Kecksburg UFO – Call Me a “Non-Skeptic” If You Must

February 18th, 2010
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I hope this does not make me a conspiracy theorist, because on this one, I think the government is hiding something and I disagree with those who have dismissed this as a non-event.

On December 9 1965, a fireball streaked across North America and was sited in the Great Lakes region of both the United States and Canada. There’s no doubt that this happened, as it was seen by many and produced sonic booms which were recorded on seismometers. It was also seen in Pennsylvania, where some reports indicated that debris or meteorites may have started grass fires (there were grass fires, but whether or not this caused them is unproven.)

In the town of Kecksburg PA, local residents reported that an object landed (or crashed) in a small wooded area. It has been pointed out that it’s not uncommon for observers of a meteor or other falling object, such as a satellite, to mistakenly believe that it has landed somewhere it has not due to an illusion which occurs when the object crosses over the horizon. If there are trees or some other obstruction in the foreground, it can appear that the object has landed in the area behind the obstruction. This phenomena is fairly common and it’s certainly possible that this is what occurred in Kecksburg, although there is some evidence to the contrary.

The Pennsylvania State Police were called and arrived to search the area, and the local volunteer fire department was also on the scene. The State Police initially stated that they were turning over the site to the US Military, implying that there was something significant in the area and beyond their experience of jurisdiction. However, later an official statement was released stating “The Pennsylvania State Police have made a thorough search of the woods. We are convinced that there is nothing whatsoever in the woods.”

At this point, the official documentation ends. While there’s no doubt that something was reported and that there was an official report, any information about an object in the woods that night comes only from eyewitnesses – who are, of course, notoriously unreliable. There are, however, a few pieces of indirect documentation to the event. A Journalist from a local newspaper filed a report stating that an object had been found and the military had secured the area. The reporter Bob Gatty, was at the site at the time and his story indicates that he had verified these events and seen them himself. Despite these reports and the fact that the State Police had clearly stated that they did summon the military, the official line is that the US military never went to the location that night.

There is no doubt that many people in the area believed something did crash at the site on that night, although this does not mean anything did.

The official story from the US government is that nothing happened that night in Keksburg. There was no military operation, nothing of any kind struck the ground and certainly nothing was recovered. The witnesses were all mistaken or had confused other events around the same time period. Furthermore, it was certainly not a Soviet space probe because no Soviet space probe landed in the US that night. One did re-enter the atmosphere over North America on the same day but 13 hours earlier, it either burned up completely or any parts that survived crashed far out to sea, or possibly in a remote part of Northern Canada, with no debris ever recovered. The fireball that was seen and photographed was an unrelated meteor burning up in the atmosphere.

This is certainly possible. It would not be the first time that old memories, rumors and a lot of inductive logic produced something out of nothing, but there are a few things here that seem to indicate that this could be a little more than a coincidence.

There were also some who claimed that the US military or other government agencies requested (or told them) not to report the incident or even confiscated films and cameras. One witness, a news director from a local radio station by the name of John Murphy was on the scene before most of the authorities. He called back to his station to tell them that he had made it to the site and there was some kind of object at the location. However, Murphy did not air the story or publish the photos. His wife and others later stated that he had been approached by government officials, who confiscated the film and told him that the incident could not be reported due to issues of national security.

There have also been a few former soldiers who came forward over the years and stated that they were part of the security detail that arrived at the site.

Of course, reports of government intimidation, military security and alike must be taken with a grain of salt. These kind of things have been reported many times and debunked nearly as many times. However, it is not beyond the realm of possibility, as it is well documented that the military did occasionally respond to incidents in a manner similar to that reported by eyewitnesses. For example, in 1963, the military and CIA responded to a reported crash in Utah, secured the area and interviewed witnesses, telling them (in no uncertain terms) that they were not to report what they saw or retain any photographs. It was later revealed that the incident was the crash of a then top-secret A-12 Oxcart aircraft.

Some of the wittiness reports of the events in Kecksberg come from what would appear to be credible witnesses, including the local fire chief. These are a few of the statements made:

Bill Bulebush, a local resident claimed to have gone to the site after seeing a falling object:

There, maybe a quarter-mile into the woods, lay this thing — burnt orange, maybe 10 feet long, shaped like an acorn

It was smoldering and cracking, sparks coming off it … no sign of life, with a sour smell, sort of like sulfur

It was half-buried, after tearing a trench into the ground with a belly-flop landing

David Newhouse:

The Army was definitely there. It’s irrefutable. I saw them

We tried to sneak around to see what was going on

A guard turned us away

So, something was definitely there. I don’t have any idea what it was, but the Army doesn’t come out to guard a patch of woods

James Romansky (firefighter in a local town)

one big, huge piece of metal buried in the mud … goldish, copperish, yellow, quiet as a church mouse

I’m running around, looking for bodies and scratching my head and my butt because there aren’t any

There’s no loose pieces. This thing has no rivets, no portals, no way to get in and out

[Romansky's confusion seems to stem from the fact that his fire company was called on to respond to a "plane crash"]

Could they be making this all up? Or mistaken? It’s certainly possible, although it does seem a bit strange that so many wittnesses reported the military being in the area but never seeing anything themselves. If you’re going to make up a story, it seems like claiming you never saw anything other than a guard who told you the road was closed is a bit boring.

This photo shows the area of the reported crash as seen by a 1967 air survey. There is a path that could be the tench and damaged vegetation described by witnesses. Of course, this doesn’t prove anything, as it also could be any number of other things, but the line seen was not present in photos taken in 1957 or 1963 and has since grown over by vegetation. The fact that it does not appear absolutely straight could simply be the local topography. While the presence of this anomaly doesn’t prove anything, it’s absence could have been strong evidence that nothing had landed in the area.

A few things that those who claimed to have seen the object all agree on:

  • It appeared to have hit the ground at an angle in a ballistic manner, leaving a small trench behind it
  • It generally has been described as looking more like a man-made piece of technology or some kind of metallic junk and not otherworldly
  • The shape was often cited as being like an acorn – a blunted kind of capsule-like shape
  • It had some kind of writing on it that did not use the English alphabet
  • It had some kind of seam on it or appeared to have some kind of lid or some means of opening it up

The following illustrations have been made by those who claim to have seen the object or were drawn by others based on their descriptions and verified by those who claim to have been there:


On November, 23 1965, the Soviet Union launched a Venus probe known as Cosmos-96. The Soviet and Russian Space program has the rather confusing custom of retroactively renaming any spacecraft that fails in its mission “Cosmos-xx,” and thus the spacecraft is known as Cosmos-96, because it was a failure. Had it succeeded in making it to Venus, it would probably have been known as Venera 4, but when the upper stage of the rocket failed, the spacecraft was left in earth orbit and all references to it officially became “Cosmos-96″ and the name “Venera 4″ was reused for the next mission, which did make it to Venus. (Yes, it makes the whole thing very confusing to keep track of)

As it turns out, Cosmos-96 reentered the atmosphere on the night of December 9th, the same night the object was reported to have crashed in Kecksburg PA. The probe had been left in a decaying earth orbit which caused it to reenter the earth’s atmosphere while traveling south, over the North Pole as it crossed over the North American continent.

The official version of the story is that the Cosmos-96 spacecraft was not on a trajectory that would not have allowed it to crash in Pennsylvania. However, it would have come pretty damn close, if the trajectory had been different by just a few degrees, it could have put it on a path with Kecksburg. Based on the orbital data, this does indeed appear to be the case – Cosmos 96 could not have landed in Keksburg due to its ballistic trajectory alone.

The Soviet Union (and now Russia) don’t provide a lot of information about their planned missions that failed, however, it appears that the Cosmos-96 vehicle was intended to eject a capsule into the atmosphere of Venus (as those which became before and after all were intended to do the same.) This capsule was packed with scientific instruments and was designed with a headshield and armored construction to withstand the entry into the atmosphere of Venus.

The capsule did not have engines to allow it to make a “soft landing” but it likely did have a parachute, as other Venera probes did. The primary purpose of the capsules carried by the first generation of Venera probes was to provide atmospheric data, not to continue to transmit after landing on the surface of the planet. Since the capsule was intended to enter the atmosphere of Venus while the main spacecraft would continue past the planet to a heliocentric orbit, it would have been accelerated away from the trajectory of the primary spacecraft with some force. It is likely that if the two portions of the spacecraft separated, the capsule could have landed some distance from the trajectory of the primary spacecraft. Furthermore, as it was a ruggedly built piece of equipment, and designed for reentry, it is highly likely it reached the ground intact.

The Venera surface probes had a protective “lid” on the top which would have come off shortly after reentry – assuming the probe had been properly activated at reentry. The ejection of the lid would allow the probe to deploy a parachute, communications antennas and several atmospheric analysis instruments. The lid was designed to protect the instruments from the harsh enviornment of space and reentry and was attached using explosive bolts.

Cosmos-96 was a Venera 3MV-4 type probe, nearly identical to the Venera-4 mission probe. (Venera-4 actually used the 3MV-3 type spacecraft, which was nearly identical to the 3MV-4) This type of lander is similar to the one probably carried by Cosmos-96, although no images of that exact probe are known to be public.

The above reentry vehicle is from Venera – 4, but it is very similar to what Cosmos-96 would have carried. It is not entirely clear whether there would have been Russian text on the reentry vehicle, but it would not be unusual for it to carry an inscription. Many illustrations of capsules show them as being painted white with “CCCP” on their side. However, this was only the case with prototypes and museum pieces. The actual probes used had a brown heat shield.

There are some other interesting coincidences: there were several reports of the object giving off smoke, smelling like burning material or sulfur or that the metal surface seemed scorched. These are all entirely consistent with ablative heat shields of the era.

There are a few inconsistencies, however. Many of the witnesses stated the size of the object was larger than the Venera lander. Many compared it to a VW Beetle. However, it’s also possible that they simply overestimated the size.

The skeptical side:

A number of UFO skeptics who investigated the incident have concluded that nothing fell in Kecksburg and that the Cosmos-96 spacecraft could not have been responsible for something falling in that area, because its trajectory was not quite right to impact in Kecksburg.

Reports of the sightings of the fireball seen over the great lakes region and triangulation of seismic data was initially reported to have conclusively shown that an object associated with the fireball could not have landed at Kecksburg. However, later review found that it was remotely possible that Kecksburg could have been the final location due to the level of error in the triangulation.

The image to the right if from a website claiming the fireball and Kecksburg object were some type of alien craft or other classic “UFO” case. Such a path would explain both the Kecksburg object and the location of fireball sightings. Of course, it also would require the object make a turn mid-flight, something that could not be explained even by strong aerodynamic forces on a capsule.

The bellow image is from this site. It shows the flight path as approximated by triangulation of photograph locations.

Clearly there are much different estimated trajectories based on the method used to establish the direction of the fireball. The only thing that is not disputed is that it was seen in the Detroit and Western Lake Erie region.

If the area seen on the aerial photo from 1967 was the path of a crashed object, then this is the direction it would have come from and the resulting trajectory:

Even given the lack of precision, it seems the object would have had to be on a different trajectory from the primary fireball.

NASA’s chief scientist on Orbital Debris, Dr. Nicholas L. Johnson, stated in 2003:

I can tell you categorically, that there is no way that any debris from Cosmos 96 could have landed in Pennsylvania anywhere around 4:45 p.m.[...] That’s an absolute. Orbital mechanics is very strict

Dr. Johnson is right. Orbital mechanics are very strict and if the object had been governed entirely by its own ballistics it could not have been Cosmos-96. However, nowhere does he, or others who have analyzed the path, consider the possibility that part of the spacecraft could have been ejected from the other with enough Delta-V to alter its path.

However the Venra probe was designed just for that. As the main Venera vehicle would only fly by Venus, before continuing into a heliocentric orbit, the capsule was ejected by a pyrotechnic charge, which severed the straps that held the capsule to the spacecraft bus and sent it on its way to Venus. If this charge fired before or during reentry, it would assure that the capsule would not be on the same trajectory as the main spacecraft.

Cracks in the official story:

The official line from the US government has always been that nothing crashed in Kecksburg. No military investigation ever happened. No object was recovered and all the witnesses were mistaken. However, there are some unusual and suspicious holes in this story. For one thing, there is a conspicuous absence of any documents relating to the event. Clearly residents did believe something had landed and reported it, and even if there was nothing to it, there should have been some record of an investigation. Even an official report which amounted to little more than “We checked this one out and there’s nothing to it,” would have been expected.

During the Cold War, the US Air Force maintained a secret program to recover debris from Russian or Chinese spacecraft, whenever one reentered the atmosphere over US territory or territory controlled by other allied or NATO countries. If a suspected reentry occurred in a friendly area, teams were dispatched to search for debris that could potentially be collected and analyzed for technical intelligence. The best known incident of this type was Cosmos 954, which reentered over Northern Canada and which a joint US and Canadian recovery operation ultimately recovered over a dozen pieces of. This incident is noteworthy because the satellite carried a nuclear reactor – leading to concerns of radioactive debris, but this was not the only time that a Soviet satellite or debris from one was recovered.

Then in 2005, a stunning statement was made that contradicted all previous reports. A NASA spokesperson stated that the agency had assisted the Air Force in analysis of material from the recovery of a “Russian Satellite” from the site. After being sued by a reporter, NASA released some additional documents from the period, which appeared to confirm a Soviet spacecraft was recovered. However, the most important documents were reported to be missing or unavailable to NASA. Despite the admission of NASA that documents do (or did) exist on the analysis of Soviet space debris, the Air Force has not commented and maintains that there was no object and no documents relating to an object.

Possible motive for deception and secrecy:

There are numerous reasons why the US government would prefer not to admit recovering a Soviet space probe, even today. The most obvious is Cold War secrecy and the fact that the government would not want the Soviets to know what we knew of them and their technical capabilities. Now, even though the Soviet Union is gone, the extent of the US effort to recover debris and the analysis done would still be a sensitive matter.

Finally, there is the matter of diplomatic and international concequences. If a piece of a Soviet Spacecraft fell in the US and was recovered, it was likely taken apart, photographed and analyzed, possibly resulting in the object being destroyed or reduced to little more than its raw parts. Considering that it was not intended to land on US territory, the Soviet Union could claim that the object was the result of a mishap but that it had not been abandoned and it was legitimately still their property.

By convention, it would have been the responsibility of the US to return the object to the Soviet Union, as was the case when the Soviet Union recovered a US space capsule “boilerplate” in 1969. Even today, admitting that the spacecraft was seized and kept by the US could cause a minor international incident.

What I think:

I think it was indeed the capsule from Cosmos-96. There’s just too much here, especially given the strange and conflicting statements from the government. That puts me in direct opposition to many skeptical investigators. However, I want to be 100% clear on something: I don’t know that it was Cosmos-96, I’m not sure that it was Cosmos-96 and I could be entirely wrong on it being Cosmos-96. It might have been nothing.

I won’t say I can prove that it was Cosmos-96, but I still suspect that it was.

This site has some additional information, both for and against the Cosmos-96 hypothesis.

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 18th, 2010 at 12:43 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Conspiracy Theories, Good Science, History, Paranormal, Space. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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20 Responses to “Kecksburg UFO – Call Me a “Non-Skeptic” If You Must”

  1. 1
    gman Says:

    Thanks for an interesting post, Dr

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  2. 2
    DV82XL Says:

    Oh, oh, Doc has drank the Kool-aid. :)

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  3. 3
    Engineering Edgar Says:

    I don’t know that I’d call this hypothesis all that nutty. The one thing that stands out is that NASA reversed their position on the issue. It smells like there has to be something there.

    IF there was a Russian satellite that crashed on US soil, this is exactly what you would expect to happen: military takes it and denies anything was ever there.

    This is not unprecedented either. Remember the “Roswell Incident?” A lot of people said the military secured the area and carried off some debris. The official story was it was a weather balloon, no security, no officials quartering off the area, nobody in the media was told to keep it hush hush.

    then 50 years later they finally let it out. Yep, turns out they did secure the area, they did have security people telling those around it not to say a word. They did confiscate material. Yep, all that was actually true. It was just the fact that it was a high altitude balloon carrying instruments to detect Soviet nuclear tests,

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  4. 4
    Gordon Says:

    Well, the evidence is circumstantial, but a few things are striking. The fact that NASA made statements about a Russian Satellite is probably the single biggest thing. The government’s lack of response on whether they did mount any effort to find the satellite and the other general inconsistencies, like the military saying they never were called when the State Police said they were is suspicious.

    Also, that probe does look a hell of a lot like the descriptions. I could see it looking like an “acorn” and the fact that it’s smaller is not a huge deal, because people seem to exaggerate the size of something like that due to their surprise or whatever. Granted, people are not good observers all the time, but they’re not always wrong either and that’s quite a coincidence when you look at that thing.

    There’s nothing here that’s impossible.

    Satellites and space probes do return to earth.
    There was a probe that came down around that time.
    If it did come down on US territory, you’d expect the military would immediately take it away.
    The government does keep things secret of this nature and probably would.

    It’s not like this requires aliens or the supernatural.

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  5. 5
    Eddy Says:

    Hi. I live about 45 minutes from there and I’ve been there. The real area it happened is on private property and the owners now don’t like people investigating but years ago it was not as big a deal.

    The path you have marked is wrong. That’s now where it came in. That path is where they came in to get it. They came in from the back away from the road because it’s not as steep there and they hauled it up the side of the a valley with a bulldozer or something and put it on a truck. 20 years ago you could still see where there had been a dozer or tractor or something that just plowed a path through there.

    Also 20 years ago you could see that there was a place it scooped the ground out and left some damage. You had to know where it was though, so I don’t know about now. Some locals showed me where the trucks were and everything. It doesn’t prove there was a UFO there, but you could see that there was something that happened there with equipment.

    There are documents though, because the previous owner of a house near there had owned some of that land and they got a check from the government for damage to their land. Some of the people who lived there a long time said that all that they heard was it was a plane crash. They said it was something military that it might have been a missile or something.

    There is basically nothing to see there now.

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  6. 6
    UFO Geek Says:

    I noticed you didn’t even consider the possibility that it was a real ufo and left out all the accounts that said the writing on it was not Russian and it did not look like a satellite. It also was bigger than the Russian probe and there is plenty of other evidence that it flew around in ways a satellite never could.

    The evidence speaks loud and clear that there’s more to this than just a satellite, and by the way “Engineering Edgar,” whoever you are, the idea that they would put a secret spy thing on a balloon is idiotic as the idea that it was a weather balloon. Wake up, there’s stuff going on you just can’t explain.

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  7. 7
    Carletes Says:

    Until recently I worked very close to the location and had never heard about this incident. Not surprising because I am not a westmoreland county native.

    I worked west and a bit north of the crash site near the town of New Stanton. Funny thing that struck me as odd was during my morning runs near my work site. There were a few sections of woods that were restricted U.S. military. They weren’t fenced off or anything, but just a little sign saying no trespassing keep off etc. I had always correlated it with the fact that I work at a nuclear power related site and 40 years ago this particular site had much stronger relations with the govt. In fact, it was where a lot of the early liquid sodium breeder design was done. But now I’m wondering if it had anything to do with this incident since it was near the trajectory path and maybe could have had some debris. Probably unlikely, but fun to think about.

    All in all, fantastic post and I was thrilled that you had a realistic hypothesis an information to back it up. I find anything and everything interesting about the soviet space program.

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  8. 8
    gman Says:

            UFO Geek said:

    … and by the way “Engineering Edgar,” whoever you are …

    That’s just too funny. As if everyone knows who “UFO Geek” is.

    anonymously yours,

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  9. 9
    Calli Arcale Says:

    I agree — it absolutely sounds like a photo capsule from an imaging satellite, most likely Soviet.

    Of course, one thing worth mentioning with respect to similar stories elsewhere is that it’s not unheard of for objects (natural and otherwise) to enter the atmosphere in a dramatic fashion but never be recovered. Just look at the STS-107 recovery effort: they found about 40% of the vehicle and its contents (by mass). And that was a huge effort with thousands of people (government employees at all levels, private contractors, and lots and lots of volunteers) and a very good idea of where the stuff actually came down. Most of the time (there are exceptions, and reentry capsules would likely be exceptions as they are designed not to break up in the atmosphere) these things aren’t really going all that fast when they hit, so there’s usually not a lot of devastation to point you in the right direction. It becomes a search for a needle in a haystack, and if it’s a natural object, it may just look like an interesting rock.

    A capsule like the Soviet one would likely have a beacon to aid in the recovery. The drawback to a beacon is that if it lands on enemy territory, it will advertise its presence, but this may not be avoidable if you want to be able to recover it under nominal conditions (i.e. it lands on your own territory).

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  10. 10
    Calli Arcale Says:

    BTW, for folks like UFO Geek who think photo capsules would be too small, you may be interested to know why the Soviet Union refused to release images of the Vostok and Voskhod spacecraft — it’s because they were nearly identical to their spy satellites of the same period. Voskhod carried up to three men at a time, so these are not particularly small spacecraft.

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  11. 11
    drbuzz0 Says:

            Calli Arcale said:

    It becomes a search for a needle in a haystack, and if it’s a natural object, it may just look like an interesting rock.

    I think that depends largely on where it lands. Much of the earth is ocean, and if it lands in the ocean, it’s going to be next to impossible to find, even if it floats for a while. On the other hand, if it were to land somewhere like Western Europe or the continental United States, it’s highly likely it would be found by someone and probably reported to authorities or the media.

    Even if it’s a sparsely populated area, like Kansas or Arizona, if it makes a loud enough sound or lights up as it comes down, someone’s likely to look for it and quite possibly find it – if not right away, then eventually. If it hits the ground hard enough to dig a trench and break trees, someone will likely notice.

    Take, for example, the Northeastern US. There are only a few areas where there’s contiguous uninhabited land for more than a couple miles in any direction. The same for much of Europe and almost all of Japan.

    Of course, it could still end up not being found if it landed in Northern Canada or Siberia or central Africa or even central Australia. In that case, it would be something of the luck of the draw. Even so, there have been some incidents of large chunks of debris landing in relatively uninhabited areas and being found. A burned out upper stage was found after landing in the middle of the Saudi Arabian desert and a piece of a strut the Apollo-10 lunar module was found by a farmer in New Zealand.

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  12. 12
    eon Says:

    Another possibility is that it was the RV of a Heavy Zond reconnaissance satellite. The HZ RV was very similar in both size and shape to that of the Soyuz manned spacecraft, which is also a close match for the descriptions of the Kecksburg object. The landing described is consistent with the landing procedure of these vehicles, which among other things fire a final set of retro rockets by proximity fuse just before touchdown to ensure against too hard an impact. The “rim with strange writing” was most likely the combined landing cushion/emergency flotation collar unit, which also activates just before ground contact. The inflatable “doughnut” (more like a kid’s swimming pool, actually, as part of it goes under the sides of the vehicle) has a network of stiffeners sewn into its outer side to prevent bulging from inflation; the heat of reentry and the retrofire procedure can turn these sections darker in color than the dull yellow of the rest of the “collar”. In the subdued twilight conditions, they could have looked very much like some sort of deliberate markings.

    As to why the U.S. would “hush up” such a recovery, I concur with the Doctor. Except that if they wouldn’t want the Soviet space agency to know that U.S. forces had recovered “just” a failed space probe, the U.S. intelligence community certainly wouldn’t want their opposite numbers in KGB and GRU to find out that NSA, etc., had an example of the USSR’s most cutting-edge “spy satellite” technology to take apart and evaluate. Trust me- a coup like that would make somebody’s career all by itself.



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  13. 13
    drbuzz0 Says:

            eon said:

    As to why the U.S. would “hush up” such a recovery, I concur with the Doctor. Except that if they wouldn’t want the Soviet space agency to know that U.S. forces had recovered “just” a failed space probe, the U.S. intelligence community certainly wouldn’t want their opposite numbers in KGB and GRU to find out that NSA, etc., had an example of the USSR’s most cutting-edge “spy satellite” technology to take apart and evaluate. Trust me- a coup like that would make somebody’s career all by itself.

    Well, the United States went to extraordinary lengths to recover examples of Soviet military technology for analysis and evaluation. There’s no doubt about that. Witness the extreme lengths that the US went to with the super-secret Project Jennifer/Azorian – now that was a real example of a super-project worthy of a James Bond Movie.

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  14. 14
    TXMarko Says:

            UFO Geek said:

    I noticed you didn’t even consider the possibility that it was a real ufo and left out all the accounts that said the writing on it was not Russian and it did not look like a satellite. It also was bigger than the Russian probe and there is plenty of other evidence that it flew around in ways a satellite never could.

    The evidence speaks loud and clear that there’s more to this than just a satellite, and by the way “Engineering Edgar,” whoever you are, the idea that they would put a secret spy thing on a balloon is idiotic as the idea that it was a weather balloon. Wake up, there’s stuff going on you just can’t explain.

    UFO Geek, just how young are you? My guess is that you were not even a twinkle in your Daddy’s eye in 1965, much less a walking, thinking human. As someone who was around way back then, I ask you the following:
    1. What accounts said the writing wasn’t Russian? How the hell would they know? Back then most people in the US lived their entire lives without seeing any language except English, unless they were specifically studying a foreign language, or had literature in their native tongue.
    2. What does a satellite “look like”? Back in 1965 the only depiction of a satellite most anyone had ever seen looked like Sputnik: Round with small straight antennas.
    3. Your assessment as “idiotic” that “they would put a secret spy thing on a balloon” is laughable. This is how things were done back then, especially for high-altitude nuclear sampling.

    Sure, it could have been a UFO… but Occam’s Razor disagrees with your belief.

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  15. 15
    drbuzz0 Says:

            TXMarko said:

    3. Your assessment as “idiotic” that “they would put a secret spy thing on a balloon” is laughable. This is how things were done back then, especially for high-altitude nuclear sampling.

    Actually it’s not even just back then. Few realize that ballooning is still a serious are of scientific research. A balloon can lift instruments up to over 100 thousand feet and it can do so relatively cheaply and for an extended period of time. I don’t know if it is used for anything covert or for any military intelligence (well, of course I wouldn’t know), however cosmic ray observatories, upper atmospheric research, ionospheric study and so on is routinely done with balloons. The only other platforms that can get that kind of thing done are satellites and high altitude aircraft like the U2 – both are many times more costly and take longer to deploy.

    It’s not as antiquated a technology as you might think.

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  16. 16
    rob Says:

    If you would read the book “Uncovering Soviet Disasters” by James E. Oberg, you will find in Chapter 12 “Reactors From the Sky” reports many Soviet Satellite failures during this time. Most were launched with small reactors. Upon reaching orbital altitude the unit would separate into two sections. The section with the now unusable reactor would further launch to a much higher orbit where it would safely orbit for centuries. The problem was, several of these reactor units failed to reach the higher oribt and fell back to earth. All of them were covered up… both by the Soviets and the USA in order to hold down public panic over the highly radioactive unit falling to earth, surviving reentry burn.

    I suspect Keksburg was one of these Soviet Reactors which was already mentioned as a satallite falling to earth on that same night. Hope this added info helps.

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  17. 17
    jeff schloss Says:

    I saw it. It’ flight appeared to be level. Bradys run rd, beaver pa.

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  18. 18
    Mystery of Kecksburg UFO incident lost in NASA archives for good Says:

    [...] credit: Depleted Cranium Full Article SourceIf you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy:Carl Sagan on making contact with [...]

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  19. 19
    John Sullivan Says:

    I lived in Detroit, Michigan at the time of the December 1965 incident. I was 13 years old and my father was taking me to a basketball game at the University of Detroit. We were driving south on Greenfield and approaching Grand River Avenue when the entire sky lit up. We looked up at the sky through the windshield and saw a streak of light traveling at an extremely high rate of speed. The streak of light disappeared as fast as it appeared. The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press described the flash of light as a meteor

    Based on all of the reports over the years, especially from the residents of Kecksburg and John Murphy; I firmly believe the government was involved in recovering a craft. I don’t believe it was as Russian satellite. In my opinion, the best explanation was that it was the Nazi bell, Der Glock. Not sure whether the Nazi bell was acquired by the U.S. government or whether it actually traveled in time from 1945 to 1965. Very fascinating.

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  20. 20
    Anon Says:

            John Sullivan said:

    In my opinion, the best explanation was that it was the Nazi bell, Der Glock.

    There is no such thing.

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