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Father Gill and the Night Visitors

Loy Lawhon, About.com

original source |  fair use notice

Summary: According to J. Allen Hynek, during the years 1958 - 1959 there were over 60 UFO sightings reported in the Papua New Guinea area, with many of these sightings occurring in the area of Mount Pudi, near the mission station at Boianai.

UFOs over New Guinea

According to J. Allen Hynek, during the years 1958 - 1959 there were over 60 UFO sightings reported in the Papua New Guinea area, with many of these sightings occurring in the area of Mount Pudi, near the mission station at Boianai. New Guinea was part of Australia until 1975, and the Australian Anglican Church sent many missionaries to the people of that island nation. One of these was Father William Booth Gill, who began the year 1959 as a skeptic.

That was soon to change. On April 5, 1959, Father Gill saw a light on uninhabited Mount Pudi that moved faster than any human could move, and then on June 21, Stephen Moi Gill, Father Gill's assistant, saw what he described as an "inverted saucer" in the sky above the mission.

Of these first sightings, Father Gill wrote to a friend:

“I 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. That 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 radiocontrolled), and it is still unproven that they are solids. “

“It 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. “

These sightings were only a prelude, however, to the events of June 26 through June 28.

At about 6:45 on June 26, Father Gill saw a bright white light to the northwest. As thirty-eight people at the mission watched, a four-legged disc-shaped object that was approximately the size of five full moons lined up end to end hovered over the mission. On top of the object they saw four human-like figures that appeared to be performing some sort of task. At times one or more of the figures would vanish from sight, only to reappear a few minutes later. At regular intervals a beam of blue light shone upwards from the center of the craft. The object was visible until about 7:30, when it ascended into the clouds and vanished. At about 8:30, several smaller objects appeared in the sky, and at 8:50, the first object returned. The four-hour sighting lasted until 10:50, when clouds moved in and blocked the view.

Father Gill prepared a written report of the sighting, and twenty-five witnesses signed it.

The Next Day's Sighting

The next day, the large object with "people" on board and two of the smaller objects, returned at about 6:00 p.m. Father Gill described it thus:
“On the large one two of the figures seemed to be doing something near the center of the deck. They were occasionally bending over and raising their arms as though adjusting or ‘setting up’ something. One figure seemed to be standing, looking down at us.”

Father Gill raised his arm and waved to the figure.

“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 self began waving our arms, and all four seemed to wave back. There seemed no doubt that our movements were answered.... “

There was more waving, and signaling with torches, with responses from the UFO. At 6:30, Father Gill went in to dinner, but at 7:00, the object was still there, only smaller, as if it had moved farther away. When Father Gill checked again, after church at 7:45, the sky was cloudy, and they were gone.

The next evening, the UFOs made their final appearance. Father Gill counted eight of them at 6:45 p.m. Oddly, at 11:20, the quiet night was shattered by a loud bang on the roof. Father Gill went outside to check, and saw four UFOs in a sort of circle around the building, but at a very great height. They were still there when he returned to bed. When the roof was checked the next morning, June 29, no evidence of an impact was found.

The Boianai sightings was "analyzed" by astronomer and noted debunker Dr. Donald H. Menzel, who "explained" the sightings as being the plant Venus viewed myopically by Father Gill. Venus, he said, was very conspicuous in the west setting about three hours after the sun. He wrote:

I think it significant that, despite the brilliance of Venus, none of the sightings by Father Gill and the mission group refers to that planet.

Menzel based his conclusions on several purely speculative assumptions: that Father Gill was near-sighted and without glasses at the time, that he "probably" had a degree of astigmatism also (causing him to see a distorted image of Venus), plus blood cells on the retina of his eye producing an illusion of motion. Menzel seems to have believed that the Papuans were ignorant natives who worshipped Father Gill and merely went along with everything he said. (That's an easy way to dispose of 24 signed witnesses...)

Fred Beckman, a colleague of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who actually went to Papua and traveled with Father Gill to Boainai, notes in rebuttal that Father Gill was wearing properly corrected glasses at the time and that Venus was pointed out separately by Gill.

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