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14

Details of Sighting

Date 31st January 1961 Time 8:54PM Place Timaru

Date 31st January 1961 Time 8:54PM Place Timaru

Date 31st January 1961 Time 8:54PM Place Timaru

It was basically cigar shaped with a convex protrusion sited centrally on top

Enclosed Statement

FROM: RNZAF Station Wigram
TO: Air Department Wellington
DATE: 20 FEBRUARY 1961
REF: WIG : C43/2/Air

UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECT

1.Attached are two reports covering the sighting of an unidentified flying object in the Timaru area, during the late evening of 31 January 1961. The sightings were made by Flying Officer Ragg and his Air Signaller Sergeant Cowan, from a Devon aircraft, whilst on a night cross country navigation training flight.

2.There is no reason to doubt the veracity of the reports – both Ragg and Cowan are responsible aircrew members. Indeed perhaps the most unusual aspect of the case was their reticence in making known the ‘sighting’ on return to base for fear of possible ridicule; it was not until some days later that the matter came to official notice.

3.Ragg has been questioned closely, but apart from being quite definite as to the evidence of his senses he seems to be just as mystified as are his superiors.

(S.G. QUILL.)
Group Captain Commanding,
RNZAF Station Wigram.

Report

The Commanding Officer
RNZAF Station
WIGRAM

14 February 1961

U.F.O. SIGHTING

Sir,

1.I have the honour to report that on the night of 31 Jan 61, I was engaged on a navigation exercise entailing a flight at 7000' from Wigram to the Oamaru area, North to Conway river mouth, and back to base. The forecast for the route was clear skies and light winds, and this was the weather encountered throughout the exercise. A noticeable feature initially was the impressive sunset, and rather unusual light, up until approx. 2100 hours. As we approached our first turning point at Orari, my signaller Sgt Cowan, drew my attention to traffic ahead, approaching very swiftly and at approx our altitude. I was prepared to take avoiding action when I realised that the object had slowed, and as we watched, it appeared to however about 5600 yards away, remaining there fully thirty seconds before moving off extremely quickly to the South-west. Nearing Waimate, 25 minutes later a further sighting was made of the object, this time a considerable distance to the west, but still in the area where it initially disappeared. The flight continued normally and without further incident back to Wigram.

2.The first sighting of the U.F.O was at 2054M, and at this time the ground below was blanketed in near darkness, while above, a broad, bright orange band behind the hills, the sky was quite light. The object approaching was a dark silouette [SIC] and was at first, obviously moving towards us very quickly indeed. The rate of growing then became difficult to discern before we realised it had stopped right in front of us. There were no lights to be seen on the object, and although the shape of it was obvious, its edges were not sharply defined. It was basically cigar shaped with a convex protrusion sited centrally on top. At one stage there appeared to be a two legged ‘undercarriage’ attached in down position. A short period of time elapsed, during which we did not appear to gain on the object, and then it moved a short distance to the west before accelerating at a phenomenal rate to the S.W., maintinaing [SIC] straight and level until well over the hills and almost out of sight, when it again moved west, this time apparently losing altitude. During the second sighting, the object ‘flew’ three different headings before disappearing again and was probably at a lower altitude. At no stage did it appear to bank, and changes in direction were effected instantly.

3.The length of time allowed for our observations was sufficient to enable us to discuss the possible nature of the subject. My first thought as I prepared to take evasive action was of a DC3 although this was quickly discounted. Sgt Cowan and myself discussed the possibility of meteorological phenomena, Canberra, foreign body on our aircraft, or reflections, and both noted the time of sighting. We closed our eyes, looked away and back again, moved our heads, and I moved the aircraft slightly from our course while the objects remained apparently motionless ahead. I was about to call a Devon following 2 – 3 minutes behind me when the object moved off, so I abandoned the call intending to mention the incident on completion of the exercise, however I concluded that the object was definitely solid, and did not exhibit conventional flight characteristics.

I have the honour to be,
Sir,
Your obedient Servant,

(G.W. RAGG.)
Flying Officer

Report

P/F
RNZAF Station
WIGRAM

15 February 1961

U.F.O. SIGHTING

Sir,

1.I have the honour to report that on the evening of 31 January 1961 an unidentified object was sighted by the crew of Devon 1807.

2.My own observations concur with those of Fg Off Ragg in that I originally thought the object was an aircraft on a collison [SIC] course and reported this information to the Captain. Events the followed as detailed in Fg Off Ragg’s report.

3.I would definitely state that the object seen was under positive control and capable of extremely rapid course changes without deviating from straight and level flight. It appeared to be about the size of a DC3 but cigar shaped with a small cockpit in a central position on the top surface. Although silhouetted against a bright evening sky the outline was not clearly defined but slightly distorted around the edges. On arrival back at base the incident was mentioned by one of the other Devon crews who attached no significance to the sighting. I feel I cannot add any further information than that given in FG Off Ragg’s report.

I have the honour to be,
Sir,
Your obedient Servant,

(L.K. COWAN)
Sergeant Signaller

The Commanding Officer
RNZAF Station
WIGRAM

Response

Air Department, Wellington

RNZAF Station, Wigram
7 March 1961
244/10/1

SIGHTING OF UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT

1.Reference your letter C43/2/AIR dated 20 February 1961 and the associated reports by Fg Off Ragg and Sgt Cowan.

2.It has not as yet been possible to make a complete evaluation of this incident owing to the non-receipt of any other reports of sighting/s at or about the same time.

3.In Sgt Cowan’s report, he states that ‘on arrival back at base the incident was mentioned by one of the other Devon crews, who attached no significance to the sighting’.

4.Should the member/s of the other Devon referred to be able to throw any further light on the incident, it is requested that any information or opinion they provide be forwarded to this Headquarters.

(R.R. CARTER)
for Wing Commander
Director of Intelligence

Response

FROM: RNZAF Station Wigram
TO: Air Department Wellington
DATE: 10 March 61
REF.: WIG. C43/2/AIR

SIGHTING OF UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT

1.Reference is made to Air Department letter 244/10/1 dated 7 March 1961 requesting any further possible information on the report forwarded from Wigram on 20 February 1961.

2.The second Devon on the navigational trip in question was flying the same route as the aircraft which made the ‘sighting’ and approximately 6 miles behind. About the time Fg Off Ragg and crew made their sighting the crew of the second Devon, Flying Officer Dalziell and F/S Sig Karauria saw an object some miles in front of them which, as they were half expecting to see the other Devon, they took to be this aircraft. However, a few moments later they could no longer see the aircraft and because of the falling night and distance involved they thought nothing further of it.

(S.M. HOPE) Wg Cdr
for Group Captain, Commanding
RNZAF Station Wigram

Further investigations of this incident not [INDISCERNIBLE]isolated & [INDISCERNIBLE].

Sqn Ldr.
DDI.
13/3/61

Report taken from file number
AIR 244/10/1 Volume 1

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