UFO hot spot: Extraterrestrial or flying bug?

Rick Whitley with his daughter Ella-Rose at their south tweed home.
Rick Whitley with his daughter Ella-Rose at their south tweed home. Blainey Woodham

AFTER the United States' Roswell UFO incident in 1947, reported sightings of unidentified flying objects increased exponentially across the world and the Tweed Shire was no exception.

While reporting UFOs was rare in previous decades, perhaps due to the stigma attached to sightings, in recent years residents have been coming out of the woodwork with their own unique experiences.

The question must be asked what are these strange lights and anomalies in our skies?

Since 2005 the Daily News has reported no less than 15 separate incidents.

The question must be asked - what are these strange lights and anomalies in our skies?

The usual answers range from military test flights, to weather balloons and natural phenomena.

And, of course, many people default to extraterrestrial visitors.

So we decided to put our questions to the Australian UFO Research Network co-director Robert Frola in the hope he could shed some light on the situation.

The respected research network was founded in 1998 and has worked with police, aviation authorities and many other credible organisations.

Strange objects spotted in the Tweed.
Strange objects spotted in the Tweed.

"Realistically, I'd say about 95-98% of UFO sightings that come to us have a satisfactory explanation as to what they are," Mr Frola said.

"People come to us and think the unidentified flying object they've seen must be a spacecraft but it could be as simple as a blur on the lens or a bug flying close to the camera.

"I mean, I have personally seen UFOs I can't put my finger on but realistically it's just a light in the sky unless proven otherwise."

However, Mr Frola did not rule out that some sightings may have an extraterrestrial element not yet explored by the scientific community.

The astronomy and aviation enthusiast said some sections of the media play a part in hyping up UFOs as sinister visitors from outer space, when the reality may be rather mundane.

"Whenever something on UFOs comes on TV there's often X-Files-like music and references to aliens," he said.

"The psyche of irresponsible media reporting can affect the psyche of the public. People convince themselves they've seen something extraterrestrial."

Mr Frola said the rise of technology such as smartphones was making it easier for everyday citizens to photograph and record UFO sightings.

He added that the public reporting of sightings often triggered others to share their experiences.

"More sightings are happening but when people report a light in the sky, unless there's multiple witnesses, it's just that - a light in the sky," he said.

Just some of the common explanations Mr Frola listed for UFO sightings include photographic anomalies, weather related sightings and aircraft.

Mr Frola encouraged Tweed residents who had sighted, and preferably photographed, a UFO to get in touch at

Strange Sights

  • In March of this year, Tweed Head South resident Rick Whitley noticed two unidentified objects in smartphone photos.
  • In October and November of 2008 and June of 2010 Bill Stafford Jr snapped photos of unusual lights over Tweed and Currumbin.
  • In March 2008 Tweed police received multiple reports from Cudgen and Kingscliff of a twirling fireball in the sky.
  • In August of 2006 Bill Etscheid, of Banora Point, noticed three orange lights zipping through the sky erratically.
  • In the same month, Murwillumbah's Jade Walters noticed rapidly moving lights in the sky over Chinderah.
  • In one extreme case, Bilambil's Alex Player claimed he videotaped a supposed alien in October and November of 2010.

Topics:  aliens tweed ufo

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