95% of UFO sightings can be written off as nothing: weather phenomena; misidentified aircraft; mistakenly identified stars or planets. 5% cannot be explained. In this series we’ll be looking at the mass sightings. The abductions. The unexplained deaths. Real cases, with real people.
These are the 5%. These, are the UFO files.
It’s the evening of 9th December 1965, and the switchboard of a local radio station - WHJB - is alight. Reports are flooding in to the station. They report seeing something in the skies over a nearby town. Some say it’s a fireball - others, a plane crash. Others still say it’s a UFO.
Office manager Mabel Mezza hands one such call to WHJB news director John Murphy. Murphy ends the call and stands up. He’s going to Kecksburg.
Kecksburg is a village in the state of Pennsylvania, around 45 miles from Pittsburgh. It’s a small place that in 1965 is famous for very little, but all of that is about to change.
Over in Kecksburg, local man Bill Bulebush was working on his car when he heard chatter on the CB radio that there was a strange object in the sky. His interest is piqued, but he carries on working on the car, until he hears a hissing sound. Looking up, he sees the object. A bright fireball cuts through the sky. It makes a u-turn in midair before heading into the woods near Kecksburg.
Rather than calling the radio station, he jumps in his car and heads to the site of the crash. A plume of smoke rising from the woods marking the spot where whatever he saw came down.
He gets to the site and the air is thick with the smell of sulphur. His interest draws him into the woods and towards the object. As he nears, he hears sizzling. Then, he sees it. The size of a small car, the colour of burnt orange. He notes strange hieroglyphics around the bottom of the object. After standing beside the object for some 15 minutes, he leaves, worried that whatever this thing is, it may explode.
He goes home and comes back with his son, surprised to see the army everywhere. He’s baffled how they got there so quickly.
John Murphy has arrived in town and entered the woods through an alternate route. He locates the object and snaps photos. Soon the military arrive on scene and his photos are promptly confiscated. Escorted from the woods, he decides to interview locals. Convinced there is something going on in town, he calls into the station, who put him on air to make a report.
Meanwhile, in town, more military arrive. They continue with their task of moving onlookers away.
Local youth Robert Blystone has also seen the object. He too entered the woods before the military arrived. Now standing outside the woods he sees an empty flatbed truck, accompanied by jeeps. The convoy enters the woods. Being close to his parents house, Robert decides that this is too good an opportunity to miss, so he waits. It is two hours before the convoy reemerges, but the flatbed is no longer empty. There’s a tarpaulin stretched over the back, and underneath, and acorn-shaped object.
Radio chief John Murphy listens to the interviews he recorded. Something fell into the woods. One witness states “… I seen two big bright flashes and a long streak of orange light. I figured it was a plane.”
Fascinated by the story, and convinced that he’s onto something huge, Murphy decides to make a documentary for the radio. He calls it “Object in the Woods”
Days before the documentary is due to air, two men in suits arrive. They are military men and they take Murphy into a room. The meeting lasts approximately 30 minutes. When he emerges, Murphy refuses to talk about the incident. In fact, he’s reluctant to discuss the Kecksburg UFO at all. But he still decides to air the documentary.
Mabel Mazza, the station’s office manager who worked on the documentary with Murphy is shocked when she hears what airs. It is completely watered down, and nothing like the project she and Murphy had originally worked on.
Murphy advises the audience at the start of the documentary, “We regret that part of the program had to be censored and other parts of the program had to be cut out entirely.”
He then goes out of his way to make the following assertion: “This station has not been contacted by any official agency of the state, federal, or local government in connection with this program.”
He insisted that the edits to the original documentary were made as a result of worried witnesses calling the station on the night of the show saying they didn’t want their stories aired. But to make such heavy edits on the night of the broadcast would require too much work.
Murphy’s wife would later go on record regarding Murphy’s change of heart towards the Kecksburg UFO. According to the her, this went from the biggest story of is life before the visit of the military men, to nothing. She noted how out of character such a U-turn was.
Project Blue Book was a government report on UFOs and UFO activity. The project ran from 1952-1969. A project Blue book report on the Kecksburg Incident states:- A three-man search was carried out until 2am, and nothing was found. It was a meteor.
In 1990, as an anniversary nears, a new thirst for answers arises in the media, drawing the attention of ‘Space Consultant’ James Oberg. He thinks he has found the answer to the Kecksburg question.
Oberg’s party piece is taking famous UFO events and comparing them to satellite and rocket launches and re-entries. And he’s got something.
Soviet Venus probe Cosmos-96 re-entered the earth’s atmosphere on the same day as the Kecksburg sighting. A failed rocket left Cosmos-96 stuck in earth orbit. He tracks down the relevant data. Air force tracking keep detailed records and these records could unlock the mystery.
Upon study however, the flight path is nowhere near. Between Cosmos-96 and the Kecksburg UFO he finds a 13-hour discrepancy. Oberg isn’t convinced that’s the end of the matter. It could be a cover-up: deliberately misleading data to hide the fact that the US has found what would have been at that time a Soviet satellite. The coincidence of the satellite re-entry and Kecksburg UFO event happening on the same day was too difficult to dismiss.
Fast forward to 1996, and better tracking data is made available, Oberg conclusively ruled out Cosmos-96 being the object found in the Kecksburg woods. He is not ready to rule out another satellite, though he says it is unlikely.
Sceptics are keen to ascribe the Kecksburg event to a meteor. A meteor, however, would not account for the witness reports of the object changing course in mid-air, nor the heavy military presence. Why would the army go to such lengths to cover up a meteor? An interesting entry in the Blue Book file on the Kecksburg event instructs anyone dealing with the media to “call it a meteor”, later going to on to state “investigation is still underway”.
So what was it? Where can we find anything matching such a bizarre description?
Enter the Nazis.
Die Glocke was a ‘wonder-weapon’ supposed to quickly end the war - a war they were on the verge of losing. The German word glocke translates as bell. The Nazi Bell could easily be described as acorn-shaped, and also featured strange hieroglyphics around the bottom.
So was it a long-lost Nazi weapon?
After WWII, the top Nazi scientists of the day were not jailed or hanged for war crimes, but smuggled into the US to continue their work as part of the now infamous Operation Paperclip. The Nazi Bell theory is perhaps not a outlandish as it first sounds.
The one man who was most likely to crack the case, sadly cannot. In February of 1969, WHJB radio news director John Murphy was walking alongside a highway in Ventura, California and was hit by a car. He died instantly.
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In this blog I'll be bringing to you short tales of things that go bump in the night, true stories of weird and unexplained events, and the real-life news of all things odd and macabre, and entertain you along the way.