Date: February 15, 1963
Location: Near Moe, Australia
Charles Brew, with his 20 year-old son Trevor, was at work in the milking shed on their farm, 'Willow Grove', when he saw a strange object appear and descend very slowly towards the milk shed, to a height of about 30 metres. The object was metallic grey, measured 8 meters in diameter, and had a transparent dome with a 2-meter mast or aerial. After hovering for a few seconds the object began climbed away into the clouds.
The Willow Grove UFO based on witness sketch in RAAF files. (credit: Chalker)
Type of Case/Report: StandardCase
Hynek Classification: CE1
Shape of Object(s): Disc
Special Features/Characteristics: Animal Reaction, Witness Sketch, Physiological Effects
Source: Bill Chalker (1996)
THE WILLOW GROVE ENCOUNTER
At 7 a.m. on 15 February 1963 Charles Brew bore witness to a classic close encounter. With his 20 year-old son, Trevor, Brew was at work in the milking shed on their farm, 'Willow Grove', near Moe, Victoria. It was light, but rain clouds lay overhead. Charles Brew was standing in an open area, with a full view ot the eastern sky. It was from that direction that he saw a strange object appear and descend very slowly towards the milk shed. The object's approach was coincident with the cattle and a pony reacting violently. The two farm dogs fled. A local newspaper even reported that the cows turned somersaults, a suggestion the Brews later denied.
The UFO descended to a height of about 30 metres, hovering over a stringy-bark tree. It was about eight metres in diameter and three metres high. The top section appeared to be a transparent dome of a glass-like material, from which protruded a two metre high mast or aerial. The 'aerial' appeared to be as thick as a broom and resembled bright chrome. The top portion of the disc itself was battleship grey in colour and appeared to be of metallic lustre. The base or underside section glowed with a pale blue colour and had 'scoop-like protuberances around the outside edge'. This section rotated slowly at about one revolution per second. This spinning motion apparently caused the protuberances to generate a swishing noise, somewhat like a turbine noise, that was clearly audible not only to Brew but also to his son Trevor, who was located inside the shed near the operating diesel-powered milking machine units.
Charles Brew felt his eyes were drawn towards the object 'as though beams of magnetic current' were between it and him. He also experienced a peculiar headache which came on with the approach of the object. After hovering for a few seconds the object began to climb, continuing on its westward course and passing up into the cloud deck again. Trevor did not see the UFO, but confirmed the unusual sound, like a didgeridoo or bull-roarer—aboriginal artefacts which can produce pulsating, wind-rushing noise.
Flight Lieutenant N. Hudson and Squadron Leader A.F. Javes of the RAAF interviewed Brew. While impressed with his credibility, the weather at the time of the sighting—heavy continuous rain with very low cloud and poor visibility, and with a fresh wind in an easterly direction—seems to have led them to focus on weather-related explanations. Their report describes the basis of their somewhat extraordinary 'explanation' for the incident: 'On 6 March Dr Berson and Mr Clark, Commonwealth meteorologists, were interviewed to see if clouds give this type of phenomenon. They agreed that a tornado condition could give this effect. The direction of rotation of Brew's report of the object was consistent with known facts for the Southern Hemisphere. The blue-ish colouring has been reported previously and is probably due to electric discharge and there would be a smell of ozone. The only difference in Brew's report was that the object moved from east to west, because all their previous reports of this nature have been from west to east. Mr Brew stated that the wind was fresh from an easterly direction. However, a meteorological report states that wind was westerly at eight knots.'
The report notes that the meteorological report was from a Yallourn observer, about 20 kilometres away, therefore local variations in the weather would not have been unusual. Despite this lack of rigour in determining how relevant their hypothesis was, the RAAF officers' report concluded, 'There is little doubt that Brew did witness something, and it is most likely that it was a natural phenomenon. The phenomenon was probably a tornado. There was no reported damage along its path, therefore one could assume that it was weak in nature.'
The Department of Air responded to a civilian UFO group enquiry about the incident with the following statement, 'Our investigation and enquiries reveal that there are scientific records of certain tornado-like meteorological manifestations which have a similar appearance in many ways to whatever was seen by Mr Brew. The information available is such, however, that while we accept this is a possibility, we are unable to come to any firm conclusion as to the nature of the object or manifestation reported.' The official sighting summaries removed any such doubt. By then the 'possible cause' was listed as a 'tornado-like meteorological manifestation.'
Dr. Berson and an associate visited Brew at the Willow Grove property. According to Brew, Dr Berson was interested in the headache that he had, and indicated that Berson had said that it tied in with his theory of a possible electromagnetic nature of the incident. What the Department of Air referred to as a 'tornado-like meteorological manifestation' elicited the following comment from Charles Brew. He said, 'I wished it would come again. It was beautiful. I could feel the life pulsating from it.'
Dr. James McDonald visited Charles Brew during his 1967 Australian trip interviewing him at the site of the 1963 incident. McDonald concluded, "like that of many other UFO witnesses, it is extremely difficult to explain in present-day scientific or technological terms."
Despite the extraordinary nature of the Willow Grove incident and the high level of official interest in it, the sighting was listed in a subsequently released "Summary of Unidentified Aerial Sightings reported to Department of Air, Canberra, ACT, from 1960" as having a possible cause of "tornado like meteorological manifestation."
Case ID: 623
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