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(00:05) The pilots first noticed lights near to the Kaikoura coast. These lights projected a beam downwards and then disappeared. The number varied from none, to one to many. The pilots noted that the strange lights were above the town of Kaikoura but between the aircraft and the ground in the one o'clock position at a distance of 13 nautical miles.
(00:12) WATCC radioed confirmation of these lights as targets on their scopes. Indeed those targets had been appearing and disappearing for the past half hour. On duty that night were Air Traffic Controller Geoffrey Causer and Bryan Chalmers, a radar maintenance technician. At this point another aircraft landed at Wellington and from then onwards the Argosy was the only plane in the sky south of Wellington Airbase. Not long afterwards WATCC reported that they had another target in the aircraft's three o'clock position but the crew could see nothing in that direction. The radar target disappeared.
(00:15) The camera crew came up to the cockpit to view the objects.
(00:16) WATCC notified them of a target in their twelve o'clock position at a distance of 10 nm. The crew confirmed - they saw a light in that direction. Startup: "It was white and not very brilliant and it did not change colour or flicker. To me it looked like the tail light of an aircraft. I'm not sure how long we saw this for. Probably not very long. I did not get a chance to judge its height relative to the aircraft." The light disappeared and WATCC confirmed it's disappearance on the next sweep of the radar but they reported a new strong target at their eleven o'clock position at a distance of 3 nm. The Argosy crew saw nothing. WATCC reported a target at nine o'clock at 2 nm. Again the crew could see nothing. Just after this they picked up a target at their ten o'clock position at a distance of 12 nm. The Captain requested permission to turn around to investigate the anomalous targets.
WATCC authorised him with the caution that: "There is another target that just appeared on your left side at about 1 mile... briefly and then disappearing again." Although the crew were still witnessing the lights near to Kaikoura, they could see nothing of the new targets reported by Wellington.
Startup put the Argosy in a turn. WATCC reported: "The target I mentioned a moment ago is still just about 5:00 to you, stationary." Once more nothing was visible to the crew in that direction. Causer had been picking up appearances and disappearances of targets on the scopes which correlated to the lights viewed by the crew close to Kaikoura. He says: "There is a strong target right in formation with you. Could be right or left. Your target has doubled in size."
(00:27) With the Argosy now moving back along it's flight path towards Wellington Airbase, Causer reported another target in their twelve o'clock position three miles distant. Startup responded: 'We pick it up. It's got a flashing light.' He reported seeing: "a couple of very bright blue-white lights, flashing regularly at a rapid rate. They looked like the strobe lights of a Boeing 737..." (NB - the Argosy was the only aircraft in the area at the time)
(00:28) The Argosy turned back towards Christchurch and WATCC reported that all the targets were now 12 - 15 nm behind them.
(00:29) WATCC notified the pilots of a target one mile behind the aircraft in their six o'clock position, which soon vanished.
(00:30) Another target appeared on the radar at 4 miles behind the plane. It vanished. Next came a target at three o'clock, again at 4 nm.
(00:31) WATCC: "There is a strong target right in formation with you. Could be right or left. Your target has doubled in size." This is known as a Double Size Target (DST). Growing increasingly worried the co- pilot (Guard) looked out of the right windows and saw a light: "It was like the fixed navigation lights on a small airplane when one passes you at night. It was much smaller than the really big ones we had seen over Kaikoura. At regular intervals it appeared to flash, but it didn't flash on and off; it brightened or perhaps twinkled around the edges. When it did this I could see a colour, a slight tinge of green or perhaps red. It's very difficult describing a small light you see at night."
The town lights of Kaikoura were now behind the mountains and not visible. (Claims were made after this incident that the light witnessed by the crew was a beacon light on the end of the peninsula, but the witnesses testified to the light being level with the plane, well above ground level). Fogarty commented: "I'm looking over towards the right of the aircraft and we have an object confirmed by Wellington radar. It's been following us for quite a while. It's about four miles away and looks like a very faint star, but then it emits a bright white and green light."
(00:33) WATCC informed Christchurch Air Traffic Control (CATCC) that they had a target at five o'clock to the Argosy at a distance of 10 miles. CATCC could not confirm. WATCC said: "...not moving, not too much speed... It is moving in an easterly direction now."
(00:35) WATCC: "The target you mentioned, the last one we mentioned, make it 5:00 at 4 miles previously, did you see anything?" Startup: "We saw that one. It came up at 4:00, I think, around 4 miles away." WATCC: "Roger, that target is still stationary. It's now 6:00 to you at about 15 miles and it's been joined by two other targets."
(00:36) WATCC informed the Argosy that the three targets had now merged on their scopes. Startup requested permission to do another turn to investigate and permission was granted. Despite this brief investigation, the crew saw nothing.
(00:39) The Argosy continued on its way to Christchurch. CATCC reported to the plane that a target was pacing the aircraft to their west overland. Guard checked the window and saw a rapidly-moving light in that direction. The Argosy went on to land at the airbase.
"We got all sorts of people ringing us up telling us we're idiots," says Mr Startup. "We were fooling the public, we were putting a hoax out, this was all a big hoax for Christmas," says Mr Startup.
"I became a bit of an object for criticism and almost ridicule, because we were poo-pooed by the authorities, and sceptics came out of the woodwork and cherry picked the things that suited them and dismissed all the evidence, and said we saw this, we saw that," says Mr Fogarty.
Some of explanations for what they had a seen and filmed were Venus, squid boat lights and the lights of Wellington and Christchurch.
"People can think about that, but they weren't on the aircraft," says Mr Startup.
None of those involved are satisfied with any of explanations given by scientists and government officials.
"None of them to my knowledge or satisfaction have coordinated the visual sighting with the radar sighting," he says. "They've said the visual sighting was squid boats, it was Venus, it was Jupiter, it was the harbour lights. You name it, they can come up with all sorts of reasons for what it was.
"But they haven't explained why I can see Jupiter, Venus and the harbour lights doing 140 knots on my radar." says Mr Startup.
Marlborough film-maker and owner of the original plane, Paul Davidson, is organising for a plane to follow the same flight path up and down the coast between Blenheim and Christchurch on December 30.
The 1978 pilots and crew will be on board, providing commentary. There are also seats for paying members of the public.
The original Argosy cannot fly any more, so a Dash-8 aircraft will be used. "It's a great aircraft, with great views and big windows," said Mr Davidson.
He said the two main points that added credibility to the sightings were that the pilots knew the area of the sky well, and the objects were picked up on two independent radar systems. A cameraman and reporter were also on board saw and recorded the objects.
The objects were unidentifed and definitely flying, but whether they were from another another planet was another question, Mr Davidson said.
The flight is part of Kaikoura UFO Anniversary week in Blenheim from December 28-31, which will also involve a UFO Symposium, tours of the Argosy aircraft and a movie.
Originally posted by Chadwickus
Correct me if I'm wrong but this shape has popped up a few times in some of these older cases, hasn't it?