He has tried obtaining police and RAAF reports, but so far with little luck.
The story was covered then by Channel Nine, The Age and local newspapers. It was a low-flying, silver/grey shining object, either of classical flying saucer shape or close to it, "a cup turned upside down on a saucer".
The students were familiar with light aircraft because the schools were close to Moorabbin Airport.
A CANBERRA academic is investigating one of Australia's most compelling UFO mysteries, a sighting by hundreds of people in the Melbourne suburb of Westall on April 6, 1966.
More than 200 students and staff from two schools watched as the object landed in a nearby paddock, lifted off and vanished.
Shane Ryan, an English lecturer at the University of Canberra, is interviewing dozens of witnesses for a book he hopes to publish on the 40th anniversary of the sighting.
Mr Ryan, 38, was alerted to the events in the 1980s by a housemate who was there.
The object was in view for up to 20 minutes, and many saw it descend.
Most agree it landed behind pine trees at the Grange Reserve.
Dozens of students ran across what was then an open paddock to the reserve to investigate, but the object had lifted off and vanished. The UFO appears to have left a circle of scorched grass; others say several circles were left in paddocks bordering Grange Reserve.
Unlike most UFO sightings, the Westall object had a large number of credible witnesses.
It was viewed in daylight and attracted a forceful response from police and the RAAF.
"It had these rather interesting elements which indicated to me that, unlike some other so-called UFO stories, there was some substance to this," he told The Sunday Age.
"I knew the 40th anniversary was coming up next year, so I thought it was timely to do some research on it." Mr Ryan has interviewed about 30 witnesses, mostly former staff and students from the Westall secondary and primary schools.