Rockets, reptiles, and a resurrection
PETER BROOKESMITH surveys the latest fads and flaps from the world of ufological research
FROM TINY ACORNS...
Not so much an old chestnut this time, as an old acorn – the ‘UFO’ that allegedly crashed in the woods at Kecksburg, Pennsylvania, on 9 December 1965 (see FT171:18, 179:22,
206:27). The ‘incident’ is rooted in a huge meteorite known as the Great Lakes Fireball that was visible that afternoon across some six states plus Ontario. Ufologists took no notice until the late 1970s, when Leonard Stringfield retailed Clark McClelland’s rather more elaborate version of events in the second of his UFO Crash
Retrival Syndrome status reports. McClelland suggested that it was a Russian satellite that had crashed in the woods, was recovered by police, firemen, and “a large contingent of military specialists” (actually there were fully three of them), and was hidden under a tarp before being hauled off in a 10-ton truck. From there the legend grew, that truck eventually becoming a military M123 low-loader that, having travelled unnoticed (and illegally) on public highways and at implausible speed to the ‘crash site’, managed to negotiate the woods and trundle off to who knows where with what had become an acorn-shaped alien cargo. Witnesses came forth to confirm all this. The ‘acorn’ acquired strange ‘hieroglyphic’ markings, the way crashed UFOs always do. The military threatened civilians with guns to keep them away. The only thing missing from the tale is someone spying an alien’s arm hanging out from under a sheet (no body bags in 1965 – they were all being reserved for the battle of Ia Drang?).
Even without that detail, the parallels with the Roswell story are apparent. But eventually it seems to have wormed its way into some parts of the ufological skull that perhaps the acorn wasn’t alien after all. Sterling and trenchant work, especially by Robert Young, had rather undermined that idea. (For the most comprehensive account and deconstruction of the Kecksburg ‘crash’, see SUNlite Vol 3 No 6, Nov.-Dec. 2011, at www.astronomyufo.com/UFO/SUNlite3_6. pdf.) But the worm of a notion that a secret satellite of some kind crashed at Kecksburg was still alive.
So, in 2015, John Ventre of MUFON and Owen Eichler proposed that the Kecksburg incident was caused by a GE Mark 2 capsule from a Program 437 rocket launched from Johnson Island in the Pacific on 7 December 1965. The major difficulty with this wheeze was that the launch in question used a single-stage, sub-orbital Thor rocket that had no chance of putting a falling satellite anywhere near Kecksburg.
Now along comes one Dr Bob Wenzel Gross, musician and educator, to tell us (courtesy of Frank Warren’s UFO Chronicles website) that the Kecksburg acorn was actually a secret Corona spy-camera satellite launched from Vandenburg AFB on 9 December 1965. Gross maintains that “instead of heading south, the rocket system headed for a launch trajectory that would cut a northeasterly path across the United States... In an attempt to regain control of Satellite KH-4A 1027’s orientation, the foreword recovery vehicle (SRV-1) was separated from the spacecraft. The separation was done at some time before the engine burn that would have injected the satellite into orbit.” And, so, the satellite landed at Kecksburg.
Two little local difficulties here. First: the official record of the launch says the satellite was successfully put into orbit but lost stability on orbit 15. It was dumped on orbit 17 and recovered from the ocean by aircraft on 10 December. Kecksburg is some distance from the sea. Second: contemporary reports from Kecksburg mention nothing about odd bits of kit being hauled out of the wood, by low-loader, camel train, hordes of coolies, or whatever. Objections along these lines to Dr Gross elicited what can only be called ramblings about government disinformation, &c &c ad
soporem, which scarcely clarified matters that had been clear enough from day one.
LEFT: A model of the crashed object created for the show Unsolved Mysteries on display near Kecksburg fire station.
Meanwhile, some forgotten old news has become new again. You may well be amazed to learn that beneath Hollywood there are worse things to fear than the casting couches up above. According to Disclose.tv, via the NeonNettle website, “a map of underground tunnels and cities has exposed reptilian ‘lizard people’ who have allegedly been secretly living directly under Hollywood, Los Angeles. The tunnels are said to be equipped with ‘huge chambers’ that are big enough to house 1,000 families. The Reptilians were discovered by a mining engineer named George Warren Shufelt back in 1933. Shufelt was the inventor of what he called the radio X-ray machine, a device that enabled him to detect tunnels underground. Shufelt was in possession of the underground map which detailed the tunnels and cities the reptilians lived under Hollywood, Los Angeles. Of course, nobody has seen the map until now.” (Pause here to note that the website reproduces Los
Angeles Times articles of 1934 with said maps.) There are apparently 285 tunnels covering “1,900 sq ft of tunnels along with rooms that had 9,000 ft of floor space and 16 rooms in which gold was stored” – loads of it, apparently. Shufelt, who seems to have failed to patent his ground penetrating radar, didn’t find any. Those inclined to give credence to this tale should be warned that the website also features the deathbed confession of a former MI5 agent that he bumped off Princess Di, and the news that an ancient text “confirms that Jesus Christ was a reptilian shape shifter”. And you may be assured that when not writing this column and sampling fine wines and numerous dusky virgins, I relax in my true shape as one of Ken Livingstone’s newts.
My colleague Jenny Randles has revived
NUFON News after a 16-year hiatus, and has been instrumental in getting Alan Godfrey’s autobiographical volume Who or What Were
They? published. See www.ozfactorbooks. com for details. One gathers Mr Godfrey doesn’t think much of the analysis David Clarke, Andy Roberts and I put forward of his experience ( FT269:44-47, 270:46-49). I’ll read the book and report on what I find.