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 sports 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 northwest. As the object gained altitude some accounts describe it as having been pursued from the scene by five unidentified aircraft which circled the object.
The Dandenong Journal covered the encounter in detail and ran two front-page stories. The first was on 14 April. and the next was on 21 April.
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.
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”. 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 (southwest) 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 witness reunion was held at Westall Tennis Club Hall, on 8 April 2006, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the incident.