September 13, 1961 - Crawfordsville, Indiana
September 13, 1961--Crawfordsville, Indiana. 4:00 a.m. Three people reported a round, orange UFO which moved rapidly east to west, stopped and hovered for 5 minutes, then accelerated rapidly disappearing in the distance. [XII]1
Section XII offers little in the way of additional information. It does not even list a reference.2 I tried to locate the origin of the information for this sighting but could not find anything in the newspaper archive, Loren Gross’ history or at the various UFO Internet sites. If there is a source, It seems it was either a written letter or an obscure newspaper article. Despite this limitation, there seems to be a possible explanation.
Blue Book file
Fortunately Project Blue Book has a case file for this date and approximate time. They list multiple sightings on the east coast and in the Midwest. Some of the furthest west were3:
- Fletcher, Ohio (north of Dayton): Object observed in the eastern sky with estimated elevation of 10 degrees. Seen at 4:30 EST.
- Cincinnati, Ohio. Seen near “morning star” (Probably Venus at azimuth 78 degrees and 10 degrees elevation). Seen at 4:35 AM.
- Between Joliet and Goshen. Five civil jets at 9:36 GMT saw rocket appearance with explosion at end.
The time indicates 4:30-4:35 AM. This is close enough to the unsourced sighting of 4AM in Crawfordsville, Indiana to be the same event.
Blue Book properly evaluated this as a Aeronomy mission rocket launch from Wallops Island.4 According to the media, it sparked numerous calls from hundreds of miles away.5 Crawfordsville is about 650 miles from Wallops Island. With an altitude of 205 miles, the release could be visible from Crawfordsville.
The only question has to do with the description stating it went from east to west. Perhaps what the witnesses were describing that it was seen in the east and then rose in a westward direction. Without the documentation, it is hard to say exactly what they meant by that description. In my opinion, I chalk this part of the description as up to misperception/misinterpretation. The point is that there was a known object visible around the time of the reported observation and is the probable source for the sighting.
It is too bad that the UFO evidence did not cite a reference for the information about the sighting. I have to assume it is somewhere in the NICAP files. Despite this lack of documentation, the likely source of the sighting was the Aeronomy mission.
Quelle: SUNlite 5/2021