Date: January 1974
Location: RNZAF Base Woodbourne, Blenheim, Marlborough, New Zealand
Witness(es): RNZAF Officer Anthony Chatfield (instructor of recruits, Airman Cadet School), & up to 60 cadets
Description: From a letter written by Officer Chatfield in 1994, to the British UFO Research Association:
“In January 1974 I was an instructor of recruits in the Royal New Zealand Air Force. Early in that month I was on duty at night and was in charge of what was then the Airman Cadet School (now known as the General Service Training School). Two new flights of recruits had arrived earlier that day and, as with a large number of young people away from home for the first time, excitement was high and sleep was hard to come by for those young people. As a result, a lot of my time that night was spent patrolling the various barrack blocks and dormitories getting these young people into bed and making them stay there. This was akin to one of the seven labours of Hercules.
After about 5 or 6 attempts to maintain some sort of order I decided to get the whole lot of them outside and give them a chance to burn off their excess energy by having them running around the weapon training area. This was simply a patch of grass about 100 metres by 200 metres adjacent to the barrack block the recruits were domiciled in. I had the whole 60 or so running around the outer perimeter on the weapons training area.
It was a fine, warm night with a stiffish sort of breeze which made it a pleasant night for a gentle jog. After about 10 minutes or so, one recruit approached me and asked me what it was that was flying along the top of the hills immediately to our north. This is a range of hills called the Richmond Range, and varies in height from about 1,500 feet to 4,500 feet. The distance from RNZAF Woodbourne to the UFO was about 6 to 7 kilometres, but even at that range it was pretty big. There was no sound, and the object was travelling on a south-westerly direction at, I guess, around 200-250 miles per hour.
The best way I can describe the object is that it reminded me of an old fashioned bar-bell, of the type that circus strongmen used in days gone by. There were 2 large globes glowing with the same sort of light one sees from a fluorescent light and they seemed to be joined together by a gold glowing bar. The light seemed to come from within and one globe seemed to be smaller that the other, although this could have been due to the angle it was viewed from.
The weather conditions at the time were as follows: low broken cloud with a large area of clear sky, with a light to strong north-westerly breeze. Visibility was excellent. The object was in view for about 3 minutes, and when it passed behind a cloud, the light from the object could be seen showing through.
I feel I must mention that I spent a good deal of my life working in and around aircraft having served for 5 years in the RAF as an airframe mechanic. I worked on all kinds of aircraft including Spitfires, Hurricanes and Ansons, and this craft went against all the rules of aerodynamics that I was privy to. It had no lifting surfaces, like mainplanes, that I could see. No rudder or fin, no navigation lights and no flashing strobe light. Friends have suggested that it might have been a ‘lost’ weather balloon, but this is complete nonsense. Weather balloons do not glow and they do not fly against the wind. This thing was also huge. There was a moon and the night was quite bright. The time of the sighting was around 23.30 and although I enjoy a drink, I was not allowed to drink whilst on duty and I was stone cold sober.
As I have stated I have spent a lot of time working in and around aircraft and I can find no logical explanation as to what the object was that I, and 60 or so cadets saw. I know full well that the RNZAF had nothing even close to the size of the beast that I saw. At that time the biggest aircraft that the RNZAF possessed was the C130 Hercules, and the big ‘Jumbos’ of Air New Zealand never came down here as the runway at Woodbourne is too short. In any event a ‘Jumbo’ would not have been flying that low at night without having a lot of hysterical passengers on board, and without someone hearing about it.
I saw this thing at a distance of some 7 kilometres which is slightly less than four and a half miles, and with the weather conditions prevailing at that time, I am cast iron certain as to what I saw.”
And an excerpt from a further letter written by Officer Chatfield, providing an interesting piece of information:
“A brief thought concerning my last letter was that about 3 or 4 months later, when I was discussing the sighting with a colleague, I went and got the ‘Incident Book’ that all duty NCOs have to fill in on completion of their tour of duty. I was surprised to discover that the page on which I had recorded the sighting had been removed. I asked about this but no one could throw any light on the matter at all. The page had not been ripped out or torn, but quite neatly cut. What happened to that page, I simply do not know. It was shortly after this, that I discovered that the Civil Aviation Authority has a printed form issued to all Air Traffic Control Centres throughout New Zealand, specifically for UFO sightings. Food for thought don’t you think?”
Artist impression by David Sankey (permission per Philip Mantle).
Report courtesy of Philip Mantle, UK.