|Time||6 April 1966|
|Location||Westall High School and The Grange in Clayton South, Victoria, Australia|
|Also known as||Westall High School UFOs|
The Westall UFO encounter is an event that occurred on 6 April 1966 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Around 11:00 am, for about 20 minutes, more than 200 students and teachers at two Victorian state schools allegedly witnessed an unexplained flying object which descended into a nearby open wild grass field. The paddock was adjacent to a grove of pine trees in an area known as The Grange (now a nature reserve). According to reports, the object then ascended in a north-westerly direction over the suburb of Clayton South, Victoria, Australia.
At approximately 11:00 am on Wednesday, 6 April 1966, a class of students and a teacher from Westall High School (now Westall Secondary College) were just completing a sport activity on the main oval when an object, described as being a grey saucer-shaped craft with a slight purple hue and being about twice the size of a family car, was alleged to have been seen. Witness descriptions were mixed: Andrew Greenwood, a science teacher, told The Dandenong Journal at the time that he saw a silvery-green disc. According to witnesses the object was descending and then crossed and overflew the high school's south-west corner, going in a south-easterly direction, before disappearing from sight as it descended behind a stand of trees and into a paddock at The Grange in front of the Westall State School (primary students). After a short period (approximately 20 minutes) the object – with witnesses now numbering over 200 – then climbed at speed and departed towards the north-west. As the object gained altitude some accounts describe it as having been pursued from the scene by five unidentified aircraft which circled the object. Some described one disk, some claimed to have seen three.
Broadsheet newspaper The Age ran a very small article about the Westall incident on 7 April 1966, on page 6:
"Object Perhaps Balloon – An unidentified flying object seen over the Clayton-Moorabbin area yesterday morning might have been a weather balloon. Hundreds of children and a number of teachers at Westall School, Clayton, watched the object during morning break."
The newspaper also said a number of small aeroplanes circled around it. However, a check later showed that no commercial, private or RAAF pilots had reported anything unusual in the area. The Weather Bureau released a balloon at Laverton at 8:30 am and the westerly wind blowing at the time could have moved it into the area where the sighting was reported". Witnesses and researchers were surprised when The Sun News-Pictorial (a tabloid) ran no story, yet The Age (a broadsheet) did.
The Sun and The Herald newspapers, while not mentioning the Westall incident, both published cartoons in the following day's editions that made light of the flying saucer phenomena.
Studio 10 (a TV program) made a 17 min summary on the 50 year anniversary of the event in January 2016 with interviews of eyewitnesses.
A 7-minute short entitled Westall was produced in 2017 as part of a Swinburne University of Technology project. It featured interviews with 3 of the children that witnessed the event.
A 6-minute short documentary titled "In the Sky – Westall 1966" was produced in 2019 as a part of a Deakin University production. It featured the story of one of the witnesses and a possible explanation of the event as a possible military test of a flying-saucer-shaped experimental aircraft such as the Avrocar.
The alleged sighting was investigated by two groups: The Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society (VFSRS) and Phenomena Research Australia (PRA). Both groups described it as being one of Australia's major unexplained UFO cases. The VFSRS team arrived on the site on 8 April and spoke to students and viewed the "ground mark", originally described as a great big round patch of yellow flattened grass with a swirly pattern. The VFSRS printed an image and a small report in their magazine "Australian UFO Bulletin" in December 2000. An investigator, Brian Boyle (PRA), arrived at the site on 9 April with four army investigators. Boyle did a number of interviews, which he recorded on tape, over a number of days and took samples from the ground mark. These investigators were able to speak to many of the witnesses as it was over the Easter holidays (8–11 April).
Although some witnesses reported five Cessna-type aircraft around the object, investigators were unable to find any record of such aircraft. Moorabbin Airport, which is 4.76 km (south-west) from the location, was checked but no aircraft from that airport entered the airspace. The RAAF also reported no military activity in that area.
The Australian Skeptics described the object as potentially having been an experimental military aircraft. They suggest that it may have been a nylon target drogue, like a wind sock, towed by one plane for the others to chase and known to be in use by the local RAAF at the time.
A 50-minute HDTV documentary called Westall ‘66: A Suburban UFO Mystery first aired on Australian TV on 4 June 2010. On 4 June 2010 a Seven Network TV program, Today Tonight, produced a segment about the Westall case and documentary.
It was also covered in Close Encounters.
On 21 January 2016, Channel 10 (Australia) program Studio 10 screened a segment titled: "21 Jan – Melbourne UFO Mystery: 50 Years On" (17mins:31secs) which included live interviews with witnesses who were children at the local school in suburban Melbourne in 1966.
Invasion Earth, Season 1, Episode 5, has a 15-minute segment dedicated to the event and interviews four separate eyewitnesses and saying that some teachers had refused to be interviewed.
- Australian Ufology
- Bass Strait Triangle
- List of UFO sightings
- UFO sightings in Australia
- Disappearance of Frederick Valentich
- The Dandenong Journal, 14 April 1966, p. 1
- The Dandenong Journal, 21 April 1966, pp. 1–2
- Auchettl, John, An Old Australian Phenomenon, The Australian Annual Flying Saucer Review, Victorian UFO Research Society (VUFORS), 1983
- Brown, Terry (3 June 2010). "Clayton South residents remember the 1966 day they saw flying objects". Herald Sun.
- Dandenong Journal vol 105 No 28 Front p1
- The Dandenong Journal, vol 105, No 30, Front pages 1–2
- "The Age".
- The Herald – 9 April 1966, p. 2
- Researcher: Magee, Judith (VFSRS) (VUFORS) (CAPIO)
- Researcher: Norman, Paul (VUFORS) (MUFON)
- Researcher: Boyle, Brian (AMPR)(AFSIC)(APRV)(PRV)(PRA)
- Researcher: Seers, Jack (AMPR) (AFSIC) (APRV) (PRV) (PRA)
- John Auchettl, An Old Australian Phenomenon, The Australian Annual Flying Saucer Review, Victorian UFO Research Society (VUFORS), 1983
- Steve Roberts. "Only Melbourne, 16 July 2007".
- 774 ABC Melbourne – The 1966 Westall UFO incident Tuesday, 17 January 2006, Reporter: Florenz Ronn
- "Academic throws light on 40-year-old UFO mystery". The Age. 2 October 2005.
- The Who Weekly mini review in TV guide of "Westall '66". 7 June 2010 (PDF)
- Sunday Mail Adelaide TV guide mini review of "Westall '66". 30 May 2010 (PDF)
- "Yahoo! Groups" (PDF).