemist, decided to review his family's history of UFO sightings. He also, following the scientific method, conducted his own literature search on the topic. The end result of his research was this excellent book.


The book's first chapter is titled "Mr Philip J Klass - Arch UFO Skeptic" and provides Pennington's views on both Klass, in particular, and skeptics in general. "When it comes to UFOs, the science establishment is not listening to the entire story." (p.4.)

"...the science establishment believes most  people that report UFOs are either deranged or are hoaxers, and a relative few are sincere, normal and well balanced who are simply mistaken." (p.5.)

Pennington then reviews Project Sign; Project Grudge; Project Blue Book and the Robertson panel. "Since UFOs were quickly embraced by the public at large before the science establishment could hardly get involved, the science establishment reacted skeptically and negatively from the beginning." (p.12.)

NASA etc:

Pennington then poses the question "The astute reader is probably wondering what about NASA ..., NORAD...and all other aerial data gathering groups..." (p.26.) He discussed his thoughts on these agencies.

The Pennington family observations:

These occurred in central Mississippi and are discussed in great detail in a number of chapters of the book. They started in the 1930's, with "...a shaft of light some 30 or 40 feet in diameter coming down from the sky and illuminating the entire width of the road." (p.40.)

Many observations were made by the family in the 1970's, for example:

June 1970. 9.15pm. Pennington's parents, Pennington and one other, watched multiple lights manoeuver in the sky.

November 1972. Two family members saw "Something huge blocking out the starry sky..." (p.155.)

18 March 1973. 7.35pm. Pennington and four others observed a large, bright, white light manoeuvring at apparently close range. He was able to calculate "...a decent estimate of the object's flight path, speed, direction and altitude." (p.65.) The results indicate a range of 250-350 feet when first seen; a speed range of 29-35mph, and a calculated size of 2-3 feet in diameter.

1974. Four people reported that an object approached, and then hovered over them, without a sound. It was at close range.

All in all, family members observed lights, and structured objects which they were unable to explain, on numerous occasions.

Literature search:

Pennington found details of other reports from central Mississipi, including a number listed in Project Blue Book. He closely examines these reports.

True to Pennington's scientific background, chapter 20 takes a look at earth-lights, ball lightning and upper atmospheric light phenomena.

"It seems to me that they have good evidence that earth-lights are real, are associated with areas of high seismic activity, and are responsible for some nocturnal light UFO reports." (p.137.)

"Could some or all of my family's sightings have been earth-lights? Some possibly could be..."(p.140.)

"In summary, it seems that geo-magnetic earth-lights fails for areas without a certain level of seismic activity and cannot be a general explanation for UFOs..." (p.155.)

UFO connection:

The areas in Mississipi where UFOs have been reported, were examined by Pennington. He found what he termed a "UFO corridor." He then looked for correlations. At one point he asks "What else beside forested area, quaternary geological faults and population could be correlated with this UFO corridor?" (p.157.)

Project Blue Book:

Pennington uses his scientific background to conduct an analysis of "unknowns" listed by Blue Book. "Whatever the imperfections of the Project Blue Book dataset are, I believe that it contains some useful information for hypothesis testing." (p.164.)

"In my quest to determine if the forest cover idea had merit, I found that it did, as it correlated at a statistically significant level with the Project Blue Book unknowns during both time periods." (p.200.)


One of Pennington's family members related their own abduction experience, and Pennington goes on to examine and discuss the work of Susan A Clancy and her book on abductions. "Psychological professionals that do not believe alien abduction is even remotely possible usually could not recognise a potentially real case if it fell into their laps." (p.208.)

Science and UFOs:

Towards the end of his book, Pennington writes "I have been saddened as I came to understand the irrational response of the scientific establishment 's UFO paradigm. The paradigm has been belief driven. The belief is that there cannot be any unexplained phenomena, therefore not even have to consider it." (p.246.)

Looking back at his own family's UFO observations, "Most of the central Mississipi's UFOs exhibited behaviour that excluded them from being earth-lights, and they were certainly not ball-lightning. If they were not ball-lightning, then what were they?"(p.249.)

Pennington's conclusions:

What does Pennington thinks UFOs are? "My favourite idea out of those proposed is that UFOs come from society that developed right here on Earth and are millions of years older and more advanced than humans." (p.281.)

"All that I am certain of is that from my and my family's direct observations, some UFOs do appear to be real flying craft of unknown origins with capabilities beyond humanity's current level of technology. (p.258.)

"My hypothesis that UFO activity is usually greatest near heavily forested areas is born out by the data from the entire United States for UFO hotspots and the Project Blue Book correlations." (p.259.)

In summary:

I found this an extremely thought provoking work, and worthy of several slow and detailed readings.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Perth near collision - the radar replay

Hi all,

Yesterday (click here), I posted information about the reported near collision between an "unknown object" and an aircraft owned by Skippers Aviation, on 19 March 2014, near Perth. Lying in bed last night, I suddenly realised that the WebTrak system of Air Services Australia (ASA), might contain some information about the event. The Webtrak system (click here) uses information from air traffic control secondary surveillance radars to provide information, overlayed on a map. I therefore went to the ASA WebTrak system for Perth and set it for the 19 March 2014 beginning at 0904hrs WST.

Enter the Skippers aircraft:

At 0909hrs WST a DH8C aircraft, shown as flying from YKBL (Kambalda, WA) appears on the radar replay, near the locality of Chidlow. This would be the aircraft described in the Australian Transport Safety Bureau's (ATSB) report on the incident.

The DH8C aircraft is shown following flight V0Z1432, registration VH-YIU, a B738, flying Darwin to Perth.

Some 20kms behind the DH8C aircraft was flight QFA485, Melbourne to Perth, an A332 at 6243ft. The crew of this aircraft would have had the DH8C to the front of them. 

Close to QFA485 is a general aviation aircraft, a C82R at 8186ft. However the direction of this aircraft was facing away from the DH8C aircraft.

Here is a snip from the actual radar replay. The DH8C aircraft is the one nearest the top of the snip.

Here is a close up view:


The radar replay shows V0Z1432 landed at 0916hrs WST; the DH8C landed at 0919hrs and QFA485 at 0920hrs.

Zooming in:

Zooming in on the radar replay reveals that at 0913hrs WST, the DH8C aircraft was at a height of 4124ft.  Looking at the track of this aircraft displayed on the radar replay, there does seem to be a slight direction change at the reported time of the near collision with the "unknown object."

"Unknown object":

There is absolutely no other aircraft shown near the DH8C aircraft, on the radar replay. However, it should be remembered that the air traffic control secondary surveillance radar only shows objects (aircraft) displaying a transponder which provides identification details to air traffic controllers.

In summary:

I believe that this is the first time that any researcher has used the ASA WebTrak to confirm details in an ATSB report, concerning a near collision between an "unknown object" and an Australian aircraft.
I would urge readers of this blog to go to the WebTrak website and examine the radar replay for themselves. WebTrak retains radar information for three months, so the plots should be available up until 19 June 2014 for you to take a look for yourselves. Naturally I await the release of the ATSB's report on the incident, which however, will not be available for some months.

Thank you again, to Melbourne based researcher, Paul Dean, for locating preliminary details of the incident on the website of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Near collison between an Australian aircraft and an "unknown" object on 19 March 2014

Hi all,

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that from time to time, I report on near collisions between aircraft and apparent UAP.

In the United Kingdom, the UK Airprox Board regularly reports on its investigations into near collisions between aircraft and UAP. Its website (click here) contains excellent reports on their investigation into such incidents. Sometimes the Board comes up with either a specific finding, or at times reveals that it is unable to be certain exactly what nearly collided with an aircraft.


Here in Australia, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) " Australia's national transport safety investigator...The ATSB is Australia's prime agency for the independent investigation of civil aviation, rail and maritime accidents, incidents and safety deficiencies." (click here for the ATSB website).

Recent near collision:

On the ATSB website is a listing of  "Aviation Safety Investigations & Reports." This listing provides details of incidents such as "runway excursions; "engine failures" and near collisions between aircraft (click here for the current listing.)

Eagle eyed Melbourne researcher Paul Dean recently noticed that one of the March 2014 near collision reports involved an "unknown object."

ATSB report number AO-2014-052 reads as follows:

"The ATSB has commenced an investigation into a near collision with an unknown object involving a De Havilland DHC-8, VH-XFX near Perth Airport, Western Australia on 19 March 2014. While passing 4,000ft on descent the crew observed an unknown object tracking directly towards the aircraft. The crew manoeuvred the aircraft to maintain separation. As part of the investigation the ATSB will interview the aircraft crew. A report will be released within several months."

The report goes on to provide general details:

Date: 19 Mar 2014
Time: 0913 WST
Location: Perth Airport, NNE 23km
Investigation status: Active
Investigation type: Occurrence investigation
Occurrence class: Operational
Occurrence category: Serious Incident
Report status: Pending
Expected completion: June 2014.
Aircraft details:
Manufacturer: de Havilland Canada
Model: DHC-8-314
Registration: VH-XFX
Serial number: 313
Type of operation: Charter
Sector: Turboprop
Damage to aircraft: Nil
Departure point: Kambalda, WA
Destination: Perth, WA.
Internet search:
A web search reveals that aircraft VH-XFX is owned by Skippers Aviation of Subiaco, West Australia. Skippers Aviation ( click here) is West Australia's leading aircraft charter service.
ATSB report:
The release date of the final report of the ATSB on this incident is estimated to be June this year. Its findings will be eagerly awaited. I understand the ATSB system does not allow the crew or company who reported this incident to talk about it, other than to ATSB investigators, until the ATSB investigation has been completed. Thus it is not possible for me or any other investigator to learn more details of the incident until the ATSB report comes out in three months time.