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The August 31, 1954, Nowra, Australia, O'Farrell case:

A very well documented Australian Aircraft UFO encounter is that of Lt. J. O'Farrell on the night of 31st August, 1954, when he was flying a Sea Fury aircraft over southern New South Wales, Australia. Two objects were not only sighted by the pilot, but were also tracked by radar at the Royal Australian Navy Air Station at Nowra. The objects were travelling at an incredible speed, and it is unlikely that there were even any secret experimental craft this advanced in 1954.

In this file:

Click! The events.
Click! The Nowra 1954 radar case, by Dr. James E. McDonald.
Click! The Nowra 1954 radar case, by Project 1947.

Case summary:

Lieutenant J.A. O'Farrell was returning to the Royal Australian Navy Air Station of Nowra after a night cross country in a Sea Fury aircraft. After contacting Nowra at about 07:10 P.M., O'Farrell saw a very bright light closing fast at one o'clock. It crossed in front of his aircraft taking up position on his port beam, where it appeared to orbit. A second and similar light was observed at nine o'clock. It passed about a mile in from of the Sea Fury and then turned in the position where the first light was observed. According to O'Farrell, the apparent crossing speeds of the lights were the fastest he had ever encountered. He had been flying at 220 knots. O'Farrell contacted Nowra, simply to ask if there were other aircraft, as he was reluctant to explain that he was in company of UFOs. Nowra then confirmed that they had two radar "paints" in company with him. The radar operator, Petty Officer Keith Jessop, confirmed the presence of 2 objects near the Sea Fury on the G.C.I. remote display. The two lights reformed at nine o'clock and then disappeared on a north easterly heading. O'Farrell could only make out "a vague shape with the white light situated centrally on top."

In a later interview, he explained:

"I was about to press the button and tell them at Nowra that the two aircraft were departing when Nowra called me up and said, "The other two aircraft appear to be departing at high speed to the north east. Is that correct?" and I said, "Yes!". And they said, "Roger, we'll see if we can track them." They tracked them for a while and then lost them."

When he landed, O'Farrell was thorougly checked, and it was clear that he had not been drinking. The Directorate of Naval Intelligence at the time wrote that O'Farrell was "an entirely credible witness" and that he "was visibly 'shaken' by his experience, but remains adamant that he saw these objects."

The australian Ministry of Navy was immediately alerted, and in the same year, the minister of the Air, William McMahon, ordered an investigation on this case and other similar cases.

USAF's Project Blue Book scientific consultant, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, interviewed the pilot in 1973. The case has been researched in depth by Australian investigator Bill Chalker ("The Oz Files - The Australian Story").

He wrote:

"Upon my request, on July 13, 1982, the Director of Naval Intelligence (DNI) declassified documents relating to the famous radar-visual Sea Fury incident of August 31, 1954. These included written statements by the Sea Fury pilot and the Nowra Naval Air Station radar operator and a previously "confidential" memorandum from DNI to DAFI. (3) In correspondence with R.H. Mathams, former Director of Scientific Intelligence (JIB/J10) and author of the book: "Sub Rosa - Memoirs of an Australian Intelligence Analyst", he indicated to me that, "DSTI had only a marginal interest in UFO's; our analytical resources were limited and I had to take the position that we could not afford to become too involved in investigation of UFO sightings until we had reasonable grounds for believing that they were of foreign - as opposed to alien - origin. We relied on DAFI to make the initial investigations and, at times assisted in the interpretation of the resulting data".

The 1954 "Sea Fury" case is a proved radar visual case.


TV: In 1993, Bill Chalker worked with the researchers of the television series "The Extraordinary," screened on the 7 network on Thursday nights in Australia. This weekly series presents several short pieces week on various aspects of the paranormal, and the UFO phenomenon.

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This page was last updated on September 23, 2002.