Saturday, 11 May 1918

This post is part of a series post-blogging the Australian mystery aeroplane panic of 1918. See here for an introduction or here for a list of all posts.

HB64, 11 May 1918

NAA: MP1049/1, 1918/066, pages 668 through 671 is a copy of Directorate of Military Intelligence report HB64, 'Aircraft, lights and objects reported seen in the air -- summary and appreciation no. 4'. It is a continuation of the last such 'summary and appreciation' HB56 of a week ago. But whereas HB56 was 17 pages long, HB64 has just 4 pages, a sign either of a lack of new information, or a lack of interest, or both. (The next and final report in this series, HB68, will make it to just over 3 pages: see NAA: MP1049/1, 1918/066, pages 660 through 663. The Navy War Staff's parallel series of aeroplane sighting catalogues -- sans analysis -- which began on 25 April at page 615, ended on 8 May at page 600.) It contains summaries of 12 new aeroplane reports, including that from Kongwak (no. 68), and updates on 4 earlier sightings. (It's actually as source for one of the new sightings, when W. A. R. Cave 'saw a sea-plane fly over HOBART' back on on 30 April 1918, that I cite this document in my article.)

The last page of HB64 contains further information and some analysis. A summary of the 'air reconnaissances along the Coast' is provided: these were 'In the vicinity of WILSON'S PROMONTORY' on 4 and 5 May, and 'In the vicinity of TATHRA, NEW SOUTH WALES' on 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 May. Not only has 'No sign of any aircraft or suspicious vessel' been found, but 'The aircraft making these reconnaissances have now been withdrawn'.

The 'Commonwealth Weather Bureau' has examined the weather conditions 'at the various places from which reports have been received', 'but no information of any assistance has been obtained'. This sounds a bit harsh, but what it presumably means is that the weather conditions are no help in ruling out mystery aeroplane sightings, since 'With scarcely an exception', it was always flyable.

Finally, the 'appreciation' section of HB64 merely notes that 4 of the reports from HB56 now 'may be regarded as unreliable or as explained', and of the new reports,

Most of these are of similar character to those discussed in previous Appreciations. Inquiry is in progress into those which seem to require it.

And that's all. So definitely a lack of interest, then.

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