Summary, excerpted from the book, on the 1951 Mt. Kilimanjaro
UFO sighting by an airline pilot, his crew and passengers.
This article contains more details of the case and investigation.
from the book]
Jack Bicknell] and his crew had left Nairobi, Kenya, at
0700 in a Lodestar. At 0720, Radio Officer D. W. Merrifield
drew his attention to a bright object like a white star
hanging motionless about 10,000 ft. near Mount Kilimanjaro.
They watched for three minutes and then reported it to
the passengers and to Eastleigh by radio.
said he had examined the object for several minutes through
binoculars and saw a metallic, bullet-shaped which must
have been 65 metres (200 ft.) long. At one end was a square-cut
colour was a dull silver, and at regular intervals along
the fuselage were vertical dark bands. Its outline was
clear and sharp, and there was no haziness about it at
all,' he said.
clipping from Richard Heiden details the story:
men and two women who saw a mystery object flying near
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanganyika (now Tanzania), signed an
affidavit giving a very clear report. They saw the mystery
lor 17 minutes from their plane and described it as bullet-nosed
and metallic. Radio operator Dennis Merrifield was the
first to see it and to draw the pilot's attention to the
object. The morning was clear and cloudless, with good
says, 'I timed the object for 17 minutes while the Lodestar
held its course. Twice it rose vertically to a final height
of 40,000 ft. (12,500 metres), then it moved east towards
the coast at a terrific speed.'
passenger, Capt. H. B. Fussell, a Newport, Monmouthshire,
sports dealer who had a pair of powerful binoculars, said,
'Through the glasses the object appeared bullet-shaped.
The colour was whitish-silver with three vertical black
bands down the side. For 10 minutes it remained I stationary,
then it suddenly rose vertically by 5,000 ft. Again it
became stationary, then a minute later, it rose again
and moved laterally away at great speed, probably 400
confronted with the theory that it might have been a balloon,
Capt. Fussell denied this emphatically. 'How could a balloon
hover motionless and move at 400 mph in the same weather
conditions? The object was definitely metallic,' he said.
aboard was a radio officer from the American freighter
Robin Mowbray. He said, 'I couldn't swear to it but through
the binoculars I thought I could identify a row of circular
J. Vernon, purser of the Robin Mowbray and also an American,
said, 'The object must have been immense, two or three
times the size of the largest passenger plane.'
attempts were made to take photographs of the object.
Capt. Fussell took a picture with his miniature camera,
but Overstreet, the radio officer, shot 30 ft. of colour
film with a telescopic lens on his cine camera.
Bicknell said, 'I later learned that Overstreet was on
his way to the United States to show [the film] to the
authorities there. The name of the vessel on which he
was travelling was mentioned to me at the time, and the
date of his expected arrival. In spite of repeated requests
from me for further news, I have always drawn a complete
blank as to the whereabouts of Mr. Overstreet and his
some later date, both Bicknell and Merrifield stated that
they felt the object was an aircraft of some sort. Merrifield
fell that it was a machine 500 years ahead of its time.
Natal Mercury in Durban, South Africa, published both
a story about the sighting and, it is believed, a photograph
purporting to be the UFO. This was obtained from Ray Overstreet,
who had taken the cine film of the object. Stories about
that Overstreet disappeared or at least that he could
not be traced. However, James Moseley, a reporter, says
there is no mystery to the case. 'The film exists; it
was examined by the US Air Force. It was found to be little
more than a bouncing bit of light and was returned.'
does not disprove what Bicknell saw, but it does not prove
have tried through several people, as well as through
letters to the newspapers in Durban, to contact Capt.
Bicknell or anyone who knew him, but have met with no
success. The event occurred in 1951, some 40-odd years
ago. If Bicknell was in his mid-thirties then, he will
be close to 80 if he is still alive. He may not want to
emerge from his anonymity now. It seems a shame that with
all the excellent observers on the hat day, the case was
never fully investigated at the time.
recall submitting an article to Dennis Stacy of the MUFON
Journal on shapes sighted in Africa. He was quite excited
at the 'exotic' shapes that he anticipated, but of course
Africa, with a few exceptions, is no different from anywhere
else. So, the article never saw the light of day.
all this merely underlines my belief. The factor that
proves to me that UFOs exist, is that they are the same
the world over, and only when viewed in the context of
a particular country's culture, is there any difference