The trouble with all of these stories is that their crash location matches the mistaken search locale published in 1965 in the local newspaper. This was first called to my attention by the 1965 Kecksburg Fire Chief, Edward Myers, and suggests that these stories were stimulated by this old newspaper clipping or the saucer enthusiasts.
On September 19, 1990, a highly dramatic version of the incident was first featured on NBC-TV’s “Unsolved Mysteries”. It reached an audience of tens of millions and has been repeatedly broadcast.5n
Five months before the program was filmed Drew Fleming, a representative of Cosgrove-Meurer Productions, the show’s Burbank, California, producers, telephoned astronomer Von Del Chamberlain about his 1967 scientific article on the meteor’s path. Chamberlain positively identified the fireball as a meteor, not a UFO, and followed with a March 7, 1990, letter. He emphasized that a great deal was known about this event which was like similar fireballs that occur frequently throughout the world. Chamberlain sent Fleming a copy of his article, which included photographs of the meteor cloud, and offered to provide any more information needed. The pictures and research by the astronomers were not mentioned on the program.
In late July 1990 a producer for the show interviewed local residents. Among these were five, including several property owners, who told her that the UFO crash tale was not true. Three agreed to appear on film. They say that they were never contacted when filming occurred. Also not mentioned on TV was a signed petition to the show’s producers from 46 eyewitnesses and property owners who said that they believed the official story that nothing happened. They received no response.
After the broadcast, more than 100 people called the TV program’s telephone “hotline” to report that they were also eyewitnesses. Most probably remembered the meteor in the air, the search, or the press accounts. One new witness’s account includes details added to the television show for dramatic effect, and cannot be taken seriously.
Others say that they saw the UFO in 1965 at Ohio Air Force bases.26 My investigation showed that these Ohio stories all bear resemblances to the 1950 hoax in the Scully book (see page 35 of this issue).
For example, one hotline caller claimed that he was a civilian truck driver who stumbled on the recovered UFO at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. He and his cousin, who at first denied being present but later supported the story, say that they were told that the object was a “spaceship” with “at least two bodies inside”.
They were told that all attempts to enter the craft using acetylene torches, a diamond head drill, and acid had failed. All records of the family business for which they worked, they said, had been destroyed in a fire, so they had no proof.
Several people who called reported seeing the object at Lockbourne Air Force Base, near Columbus. These stories closely match a 1954 hoax from the same city reprinted in several UFO books. Many of this story’s details seem to have been lifted, word to word, from the Scully book. Crash proponents have accepted all of these new witness claims, even though they may contradict each other.
Since I began my investigation of the Kecksburg “crash”, I have collected the accounts of more than 200 people who said that they were eyewitnesses. All but a tiny handful of these can be explained by the brilliant meteor in the sky over Ontario, the unsuccessful search for its debris, or the admitted flashing light prank in the woods.
About ten remaining Pennsylvania accounts would, if accurate, support a crash and recovery. However, they are from unknown or now dead people who never publicly made the claim in their lifetimes; people who are repeating the tale first told on the radio in 1979 or later on “Unsolved Mysteries”, and several who seem to be taking part in a hoax. For each and every one of these accounts, there are other people who say that they were also present at the same locations and that the crash and retrieval did not occur.
On April 21, 1992, I sent a copy of the 1967 Chamberlain and Krause article to UFO researcher Stan Gordon and asked for his reaction. He remains silent.
A photograph of the meteor cloud in the February 1966 Sky & Telescope is included in the USAF Blue Book file in the National Archives. Gordon says that he has been in possession of this file since 1985.5f
Investigators claiming a UFO or spacecraft crash have seldom revealed the existence of the Michigan photographs. Nor have they discussed the research published nearly 30 years ago showing that the object was a meteor which never came near Pennsylvania. People engaged in scientific research are expected to discuss all the available evidence
for or against a hypothesis. Those who claim to have seriously researched the December 9, 1965, event must account for these photographs. Instead, they continue to ignore their existence.
We can therefore conclude that it is the UFO investigators, not the Government, Kecksburg doubters or the Pennsylvania State Police who have been guilty of a deliberate, continuing cover-up of documents and photographs revealing the truth about the Kecksburg “UFO crash”.
On October 9, 1992, a fireball was seen over New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The meteorite dropped a 27-pound chunk which struck a car at Peekskill, New York. It was a Friday night and tens of thousands attending local football games saw the meteor.
Hundreds of residents from the Kecksburg area were in the bleachers of the Mt. Pleasant Area High School stadium. Many remarked that they now understood how a meteor could have created the 1965 UFO accounts.
On the following Sunday four local men asked the second witness to the UFO in the woods to go to the crash site. They were all longtime acquaintances; some had gone to school with the witness. The four had always been doubters about the UFO story and pointed out that it seemed impossible for a large truck to negotiate the steep ravine at the crash site. When asked what he would tell people if it was shown that the story was a hoax, the second witness told his friends that he would say that he just told the story to get on television.
In January 1994 a rumor began to circulate of a UFO crash in Central New York State. According to one published version, people who lived near a heavily wooded area between Fabius and Pompey, southeast of Syracuse, reported that an object had cleared a path through trees as it landed. An increase in aircraft activity and military trucks in the area was reported. One source speculated that there must be a “cover-up” because there were no reports of plane crashes or meteors.
The similarities of the claims to the Kecksburg incident, then being featured repeatedly on “Unsolved Mysteries”, intrigued me. The story involved a wooded area, trees knocked down by an impacting object, military trucks, mysterious aircraft, and rumors of a cover-up.
I contacted seven UFO investigators from the Mutual UFO Network and the Center for UFO Studies, the two largest American UFO groups. Three investigators from New York State reported that they had also heard rumors or received reports. One said that there were several reported “landings” in the area, but he had no details.
One MUFON investigator, Rosemary Riggal, thought it might be important that a highly visible meteor, which had to be of “tremendous size”, had been reported about the time of the crash. Dana M. Schmidt, the assistant state director for MUFON, also suggested a connection. I believe Riggal and Schmidt are absolutely correct in drawing a connection between the reports, but I believe the meteor was most likely the October 9, 1993, event, which received wide publicity.
More UFO crash rumors based upon the televised Kecksburg hoax can be expected.
There are always people who like to tell a good yarn, or who seek the limelight.
Some UFO investigators will be able to distinguish between rumor and fact. Others, convinced that they are on the trail of an exciting mystery, may spend years chasing “witnesses” and engaging in searches for once-secret Government documents. Perhaps it is just the thrill of the search, itself, that interests them.
Folktales are traditional stories or beliefs which are not necessarily true, but which are told or retold by a people. UFO enthusiasts who are unaware of the folklore tradition
which began nearly 50 years ago with the tale told to Frank Scully by “Dr. Gee” will continue to be fooled by UFO “crash” stories.
Before we accept claims about a subject as important as extraterrestrial visitors, we should be sure to ask ourselves if the evidence, and not just the stories, support the claims being made.
Notes and references
1. Scully, Frank, 1950. Behind the Flying Saucers, New York: Henry Holt.
2. Cahn, J. P., 1951. “The Flying Saucers and the Mysterious
Little Men”, True, September.
3. Peebles, Curtis, 1994. WATCH THE SKIES! A Chronicle
of the Flying Saucer Myth, Washington: Smithsonian
Institution Press, p. 325.
4. Gelatt, Roland, 1952. “Flying Saucer hoax”, Saturday
Review, Dec. 6.
5a. Cameron, Grant and T. Scott Crain, Jr., 1991. UFOs, MJ-12 and the Government, Seguin, TX: Mutual
5b. Edwards, Frank, 1966. Flying saucers - serious business, New York: Lyle Stuart, pp. 127-128.
5c. “Evening Magazine”, 1990. WTAE-TV, Pittsburgh, Pa. Sept. 17.
5d. Gordon, Stan, 1987. The Military UFO Retrieval
at Kecksburg, Pennsylvania, Pursuit (Journal of the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained), #174, last quarter.
5e._______, 1989. Kecksburg UFO Crash, MUFON UFO Journal, #257, Sept.
5f._______, 1989. Kecksburg Crash Update, MUFON UFO Journal, #258, Oct.
5g._______, 1990. After 25 Years, New Facts on the Kecksburg, Pa. UFO Retrieval are Revealed, PASU Data Exchange, #15, Dec., p. 1.
5h. _______, 1991a. The Kecksburg UFO Crash: An Interim Report, MUFON UFO Journal, No. 274, Feb., pp. 3-5.
5i. Randle, Kevin D., 1994a. The Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell, New York: M. Evans and Company,
Inc., pp. 98-99.
5j. _______,1995. A History of UFO Crashes, New York: Avon, pp. 95-120.
5k. Randles, Genny, 1995. UFO Retrievals, The Recovery
of Alien Spacecraft, London: Blandford, pp. 102-108.
5l. Sanderson, Ivan T., 1965. “The Abominable Space Thing”, submitted to the North American Newspaper
Alliance and published by several newspapers and as “’Something’ Landed in Pennsylvania” in Fate, March 1966, pp. 33-35.
5m. “Sightings”, 1992. Fox TV Network, Oct. 9. Rebroadcast
5n. “Unsolved Mysteries”, 1990. NBC-TV, Sept. 19. Repeated Feb. 27,1991, and at least once yearly during
1992, 1993, 1994, 1995.
5o. “The Montell Williams Show”, 1993. December 27.
5p. Saucer News, 1966. Cites press reports, Vol 13, No. 1, March.
6. Young, Robert R., 1991. “Old-Solved Mysteries”: What really happened at Kecksburg, Pa., on December
9, 1965, report by the author.
7a. Chamberlain, Von Del, 1968. Meteorites of Michigan,
Geological Survey Bulletin 5, East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan Department of Conservation, Geological Survey Division, pp. 1-5.
7b. Chamberlain, Von Del, and David J. Krause, 1967. The Fireball of December 9, 1965 - Part I, Royal Astronomical
Society of Canada Journal, Vol. 61, No. 4.
8. Gatty, Bob, 1965. Unidentified Flying Object Report Touches Off Probe Near Kecksburg, The Tribune-
Review (Greensburg, Pa.), City Edition, Dec. 10, p. 1.
9a. Mazza, Mable, WHJB-radio, 1995. 30th Anniversary
broadcast with Joe Gearing as host. Included rebroadcast of 1965 news department special report,
“The Object in the Woods”,November 28.
9b. United States Air Force (USAF), 1965-6. Files of Project Blue Book, Dec. 9-10 and later. National Archives, Washington, D.C. The author is grateful to Kevin D. Randle and Philip J. Klass for 26 pages and one photograph.
10. Edwards, Frank, 1965. “Mike Levin Show”, KDKA-radio, Pittsburgh, Pa., Dec. 9.
11. _______, 1966. Flying saucers - serious business, New York: Lyle Stuart, pp. 127-128.
12. _______, 1967. Flying Saucers - Here and now!, New York: Bantam, p. 117.
13. Letter in Robert R. Young files.
14. United Press International (UPI), 1965a. Wire copy quotes an unnamed spokesman for the USAF 662 Radar Squadron, Dec. 9, (time unknown).
15. The Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.), 1965a. “Unidentified Flying Object” Falls Near Kecksburg, (early) County Edition, Dec. 10,p.1.
16a. The Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.), 1965. Searchers fail to find ‘object’, City Edition, Dec. 10,
16b. _______, 1965. Flying Saucers, Again -, editorial,
Dec. 11, p. 8.
17. McClelland, Clark, and Leonard H. Stringfield, 1980. Jan. 17, 1980, report and footnote in The UFO Crash/Retrieval Syndrome Status Report II Ed. by Leonard H. Stringfield, Seguin, TX: MutualUFO
Network, pp. 19-20.
18. Lester, Dave, 1985. Kecksburg’s UFO Mystery Unsolved, The Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa), Dec. 8, p. 1.
19. Santus, Sharon, 1990. 1965 Kecksburg UFO case will resurface on TV show, The Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.), Aug. 26, pp. 1, A5.
20. Opatka, Kim, 1989. Kecksburg Crash Controversial, The Latrobe (Pa.) Bulletin, May 6.
21. The Latrobe (Pa.) Bulletin, 1990. Was It Really a UFO? Reprints article of May 6, 1989, Aug. 2, pp. 1 and 6.
22. The Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.), 1965a. “Unidentified Flying Object” Falls Near Kecksburg, (early) County Edition, Dec. 10, p. 1.
23. Feb. 20, 1992 letter in Robert R. Young files.
24. Spitznogle, Jonna, 1990. Some Kecksburg Residents
Won’t Be Watching UFO Show, The Latrobe (Pa.) Bulletin, Sept. 13, p. 1.
25. Darby, David, 1990. ‘Hatfields, McCoys’ view UFO show, The Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.), Sept. 20, p. 1.
26. Santus, Sharon, 1990. Kecksburg UFO Seen at A.F. Bases, The Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.), Dec. 9, pp. A1, A10.
27. Gordon, Stan, Crash/Retrievals - The search for evidence in a hall of mirrors - Status Report VII, Cincinnati,
Oh: Edited by Leonard Stringfield, Feb., pp. 42-49.
28. Young, Robert R., 1993. “The Kecksburg UFO Crash ‘Columbus Connection’: Recovery of a 40-year old flying saucer hoax?”, unpublished report by the author, Nov. 3.
29. di Cicco, Dennis, 1993. “New York’s Cosmic Car Conker”, Sky & Telescope, Feb., p. 26.
30. Telephone interviews with participants.
31a. Fontana, Tod, 1994. Letter, INFO Journal, International
Fortean Organization, Jan., p. 5.
31b. _______, April 10, 1995, letter.
32. Dills, Charles, May 5, 1995, letter.
33. Riggall, Rosemary, April 21, 1995, letter.
34. Schmidt, Dana M., April 30, 1995, letter.
35. United States Air Force (USAF), 1962. Air Force Regulation No. 200-2, Unidentified Flying Objects Washington, D.C.: Department of the Air Force, 20 July.
The Cosmos 96 connection
In 1980, Clark McClelland was the first to suggest that Cosmos 96 might be the source of the Kecksburg crash. There seemed to be little follow-up on this until 1989, when Stan Gordon stated that he had information that Cosmos-96 had come down earlier that day in a different location.
That seemed to settle the Cosmos-96 idea but in 1993, skeptic James Oberg picked up the idea that it still could have been the capsule from Cosmos-96. In his article for Omni magazine, Oberg notes that the orbital data did not support it but also noted there may have been different segments of Cosmos-96 that had come down:
The released tracking data couldn’t be positively identified with specific pieces of the failed probe. It could have been the jettisoned rocket stage or a large piece of space junk. The probe itself could have been headed off toward Kecksburg. 1
The implication was that the capsule may have come to earth at a later time. Oberg also suggested that it could have been a ruse by the United States so the Soviets did not know we had recovered some of their spacecraft. The data could have been faulty or the it could have been altered as a form of cover-up. The reasons were obvious according to Oberg:
In the 1960s, U.S military intelligence agencies interested in enemy technology were eagerly collecting all the Soviet missile and space debris they could find. International law required that debris be returned to the country of origin. But hardware from Kosmos-96, with its special missile-warhead shielding, would have been too valuable to give back. 2
Needless to say, Oberg’s suggestion was dismissed because the USAF data pointed towards a return to earth twelve hours before. Some of those people who want to accept this data also reject the information that the USAF recovered nothing that evening at Kecksburg. This is a good example of saucer logic:
The USAF/NASA lie about UFO reports and recoveries
The USAF/NASA do not lie about 2. their orbital data when it eliminates a conventional explanation.
Since conspiracies expect the government to lie, why do they suddenly feel that the government is telling the truth in this case? This was the argument put forth by Oberg. This Cosmos-96 connection stayed pretty much in limbo until the late 1990’s when more data was released regarding the orbital elements.
In December of 1998, James Easton released his Pulsar Newsletter No. 2. In it he described his research into the Cosmos-96 connection. Most importantly, James reported the following exchange between himself and Dr. David Williams of the National Space science data center:
I wrote to Dr. David Williams, the mission’s contact at the National Space Science Data Center and asked if he might be able to shed any further light on a possible connection with the Kecksburg events. Dr. Willliams was most helpful and replied, “Unfortunately we don’t have much information on the Cosmos 96 mission here at the data center, but I have at least something
I can add to our record... According to the ‘Handbook of Soviet Lunar and Planetary Exploration’ by N.L. Johnson, the Cosmos 96 may have exploded during
an orbital restart into 8 large pieces which entered the atmosphere around December 9. There is apparently information on this in Science News of 22 July 1967 and ‘Soviet Space Exploration, the first decade’ by W. Shelton (1968, p. 231)”...”I still haven’t found much on Cosmos 96, even after contacting the U.S. Space Command, but I’ve put a mention of the Kecksburg incident in the record at: http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/database/www-nmc?65-094A (note: this is now found at http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/database/MasterCatalog?sc=1965-094A)’
This mission was intended as a Venus lander, presumably similar in design to the Venera 3 which had launched a week earlier. The spacecraft attained Earth orbit and the main rocket body (65-094B) separated from the orbiting launch platform. It is believed an explosion (perhaps during ignition for insertion of the spacecraft into a Venus transfer orbit) damaged the platform, resulting in at least six additional fragments (designated 65-094C - H). The damaged spacecraft remained in orbit for 16 days and reentered the Earth’s atmosphere on 9 December 1965. There is some speculation that the reentry of the Cosmos 96/Venera-type spacecraft was responsible for a fireball which was seen over southwestern Ontario, Canada and nine states from Michigan to New York and purported to have subsequently landed in Pennsylvania southeast of Pittsburgh near the town of Kecksburg (40.2 N, 79.5 W) on 9 December 1965 at 4:46 p.m. EST local time (21:46 UT). Uncertainties in the orbital information and reentry coordinates and time make it difficult to determine if this could have been the Cosmos 96 spacecraft”. 3
Easton also exchanged information with James Oberg. At the time, Oberg continued to point out that part of Cosmos-96 could have been responsible for the Kecksburg
The Soyuz-1 impact was at about 300-400 mph but the most damage was the explosion of the soft-landing engine post-impact. A Kosmos-96 type vehicle would have impacted somewhat slower because it would have been smaller. But orbital elements released by NORAD showed that at the time of the reported impact, K-96 was not passing anywhere near Kecksburg.
The only way to reconcile the tracking data is to:
Either assume the tracking data was 1. generated as camouflage for the true flight path which crossed PA at the right time, or Assume there were other fragments in 2. higher orbits (quite plausible considering how the vehicle originally exploded weeks earlier) that underwent different orbital evolution before decaying at the “matching” time of day and location.4
This argument began to fail simply because there was no evidence that an actual recovery had occurred and nothing could be found to suggest that the capsule had come down in Pennsylvania.
By 2003, it became apparent to Oberg that the Cosmos-96 connection was unlikely but had not been completely eliminated.
Oberg still maintains that Cosmos-96 could still have something to do with the events in question but he now felt the meteor explanation was most likely:
I will not _mislead_ anyone by arguing that _I_ happen to want people to believe that the Kosmos-96 prosaic explanation is credible and consistent with all trustworthy evidence. The least unlikely explanation in my view is that the natural fireball meteor - and it was so well observed and recorded that it looks exactly like thousands
of other natural bolides and it’s pre-impact trajectory could be computed and found to be ‘natural-meteoroid-like’ - led to somebody’s suspicion that it was connected
with the imminent entry of a very high-priority space object (Kosmos-96) so when the meteor was seen and reported, some low-level DoD pawns drove over to nose around. 5
Based on what Dr. Craig wrote about Bluebook and its interest in re-entering space debris, this was probably the reason the AF personnel from Oakdale were sent.
While most skeptics agreed in 2003 that Cosmos-96 was unlikely, Leslie Kean decided to make sure that she was given credit for shooting down the Kecksburg-Cosmos-96 connection. In her article about Kecksburg in the International UFO Reporter, she declared she had conducted several “decisive” interviews with NASA experts and they concluded what most people already knew. That being that Cosmos-96 did not come down at Kecksburg.
While Cosmos-96 was an interesting possibility regarding Kecksburg, it was untenable. It was only a coincidence that it came down to earth on the same day as the “Kecksburg UFO crash” incident.
Moondust and Lt. Paquette
In his book, A history of UFO crashes, Kevin Randle mentioned a message from the project blue book files where a Lt. Stephen Paquette of New Hampton, Massachusetts is told he was going to be part of the search team. Paquette was quoted as stating, “From what I’ve heard, the Air Force Department in Washington is supposed to release something in the morning”.1 Randle suggests that Lt. Paquette might have specialized training if he was in Massachusetts and was “alerted” for the event:
There is no evidence that Paquette ever traveled to Pennsylvania, and it seems unlikely than an officer in Massachusetts would be ordered in, unless he was part of a special unit or had some sort of special training or expertise. That seems to be the case here. 2
This all ties into government project called “Moondust”, which was supposed to retrieve objects from space that were of unknown or foreign (i.e. Soviet) origin.
Randle implies that Lt. Paquette may have been part of this project.
Intrigued by this, I wanted to see the document myself. However, after searching the Blue Book Archive and Fold3’s Bluebook pages, I could not find the document.
However, I did find several that mentioned a Lt. Stephen Paquette investigating UFO cases for the 662nd radar squadron at Oakdale in 1965 and 1966. The coincidence of the name and locationmade me think this was the same person.
With no luck on trying to figure things out, I contacted Mr. Randle asking if he might clarify the situation. He answered that the document was in a CUFOS file on Kecksburg, which included project blue documents and sent me a copy. What it appears to be is a news wire teletype printout and the two sentences state:
Air Force Lt. Stephen Paquette, of North Hampton, Mass, said he had been order to participate in the search. “From what I’ve heard, the Air Force Department in Washington
is supposed to release something in the morning,” he said.3
Randle had made a minor error in calling it New Hampton in his book, which also led to some confusion (there is a New Hampton in NH but not Massachusetts). When I had pointed out to him the documents that mentioned Lt. Paquette, he seemed to agree that the statement may have been an interview with Lt. Paquette who was FROM Northampton, Massachusetts and not actually IN Northampton, Massachusetts. Kevin Randle would follow up with a blog entry describing the revelations. He would concede that there was little chance of Paquette being some specialist, who would be called in to recover crashed space debris.
In the Blue Book Memo for the record, we see the following4:
This might have been Lt. Paquette or where Lt. Paquette got his information about an upcoming press release in the morning. Somebody in the media contacted
the UFO or public information officer for the 662nd radar squadron, once they learned that members of that unit had been sent there. When contacted by the media, Lt. Paquette gave a standard response.
Being involved in UFO investigations, it seems likely that Lt. Paquette would be told to be “on call” in case there really was a UFO that had come down in Kecksburg. However, the speculation that he was involved in “Moondust” is just not valid.
Notes and References
Randle, Kevin. 1. A history of UFO crashes. New York: Avon Books, 1995. p. 106
Randle, Kevin. 3. CUFOS files on Kecksburg.
E-mail attachment to author. 22 September 2011.
The story they don’t want you to see
The Coalition for the freedom of information (CFI) web site gives you a link to several pdf files showing news clippings from the Greensburg Tribune-Review.
These articles supposedly prove that a UFO crashed at Kecksburg. Headlines like “Army ropes off area” and “Resident tells of mysterious incident” sound like it was a night of hunting down crashed acorns. However, this isn’t the whole truth because one of the articles is selectively edited out. In the image above, the larger headline on the right side was cropped off. The apparent reason is to prevent the uninformed reader from seeing evidence that indicates nothing was ever found.
The full article is to the right and it paints a completely different story than the one told by CFI. In this light, it demonstrates that an organization using the term “freedom of information” is nothing but a bunch of hypocritical UFO proponents more interested in promoting themselves than promoting a real search for the truth.
Quelle: SUNlite 6/2011