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  • Writer's pictureJohn Wick

The Mysterious UFO Crash Of Kecksburg

The continental United States of America is no stranger to the notion of crashed UFOs. In 1947, a small town by the name of Roswell in New Mexico would become the scene of one such incident. A rancher allegedly found the debris of not only a downed alien spacecraft, but also the remains of its four occupants, three of whom were deceased and another which was barely clinging to life. It is perhaps the most famous UFO incident in history, but it is not the only one and was by no means the first of its kind.

Fifty years earlier in 1897, a UFO supposedly crashed on a farm near Aurora, Texas, destroying the craft and killing its single-occupant. The pilot who was described by the townspeople as "not of this world" was buried in an unmarked grave at a nearby cemetery and the debris from the wreckage was broken up and thrown into a disused well,

Although both of these cases were later the subject of ridicule and dismissed by skeptics, there is a large contingent of the general public that refuses to accept official explanations, believing government agencies were actively working to cover up such incidents. It is no different for a somewhat lesser known case, which occurred 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh back in the 1960s.

The Small Village of Kecksburg

Situated in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania, the small village of Kecksburg would find itself at the center of a mysterious event and would become the unlikely location for yet another UFO legend, one which survives to this day without satisfactory explanation. Life in Kecksburg is quiet and the atmosphere so still that even a small rustle of leaves seems to disturb the natural equilibrium of things. This picturesque village is surrounded by breathtaking woodlands, which appear to isolate and protect the small kernel of civilization from the perils of the world. Picture perfect as it may seem, even this quiet settlement, tucked out of the way and very much minding its own business, would not be safe from potentially life-changing phenomena.

On the 9th of December 1965, as the residents of Kecksburg were approaching the end of their working day, the calm skies overhead was suddenly split in two. No one could have predicted the spectacle that was about to unfold, as at exactly 4:44 pm, a brilliant fireball thundered over the Northeastern United States, leaving an immense trail in its wake. It was witnessed falling to Earth by vast numbers of people across six US states including Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, as well as Ontario in Canada. As a result, hot metal debris was reported to have fallen over Michigan and Northern Ohio whilst grass fires were said to have started in Western Pennsylvania. Sonic booms were heard overhead and as many as twenty three pilots claimed to have seen an object streaking across the sky.

The most shocking news, however, came when residents of Kecksburg reported hearing and even feeling a huge thud as something supposedly crashed into nearby woodland. A young boy even claimed to have witnessed the crash take place as he played in his backyard, saying that the object resembled a metallic craft of some description. His mother backed up this statement when she said that, although she didn't see the object herself, she saw wisps of blue smoke rising ominously from the woods behind their home after coming outside to investigate.

Investigation of the Strange UFO

The first people on the scene were firefighters from the local station, who entered the woods to assess the damage and if necessary, put out any rogue fires. And this was when things took a turn for the weird. Rather than finding a crater along with scorched earth and foliage as one might expect, local volunteers reported finding a metallic, acorn shaped craft, which was about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. This strange object was described as having what looked like Egyptian hieroglyphics engraved in a band around its base.

Witnesses reported that State Police worked frantically to secure the scene, shortly after becoming aware of the situation. Heavy military presence moved in with in a few hours and residents were given strict instructions to stay away from the area. This made an awful lot of people suspicious and rumor has it that the strange object was removed from the woods later that night under cover of darkness, taken away by the US Army on a flatbed truck.

The following day, a newspaper reported the incident, saying rather brazenly that a UFO had crash-landed near Kecksburg. The article spoke about the area being roped off whilst local authorities awaited the arrival of US Army engineers and scientists. This further escalated rumors of some sort of cover-up. Despite this, authorities reported that what people had actually witnessed trailblazing across the United States that day was in fact a meteor. They further elaborated that when they searched the woods based on the received reports, they found absolutely nothing suggesting that there was no truth to the widespread claims. This was despite the fact that many people had witnessed the event. Somewhat conveniently, newspapers later overturned their previous reports and backed the official explanation.

So what are we to believe? Was the event at Kecksburg the result of a meteor falling to Earth? Or was it a UFO or possibly even a top-secret experimental aircraft? Did it even happen at all?

Was it a debris from the soviet-built Kosmos 96?

One hypothesis regarding this incident suggests that the mysterious object was simply debris from a falling satellite. The soviet-built Kosmos 96, which had failed to launch on a mission to explore Venus was said to have fallen back to Earth on the same day in 1965. What's more, it was shaped like an acorn. Such a logical explanation could have brought this case to a close and put an end to speculation for the residents of Kecksburg. However, there are many issues with this conclusion.

The hundreds of witnesses who apparently saw the object claimed that it was much smaller in size than the dimension stated on the Kosmos 96 specification sheet. Furthermore, this theory was later debunked in 1991 by a US Space Command report. Kosmos 96 actually crashed in Canada at 3:18 am; 13 hours before the event to Kecksburg. Nicholas Al Johnson, the chief scientist for orbital debris at the NASA Johnson Space Center later declared

in the 2003 interview that, based on trajectory and the timing of its descent, it was impossible for any debris from Kosmos 96 to have landed in Pennsylvania.

The confusion over what the object was, is further perpetuated by the involvement of John Murphy. Murphy was a Kecksburg local who also happened to be a news reporter and host for WHJB radio. Just like many other concerned residents, he had made his way to the woods on the afternoon of the 9th December in order to satisfy his curiosity. After speaking to a number of witnesses gathered at the scene, he slipped away to take several photographs of the object before the public was ordered away by officials.

It was said that the police had confiscated his rolls of film, but somehow Murphy had managed to hide one of them. This was later developed and his manager, Michael Mazza, was fortunate enough to see what he had captured. Although, he said the image quality was dark and grainy, a cone shaped object could clearly be seen.

John Murphy's Fate

John Murphy had also prepared to host a radio show entitled 'Object in the woods' after conducting his research. But before the show aired, he received a visit from two individuals said to have been government officials. A colleague of Murphy's, by the name of Linda Foschia described these men as wearing dark suits and that they insisted on speaking to Murphy alone. They apparently demanded that he hand over all of his photographs, audio recordings and research notes.

It is possible that this was in connection to something else altogether, as his planned radio show still went on air later that day. However, Murphy died several years later whilst on a family holiday in California, so he was never able to elaborate further regarding this controversy. The cause of death was said to have been a hit and run incident which only served to further fuel conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, Murphy took much of his information and any other secrets he held with him to his grave.

The Kecksburg object has also been the subject of many scientific articles. Notably, Sky & Telescope reported in their February 1966 issue, that 23 reports regarding the fireball were received by the Federal Aviation Administration from various aircraft pilots. As the object passed through the atmosphere, shock waves were recorded by a seismograph 20 miles southwest of Detroit. This article came to the conclusion that the path of the fireball extended roughly from Northwest to Southeast and ended "in or near the other western part of Lake Erie".

Another prominent report was made in 1967 by the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada regarding this situation. Two astronomers identified 4:43 p.m. as the time of the Fireball's passage over Detroit. In addition, they also used photographs taken from two different locations to the north of Detroit, to ascertain the trajectory of the fireball. Their conclusion was that the object was moving from Southwest to Northeast, the opposite direction to what was previously stated by Sky and telescope and descending at a steep angle. Instead, it was likely to have impacted the Northwestern shore of Lake Erie near Windsor, Ontario.

However, this article has faced a deluge of criticism due to the fact that the triangulation base used by the astronomers in this report was very narrow. A slight fault in determining the direction could have resulted in a completely different trajectory. A much shallower angle of descent could be established by measurement errors as little as one-half a degree. Interestingly, these errors would also make a straight line trajectory possible towards the Kecksburg area.

Although, there is undeniable proof that an object fell to Earth on the 9th of December 1965, we must ask the question of whether the events in Kecksburg were little more than an elaborate hoax based on a much smaller incident. There is, of course, the possibility that only a small piece of debris from a larger meteor landed in the woods near the village and that the residents spurred on by sensationalist media made the incident seem far bigger than it actually was. The go-to explanation for many skeptics is that small towns and villages such as Kecksburg will invariably welcome the worldwide attention that such an incident brings. To make matters worse, conspiracy sites will often show a photograph of the military removing the Kecksburg object from the woodlands.

Was this a photograph that John Murphy secretly managed to retain? Or was it a complete fabrication? Unfortunately, it is difficult to believe that it's genuine. The photograph appears to have been taken during broad daylight. Due to the fact that the object supposedly crashed in the woods in late afternoon, a recovery operation would have theoretically taken place after the military has arrived, which by all accounts was well after sunset. The photograph also seems to show trees in the background adorned with green leaves. As the incident occurred during December, surely these trees should have been bare. Many have also said that this particular image was taken during the production of a TV episode of Unsolved Mysteries, which covered the case.

While this photograph maybe a fabrication, we can't quite bring ourselves to believe that the event in Kecksburg itself was a hoax or that it was as insignificant as skeptics suggest. The evidence seems to indicate that something more than likely did land in or near Kecksburg. This is based not just from eyewitness testimony, but also because various analyses of the trajectory show that the object was almost certainly heading in a southeasterly direction and landing in that general area. This is further supported by seismographic data, which specifies that the time of the object's impact with Earth was 4:44 p.m., roughly the same time that the residents of Kecksburg reported, not only hearing, but also feeling a considerable impact vibration.

So if anything did land there, it wasn't simply a small piece of debris. It must have been the object itself. What that object was is another question entirely. It may well have been a meteor of some description as proposed by authorities early on in the investigation, but there are a number of issues with this explanation. Even a small meteor traveling at such a high velocity would have caused a lot of damage to the area in which it landed. If it did indeed land in the woods of Kecksburg, then there would almost certainly be an impact crater and many trees would have been uprooted and or set ablaze. However, no such damage was observed. It is quite possible that the meteor exploded in midair but again this

would have caused significant damage.

The Tunguska event of 1908 is thought to have been the result of a meteor exploding over Siberia in Russia. It disintegrated at a height somewhere between five and ten thousand feet, flattening more than 80 million trees across an area of 830 square miles. More recently, the Chelyabinsk meteor, which exploded over Russia in 2013 at a height of almost 19 miles damaged more than 7000 buildings and injured around 1500 people. Either the object that crashed near Kecksburg was an extremely small meteor or it was something else altogether. The question is; what?


Obviously a UFO is the prime suspect amongst many people. Although in 2011, the History Channel's 'Ancient Aliens' set forth a theory that was far more chilling than anyone could have imagined. It claimed that the mysterious craft was in fact Die Glocke. Die Glocke, also known as "the bell", was purported to have been a top secret Nazi experiment. The craft was apparently powered by a strange red hued fuel which enabled it to defy gravity. The device was said to be so powerful that it might have helped the Nazis visit the Moon, Mars, or even leave the solar system if they had been so inclined.

The strange inscriptions on the Kecksburg object- which many thought resembled Egyptian hieroglyphics- bore an uncanny resemblance to the symbols seen on Die Glocke. It is thought that the SS officer, Hans kammler, may have used this craft in an attempt to escape Allied Forces during World War Two, shortly before the Nazis were finally overthrown. And there are those who believe that during his flight, the Bell disappeared from the sky in a flash never to be seen again and many fringe theorists delight in the possibility that it may have traveled forwards in time and crash landed in the woods of Kecksburg a couple of decades later.

Whether it was a top secret Nazi experiment, alien craft or simply a meteor, this is a mystery that may remain unsolved. The events of that December day will forever be etched into the history of Kecksburg. The simple fact that such an object was witnessed falling to Earth by thousands of people over such a vast area only serves to illustrate the sheer scale of this event. This object, whatever it was, had to land somewhere, yet seemingly the government of one of the most technologically advanced nations on this planet, either has absolutely no idea where it landed or is simply unwilling to divulge that information. The reason as to why they would withhold such information is anyone's guess. The people of Kecksburg certainly have their own suspicions.


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