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Alan Potter does not believe in aliens or UFOs.
But he still struggles to explain what he saw one day in August 1969 when he was servicing the radar at Adelaide Airport.
“I worked in the Department of Civil Aviation for 25 years, from 1964 till about 1990,” Mr Potter told ABC Radio Adelaide‘s Mornings program.
“I still don’t think I believe in UFOs but I can’t explain this.”
He was in his final year as an apprentice radio technician.
On that day almost 50 years ago Mr Potter was watching raw data from the radar head at the airport when something unusual happened.
“I was tracking a Fokker Friendship flying from Adelaide to Kingscote on Kangaroo Island,” he said.
As the radar slowly turned, Mr Potter said it also pinged a large object near Port Lincoln.
He said this second craft appeared much larger than anything he had seen at that time.
“As the Fokker tracked towards Kangaroo Island, a smaller echo, much smaller than the Fokker, appeared to leave the large echo and fly in a line directly towards the [plane].”
He watched the two signals meet over the skies of Rapid Bay, south of Adelaide, and then saw the smaller object return to the larger one.
Each radar rotation took five seconds to complete.
“With one rotation of the radar antennae, that large echo had moved 70 nautical miles to the north-east,” Mr Potter recalled.
“In the next pass it had disappeared off the screen completely.”
Mr Potter said at the time he joked that it was a UFO that had sent out a smaller craft to look at the Fokker.
“I thought, ‘no, don’t be stupid’ — but I have no other explanation.”
Adelaide was a bit of a hotbed for UFO reports in the late 1960s.
Gawler’s The Bunyip newspaper published several articles in 1969 of unexplained sightings and experiences.
Mr Potter’s sighting was recorded with the Australian UFO Research Network in 2004.
But no corresponding reports were lodged by passengers or the pilots of the Fokker.
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