It was December 9, 1965 in Kecksburg, Pennsylvania. It was forever memorable to the thousands of people from Ontario to Detroit where a fireball whizzed overhead, supposedly dripping hot molten metal over Michigan and Ohio before crashing in Kecksburg. As it went over Pittsburgh, it caused sonic booms.
Thirty miles southeast of Pittsburgh, in the quiet small town of Kecksburg, local witnesses saw something crash into the woods. A boy who witnessed it told his mother, who saw a blue stream of smoke coming out of the area and called the police.
Many witnesses reported it landed with a vibration and a "thump." Some citizens went into the woods to see it including some local volunteer firefighters.
What they reported was so amazing and unusual that, to this day, it is regarded as one of the most amazing unsolved crashed objects ever in our country.
Witnesses that went into the woods reported it was shaped like an acorn, the size of a VW Beetle, and had some hieroglyphic characters on it that looked like Egyptian writing. With more detailing, they also mentioned a band along the bottom of the object.
Military presence reportedly descended on the town. They secured the wooded area and sent all the civilians away. The military proceeded to cart the object away on a flatbed truck. Reportedly, a witness heard one of the military men screaming as he approached the object. Interestingly, the military reported they searched the woods and found "nothing."
There have been many explanations and speculation as to what the object was. Some say it was a meteor. Others say it was a Russian satellite. Yet others believe it was the Russians utilizing some Nazi bell technology. There has been a hypothesis that the fireball was a meteor and it landed in Lake Ontario most likely, given its trajectory and that the incident in the woods was not related. This sounds a bit like the Phoenix lights explanations that still abound today of two separate incidents occurring on the same night.
One reporter, who showed up early, took photos but almost all the rolls of film were confiscated by the police. The reporter's wife at the time did see a photo from the remaining roll and the forest was dark, but there was a cone-shaped object there.
That reporter, Bill Murphy, didn't realize what a can of worms he was opening when he wanted to share the information and the result might have been tragic.
Source: In the following weeks, Murphy became enveloped with the incident and wrote a radio documentary called Object in the Woods, featuring his experiences and interviews he had conducted that night. Shortly before the documentary would have aired, he received an unexpected visit at the station from two men in black suits identifying themselves as government officials. They requested to speak with him in a back room behind closed doors. The meeting lasted about 30 minutes. A WHJB employee, Linda Foschia, recalled the men confiscated some of Murphy's audio tapes from that night, and that no one knows what happened to the remaining photographs. A week after the visit, an agitated Murphy aired a censored version of the documentary, which he claimed in its introduction had to be edited due to some interviewees requesting their statements be removed from the broadcast in fear of getting in trouble with the police and Army. The new version contained nothing revealing, and did not mention an object at all. Mazza, and also Murphy's wife, remember the aired documentary was entirely different from what Murphy had originally written. (See pp. 4–5 of CFI's report in External links for details of the aired documentary.)
After the airing, Murphy became uncharacteristically despondent and completely stopped all investigation on the case and refused to talk to anyone about it again, and never gave clear reasons why. In February 1969, Murphy was struck and killed by an unidentified car in an apparent hit-and-run while crossing a road. The hit-and-run occurred near Ventura, California while Murphy was on vacation.
Syfy Channel in 2003 decided to open the case utilizing the Freedom of Information Act. They went to the site with witnesses and tested core samples of damaged trees to find the damage occurred in 1965. This was disputed by supposed scientists who state that it could have been ice damage that winter. Of course, nothing was revealed through government documents that stated "nothing" was found.
In 2005, NASA decided to change its explanation to a re-entering Russian satellite. Interestingly, they stated it broke up on re-entry and metal fragments revealed its origins. Where these metal fragments fell, no one states, and as well they stated that the documents about it were lost in 1990.
Source: On October 26, 2007, NASA agreed to search for those records after being ordered by the court. The judge, who had tried to move NASA along for more than 3 years, angrily referred to NASA's previous search efforts as a "ball of yarn" that never fully answered the request, adding, "I can sense the plaintiff's frustration because I'm frustrated."
One person came forward (link below for details) who said that it was a USSR rocket nose cone from a space probe. They allowed people to believe it was a UFO because it made the entire incident look ridiculous. This person said that the US and USSR had agreed to send each other back their space debris.
We will likely never have answers to this incident, but when I look at this photo, if this is indeed a picture of the item, it certainly looks more like a rocket tip design than any vehicle from space and during the height of Cold War hysteria, anything USSR would be held in secret from the public.
*Tomorrow's post - Mothman: Two Legends