Saturday, August 23, 2014

Further followup to HIBAL/Westall controversy

Further to my blog post on the Westall/HIBAL controversy http://theozfiles.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/westall-66-ufo-or-hibal-answer-is.html I noted Keith Basterfield's FB comment that he does not want to engage in social media commentary onhis Westall/HIBAL hypothesis and intended to only respond to discussion "as long as you know the facts, have read all the original material published around that time, and can tell me why:

1. Witnesses at the time, say that the authorities responded so quickly, that they must have known the UFO was coming. How did they know it was on its way?
2. The authorities reacted this way to the Westall UFO, when they have never reacted this way to any other UFO case in Australia?
3. Why there are no documents about the Westall case in Australian government UFO files?
4.Why witnesses disagree about whether there were one, two or more UFOs; one, two or more ground traces; and the location of such traces?

I sent the following to Keith via email:
Here are a few comments:
1. HIBAL is not the only hypothesis that "answers" this. For example, if as my "deep throat" "retrieval team" person suggests:
"I do not concur with Keith Basterfield’s working hypothesis in relation to Westall.
"For what it’s worth, my own verbal enquiries made today into the matter have revealed
little :
"DOS Hibal flight 292 was not launched from Mildura . 292 did not terminate in
Melbourne.
"Series records were destroyed as stated.
"I was not able to glean any other factual information.
"My people tell me that American personnel were indeed present in Victoria in 1966.
"Some in connection to Hibal, other personnel were involved with classified military projects around Australia. ( Westall?)
"As per our previous correspondence, I still believe that the Westall incident was tied in with other UAP sightings preceding and shortly following April 6, 1966.
"Unfortunately, as discussed, so much stuff was selectively “lost” or “destroyed” by military & government agencies during project transition.

Of course it is difficult to confirm anything here in terms of a documented informant trail.

This informs a hypothesis that A UFO retrieval team existed and they were following the trending of activity from NW - Western Australia, down thru coast Western Australia, through South Australia, then rural Victoria. How to test it? Documentation would be nice. Like HIBAL/Westall there is no documentation that actually describes such a "retrieval team" activity, but you don't have any person who you can cite that they were actually aware of HIBAL actually coming over Westall school airspace. You are inferring it from a proposed launch date, the preceding day, for which there is no evidence to date that it actually occurred. In the case of the "retrieval team" hypothesis I have someone saying this, but it is probably unverifiable. Another way to test my tentative hypothesis is to seek out "UFO activity" in the areas cited in the alleged "trending of activity." Is Burkes Flat 4 April and Balwyn 2 April a contribution to that hypothesis? You have also highlighted a 3 April Tullamarine ATC radar tracking, with you concluding uncertain that it was a MET balloon:

The 11 page file starts off with a form titled "Report on Aerial Object Observed." The date of the incident is given as 3 April 1966 and the time as 2015 to 2027 local time. The reporter's name was J Reinmuth who was using the CSF radar at Tullamarine.

The object was first seen at a range of 54.5 nautical miles at an azimuth of 55 degrees (ie. roughly north-east.) The observer's attention was first drawn to an "Unidentified plot in proximity to inbound route." Its speed was given as 60 knots in a north-easterly direction. The direction of flight was stated to be north-east from first observed position. It was travelling in a straight line. It was seen at 61 nautical miles bearing 055 degrees magnetic. The wind direction at the time was from the south-west. A check of aircraft in the area at the time revealed that the nearest plane was "TJA on normal inbound route."

At 2040hrs the object was "...still observed on radar at 64 nautical miles." At 2043 hrs still 64 nm where it was last observed.

The next two pages are headed "Department of Civil Aviation Air Safety Incident Report" number VTI-66/319. The date of the event is given as 3 April 1966. The event is labelled "Unidentified Aerial Object." Under the heading "Action by regional investigator" in handwriting is "It appears likely that the object was a met balloon and this aspect is being investigated." Signed Woodward SIAS 6 Apr 1966.

The Victorian Bureau of Meteorology was asked if the object could have been a met balloon. On 4 Jul 1966 they responded "It appears that the object could have been a meteorological balloon, with radar reflector attached, released from the RAAF Base, Laverton. The position and movement of the object are consistent with the time of release of a balloon and the winds which affected at that time."

I guess one can look at what else was reported in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia and see if civilian and military data contributes any coherent support of this hypothesis.

2. Authorities "never reacted this way to any other UFO case in Australia? I supplied a list of cover up claims to DAFI in 1982 asking for comment. Got little, but my letter in their files has a few annotations. Never-the-less there are claims that involve what seems to be the heavy hand of "coverup". More recently my account of "An extraordinary affair near Nowra" in The OZ Files describes similar intense responses, so Westall is not unique.

3. No documents on Westall in govt files. Same with the Nowra case and many others I can cite where official presence was reported by witnesses and yet no documents have been found.

4. Conflicting quantitative info on number of UFOs and ground traces - given the confusion, the lack of detailed investigation by VFSRS at the time, and PRA's claims of alleged involvement by Brian Boyle being unverifiable and non detailed, it is hardly surprising that our efforts to rebuild the jigsaw in the decades that followed is informed by confusion etc.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards, Bill


To date Keith has only briefly responded: 

Thanks for your blog piece on HIBAL and your comments in response to my four questions. As always, there are a number of interpretations to specific cases. I think that we will continue to disagree on certain points on Westall.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Westall '66 - UFO or HIBAL? The answer is perhaps not "blowing in the wind"

Like a lot of UFO researchers I have my own list of “best cases.”  The magazine “Fortean Times” got me to share part of that list back in 2007 for their “60 years of UFOs” special issue.  From a rough short list of about 100 cases I developed my “top 10 best cases” from the Australian region.  I periodically revisit that list reviewing each case but it remains the same today.
Here is my list with the reasons for each case being chosen in brackets:
1. 1954, August 31 – Sea Fury case, near Goulbourn, NSW, Australia (experienced naval pilot, radar visual confirmation, independent ground witnesses, apparent intelligent responses to witnesses’ thoughts about possible collision) 
2. 1992, July 23 – Peter Khoury “Hair of Alien” DNA case – Sydney, Australia (abduction type encounter with female Nordic blonde yields anomalous hair sample that suggests “hybrid origin” and unusual genetic profiles)
3. 1959, June 27 – Father Gill UFO entity sighting - Boianai, Papua New Guinea (credible multiple witness sighting of animate entities on UFO with intelligent interactions)
4. 1980, September 30 – George Blackwell’s Rosedale UFO landing physical trace case – Rosedale, Victoria Australia (compelling array of physical evidence – ground trace, missing water, effects on witness, other witness)
5. 1993, August 8 – Kelly Cahill’s abduction experience – Narre Warren North, Victoria, Australia (possible independent multiple witness UFO encounter with abduction dimensions and physical evidence)
6. 1966, January 19 – George Pedley’s Tully UFO nest encounter – Tully, Queensland, Australia (daylight close encounter with UFO take off leaving physical evidence – “UFO nest”)
7. 1966, April 4 – Ron Sullivan’s “bent headlight beam” experience – Burkes Flat, Victoria Australia (striking UFO encounter, physical traces, bent light beams, possible related fatality)
8. 1966, April 6 – Westall school daylight UFO “landing” encounter – Westall, Victoria, Australia (multiple witness daylight landing, physical traces, “cover-up” dimensions)
9. 1977-78 – Gisborne UFO abduction milieu – Gisborne New Zealand (complex and high strangeness UFO and abduction milieu – entities, multiple witnesses, multiple abductions)
10. 1973 May – August – Tyringham Dundurrabin intense UFO flap area, NSW, Australia (long term intense UFO flap, multiple witness, physical effects, paranormal dimensions)
In each case I have undertaken a lot of research and investigations that substantiates for me the reason why I regard them as impressive cases. Likewise I regularly review many of the other cases in my original rough short list of about 100 cases and others that have entered the fold to see if I should modify my list.  While many of these cases could easily qualify for inclusion my list remains the same as it was in 2007.
The following news story might make you think that I should reconsider the 1966 Westall school case as part of my top 10 list.  I’ll explain why I won’t be doing that based on my current assessment of the evidence, in spite of what is being called the HIBAL explanation for Westall.
Melbourne Herald Sun journalist Mark Dunn wrote the story which was published on-line on 6 August 2014 with the headline  “Westall ‘UFO’ incident was actuallygovernment radiation testing, reports reveal.”  A shorter version of the story appear in the hard copy of the paper the following day with the headline “UFO all hot air – “Westall” was a balloon.”  There is no evidence of any original research by the journalist and it is based entirely on research done by long time researcher Keith Basterfield.   Some things may have been lost in translation and I have therefore inserted a few comments in italics/brackets within my quoting of the article.  You can go to Keith’s web site for further details: ufos-scientificresearch.blogspot.com.au and search for his HIBAL entries.
 The story:
“AN almost 50-year-old mystery when more than 200 people believed they had a close encounter with a UFO landing in Clayton may have finally been solved after newly-unearthed government documents revealed a secret radiation-testing program.
(The HIBAL programme was not conducted in secret at the time of the Westall incident.  HIBAL was being openly reported in newspapers from at least 1965 and beyond 1966)
Although federal and state government agencies refused to comment about the 1966 ‘Westall’ incident at the time, it is now believed that, rather than a UFO, what landed was an errant high altitude balloon used to monitor radiation levels after the controversial Maralinga nuclear tests.
The HIBAL program was a joint US-Australian initiative to monitor atmospheric radiation levels using large silver balloons equipped with sensors between 1960 and 1969.
Documents held by the National Archives and former Department of Supply indicate one test balloon launched from Mildura may have been blown off course and came down in Clayton South in a paddock near Westall High School, alarming and baffling hundreds of eyewitnesses, including teachers and students.
(No official documents have been found as of the beginning of August 2014 that refer to any HIBAL launch being the explanation for the events at Westall in April 1966.  No documents have been found that even confirm that the scheduled 5 April 1966 launch took place.)
After hovering over the area, it landed at an area known as The Grange, behind a grove of pine trees, before taking off again and being pursued by several light aircraft in a sighting which lasted 20 minutes from 11am on April 6, 1966.
The event has ever since been shrouded in mystery.
But researcher Keith Basterfield, who has spent years investigating unexplained phenomenon in Australia, said a “runaway” balloon from the HIBAL (high altitude balloon) project was the likely answer.
Each test balloon lifted a 180kg payload consisting of an air sampling and telemetry unit in a gondola and was followed by a light aircraft tasked with tracking it and triggering its 12mtr parachute via radio signal.
Immediately after the Westall “UFO” sighting, reports emerged of Government men in suits converging on the area and asking school officials and other witnesses to not talk about the event.
A contemporary witness reported these “suits” stated what the students saw was part of a secret government exercise and that for national security reasons they were forbidden from discussing it.
“My hypothesis is that the incident involved not a UFO, but a high altitude balloon, it’s parachute and large payload,” Mr Basterfield said.
In a research paper completed this year, Mr Basterfield said a close review of all available documentation, including that searched through Freedom of Information laws, pointed to HIBAL flight number 292 as the real culprit.
“The Westall object was described as being a white/silver colour which could describe the colour of an HIBAL balloon or parachute.”
A witness account prior to the Westall sighting stated a flying object — trailing what appeared to be a long vacuum-like hose — was seen by a couple, whose surname was Frankie, near Smith’s Gully 40km north of Clayton South.
“HIBAL balloons were filled with gas through a thin tube which went to the top of the balloon and was left in place during the balloon flight,” Mr Basterfield said.
He said uncovered documents had also highlighted government concern about the potential damage if a heavy test balloon came down in a suburban area.
“The Department of External Affairs files on HIBAL reveal there was considerable discussion on possible damage to property or personnel by a HIBAL balloon,” Mr Basterfield said.
But despite government archival records showing the results of numerous HIBAL test flights, the paperwork for the launches scheduled for the day before Westall appear to have been lost or destroyed.
“What is strikingly missing is a memo reporting on the actual four launches for April 1966, one of which was scheduled for 5 April 1966, the day before Westall.
“So we have no (official) knowledge of where flight 292 went.””
(A more probable answer that does not require conspiratorial inferences for the absence of documentation about the scheduled flight 292 is that it may not have occurred at all.  There was a history of problems and cancelled flights, with the US connections even requesting that missed flights need not be made up for.)

A document in the Australian HIBAL files may actually point towards the fact that no dramatic HIBAL related touchdown occurred at Westall on 6 April 1966.    The Australian Prime Minister’s Secretary in a memo to the Secretary of the Department of Supply dated 6 May 1966 (that is only one month after the Westall incident) indicated, “The indemnity clause was inserted in the HIBAL agreement because of the real risk of injury from descending instrument packages.” However it tellingly does not refer to any HIBAL event of “descending instrument packages” coming down in populated areas let alone suburban Melbourne.  Secretary Bunting for the Prime Minister ended his memo with the following: “It may well be that the risks have been proved by operating experience to be negligible, or the provisions in Article VIII of the Agency Agreement are adequate.  However, this aspect should be examined most carefully.”   The absence of any reference to a HIBAL fall or crash leading to frightened school children and possible high risk of damage or injury to people and infrastructure in Westall – suburban Melbourne of all things – seems to me pretty telling and a powerful argument that a HIBAL event does not explained Westall ’66. 
The May 1966 Prime Minister's secretary letter re 
HIBAL risks that give no support to 
a HIBAL explanation for the Westall incident a month earlier.
The Prime Minister's secretary letter of 6 May 1966 is located in the Department of Defence file (originally classified Secret) "Stratosphere Monitoring for Radioactivity (ASHCAN) (HIBAL)" accessible digitally at the National Archives of Australia due to Keith Basterfield’s diligent research work (See NAA: A6456, R190/017).  Given the original SECRET classification of the file the absence of any reference to HIBAL initiated hazard or security concerns related to Westall during April 1966 suggests strongly that no such incident occurred. A number witnesses of the Westall incident report a heavy hand of what seemed like officially mediated coverup.   If it was at all HIBAL related matter the Defence file would have contained references to it or at the very least an escalation in the security and liability fallout.  Instead what is seen is a dense bureaucratic dialogue being slowly resolved to permit the HIBAL programme to continue with continual references to minimal risks.  No references to a crisis at Westall caused by a messy HIBAL containment and retrieval suggest a logical conclusion: There was no HIBAL event at Westall on 6 April 1966.
Examining the HIBAL Westall hypothesis is a worthwhile exercise, however careful consideration of context, detail and evidence should inform the debate.   Keith Basterfield’s research certainly told me a lot about the HIBAL project, but it confirmed for me, on the current information, that it may provide intriguing information about high altitude“UFO” sightings, but nothing about the Westall incident being caused by a HIBAL flight gone wrong.  
A scenario like the HIBAL hypothesis might take flight if you ignore or reject a lot of impressive eyewitness testimony or only utilise suggestive fragments of the fuller story rather than consider the general convergence or coherency of much of the Westall testimony, some of it revealed in 1966 and 1967, and much more since then, particularly in the last decade, primarily through Canberra researcher Shane Ryan’s focus of the Westall story.
Ken McCracken was involved in HIBAL as a scientist from Adelaide University from at least 1965 to 1968. In his memoir "Blast Off - Scientific adventures at the Dawn of the Space Age" (2008) Professor McCracken wrote a chapter entitled "Little Green Men and other Weird Tales" where he tells of "the most famous occasion" when flying saucers or UFOs factored into his scientific adventures. It was a HIBAL launch and it wasn't Westall in 1966.  In fact it was 1968 and Sydney was involved. This was only about sightings of a high level HIBAL balloon gone astray, certainly not the result of a low level sighting of HIBAL.
The Sunraysia Daily from Mildura with a 1965 story 
including a picture of Professor Ken McCracken on the right.
My point - if the events described at Westall in April 1966, even if we limit it to evidence gathered in 1966 and 1967, were due to a HIBAL balloon, payload or parachute (or variations of those combinations) we would have had a spectacular example of misinterpretation and hysterical contagion, that would have far outstripped the 1968 Sydney event as a contender for "the most famous occasion" of HIBAL "flying saucer" fallout.
The fact that Ken McCracken cites a high altitude HIBAL event as an example of HIBAL creating flying saucer hysteria is particularly telling, because I suggest that a low level HIBAL event, while possibly creating some hysteria, would have been obviously identifiable, not as a UFO but as an obvious IFO - identified then and not a big deal, other than containing it from causing injury, damage and retrieving the payload and its attachments. Photos of HIBAL parachute/payload configurations about to touch down make it pretty obvious that at low level people would easily confirm a parachute and payload. 
(left) HIBAL ascending (right) HIBAL at high altitude, looking rather "flying saucer" like - the stuff of Ken McCracken's "most famous occasion" that HIBAL spawned "flying saucer" sightings
(below) HIBAL in "close encounter"landing phase, looking decidely "parachute/payload" like 
- a poor inspiration for a striking UFO close encounter
(images: 1976 NRC document "The Use of Balloons for physics & astronomy")

What a HIBAL ground mishap might have looked like
 - Melbourne Sun 13 April 1961 - rather non-UFO like? 
Mind you the alternative, parachute and payload 
(the bottom half) is even less inspiring as a UFO imitator.
The suggestion, for example, that Westall school student Joy Tighe’s 1966 description of 2 separate circular UFOs (shaped like “upright domes”) “flying in varying directions” “faster than some light aircraft in vicinity” then turning on edge and disappearing fast, recorded on a Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society report form in 1966, supports a sighting of a parachute connected to a heavy payload, weighing up to 200 kg seems like an incredible force-fit to me.  Even with some wind about it is a big stretch to suggest that winds were causing a HIBAL parachute and payload to come down low then go in varying directions, at times faster than light aircraft in the area, then turn and disappear fast.  That’s a pretty impressive performance for a balloon and payload at low altitude. In this forced scenario it would be a wonder that the school children and teachers would be able to stand upright in the wind conditions needed to keep the balloon/payload up in the air, defying the forces of gravity, and gyrating around the sky low over Westall school, and still at times fly faster than light aircraft despite being at a low altitude. 
I was able to do a video interview with Joy (Tighe) Clarke at the 2006 Westall reunion event.  I found her to be a compelling witness.  I also videoed her 2006 drawing of the UFOs she saw.  I was left with the same general impression with all the Westall witnesses I met at the reunion.  They told their stories of their recollections and didn’t seem to be embellishing their narratives. 
Joy and Jeff at the 2006 Westall '66 reunion.  
Jeff was the author of the student account 
in the Westall High school magazine.
Joys 2006 drawing of what she recollects seeing at Westall in 1966
(photos: Bill Chalker)
Sure, there are problems with testimony gathered decades after an event, but I was impressed with the general coherency and consistency of the individual stories I heard.  Collectively they appeared to support an event that goes way beyond what a HIBAL incursion might have generated. 
Given that I had a long time focus on physical trace (UFO landing) accounts I was pleased to be able to eventually interview Victor Zakry who described witnessing, as a Westall school student, 2 identical objects, like Joy did, but strikingly initially at ground level, that were connected directly with ground traces.  The reports of ground traces did not get the careful attention they deserved at the time.  There are accounts of clandestine attention, but nothing has surfaced, other than witness descriptions and a Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society photo of a grassed area suggestive of a trace, but also may have been due to prosaic factors.  We just don’t have certainty in that area, but there are plenty of speculations.
On 5 July 2008 I was able to undertake an on site detailed investigation and interview at Westall in Melbourne with Victor Zakry.  I videoed the interview and got him to do a rough layout map of the events he witnessed.  His account was consistent with a number of interviews he had given to others and to me.
Victor Zakry with his rough on site sketches 
during our 2008 meeting at Westall
(Photo: Bill Chalker)
Victor indicated he was able to walk up close to one of the objects, while 3 other students stood around in close proximity to the other object. A teacher and at least a dozen other students crowded along the high fence to get a view. Victor contemplated touching the object but thought better of it.  The two objects suddenly rose up from the grass and took off, one to the west, the other flew up and orbited a small plane before flying down to the south west Grange reserve area, with students in pursuit.   The UFOs were described as about 1.5 metres in height and approximately 5.4 metres in width. They left behind two circles of burnt grass.
Victor went home for lunch straight after this extraordinary experience which swept up much of the rest of his school. This initially to me seemed a strange thing to do given the unfolding events, but he explained that at the time he felt  he didn’t need to see any more that day (6 April 1966) because he had seen the exact same object a few years earlier.  He was trying to take a wooden pallet from a factory site near the Westall Grange area during the early hours of the morning. His escapade was interrupted when a UFO flew over. It was the same looking object he would see during daylight at Westall in 1966 along with many in his school, but it was flying on edge – an appearance captured in the polaroid photo taken at the nearby suburb of Balwyn only 4 days before the Westall incident.  There were other similar encounters during this period of the 1960s in the area around Westall and neighbouring isolated suburbs of Melbourne, which in those days was the outer edge of the city. Pockets of this area still have something of an isolated, almost country, feel to them.
 The Balwyn UFO - 2 April 1966
(Photo: courtesy of the witness)
Victor also impressed me as a compelling witness giving consistent testimony.  While like Joy, he spoke of seeing 2 objects, Victor saw them at ground level and then watched them take off and go off in different directions.  Like Joy he described one of them flying faster than a light plane.  Indeed he described it as orbiting the plane, then taking off and apparently heading down to the Grange area. 
Victor later told me that he had a meeting with the school headmaster, who encouraged him not to talk of the event because it might hurt his future chances of a career in art.  The headmaster gave him that advice because he himself had witnessed something similar during the war and he had experienced the pressure of being told not to talk about such things.  Victor followed the headmaster’s advice, but with the growing tide of witnesses coming forward since 2006 he now felt more comfortable with reporting his own experience.  His artistic abilities also provided us with some striking drawings of the objects he saw.
 Victor Zakry's drawings of the UFO 
he had an extremely close encounter with
His drawings and our site interview and reconstruction of the scene allowed me to generate a “forensic” style drawing of his experience.
My "forensic" drawing of Victor Zakry's recollection
 of his 1966 Westall UFO encounter, 
based on our onsite reconstruction during 2008
(drawing: Bill Chalker)
While Victor’s story has only been revealed recently he still impressed me as a witness telling a consistent story. 
I don’t think the evidence that witnesses like Victor share with us, should be diminished simply because they were described decades after the original event. Instead, when they are told with apparent compelling conviction of witnesses like Victor and Joy, we should accept them for what they seemed to be – genuine attempts at recollections of past events - and try to see how they fit into the daunting jig-saw puzzle that the large body of testimony of Westall ’66 testimony represents.  There is a measure of coherency but many aspects remain confusing. 
It’s the kind of situation that fits in with Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s “black swan” concept.  I wrote about this perspective back in 2009.  Its an interesting way of looking at things.
“I am interested in how to live in a world we don’t understand very well –in other words, while most human thought (particularly since the enlightenment) has focused us on how to turn knowledge into decisions, I am interested in how to turn lack of information, lack of understanding, and lack of “knowledge” into decisions –how not to be a “turkey”. My last book The Black Swan drew a map of
what we don’t understand; my current work focuses on how to domesticate the unknown,” writes Taleb.
It could also be used to help understand and address the UFO mystery.  The UFO mystery we know so little about and have so little control over, is like one of Taleb “Black Swans”, a thing that “lies outside the realm of regular expectations”, “it carries an extreme impact” and “human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.” These are key attributes of Taleb’s “black swans”, events of rarity, extreme impact, and retrospective predictability.
It is with the third attribute that mainstream science and media have let us down. They tried to explain the whole phenomenon away, but it is exactly the phenomenon’s ability to remain highly improbable to mainstream perceptions, but to have high impact in incredibly mysterious and profound ways, which should guide us. We have to learn to “expect the unexpected” and learn to understand it and learn from it.
The HIBAL parachute/payload combination seems an unlikely explanation for the events at Westall in April 1966.  There is no clear documented evidence of one coming down in the Melbourne on 6 April 1966 to date.
There is sufficient counter evidence (the Prime Minister’s Secretary memo of May 1966 and a key scientist involved in the HIBAL programme both before and after April 1966 not citing the Westall event as "the most famous occasion" of HIBAL "flying saucer" fallout) to conclude that the HIBAL explanation is a non-starter. 
The collective testimony gathered over decades powerfully argues that the Westall incident may well be a legitimate UFO mystery.
Back in 1996 I concluded in my account of the events in my book "The OZ Files - the Australian UFO Story": "There is little doubt that something of an extraordinary nature was seen over the Westall school area and that at least one (UFO) appears to have landed and apparently left behind some physical traces. Numerous witnesses confirm these basic details. Other more exotic details vary in credibility ..."
DVDs of the excellent documentary
"Westall '66 - a suburban UFO mystery"
(Rosie Jones (director) & Carmel McAloon (producer))
Skeptical and debunking players may uncritically embrace a HIBAL explanation for the Westall mystery but the impressive nature of much of the Westall testimony deserves far better.  I don’t think the answer for Westall ’66 is blowing in the wind.  I suspect it may be providing us with an extraordinary insight into the impact and nature of the UFO mystery if we have the skills, determination and insights to go beyond the curtains of the UFO theatre and reveal the real UFO mystery being played out in our little place in the cosmos.
Thank you to all the Westall witnesses who have had the courage and interest to share their experiences and recollections.  Thanks also to all the researchers, investigators and people, trying to understand the mystery.  It all helps stir this fascinating melting pot that is the UFO mystery and might yield great insights.
Reseachers Shane Ryan, George Simpson & Bill Chalker
in Westall for the 2006 reunion

Monday, July 28, 2014

The CAIPAN GEIPAN UAP UFO Workshop of July 2014 photo review

Tom Tulien kindly allowed me to use some of the photos he took during the 2 day July 2014 CAIPAN GEIPAN UAP UFO workshop held at CNES headquarters in Paris France.  See my earlier post for an outline of the workshop presentations - an important development in developing a viable UAP UFO science. Photos are copyright Thomas Tulien

Tom Tulien's research into the extraordinary 1968 Minot B52 UFO encounter is a well documented example of a latent and almost lost scientific opportunity for acquiring striking data.
The July 2014 CAIPAN workshop at CNES headquarters in Paris
Dr. Richard Haines of NARCAP presenting his paper 
"Useful Research Methods for Aircrew and Air Traffic Controller UAP Sightings"
Dr. Jacques Vallee presenting his paper 
"Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP): a strategy for research"
which focused on strategic uses of diverse data bases and 
a coordinated effort to combine these data bases
Eduardo Russo addressing UAS/UFO cataloguing activities
Philippe Ailleris describing UAP/UFO field studies
Nico Conti's listing of instrumented field studies of UAP/UFOs
Erling Strand presents a survey of 30 years of research of 
the fascinating Hessdalen light phenomena
Sergey Chernouss describes the Russian auroral display network
Jeremie Vaubaillon discusses the data from the French sky monitoring network
Raymond Piccoli presents data from the lightning laboratory
Xavier Passot head of GEIPAN and the roundtable discussion 
with Ron Westrum, Jacques Arnould, Bertrand Meheust and Jacques Vallee

Friday, July 25, 2014

Scientific evidence for a UFO landing - the evidence, the debate & the fallout - Delphos and Dr Erol Faruk

Here is an e-book well worth reading:

UFOs - The Indisputable Scientific Evidence for a UFO Landing and Deposition (aka The Delphos Case) that was denied Publication by Scientific Journals by Dr Erol Faruk



Dr. Erol Faruk

From Amazon:
Physical and chemical analysis of a glowing ring soil residue allegedly left behind by a UFO hovering above the ground is presented. The analysis results strongly implicate a genuine UFO to have been present and that it was exhibiting an unusual luminescence technology. An overview of the current UFO situation is also presented, along with a discussion of why scientific journals have been reluctant to publish the analysis and its data. The Foreword to the book is by Dr. Michael Swords, who has himself previously been involved with collating all other analysis data from this famous UFO case. 

The author is a British born scientist from Turkish parentage. After receiving his B.Sc (Hons) in chemistry from Queen Mary College, London University, he stayed on to earn a Ph.D in the organic synthesis of unstable carotenoid pigments before moving to Oxford and Nottingham Universities to carry out postdoctoral research in other areas of chemistry. He then found long term employment as a pharmaceutical development chemist which led to him being named inventor and co-inventor of numerous patents awarded for commercially important processes. The author's early interest in astronomy indirectly led to his curiosity into the UFO phenomenon, and once he became adept in chemistry he was keen to use his expertise to uncover knowledge on the phenomenon if at all possible. This book is the result of that endeavour. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: A first review of this book on Amazon.com has pointed to the fact that there was a microbiological presence (Nocardia) in the ring soil, as mentioned in a book by Vallee. The reviewer jumps to the conclusion that the ring has been caused by this microbiological entity, which has previously been classified as a fungus. For the benefit of those who are not using the Amazon.com domain I am posting here my comments that followed his review: 

The reviewer makes reference to Vallee's find of Nocardia fungus in the ring soil. I myself (book's author) observed small clumps of fungal matter in the ring soil which is likely to have been the same material. However, the amounts present were TINY in comparison with the large quantity of water soluble organic substance in the soil. The overwhelming impression I gained during examination was that the fungal material had proliferated BECAUSE of the enriched organic content of the soil, and not vice versa! The reviewer fails to mention that the ring did not grow or change in shape with time that would be indirect evidence for a direct fungal cause for the ring. In his Foreword to the book, Michael Swords also refers to the renowned expert on fungal diseases, Dr. Hubert Lechevalier of Rutgers who also inspected the soil and concluded that the ring, "although containing some fungal elements as almost all soils do, was NOT the product of such an agency"! In other words, a cursory examination of the ring soil showing spurious fungal material is simply not adequate to automatically assume a fungal ring cause as the reviewer has proclaimed. He needs to be more critical in his assessment and examine the theory proposed in the book which adequately explains ALL the features of the ring, including even its elongation towards the wind direction on the night the event was reported! 

Extra info: 

Actinomycetaceae is a family of bacteria in the order Actinomycetales that contains the medically important genus Actinomyces. Actinomycetaceae comprises 3 potentially pathogenic genera :Actinomyces, Nocardia, Streptomyces. These organisms are closely related to the mycobacteria but were originally classified as FUNGI because they were thought to be transition forms between bacteria and fungi. 

Quote from Vallee's book Forbidden Science: "An analysis of the white matter in the glowing ring left after the sighting disclosed the presence of a Nocardia fungus that seemed to have been stimulated by an unknown radiation." 

BOTTOM LINE: The ring soil is NOT of fungal origin, but a chemical one!

In my "Physical Traces" chapter for the 1987 book "UFOs 1947-1987 The 40 - year search for an explanation" compiled and edited by Hilary Evans with John Spencer I discussed Dr. Faruk's work (page 185) concluding, "Some of Faruk's findings are consistent with a "fairy ring" explanation, but he has clearly revitalised the debate on this controversial case by reducing the options to two: the Delphos ring ring has 'either got to be of biological origin, something like a fungal ring, or it's got to be an authentic case.' "  In a letter to me, dated 16 April 1987, Dr. Faruk indicated: "I would like to emphasise that it was not the compound that was hydrophobic but the soil itself which was coated with the compound to render it hydrophobic.  This aspect of the soil chemistry is explained more fully in my report."

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The CAIPAN GEIPAN UFO UAP workshop at CNES Paris July 2014

http://www.cnes-geipan.fr/index.php?id=181&no_cache=1&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=172&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=211

This was an important workshop focusing on the scientific examination of UAP UFO observations held at CNES (French equivalent to NASA) headquarters in Paris.  I was pleased to get an invite, but the costs involved were prohibitive, plus I was in Toronto for filming of season 2 of Close Encounters during the same week.

Here is a rough translation from the GEIPAN site:

July 8 and 9, CNES Paris met scientists and ufologists for a workshop on methods and tools to improve the collection and analysis of information on Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena (CAIPAN).This international meeting allowed for the first time to combine the experience of UFO associations in research in psychology and astronomy, as well as the expertise of the National Gendarmerie and the Air Force.

The objectives of this workshop CAIPAN

Dedicated to the study of Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena ( PAN ), created by the CNES (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales) therein, GEIPAN (Study Group and Information Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena) analyzed hundreds of testimonies and of reports OBSERVATION of PAN . It appeared that the vast majority was a scientifically brittle material: Unique testimony or in small numbers, significant delay between observation and testimony, no photographs or low quality ... To advance the study of the possible causes of these phenomena GEIPAN organized this workshop to seek first how to consolidate available information about these observations PAN .


Specialists present

Pioneer PAN , CNES could meet for the first time high-level scientists (Jeremiah Vaubaillon, Observatoire de Paris, Jacques Py, Professor of Psychology, Thomas Rabeyron, lecturer in psychology ...), representatives of the gendarmerie and the Air Force, recognized experts in the field of ufology (Richard Haines, Jacques Vallée, Méheust Bertrand, Ron Westrum ...) and a hundred players in the global UFO world, thus demonstrating the major contribution of the multidisciplinary approach to analyze this complex issue.
For this work of reflection, GEIPAN invited players UFO associations with which it maintains close relations.
Participants promised to consolidate these ideas in subsequent meetings.


Proceedings of the workshop CAIPAN

Several areas for improvement were explored during the workshop to improve the quality of scientifically usable data:
  • The hearing witness techniques can be based on those used by the gendarmerie and the police or that applied for control of lightning, another rare and disturbing phenomenon witnesses. Analysis of photos by specialized tools used to verify the authenticity and characterize the observed objects. 
  • Sharing databases Case observation PAN , from various sources, could allow general or specialized studies on these phenomena, researchers in natural sciences, social sciences or ufologists.
  • Observations of PAN can be correlated with the data provided by the automatic monitoring systems: detection cameras fireball (meteorite) of FRIPON network cameras or northern lights, military radar system for air monitoring and space.
  • Recent research in applied psychology now possible to make the best of human testimony, first by helping the witness better express what he has in mind, other discerning in the story the most reliable information.

GEIPAN gradually publish on this site all the documents presented.
already see below the program of the workshop.

Syllabus


Methodologies of field surveys

Oral session
       Useful research methods for aircrew and air traffic controller UAP sighting,  Richard F. Haines, NARCAP
-        Chronic UFO investigation, transfer, Gilles Munsch, engineer, investigator GEIPAN 
-        Expertise qualitative and quantitative characterization of official reports of aerial phenomena observation held unidentified France (1951-1979), Jean-Pierre Rospars, Expert GEIPAN 
-        Technical examination of witnesses in the case of observations of ball lightning,  Philippe Ollier, Laboratory of Lightning
-        The testimony of the Force, F. Thomas, National Gendarmerie 
-        Optimize the collection of testimonies of unidentified aerospace phenomena through a modified cognitive interview for use on the Internet,  Jacques Py, Professor of Psychology, University of Toulouse 2
-        Consideration of audio components in the analysis of evidence of PAN ,  Gaelle Fedoce
-        Authentication photos / videos of PAN , Antoine and François Cousyn Praise 
Poster session
-        Distance Education investigators, Jean-Luc Lemaire, MUFON France 
-        Internet service surveys,  Jean-Marc Wattecamps, COBEPS

Preparation of standard case description observations

Oral session
       Keeping omni-comprehensive UFO databases: a cost-benefit analysis,  Edoardo Russo, EIC
-        Foundations of the future platform for knowledge management and collaboration strategy GEIPAN,  Michael Vaillant, expert GEIPAN
-        Operational Database for phenomena PAN , Xavier Pasco, FAC 
       Unidentified aerial phenomena: a strategy for research,  Jacques Vallée
Poster session
-        The magazine "Lights in the Night" by Joel Mesnard to today: analysis and results of a database,Thomas Margout, University of Brest 
-        Abductions in alleged UFO : an evaluation test,  Claude Maugé
-        Container format and metadata UFO,  Jean-Marc Wattecamps

Observatio No systematic sky

Oral session
-        Operational monitoring of space and air by the Air Force,  Captain Colliard Air Force
-        FRIPON: 100 cameras in France to monitor the sky,  Jeremiah Vaubaillon, F. Colas, IMCCE
-        Aspects, events and classification of ball lightning and storm phenomena bright transients, Raymond Piccoli, Laboratory of Lightning
       Instruments, methods and networks of optical auroral observations in arctic,  Sergey Chernouss, Polar Geophysical Institute
       The Hessdalen Phenomena: 30 years of research. Instrumentation, results, witness stories, challenges, and Difficulties,  Erling Strand, Ostfold University
       Instrumented monitoring of aerial anomalies,  Massimo Teodorani, seseña University
-        Implications of instrumental research unidentified Nico Conti, DTC Hessdalen Committee 
Poster session
       Unidentified aerospace phenomena and experimental strategy: methods, equipment and lessons from Instrumented field studies,  Philippe Ailleris
-        Operation meerkat,  Stéphane Dier, Meerkat

Psychological aspects of testimonials

Oral session
-        The importance of psychological and emotional context in the analysis of testimonies from unidentified aerospace phenomena  Rabeyron Thomas, Senior Lecturer, University of Nantes
-        About the alleged psychological and sociological aspects of the testimony of UFO sightings,Pierre Lagrange, ESAA Avignon 
-        The influence of culture on UFO sightings, Jean Michel Abrassart, IACCHOS 
-        The impact of beliefs on the testimony of PAN , Romain Bouvet, Doctor of Psychology, University of Toulouse 2 

Roundtable with   J. Vallee, B. Meheust, J. Arnould, R. Westrum