40 Year Old New Zealand Navy Photo Shows UFO
New Zealand: More than 40 years after an official Defence Force photographer snapped an image of the navy cruiser Royalist, debate is raging over the unidentified flying object in the background.
The print is believed to have languished since being taken in February 1965, but a plan to display it by the Devonport Navy Museum has sparked speculation about the mystery object. UFO expert Peter Hassall, who wrote a book on the subject in New Zealand, is excited by this previously unreported sighting.
The image was captured by the photographer on large-format black and white negative film shot from the cruiser's wing bridge as it approached what looks like Cape Brett in Bay of Islands. The Royalist was on its way back from Waitangi celebrations in February 1965.
It was first spotted by museum staff member Paul Restall as he was assembling images for the museum's new website.
He checked the negative on a light table and called in digital imaging expert Hans Weichselbaum to perform a high resolution scan. This established that the object was part of the original image.
Museum director David Wright said there was nothing to explain what it was.
The object appeared to be some distance in front of the ship and none of the sailors working on the bow was taking any notice, as would be expected if something was going on.
He said it looked to be too distant to be a dinner plate thrown from the bridge and the same would apply to a clay pigeon used as a shooting target. The angle of the object and absence of visible lines suggested it was not a parachute. So what is it?
"We're not saying it's a UFO," Mr Wright said. "It is just one of those interesting things we came across."
Museum staff did not have the time to hunt down former crew members who might be able to solve the mystery but "if people are interested in it and want to pursue its provenance we'll assist them", Mr Wright said.
Mr Hassall said it was an intriguing photo. His first thought was that it might be a flaw on the negative but, if that was the case, it was an unusual one.
"It is a very interesting image and the classic dome shape that's often reported." However, he is mystified that the photograph has never been reported before.
The object looked to be in front of the ship and at least as big as a rubbish tin lid – too heavy for somebody to have thrown it that high.
He was also intrigued that nobody on the deck was looking up – "If somebody had thrown it up you'd expect everybody to be looking up at it."
However, Carter Observatory senior astronomer Brian Carter disagrees.
He said that when the object was enlarged it had a sharp edge to it. Under the same enlargement, the edge of the cliff on the right and the bow of the ship were not that sharp, he said.
That suggested the object was quite close and therefore quite small.
He believed it was something thrown from the bridge or some other part of the ship.