Today I want to tell you about a UFO. It’s a UFO because it was an object that was probably flying and we definitely don’t know what it was. This isn’t a picture of it. It’s a sort of model of it that was made for a television programme. On this day in 1965 a large fireball was seen in the skies, it was seen by thousands in at least six US states and also in Ontario, Canada. It reportedly dropped hot metal debris over parts of Michigan and northern Ohio, which started some grass fires. Sonic booms were heard in Pittsburgh. So the what-ever-it-was, was travelling faster than the speed of sound which is at least 768mph (1236 km/h), that’s pretty fast.
After discounting the possibilities of a plane crash, a missile test gone wrong or re-entering satellite debris, most people assumed it was a meteor. But inhabitants of the small village of Kecksburg, around thirty miles south east of Pittsburgh, reported that something had crashed in the woods.
There was a boy who reported seeing the object land. His mother had seen smoke rising from the woods and called the authorities. Firemen, who were the first to search the area, claimed to have seen a large object about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle and shaped like an acorn. They said it appeared to be made of copper and had peculiar writing around the base that reminded them of Egyptian hieroglyphs. The military arrived and searched the area and reported that they had found nothing. Yet some people were sure they had seen them take away a large object, covered by a tarpaulin, on a flatbed truck.
The fireball was reported by twenty-three aircraft pilots and some scientists tried to plot its path. But there is no conclusive evidence that the fireball was linked to the incident in the woods at Kecksburg. The official explanation was that it had been a mid-sized meteor. It seems that a Russian space probe had crashed that day in Canada, and it did look a bit like an acorn, but in had happened in some thirteen hours previously. NASA denied that the two incidents were related.
A local radio reporter called John Murphy went out to the site after receiving calls from alarmed citizens. He interviewed witnesses and took several photographs. All but one of his rolls of film were confiscated by the military. Over the following weeks he began to work his material up into a radio documentary called ‘Object in the Woods’. But shortly before the documentary was to be aired, he received a visit from two men who said they were government officials, they wanted to speak to him privately. The meeting lasted about thirty minutes and they confiscated some of his audio tapes. No one knows what became of his remaining photographs. A week later he aired a very much censored version of his documentary. He claimed that some of his interviewees had asked for their contributions to be removed because they were afraid of getting into trouble with the army and police. His programme did not mention the object at all. After that he became reticent and refused to talk about the incident. No one can ask him about it now, because he was killed in a hit and run driver in California in 1969.
In 2003, the Sci Fi Channel sponsored a scientific survey of the reported crash site. They found a line of trees that were damaged at the top, evidence supporting the theory that something had crashed through them. Furthermore, tree samples dated the damage to 1965. They also found some minor soil disturbance at the alleged crash site. It seems they also found a witness who reported hearing a couple of loud and horrific screams as the military approached the object on foot. There was a push for NASA to release documents relating to the incident.
In 2005, NASA changed their story. They had examined some fragments of metal from the object, and it was definitely the Russian space probe. Unfortunately, they had now lost all the documents relating to the Kecksburg incident. NASA hold quite a lot of information, and its not unheard of for them to lose things. They lost the original tapes of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and they were pretty important.
So maybe we’ll never find out what it was. But identified flying objects are less fun and there are some interesting theories out there. Perhaps it was a secret military test that went wrong. Perhaps in was an alien space craft. Perhaps it was the Russian space probe. It was the height of the Cold War and the American government would have loved to get their hands on it and keep it a secret. Having everyone really want it to be a flying saucer would have been a good cover up. Perhaps it was something like the fabled Nazi anti-gravity weapon ‘Die Glocke’ (The Bell) which supposedly did very horrible things to anyone who came within 200 metres of it. My favourite though, is that Nazi SS officer, Hans Kammler, used the object to travel through time, crash landed in Kecksburg and afterwards assimilated himself into post-war American society. In fact, no one knows where or when Kammler, who was in charge of the V-2 missile programme, died. He may have come to America and brought with him knowledge of the Nazi weapons programme. But if he did, he probably arrived by plane or ship just like anyone else.