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 Case #15

Kempsey, New South Wales, Australia - September 10, 1972

We quote from an article written by British investigator Eileen BUCKLE and published in the April 1976 issue of Flying Saucer Review:

On September 10, 1972, at 12.45 p.m., a Kempsey greengrocer, Mr. Allan James of Sea Street, was checking a load on his truck prior to descending from the top of Big Hill on the Armidale Road west of Georges Creek. He then noticed a long, cigar-shaped craft. According to the report in The Macleay Argus:–

"It was 100 times bigger than a boeing 707 and from each end came small objects – flying saucers – which grouped into an arrowhead formation before heading south-east. Mr. James said the small objects left the mother ship like fighters leaving an aircraft carrier. Once the flying saucers were out of sight, the large craft climbed at such speed that it had disappeared in seconds... The incident occurred in broad daylight and Mr. James had the craft in sight for at least ten minutes. He estimated the mothership was several thousand feet above the ground when the smaller objects were leaving."

Unknown objects as drawn by Mr. Allan JAMES

Unknown objects as drawn by Mr. Allan JAMES: (a) the "large mothership" with small objects leaving at each end; (b) appearance of one of the small objects; (c) small objects grouped in arrow head formation.

Mr. James, who made regular trips between Kempsey and Armidale, had spotted what he believed may have been the same UFO on the ground eight hours before, at 4.30 a.m. the same day, whilst driving towards Armidale. Behind trees about 30 yards from the road he saw a strange purple glow. He slowed down and rolled down his window, but could not hear any noise. He drove on, the glow being visible in his rear vision mirror for some time. The object appeared to be emitting a ray of bright light, similar to a beam from a lighthouse, which was lighting up sections of the road.

Comment - As with most entries in the catalogue, this sighting too occurred from an elevated position ("prior to descending from the top of Big Hill"). Similarities are also noted with other incidents that mention large objects in combination with smaller objects, such as the 1954 Labrador case, the 1959 Green Head case, the 1968 Zanthus case and the 1974 Denton case. Not in good agreement with the typical dark blob report is the time of day, namely 12:45 p.m. With the Sun high up in the sky (elevation: 49°), dark, backlit cloud tops have to be ruled out as possible targets for a mirage. The direction in which the phenomenon was observed is not mentioned, but the area West of Georges Creek is surrounded by mountains, so there are still plenty of good other candidate targets that may have created mirage images.

On the one hand, the horizontal symmetry of the "objects" shown in the sketches is suggestive of a mirage-like phenomenon, while on the other hand the reported movements (small objects grouping, then heading SE; large object climbing) seem to rule out that idea.

Sketches drawn by Mr. James

Sketches drawn by Mr. James with orange lines marking the horizontal symmetry of the observed phenomena.

The problem once again is that we have to rely on information contained in a couple of lines quoted from a local newspaper. From these lines it is not clear over which angles the movements occurred. Also, there's no useful indication of the objects' elevation, nor is it mentioned what colour they had. Unfortunately, the orignal newspaper article could not be located.

Australian researcher Keith BASTERFIELD pointed out to us that the details of the case were also published in an article written by Paul SOWIAK-RUDEJ for the June 1992 issue of UFO Reporter, a journal published by UFO Research New South Wales. There are no additional items in this article (the only source given being Flying Saucer Review). So it would appear UFOR NSW did not investigate the case.

The fact that the witness claims to have spotted another unidentified phenomenon eight hours earlier also raises questions about the credibility of the reported details. To suggest a direct link between this "purple glow" and the solid looking objects seen later in the day seems far-fetched. Again, no direction is given, but a "purple glow" behind the trees that emitted "a ray of bright light, similar to a beam from a lighthouse" sounds a lot like an ordinary search light or, indeed, the beam from a lighthouse. There are two lighthouses in the area: Smoky Cape Lighthouse and Tacking Point Lighthouse, which are respectively 30 km (18.6 miles) NE and 45 km (28.0 miles) S of Kempsey. With an intensity of 12,800 candle power and a range of 18 miles, Tacking Point Lighthouse is an unlikely source for the beam emitting light source, but according to various Internet sources the lighthouse at Smoky Cape produced a much more intense light (no data are available for 1972, but Wikipedia tells us that the lighthouse is currently equipped with a spotlight of 1,000,000 cd having a range of 30 miles). A powerfull light emitted from this location might indeed have been visible in the car's rear vision mirror when driving uphill over meandering roads from Kempsey to Armidale, which is NW of Kempsey.

The authors look forward to receiving additional reports and/or comments which may help assess the soundness of the mirage theory for this particular type of UAP sightings (to contact us, see our e-mail address on the contact page).