The "down under" country of Australia would be the stage for a classic close encounter on February 15, 1963. The quiet area of Willow Grove, near Moe, Victoria hosted the spread of one Charles Brew. As usual, Brew was up and on the job early in the morning. His 20 year old son Trevor was working in their milking shed. Charles was standing in a field, admiring the sky.
The sun had been up for a time, but rain clouds threatened overhead. With an obstructed view of the eastern sky, Brew saw something very strange. A flying object began to descend toward the milking shed (see witness sketch, left). Brew's cattle and dogs began to react strangely as the object moved ever closer to the shed.
A local newspaper, which later wrote a report on the Brews' encounter, mentioned the dogs reaction, but sensationalized the farm animals' reaction by stating that his cattle were doing somersaults. The Drews, of course, denied this fantastic claim. The UFO had now descended to about 75 feet above the ground, and began to hover over a Stringy-Bark tree. Close enough now for some guesswork, Brew estimated the craft was about 25 feet in diameter, and 10 feet in height. A transparent dome adorned the top of the craft, which had an antennae about 6 feet high. The top portion of the craft itself was a grayish, and apparently metallic. The underside was a pale blue color, and had protuberances around the outside edge. The underbelly slowly rotated as the craft hovering, seemingly defying Earth's gravity. A low "whoosh" sound came from the rotating part of the airship. Brew describes is eyes as drawn to the object, "as though beams of magnetic current" emanated from the UFO.
Soon he suffered a headache, apparently from the force of the beams. After a short period of hovering, the object started to climb to the west, disappearing into the clouds. Trevor never witnessed the craft itself, but did hear the strange sound that it made. By the time that Brews' report went through channels, it was March 4 before he was officially interviewed. A Lieutenant Hudson and Squad Leader Javes of the RAAF discussed Brew's sighting with him thoroughly. They were impressed with his story, and felt that he was a credible individual. The weather conditions at the time of the sighting: rain, low clouds, and poor visibility, effected the opinion of the investigators.
Their report contained the following: "On 6th March, Dr. Berson and Mr. Clark (of the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation) Meteorological Physics division) were interviewed to see if clouds give this type of phenomenon. They agreed that a tornado condition could give this effect. The direction of rotation of Brew's report of the object was consistent with known facts for the Southern Hemisphere. The blue-ish colouring has been reported previously and is probably due to electric discharge and there would be a smell of ozone. The only difference in Brew's report was that the object moved from East to West because all previous reports to the CSIRO Met section of this nature have been from West to East. Mr. Brew stated that the wind was fresh from an easterly direction. However, (a) meteorological report states that wind was westerly at 8 knots." The investigator also stated: "There is little doubt that Brew did witness something, and it is most likely that it was a natural phenomenon. The phenomenon was probably a tornado. There was no reported damage along its path, therefore one could assume that it was weak in nature."
A civilian UFO research group influenced the Department of Air to also investigate Brew's story. They issued the following statement: "Our investigation and enquiries reveal that there are scientific records of certain tornado-like meteorological manifestations which have a similar appearance in many ways to whatever was seen by Mr. Brew. The information available is such however, that while we accept this is a possibility, we are unable to come to any firm conclusion as to the nature of the object or manifestation reported." The investigation's conclusion would list tornadic wind as the "possible" cause. A statement issued by the Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society declared: "we are unable to come to any firm conclusion as to the nature of the object or manifestation reported."
It seems clear that the RAAF were largely parroting the CSIRO's conclusions and taking things a little further without any realistic justification. Dr. Berson, of the UFO research group, paid a visit to Brew to personally review the sighting. Berson stated that the headache Brew had was probably due to "electronic magnetic" activity. Whatever "official" conclusions were, it is apparent to me and surely any sane person, that a man with a credible reputation, and good common sense, could easily tell the difference between a flying saucer and a tornado. Brew was less than impressed with the findings of the Australian governmental groups. In his own words: "I wished it would come again. It was beautiful. I could feel the life pulsating from it."
(ABOVE) Italy, 1963
The above clip was shot maybe in Colorado, possibly in 1963, almost certainly from a moving car. "Are we there yet?" Shut up, kid.
August 4, 1963, Nr. Wayne City, Illinois
Investigated by Indiana Unit No. 1, NICAP
Francis Ridge, Field Investigator & Subcommittee Chairman, National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (1960-1970)
After a long UFO "dry spell" in the U.S., a sudden rash of sightings in 1963 in S. Illinois prompted the investigation by our NICAP team. The primary event of 1963 occurred on the Sunday evening of August the 4th, at about 11:30 PM, at Wayne City, Illinois. Although a little out of our territory (about 75 miles away and out of state), it was urgent that we respond. There were no NICAP FI's anywhere in S. Illinois. Because of jobs, we had to wait a few days until the weekend. By Saturday evening we were on our way to Wayne City.
Accompanying me on the investigation were James Catt (Communications Officer) and Phillip Studler (Public Relations). Phil had contacted the news media and the Wayne County Sheriff's Office and arranged the interview. We interviewed the witnesses to the Uphoff-Hill case first, there in Fairfield, then made a trip over to the Austin home in rural Keenes, Illinois, nearby.
It was getting late. Here is what we found: A week earlier, a young man, Ronnie Austin and his girlfriend, Phyllis Bruce (both 18) had driven to Mt. Vernon, Illinois, to attend a drive-in movie, "The Great Escape". At around 11:30 PM they departed on Route 15 heading east for home, which was Wayne City.
Phyllis had gotten angry with him, and as they drove along past the airport, Ronnie leaned over to speak to her. As he did this, he glanced out of the window to the south and saw a big white object moving along at treetop level, about 20-degrees above the horizon to the southwest. He described it as fuzzy and about the size of a washtub. Both witnesses watched, casually talking about the light for several minutes. Then they discovered that the light seemed to be keeping pace with them. Ronnie reported that when he speeded the car up, the object seemed to speed up. Also, when he decelerated, the object seemed to slow down, too. This continued, as indicated by the map included in this report.
At first the light was on the south side of the car; then it crossed over in front to the north side. The transition took place when they were about 6 miles west of the Orchardville Road intersection. The object had been on their right (south) and keeping up with them, when all at once the object headed for the car. It appeared to get within a few hundred feet and then it suddenly gained altitude and stopped for several seconds over an electronic relay tower. Then the light shot across the road to the north side to the left of the car. It maintained this position for a while about 500 feet distant.
They then turned north on the gravel road leading to Phyllis' home, which was approximately 1.5 miles away. The object was now on their right. Upon arrival, Phyllis' sister Forestine came outside to observe the thing, which was now in the southeast. The object appeared to move closer, so went inside, turned out the lights and watched through a window. After 15 minutes had passed, Ronnie decided he had better go home. He made a run for the car. As soon as he pulled away from the Bruce home, the object began to follow.
In our interview with the boy's father (Orville) on August 12, he told us that this is what scared Ronnie, the thought that the UFO was waiting for him to be alone before it took off after him. He had to head south and the object was on his left now. When he turned east onto another gravel road, the object suddenly shot diagonally ahead of him over a barn about a mile away, just beyond the T-road. The object now changed from a brilliant white to a duller or dimmer light with an orange tinge.
Ronnie said he "really poured the coal" to the car and must have been doing 120 mph when he topped the hill on the gravel road. Then, he reported, the object flared bright orange and came straight toward him at high speed. It hovered over the car, within 100'. Just before it hovered it had swerved upward and Ronnie judged its size as that of an automobile. At the point right over the car his radio (tuned to WLS) went crazy with static, which was described as a loud whining sound.. At that time he noticed a "cooling effect". The object made another pass at the car, this time west to east, and at this point where the object was again overhead, the engine of the car started missing. The object proceeded back to its position over the barn, hovered, changed to a duller orange. This small road running east to west is only about a mile long and the events that took place according to the witness indicates an increase in activity by the object, which really had the boy scared by now. Ronnie now turned north at the intersection (extension of road not shown) and headed for home which was over 3 miles away. The object followed him again. As he headed west down the lane leading to his home, the object cut across the road behind him to the left. He spun his car around in the driveway in front of the house, got out of the car and ran inside.
The object was now above another farmhouse in the east about 300 yards away. When Ronnie woke his parents, they thought he had gone crazy. He told them that "it" had chased him home. He could hardly talk; every third or fourth word would trail off. Mr. Austin thought that somebody had chased the boy and was trying to hurt him, so he grabbed the shotgun as he went out the door. Ronnie told him that it wouldn't do any good. Orville Austin told us that when he saw the object hovering over the field, he understood what the boy was trying to say. He put the gun down. The object started to move closer again so they went into the kitchen and turned out the lights, watching through the windows.
Mr. Austin felt that the object was attracted by the lights. Then Ronnie told him to call the police. Orville tried but the phone was dead. Later, the phone was operating and he called Fairfield Police. He said that they thought he was joking. He wanted them to contact Scott Air Force Base which was 80 miles to the northwest. It was about l2:25 A.M. now. At this time Ronnie's parents saw that he needed medical aid. They called Dr. Konarski of Fairfield and he told them what to give him. When the police arrived, they saw the "object", too. Several friends and neighbors watched this "object" and at one time Ronnie got scared and ran back into the house. Several buddies of Ronnie's watched an object until 4:00 in the morning. In all there were six witnesses of the original UFO: Ronnie, Phyllis, Orville, Ronnie's mother, Ronnie's sister Roxie, and his brother (name unknown). The total sighting time was 50-minutes. The other observers probably never saw the UFO; but probably the morning star. The above report was derived from corrected versions of the WAYNE COUNTY PRESS, our interview with Ronnie's father, and story by Jeffrey Liss (FATE). The following day, August 5th, the WAYNE COUNTY PRESS interviewed Ronnie. His parents were not at home; he was alone.
The press report and report by Mr. Orville Austin differ in several ways. Orville stated to me that the WAYNE COUNTY PRESS had "put words in the boy's mouth". On Saturday, August 10th, after being interrogated by ASSOCIATED PRESS and FATE magazine, Ronnie was interrogated by the Air Force team. The team of physicists was made up of three men: Lt. Col. Robert J. Friend (Director of PROJECT BLUE BOOK), Captain Hector Quintanilla (later the longest-term PROJECT BLUE BOOK Director), and Sgt. Charles P. Sharp. According to our interview with Orville Austin, the boy was instructed to wash the car. The officers then appeared to be decontaminating the inside of the automobile. After this was done, the car was checked for what we thought at that time was radioactivity. Later, I thought that it might have been a magnetic signature check, but I found that no special magnetic device is used for this...simply a magnetic compass. The "readings" called off and remembered by the Austin family were as follows: "Six point something for the front of the car...four point something for the top of the auto..." Orville said that his younger boy (name unknown, to this investigator) had been there during the check and would vouch for the rough figures. Within a half-an-hour the boy showed up and confirmed the figures without a hint. I was amazed. He even added a "two point something for the trunk area"... At that time I was a Civil Defense radiological monitor.
Many years later I had moved from Vincennes and finally located in Mt. Vernon, Indiana, where I became a county RADEF Officer and, I guess that's one reason why I felt the case should be re-opened or at least relayed to MUFON & CUFOS. It appears there was radioactivity present for these reasons:
a) Readings of counts per minute average 16-30, depending on locale. You wouldn't get the wide difference of 6-4-2 under normal conditions and even then the readings were too low.
b) Roentgens per hour would indicate a high dose-rate, something expected after a nuclear attack has subsided, etc., very high. I don't believe for a minute that this was the interpretation.
c) Milliroentgens per hour is more likely and possibly the only answer if we take the testimony seriously. This corresponds with the dose-rate observed by the "rockhounds" mentioned in Captain Ruppelt's book, ...100 times normal. Although this is heresay and we never did get a signed report of any kind, I still believe the report warrants further study. Although the Austins' at the time (1963) were really tired of the whole thing, I believe we could contact them (especially Ronnie) and get a signed and corrected report.
The Orville Austin interview produced several other findings:
a) Ronnie's car was capable of very high speed, "easily could peg 100". Orville doesn't believe he was going that fast. I believe the loose gravel gave false mph at high (but short) acceleration. In any case, Orville said that he and the boy knew the road too well to take that kind of a risk, normally.
b) Mr. Austin was convinced the object was something unusual...not natural. He saw it from the front porch. Mr. Austin's father told him that he would not have been afraid of it and his son told him that, something to the effect, "Oh yes you would (have been scared)...it did look horrible".
c) Ignition interference was discussed. Mr. Austin did not confirm the fact that the object seemed to cause the E-M effect. It was mentioned in the WAYNE COUNTY PRESS articles. The only thing we have is the statement that the car was in top shape and the press report of the car sputtering and missing... almost died when object made a pass. Ronnie allegedly made the statement also to the FATE MAGAZINE reporter, Jeffrey Lies. I believe this effect was observed and reported accurately. Mr. Austin may not have realized the significance.
d) Radio interference was confirmed by Phyllis Bruce (WAYNE COUNTY PRESS article), Mr. Austin, and the FATE reporter. Mr. Liss believes the area is "noisy" anyway, from his experience during the investigation he conducted. However, the burst of static occurred when the object made the first good pass at Ronnie, within an estimated 100'. This is when it zoomed toward him and swerved up over his car. This is where Ronnie estimated the object's size of a small automobile.
a) Telephone interference was noted. This came from Orville, himself.
f) The "cooling effect" was confirmed by Mr. Austin as an accurate statement made by the boy. It was stated later that it was possible that Ronnie had a sudden chill. Again, this should be viewed as a physiological effect, in any case, since it deals with reaction to stimuli.
g) The "whirring sound" was correctly reported. This was during the passes.
h) Ronnie had really needed sedation. Not only his father (and family) noticed this, but Trooper Gidcumb and Marshall Sexton, and others. He was so keyed up that he reportedly ran inside when others saw a star "they" thought was a UFO.
i) Mr. Austin felt that he and the family saw a real UFO and that it disappeared before the other people got to the scene.
j) The radiation angle came out of our talk with Orville and his other son. Nobody else seems to have reported the incident of the Air Force men taking readings. I still believe that the car was indicating an abnormal reading, then.
Our checks showed normal readings. I doubt that radiation would linger for a week and then abruptly drop off to normal in a couple of days. It is a gradual, but steadily increasing process. Maybe this means something; maybe it wasn't a radiation device used to check the car.
k) Statement by Mr. Austin that Ronnie always ran around with a group of boys at night, but since the incident he has been afraid to leave the house. On the previous Thursday (4 days after the incident) the boys had asked him to come out; he had refused.
l) The dogs barked all night.
This unknown is listed as a CE-2 with E-M effects on car radio, car engine, speedometer, and telephone. The 1956 Ford Victoria was equipped with a magnetic speedometer which was probably giving false speed reading due to the UFO's E-M effects. This case was investigated by our NICAP Subcommittee AND a team of Air Force Project Blue Book physicists. Evidence gathered by the Air Force indicates that the car was slightly radioactive or magnetized.
This was determined by the type of readings called off by members of the AF team as the family watched and listened. An interesting historical note for the record, the Air Force team consisted of three men. These were Lt. Col. Robert J. Friend, then the Director of Project Blue Book; Capt. Hector Quintanilla, and Sgt. Charles R. Sharp. Later in the year or early in 1964, Quintanilla became the Project Director. The AF, and especially Quintanilla, were ridiculing many witnesses who claimed sightings of UFOs.
The "explanation" issued after the investigation was "a refueling operation" or the "planet Venus". The AF must have considered this case important. They had flown in the special team of physicists from Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio. Normally, when investigating a case, they would send the local "UFO officer" from the nearest airbase. In this case it would have been Scott AFB at Belleville, Illinois (near St. Louis). Something strange was going on in the midwest, and AF Intelligence was interested in something that "didn't exist." A quick check would have eliminated a refueling operation and the need for an onsite.
Chief, Lt. Col. Friend; Capt. Quintanilla
DEPUTY SHERIFF SEES OBJECT
Strange Light Chases
Area Teen-Ager's Car
August 6, 1963
Wayne City, Ill. (UPI) - A Wayne County teenager's excited claims that a strange white light chased his car at speeds up to 120 miles an hour had residents here buzzing Monday. Ronnie Austin, 18, told authorities that the light followed him and Phyllis Bruce, 18, ten miles as they drove home early Sunday from a drive-in theater at Mt. Vernon.
Young Austin said the light stalled the car engine as it passed over and caused the radio "to go crazy." At one time it pproached as close as 100 feet, he estimated. He said it made a humming sound and had "cooling effect" as it passed overhead.
Young Austin bolted into the home of his father, Orville, and told him to get a gun. Austin said the gun seemed to cause the light to draw nearer, so he closed the door, turned off all the lights in the house and telephoned authorities. Wayne County Deputy Sheriff Harry Lee, one the officers who answered the call, said he saw the light in the distance. He said it was "three or four times bigger than a star and was moving but not twinkling."
Kenneth Talbert, police radio operator at Fairfield, said the light had the shape of a cross. Wayne City Marshal George Sexton said the light looked like the morning star to him.
Mrs. Lbbie Austin, grandmother of the Austin youth, said the light had her dogs barking during the night.
"It was ten times bigger than the moon and was much brighter than the morning star," said Mrs. Dwight Withrow, a neighbor.
Sexton said young Austin became so excited when he viewed the retreating light with authorities outside his parents' home later that they had to carry him inside. A physician was called to give him a sedative.
The youth's mother, who is employed at a factory at Fairfield said she had no idea what the light was.
"But we were so excited we didn't even have breakfast Monday," she said.