June 26, 1959
Location: Papua New Guinea
B. Gill, an Anglican priest with a mission in Bosinai,
Papas New Guinea, observed craft-like UFOs -- one with
Humanoid figures on top -- on two consecutive evenings,
June 26-27, 1959. About twenty-five natives, including
teachers and medical technicians, also observed the phenomena.
They "signaled" the humanoids and received an
apparent response. This was one of sixty UFO sightings
within a few weeks in the New Guinea area.
This sketch by witness Father Gill shows the craft and
occupants as they appeared
from the position of observation. One to four "men"
were clearly seen.
Artist's impression of the encounter by Australian missionary
Father Gill and
several of his native parishioners. (credit: Brookesmith)
Bill Chalker, from 'The Oz Files'
Boianai Visitants of 1959
by Bill Chalker
1959, Papua New Guinea was still a territory of Australia.
June of that year saw the spectacular sightings by Father
William Gill, an Australian Anglican missionary, and 37
members of his Boianai mission. Gill made notes about
the experience, which the media obtained. Stories appeared
in August, causing a sensation. I have had two extended
interviews with Reverend Gill and was impressed with his
quiet and certain manner in relating the events. What
follows comes from his own account of the affair.
the day before the sighting, Gill had composed a letter
to the Reverend David Durie, Acting Principal of Saint
Aidan's College at Dogura, to accompany a report regarding
a UFO sighting made by Stephen Moi, an assistant teacher
at Gill's mission.
David, Have a look at this extraordinary data. I am almost
convinced about the "visitation" theory. There
have been quite a number of reports over the months, from
reliable witnesses. The peculiar thing about these most
recent reports is that the UFOs seem to be stationary
at Boianai or to travel from Boianai. The Mount Pudi vicinity
seems to be the hovering area. I myself saw a stationary
white light twice on the same night on 9 April, but in
a different place each time.
believe your students have also sighted one over Boianai.
The Assistant District Officer, Bob Smith and Mr Glover
have all seen it, or similar ones on different occasions
again, over Boianai, although I think the Baniara people
said they watched it travel across the sky from our direction.
I should think that this is the first time that the "saucer"
has been identified as such.
do not doubt the existence of these "things"
(indeed I cannot, now that I have seen one for myself)
but my simple mind still requires scientific evidence
before I can accept the from outer space theory. I am
inclined to believe that probably many UFOs are more likely
some form of electric phenomena, or perhaps something
brought about by the atom bomb explosions, etc.
Stephen should actually make out a saucer could be the
work of the unconscious mind as it is very likely that
at some time he has seen illustrations of some kind in
a magazine, or it is very possible that saucers do exist,
but it is only a 50/50 chance that they are not earth
made, still less that they should carry men (more likely
radio controlled), and it is still unproven that they
is all too difficult to understand for me; I prefer to
wait for some bright boy to catch one to be exhibited
in Martin Square. 'Please return this report as I have
no copy and I want Nor, (Rev. Norman Crutwell) to have
it. Yours, Doubting William Anglican Mission, Boianai.
events of the next day converted the Doubting William,
as the next letter graphically indicates.
Life is strange, isn't it? Yesterday I wrote you a letter,
(which I still intend sending you) expressing opinions
re: The UFOs. Now, less than twenty-four hours later I
have changed my views somewhat. Last night we at Boianai
experienced about four hours of UFO activity, and there
is no doubt whatsoever that they are handled by beings
of some kind. At times, it was absolutely breathtaking.
Here is the report. Please pass it round, but great care
must be taken as I have no other, and this, like the one
I made out re: Stephen, will be sent to Nor. I would appreciate
it if you could send the lot back as soon as possible.
indicated by his notes, Gill saw a bright white light
in the north western sky. It appeared to be approaching
the mission and hovering about 100 metres up. Eventually,
38 people, including Gill, teachers Steven Gill Moi and
Ananias Rarata, and Mrs. Nessle Moi, gathered to watch
the main UFO, which looked like a large, disc-shaped object.
It was apparently solid and circular with a wide base
and narrower upper deck. The object appeared to have four
'legs' underneath it. There also appeared to be about
four 'panels' or 'portholes' on the side of the object,
which seemed to glow a little brighter than the rest.
At a number of intervals the object produced a shaft of
blue light which shone upwards into the sky at an angle
of about 45 degrees.
looked like 'men' came out of the object, onto what seemed
to be a deck on top of it. There were four men in all,
occasionally two, then one, then three, then four. The
shaft of blue light and the 'men' disappeared. The object
then moved through some clouds. There were other UFO sightings
during the night. Gill described the weather as variable
sky scattered clouds to clear at first, becoming overcast
after. He estimated the height of the clouds at about
600 meters. The first sighting over the sea, according
to Rev. Gill, seemed to be about 150 metres above the
water all times. The main UFO was clearly visible and
seemed mostly stationary during the twenty-five minutes
the aerial visitor put in a repeat performance the following
night, 27 June. Gill prepared another statement.
UFO first sighted by Annie Laurie at 6 p.m. in apparently
same position as last night (26/6/59) only seemed a little
smaller, when W.B.G. saw it at 6.02 p.m. I called Ananias
and several others and we stood in the open to watch it.
Although the sun had set, it was still quite light for
the following fifteen minutes. We watched figures appear
on top four of them, no doubt that they are human. Possibly
the same object that I took to be the "Mother"
ship last night. Two smaller UFOs were seen at the same
above the hills west, another overhead. On the large one,
two of the figures seemed to be doing something near the
centre of the deck, were occasionally bending over and
raising their arms as though adjusting or "setting
up" something (not visible). One figure seemed to
be standing looking down at us (a group of about a dozen).
I stretched my arm above my head and waved. 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 now seemed
to wave back. There seemed to be no doubt that our movements
were answered. All mission boys made audible gasps (of
either joy or surprise, perhaps both).
dark was beginning to close in, I sent Eric Kodawara for
a torch and directed a series of long dashes towards the
UFO. After a minute or two of this, the UFO apparently
acknowledged by making several wavering motions back and
forth. Waving by us was repeated and this followed by
more flashes of torch, then the UFO began slowly to become
bigger, apparently coming in our direction. It ceased
after perhaps half a minute and came no further. After
a further two or three minutes, the figures apparently
lost interest in us for they disappeared "below"
deck. At 6.25 p.m., two figures reappeared to carry on
with whatever they were doing before the interruption.
The blue spotlight came on for a few seconds twice in
has described how he and the mission people called out
to the men, even shouting at them, and beckoned them to
de- scend, but there was no response beyond what has already
been noted. Two smaller UFOs higher up remained stationary.
By 6.30 p.m. the scene had remained largely unchanged,
and Gill records that he went to dinner. Subsequently,
critics were to question this, why would someone walk
away from such an extraordinary sight? 'I'm always
asked this question,' Gill has said, 'either in
puzzlement or with a sneer.'
had about four hours of this sight on Friday night, we
were not nearly so interested when it returned on Saturday
night, especially after we were unable to persuade it
to land. You must also keep in mind that there was nothing
eerie or other worldly about any of this. It was all so
ordinary, as ordinary as a Ford car. It looked a perfectly
normal sort of object, an earth made object. I realised,
of course, that some people might think of this as a flying
saucer, but I took it to be some kind of hovercraft the
Americans or even the Australians had built.'
figures inside looked perfectly human. In fact, I thought
they were human, that if we got them to land we would
find the pilots to be ordinary earthmen in military uniforms
and we would have dinner with them.'
7.00 p.m. the 'No. 1 UFO' was still present, although
it appeared somewhat smaller. The group of observers went
to church for evensong. After evensong, visibility was
very limited with the sky covered in cloud. Nothing else
was seen that evening. At 10.40 p.m., a very penetrating,
'ear-splitting' explosion woke up people on the station.
It sounded like it had come from just outside the window
of the mission house. Gill felt it did not sound like
a thunderclap. Nothing had been seen, but the whole sky
was overcast. Other less compelling activity occurred
the following night. Then, it seemed the Boianai visitants
had gone. But the controversy had just begun.
Gill was, at the time of his sightings, already scheduled
to return to Australia. This presented civilian groups
with an excellent opportunity to assess the credibility
of the reports.
investigators found Gill to be very impressive. This led
one of the leading civilian groups, the Victorian Flying
Saucer Research Society, to view the Gill reports as constituting
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 major civilian groups of the day, in a spirit of new
found cooperation inspired by the significance of the
Boianai observations, distributed copies of Gill's sighting
report to all members of the House of Representatives
of Australia's federal parliament.
letter accompanied the report, signed by the presidents
of the participating civilian UFO groups, urging members
of parliament to press the Minister for Air for a statement
about the attitude Air Force Intelligence had to the New
24 November, 1959, in federal parliament E.D. Cash, a
Liberal member from Western Australia, asked the Minister
for Air, F.M. Osborne, whether his department (specifically
Air Force Intelligence) had investigated the reports.
The minister's reply did not address this question, but
instead focused on the general situation, indicating that
most sightings of UFOs were explained and 'that only
a very small percentage, something like 3 per cent of
reported sightings of flying objects cannot be explained'.
A representative of one UFO group was advised by the Directorate
of Air Force Intelligence that the Department was awaiting
'depth of evidence' on the New Guinea sightings.
the department had not even interviewed Gill. Finally,
the Minister for Defence requested a report and the RAAF
interviewed Gill on 29 December 1959, some six months
after the sighting. Gill's recollection of the visit is
that the two officers from Canberra talked about stars
and planets and then left. He heard no more from them.
one might expect, Gill's account was dismissed by the
RAAF despite its extraordinary nature and the number of
witnesses. The senior interviewing officer, Squadron Leader
F.A. Lang, concluded:
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 conelusions, 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.'
refraction, the changing position of the planet relative
to the observer and cloud movement would give the impression
of size and rapid movement. In addition, varying cloud
densities could account for the human shapes and their
sudden appearance and disappearance'.
own close analysis of the reports suggests that the RAAF
'explanation' of either known planets seen through
fast moving cloud, or 'natural phenomena' does
not bear up.
the years, there have been a number of 'explanations'
put forward to account for the Boianai sightings, including
astronomical misidentification, hoax, cargo cult effects,
and that Gill had myopia and astigmatism. (In fact, at
the time, he was wearing correctly prescribed glasses).
None of these satisfactorily address the evidence. Dr.
Allen Hynek, and staff at his Center for UFO Studies,
went to great lengths to investigate and research the
and Allen Hendry, the centre's chief investigator, concluded
the 'lesser UFOs' seen by Gill were attributable to bright
stars and planets, but not the primary object. Its size
and absence of movement over three hours ruled out an
astronomical explanation. My own discussions with Gill
led me to the same conclusion.
recently, there was an attempt at explaining the whole
affair away by suggesting that Gill and the other witnesses
were confused by a false horizon, and that all they had
been watching was a brightly-lit squidboat and crew too
busy to do more than just wave at the people on shore.
This idea is not tenable when one realises that Gill was
certain that the object he saw was at a 30-degree elevation
in the sky. A more radical attempt to dispose of the Gill
case came from UFO sceptic Daniel Cohen in his book Myths
of the Space Age.
Boianai visitations are enshrined in a classic piece of
Australian fiction. Novelist Randolph Stow's 1979 book
"Visitants", which has the Boianai visitations
as a backdrop to a striking story of confrontation and
disintegration, emerged from Stow's experience as a cadet
patrol officer in Papua-New Guinea. He was an assistant
to the Government Anthropologist. His novel opens 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.'
Boianai 'visitants' still stand as remarkable evidence
for an impressive aerial anomaly and are regarded as some
of the best entity reports on record. At the time of writing,
I spoke again with Gill. He still remains puzzled by what
he saw and was pleased that an authority like Dr. Hynek
had independently interviewed him and some of the other
witnesses and travelled to the site. While he accepts
that the sightings remain unexplained, he questioned my
characterisation of some attempts to explain them as 'silly'.
He felt that these 'explanations' were serious attempts
to bring understanding to the events. I think that attitude
encapsulate the integrity of Gill and the reality of the
1973, Allen Hynek visited Australia and Papua New Guinea
and found six of the witnesses to the Boianai events.
They all supported Gill's version of what had happened.
on Reverend Gill's own written statement prepared on location
in 1959, and interviews with Gill I undertook, in particular
also "Papua/Father Gill revisited", International
UFO Reporter, November and December 1977 (CUFOS) and Jerome
Clark, "Close Encounters: History's Best Case.",
Fate, February 1978. VISITANTS AT BLENHEIM: Dykes 1981,
34-38; Stott 1984, 123-126; Chalker 1992, 349-350
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