Monday, June 30, 2014

New book alert - Watson

Hi all,

I only recently caught up with Nigel Watson's 2013 book, "UFO Investigations Manual: UFO Investigations from 1892 to the present day," published by Haynes Publishers, Sparkford, Yeovill, UK. ISBN 978-0-85733-400-8 (click here.) My copy was courtesy of the publishers.


Introduction:

The introduction to the book opens with an excellent insight into UFO research, "Ufology - the study of UFOs - is equally exciting, educational, exhilarating, enlightening, exasperating, exhausting and embarrassing." The rest of the introduction provides a concise and balanced overview of the current state of play of Ufology.


Chapters:

Chapters one through three cover the 'waves' of sightings between 1892 and 1947; details of official UFO studies; "hotspots," and patterns in the data. Here the reader gets a look at statistics; expert studies which have been conducted, and locations where UFOs pop up with greater regularity than at other places on earth.

Chapters four through six cover "classifying and identifying UFOs;" "identifying type 1 cases;" and "physical evidence." Here we learn of classification systems which have been introduced; and some of the evidence for the physical nature of the phenomenon.

Chapters seven through ten cover close encounters of the third kind; reported retrievals of 'crashed UFOs,' abductions; contactees, and finally a discussion of potential explanations for the phenomenon.


Something for everyone:

Even as a seasoned field investigator and researcher, in this book I found information about specific cases and personalities, which was new to me.

The book does touch on a few Australian cases, e.g. a sketch of the July 1965 Vaucluse Beach CE1; a mystery aircraft in 1942, and the January 1966 Tully 'swirled reeds in a lagoon' case.

I particularly liked that Watson provides a list of references at the end of each chapter. I also found the numerous photographs and illustrations, of interest.

I found that Watson presents a balanced viewpoint, providing pros and cons on a variety of aspects; e.g. should a witness put their name to their sighting; or on potential mundane explanations for some sightings. Many books written by UFO 'believers' tend to overlook the latter.

The book's appendices feature useful information to anyone looking to conduct their own investigations; selected web site resources, and a glossary, plus index.

Overall:

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and would recommend it to both the beginner or the more advanced researcher.

Friday, June 20, 2014

67 years of research - anniversary celebrations?

Hi all,

June 24th this year will see the 67th anniversary of Kenneth Arnold's observation, of what first came to be called "flying saucers;" a term which later changed into 'Unidentified Flying Objects" and numerous variations. As readers of this blog will know, I personally prefer the term "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena" (UAP.)

Where are we today?

Views as to exactly what causes sighting reports, vary today, as much as it did in the early days of study. Today, you can find individuals who believe UAP are crewed extraterrestrial spaceships; travellers from the future; living creatures; that they are all hoaxes; all misinterpretations of natural phenomena; are psychosocial constructs, and any combination of the any of these.

We have numerous Internet sites, Facebook pages, and blogs, run by individuals or groups who claim to be in contact with the intelligence behind it all. Just as in the early days we had "contactees." The message remains the same, that the "aliens" are here to help us; but the medium of its communication has changed.

Debate:

Debate continues between opposing sides as to the cause of individual sighting reports. The Rendlesham Forest affair is an excellent example of such debate and confusion. To me, this is no different to those early days in the 1940's.

Civilian UAP research groups exist today, confident that they are working towards the final solution to the UAP enigma. The very same objective was the aim of early research groups, such as APRO.

A more jaded researcher, than myself, may well feel that little real progress has been made since 1947.

Changes:

Other researchers will point out that many things have changed since 1947. They will list:

* That the US Government withdrew from officially and openly researching the topic

* That the UK Government withdrew from officially and openly researching

* That a number of countries have opened up some of their files

* That the era of large numbers of abduction claims has come and gone

* That scientific research of the phenomena has, by volume, largely given way to Internet style "research"

* That the numbers of close encounter reports has steadily declined over the last ten years.

But is change, progress?

If by progress, we mean are we closer to identifying the nature of the phenomenon we study, then I personally, do not think there has been real progress on this front.

US researcher John B Alexander has an interesting take on this. In his 2011 book "UFOs:Myths, Conspiracies and Realities," published by Thomas Dunne Books. New York. ISBN 978-0-312-64834, on page 273:

"Based on credible witnesses and backed by physical evidence, I conclude that the ufo observations are manifestations of issues that are anfractuous and beyond current comprehension."

(Anfractuous, meaning full of twists and turns.)

This neatly sums up my own current view.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Project HIBAL - two previously unreleased files

Hi all,

Blog readers may recall that I had recently discovered, two previously unexamined and unreleased files in the National Archives of Australia (NAA) concerning Project HIBAL, a joint undertaking of the former US Atomic Energy Commission, and the former Australian Department of Supply.

I had suggested that these high altitude balloon flights may have caused some reports of UAP within Australia. Other Australian researchers have also come to this conclusion.

The NAA have now advised me that these two files have been digitised and are also available as downloadable PDFs.

The files:

The first file is from NAA file series A6456, control symbol R120/163, titled  simply, "ASHCAN." Its date range is shown as 1950-1985, and its barcode 418955.

The second file is from NAA file series A6456, control symbol R190/017, titled "Stratosphere monitoring for radioactivity." Its date range is shown as 1950-1985, barcode 7909162.

Both these original records were transferred to "The Royal Commission into British Nuclear Tests in Australia during the 1950's and 1960's."

File, barcode 418955 - 69 pages:

The originating agency was the Bureau of Meteorology (Ashcan), original file number was 60/904, file marked "confidential." The actual date range is 1960-1961.

The Bureau of Meteorology's part of the Project was to provide small sounding balloon launches from a number of Australian locations just before a HIBAL launch. This data allowed the HIBAL launch crews to be relatively certain where the balloons would land. Specifically, the Bureau provided:

1. A meteorological office at Mildura, the launch site for most HIBAL flights.
2. Two Rawin flights a day.
3. A radiosonde for each HIBAL launch.

File, barcode 7909162 - 393 pages:

This file originated with the Australian Department of Defence and was marked "Secret." Its original file number was 186/1/24, 68/1395. Its actual date range was 1958 to 1969.

Among other things, the file contains copies of:

* correspondence between the Department of External Affairs and the US government.
* correspondence between the Department of Supply and the Department of Defence.

Of possible relevance to the Westall incident is a "Melbourne Sun" newspaper article dated 13 April 1961 which states that a "runaway balloon" (HIBAL) had nearly collided with power lines, and nearly dropped its payload onto houses.

National Archives of Australia - more new UAP files available

Background Over the years, Australian researchers have found around 150 files in the National Archives of Australia (NAA), dealing with t...