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A case in Papua - New Guinea, 1959:

How many times did I hear that UFOS appear only in "America?" Well this is not correct. Here is one of the many cases which did not occur in "America."


In this case file:

Click! The account of the events.
The detailed report of the event (This page).
Click! The letters by father Gill.
Click! Debunking by Dr. Menzel.
Click! Article by Michael Jordan.
Click! References.

Detailed report:

According to renowned UFO investigator, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, one of the most well-documented "close encounters of the third kind" occurred in the Anglican mission village at Boianai, Papua, New Guinea, which was, at the time of the incident, still a territory of Australia. The Australian Anglican Church was very involved in missionary work, and ardent in sending it's heralds to the island nation. One of these was the Father William Booth Gill. Gill was highly thought of by his co-hearts, 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 or so 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. Little did he know, that these events, whatever they were, had drawn their attention to the sky above them, and soon William Gill would have one of the most celebrated UFO sightings to ever be documented, which was collaborated 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 it's activities for a full forty-five minutes, until the shining ship rose into the sky, and disappeared at 7:30 P.M. Glued to the sky, 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 at 10:50. Father Gill prepared a full written report of this event, and 25 other observers signed the document.

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 it's occupants. It was shadowed by two of the smaller objects. In William Gill's own 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 figures.

"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.

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 interview 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 witnessed the event. Most of these are, as you would expect, panaceas for the general reports of sightings. 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. "It's 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, it's 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."

Then the case fell into oblivion.

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This page was last updated on January 25, 2002.