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Mysteries

How the 40-year-old mystery of a UFO in New Zealand lives on

It was New Year’s Day, 1979, when the world woke to the news that strange lights had been spotted by six people on a plane off the New Zealand’s South Island.

Was it a UFO? No, said the sceptics. It was Venus, it was squid boats, it was radar returns from a field of cabbages.

But 40 years later, the two pilots and four passengers are adamant it was none of the above and are frustrated at being unable to find answers.

New Zealand’s The Herald on Sunday tracked down each member of the group around the world. One is a mango farmer in Hawaii, while another is an 80-year-old newlywed after her royal wedding-themed ceremony at her retirement village the night before Meghan and Harry’s big day.

The case bought instant fame — but no fortune — for some, before bringing shame and anger when they were accused of hoaxing the sighting. It broke up a marriage.

Guido Valentich holds a photograph of his son Frederick, a pilot who went missing while on a flight to King Island in a Cessna in October 1978. Picture: Popperfoto/Getty Source:Getty Images

At the end of 1978, Australasia was in the grip of UFO fever. In October, 20-year-old Frederick Valentich disappeared while piloting a small Cessna 182 aircraft over Bass Strait while heading to King Island in Tasmania. Described as a “flying saucer enthusiast”, Valentich informed Melbourne air traffic control he was being accompanied by an unknown aircraft.Two months later across the Tasman, on December 21, Safe Air pilots Vern Powell and Ian Pirie spotted strange lights while flying from Blenheim to Christchurch.

A producer for Melbourne’s Channel 0 (now Channel 10), Leonard Lee heard the news and tracked down reporter Quentin Fogarty, who worked for the channel but was on holiday with his wife and children in Christchurch, staying at TV Onejournalist Dennis Grant’s home.

Quentin Fogarty presenting the news in 1979 after the sighting. Picture: File Source:NZ Herald

Freelance Wellington cameraman David Crockett was also hired, along with his wife Ngaire, who operated the audiotape recorder.

The group were invited to jump aboard Safe Air’s Blenheim-based Argosy plane, named Merchant Enterprise, late on December 30, which pilots Bill Startup and Bob Guard were taking on a newspaper run between Wellington and Christchurch.

Shortly after takeoff, the pilots noticed strange lights appearing and disappearing over the Kaikōura coastline about 30 kilometres west.

“While we were filming a stand-up to camera, Captain Bill Startup shouted to us that we should go to the flight deck immediately as something was happening again,” says David Crockett.

He managed to film a rapidly moving, bright white light.

Bob Guard, left, and Bill Startup in 1979. Picture: Paul Davidson Source:NZ Herald

“With the conversation coming through my headphones from the pilots and radar from Wellington, it all started to get very scary,” says Ngaire Crockett.

“I was able to stand up a couple of times and was able to see these bright light coming and going. [Quentin] was a real mess and grabbed hold of both my hands and started shaking. I didn’t have time to worry about myself, I had to help him.”

The plane landed at Christchurch to unload newspapers and the pilots asked the news team if they wanted to go back through the area they had traversed. Ngaire was too frightened so stayed in Christchurch. The others reboarded the plane with Dennis Grant in Ngaire’s place.

“David had used up all the film in his 16mm camera,” Grant says.

“Quentin called me sometime after midnight from Christchurch Airport to see if I could provide a fresh roll of film. I could — but there was a catch — I wanted to get on the plane for the flight to Blenheim.”

The “UFO”, captured by cameraman David Crockett in New Zealand.Source:News Corp Australia

The plane took off at 2.16am. About three minutes after takeoff, the group saw a bright, round light to the right. The aeroplane radar showed a target in the same direction about 18 nautical miles.

Fogarty would later be heard saying on camera: “Let’s hope they’re friendly.”

Crockett filmed the light for several minutes as it appeared to travel along with the plane.

When they turned toward it, the light seemed to react by moving away from the aeroplane.

“The experience itself was extraordinary,” Fogarty says.

“Just being on the cramped, noisy flight deck of the Argosy barrelling down the coast in the dead of the night was exciting. Factor in a row of pulsating, hypnotic lights hovering outside the window, and it goes to another level.”

After landing at Woodbourne Airport at about 3am, the group stayed at the two pilots homes in Blenheim.

Startup’s daughter Tracy Moore remembers her father coming home in the middle of the night.

A copy of the New Zealand Herald from January 3, 1979.Source:NZ Herald

This was the copy of the Herald on January 4, 1979. Source:NZ Herald

“Everyone was at our house talking about it in the middle of the night. They were talking about lights, unexplained radar.

“At one point, I remember dad saying it might be a good idea to report it to the police. It was during the Cold War, there was a bit of paranoia around. Mum said: ‘You can’t sit on this information’.

“It was scary at the time. It was a big unknown thing that had happened and we had all the adults around discussing it. There were certainly no jokes being made.”

Fogarty interviewed the pilots before flying to Melbourne to give the recordings to Channel 0. The footage featured on prime time news that night and a longer documentary piece screened later.

The news went around the world and was featured by major news media, including by the Herald and by CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite.

Bruce Maccabee, pictured in 1979, examined footage of the supposed UFO. Source:NZ Herald

The sceptical reaction was immediate. Explanations included that it was Venus, drug runners, light reflected from cabbages or squid boats.

The Robert Muldoon Government ordered an inquiry by the Air Force, which concluded that the sightings could be explained by natural but unusual phenomena.

Leonard Lee travelled to the US to give the film to Bruce Maccabee, an optical physicist who specialised in laser technology and worked for the US Navy in Maryland, Virginia. He was also flown to New Zealand and Melbourne to interview witnesses.

He concluded the event involved unknown objects or phenomena fitting the definition of UFOs.

“One would think that the conclusion that several of the sightings involved unidentified objects flying with impunity in the New Zealand air space would have been sufficient to start an even deeper study of the UFOs,” Maccabee says.

Maccabee pictured recently. Source:NZ Herald

“But it wasn’t. The sightings were relegated to the dustbin of history, forgotten by all except the witnesses and a few ufologists who discussed the various sighting events for years afterward.”

He says that 39 years after the Kaikōura footage emerged, in December 2017, major media carried reports of UFO sightings by US Navy personnel during training exercises.

He says they involved multiple witnesses and multiple sources of information such as battleship radar at sea level, radar in the Navy jet aeroplanes, visible and infra-red video cameras in the aeroplanes.

But the incident appears to have been forgotten.

“History appears to be repeating itself.”

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

The Herald on Sunday caught up with the pilots and passengers.

Journalist Quentin Fogarty, 72

After his world scoop, Dunedin-born Quentin Fogarty suffered from “nervous exhaustion” and ended up in hospital for a couple of weeks.

Quentin Fogarty. Picture: Paul Davidson Source:NZ Herald

“The level of initial scepticism both surprised and, at times, overwhelmed me. I certainly did not expect to be accused of hoaxing the whole thing. That cut deep, it still does.

“The local daily tabloid in Melbourne branded me as the ‘UFO Reporter’, and that stuck for a short time, but it did not take long for me to be back in my role as a TV journalist reporting on more mundane matters.”

Fogarty, a father of four who still lives in Melbourne, says he endeavoured to report the story as accurately and as impartially as he could.

“We had film, our own eyewitness accounts and confirmation from the flight crew and air traffic controllers that we had stumbled into something astonishing.

Fogarty, who started his career at Dunedin’s Evening Star wrote a book about the experience in 1982, Let’s Hope They’re Friendly, and remains convinced that enhanced computer analysis of the film might get closer to finding answers.

“Forty years down the track, this is still unfinished business.”

Pilot Bill Startup, 85

Startup now lives in a rest home in Blenheim. He had a stroke a three years after the incident and had to retire from flying.

He wrote a book the following year, The Kaikōura UFOs, his daughter says, to clear up the misinformation doing the rounds. The same year, Startup then took his wife Shirley and children to visit Bruce Maccabee in the US.

Bill Startup in 1978. Source:NZ Herald

Shirley, who died in 2012, was interviewed in 2008 and said a psychiatrist had thought the men had lost their faith in God and were seeing angels.

Startup, who was not well enough to be interviewed by the Herald on Sunday, told a documentary in 2009: “What it was all those years ago … I wish I knew. People can think what they want but they were not in the aircraft.”

Startup did not dwell on the experience, Moore says.

“Over the years there has been periodic interest, so he was being visited every one to two years from reporters all over. But he didn’t bring it up.”

She didn’t get the impression he truly believed it was UFO.

“He’d seen something that he did not know what it was, and his colleagues couldn’t come up with an explanation. He had no thoughts that he ever communicated to us.”

Co-pilot Bob Guard, 73

Guard has never said too much about the strange lights.

“One of the issues for me is we were just doing our job. We suddenly had to justify ourselves. We didn’t know what the hell it was.

Bob Guard in 1978. Source:NZ Herald

Bob Guard recounting his experience in Paul Davidson's documentary The Kaikoura UFOs. Picture: Paul Davidson

Bob Guard recounting his experience in Paul Davidson’s documentary The Kaikoura UFOs. Picture: Paul Davidson Source:NZ Herald

“We didn’t expect to see anything. It was a bit tense as it got closer to the aircraft.”

“I got over it. Have I ever seen anything like that again? No I haven’t. Do I believe in UFOs? No I don’t. Pilots see a lot of unidentified flying things.

“Would I tell anyone if I saw anything like that again? No I wouldn’t. It’s not worth the hassle.”

Research followed the sightings but he says “some were a sham — they used newspaper articles for their research”.

Guard stopped working for Safe Air in 1990 and went on to work at Air Nelson. He was the flight operations manager when he retired, aged 65, in 2010.

His children and grandchildren were aware of the story but it is not “something that has taken over their lives”.

Sound recorder Ngaire Crockett, 80

The Crocketts, who had five children, separated soon after the incident.

Ngaire is now Ngaire Gilmore after her new marriage to husband Ray Gilmore.

Ngaire Crocket in the 1970s. Source:NZ Herald

Ngaire Gilmore at her home in Palmerston North. Picture: Alexander Robertson Source:NZ Herald

The pair, who met during a blind date eight years ago, married in a surprise ceremony at the Julia Wallace Retirement Village in Palmerston North the day before Meghan and Harry’s nuptials this year.

Residents dressed up in royal wedding theme for happy hour but didn’t know they were attending a real wedding.

“Has this film changed my life?” asks Gilmore.

“I guess it did. We had phone call after phone call and people knocking on our door. David and the reporter became so obsessed that the doco was all they talked about. I switched off as we had five children and it was effecting all our lives.”

Cameraman David Crockett, 85

David Crockett dealt with health a handful of effects after filming the strange objects.

“To this very day, the incident has never left my mind. I am also reminded of the event by people who come up to me and say, ‘I saw you the other night on the Discovery or Science Channel’.

David Crockett in 1978. Source:NZ Herald

David Crockett. Picture: SuppliedSource:NZ Herald“The effect this historic sighting has had on all of us has certainly included a fair amount of stress. As for me, I was sleepless for several nights, and after having performed several overseas lectures on this sighting, became quite depressed.

Crockett, who now lives in Hawaii where he worked as a mango farmer, made a documentary about the incident, and gave lectures, which took him around the world. He is hoping to make a new documentary to mark the 40-year anniversary.

“It substantially changed my life. At that time in the history of the UFO phenomena, sceptics thought we were crazy, and criticised us in many ways. In 1978, most persons would not seriously consider that these were real object and may even originate from other planets.”

TV journalist Dennis Grant, 66

Over the years Grant has amassed a massive collection of a newspaper and magazine stories. He’s scoured official records in Australia and New Zealand and lodged official information applications for long-forgotten files.

Dennis Grant. Source:NZ Herald

“The results are overwhelmingly unhelpful in explaining the lights and what they were doing in the lonely summer skies of New Zealand. Forty years on I’m still very curious.

“My grandkids love to hear the story of my brush with UFOs, I just wish I could provide an ending.”

Grant was working at TV One (now TVNZ 1) in Christchurch in 1978 and now lives in Australia.

“I was a young journalist back then, fired with the zeal of telling stories untold, and I helped tell this story. But the rest of the world, the scientists, the officials, the military and — saddest of all for me — the media, were all consumed with indifference. Incurious.”

So does he believe in UFOs?

“I am entirely sceptical of the notion of little green men, Martian anal probes and all the rest of it. I note that the number of UFO sightings has greatly diminished since video and digital cameras and phone cameras have became readily available. However, what we saw that night over Kaikōura was unidentified and still is.”

The Argosy

The decommissioned Argosy now sits on land near the Marlborough Airport owned by Blenheim filmmaker Paul Davidson.

He purchased the aircraft in 1991 after hearing it was to be scrapped, telling the Safe Air general manager he would pay what he would have got from the scrap dealer.

Paul Davidson, of Blenheim, with his Argosy aircraft. Picture: Tim Cuff Source:NZ Herald

The aircraft had special meaning to him — in 2009, Davidson made a documentary, featuring interviews with the pilots and crew from 1978.

Davidson, whose home is on land adjacent to the aircraft, has restored and refurbished the aircraft and runs flight simulation experiences, complete with in-flight movies telling the story of Safe Air — and meals.

Passengers can dine at the Argosy Cafe, next to the plane, which acts as a terminal where they can collect their boarding passes and go to their gate for the experience. There is also memorabilia on display.

“We put it back together and tidied it up. It’s unique to Marlborough.”

Paul Davidson, of Blenheim, with his Argosy aircraft. Picture: Tim Cuff Source:NZ Herald

From Thursday, to coincide with the first strange sighting, Davidson will be running a UFO-themed experience.

His documentary will be screened, lights will be dimmed on-board and a “spooky atmosphere” created.

“People can sit in actual seat Captain Startup sat in.

“It’s the only place in the world where you can do that.”

So, does Davidson believe in UFOs?

“I believe in the possibility of them.

“I got to know both pilots with my documentary. They got sick of people saying ‘It was probably the lights of cars, or lights of squid boats’. These were professional pilots. ‘We know what Venus looks like, this was not Venus’.

“Everyone on board has said the event had a traumatic effect on their lives.”

• The accounts were pulled together with the help of Bruce Maccabee.

Source www.news.com.au

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Mysteries

The origin of gold turned out to be a cosmic mystery

Astronomers calculated the origin of all chemical elements and wondered: where is there so much gold in the universe? The fact is that there are not enough known processes to explain the observed abundance of this precious metal.

Details are set out in a scientific article published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Astronomers believe that the earliest atomic nuclei appeared in the era of primordial nucleosynthesis, which began in the first seconds after the Big Bang and lasted several tens of minutes. At the same time, almost all the hydrogen available in the Universe was formed, a significant part of helium, a certain amount of lithium and an insignificant amount of beryllium and boron. All these chemical elements are light and are located at the very beginning of the periodic table.

The appearance of all the other atomic nuclei is somehow connected with the stars. New nuclei are formed in the bowels of all the stars without exception, as well as in the atmospheres of red giants, during supernova explosions and collisions of neutron stars.

What contribution does each of these processes make to the formation of certain chemical elements? This remains a matter of controversy.

The authors of the new study were the first to calculate the process of formation of all stable nuclei from carbon to uranium from first principles. This means that they solved the equations of nuclear physics in all their complexity, without resorting to simplifying assumptions.

These calculations made it possible to find out how much of this or that element is formed in a typical small star, in one supernova explosion, and so on. Based on this, scientists calculated the role of various celestial bodies and the events occurring with them in the huge chemical complex of the Universe.

The origin of various chemical elements in the periodic table according to a new study.  Illustration by Chiaki Kobayashi et al., Sahm Keily.

It turned out, for example, that small stars that do not explode like supernovae produce half of all carbon in the universe. The second half falls on massive luminaries that end their lives in a supernova explosion.

It is supernovae, according to the authors, that supply the universe with iron. Moreover, half of it falls on explosions of massive stars, and another half – on type Ia supernovae, that is thermonuclear explosions of white dwarfs .

However, the most unusual result concerns gold. In previous studies, the origin of the noble metal was attributed to collisions of neutron stars. Now scientists have questioned this.

“Even the most optimistic estimates of the neutron-star collision rate simply cannot explain the apparent abundance of this element in the universe,” says co-author Amanda Karakas of Monash University in Australia. “It came as a surprise.”

However, astronomers already have their own version of the origin of gold. They speculate that the problem is in supernovae of an unusual type. Explosions of very massive stars with strong magnetic fields could provide space with the observed amount of gold, experts say.

At the same time, the authors do not deny the contribution of collisions of neutron stars to the synthesis of other chemical elements .

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Mysteries

Mysterious signs in the middle of the Gobi desert

Is this part of China’s classified space program or another Chinese surprise?

For the first time, mysterious signs in the middle of the Gobi Desert, which is located in China, near the border with Mongolia, were seen in 2011. Seen, as is often the case in this century, using Google Earth. The program does not comment on the signs in any way, and no official reports from the Chinese government about exercises or tests in the Gobi Desert have followed.

There are several mysterious patterns, and each next one is even more mysterious than the previous one. Judge for yourself.

City models?

These two patterns resemble streets, only without houses, cars and shawarma stalls – in general, without everything that we are used to on the streets. Perhaps these street models were made in order to test weapons “in the city”. Then why not build houses? Or have the weapons already been tested, and this is all that remains of the “cities”?

Photo # 1 - Mysterious signs in the middle of the Gobi Desert
Photo # 2 - Mysterious signs in the middle of the Gobi Desert

Destroyed car park?

In this picture, those with an inquisitive mind and keen eyesight will make out destroyed cars. But why are they here? Perhaps they participated in weapons tests. Or is it just a warehouse of disused vehicles? But then why do we need large squares in the picture?

Photo # 3 - Mysterious signs in the middle of the Gobi Desert

Runways?

Of course, this is the first thing that comes to mind. And the most logical thing, even if there is no hint of airplanes in this picture. Okay, let’s say these are really runways. But why then is the right stripe so defiantly glowing?

Photo # 4 - Mysterious signs in the middle of the Gobi Desert

Chinese Stonehenge?

The most mysterious pattern of all. A circular one, consisting of stones or small structures, in the center of the pattern at the time of shooting there are three planes. Anyone who has flown an airplane at least once cannot help but wonder: where is the runway? Indeed, if this is a kind of air base, then where is the runway?

After the images were released, The Telegraph spoke with defense expert Tim Ripley. He authoritatively stated that the circular pattern resembles a test site for jet weapons, something similar he saw at Area 51 in Nevada.

Photo # 5 - Mysterious signs in the middle of the Gobi Desert

Since the images with the mysterious signs were published, the Chinese government has not bothered to reveal the purpose of these objects. (It did work to block Google Earth in China, but it did not work.) Moreover, in 2018, another mysterious pattern was discovered not far from the patterns listed above.

The new pattern was studied in detail in a video with the explanatory title “No one can still explain what was found in the Gobi Desert.” This time we are talking about cross “runways” surrounded by incomprehensible glowing circles, vaguely resembling an infinity sign.

Photo # 6 - Mysterious signs in the middle of the Gobi Desert

According to the author of the video, if these are runways, then they have never been used. In addition, there are several dozen structures next to the runway that look abandoned. And here is the video itself:

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Mysteries

What secrets are kept by the stones of pharaohs and kings

One of the most beloved topics of the yellow press of the last century was the scary tale of precious stones, a typical example of which is the story of the “curse of the Hope diamond.”

It was a beautiful blue diamond with a purple tint and looked something like this: The modern history of the stone began in the 17th century in India, where it was somehow obtained by the jeweler Jean Baptiste Tavernier. He brought the stone to France, where he sold it to King Louis XIV, after which Louis fell from the slope, injured his leg, got sepsis and died, and Jean Bastist himself had been eaten by dogs before that.

The next owner of the stone was Louis XV, who presented it to Madame de Montespan. After a couple of months, the king lost interest in Madame and she moved to a monastery, where she died. The king returned the gift and passed it on to Marie Antoinette, who was soon executed by fiery French revolutionaries. With this pebble in the pendant, she ascended the scaffold.

What happened to the revolutionary Jacques who stole the stone is unknown, most likely he died or was eaten alive by lice, but in 1813 the stone appeared in a jewelry store in London, where the Englishman Henry Francis Hope bought it – he began to show everyone the diamond, so he entered into history as the “Hope Diamond”.

But, as you might expect, Hope glued the flippers together and gave the diamond to his heir, Lord Francis Hope, who presented it to his bride. After that, the lord went bankrupt and was forced to descend to the plebeian hotel business, but his very first hotel burned down with his wife.

Then the stone was sawed and sold to new owners. One of them was American Evelyn Wolls McClynn. After that, her son died in a car accident, her husband ended up in an insane asylum, and Evelyn herself also went a little crazy and died. The second owners made it to America unsuccessfully, because they chose the Titanic as a means of travel.

Approximately the same fairy tale surrounds many famous stones. The balance with the bulldo in these fairy tales does not always converge, since the tales are invented by journalists for the money of jewelers: when the public learns that someone died from the stone, this leads to incredible enthusiasm and everyone rushes to look at the miracle, allowing the jeweler to make money out of thin air. However, these tales are based on the truth.

In particular, Hope’s diamond was stolen from the temple of the Indian goddess Sita, where it somehow decorated a statue. The energy of the stone was monstrous – sensitive people who took it in their hands sometimes fainted and then they were tormented by nightmarish visions for months.

But Sita was definitely out of business there. The topic was Indian priests who used temples and statues to collect energy from the flock: pilgrimage went to the temple for decades, prayed to one or another deity, and as a receiving matrix, the deity had a stone in its forehead or two stones in its eyes.

Then, when the stone was pumped up, it was replaced with a new one, and the old one began to be used in rituals. In particular, it could be presented to your own or a neighboring king in order to vacate the throne as soon as possible – the ruler who accepted such a gift would immediately die under certain circumstances.

In general, the magic of stones is a complex and poorly studied topic. Some people seem to be doing it, blowing some “secret knowledge” into the ears of adepts. Nevertheless, there seem to be some very interesting developments in the topic.

We will not compose an introduction to modern and, most likely, not very correct views of quantum mechanics, but in general terms we will recall and clarify. An electron in an atom rotates in two directions, as it were: on the one hand, it rotates around the nucleus (orbital angular momentum), on the other, around its axis (spin).

Therefore, if, in theory, you learn to change either the spin of an electron of a single atom, or the angular momentum, then the atom can be used as a cell for storing a unit of information.

The idea, of course, is quite crazy, but, as scitechdaily writes with reference to the just published scientific work, researchers from the Delft University of Technology managed, using a scanning tunneling microscope, to first capture an individual iron atom, then plant it astride a nitrogen atom, after what the orbital angular momentum of some of the electrons of the outer cloud has changed for the iron atom. Thus, an eternal unit cell of information was created:

Of course, experimenters are still quite a long way from creating a full-fledged storage ring – nevertheless, the direction of work is interesting. Most likely, they will not be able to write data to the atoms of crystals soon, but the technology for reading them already exists. And this opens up interesting perspectives.

If the guys from the Delft University of Technology came up with the idea of ​​writing data into the atoms of the crystal, then the guys who lived long before them probably came to the same idea, and given the antediluvian technologies of the builders of magalitic structures, the idea was most likely implemented in practice. Therefore, many stones may turn out to be something like ancient flash drives that contain a lot of information about the ancient world. Perhaps that is why all the rulers collect stones with terrible power.

In addition, pebbles around which jewelers have created aura of horror stories, pebbles from places of worship of various kinds, and so on are also of interest. All these objects carry some kind of information that is inaccessible to analog devices. But now, when the technology appears that allows us to consider various rubies and diamonds as a digital massif, pebbles can tell a lot about the real story, and about the role of people in this story, and about the outside world in general.

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