Here is an amazing UFO encounter that very few people have ever heard of.
Australia's Greatest UFO Mystery
Over 200 students and teachers witnessed an unexplained flying object on Wednesday 6th April 1966 around 11.00 am. They reported it descended into a nearby open wild grass field adjacent to a grove of pine trees in an area known as The Grange. The object then ascended in a north-westerly direction over the suburb of Clayton South.
Mr Ryan has interviewed about 30 witnesses, mostly former staff and students from the Westall secondary and primary schools. He has tried obtaining police and RAAF reports, but so far with little luck. The story was covered then by Channel Nine, The Age and local newspapers.
On the UFO, everyone seems to agree, Mr Ryan says. It was a low-flying, silver/grey shining object, either of classical flying saucer shape or close to it, "a cup turned upside down on a saucer". The students were familiar with light aircraft because the schools were close to Moorabbin Airport. Although the UFO was of similar size, "everyone said straight away that they knew it was not a plane", Mr Ryan said, nor a weather balloon.
The object was in view for up to 20 minutes, and many saw it descend. Most agree it landed behind pine trees at the Grange Reserve. Dozens of students ran across what was then an open paddock to the reserve to investigate, but the object had lifted off and vanished.
Other details are sketchier. The UFO appears to have left a circle of scorched grass; others say several circles were left in paddocks bordering Grange Reserve.
Many witnesses, not all, report seeing aircraft, up to five, trailing the UFO. Some say it made no sound, others say it did.
Many reported that police/air force/military personnel inspected the site; some (not all) say the authorities burnt the site. The Dandenong Journal, for which the story was front-page news two weeks in a row, reported that "students and staff have been instructed to 'talk to no-one' about the incident". Nevertheless, one teacher, Andrew Greenwood, gave the paper a detailed account.
"It was silvery-grey and seemed to thicken at times," he said. "The thickening was similar to when a disc is turned a little to show the underside."
One of the closest witnesses was a boy whose family leased land at Grange Reserve for horses.
Shaun Matthews (not a student at Westall) was on holidays and spending time on the land.
"I saw the thing come across the horizon and drop down behind the pine trees," he told The Sunday Age this week. "I couldn't tell you what it was. It certainly wasn't a light aircraft or anything of the like ...
"I saw the thing drop down behind the pine trees and saw it leave again. I couldn't tell you how long it was there for, it was such a long time ago."
Mr Matthews, 51 and now living in Greenvale, said the object "went up and off very very rapidly".
"I went over and there was a circle in the clearing. It looked like it had been cooked or boiled, not burnt as I remember," he said. "A heap of kids from Westall primary and high school came charging through to see what had happened — 'look at this, look at that, we saw it as well', that sort of thing. It was a bit of a talking point for a couple of days."
Mr Matthews said the object, about the size of "two family cars", passed him at a distance of about "four football fields". "It was silvery, but it had a sort-of purple hue to it, very bright, but not bright enough that you couldn't look at it," he said.
"I saw that it dropped down behind the trees, and I thought, 'hello, hang on'. A minute or so later, it went straight up, just gone."
He said police and other officials interviewed his mother. But he cannot remember them burning the landing site, as others have alleged. And he did not see any light aircraft trailing the object, as others did.
"The way this thing moved there is no way it could have been a weather balloon or a light aircraft," he said.
"A helicopter? No way — no noise, wrong shape, and it didn't move like it. It came out of the distance, stopped, and then just dropped.