“Bent Headlights” Case- April 4, 1966, Burkes Flat, Victoria, Australia.       Proposed Testable Explanation


Jack Sliwa   Technologist   05/16/21


    This is perhaps one of the most interesting and perplexing UAP sightings and multiwitness interactions in recorded history. It has defied all explanations to date. The phenomena almost certainly caused the tragic death of a young male driver named Gary Taylor during the dark night on a lonely Australian rural highway. In summary a first surviving witness, a Mr. Ron Sullivan, was driving on an isolated dark road to a metal construction job for his own company. Ron had driven this route many times. In blackness, except for his headlights, he saw ahead and to the RHS what appeared to be a farm tractor working a farm field on a slope directly behind the road/field fence on his right hand side. The “tractor” was initially an extremely bright white light. Quickly Ron realized as he approached nearer the “tractor light” that it was actually a silent levitated object landing and it began emitting colored lights and formed a conical beam which met the ground on the slope. Ron noted that his headlight beams bent toward the brilliant object up to about 70 degrees (included angle between beams forming a Vee shape) as he passed closest by it. Ron reactively steered leftward to try and “correct” his path and very nearly ran into a tree which was next to the road on the left hand side directly opposite the UAP on the right hand side. As he went onward past the UAP the amount of headlight deflection again reduced to zero. The maximum headlight deflection was so large that his headlights were illuminating the barbed wire fence along the road on Ron’s RHS rather than the road actually ahead of Ron-even though his car was pointed ahead (before he jerked the steering to the left). Ron was confused and terrified and wasn’t sure what to do after his sighting. He realized he could have died if he had hit the tree. His headlights and car were in good working order after the event. However, something more subsequently happened to prompt Ron to make a local police report. That event was the hearing by Ron of a fatal car accident at the same exact UAP site 3 days after Ron’s own experience there involving the victim, Gary Taylor. In that event a young man, Mr. Gary Taylor, did indeed collide with the same tree and die-also in the dark of the night. Ron, probably correctly, figured that the dead witness/victim Mr. Taylor had been surprised by the same light phenomenon and ran into the tree when also trying to “correct” his path jerking his steering wheel to the left. It turned out that a ground depression was found and photographed where the UAP had been situated on the RHS slope close to but behind the wire fence. The ground depression was verified on-site as new by the farm owner living there as it was formed in very freshly plowed or harrowed earth.

          Without using names of investigators or organizations an Australian Scientist working for a National Nuclear Organization was utilized by a major UFO Australian organization to look into the case 12 years after the incident. He did not conclude a cause but did look at the fatal car-headlight for magnetic polarization of the fatal victims headlight. There was no net magnetic polarization in the fatal headlight reflector. I contacted this major UFO organization in Australia offering to copublish my suggested solution on both my website here and on that of the UFO organization in exchange for some details of the cars and headlights involved in the two events 3 days apart. I received no response from two separate persons in that organization named as contacts on their current updated website. I presume, giving them the benefit of the doubt, that they believe that a solution at this point is very unlikely. However, I intend to show a reasonable and testable solution is now at hand. My invitation remains if such testing occurs.


         I have included links to several websites which I kindly request the reader look at. These describe this exceptional case, describe Ron’s car or Ron’s car headlights. This material will bring the case into the present and will familiarize the reader with Ron, his car, the event site and Rons headlights. Two clues became apparent to me when I first took up this problem a couple of months back. First, the headlight lamps contained tungsten coiled filaments. Second the supposed second deflection leftward (simultaneous with the nearer rightward beam deflection) acted like a mirror and NOT like an optical refraction.


Reference Links to look at before reading the proposed solution:

1)  http://www.nicap.org/reports/660404_Bill_Chalker_UFORAN_article.pdf   This is the most detailed report written by the late and sorely missed Bill Chalker of Australia in1984. It appeared in the NICAP publications.

2)  http://theozfiles.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-1966-burkes-flat-bent-headlight.html    This is the late Bill. Chalkers website, one of the best UFO investigators ever who also did extensive study on Angel Hair as well as on the "Bent Headlight" case on this site.

3)  https://www.ufocasebook.com/2014/1966-australia-burkes-flat-ufo.html     This UFO Casebook story

     gives a short summary of the case and depicts the way the light looked while landing


4)  https://www.ranleys.com/vehicle/xp-falcon/   This web page shows a photo of the type of XP Ford Falcon Futura that Ron Sullivan drove. It was only produced in 1965/1966 so it was fairly new. The Futura photo is at the bottom of the webpage.

5)  https://www.facebook.com/closeencountersTV/photos/case-24-lights-out-burkes-flat-ron-sullivanmaryborough-australia-april-4-1966on-/1424299097812785   This Facebook public page shows a photo of the UAP caused ground impression

    I will split the explanation into two parts. The first part will explain the headlight beams bending or seeming to refract to the right. The second part will explain the apparent secondary symmetric "refraction" backward from the fence to form a VEE shaped light beam viewed from above. It will be realized that the explanation provided for the initial rightward deflection is the only one that can account for such a large rightward deflection angle. I strongly recommend that the reader look at Ron Sullivan's sketches of the light beams in the first reference above on page 20 (actually approx. the 4th page). It turns out refraction is not involved here in this case per the explanation.

The Explanation:

   A physical sciences oriented person will immediately think of looking at optical deflections (optical refraction) due to atmospheric density or atmospheric temperature gradients. Alternatively, gravity gradient deflection or diamagnetic/paramagnetic mechanical forces acting on the headlights can also be looked at. Although I will provide some data here on these in the appendix let me say that none of these are anywhere large enough by well more than an order of magnitude to cause the initial rightward beam deflection. Furthermore any such required huge density, temperature or gravity gradients driving atmospheric refraction theoretically caused by the UAP would result in huge damage to the immediate environment and the destruction of the driver, the car, the fence and the tree. We do know that Ron felt momentary paralysis as he drove past the UAP and that effect is very well established as. being felt by hundreds of UAP witnesses. That effect is likely caused by oscillating AC electrical and magnetic fields of moderate amplitude as has been suggested by numerous investigators before me-and I agree fully. We know what kinds of signals can cause such nervous system paralysis and indeed significant military research for "crowd control" has been done on this such as for microwave crowd control.

   The second above clue from Ron Sullivans sketches (Ref 1) makes it appear that the second leftward deflection is purely a symmetric reflection of the rightward going beams-thus forming a Vee shape viewed from above. In other words imagine a transmissive mirror of some modest reflective strength situated on the line connecting the UAP and the fatal tree. Such a weak mirror generally centered on that plane along the roadway and standing vertically would present what Ron saw as far as the leftward deflection portion-note that its not really a refraction caused by an optical index of refraction change but a weak reflection. However the leftward reflection explanation cannot explain the initial enabling rightward deflection. For this part of the problem I noted that Rons specific car had sealed-beam Lucas headlights (the first clue). Not many people know what the construction of a sealed beam headlight is nor why it involves a sealed bulb centered in a much much larger surrounding reflector or globe. This now be explained for completeness.

   The figure below is a drawing from US Patent 3,445,713 covering a sealed beam headlight construction similar to the headlights of the incident which were operating on the high-beam filaments. The first thing to say is that what is shown in the figure below is only the lamp portion comprising a glass envelope with one or more tungsten filaments surrounded by a halogen gas such as an iodine halogen or bromine halogen sealed-in by the glass lamp shown. The function of the halogen gas is that it causes a reaction between tungsten atoms undesirably emitted by the filament and the gas resulting in a tungsten-halogen cycle which beneficially redeposits emitted tungsten on the filament thereby lengthening the filament life at high brightness or driving current-usually DC current around 12 volts as for Rons headlights.

    It turns out that by a huge margin the largest force acting on the filament in the presence of the oscillating UAP electromagnetic (microwave likely) field is the very very well known Lorentz force. This is a force on moving charge carriers such as the electrons in the driven lamp filaments caused by the imposed UAP AC (or DC) electromagnetic field.Further the filament is a coil which itself amplifies its own magnetic field.Thus it is a localized very strong magnet. This Lorentz force and coil-magnet force is quite impressive and can actually injure a person holding such a filament near a strong magnet as the filament takes off like a rocket.

    Presuming the filament is not literally broken (as has happened in instrumentation near superconducting powerful laboratory magnets) it will severely bend and even curl itself up. It can also move axially along its coiled length. These distortions result in the filament location and shape being changed with respect to its nearby reflective surfaces. I stress that incandescent tungsten is still well within the elastic zone even when badly distorted-especially for a coiled shape. In the case of the below sealed beam lamp a first unavoidable reflective interface is at the glass lamp housing internal surface itself item 1. If the filament is approximately centered in the glass envelope 1 it isn't an issue but it rapidly becomes one when off-enter or when the filament has a distorted shape. Secondly NOT-SHOWN in the 1969 Patent figure below is the surrounding globe or reflector which is much bigger than the shown lamp item 3. The globe or shell (not shown) is typically a metallized internally reflective parabolic shell (again not shown) which directs the lamp rays ahead down the road.This is the headlight shell mapped for magnetic polarization by the Australian Scientist 12 years after the event. A photo purported to be that from Gary Taylors car is seen in Ref 2 above. It will certainly be appreciated that as the lamp emission becomes very nonuniform the illumination impinging on the surrounding parabolic shell (again not shown) is also cocked. It appears to me that for a DC (or AC) lamp and an AC electromagnetic excitation the filament would undergo severe vibration and likely net displacement. Typically such complex interactions are rather nonlinear and become destructively asymmetric as in resulting in a clamped distortion component while the field is applied. I note that experiments on nuclear-facility pressure-gauge filaments unrelated to this UAP phenomenon have demonstrated complete filament destruction.

     I secondly note that the leftward deflecting beam (simultaneous with the rightward deflection) acts exactly as a reflection of the right-going beam as if a mirror were in front of the moving car. It appears that the UAP field induces a reflective mechanism roughly centered on a plane containing the connecting line between the UAP and the tree. One strong candidate for this is limited fog condensation which would be partially reflective and strongest directly opposite the UAP. Rons high beams would allow a dispersed rather thin fog to do this. I note hundreds of UAP cases wherein witnesses felt cold because of the decompression of the air caused by the repulsive force field of the UAP-with frequent fog or water droplet formation. That force achieves appreciable cooling upon a very large volume of air however it isn't nearly as strong at the car location as the aforementioned Lorentz force upon the tungsten coil(s). So things are frequently not what they appear to be and just because a problem has long gone unsolved doesn't mean it will never be solved. I hope there is serious consideration by technical persons of this proposed explanation.

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1) Refractive Index of air versus temperature and humidity

Below is a table of the refractive index of air with temperature and pressure changes. First, note that a pressure of 100 KPa or kilopascal is approximately 1 Bar or 1 atmosphere or 14.7 psi. Inspection of the table reveals that the variation in refractive index is very very small in the third or fourth decimal place. This results in angular deviations measured in seconds or minutes or arc. These deviations are orders of magnitude smaller than what Ron Sullivan experienced. So reasonably presuming a UAP can cause a pressure, temperature or humidity change or drop, that drop, even if all the way to a vacuum, results in nil angular deviation of light through air. Only some astronomers utilize such corrections.

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2) Light deflection by magnetic or electric fields

Light comprises photons which carry no charge therefor they do not interact with electrical or magnetic fields in a vacuum or in air.

3) Light deflection by gravitational forces

The best illustration of this relatively tiny effect is gravitational lensing as predicted by Einstein. Wikipedia has an article on gravitational lensing here. Even a massive star thousands of times more massive than our own sun only deflects light on the order of seconds of arc. So gravitational deflection by the UAP (artificial gravity field) cannot cause the light deflections Ron Sullivan experienced.

4) Diamagmetic or paramagnetic forces acting on the tungsten headlight filaments.

I note that unlike weakly diamagnetic water, tungsten is more strongly paramagnetic meaning it will be attracted by a strong magnetic field. This attractive force is likely far smaller than the above.

Addendum of 05/30/21:  Consistent with the second light bending action I've realized that the fog droplets more likely formed around the UAP rather than in the road. Recall that grounded UAPs frequently form fog because of the reduction in air pressure due to their force fields. Given this, Ron would see little or no fog AND the approximately spherical fog body around the UAP would have reflected the right-going beams back leftward in the exact manner Ron observed. Note that this has no effect on the first rightward beam deflection which was proposed to be caused by the Lorentz forces on the headlight filaments off-centering the illumination in the headlight reflectors as explained. This can certainly be tested or modeled.