From: Bob Young <YoungBob2@aol.com> Date: Thu, 2 Nov 2000 22:40:50 EST Fwd Date: Fri, 03 Nov 2000 10:34:57 -0500 Subject: The Great Harrisburg UFO Wave The Great Harrisburg UFO Wave (Condon Report Case 27) By Robert R. Young Adapted from Stardust, the newsletter of the Astronomical Society of Harrisburg, Pa., Inc., May, 1997 The summer of 1967 saw The Great Harrisburg UFO Wave, enshrined in local UFOlklore by being included as Case #27 in the report of the University of Colorado Project (the "Condon Report") which ended United States Air Force involvement in UFO investigations (The Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects, E. U. Condon, et. al., Bantam edition, 1969, pp. 23, 46, 60, 332). After widespread publicity, which included more than 2,000 radio news reports and 14 detailed visitations recounted in the paper, thousands of excited residents were often lining roads and high spots around town at night throughout that hot summer. One of our two newspapers sprinkled UFO stories among news of space launches, race riots, burning U.S. cities and GIs fighting off human wave attacks overseas. People saw things. In 1967 the two Harrisburg newspapers, The Evening News and The Patriot, had the same owner but separate editorial staffs. Curiously, The Patriot printed almost nothing on UFOs during the flap. As described in the Colorado report, a Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory all-sky meteor camera on the roof of Holy Spirit Hospital took thousands of pictures over 17 days while 100 reports were received by a phone hotline at Olmstead AFB in Middletown. Experienced observers from ASH responded to a request by Colorado scientists by manning three observing stations, including a society member's observatory overlooking the sighting hotbed at nearby Summerdale, nicknamed "UFO Hill". What happened? Not much, really. ASH observers never saw anything of interest. Just the sky and air traffic, including nightly "UFO patrols" by small planes. On cloudy nights there were almost never UFOs reported. Most turned out to be stars. Only two "interesting" photo images were taken during the 100 sightings reported to Colorado Project researchers. One probably was a plane and the other a meteor. At least two "landings" were reported that summer. One suspiciously close to "UFO Hill" was a hoax. A newspaper reporter (who along with the members of a local flying saucer club was largely responsible for stimulating the "flap") reported stumbling over an electric extension cord in the woods when investigating strange lights. Returning back later along the path he noticed that the cable was mysteriously gone. Years later I encountered a man who told me about how he, his brother and friends, all in junior high or high school, had created a fake landing with lights and power cords. they had been caught by the cops, but since they had done nothing illegal, they were just sent home with a warning. Another landing, the so-called "Manor Hill" or "Hall Manor" incident, was probably a mistaken star or aircraft seen by residents of a public housing project. After local saucer "investigators" trampled the nearby woods with flashlights for hours, they returned in the morning to find a flattened, swirled area of grass. A reported "high" radiation reading was never confirmed or repeated, nor is it clear what this meant. This incident became a classic "Close Encounter of the Second Kind" (physical trace) case. A compilation (notice that I didn't write "investigative report") which lists this among hundreds of others has been cited by ufologists, including the late astronomer and Air Force UFO consultant J. Allen Hynek, as impressive evidence that something important was going on (Ted Phillips, 1975, Physical Traces Association With UFO Sightings, Center for UFO Studies). The sole source Phillips cited for including the Manor Hill landing was an article in a flying saucer magazine ("The Remarkable Skies of Harrisburg", Flying Saucers UFO Reports, Dell, No. 4, 1967, pp. 50-53). Even though the New York City-based magazine had sent a reporter here, it inexplicable illustrated the article with a photo taken by two boys 65 miles away in Shamokin! North of the city, near Elizabethville, UFOs were said to have been in the air almost nightly, causing more than 60 reports. These, in turn, launched "saucer patrols" by pilots of small planes, which, of course, caused more sightings. Finally, after so much nonsensical "research" by adults, some resourceful teenagers with a car followed and recovered a prank plastic laundry bag-balloon lighted by candles, blowing off the lid. Many reports of UFOs that summer had them buzzing downtown telephone microwave antennas. A quick check of a map shows that from the popular "UFO Hill" viewing site the downtown Bell Telephone of Pennsylvania headquarters, with its large, then newly installed microwave horn antennae, lies in a direction which puts it just between then Olmstead Air Force Base at Middletown and the old Harrisburg airport at New Cumberland. From "UFO Hill" the building was also directly in a line with Olmstead's landing and takeoff path. It seems that the explanation also owes a lot to an absurd and typically costly bit of American war-making. Through the pork barrel-rolling efforts of powerful U.S. Senator Hugh Scott, major overhauls of the military's Chinook twin-rotor choppers were performed at New Cumberland Army Supply Depot, adjacent to the public airport. Not only were they brought from Europe but also shot-up choppers were flown all the way from Viet Nam to Harrisburg in large military transports. Then they were lifted across the river to New Cumberland (I kid thee not) by giant Sky Crane helicopter's, based at Olmstead just for the purpose. At the time rumors had it that this was done only at night to hide it from the eyes of war protesters, and taxpayers, but actually it was done day and night for years. It's no wonder the Vietnam War nearly bankrupted us and doomed further manned space efforts. These were the "UFOs" buzzing Bell Telephone. I suppose that in today's paranoid parlance they would be called "black helicopters". If this all strikes you as a hard-to-believe explanation dredged up just to debunk the '67 sightings, consider the alternative. That is, that over a period of weeks dozens of alien spaceships hovered over Second and Pine Streets in downtown Harrisburg, and except for an enterprising Evening News reporter, local saucer investigators, and crowds of wannabees on a hill five miles away, nobody noticed.
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