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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1999 > Jan > Jan 4

Re: 33 Years Ago Today: The Kecksburg, PA UFO Crash

From: Bob Young <YoungBob2@aol.com>
Date: Mon, 4 Jan 1999 14:44:12 EST
Fwd Date: Mon, 04 Jan 1999 18:46:54 -0500
Subject: Re: 33 Years Ago Today: The Kecksburg, PA UFO Crash

>From: Stan Gordon <paufo@westol.com>
>Date: Wed, 9 Dec 1998 12:22:57 -0500
>Fwd Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1998 01:20:30 -0500
>Subject: 33 Years Ago Today: The Kecksburg, PA UFO Crash


>It was 33 years ago today that an event occurred about 40 miles
>from Pittsburgh in a rural area of western Pennsylvania, that
>even now remains controversial for some, and mysterious to
>others. At the time many people saw a brilliant object moving
>across the sky.

The fireball was seen by thousands of people in ten states and
Ontario. In a review of published 1965 accounts I found reports
that it had crashed, landed or dropped fragments in at least 17
places in six states and the province. Claims like this are
typical for fireballs caused by meteors or returning space
debris, particularly near the outer edges of the observing area
where the object is seen near the horizon. Searches were
conducted in at least five places, but no proven debris of the
fireball was ever found.

More is known about this fireball than most other objects of its
kind because, by good fortune, within seconds two widely spaced
Michigan photographers independently took pictures of the cloud
train it had left in the sky. 

One of these color photos was published on the cover of the
January 16, 1966, Detroit News Sunday Supplement and another in
the February 1966 issue of Sky & Telescope magazine.

A copy of the later article and picture is part of the Project
Blue Book incident file in the National Archives, as well as
correspondence with the photographer.

Stan Gordon reported (MUFON UFO Journal, October 1989) that he
has been in possession of this file since 1985, yet curiously
has never mentioned the picture.

Michigan State University astronomers Von Del Chamberlain and
David J. Krause used the pictures, more than 100 eyewitness
reports and a seismometer recording of the sonic boom made at
the University of Michigan's Geophysics Laboratory at Ypsilanti
to determine the object's path in the atmosphere. They estimated
its speed at about 14.5 kilometers per second. This is well
within the speed of meteors entering the Earth's atmosphere and
is about twice as fast as returning man-made objects in low

Using the pictures and seismic recording for triangulation, they
found that the object fell steeply over southwestern Ontario as
it moved toward the northeast (not toward Pennsylvania). It fell
too steeply to be reentering low orbit debris, such as the
Soviet Cosmos 96, which is often mentioned in connection with
the incident. This failed Venus probe was in a nearly circular
orbit. This and the fact than the satellite reentered some
thirteen hours before the Kecksburg incident means that Cosmos
96 is out as an explanation. This conclusion was also reached in
the 1967 Sky & Telescope article, a fact which has never been
revealed by Gordon or his associates, who have promoted their
exciting Cosmos 96 connection for thirteen years.

The Michigan astronomers found that a possible orbit took the
object out to between Mars and Jupiter, in the asteroid belt,
where many bright meteors originate. An article was submitted
and published in the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada
Journal (Vol. 61, no.4, 1967). Another article by Chamberlain
was published in Meteorites of Michigan, Bulletin 5, Geological
Survey of Michigan, 1968.

On April 21, 1992, I sent a copy of the Chamberlain and Krause
article to Stan Gordon and asked for his comments. Six and a
half years have passed but he has never responded. Gordon has
never discussed this hard data and research, nor has he even
publicly revealed its existence or the discussed the
implications of the Michigan photographs in his many articles,
press releases, interviews or in the video he is now selling
promoting this incident as a mysterious crash and recovery.


>The news media focused on a young boy, who while playing outside,
>said he saw an object fall from the sky into some nearby woods.

I plotted the fireball's train on a topographic map (Lake Erie,
NK-17, United States Geologic Survey, 1974) and compared it to
the direction in which this first Acme, Pa., witness and his
mother were looking; the direction they went to search in a
neighboring field, the cloud direction that they pointed out
later to the State Police, and the direction of the subsequent
search by the police. I then plotted these witness directions of
sight on a local topographic map (Mammoth Quadrangle, Pa, 7.5
Minute Series, USGS, 1967, photorevised 1979). I found that
these first key Acme, Pa., witnesses were looking directly
toward the Ontario fireball cloud, hanging low in the western

>Coincidentally, author Frank Edwards, who had written some
>popular books on UFO's, was a guest on a KDKA radio talk show in
>Pittsburgh that evening, hosted by the late Mike Levine.

Frank Edwards' role in this saucer crash myth is certainly no
coincidence. Gordon, though, has apparently just tossed in this
non-sequiter to trick readers into believing that he has
conducted a serious investigation of the incident, and that his
conclusions are logically based upon what he found. It is
interesting that Gordon never reveals the significance of
Edwards' involvement, which was first noted by me in a 1990
report of my investigation into the Kecksburg claims.

Edwards recounted a few months later in Behind The Flying
Saucers (1966) that he and Levin had taken many calls about the
fireball that night and that he had concluded that the object
had probably been a meteor.  However, in this best seller (it
was the first saucer book to sell a million copies) Edwards said
that he thought there might be more to the story, that the
Government might be hiding something. He based this largely on
an article by researcher Ivan Sanderson written for the North
American Newspaper Alliance which was carried widely and
reprinted in FATE.

Sanderson's piece (my thanks to Mark Rodeghier, who found an
original carbon copy in the old NICAP files at CUFOS) was dated
three days after the event, and was based only upon wire service
stories and calls to police information desks. Apparently he
spoke to no eyewitnesses. He grossly miscalculated,
underestimating by a factor of 60, what he thought was the speed
of the object, and mixing together time estimates given by
witnesses in different places. Chamberlain and Krause obtained
their speed estimates from the estimates of the photographers as
to how long the fireball was visible and compared this to the
known triangulated length of the cloud.

Sanderson then assumed, after selective use of reports from some
locations but not others, that because the widely visible
fireball was seen someplace, that it must have been there.
Because of this error, he concluded that it had exhibited a
change of motion. Then he misplotted the fireball's direction of
flight during this supposed maneuver on a hand-drawn map he used
with his article. This erroneous change of direction, quoted for
years by Gordon who seems never checked the directions on a real
map, would have the object passing no closer than 16 miles to
the south of Kecksburg.

Crash proponents, desperate to blend conflicting stories into one
saleable tale, have since embraced any new witnesses who say that
the object maneuvered all around town before coming down.

Can Stan Gordon or other proponents of a reentry offer one single
reputable citation to show that the Soviet Union, the U.S., or any
other nation of Earth for that matter, possessed such a maneuverable
space vehicle in 1965?

Incidentally, both Edwards and Sanderson evidently had second
thoughts about the incident, since neither mentioned it in subsequent
books in which they listed what they said were UFO debris which
had reached the Earth.

Also, no prominent ufologists of the period included the
December 9, 1965, event among lists of important incidents they
provided to a Congressional Committee. This included Allen
Hynek, who was sent a copy of a picture and report by one of the
Michigan photographers. It is possible that the Air Force's
meteor explanation may have been his. The major civilian groups
at the time also exhibited little interest. The fireball was
listed as a bolide (exploding meteor) in NICAP files (there was
an active Pittsburgh chapter) and Coral Lorenzen never mentioned
it in a chapter entitled, 1965 - the Big Year, in a later book.

>During my years of investigation into the matter, other witnesses
>who saw the object go down into the woods that day have been

Gordon should have said "other claimed witnesses". They began
surfacing decades later each time the incident was publicized by
UFO researchers. For example, the first man to tell a recovery
story said that he had been the 1965 Kecksburg fire chief and
had witnessed the armed military recovery operation. He surfaced
in 1979 and told this story for ten years. He was not the 1965
fire chief and wasn't even present until most of the excitement
was over. The day after filming was completed for the dramatic,
1990 Unsolved Mysteries segment, Gordon, who assisted with the
program, called the real 1965 Kecksburg fire chief, Edward
Myers, and admitted that even though he had been investigating
Kecksburg for 25 years, they had gotten the wrong fire chief.
Gordon has claimed that this central figure's long interview had
to be cut from the program because of time, not because the man
admitted to UM producers that he had made up his story and that
he wasn't even there when the events portrayed on the program
allegedly happened.

The next key figure in the development of the crash myth was a
man who came out of the crowd at a 1987 UFO Week mall display
where Gordon and his associates were talking about the 1965
incident and showing off old newspaper clippings. This character
was the first to claim to have seen an acorn-shaped, object,
itself, in the woods with its Egyptian-style hieroglyphics. This
man's tale of an armed military occupation of spots in the area
and machinegun-mounted jeeps escorting a mysterious convoy
carrying an object not of this world is right out of crash
folklore going back to Frank Scully's 1950 blockbuster, Behind
The Flying Saucers. Not one of the many reporters from TV, radio
and newspapers present in 1965 reported such frightening

The comical thing about all of this is that until recently the
only specific location ever published for the crash was given in
a 1965 newspaper article often cited by crash promoters. But it
had events in the wrong gully, =BD mile away from the actual
search on a different farm 1-mile from Kecksburg. This erroneous
location was given by this new witness and others who followed,
and Gordon and his friends were bamboozled into concluding that
since this was also where they thought things had occurred, this
new witness had confirmed their own research. Local residents
and neighbors I've spoken to just howl with laughter at this,
which they say is how they can tell if so-called witnesses were
actually participants in the events of 1965.

I have collected and examined the accounts of more than 200
claimed Pennsylvania eyewitnesses to the Dec. 9, 1965, events.
All but a tiny handful, and _all original _ published and
broadcast 1965 accounts, can be explained by the Ontario meteor,
three unsuccessful searches for its debris, and by an admitted
prank by teenagers who ran through the woods flashing a camera
strobe, causing reports of blue lights (I have a long signed
statement by a participant).


>Hundreds of spectators looked on from a narrow country road which
>circled around the area, unaware that the object appears to have
>fallen on the opposite side of the woods.

This shows the desperation of the crash promoters. The event
happened in December. The foliage was off the trees. By the time
people arrived it was dark. Anyone who has ever been to
Kecksburg or who has closely studied a topographic map of the
area, knows that crowds looking down from the spectacular
"overlook" portion of the surrounding road (actually named
"Meteor Road", by the way - Duh?) could have certainly seen any
lighted recovery activity in or on the other side of the woods.

Many of the fantastic details come from members of one family
who say their house was used as a headquarters. Yet in 1965 a
family member, now dead, was quoted by a newspaper reporter as
saying that he had been outside and saw and heard nothing. I
have statements from witnesses who were _ on the opposite side
of the woods _ throughout the night and who say that nothing was
recovered. The farmer closest to the "crash site" has a good
view of the woods and crash site. He was home all night and says
that he saw no landing or recovery operation. Yet Gordon expects
us to believe that =BD mile away from a large-scale, secret, armed
military occupation were residents, property owners, reporters,
police and crowds of people who somehow missed it all. This is
pure fantasy.

>As time passed that evening, many people left disappointed that
>they couldn't see the object.

This is one fact upon which Stan Gordon and I are in complete

>A few curious folks tried to sneak down into the woods, and later
>told me that they were turned back by the military.

The only proven military involvement were three Air Force men
sent from a Pittsburgh radar site of the 662nd Radar Squadron,
the nearest Air Force installation. This would have been in
conformity with a routine UFO report investigation from the
nearest Air Force base, as called for by Air Force Regulation

My investigation shows that at several places the road and
driveways were closed by fire policemen from the Mt. Pleasant
Unity Fire Company, on orders of the State Police fire marshal
and township Civil Defense coordinator, in order to prevent
roads from being blocked. After all, the initial reports were of
an airplane crash or something on fire. Can Gordon cite any
reported airplane crash sites where the public has been left to
wander around?

Unsubstantiated reports that the Army _ was _ on the way seem to
have been because the radar base was located on the Oakdale Army
Engineers facility adjacent to the Pittsburgh airport.

The highly imaginative version of events featured on the
Unsolved Mysteries segment showing troops armed with automatic
weapons, bayoneted rifles, gas masks and riot gear is pure
fantasy. It is inconceivable that none of the many reporters
from TV, radio and papers present in 1965 would not have
reported frightening details such as this. And, incidentally,
none of the former reporters interviewed on Gordon's vidoe made
these claims. It is also significant that these details seem to
be reported principally by the same small group of people who
have reported seeing the object, itself, or the mysterious
recovery and retrieval

>Late that night, others say they observed a military flatbed
>tractor-trailer truck, carrying a large tarpaulin covered object,
>leaving the area at a high rate of speed.


Why is it that a former newsman reports in Gordon's own video
that he only saw a truck with something covered on the back the
size of a couple of suitcases, but nothing else? Gordon simply
ignores this conflicting eyewitness account which supports the
official version.


>Officially, no object was found in the woods by searchers. It was
>suggested that the most likely explanation was that the brilliant
>object in the sky was a meteor.

Gordon does not reveal to the members of this list anything
about the photographic triangulation of the Ontario meteor, the
publication of this hard evidence in a peer-reviewed scientific
journal three decades ago, or the fact that he has been in
possession of a photograph of the meteor for nearly 15 years.
Instead, he prefers to wallow in unsupported eyewitness


>After years of searching for government documents relating to this
>event, the only official record located was in the Air Force Project
>Blue Book files.


>While the report shows a lot of interest from various agencies
>concerning the aerial object, the report also indicates that the
>search found nothing.


>I have also talked with two former miltary men who are unknown to
>each other, that [sic] told me that during different years, and at
>different installations, they saw the recovery report on the
>Kecksburg object, and both said the report indicated that the object
>was extraterrestrial.

The Sky & Telescope article included in the Blue Book file
concluded that the object was _extraterrestrial_ and not
reentering space debris. The editors of this well-known
astronomy magazine clearly meant that the fireball was meteoric,
and not man-made, not that is was at ET craft. This document may
explain these claims, although I believe these two sources, one
of whom is Clifford E. Stone, are being deliberately
disingenuous about the use of this word to further the notion
that the incident involved a UFO.


>One man details his claim of seeing a partially covered body inside
>a building at Wright-Patterson, at the same time the Kecksburg
>object was being examined.

This claim first surfaced around 1989, about the same time that
the claims of bodies surfaced around the Roswell event. This
witness made no mention of this in earlier taped interviews with
the late Leonard Stringfield or other investigators, including
Gordon. There is no reason to take this anonymous claimant at
face value. Among other things which make his story fishy are
that his cousin, whom he claimed was also present, at first said
he didn't remember the incident, then changed his mind several
months later; the claimed loss of all records of their visit to
Wright-Patterson which the family business burned, and his claim
that a truck load of bricks were unloaded by hand, allowing him
the day to roam freely around the base. If you go to any
brickyard to investigate this detail, you will find that
truckloads of bricks are handled by cranes and pallets. Duh?


>The Kecksburg mystery remains. Was the object a man-made
>space device or did we receive a visitor from outside of our world?


>It's time that the truth is revealed, regardless of what the source of
>the object was. It's been 33 years, it's time to break the silence.

It is time for Stan Gordon wo break the silence, and acknowledge
the existence of the Michigan photographs, the triangulation and
the articles appearing in scientific journals more than 30 years
ago. Since he has not, we can therefore conclude that it is Mr.
Gordon and other proponents of a crash mystery, not the
Government, Pennsylvania State Police, astronomers or local
doubters who are engaged in a deliberate, continuing cover-up of
photographs and documents proving the true nature of the
December 9, 1965, meteor.


>Those who would like information on how to obtain the Kecksburg
>video can see ordering information


Followers of this list often see the word _disinformation_ used.
When this happens, many folks, I think, assume that it must mean
that there is some official policy. But efforts to promote and
disseminate the Kecksburg tale at this late date are often
examples of another kind of disinformation, that is the
deliberate dissemination of false or misleading information for
the express purpose of making money or for personal

Bob Young

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