There was no specific government agency responsible for the collecting and analysing these sightings, so responsibility fell on the Department of Air. The Department collected reports from defence force members, pilots and air traffic controllers, meteorologists and the general public. During the peak of interest in UFOs the department investigated some reports, trying to establish whether the sighting could be attributed to low flying aircraft, weather balloons or meteorological phenomena.
Reports were also collected by other agencies involved in air safety, research and intelligence, including the CSIRO, the Joint Intelligence Organisation, the Weapons Research Establishment at Maralinga, and the Department of Transport. The Department of Territories kept reports from Papua New Guinea.
In the absence of a specialist government agency to deal with UFO correspondence, responsibility for recording encounters with unexplained phenomena fell on the Department of Air. These records are now held by the Archives, and include completed ‘Report on aerial object observed’ forms and narrative accounts of UFO encounters.
This Department of Air record, marked confidential, is a diagram of a UFO sighting from 1955. It details how the ‘object came from & returned to the west’ and ‘appeared to float just above the tree tops’. An ‘orange glow’ could be seen through the three portholes.
Below is a selection of records in the Archives' collection that relate to UFOs. To find further records of interest, you can search the collection.
Item titleDate rangeSeries numberTraining command HQ – reports of unusual activity and aerial phenomenon 1950–55 B5758, 5/6/AIR part 1
Investigations of flying saucers – policy 1953–63 A703, 554/1/30 part 1
Investigations of flying saucers – policy 1953–67 A703, 554/1/30 part 2
Investigations of flying saucers – policy 1959–74 A703, 554/1/30 part 3
Reports on flying saucers and other aerial objects 1953–58 A703, 580/1/1 part 1
Reports on flying saucers and other aerial objects 1958–60 A703, 580/1/1 part 2
Reports on flying saucers and other aerial objects 1960–63 A703, 580/1/1 part 3
Reports on flying saucers and other aerial objects 1963–65 A703, 580/1/1 part 4
Memento, Issue 2 March 2011 – ‘What a gem! Flying saucers and other aerial objects’
Find of the month, August 2005 – Blinded by the light