By Bill Chalker
Consideration of the UFO problem was far from my mind at twilight, on September 15th, 1972, as I was returning from a Chemistry practical class at the University of New England Armidale campus. Weighing heavily on my mind was the thought of dinner and a chance to relax after an exhausting day. What followed was therefore totally unexpected and came as a stunning surprise.
As I crossed the grounds of Earle Page College, my residence on campus, at about 5.50 pm, my attention was drawn to two students, not known to me, who were intent on something in the sky. As I drew closer to them their conversation could be heard.
"Do you see that?"
"Yes", replied the other, "but I don't want to."
Curious I turned in the direction of their gazes and saw what appeared to be a metallic egg-shaped object traversing the twilight sky, north to south. It was moving in a horizontal trajectory, at a speed roughly equitable to that of a low flying light plane.
The object was in my view for about 15 seconds, until college buildings obscured it. I rushed through the college buildings, and out to the other side, which afforded a clear panoramic view for some considerable distance. To my surprise, the aerial object was not in sight.
It had an apparent angular size at arms length of about one inch, and gave me the subjective impression of a sizeable object flying at several hundred feet. Obviously there was no way of being certain of that impression. The object appeared to be completely silent, in contrast to the noisy aircraft that frequently pass over the university.
To my eye, its shape was very well defined, with no surface protrusions noticeable.
What was it? I was never able to identify the object, despite attempts to reconcile it with aircraft, balloons and similar prosaic explanations. Any of these possibilities should have been still observable as I came through the college buildings.
I was puzzled. UFOs had been in the news that week, but much of the coverage was of a dubious nature. The focus of the media attention was on "a bright silvery light", observed on several consecutive mornings at Taree, on the mid north coast of New South Wales. The afternoon papers in Sydney, particularly the Daily Mirror, were having a field day, complete with front-page photos and huge headlines about the aerial "mystery".
The details available made me wonder if news was a little slow down in "the big smoke". I was able to quickly confirm my own hypothesis, that the early morning apparition was "the queen of UFO misidentifications", namely Venus. Predictably when this became clear to the tabloid press, the prominence given to the answer was a lot less than the original coverage. There was intriguing activity happening elsewhere in Australia at that time, but it did not get the attention it deserved.
Earlier on the same day of my sighting, a student told me of some unusual events that had occurred at about 3 am that morning on a property to the west of Armidale and apparently involved a bizarre apparition, looking like "a monk in a shroud". The student was acquainted with me through meetings of the fledging university psychic phenomena society. I had been co-opted to chair its "ghost and poltergeist" subcommittee, which I saw as an opportunity for a net to catch all manner of "fringe" phenomena, and hopefully some UFO phenomena.
Later when I further clarified details the event seemed to involve a bizarre form of apparitional "possession" at a site that became haunted by UFOs - the Mount Butler affair. What it would show was that the dimensions of UFO problem were far from clear and the best approach was to be both critical and open minded.
Bill Chalker was educated at the University of New England, graduating with an Honours Science Degree (B.Sc. Hons.) with majors in Chemistry and Mathematics. Chalker has undertaken extensive research and published major papers on many topics including Australian physical evidence, historical Australian reports (pre 1947), the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and UFOs, Australian "missing time" events and UFO abduction experiences. In 1996 he wrote The OZ Files: the Australian UFO story.
Bill Chalker retains the sole copyright © 2000 for this article.