Way back when, Wednesdays

Locals expose alien’s nocturnal reconnaissance flight

If extra-terrestrials decided to visit Australia where do you think they go? The nation’s capital perhaps? The outback? The City of Tea Tree Gully? In a scene reminiscent of a vintage science fiction film, the North East Leader reported on sightings of a mysterious saucer-shaped flying object, on page 4 of the edition dated 27 July, 1966. Was it an alien visitation or something else?

UFO 1966

The first ten-second sighting of the saucer shaped flying object was made by local resident Mr. L.G. Bradbook and his young son. Mr Bradbook alleged that at 8.30pm, in the week prior to the article’s publication, the UFO shot across the night sky in the vicinity of a reservoir (possibly now the wetland) At first sight, the UFO appeared to be very large but then diminished greatly in size when he saw it ascend and fly off over his car in a northerly direction. Miss Imelda Steinmueller, a young woman from Vista, also reported seeing a strange white object slowly flying high in the sky over North East Road, Tea Tree Gully at 7.15pm.

Enthusiasts from the Flying Saucer Research Society of Australia were soon on the scene to investigate – an impressive feat in the days before social media and news on demand. Vice President Colin Norris surmised that both Mr Bradbook and Miss Steinmueller could have seen the same object. There had been many sightings of UFOs near bodies of water, even near large water tanks. Colin Norris provides rather hazy information about how various bodies had been established to document these sightings, just that you could read reports through ‘official sources’. He suggests that extraterrestrials could be flying over the local area doing survey work, and while they were here, they needed to take on water for their own mysterious purposes. Some may remark that aliens may have been disappointed in the quality of Adelaide’s water in those days, should they have sampled the Murray River.

Note how the North East Leader did not interview anybody who could have offered another explanation for the flying objects. Nowadays the media would probably get also reports from the Bureau of Meterology and other scientific organisations, to investigate if the UFO might really be a weather balloon, a satellite in orbit or a piece of ‘space junk’ entering the Earth’s atmosphere before burning up.

The photo accompanying the article shows another mysterious round, flying object which was taken nearby in the Gilles Plains area in June 1965.

So how did our fascination with UFOs start? TIME magazine describes what is credited to be the first modern sighting of a UFO and the ‘flying saucer’ phenomenon. On 24 June, 1947, an amateur pilot named Kenneth Arnold saw a bright blue flash of light in the sky near Mt. Rainier in Washington State, U.S.A. He then saw nine more flashes of light in rapid succession. Arnold calculated the speed of these flying objects at over 1,200 mph, which was nearly twice the speed of sound; unheard of at a time when planes had not yet cracked the sound barrier.

Arnold compared the way the lights flew over the sky with somebody throwing a saucer over a body of water, which then skipped over the surface. A reporter for United Press misinterpreted what Watson had said, describing the lights in the sky as ‘saucer like’ unidentified flying objects and further reports called them flying saucers! Within a month, Americans had reported hundreds of sightings of flying saucers across the sky.

The obsession with spacecraft and extraterrestrial life forms intensified when a rancher from New Mexico reported finding what he thought was the crash site of a flying saucer near Roswell. There are reports that the Air Force initially supported the Rancher’s claim, then refuted it, saying the wreckage was the remains of a weather balloon. Let’s just say the rest is history but in 1994, the US Air Force declared that the wreckage was more likely to be one of a train of high-altitude balloons, carrying acoustical equipment to monitor Soviet nuclear testing at the beginning of the Cold War era (http://time.com/3930602/first-reported-ufo/).

It looks like our visitors may have returned. A local resident lodged a report more recently on the UFO Hunters website. On 9 January 2016, they spotted a pulsating, spherical object in the sky near the Tea Tree Gully area. You might enjoy reading about other possible alien encounters in South Australia in the ‘Curious Adelaide’ page of the ABC news website.   Maybe we are really not alone…

 
#waybackwhenwednesdays

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