Date: 13 January 1965
Time: 8.50 pm
Location: Trans-Tasman flight
Aircraft: Quantas Electra
Witness/es: Captain David Shannon & crew
Description:
The pilots of a Qantas Electra, one hour out of Auckland on a trans-Tasman Auckland-Sydney flight, approximately 300 miles from New Zealand, sighted seven unidentified flying objects in a ‘V’ formation.

The aircraft was at 20,000 feet, and the sighted objects were at an estimated 45,000 feet going east. The radar had picked up seven objects in a ‘V’ formation, with vapour trails.

********************************

Newspaper Articles:

‘UFO Sighted Over Tasman’

The Dominion, January 14 1965
Seven unidentified flying objects were picked up on the radar screen last night.
An aircraft making a regular Tasman crossing picked up the objects on the screen shortly before 9 p.m. The objects were reported to be flying in an easterly direction at a height of about 45,000 feet. They were said to be flying in V formation.

In Wellington, late last night, the Civil Aviation Department confirmed the sighting.
“We have investigated the report and have no knowledge of any other aircraft in the vicinity,” the department's duty controller said. “We have reported them as unidentified flying objects.”

“A pilot had spotted the objects at 8:50 p.m., well out over the Tasman,” he said.
The objects might have been cloud formations caused by strong winds at high altitudes.

Two Lower Hutt women reported seeing an object moving in a north-easterly direction, high in the sky last night.
“My next-door neighbour and I watched its 20 minutes before 11 o'clock,” one said.

Civil Aviation said no aircraft were in the vicinity at the time. The woman said the object moved in a south-easterly direction from Wellington and headed over the hills toward Masterton.

Russia began firing test rockets into the Pacific area this week. The target area is thousands of miles from New Zealand, however.


‘Study of Sightings’

NZ Herald, Friday January 15, 1965
Both the New Zealand and the Australian air forces are investigating radar sighting by a Qantas airline pilot on Wednesday night of seven unidentified flying objects over the Tasman Sea.

“Our enquiries are not complete,” the RNZAF deputy-Director of Operations, Wing Cdr A. F. Tucker, said in Wellington yesterday.

The objects were seen by the Electra crew about 8:50 p.m., while the plane was 300 miles out from Auckland, bound for Sydney. The sighting was confirmed by the Civil Aviation Department, which plotted the objects on the radar. According to the Deputy Chief of the New Zealand Air Staff, Air Commodore T. F. Gill, the most likely explanation was ice crystals in high cirrus clouds caught by sunlight.

Two reports of bright objects moving across the sky were received by the Civil Aviation Department and the Herald yesterday. Both reports stated that the objects, as bright as stars, appeared to hesitate in moving across the sky.


‘It wasn't from Mars’

Manawatu Standard, Thursday, January 14, 1965
This morning RNZAF and Civil Aviation officers talked over the reported sighting last night from a Qantas plane of an unidentified flying object.

The likely explanation, said Air Commodore, T. F. Gill today, lay in ice crystal cirrus clouds so high as to still be in sunlight, streaming out in a high altitude air stream and giving an impression of fast movement of objects in company.

Radar had found nothing, and radio enquiries had established that there were no aircraft -- nothing solid, nothing but unidentified flying objects over the Tasman, 300 miles out from New Zealand, at 8.50 o'clock last night.


‘Flying Objects Just Ice’

The Evening Post, Friday, January 15, 1965
The unidentified flying objects, reported by the crew of a Sydney-bound Electra aircraft on Wednesday, have been officially been “denounced” as ice crystals.

“The Air Force has investigated the reports of the unidentified flying objects and is quite satisfied that what was seen from the Electra aircraft on Wednesday was ice crystals in a high cirrus cloud at sunset,” an Air Force spokesman said today.


‘Plane’s Report Verified Too Late -
‘UFO Formation’ Over Tasman Was Probably Ice’

The Evening Post, Thursday, January 14, 1965
A good story was built last night upon a radio report from the pilots of a Qantas Electra, an hour out of Auckland and 300 miles on the way to Sydney, that they were watching something, an unidentified flying object, a UFO, high above them, 45,000 ft above the sea maybe, bound for an unknown destination to the east.

They would be surprised and delighted when they read in Sydney papers this morning, for news travels fast too, that their report back to New Zealand had had splendid verification, that radar had picked up seven unidentified objects, flying in conventional ‘V’ formation.

Well, radar did search the skies, but there was nothing above the Tasman that was not accounted for in matter-of-fact surveillance fashion, but the radar touch did round off another of those UFO mysteries, now ten thousand strong.

This morning RNZAF and Civil Aviation officers talked the reported sighting over. The likely explanation, said Air Commodore T. F. Gill today, lay in ice crystal cirrus cloud, so high as to be still in sunlight, streaming out a high altitude airstream and giving an impression of fast movement of objects in company.

Radar had found nothing and radio enquiries had established that there were no aircraft, nothing solid, nothing but identified flying objects, over the Tasman, 300 miles out from New Zealand, at 8.50 o'clock last night.

Just an ‘Echo’
Still, that explanation will not satisfy the people who called ‘The Post’ of this morning and said positively that they had seen strange lights moving over Wellington, the Hutt Valley, and the Wairarapa, but they saw them a full hour after the Qantas report was radioed back, just about the time that Echo 2 would be visible, but rather low down over the western hills.

The Carter Observatory remained unmoved today. No reports have been received last night or this morning, so there was no need for excitement or enquiry.


‘Two Air Forces Checking on Mystery Objects’

(Newspaper & date unknown)
Late last night, New Zealand and Australian air forces were still investigating the radar sighting of seven unidentified flying objects over the Tasman.

“Our inquiries are not complete. We are making a thorough investigation”, the RNZAF Deputy Director of Operations, Wing Commander A. F. Tucker, said in Wellington.

“Must Solve Sighting”
“The sighting was reported by an experienced aircrew and made sincerely. We must take it seriously. We cannot afford to let such sightings remain unsolved”, he said.

The mystery objects were spotted about 8:50 p.m. on Wednesday by an Electra crew, while the plane was 300 miles out from Auckland bound for Sydney. The objects were flying in V-formation in an easterly direction at about 45,000 feet. The sighting was confirmed by the New Zealand Civil Aviation Administration which spotted the objects on radar.

Wing Commander Tucker said he could not disclose the name of the pilot of the Qantas Electra who reported the objects. A spokesman for Qantas said he had been asked by the Air Force not to reveal the pilot’s name.

Ice Crystals?
The Deputy Chief of the New Zealand Air Staff, Air Commodore T. F. Gill, said yesterday that objects were possibly ice crystals in high cirrus cloud which were still in the sunlight. The high altitude gave an impression of fast movement of objects in company.

Wing Commander Tucker said this was the most likely explanation, “but pieces of the jigsaw are still being fitted together. Final reports were still coming in,” he said.
“The Australian Air Force has cooperated with us 100 percent. Itt is as interested as we are.”

Auckland Reports
Two sightings of bright objects moving across the sky were reported in Auckland yesterday, says the Press Association.
The report said that the objects, as bright as stars, appeared to hesitate in moving across the sky.
A man told the Civil Aviation Department that he had seen a bright object in the southern sky, near the Southern Cross, from Grey Lynn about 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The man said the object seemed rather hesitant in its movements. He watched it for some time till it disappeared.
A Glen Innes man said yesterday that he and a friend had seen a bright object in the sky about 12:30 a.m. when fishing near Rangitoto.


‘R.A.A.F. Men Say Crew Saw Aircraft’

The Dominion, Saturday, January 16, 1965
Top Royal Australian Air Force officers in Canberra said yesterday that they believed the mystery objects seen flying in formation over the Tasman on Wednesday were military aircraft capable of high speeds and long-range performance.

But the Royal New Zealand Air Force believes the objects were ice crystals in high cirrus cloud reflecting the rays of the setting sun.

Secret Check
The objects were seen by Captain David Shannon and the crew of a Qantas Electra aircraft at about 8:40 p.m. while on a flight from Auckland to Sydney.

According to a Press Association message from Canberra, the R.A.A.F. is making urgent top-secret investigations in an effort to identify the objects. The sighting was apparently not an isolated one.

The Canberra report quoted in four sources in Sydney as saying that a number of unidentified aircraft had been plotted in recent months flying at high altitudes over the Tasman.

In Wellington on Thursday, an RNZAF spokesman said that the Air Force was making a thorough investigation of the sightings because the report was made by an experienced aircrew.

Vapour Trails
The Electra aircraft was about 300 miles out from Auckland and was flying at an altitude of 20,000 feet. A Qantas spokesman said in Canberra that the crew had reported what appeared to be condensation vapour trails from high-flying aircraft. The mystery objects were flying about twice as high as the Electra.

“The trails showed the objects were flying east toward New Zealand. While Captain Shannon and the flight crew while watching, the trail seemed to split up into seven separate trails. This indicated a flight to formation,” said the spokesman.

Unconvinced
The R.A.A.F. spokesman told the Press Association that the report would be re-checked. He said the R.N.Z.A.F. had contacted the R.A.A.F. to find out if the objects were Australian aircraft.

“They were not R.A.A.F. aircraft and we do not know the country of origin.”

The R.N.Z.A.F. last night was not convinced that the sightings were aircraft.

“It was a natural physical occurrence and this is the official view,” a spokesman said.
“After a thorough investigation of the sightings this is the only conclusion which could be supported,” he added.

 


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