Cold case investigation:
Regular readers of this blog will be aware of my “cold case” investigation of the 28 May 1965, Bougainville Reef aircraft encounter (click here, here, and here.) However, few people will have ever come across the version of the case, as described in the 2009 novel “UFOs: Food for Thought,” by Queensland author John Meskell.
In May 1965, Meskell was in the Queensland Police force, and was the original and only source, for the Bougainville Reef event (see June-Jul 1965 NICAP “UFO Investigator.”) It was therefore of great interest to me to be able to read how Meskell described the case in his novel.
The novel’s version:
Pages 24 and 25 of the novel contain a discussion between two characters “Barlow” and “Carter.”
“At 3.25am, May 27, 1965, a UFO paced an airliner for ten minutes over Bougainville Reef off North Queensland. I’m not sure of the exact date, and I’m now talking out of the top of my head, but I do remember the incident well. It was unofficially named the Bougainville Reef sighting. It’s all documented.
“That sounds interesting – did the Government actually know about it?”
“Oh yes, they knew about it alright,” Carter laughed. “I didn’t have anything to do with this one, but I do remember reading much of the correspondence relating to this incident.”
“It’s an incredible story to say the least. The Federal Government went to great lengths in attempting to cover it all up, and really carried on like bloody amateurs. It was too large to suppress, with too many witnesses, and to this day I cannot believe why they didn’t come straight out and admit the facts, without going on with all the nonsense they embarked upon with their incompetent opinions.”
“Just to give you an indication of how vital the circumstances of this matter were, in 1967 Dr James McDonald, a professor in the Department of Meteorology from the University of Arizona in the United States, and senior physicist in the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, came to Australia to investigate this matter as well as other Australian sightings, including the Papua sighting I have already spoken about. He was without doubt, just about the top authority on this subject in the United States. Now, what about him for a person of impeccable credibility and unimpeachable character? Makes you think doesn’t it?”
“Okay, I’ll go along with that. What was the result of his trip to Australia?”
Carter sat up. He leaned forward and began to tap and bounce his pencil on the desk. “Bougainville Reef is about 260 kilometres east of Cooktown, and details of this sighting were not made available until the arrival of Professor McDonald from America. Anyhow this is what I became aware of. The Captain of a DC6 airliner, which I think was a DC6 chartered by TAA from Ansett, or vice versa, I’m not too sure now, but it was one or the other. The Captain described a ’round-shaped object’ flying parallel to them for ten to fifteen minutes, in a radio message to Air Traffic Control at Townsville. The radio message was tape recorded on flight control tapes at Townsville. At the time, a man named Bill Orr was the control officer. Other members of the plane crew sighted and witnessed this object, and each of them spoke, and was taped, to confirm what they were witnessing.”
“The Captain advised the Townsville control tower that he was taking photographs of the saucer, which continually buzzed his aircraft and letting off what the Captain thought to be red exhaust gases. Of course all of this conversation to the Townsville Air Traffic control officer was being recorded on tape.”
“Where was the DC6 travelling to?”
“From Sydney to Port Moresby. Looking back, I can now recall that when the pilot arrived back in Brisbane, he was immediately flown down here to Canberra, where he was quizzed as to what he had seen. Our Government authorities also seized the flight control tapes from the Townsville aerodrome with conversations about this incident. The Captain’s camera and films were also confiscated and the entire crew, after being questioned, were warned of a penalty of immediate dismissal if they spoke to anyone about this incident.”
“So what was the final outcome?”
“Well, things became a bit embarrassing for the Government when Professor McDonald arrived in Brisbane on the 9th of June 1967 to look into this matter, to say nothing of the media getting into the act with headlines such as “Why the secrecy?” Professor McDonald had been well informed, and from some source he and his investigators tracked down one of the retired air hostesses who had been a crew member that night. She confirmed without doubt what had occurred. There was another incident but it would take me too long to tell you all about it. You can read it all for yourself, and form your own opinion.”