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Status Report II: New Sources, New Data
By Leonard H. Stringfield

Item B-1

Clark McClelland, formerly Director of NICAP, Florida Unit-3, during the period he worked at the Kennedy Space Center as a member of the Apollo Program, informed me on October 5, 1979 of an alleged UFO crash/retrieval incident occurring near Kecksburg, Pennsylvania, December 9, 1965. McClelland has since correlated old and newly acquired data, relative to the incident, which is contained in the following report for this paper:

Just before sunset on the evening of December 9, 1965, a fiery object causing a brilliant glow was observed by thousands of frightened and mystified residents of Michigan, Indiana, ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and Ontario, Canada. A loud aerial explosion occurred, causing several shock waves that were experienced by private and commercial aircraft pilots flying over Michigan and Lake St. Clair, east of Detroit. During the explosion, pilots and people on the ground observed something detach from the glowing form and fall to earth near Lapeer, Michigan. Other parts of the object eventually came to earth near Elyria, Ohio; Midland, Pennsylvania, and finally the remainder fell into a rural wooded area near Kecksburg, in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Retracing the flight of this unidentified flying object reveals some startling facts. Looking at a map of the overflight, one can trace the object's path in a straight line from its initial observation above Lapeer, Michigan, and as it continued over Lake St. Clair, to Elyria, Ohio, in a southeasterly trajectory. As the UFO flew over Elyria, it made an apparent course change of twenty-five degrees which appeared to be a controlled adjustment. This would obviously kill the usual explanation that it was a meteor or a bolide. This conclusion was later advanced by Dr. Paul Annear, professor of Astronomy at Baldwin-Wallace University, and immediately drew agreement from some Pentagon sources, even though the witnessed fall of physical material from the object to the ground over several cities verified the actual flight path.

Calculations show that the UFO was most probably between 40 and 60 miles altitude when first observed over Michigan. Assuming the object was 60 miles high, it could have easily been observed from Indiana to Ontario.

Amassing all the distances where witnesses claimed to have observed the glowing mass, we find that it was puttering along at about 17 miles a minute or 1,062.5 miles an hour. This is considerably slower than the astronomically recorded minimum speed of 27,000 miles per hour or the maximum 144,000 miles per hour that meteors have been measured to be travelling during their plunges to earth. So the college professor and the Pentagon called this mysterious object a meteor or bolide, Hah! Ask yourself - who is kidding who?

Another possibility exists to explain the mystery object. An inquiry was recently made through the records maintained by the United States Air Force Space Defense Center which is the headquarters of the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) in Colorado. On January 11, 1980, Mr. Del Kinchey, the Base Public Information Officer, assisted in searching the satellite and space debris re-entry archives for recorded tracking data on the date of the Kecksburg impact. He discovered that on November 23, 1965, the Soviet Union launched one of their spy satellite series designated Cosmos 96. What is interesting about this is that it either aborted or was recalled to re-enter into the earth's atmosphere sixteen days later, on the day of the Kecksburg incident - December 9, 1965. Further inquiry concerning the re-entry data where the Air Force expected the device to impact will be forthcoming in a future edition of this publication.

Even if this does prove to be an explanation for the Kecksburg object, it is common knowledge by those experienced in aerospace science and rocket development that no spacecraft or nose cone in 1965 had the capability of a twenty-five degree adjustment in flight direction during earth re-entry.

Within an hour following the impact of the object at Kecksburg, a large contingent of military specialists arrived at the scene almost as swiftly as the Pennsylvania State Police and local volunteer fire groups. They quickly cordoned off the area and ordered all on-lookers to leave. One armed forces spokesman was reported to have said, "We don't know what we have but there is an unidentified flying object in the woods."

On January 11, 1980, James Mayes, former Assistant Fire Chief and Melvin Reese, former fireman for the Kecksburg Volunteer Fire unit at the time of the impact, were interviewed. They had both accompanied an unidentified Pennsylvania State Policeman to within 75 yards of the wooded hollow where the crash occurred. Both men report seeing an object flashing. They could not determine the exact shape of the object. Both men agree that there was no fire associated with the impact. James Mayes also recalls that the military unit did set up a command post at the Kecksburg Volunteer Fire Hall. He said that information concerning the affair was relayed to an Air Force Base west of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, possibly Wright-Patterson in Dayton, Ohio. Mr. Mayes was not positive, so this disclosure is uncertain.

Mr. Mayes also said he had heard that a large military truck was cleared to enter the restricted area and that hours later, the truck reappeared with a large object under a tarpaulin. Other residents of the area recall hearing of the truck hauling something during the night.

The truck rumor was unsubstantiated until Robert Bitner, the Fire Chief in 1965, offered the following information. Mr. Bitner was working at the time of the fall and arrived later than other volunteers who were assisting the State Police and military unit. Later, during the night, Bitner was present near the impact site when a large 10-ton military truck appeared coming from the wooded area. It had a tarpaulin spread over a large object that appeared to be 6 feet high, 7 feet wide and 17 feet long. Mr. Bitner was approximately 25 feet from the truck and the military had personnel standing guard around the entire vehicle. Eventually, the truck, under escort, left for an undisclosed destination. Was that place Wright-Patterson Air Force Base or someplace else? No one knows.

The Kecksburg incident was not caused by a meteor or anything astronomical. Of this, we can be sure. Perhaps further study of re-entry data will determine an association with the Cosmos-96 that returned to Earth on December 9, 1965. This remains to be proven. Was it a craft alien to Earth? Information gained so far may eventually favor this theory. What is certain is that something important was apparently retrieved by the military and as yet, the object and its origin remains a mystery.*

Clark McClelland
January 17, 1980

*On November 16, 1979, I was interviewed on the John Signa Show, Radio Station KDKA Pittsburgh. Other guests were Clark McClelland, Betty Hill, and Travis Walton. During the 3-hour session, the Kecksburg retrieval incident was aired. To our surprise, we received four calls from people who allegedly were at the site following the crash. Some claim they saw the flatbed truck under tarp leave the area. Another later saw the hole caused by impact. Three witnessed the military security team who sealed off the area, and one, who got too close, was ordered to leave. Although one military spokesman said the retrieved object was a "meteorite," McClelland emphasized that he was aware of the UFO's flight pattern prior to the crash which ruled out that explanation.
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