But first we shall go to official explanations.
The sightings at Boiani are at first sight, so fantastic that it is not surprising that many people have refused to accept them as true, and consider that Fr. Gill, although obviously a sincere man, either had imagined it all, or had seen some ordinary object such as Venus, and misidentified it. Others admit that he may have seen some unidentified object in the sky, but that his report is enormously exaggerated.
However, the authorities were sufficiently interested to request that a copy be sent to the Assistant Administrator of the Territory, and all reports of U.F.O.'s are being recorded in the Government Files.
The President of the Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society, Mr. Peter Norris, LL.B. wrote to the Director of Air Force Intelligence on 12th. September, 1959, asking whether the Air Force had investigated the Boiani Reports, and what conclusions they had come to.
The Air Force replied that they had had no official information of the sightings but were now making enquiries into the matter.
Later, Squadron Leader, D.F. Gibson, visited Fr. Gill, and cross-examined him about the Boiani sightings. Later this official reply was received by the Flying Saucer Society -
Victorian Flying Saucer Society,
100 Collins Street,
Thank you for your letter of the 25th. January, 1960. An officer of this Directorate has investigated Reverend W. Gill's report of U.F.O. activity in the Boiani area of New Guinea, and copies of his findings have been submitted to appropriate authorities. As mentioned in our 114/1/201 (AAA) dated 14th. February, 1957 [I wonder if this is not a misprint for “1960”], such reports are not releasable to the public. However, although it is not possible to reach any positive conclusions, we do not believe that the objects observed by the Rev. W. Gill and his party were manned space vehicles. Analysis of bearings and angles above the horizon does suggest that at least three of the lights were planets, e.g. Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. Light refraction, the changing position of the planets relative to the observers, and the unsettled tropical weather could give the impression of size and rapid movement.
(Sgd) F. E. Lang
The Flying Saucer Society is now asking the Melbourne Official Astronomer to check whether the planets concerned were in the right position at that time to account for any of the U.F.O.'s. The ambiguity of the letter is evident, and it only claims to be a possible explanation of some of the smaller objects. The main object carrying the men is not mentioned, and is presumably regarded as inexplicable.
Fr. Gill says that he is quite prepared to accepted the possibility that some of the smaller objects could have been planets, though from their apparent size and behaviour it is very hard to believe. The most noticeable characteristic of Fr. Gill is the moderation of his claim, and his absolute refusal to subscribe to any theory about the origin of the objects. He always reiterates that he does not know what they were or whence they came. All he knows is that he and 37 others saw them.
Luckily the evidence does not depend on Fr. Gill only. There is other corroboration of things in the sky over Goodenough Bay at the same time as he was watching them at Boiani.
It so happened that on the night of Friday, 26th.June, a trader from Samarai, Mr. 'Ernie' Evennett, was anchoring his little launch Sirius off Giwa, opposite Boiani, on the north coast of Goodenough Bay [approximately 9° 41' S, 149° 48' E]. He had been listening to the 7 o'clock news. Here is his own report of what he saw (as told personally to me). At between 7.15 and 7.30 p.m., on 26th. June -
“The light on it faded out except for the portholes, which were brightly illuminated. The object had the silhouette of a rugger football, and had a kind of ring or band round it with 4 or 5 semi-domed portholes below the band on the side which I could see. A glow was coming from the portholes.
“From my knowledge of boats I should estimate it as between 60 and 80 feet in length. After hovering for about 4 minutes, it started to move again. As it moved it made three distinct noises like “WOOMP! WOOMP! WOOMP.” It glowed a brilliant greenish white and shot off like a shooting star, at high speed, disappearing towards the mountain to the west of Boiani.
“I was very frightened, but I couldn't take my eyes off it, I was so fascinated”.
Unfortunately there seems to have been no other witnesses, except perhaps the boat crew. The Trader [at Giwa] did not see it, and when Mr. Evennett told him about it afterwards he did not believe him.
Next day Mr. Evennett crossed over to Boiani where he picked up some native people to take into Samarai. They said to him “Taubada (Sir), did you see the American Air Force last night? We did at Boiani”.
When he arrived at Samarai he first told our Mission Secretary, Fr. Kendall, about his experience, and later gave an official report to the District Commissioner.
His sighting is a remarkable confirmation of Fr. Gill's observations. Although the craft differs in some respects from Fr. Gill's (in any case it couldn't have been the same craft as the times are too close) it was obviously equally 'out of this world'. It is inconceivable that Fr. Gill and Mr. Evennett, perhaps 15 miles apart [more like 18 miles], and unknown to each other, could have invented such similar stories on the very same night.
Although the elongated shape of Evennett's craft, the portholes and lack of upper deck suggest a different type of craft from the Boiani disc, it must be remembered that if seen in perspective from below (45 degrees) a disc would appear oval in silhouette. The portholes may have been the 'panels' of Gill's object, and the legs may have been retracted or invisible, and the deck may have been hidden by the steep angle of sight. The discrepancy in estimated size is not significant.
In any case there is little doubt that what Mr. Evennett saw was part of the same fleet of aerial vehicles which visited Goodenough Bay that night.
These are the words of the Report made at the time by Mr. Ronald Orwin, Assistant District Officer, in charge of Baniara subdistrict, Milne Bay District of Papua. [Baniara is at approximately 9° 41' S, 53° E, 17 miles from Boiani and 6 miles east of Giwa.]
The object remained stationary for some time and then slowly began moving across the sky in a westerly direction.
“It has the appearance of a 'sparkler', which is commonly used in fireworks displays. Also shafts of green light emanating from the base of the object appeared to be blotted out at regular intervals. A green light also appeared at regular intervals at various points of the object. There did not appear to be any definite order in the appearance of this light. The object looked as if it had a red base, or that a red glow was emanating from its base.
“At the time of sighting and while the object was under observation, there were many stars present and few clouds in the area where the object was to be seen. There was a definite reflected glow on the few clouds in the area, when the object passed in close proximity to them. It was also noticed that there was a reflection like a beam of light on the water between the mainland and the island and this emanated from the object. In contrast the reflection of the stars in the water, which was very smooth, were similar to pin points only.
“As the object moved slowly across and downwards in a westerly direction, it was kept under constant observation. From the wharf it was then seen that there was what appeared to be a round bronze coloured disc below and to the right of the bright light. As the light moved so did this disc, keeping the same distance, about 500 to 1000 feet, each time. This was first noticed at 20.25 hours.
“The bright light and the disc both finally disappeared behind cloud low in the western horizon at 20.45 hours”.
In questioning Mr. Smith, who also witnessed the sighting, I asked him about the curious shafts of light. He said that they emanated from the base of the object, which was about the size of a sixpence at arm's length. There were three of these thin needle-like shafts of green light, one vertical, and one on either side diverging from it at an angle of approximately 15 degrees. They extended for a distance equal to about 3 inches at arm's length. They did not exactly flash on and off but seemed to lengthen and shorten in a most peculiar way, as if they were objects being protruded and withdrawn. They did not appear to be solid legs but only rays of light. [Such truncated light beams are now a well known feature of UFOs.]
This sighting is a most remarkable one, first because it was on the same night as the Boiani one, which was not itself seen at Baniara (20 miles away). But secondly it is important for the remarkable details of the green shafts and the bronze disc. Evidently the object was of a quite different type from the Boiani objects, and equally fantastic in a different way. It is hard to believe that such curious details should be invented. They are so unlikely. They were observed later in several subsequent sightings.
Mr. Orwin and Mr. Smith are both intelligent and observant men, and it is reasonable to suppose that their descriptions are accurate.
The same object was sighted again the following night. Continuing the report:
“On Sunday, 28th., at 18.20 hours, the bright light was again seen by Mr. and Mrs. Orwin. It appeared in the same position as on the previous night, although it was not as bright at first. At 20.01 hours the bright light moved at great speed along the same track as the previous night, but in a minute covered the same distance it had taken half an hour to cover previously. The light became very bright during this rapid movement, as did its reflection on the sea. It dropped about 5000 ft. during the period, and in my opinion it looked as though it was going to land to the northwest of the station on the mainland. The light was kept under observation during this rapid movement, and Mr. Orwin ran to the wharf for this purpose. It slowed up and remained in the western sky until it slowly disappeared again low on the horizon at 21.15 hours. The bronze disc was again sighted in the same relative position as the night before. Mr. Smith was present with Mr. Orwin to keep the bright light under observation from 20.05 until it disappeared.
Mr. Orwin gave me some more details of this sighting. He mentioned that when the light moved rapidly, it became dazzlingly bright and, when it dropped as if it was going to land, it was 'like a thousand searchlights'. He was so concerned about its apparent intention to land that the bronze disc which accompanied the object appeared to jump up towards the object when it descended and seemed to vanish into it.
A Naval Intelligence Officer visiting the District, suggested that it might have been Venus, which could be expected to be seen from the station in the approximate position of the bright light. Mr Orwin replies:
“I am of the opinion that the bright light was not Venus, as this light was much lower than the position of Venus and more to the north”.
Apart from that, it is hard to imagine how Venus could appear to perform all the extraordinary manoeuvres and manifestations attributed to this light.
It will be noticed that this sighting coincided with the third night of U.F.O. activity at Boiani.
The last report for this period comes from the Roman Catholic Mission at Sideia again, perhaps 90 miles south-east of Boiani. [More like 80 miles. It is on a small island just off the south-east tip of New Guinea.]
“At 8.30 p.m. on June 27th. (Boiani's second night, Baniara's first) two of the Brothers saw a large fiery object about half the size of the full moon in the western sky, moving slowly either down the western sky or away from the observers in a westerly direction. At one stage the object, of which the light appearing to diminish to a pinpoint, suddenly glowed brightly again. It turned blue before finally disappearing. The phenomenon lasted about 10 minutes”.
Venus was also held responsible for this light. The Harbour Master of Samarai, Mr. H. Riding, is quoted as saying -
“This planet sometimes has the habit of emitting blue, green and red flashes of light, and also light refraction due to temperature changes in the atmosphere gives the impression of the planet moving”.
It is of course quite conceivable that some of the sightings maybe explicable by the vagaries of Venus, but what stands out is the remarkable consistency of certain features of the sightings, from quite independent witnesses. That there appears to be a definite pattern running through them seems to become more and more evident. In any case many of the sightings were made long after Venus had set.