The Kecksburg Incident: Mysterious UFO Crash Of The '60s

Culture | December 10, 2020

Detail of cover art for 'They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers' by Gray Barker (1956). Source: Amazon.com

The Kecksburg UFO incident that occurred on December 9, 1965, may have happened over Kecksburg, Pennsylvania, but it was seen by people across North America. On that night, a fireball streaked across the sky that was so bright it was seen by people in six states, and in Windsor, Canada. This isn't a story about two people who claim to have seen little green men, it's a real deal close encounter that's never really been explained.

Because of the volume of reports of something in the sky, and the ever-changing story from U.S. government officials, the Kecksburg Incident has lodged in the minds of believers and skeptics alike as ... something. There are simply too many accounts from witnesses on that night for it to be a hoax or hallucination. Whether what fell from the sky was man-made or of a more exotic nature -- that's a matter of debate. But the Kecksburg Incident has inspired such fascination over the years that it's sometimes called the "Roswell of the East," a reference to the site of an alleged 1947 UFO crash near Roswell, New Mexico.

At the time of the incident, astronomers claimed that the fireball was nothing more than a meteor burning up in the atmosphere, but since then authorities have claimed that what people saw could have been anything from a Russian satellite to various fragments of a stellar body returning to Earth. To make matters even more confusing, NASA reports that all of their findings were list in the 1990s.

So what happened in Kecksburg when so many people witnessed an object burning through the night sky? Was there a cover up? Or was it just a flailing satellite? There's definitely a cover up happening here, but what exactly is being covered up?

Too Many People Witnessed Fire In The Sky

source: wikipedia

While there's disagreement about what flew across the sky on December 9, 1965, authorities admit that something from outer space invaded the small town of Kecksburg that night. It wasn't just that Kecksburg locals; people from Detroit, and Canada saw the fireball. And the sights and sounds that surrounded this unidentified flying object sighting that make this such a mystery.

In Pittsburgh, there were sonic booms when the fireball passed over Kecksburg. In Ohio and Michigan, pieces of debris started fires in fields, and in Kecksburg, locals reported wisps of blue smoke, vibrations, and a "thump." The military showed up immediately. It was clear that this wasn't just an asteroid. On December 10, 1965, the Greensburg Tribune Review wrote:

The area where the object landed was immediately sealed off on the order of U.S. Army and State Police officials, reportedly in anticipation of a 'close inspection' of whatever may have fallen ... State Police officials there ordered the area roped off to await the expected arrival of both U.S. Army engineers and possibly, civilian scientists

After a thorough search of the area the military and their researchers came up empty handed. Whatever fell, it seemed, had disappeared into thin air.

Let's Just Say It Was A Meteor

source: wikipedia

After a few days of searching the woods outside of Kecksburg, with the help of of state troopers, the Air Force failed to recover anything that looked like it came out of the sky -- alien or otherwise. Researchers were quick to state it was most likely a meteor, while some astronomers noted that it could have been a satellite.

At the time, officials rallied around the meteor theory because it explained the lack of, well, anything in the woods. But when has a meteor ever created sonic booms and shockwaves like what happened in Kecksburg? Did the Earth come close to an extinction level phenomena, or were researchers just trying to make sense out of a seriously strange night?

The Military Allegedly Shut Down A Documentary About The Incident

source: tribune review

Outcry about a coverup was immediate. John Murphy, a reporter for local radio station WHJB, claims that he was one of the first people to arrive on the scene. Murphy says that when he arrived he snapped photos of an object in the woods that looked like a giant acorn about the size of a VW Beetle that was covered in markings that looked like Egyptian hieroglyphics. He goes on to say that the photos were confiscated by the military in a visit to his home.

Murphy produced a radio documentary titled Object in the Woods, in which he described the evening in detail, and shared his attempts to investigate what really happened. Before the piece aired, the U.S. military allegedly arrived and drastically redacted the program. Murphy was never able to tell his story in full. Four years after the incident he was killed in a hit-and-run accident while on vacation in California.

A replica of the acorn described by Murphy was constructed for a segment of Unsolved Mysteries in 1990, it can still be seen in Kecksburg on an elevated podium on a hill adjacent to the fire department.

The Object Probably Landed In Lake Erie

source: columbus messenger

If what was seen over the skies of Kecksburg wasn't an alien craft, then what was it? Whether it was a meteorite, satellite, or weather balloon, authorities claim that they couldn't find anything outside the small Pennsylvania village. In the ensuing years there were multiple articles dedicated to the mysterious object and its trajectory in order to figure out what happened to it.

In 1966 and 1967, there were two independent articles written in Sky & Telescope and the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada that used alternate means of tracing where the object came to rest. Sky & Telescope used seismograph readings to conclude that the item ended up near or in the western part of Lake Erie. The JRASC used the same information along with photographic evidence of the trail to corroborate Sky & Telescope's findings.

NASA 'Lost' Its Records Of The Case

source: radio.com

In December, 2005, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released a statement that researchers had examined metallic fragments from the area and determined they were from a Russian satellite that re-entered the atmosphere and broke up. However, they were unable to show their research. NASA claims that their records were lost some time in the 1990s.

Responding to a lawsuit was filed under the Freedom of Information Act, Steve McConnell, NASA's public liaison officer testified that two boxes of papers from the Kecksburg investigation were lost, but he argued that this isn't strange because NASA often misplaces information. For instance, the original tapes of the Apollo 11 Moon landing have either been lost or recorded over.

If that's true, it's almost like NASA is inviting claims of a cover up, but if they are covering up the incident it's a pretty convenient way to sweep stories of an alien landing under the rug.

There Were No Aliens, Just Man-Made Electronics

source: daily american

When MUFON (the Mutual UFO Network) concludes that visitors from another planet weren't to blame for an Earthly incident you can believe them. They report that NASA has changed their story numerous times, from calling it a meteor, to a Russian satellite, to not knowing what it was in the first place. In 2009, the lawsuit against NASA was called off when it was clear that the government agency had either exhausted their research or that the files just didn't exist.

Today, researchers believe that what fell from the sky over Kecksburg was either an advanced man made device with re-entry capabilities that failed, or a probe that was knocked out of the sky somehow. Whatever really happened over Kecksburg, we'll never know.

Tags: Kecksburg Incident | Paranormal | Science In The 1960s | UFOs

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Jacob Shelton


Jacob Shelton is a Los Angeles based writer. For some reason this was the most difficult thing he’s written all day, and here’s the kicker – his girlfriend wrote the funny part of that last sentence. As for the rest of the bio? That’s pure Jacob, baby. He’s obsessed with the ways in which singular, transgressive acts have shaped the broader strokes of history, and he believes in alternate dimensions, which means that he’s great at a dinner party. When he’s not writing about culture, pop or otherwise, he’s adding to his found photograph collection and eavesdropping on strangers in public.