by B J Booth
Gill was highly thought of by his cohorts, and all those who knew him. As far as the occurrence of extraordinary events was concerned, Gill was skeptical, to say the least, especially being a devoted Church worker. The first hint of the events to come, began on April 5, 1959, when Gill saw a light on the uninhabited Mount Pudi. This light, Gill stated, moved faster than anything he had ever seen. A month later, his assistant, Stephen Moi, saw an "inverted saucer-shaped object" in the sky above the mission. Gill dismissed these sightings as some sort of electrical or atmospheric phenomena.
Soon, William Gill would have one of the most celebrated UFO sightings to ever be documented, which was validated by a whole group of additional witnesses. This extraordinary event would take place at 6:45 P.M., June 26, 1959. Father Gill saw what he described as a bright white light to the Northwest. Word of the sight spread quickly, and within a few moments, Gill was joined by no less than thirty-eight additional witnesses, including Steven Moi, Ananias Rarata, and Mrs Nessle Moi. According to sworn statements, these thirty-plus individuals watched a four-legged, disc-shaped object approximately the size of 5 full moons lined up end to end. This unbelievable craft was hovering over the mission! To their utter surprise, they saw four human-like figures that seemed to be performing a kind of task. Now and then one of the figures would disappear, only to reappear in a moment or two. A blue light would shine up from the craft at what seemed to be regular intervals.
The witness watched the craft and its activities for forty-five minutes, until the shining ship rose into the sky and disappeared at 7:30 P.M. The witnesses would see several smaller objects appear at 8:30, and twenty minutes later, the first craft reappeared. This phenomenal occurrence would last an incredible four hours, until cloud cover obscured the view.
This first sighting, a once in a lifetime occurrence, would incredibly be followed by another sighting the very next night. At 6:00 P.M., the larger object appeared again, with its occupants. It was shadowed by two of the smaller objects. In Gill's words: "On the large one, two of the figures seemed to be doing something near the center of the deck. They were occasionally bending over and raising their arms as though adjusting or "setting up" something. One figure seemed to be standing, looking down at us." (In a moment of anticipation, Gill raised his arms and waved to the figure.)
"To our surprise the figure did the same. Ananias waved both arms over his head; then the two outside figures did the same. Ananias and myself began waving our arms, and all four seemed to wave back. There seemed no doubt that our movements were answered..." Gill and Ananias continued to occasionally wave, and their waves were returned. Another witness, Eric Kodawara, waved a torch, and there were acknowledgments from the craft. Gill went inside to eat, but when he came back, the craft was still there, only farther away (smaller). After a Church service, at 7:45, Gill again came outside to look for the craft, but clouds had appeared, and there was no sight of the object. The very next evening, the shining craft would make one more appearance.
Gill counted eight of them at 6:45. At 11:20, Gill heard a loud bang on the roof of the mission. Going outside to see what had happened, he spied four UFOs in a circle around the building. These four craft were extremely high in the sky. The roof was checked for damage the next morning, but none was found.
The aftermath of the event would bring unsubstantiated explanations. The noted UFO debunker Dr. Donald H. Menzel offered his explanation thus: He claims that Father Gill, who suffered from myopia (nearsightedness), had "probably" not been wearing his corrective lenses, and misidentified the planet Venus, which was prevalent in the evening skies during this period. This was NOT true; Gill WAS wearing his glasses, and in either event, what about the other witnesses to the event. Menzel also asserted that the Papuans were ignorant, native people who worshiped Gill, and believed anything he told them. This was a surefire way to debunk the 30+ witnesses.
(BELOW) Mudmen of New Guinea
As to the Venus connection, Gill knew where Venus was during this sighting, and had even pointed it out separately to the unknown craft. Gill would be criticized for "leaving such an extraordinary sight" to go eat dinner, but his response is that he did not think of the craft as extraterrestrial at the time. He believed that it was an American or Australian craft, and that if it did land, that ordinary human beings would emerge. Gill was scheduled to return to Australia soon, and it afforded an excellent opportunity to get his documentation of the case to the appropriate authorities. All investigators found Gill to be an intelligent, impressive individual. One of the most respected civilian groups, the Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society stated:
"Gill's reports constitute the most remarkable testimony of intensive UFO activity ever reported to civilian investigators. They were unique because for the first time, credible witnesses had reported the presence of humanoid beings associated with UFOs."
The sighting at Papua brought about an unlikely allegiance among UFO research groups in Australia. The groups distributed copies of Reverend Gill's report to all of the members of the House of Representatives of Australia's Federal Parliament. An accompanying letter urged the leaders of government to request the Minister for Air to issue an opinion on the subject, not being satisfied with their initial, negative reaction. This letter did exact a reply. On November 24, 1959, E.D. Cash, who was a Liberal member of Parliament, asked the Minister for Air, F.M. Osborne, if they had even investigated the sightings at Papua. Osborne's response was that they were still waiting for more evidence before making an "official" report. In his own words; "Most sightings of UFOs are explained and only a very small percentage-something like 3 per cent-of reported sightings of flying objects cannot be explained."
The response of the Australian Minister for Air was to be taken lightly, considering the fact that they had not even interviewed Gill, until the Minister of Defense requested an investigation into the matter. The RAAF finally interviewed Gill in December 1959, some six months after the sightings. Gill related that the interview consisted of two officers who talked about stars and planets, and then left. He heard no more from the two. The RAAF finally released an opinion on the case... and a negative one at that. Squadron leader, F.A. Lang stated:"Although the Reverend Gill could be regarded as a reliable observer, it is felt that the June/July incidents could have been nothing more than natural phenomena coloured by past events and subconscious influences of UFO enthusiasts. During the period of the report the weather was cloudy and unsettled with light thunder storm. Although it is not possible to draw firm conclusions, an analysis of rough bearings and angles above the horizon does suggest that at least some of the lights observed were the planets Jupiter, Saturn and Mars."
Since the unusual events of 1959, there have been many "explanations" of the event, all by individuals who had not seen it. Among these are hoax, planets, stars, astronomical misidentification, Gill's myopia, etc. None of these really address the event as it happened. Dr. J. Allen Hynek investigated the sighting at great length, and gave his usual well thought out conclusions. His "Center For UFO Studies" research included well-respected Allen Hendry, who was, at the time, the Center's top investigator. Their conclusions were as follows: "Though the smaller UFOs seen by Gill could be attributable to bright stars and planets, the primary object COULD NOT. "its size and absence of movement over three hours ruled out an astronomical explanation." The inclusion of the Boianai case in the well-known Australian book of fiction, Randolph Stow's 1979, "Visitants," would become a double-edged sword. Although it brought the details of the case to a larger audience, its inclusion in pure fiction lessened the appeal of the events as being REAL. Stow was a cadet patrol-officer in Papua, New Guinea, and an assistant to the Government Anthropologist. His novel begins with this sentence, "On 26 June 1959, at Boianai in Papua, visitants appeared to the Reverend William Booth Gill, himself a visitant of thirteen years standing, and to thirty-seven witnesses of another colour." The events of New Papua in 1959, at first glance, seem to be too unbelievable to be true. It is just too good of a sighting, compared to hazy photographs, reports of abductions by unreliable witnesses, and the designation of any undefined light in the sky as a "flying saucer." To be respectable, open-minded individuals, we must NOT compare one report to another. Each case must be viewed on its own merits. Many of the so-called explanations are by those who never interviewed Reverend Gill, never visited the site, and never read Gill's actual reports, but relied on third party explanations to draw their own conclusions. Dr. Hynek and his staff members actually interviewed Gill, they visited the site, they searched weather reports, and they stood in the same spot that Gill stood. They interviewed other witnesses of the events. They followed up initial inquiries with subsequent visits, and interviews, allowing the passage of time to shed its light on the witnesses, and what they had seen. Fourteen years after the fantastic events at Papua, Dr. Hynek revisited Papua New Guinea, Australia, and re-interviewed six of the initial witnesses. They all supported William Gill's initial reports, and still believe what they saw to be a REAL craft of unknown origin. The Papua, New Guinea sighting is one of the best documented cases of an unidentified craft of unknown origin in UFO annals.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON UFOs over Papua New Guinea, VISIT UFO Research Queensland:
(From UFOs At Close Sight) According to J. Allen Hynek, during the years 1958 - 1959 there were over 60 UFO sightings reported in the Papua New Guinea area, with many of these sightings occurring in the area of Mount Pudi, near the mission station at Boianai. New Guinea was part of Australia until 1975, and the Australian Anglican Church sent many missionaries to the people of the island nation. One of these was Father William Booth Gill, who began 1959 as a skeptic. On April 5, 1959, Father Gill saw a light on uninhabited Mount Pudi that moved faster than any human could move, and then on June 21, Stephen Moi Gill, Father Gill's assistant, saw what he described as an "inverted saucer" in the sky above the mission.
Of these first sightings, Father Gill wrote to a friend:
"I do not doubt the existence of these "things" (indeed I cannot, now that I have seen one for myself) but my simple mind still requires scientific evidence before I can accept the from- outer-space theory. I am inclined to believe that probably many UFOs are more likely some form of electric phenomena--or perhaps something brought about by the atom bomb explosions, etc. That Stephen should actually make out a saucer could be the work of the unconscious mind as it is very likely that at some time he has seen illustrations of some kind in a magazine, or it is very possible that saucers do exist, but it is only a 50/50 chance that they are not earth made, still less that they should carry men (more likely radiocontrolled), and it is still unproven that they are solids."
"It is all too difficult to understand for me; I prefer to wait for some bright boy to catch one to be exhibited in Martin Square."
These sightings were only a prelude, however, to the events of June 26 through June 28.
At about 6:45 on June 26, Father Gill saw a bright white light to the northwest. As thirty-eight people at the mission watched, a four-legged disc-shaped object that was approximately the size of five full moons lined up end to end hovered over the mission. On top of the object they saw four human-like figures that appeared to be performing some sort of task. At times one or more of the figures would vanish from sight, only to reappear a few minutes later. At regular intervals a beam of blue light shone upwards from the center of the craft. The object was visible until about 7:30, when it ascended into the clouds and vanished. At about 8:30, several smaller objects appeared in the sky, and at 8:50, the first object returned. The four-hour sighting lasted until 10:50, when clouds moved in and blocked the view.
Father Gill prepared a written report of the sighting, and twenty-five witnesses signed it.
The next day, the large object with "people" on board and two of the smaller objects, returned at about 06:00pm. Father Gill described it:
"On the large one two of the figures seemed to be doing something near the center of the deck. They were occasionally bending over and raising their arms as though adjusting or "setting up" something. One figure seemed to be standing, looking down at us."
Father Gill raised his arm and waved to the figure.
"To our surprise the figure did the same. Ananias waved both arms over his head; then the two outside figures did the same. Ananias and self began waving our arms, and all four seemed to wave back. There seemed no doubt that our movements were answered..."
There was more waving, and signaling with torches, with responses from the UFO. At 6:30, Father Gill went in to dinner, but at 7:00, the object was still there, only smaller, as if it had moved farther away. When Father Gill checked again, after church at 7:45, the sky was cloudy, and they were gone.
The next evening, the UFOs made their final appearance. Father Gill counted eight of them at 6:45 p.m. Oddly, at 11:20, the quiet night was shattered by a loud bang on the roof. Father Gill went outside to check, and saw four UFOs in a sort of circle around the building, but at a very great height. They were still there when he returned to bed. When the roof was checked the next morning, June 29, no evidence of an impact was found.
DR. MENZEL'S EXPLANATION:
The Boianai sightings was "analyzed" by astronomer and noted debunker Dr. Donald H. Menzel, who "explained" the sightings as being the planet Venus viewed myopically by Father Gill. Venus, he said, was very conspicuous in the west setting about three hours after the sun. He wrote:
"I think it significant that, despite the brilliance of Venus, none of the sightings by Father Gill and the mission group refers to that planet."
Menzel based his conclusions on several purely speculative assumptions: that Father Gill was near-sighted and without glasses at the time, that he "probably" had a degree of astigmatism also (causing him to see a distorted image of Venus), plus blood cells on the retina of his eye producing an illusion of motion. Menzel seems to have believed that the Papuans were ignorant natives who worshipped Father Gill and merely went along with everything he said, an easy way to dispose of 24 signed witnesses.Fred Beckman, a colleague of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who actually went to Papua and traveled with Father Gill to Boainai, notes in rebuttal that Father Gill was wearing properly corrected glasses at the time and that Venus was pointed out separately by Gill. The events of New Papua in 1959, at first glance, seem to be too unbelievable to be true. It is just too good of a sighting, compared to hazy photographs, reports of abductions by unreliable witnesses, and the designation of any undefined light in the sky as a "flying saucer." To be respectable, open-minded individuals, we must NOT compare one report to another. Each case must be viewed on it's own merits. Many of the so-called explanations are by those who never interviewed Father Gill, never visited the site, never read Gill's actual reports, but relied on third party explanations to draw their own conclusions.
Dr. Hynek and his staff members actually interviewed Gill, they visited the sight, they searched weather reports, they stood in the same spot that Gill stood. They interviewed other witnesses of the events. They followed up initial inquiries with subsequent visits, and interviews, allowing the passage of time to shed it's light on the witnesses, and what they saw. Fourteen years after the fantastic events at Papua, Dr. Hynek revisited Papua New Guinea, Australia, and re-interviewed six of the initial witnesses. They all supported William Gill's initial reports, and still believe what they saw to be a REAL craft of some unknown origin. The Papua, New Guinea sighting is one of the best documented cases of an unidentified craft of unknown origin in UFO annals.
By Bill Chalker
Reverend William (Bill) Booth Gill (5 January 1928 – 13 June 2007): a man of service and integrity; a potent and compelling witness to the extraordinary 1959 UFO “visitants” of Boianai Papua New Guinea. I am saddened to report on the passing of Reverend William (Bill) Gill on 13 June 2007 at the age of 79. His funeral service was held at the Church of Holy Trinity, Anglican Parish of Surrey Hills, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Reverend Gill became known to the UFO field for his famous UFO sightings at Boianai Papua New Guinea in June 1959. The sightings of June 26 and 27 1959 became widely recognised as some of the best in the history of the UFO mystery. Because of that status the sightings of the “Boianai visitants” also became the focus of attempts to explain them in diverse prosaic terms. They also became the target of often ill thought sceptical and debunking attempts. None of these adequately addresses the reality of the Boianai UFO entity sightings. Reverend William Gill’s observations were supported by 37 members of his native mission.
Over the decades I got to know Bill Gill I learnt that he was an honest and thoughtful man, who was very tolerant of others, particularly when it came to consideration of his famous UFO sightings. We met on a number of occasions, talked extensively about his experience and corresponded over the years, about the Boianai events and other matters, beyond UFOs. He was a thoroughly likeable and impressive person. William Booth Gill’s life was an impressive testimony of a commitment to service and integrity. He got involved with professional stage work between 1933 to 1940 and was with the Air League/Army cadets between during the war years. He was educated at Mont Albert Primary, Trinity Grammar, studied Theology at Brisbane, Queensland’s St. Francis College (1948-1950) and education at Queensland University. He attended Monash University, Mercer House Teacher’s College and the Melbourne Victoria College of Divinity.
Later in life Bill Gill undertook sociological research between 1986 and 1987 at Latrobe University. Academically he was very well accredited with a B.A., Th.L., Adv. Dip.Theology., Dip. R. Ed. Bill’s working life was just as impressive. He began teaching in Papua New Guinea in 1948. Bill Gill became an ordained priest in Queensland in 1950 and returned to mission work in Papua New Guinea, where he was also in educational administration between 1952 and 1959. Reverend Gill was the founding head of St. Francis’ Educational Centre at Port Moresby between 1953 and 1954. He even was a sessional broadcaster on 9PA radio at Port Moresby in 1953 and between 1959 and 1962 he tried his hand at freelance writing with the Brisbane Sunday Mail. Upon his return to Australia after his mission and education career in Papua New Guinea he taught at Essendon Grammar (1960-61), Camberwell Grammar (1962-1980) and St. Michael’s Grammar (1981-1987). In his travels Rev Gill apart from his lengthy stay in Papua New Guinea, he visited South Australia, Tasmania, Perth, Western Australia, the Australian east coast to Cairns, Thailand, England (where he did educational survey work and temping at Magdelan College in Oxham during 1971).
He visited the United States during 1977 and 1978, lecturing in Chicago at North Western University, about his 1959 UFO experience. Reverend Gill talked about his experience in a documentary – “UFOs are Here” made in 1977 by Guy Baskin (a documentary in which I made an appearance as well – definitely a youthful “seventies” look). An article written at the time of his retirement from teaching, by “A.R.C.H” of St. Michael’s Grammar school in Melbourne, Victoria, highlighted, “(Father William Gill) worked (in Papua New Guinea) for almost a decade, including seven years as a Head Teacher and Sub-District Education Administrator.
Because of his dedicated hard work, he won a fine reputation for himself, and deep affection from many Papuans and New Guineans as well as his fellow Europeans…. (At St. Michael’s) he taught English, History and Christian Education … His pastoral work was always quiet, unobtrusive and effective…. Father Gill was an excellent classroom teacher …. His most definitely has been a career distinguished by kindness and loyalty.” My last face-to-face time with Bill Gill was at the June 2003 Brisbane UFO conference, at which he gave his final UFO lecture. He had mixed feelings about giving this lecture and had asked me about whether to do it.
I had mixed feelings about it as well, but for me apart from the personal side, wanting to meet up with him again, there was a firm sense of history. I told him that his presence would be a determining factor of my own decision to attend the conference. I assured him that he would be well received, even though the audience would be a mixed crowd. I videoed his Brisbane lecture – which is now a record of his last UFO lecture, a record I have made available to his family. Bill enjoyed the occasion. It was a great opportunity to catch up with him again and see him present his account of these remarkable sightings. By any measure Reverend William Gill was a remarkable man, with a life full of service and integrity. His intersection with the UFO mystery with the 1959 Boianai PNG UFO “visitants” was a potent and credible expression of the UFO mystery. Thanks Bill for a life well lived and for your wonderful testament to one of life’s great mysteries. Best wishes and good journeying…