In the late hours of 30th December 1978, an Argosy freight plane left Wellington, New Zealand – the pilot was Captain Bill Startup, a very experienced flyer and the co-pilot was Bob Guard. The air crew were accompanied by an Australian T.V. unit from Channel 0-10 Network.
The purpose of the flight was to try to capture a UFO on film – for some weeks UFOs had been sighted over Cook Strait. When the aircraft was flying over the Pacific Ocean, to the northeast of South Island, the pilots observed a strange object in the sky; they endeavoured to verify their sighting with radar confirmation at Wellington air traffic control.
Quentin Fogarty, T.V. reporter, stated that he saw a row of five bright lights which were pulsating and grew from the size of a pinpoint to that of a large balloon. The whole sequence was then repeated, the lights now appearing over the town of Kaikoura, between the aircraft and the ground.
At this stage, David Crockett, cameraman, was wearing the headphones and was warned by Wellington control that an unknown object was following the Argosy – the pilot immediately turned the plane 360 degrees in order to ascertain what had been behind them. The people aboard the aircraft saw nothing but yet once more Wellington control warned them:
“Sierra Alpha Eagle, you have a target in formation with you…… target has increased in size”. At this, the crew and passengers saw lights outside of the aircraft but were unable to film them because of interference by the plane’s navigation lights. When the navigation lights were turned off, however, everyone aboard the aircraft saw a big, bright light which Crockett was able to capture on his “hand-held” camera. In order to do this Crockett had to exchange seats with Bob Guard, causing the resultant filming to suffer from the effects of camera shake. However, he managed to obtain 30 seconds of decent footage.
Startup then turned the plane completely around once more and the object was not visible but Wellington control maintained that its echo was still evident on radar. As the Argosy approached Christchurch, the fuel gauge went haywire but apparently this was not necessarily something unusual and they tuned in on the UFO off Banks Peninsular. Wellington control now had the object on radar while the aircraft landed at Christchurch
At 2-15a.m. 31st December, the aircraft set off on a return flight and very quickly two strange objects came into view. Crockett observed one of the objects through his camera and described a spinning sphere with lateral lines around it and one of the objects appeared on the aircraft’s radar for four minutes. As the aircraft approached the end of its flight, two pulsating lights were observed – one suddenly falling for about 1,000 feet before eventually stopping in a series of jerky movements.
The resultant film taken during these two flights was shown all over the world – the BBC giving it priority on the main evening news programme. Despite the fact that the filmed events were also evident on ground based radar, sceptics were driven to extreme and strange lengths to explain the filmed evidence, including the lights from shrimp boats, top secret U.S. remote controlled planes etc, etc., etc…..It should be noted that the Royal New Zealand Air Force was so concerned about the event that Skyhawk jet fighters had been put on full alert in order to intercept the UFOs.
Following the broadcasting of the film by the B.B.C. and the subsequent investigation, the Daily Telegraph (U.K. newspaper – noted for businesslike and scientific observations) remarked:
“The scientist who suggested that all (on the aircraft) were seeing Venus on a particularly bright night can be safely consigned to Bedlam (insane asylum)!!