By ERWIN CHLANDA
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) will not comment on multiple observations by several people of a brightly lit object in the controlled airspace of Alice Springs, over a period of several months.
Anyone flying in that space is subject to clearance from air traffic control and the absence of that would increase the risk of collisions and aviation fatalities.
The airport does not have a radar.
The unexplained object, sometimes accompanied by a second very bright light on the ground, was drawn to the attention of CASA, “a government body that ensures the safety of aviation in Australia,” by the Alice Springs News.
We had been contacted by Hollis Taylor (pictured), an internationally know musician living in Alice Springs. She is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow, a faculty member of the Sydney Conservatorium, and a member of the Sydney Environment Institute.
Dr Taylor spends most nights in the town’s bush vicinity, recording the songs of butcherbirds. The songs are being incorporated in musical compositions by her and her husband, Jon Rose.
Dr Taylor’s observations are shared by an Aboriginal woman unconnected with her, who has had two encounters with the mysterious object, and with another author, Matt (he asked for his surname not to be published) who was researching in the field with Dr Taylor two nights ago. He is an humanities academic.
Up to this point Dr Taylor had always been on her own when she made the observations, dating back more than a year.
“There is something going on out there,” she says.
“Matt could not believe it. He was shocked.”
The sightings are always to the east of Alice Springs, at various heights in the night sky and usually still visible when all the stars are already gone from view at dawn.
Dr Taylor says she and Matt saw the object on the Ross Highway two days ago, near the Williams Well outstation, 48 km east of the town.
The outstation is about a kilometre south of the highway, near where there was another very bright object on the ground.
“We didn’t hike in. We thought we needed more people.
“It’s not a drone, it’s not a balloon, it’s like completely using energy to do something – and that makes me very nervous.”
It could not have been a car.
“There has not been any traffic in the days and nights I’ve gone out there or even come back in.”
Dr Taylor makes her recordings at around 2am.
A woman who lives in Alice Springs but has connections to people out east, and has asked not to be named, told the News during one encounter with the object early this year “the light was coming close and then long distance and then close again” – as close as 30 metres.
It was like a car “with a lot of high beams on”.
Was it two lights or one?
“Biggest mobs and then it just disappeared. When it was long distance from you it looks like one big one.”
Would it have been as a big as a house?
“From behind us it was bigger than a car.”
How high up was it?
“Same level as us.”
The object was following them.
“And it just disappeared as we got close to Jessie Gap. No more light. Nothing in sight. Just went dark.”
The second encounter was “about a month ago”.
She saw the object for about five minutes.
Her partner was with her in the car, and his brother, another brother and a niece.
“We all saw it at the same time, thinking what it was.”
The bright light alternated with sudden and complete darkness.
“You don’t see that light at all. It just disappears. And you wait. Does it come back on? Nothing.”
How do you know that it wasn’t a car?
“I thought it was a car but the other people in the car thought it wasn’t a car, it was something. They live there all their lives and when they were kids they never saw that before. And now they are parents and grandparents.”
Did it make a noise?
“We had the music on loud.”
She says another family member saw the light from a lookout on Undoolya Road, leading east, “in the same direction we’ve seen the light, they’ve seen a pretty light out there, too”.
Matt told the News he and Dr Taylor were driving east on the Ross Highway, 48 km from town: “There is was. It seemed to be moving lower and closer and then moving higher and east.
“Initially it seemed we were passing it but it moved higher and further away.
“It definitely moved, but not in a consistent way. It seemed to be at the mercy of the wind to some extent.
“There was also a bright light on the ground at the base of a hill, not far from the road.”
What did you think?
“I didn’t know what to think. Your brain is trying to rationally think through what is was but at the same time you have your hair standing up at the back of your neck.
“I know there are scientific balloons that go from the airport but they are registered and they are enormous and they happen earlier in the year with predictable weather.”
What size was the object?
“It’s hard to tell because of the distance. It must be smaller than a hot air balloon but bigger than a regular drone.
“Someone should go out and investigate the light on the ground, between 3 or 3.30.”
Are you going to have go?
Laughs. “I reckon you would have to take a few people. The light on the ground is bizarre. What it might be and why it’s so bright? It is not immediately apparent.
“I’m a researcher and an academic but I also write fiction including science fiction, I don’t know whether that lends credibility or takes it away, but I’m certainly not someone who’s running around claiming to see this sort of thing, until today, when I did.”
CASA’s no-comment answer included the suggestion to “ring Defence”. We are going to invite Airservices Australia to comment, as suggested by CASA.
IMAGES: Photo at top by Dr Taylor taken on September 28 at 4.30am on the Ross Highway. Above: Sections of the controlled airspace surrounding the Alice Springs airport and (in red) the areas from which the object has been observed.