Falling To Earth

While the Roswell Incident, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, is the most famous example of the crash of an unidentified flying object, there are countless other cases of alleged extra-terrestrial craft dropping out of the sky. From Roswell to Kecksburg, Tunguska to Shag Harbour, it seems that UFOs hit the ground with surprising regularity. This article will examine just a few of what are perhaps some of the less famous cases.

Benkelman, Nebraska – 6th June, 1884

The small town of Benkelman lies about 300 miles west of Nebraska’s largest city, Omaha and about 250 miles from the state capital, Lincoln. As you travel on Highway 34, it’s the kind of place that, if you blink, you might miss it, being barely a mile from top to bottom.

As the Nineteenth Century wound down and the famous ‘Great Airship Invasion’ was heating up, the Nebraska Nugget published an article that described something remarkable. The event would be revisited in the Nebraska State Journal in 1887.

On June 6th, 1884, a group of herdsmen heard a strange noise in the sky and saw something crash down over a nearby hill. They scrambled to see the site of the impact and were shocked to see ‘cog-wheels and other pieces of machinery’ lying about on the ground.

The object had slid into a deep ravine, but it was giving off so much heat that it was difficult to approach without getting burned. One of the herdsmen, Alf Williamson, remained exposed to the searing heat from the craft for too long and suffered heat-stroke and blisters broke out all over his head.

Unable to do anything about the object, the men returned to their cattle. When night fell, the light from the mysterious object cast a glow so bright that the area around it was illuminated like day.

The next day, more people visited the crash site and examined the scattered pieces of debris: ‘One piece that looked like the blade of a propeller screw of a metal of an appearance like brass, about sixteen inches wide, three inches thick and three and a half feet long, was picked up by a spade. It would not weigh more than five pounds, but appeared as strong and compact as any known metal. A fragment of a wheel with a milled rim, apparently having had a diameter of seven or eight feet, was also picked up. It seemed to be of the same material and had the same remarkable lightness.’

Bizarrely, a rainstorm was said to have melted the object, which was said to have been a 50-60 feet long, 12 feet wide cylinder.

Aurora, Texas – 19th April, 1897

It seems that UFOs have an affinity with small, American towns. Aurora, about 45 miles north-west of Dallas, Texas, certainly counts as one of those, having a population of a little under 900.

On the morning of April 19th, 1897, an ‘airship’ collided with a windmill and crashed to the ground, scattering debris over the immediate vicinity. Apparently, there was one occupant of the craft, as the Dallas Morning News reported:

‘The pilot of the ship is supposed to have been the only one aboard and, while his remains were badly disfigured, enough of the original has been picked up to show that he was not an inhabitant of this world.’

A military officer on the scene, Mr. T.J. Weems, stated that, in his opinion, the victim of the crash was from the planet Mars. The poor ‘alien’ was given a Christian burial in the town’s cemetery. The pieces of wreckage were collected and thrown down the well on Judge Proctor’s land, where the craft had come to rest. To this day, a patch of ground close to the well has little plant growth compared to adjacent areas.

Despite claims that the story was a hoax, written by a mischievous journalist by the name of Haydon, researchers found several people that claimed to have been witnesses to the incident. Only children at the time and, when they were interviewed, in their eighties and nineties, they confirm that an object did come crashing down on Judge Proctor’s land and a small body was found.

In 1973, investigators asked to be allowed to exhume the alien, the grave of whom they had found, marked by a small headstone. They were refused permission. When they returned later, they found the headstone had gone and rumours persist that the US military removed the body.

A memorial that tells of the crash now exists in the town.

Spitsbergen, Norway – May, 1946 & June, 1952

In August, 1946, General James Doolittle travelled to Sweden, allegedly to investigate the cases of sightings of so-called ‘ghost rockets’. While there, he travelled to the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, deep inside the Arctic Circle.

According to an article in the Los Angeles Examiner, written by famed US journalist, Dorothy Kilgallen, Doolittle saw wreckage from the crash and, perhaps, up to 17 bodies. It is said that she may have got her information from Lord Mountbatten, who had a famous interest in UFOs. Unfortunately, the article seems to have disappeared completely and even the publication in which it appeared is not certain. Kilgallen allegedly did not mention Spitsbergen in the article and it has been suggested that it was a hoax or disinformation to distract attention from a real UFO crash in Great Britain (hence Mountbatten’s introduction). Kilgallen would enter the domain of the conspiracy theorist when she was found dead in 1965. Although judged a suicide, it is alleged that she was murdered to prevent her publishing an article after interviewing the killer of Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby. Her notes on the interview are said to have disappeared from her room.

Another crash occurred on that chilly, northern island in June, 1952. German newspapers reported that a disc-shaped craft, about 150 feet in diameter came down. The craft was metallic, bluish in colour and appeared to be using a radar direction finder on a different frequency to that used by the Norwegian fighter jets that encountered it. The jets experienced radio difficulties as they flew over the crash site. The pilots saw wreckage on the ground and reported back to base.

Later, several planes were despatched and the disc located. A radar direction finder with a plutonium core was discovered on board, which, according to Norwegian rocket specialist, Dr Norsel, accounted for the radio interference.

According to the newspaper articles, instruments aboard the unmanned craft had Russian symbols on them. Forty-six jets around the perimeter of the disc powered its flight and there was enough space inside for several nuclear bombs. It has been alleged that the craft was a Russian variant of a German V-7 craft.

Later, the story became embellished with new features, such as exotic metals, burned bodies, beam weapons and the like. The location moved from Spitsbergen to the German island of Heligoland. The victims of the crash were bizarrely described as having ‘excellent teeth’!

Along with the 1946 case, this later incident of an alleged UFO crash is mired by rumour, conflicting stories and a lack of evidence.

Eureka, Utah & Las Vegas, Nevada – 18th April, 1962

An object was tracked streaking across almost the entire continental United States on April 18th, 1962. It was seen by thousands of witnesses from New York to Utah and was initially explained as a bolide or meteor. It was described as appearing as a brilliant, yellow flame, giving credence to the natural phenomenon explanation. Other descriptions likened it to a soccer ball with a flame at the rear or ‘slender’ with no trail behind it.

It crashed to the ground near Eureka, Utah, interrupting the town’s electricity supply, before taking off again and, after making a sweeping turn over Reno (something a bolide or meteor cannot do), Nevada, heading towards Las Vegas, some 300 miles south-west of the first crash site.

Kevin Randle, appearing at this year’s Roswell 60 conference in Pontefract, investigated the story and gained access to several official documents. He found that fighters from Nellis Air Force base were scrambled after the object was picked up on radar. He also learned that, despite them explaining the object as a ‘U-2 or high balloon’, the military took an interest in the case and visited at least a dozen eyewitnesses to the Eureka crash. The object was also seen by several pilots at an altitude below their flight level, again despite Dr Robert Kadesch, a physicist from the University of Utah, saying that it was a bolide that exploded 60-70 miles up.

In his book, A History of UFO Crashes (Avon Books – 1995), Randle says: ‘Something extremely extraordinary happened on the night of April 18, 1962. The air force offered a series of explanations ignoring the facts. But the witnesses who were there know the truth. They saw something from outer space, and it was not a meteor. It was a craft from another world.’

Pacific Ocean – 1973

The story goes like this: A US naval destroyer, travelling from San Diego to Hawaii some time in 1973, encountered a UFO over the ocean. It made three passes over the vessel and they fired a surface-to-air missile, hitting the craft, but not destroying it. It crashed and sank in about 350 feet of water.

The ship designed by the Hughes Corporation, the Glomar Explorer, was assigned to retrieve the UFO and it was shipped to Hawaii before being relocated to the Great Lakes Naval Centre, near Chicago. The craft was described as ‘silvery blue and shimmering, it tapered like a teardrop with a flange running along its topside from one end to the other and there were no windows.’

An intelligence officer, who saw the UFO in Chicago, when he was asked to deliver a sealed report to a commander in a restricted part of the facility, later spoke with several crewmembers of the destroyer that shot down the craft. They made drawings of what they had seen and he confirmed that it was exactly the same thing he had seen in Chicago.

Baluchistan, Pakistan – 15th - 27th August, 2000

Unidentified objects were seen in the skies over Baluchistan, Pakistan, close to the Afghan border, on several nights in mid-to-late August, 2000. Initially thought to be flares or missiles in that troubled part of the world, this was later ruled out.

On August 15th, seven unidentified objects were sighted over ‘Noshki, Quetta, Loralai, Barkhan, Maiwand, Kohlu, Hekhtar, Uchli, Maratangi and Fort Munro crossing the provincial boundaries.’ An official statement from the Baluchistan government stated: ‘Due to the technical peculiarities it could very safely be said that the objects were not missiles at all’. Some reports suggested that one of the objects may have landed close to a Pakistan Air Force base in Rajanpur. Wreckage was recovered and removed from the site by ‘appropriate agencies’.

On August 27th, an object landed or crashed in the remote region of Dera Ghazi Khan, east of Baluchistan. The Pakistani media outlet, Dawn, reported: ‘Sources in the office of the tribal area political assistant confirmed receiving the report and said a team had been sent to the area to ascertain the facts.’

Bahia, Brazil – 20th – 21st November, 2006

Editor of Brazil’s UFO Magazine, A.J. Gevaerd, received a photograph on November 25th, 2006, of a disc-shaped object on a flat-bed truck in the Brazilian state of Bahia. It was taken by the magazine’s consultant into abductions, psychologist, Francisco Baqueiro.

Baqueiro reported that on November 20th, he had received a message from an intelligence informant that a UFO had crashed in a sugar cane plantation south of the state capital, Salvador. He was told how it was going to be transported and to where (the city of Feira de Santana, some 100 kilometres north of Salvador).

Despite being ill, Baqueiro and his wife set off in an attempt to find this crashed disc. At 6:30am on Tuesday, November 21st, the found the truck and saw that it did, indeed, have a disc-shaped object loaded on its trailer. They followed the vehicle, which was escorted by four police cars, two in front and two behind, to a petrol station, where the truck stopped.

The object on the trailer was completely exposed and he could see that it projected from the sides of the truck to such a degree that it was forced to drive in the middle of the road, still clipping trees at the side. He tried to get closer, but federal agents prevented him from doing so. Pretending to make a phone call, he snapped an image with his mobile. Later, he returned to the gas station, but the staff there seemed reticent to talk about the strange truck that had pulled into their workplace.

It has been suggested that what is on the truck is nothing more than a lid from some industrial cylinder, but Baqueiro is convinced that it is not, having worked in the oil industry and being familiar with such equipment. It is also interesting that he received notification of the transport of the object the day before he encountered it on the road. Crashed UFO or industrial part? The debate rages.

© Steve Johnson - 2007


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Updated 16th August, 2012