National Archives of Australia

Issue 2 March 2011

What a gem! Flying saucers and other aerial objects

National Archives staff often unearth exciting or unusual records from among the millions of documents held in the collection. These records are placed on the Archives’ Gems Register. ‘What a gem!’ showcases amazing finds from the Gems Register.

Unfortunately, inclement weather resulted in the cancellation of Australia’s first UFO conference, scheduled to be held in March 2011 in the Northern Territory. One wonders, if the conference did proceed as planned, whether the official reports of sightings of ‘flying saucers and other aerial objects’ held by the Archives would have been deliberated.

Interest in UFOs was high in the 1950s and 1960s. Popular culture reflected this fascination with the unknown and fed the imagination of people around the world. The mainstream press also carried reports of UFO sightings.

In the absence of a specialist government agency to deal with UFO correspondence, responsibility for recording encounters with unexplained phenomena fell on the Department of Air. These records are now held by the Archives, and include completed ‘Report on aerial object observed’ forms and narrative accounts of UFO encounters.

This Department of Air record, marked confidential, is a diagram of a UFO sighting from 1955. It details how the ‘object came from & returned to the west’ and ‘appeared to float just above the tree tops’. An ‘orange glow’ could be seen through the three portholes.

Diagram of a UFO sighting, 1955

Diagram of a UFO sighting, 1955. NAA: 705, 114/1/197

3 comments on "What a gem! Flying saucers and other aerial objects"

  1. IRIS says:

    so cool!

  2. Jake says:

    They’re out there, alright.

  3. Bill Chalker says:

    Researchers and interested members of the public can get a fascinating insight into the broader perspective of the worldwide experience of government dealings with the UFO subject through a new book “UFOs and Government – a historical enquiry” (Anomalist Books, 2012). While mainly focused on the US experience, with the primary authors being Dr. Michael Swords and Robert Powell, other countries such as Sweden (by Clas Svahn), Spain (by Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos) and Australia (a 49 page chapter written by me) also reveal a detailed interest in the UFO subject. The National Archives have helped preserve a fascinating record of Australian historical information about the UFO controversy. Many of these records were examined by me between 1982 and 1984 during official sanctioned research visits to the Russell Offices of the Department of Defence in Canberra. Bill Chalker

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