The National Archives holds a number of records relating to unidentified flying objects (UFOs), flying saucers and other unidentified aerial sightings. Most of these records date from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, when public interest in UFOs was high and many sightings were reported to Commonwealth authorities.
There was no specific government agency responsible for the collecting and analysing these sightings, so responsibility fell on the Department of Air. The Department collected reports from defence force members, pilots and air traffic controllers, meteorologists and the general public. During the peak of interest in UFOs the department investigated some reports, trying to establish whether the sighting could be attributed to low flying aircraft, weather balloons or meteorological phenomena.
Reports were also collected by other agencies involved in air safety, research and intelligence, including the CSIRO, the Joint Intelligence Organisation, the Weapons Research Establishment at Maralinga, and the Department of Transport. The Department of Territories kept reports from Papua New Guinea.
Below is a selection of records in the Archives' collection that relate to UFOs. To find further records of interest, you can search the collection.
|Item title||Date range||Series number|
|Training command HQ – reports of unusual activity and aerial phenomenon||1950–55||B5758, 5/6/AIR part 1|
|Investigations of flying saucers – policy||1953–63||A703, 554/1/30 part 1|
|Investigations of flying saucers – policy||1953–67||A703, 554/1/30 part 2|
|Investigations of flying saucers – policy||1959–74||A703, 554/1/30 part 3|
|Reports on flying saucers and other aerial objects||1953–58||A703, 580/1/1 part 1|
|Reports on flying saucers and other aerial objects||1958–60||A703, 580/1/1 part 2|
|Reports on flying saucers and other aerial objects||1960–63||A703, 580/1/1 part 3|
|Reports on flying saucers and other aerial objects||1963–65||A703, 580/1/1 part 4|
Memento, Issue 2 March 2011 – ‘What a gem! Flying saucers and other aerial objects’
Find of the month, August 2005 – Blinded by the light