Victorian UFO Action group
Victorian UFO Action members (from left) - Investigator Ivan Rigoni, Director Ben Hurle and Founder Andrew ArnoldVUFOA

An Australian group of UFO hunters has introduced in-house training and an examination, to ensure that its members know how to deal with the public properly, but the exam will not be added to the TAFE curriculum in the near future, as reported by the Australian media

"Our first test was held on Sunday but its still in its infancy," Ivan Rigoni, Victorian UFO Action's (VUFOA's) investigations case coordinator tells IBTimes UK.

"The test touches on preliminary research and investigation. It's an educational tool to help our investigators realise the difference between natural phenomena like meteors, stars, the lunar cycle, ball lightning and cloud formations, as opposed to man-made phenomena like weather balloons, aircraft and drones.

"The test also touches on how to write a report; how to conduct yourself with a witness, what questions to ask; and how to determine whether someone might be hoaxing or if it's a misidentified object."

Their training manual is two inches thick and the group hopes to eventually be able to offer advanced investigation training to their members. However, while they wouldn't rule out making their qualification a formal one, it's not the most important thing.

Unidentified, not extra-terrestrial

VUFOA was started in 2008 by Andrew Arnold, a keen documentary maker who continues to document the group's cases in YouTube videos.

Anyone can join VUFOA – they just have to have a genuine interest in UFOs, pass the in-house test, and make an efffort to attend weekly meetings.

The group's main activities consist of investigating UFO sightings in Victoria, as well as researching and collating data on UFOs in a database and manning a 24-hour hotline for the public. 

The 15-member strong team includes investigators, a disclosure document specialist with access to 240,000 previously classified documents from different countries, and a qualified in-house hypnotherapist, who is available to counsel citizens who claim to have been abducted by aliens.

However the group makes a clear distinction to demonstrate that it operates from a position of science.

"UFO stands for unidentified flying object, we don't perceive it as being extra-terrestrials," explains Rigoni.

"We like tangible evidence that can be qualified and quantified. We tend to stay away from alien abduction. It's foolish to assume we're alone in the universe and we all presume [extra-terrestrials exist], but I've never seen or touched ET or an alien space ship."

The group investigates about 150 cases a year of reported sightings of UFOs, and the hotline is most busy during winter and summer.

Often, people will call VUFOA claiming to see lights in the sky during the summer, says Rigoni.

However, these sightings are usually confused with the planet Venus, which is visible low in the sky, and as the Earth rotates, appears to move over half hour-to-hourly intervals.

Unsolved cases

Besides investigating new sightings, the group also looks into infamous UFO cold cases that have puzzled Australians for decades.

One of the cases they recently looked into was the Burkes Flat case, which is one of the most famous UFO incidents in Victoria's history.

Two men experienced a UFO encounter on two separate nights in 1966 in the same location. The first, Ron Sullivan, saw coloured floating lights in a field by the road. He also saw his car headlights bend off to the right, causing him to almost drive straight into a tree.

The Albanvale UFO, recorded on video last year by Ivan Rigoni
The Albanvale UFO, recorded on video last year by Ivan RigoniVUFOA

Unfortunately, the same thing is believed to have happened to another man, Gary Taylor, who was killed in a car accident when his car collided with the same tree two nights later.

When police investigated Sullivan's report, they found a shallow depression in the ground exactly where Sullivan saw the coloured lights.

Each member of VUFOA has seen an unidentified flying object and continues to search for answers, including Rigoni, who recorded seven minutes of footage last year of a strange floating object in Albanvale. 

"Through history, the [Australian] government and authorities have willingly and knowingly hidden possible cases and occurrences to which they have no answer for," he says.

"I think that the perception of UFOs [in Australia] is changing. They're more accepting of it now. There are a lot of cases out there that don't get reported, but it's definitely getting bigger."