1978 - Flight Service Officer Sights 'Kaikoura Lights' UFOs Near Woodbourne Airbase

Date: Night of 19 December 1978
Time: Just before midnight
Location: Woodbourne Airbase, Blenheim, South Island
Witness/es: Dennis Christensen, Flight Service Officer, Civil Aviation Administration,
RNZAF Woodbourne
Warrant Officer Ian Uffindell, RNZAF Woodbourne
Blenheim Police Officers
Blenheim residents
Description:
This sighting is part of the renowned Kaikoura lights sightings of December-January 1979. It is the first of three major sets of sightings, the second being on the evening of 20-21 December (radar-visual), and the third on 31 Dec-1 Jan (radar-visual-film). These sightings are classed worldwide as being in the top 10 most credible UFO sightings.

In 2007 UFOCUS NZ received this report from Mr Dennis Christensen:

“I have just read an article in the Christchurch press newspaper about UFOCUS NZ, and I feel I would like to tell of my experiences at the time of the Kaikoura lights sightings. I was based at Woodbourne Airbase (flight service) from 1977 to 1978. On the evening of 19 December 1978, I was night duty Flight Service Officer (ATC) at Woodbourne, and I was involved in all three episodes of sightings including - Dec 19, Dec 20-21, and Dec 31-Jan 1.

What has never been made known publicly before is that, on December 19, the evening prior to the initial Safeair sighting experience, I received a phone call from the Blenheim Police Station at about 11 p.m. They were enquiring whether I knew of any flight activity in the Dashwood Pass area, which is the pass through the hills south of Blenheim. They went on to explain that two ladies had turned up at the police station in a terrified state. They had been to a meeting in the small town of Seddon, and on their way back to Blenheim, they had been ‘chased’ by a bright light. They stopped and got out of their vehicle to see what it was and the light had moved away over a ridge. They then resumed their journey, but the light came back and proceeded to chase them through the valley. They claimed that there was never any noise associated with the light’s movement, and the light kept changing position around the vehicle.

After the police had rung me, I contacted Wellington air traffic control and asked if they had any contacts on radar at that time, to which they replied in the negative. So at that time, the Dashwood Pass incident was just put down to some sort of unexplained phenomena, although the highly frightened state of the ladies when they arrived at the police station was apparently extremely marked.

And then the very next night, December 20-21 - bingo! - the Safeair Argosy heading from Wellington to Christchurch sighted the Kaikoura lights from the air and ATC registered them on radar.

During that evening, Warrant Officer Ian Uffindell came up to the Woodbourne control tower and enquired as to what the strange light was that was moving over the Blenheim township, and whether it was an aircraft wanting to land but couldn't find the airfield (to conserve power, the runway lights were only turned on when an aircraft was handed over from Wellington control for landing at Woodbourne). We both briefly went onto the small balcony of the control tower and watched the light moving over the township and beyond.

I had no knowledge or advice of any inbound aircraft, so I called up Wellington radar and asked if they had any traffic on the screen. They advised that there was a ‘paint’ on radar, but they had no known traffic so thought it may have been birds, although what birds would have been doing flying in the dead of night is anybody's guess and is highly unlikely!

And then later that night, the Argosy became involved with sightings of unknown lights. There followed continual communications between Wellington air traffic control, Safeair Operations based at Woodbourne, and myself in the control tower. I knew all the pilots involved personally, and they were all very shaken by their experience. The Australian TV crew on the second flight was so unnerved that they unloaded the film they had taken up to that point, along with one of the crew (sound operator Ngaire Crockett) in case something happened to the plane on the return to Wellington. The film was released all around the world and the rest is NZ UFO history!”

Source: UFOCUS NZ interview.





 


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