UFO Flotilla sighting in Tasmania on October 4, 1960

A well-documented sighting, was made by two reliable witnesses. Reverend Lionel Browning was admiring a rainbow as he and his wife looked out the window of their home in Tasmania.

It was 6:10 p.m., the sun was just setting in the west. A curtain of rain hid the Ben Lomond Range to their east and stretched across the southeast to the south. Mrs. Browning suddenly drew her husband’s attention to what they both at first thought was a large airplane emerging from the rain veil. The Brownings estimated the distance to this object to be about 4 km. Their first guess that it was an airplane was then changed to a gliding plane with the engine off, as the speed of the object did not appear to be more than 80 km per hour.

They then realized that it was not an airplane at all, but some kind of cigar-shaped object that had no wings, had several vertical stripes or ridges on its gray surface and some strange protrusion on the “front” end.

They watched it glide in a northerly direction for about a minute, then suddenly stop in midair and hover about 150 meters above the ground. Then about 12 much smaller disk-shaped objects emerged from the rain clouds to the east.

These smaller discs were moving much faster than the large cigar-shaped object, at a speed that Rev. Browning estimated was approaching that of a jet plane. He emphasized that these smaller objects “galloped like rocks on water.”

Prior to his observation, Reverend Browning not only ignored UFO reports, but was extremely negative about the authenticity of most such reports. Now, however, he himself unwittingly witnessed events he had previously refused to believe.

The Brownings then saw the discs take up a “formation” around a cigar-shaped object, which hovered motionless as they approached and formed. The smaller objects were estimated to be about 6 meters in diameter, while the cigar-shaped object was ten times longer (60 meters).

The entire group then began to move south, back into the downpour from which the large object first appeared, and disappeared from view, completing an observation that eyewitnesses estimated lasted about two to three minutes. These objects were illuminated by the setting sun, and Rev. Browning emphasized that there was a distinct difference in tone between the dim gray color of the large object and the metallic luster of the smaller objects.

The Brownings, after a brief discussion of the event, which they interpreted as “some Russian stuff,” called a nearby airfield to report it.

An RAAF officer arrived and questioned the Brownings. Commander G. L. Waller claimed that the Brownings “gave me the impression of mature, stable and mentally healthy people who had no reason or desire to see objects in the sky other than those of a certain shape and content.” This impression is confirmed by many other people who personally knew the Brownings, as I have established in the course of my investigations.”

The RAAF’s public explanation of this observation irritated Rev. Browning and he spoke to the media where he ridiculed the military’s claims.

The RAAF Air Force Reconnaissance Office in early 1961 gave the official explanation: “The phenomena were the result of moonrise associated with meteorological conditions at the time of observation. On October 4, 1960, moonrise (full quarter) in Cressy was visible shortly after 6:00 p.m. and in the direction of the ESE. The presence of scud type clouds moving in different directions due to turbulence in and around the rain squall near which objects were seen, as well as the position of the moon and its reflections, created the impression of flying objects.”

Such an “explanation” has a curiously familiar sound to anyone who has studied the large number of U.S. Air Force “explanations” of UFO sightings. Such explanations are reminiscent of the line from Men in Black: “The light from Venus reflected off the upper atmosphere and caused a bog gas explosion.”

It can be quickly established that the moon was full on the day of the Cressey observation and that it must have risen not in the east-east, but a few degrees north of the east. Even worse for this official explanation is that not only was the dense downpour obscuring the entire eastern sky visible from the church building, but the highest mountain range in Tasmania was behind these dense clouds and further obscured the full moon that had just risen. (Ben Lomond, the 6,160-foot peak, is east-east of Cressy, and its ridges extend south and north of that peak.)

Experts interested in atmospheric optics and unusual refractive and reflective anomalies have considered the official suggestion that clouds subject to turbulent motions might be optically distorted into something remotely resembling the phenomena reported by the Brownings to be non-negotiable and have recognized it as complete nonsense.

The U.S. Air Force has claimed many times that the sun and moon can “reflect off the sides or tops of clouds.” Nothing from decades of meteorological optical observations supports such a notion except the “false sun” phenomenon, which involves a spectacular reflection from ice crystals falling in completely non-turbulent air and only visible from a plane or an elevated vantage point.

The sun and moon give nothing like clear images reflecting off cloud walls, and all UFO explanations involving such optical absurdities are unreasonable.

There was little evidence of scientific knowledge in the RAAF Intelligence Agency’s assertion of such a meteorological explanation, unless perhaps that agency felt that the essential features of the Brownings’ account should simply be ignored as unreliable. However, RAAF interrogating officer Waller was apparently not inclined to ignore the witnesses’ descriptions of their observations and their way of life, and so their credibility was not in question.

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