Was the New Guinea/Father Gill UFO Case a False Horizon?

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
A false horizon may have been involved in one of the most famous UFO cases... The New Guinea/Father Gill UFO.

It has been suggested that it was a squid boat sitting "above" a false horizon.

http://www.project1947.com/forum/bcoz5.htm#gill2


External Quote:

As indicated by his notes made at the time and in numerous interviews, Rev. Gill saw a bright white light in the north western sky. It appeared to be approaching the mission. The object appeared to be hovering between three and four hundred feet up. Eventually 38 people, including Rev. Gill, Steven Gill Moi (a teacher), Ananias Rarata (a teacher) and Mrs. Nessie Moi, gathered to watch the main UFO, which looked like a large, disc-shaped object. It was apparently solid and circular with a wide base and narrower upper deck. The object appeared to have 4 "legs" underneath it. There also appeared to be about 4 "panels" or "portholes" on the side of the object, which seemed to glow a little brighter than the rest. At a number of intervals the object produced a shaft of blue light which shone upwards into the sky at an angle of about 45 degrees.

What looked like "men" came out of the object, onto what seemed to be a deck on top of the object. There were 4 men in all, occassionally 2, then one, then 3, then 4. The shaft of blue light and the "men" disappeared. The object then moved through some clouds. There were other UFO sightings during the night.

Rev. Gill described the weather at variable sky - scattered clouds to clear at first, becoming overcast after 10.10 pm. He estimated the height of the clouds at about 2,000 feet. The first sighting over the sea, according to Rev. Gill, seemed no more than 500 feet above the water at times. When the main UFO was at its closest point, Rev. Gill determined that the relative size at arms length was a full hand span or about 8 inches. He modified that estimate to 5 inches. It was clearly visible and seemed mostly stationary during 25 minutes of observation.

Astonishingly the aerial visitor put in a repeat performance the following night, June 27th. Rev. Gill prepared a statement:

Saturday, 27/6/59
Large U.F.O. first sighted by Annie Laurie at 6 p.m. in apparently same position as last night (26/6/59) only seemed a little smaller, when W.B.G. saw it at 6.02 p.m. I called Ananias and several others and we stood in the open to watch it. Although the sun had set it was still quite light for the following 15 minutes. We watched figures appear on top - four of them - no doubt that they are human. Possibly the same object that I took to be the "Mother" ship last night. Two smaller U.F.O's were seen at the same time, stationary. One above the hills west, another overhead. On the large one two of the figures seemed to be doing something near the centre of the deck - were occassionally bending over and raising their arms as though adjusting or "setting up" something (not visible). One figure seemed to be standing looking down at us (a group of about a dozen). I stretched my arm above my head and waved. To our surprise the figure did the same. Ananias waved both arms over his head then the two outside figures did the same. Ananias and self began waving our arms and all four now seemed to wave back. There seemed to be no doubt that our movements were answered. All mission boys made audible gasps (of either joy or surprise, perhaps both).
As dark was beginning to close in, I sent Eric Kodawara for a torch and directed a series of long dashes towards the U.F.O. After a minute or two of this, the U.F.O. apparently acknowledged by making several wavering motions back and forth. Waving by us was repeated and this followed by more flashes of torch, then the U.F.O. began slowly to become bigger, apparently coming in our direction. It ceased after perhaps half a minute and came no further. After a further two or three minutes the figures apparently lost interest in us for they disappeared "below" deck. At 6.25 p.m. two figures re-appeared to carry on with whatever they were doing before the interruption (?). The blue spot light came on for a few seconds twice in succession."



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Squid boats in California.
 
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Fascinating. I had no idea that that’s how you fish for squid. That’s why I love this site! I learn something new every day.
 
This makes a lot more sense from a human standpoint as well. I think it's more believable that squid fishers would be happy to wave at landbound folks than that aliens would stand still and parrot waving movements while hovering over the ocean.
 
Boats can move fairly fast, so if they start moving and then turn off the lights could have that effect.
 
It's all academic with no supporting photo/video evidence, but for me, from the Reverend's demeanour and description, even a fast squid boat doesn't fit what he says he saw.
 
It's all academic with no supporting photo/video evidence, but for me, from the Reverend's demeanour and description, even a fast squid boat doesn't fit what he says he saw.
Unless he misremembers exactly what he saw, or misinterpreted it while seeing it. Which we are, all of us, prone to do.

I remain fairly uninterested in "eyewitness account" cases, for that reason. Some people my accurately and honestly describe exactly what was on display in front of them, but others lie (some well, some poorly, and from a variety of motives), still others honesty report their memory of things they have remembered incorrectly, or revise and extend their memories as they try to fill in gaps that they didn't observe. Lacking a reliable method for deciding which accounts fall into which category, I think the best I can do with such cases is say "Well, whattaya know? Neat, if true..."
 
Unless he misremembers exactly what he saw, or misinterpreted it while seeing it. Which we are, all of us, prone to do.

I remain fairly uninterested in "eyewitness account" cases, for that reason. Some people my accurately and honestly describe exactly what was on display in front of them, but others lie (some well, some poorly, and from a variety of motives), still others honesty report their memory of things they have remembered incorrectly, or revise and extend their memories as they try to fill in gaps that they didn't observe. Lacking a reliable method for deciding which accounts fall into which category, I think the best I can do with such cases is say "Well, whattaya know? Neat, if true..."
[...] In general, people do not remember as many details of a situation as they think they do. You can run this experiment on your own! Think about the last time you were out with a friend and try to remember what color shirt they had on (or something). A common thing that we do is remember that some article of clothing was, say, red, and then apply that color to an item that it was not a part of. A red hat often becomes a red shirt in one's memory. These sound like small details, but they are really important in determining exactly what happened when all you have are eye witness accounts. Another thing that happens is that our memories of events are often colored by the narratives we superimpose over them, especially over time.


Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUbKxVlA_0M


Here, in this video, you can see how this manager's memory of his interactions w/the helmet dude are colored by his feelings about the situation as it happened / after the fact. He believed, passionately, that he came face to face w/helmet dude on multiple occasions, standing shoulder-width-apart from him. In his mind, that is probably what the confrontation felt like, but if you go back and look at the security footage, he just passed him by. His memory of the situation told a different story than the evidence did, and while it may not seem like a SUPER big difference, when there is no better evidence, it becomes an extremely giant hole.
 
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"Well, whattaya know? Neat, if true..."

I'll be honest: that about sums up my opinion.

While a fata morgana is obviously plausible, even probable, my personal opinion (and that's all it is) is that it's doubtful that almost 40 people, including dozens of Papuan natives, would mistake a squid boat for a hovering craft (or even up to 8 of them), two nights running, during 6 hours of observations. Plus, the report (linked below) makes it clear there were numerous sightings of anomalous craft in PNG around that time.

Re: the reverend's specific case, would not one of the locals likely be able to recognise a squid boat and be honest/brave enough to point out what it was to a man like the reverend, even if the admission came weeks or months later? The boats must have been common sights if they were operating in that area, and likely recognisable even if a mirage were distorting them. The reverend also kept detailed logs of his sightings, hence the "inaccuracy through emotionality" aspect doesn't seem to be a factor here as per the video of the biker.

The reverend even remarks at one point that the top part of the "craft" reminded him of the upper deck of a boat, and later on he says he can't be sure it wasn't a boat when asked if it was one (Interview: 38m02s). "OK," say some, "case closed." I suppose the counter argument to that might be: would 4 fishermen with squid to catch all climb up and down onto the top of the wheelhouse/super structure of their boat in order to wave at distant people on shore? Moreover, the reverend alleges that the craft moved in response to the movement of a torch wielded by one of his assistants. Do squid boats do that?

Is there also any research to indicate (a) the distance required for a false horizon/fata morgana effect to occur, and (b) whether they occur at night as here (the craft was sighted up to 10pm)? I appreciate that distant objects can appear close up because of the phenomenon (or vice versa, or even upside down), but my point is that, when asked whether the object was "miles" or "hundreds of yards" away, the reverend replies that it was "hundreds of feet", later quantifying that to "three-to-four hundred feet". And before anyone screams "Objection! Subjective!", the reverend is honest enough to admit that the day after the sighting, he did take some rudimentary steps to try and gauge the accuracy of his estimates (Interview: 19m58s).

Furthermore, does anyone also know if fata morgana are "reciprocal", i.e. if I'm on one side of the effect and you're on the other, can we both experience the illusion? I'm trying to judge the practicalities of this being a fata morgana and the (allegedly) distant fishermen even being able to see the reverend's party in order to wave back to them, as he alleges they did.

Reverend's Long Interview:
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4n2ffAQ54s

Reverend's Short Interview:
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usVEWKQLmpI

Partial Report: https://www.theblackvault.com/casefiles/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/frgill1959.pdf
 
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Furthermore, does anyone also know if fata morgana are "reciprocal", i.e. if I'm on one side of the effect and you're on the other, can we both experience the illusion? I'm trying to judge the practicalities of this being a fata morgana and the (allegedly) distant fishermen even being able to see the reverend's party in order to wave back to them, as he alleges they did.

Every possible route for a photon to get from the fishermen to the reverend is a possible route for a photon to get from the reverend to the fishermen. So they are reciprocally visible. However, the distortions won't be the same - the squashed will be stretched and the stretched will be squashed, so the fishermen won't *necessarily* recognise their observers as a party of humans. Of course, there will be air flow and the distortions won't be constant, so, all other things being equal, there's no reason to believe one party would get a clearer view than the other.
 
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