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On the UFO, everyone seems to agree, Mr Ryan says. It was a low-flying, silver/grey shining object, either of classical flying saucer shape or close to it, "a cup turned upside down on a saucer". The students were familiar with light aircraft because the schools were close to Moorabbin Airport. Although the UFO was of similar size, "everyone said straight away that they knew it was not a plane", Mr Ryan said, nor a weather balloon.
The object was in view for up to 20 minutes, and many saw it descend. Most agree it landed behind pine trees at the Grange Reserve. Dozens of students ran across what was then an open paddock to the reserve to investigate, but the object had lifted off and vanished.
"I saw the thing come across the horizon and drop down behind the pine trees," he told The Sunday Age this week. "I couldn't tell you what it was. It certainly wasn't a light aircraft or anything of the like …
"I saw the thing drop down behind the pine trees and saw it leave again. I couldn't tell you how long it was there for, it was such a long time ago."
Mr Matthews, 51 and now living in Greenvale, said the object "went up and off very very rapidly".
"I went over and there was a circle in the clearing. It looked like it had been cooked or boiled, not burnt as I remember," he said. "A heap of kids from Westall primary and high school came charging through to see what had happened — 'look at this, look at that, we saw it as well', that sort of thing. It was a bit of a talking point for a couple of days."
Mr Matthews said the object, about the size of "two family cars", passed him at a distance of about "four football fields". "It was silvery, but it had a sort-of purple hue to it, very bright, but not bright enough that you couldn't look at it," he said.
"I saw that it dropped down behind the trees, and I thought, 'hello, hang on'. A minute or so later, it went straight up, just gone."
He said police and other officials interviewed his mother. But he cannot remember them burning the landing site, as others have alleged. And he did not see any light aircraft trailing the object, as others did.
"The way this thing moved there is no way it could have been a weather balloon or a light aircraft," he said.
"A helicopter? No way — no noise, wrong shape, and it didn't move like it. It came out of the distance, stopped, and then just dropped.
"It didn't just sort of cruise and then slightly descend at an angle. It just stopped, dropped, and then went straight up."
In the incident young V. stood to the left close to the object, while 3 other students stood around in close proximity to the second object. A teacher and at least a dozen other students crowded along the high fence to get a view. The two objects rose up from the grass and took off, one to the west, the other flew up and orbited a small plane before flying down to the south west Grange reserve area, with students in pursuit. My sketch is preliminary and not quite to scale. The UFOs were described as about 1.5 metres in height and approximately 5.4 metres in width. They left behind two circles of burnt grass.
V. went home for lunch straight after this extraordinary experience which swept up the rest of his school. He explained to me that he didn’t need to see any more that day (6 April 1966) because he had seen the exact same object a few years earlier, when as a young child he was trying to take a wooden pallet from a factory site near the Westall Grange area during the early hours of the morning. His escapade was interrupted when a UFO flew over.
It was the same looking object he would see during daylight at Westall in 1966 along with many in his school, but it was flying on edge – an appearance captured in a polaroid photo taken near Balwyn 4 days before the Westall incident! There were other similar encounters during this period of the 1960s in the area around Westall and neighbouring isolated suburbs of Melbourne, which in those days was the outer edge of the city. This area still had an isolated almost country feel to it.
Application fees will be scrapped and a "pro-disclosure" culture encouraged under sweeping Freedom of Information (FoI) changes proposed by the federal government. The planned overhaul of the FoI Act, the first since the laws were created 27 years ago, will also prevent documents being withheld because they may prove embarrassing to the government.