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'UFOs Over Africa': Sighting of UFO over Mt. Kilimanjaro

Source: Cynthia Hind, 'UFOs Over Africa' (1996)


Summary: Summary, excerpted from the book, on the 1951 Mt. Kilimanjaro UFO sighting by an airline pilot, his crew and passengers. This article contains more details of the case and investigation.

[excerpt from the book]

[Captain Jack Bicknell] and his crew had left Nairobi, Kenya, at 0700 in a Lodestar. At 0720, Radio Officer D. W. Merrifield drew his attention to a bright object like a white star hanging motionless about 10,000 ft. near Mount Kilimanjaro. They watched for three minutes and then reported it to the passengers and to Eastleigh by radio.

Bicknell said he had examined the object for several minutes through binoculars and saw a metallic, bullet-shaped which must have been 65 metres (200 ft.) long. At one end was a square-cut vertical fin.

'Its colour was a dull silver, and at regular intervals along the fuselage were vertical dark bands. Its outline was clear and sharp, and there was no haziness about it at all,' he said.

A clipping from Richard Heiden details the story:

Nine men and two women who saw a mystery object flying near Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanganyika (now Tanzania), signed an affidavit giving a very clear report. They saw the mystery lor 17 minutes from their plane and described it as bullet-nosed and metallic. Radio operator Dennis Merrifield was the first to see it and to draw the pilot's attention to the object. The morning was clear and cloudless, with good visability.

Bicknell says, 'I timed the object for 17 minutes while the Lodestar held its course. Twice it rose vertically to a final height of 40,000 ft. (12,500 metres), then it moved east towards the coast at a terrific speed.'

One passenger, Capt. H. B. Fussell, a Newport, Monmouthshire, sports dealer who had a pair of powerful binoculars, said, 'Through the glasses the object appeared bullet-shaped. The colour was whitish-silver with three vertical black bands down the side. For 10 minutes it remained I stationary, then it suddenly rose vertically by 5,000 ft. Again it became stationary, then a minute later, it rose again and moved laterally away at great speed, probably 400 mph.'

When confronted with the theory that it might have been a balloon, Capt. Fussell denied this emphatically. 'How could a balloon hover motionless and move at 400 mph in the same weather conditions? The object was definitely metallic,' he said.

Also aboard was a radio officer from the American freighter Robin Mowbray. He said, 'I couldn't swear to it but through the binoculars I thought I could identify a row of circular windows.'

Charles J. Vernon, purser of the Robin Mowbray and also an American, said, 'The object must have been immense, two or three times the size of the largest passenger plane.'

Several attempts were made to take photographs of the object. Capt. Fussell took a picture with his miniature camera, but Overstreet, the radio officer, shot 30 ft. of colour film with a telescopic lens on his cine camera.

Capt. Bicknell said, 'I later learned that Overstreet was on his way to the United States to show [the film] to the authorities there. The name of the vessel on which he was travelling was mentioned to me at the time, and the date of his expected arrival. In spite of repeated requests from me for further news, I have always drawn a complete blank as to the whereabouts of Mr. Overstreet and his colour film.'

At some later date, both Bicknell and Merrifield stated that they felt the object was an aircraft of some sort. Merrifield fell that it was a machine 500 years ahead of its time. Familiar words.

The Natal Mercury in Durban, South Africa, published both a story about the sighting and, it is believed, a photograph purporting to be the UFO. This was obtained from Ray Overstreet, who had taken the cine film of the object. Stories about that Overstreet disappeared or at least that he could not be traced. However, James Moseley, a reporter, says there is no mystery to the case. 'The film exists; it was examined by the US Air Force. It was found to be little more than a bouncing bit of light and was returned.'

This does not disprove what Bicknell saw, but it does not prove it either.

I have tried through several people, as well as through letters to the newspapers in Durban, to contact Capt. Bicknell or anyone who knew him, but have met with no success. The event occurred in 1951, some 40-odd years ago. If Bicknell was in his mid-thirties then, he will be close to 80 if he is still alive. He may not want to emerge from his anonymity now. It seems a shame that with all the excellent observers on the hat day, the case was never fully investigated at the time.

I recall submitting an article to Dennis Stacy of the MUFON Journal on shapes sighted in Africa. He was quite excited at the 'exotic' shapes that he anticipated, but of course Africa, with a few exceptions, is no different from anywhere else. So, the article never saw the light of day.

But all this merely underlines my belief. The factor that proves to me that UFOs exist, is that they are the same the world over, and only when viewed in the context of a particular country's culture, is there any difference at all.

Article ID: 650


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