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The 1965 Kecksburg controversial UFO crash:

The story:

On 9th December 1965 hundreds of witnesses in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania observed a UFO crash. It first appeared to be nothing more than a spectacular meteorite but 30 years on it is still a source of much controversy amongst UFO researchers.

In March 1966, UFO researcher Ivan Sanderson compiled a detailed account from various eyewitnesses, and soon realized that there was more to this story than that of a simple meteorite.

His findings indicated that the object showed a clear trajectory, moving from north-west to south-east. Its total visible journey lasted no more than 6 minutes, which indicated a speed far too slow for a meteor. Sanderson calculated a speed of only around 1,000 mph.

Not all the eyewitnesses were located on the ground at the time of the sighting, there were also several pilots who spoke of being buffeted by shock waves as the large bright object sped by. This was strange as most meteorites are observed several thousands of feet above most commercial aircraft. There were also claims of shock waves and sonic booms reported from witnesses on the ground.

The vapor trail left by the object were so intense that they lasted for more than 20 minutes in which time they were filmed by several people.

Several bits of silvery debris were found on the ground at Lapeer, Michigan and these were assumed to be from the object. Later analysis of this material indicated that they were indeed chaff which are pieces of aluminum foil released by aircraft to fool radar.

However the most convincing aspect that Sanderson discovered to rule out the possibility of a meteorite was that the object appeared to change direction and head in an easterly direction.

The object finally came to rest in a wooded area in the town of Kecksburg. The object was initially witnessed by 2 children who reported that a "start that had caught fire had crashed in the woods". Their mother whose first thought was that her children had witnessed a plane crash called the state police and the fire service.

As soon as she had finished phoning she went out into the woods and to her surprise found that a military unit had beaten them to the crash site. This unit took command and told all civilians, police and fire department officials to leave the site immediately.

The military unit reported to the police that they had found nothing, and they left. This remained the case for around 15 years when some UFO researchers re-opened the case.

After some investigation they found out that the fire service had come within 200ft of the object before being turned away by the military. They reported seeing blue flashing lights, and noticing that the tops of several of the trees nearby were broken as if an object had come crashing through.

The investigators also reported that they had found witnesses who had seen a large flat-bed truck leaving the area of the woods with a large oval object covered with sheets. Another witness indicated that he observed the military loading the object onto truck. He described the object as looking like a large acorn, with 'bumpers' on the base. He also noticed that there was strange hieroglyphics on the craft surface.

The case was reported in the Project Blue Book files and indicated that "a three man team has been dispatched to investigate and pick up an object that started a fire". This three man team is now known to of been part of the then highly classified "Project Moon Dust."

The official report was that the UFO was simply a meteorite.

In 1990 a new witness came forward who claimed to be part of the military team that was sent in to retrieve the object. He claims that he was given orders to 'shoot anyone who got too close'. He also revealed that the object was being transported to the Wright Patterson base.

The last major discovery related to a worker at Wright Patterson who claims that a strange object was shipped in on the 16th December the same year, just days after the events at Kecksburg. He described the object almost identically as the other witnesses had described. Whilst he was observing the object a guard escorted him out of the hanger and told him "that you have just seen an object that will be common knowledge in 20 years time."

Information from Jenny Randles:

From: 'UFO: Crash Retrievals', Jenny Randles, 1995.

3. Kecksburg, December 9, 1965.

On December 9 1965, hundreds of witnesses in southern Canada, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania observed a UFO crash from the sky. In March 1966, scientist and UFO investigator Ivan Sanderson compiled an account from various eye witness stories.

The object took six minutes to pass the observed trajectory, from which Sanderson calculated a speed of 1,600 km/h, which, if accurate, would rule out a meteor. Several pilots spoke of being buffeted by shock waves as the thing passed them. There were also stories of a sonic boom and vibrations felt on the ground. The smoke trail was so intense that it remained visible for up to twenty minutes. During the final few miles of its flight the object seemed to change course.

After the impact the police set off the forest. They were subsequently chased away by the military. A few hours later the military team told them they had found nothing.

In January 1980 UFO investigator Clark McClelland interviewed the assistant fire chief of Kecksburg, James Mayes, and Melvin Reese, another fireman. They reported that their team had come within sixty meters of the object. They had seen an object on the ground that had smashed its way through the trees. Mayes explained how the military had cordoned off the woods and had established a temporary base, complete with telecom link. Fire chief Robert Bitner later confirmed this story. He also said had seen an object that was 1.8m high, 2m wide and some 5m long, clearly not an aircraft. It was resting at an angle on the ground as if it had impacted nearly horizontally. Another fire officer, 'Pete', stated he had seen a ring of bumpers around it into which were described some pictorial symbols. Being of Polish decent he could read Russian and stated that they were not Russian.

Researcher Ray Boeche file a Freedom of Information request for more data on the incident. In 1985 30 pages of data were procured. It was insignificant information, except for a memo that said a three man team had been dispatched to the site to pick up an object. The final conclusion of the file was that the UFO was a meteor.

A theory has been proposed that the object was a crashed Russian satellite (Cosmos 96). However, NASA has released data that say that Cosmos 96 reentered Earth's orbit on December 9, 3.15 a.m. The crash took place 13 hours later.

After the US TV series Unsolved Mysteries had reported the case two new witnesses came forward. One was a USAF officer at Lockbourne AFB (near Columbus, Ohio). In the early hours of December 10, a truck arrived by the little used back gate of the base and he was ordered to patrol it. It was a flat-bed with a large tarpaulin on the surface covering a conical object. He was told to shoot anyone who tried to get too close. He was advised the truck was bound for Wright Patterson AFB, which is the reputed home of other crashed saucers.

The other witness was a building contractor who was asked two days later to take a load of 6,500 special bricks to a hangar inside Wright Patterson. When he sneaked a look inside the hangar he saw a bell-shaped device, some 4m. high sitting there. Several men wearing white anti-radiation style suits were inspecting the object. After he had been escorted out he was told that he had just seen an object that would become common knowledge in 20 years time.

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This page was last updated on December 9, 2005.