“Meteor-wrong” (Kecksburg UFO)

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In UFO lore, witnesses saw a shimmering, long-lasting fireball over a large swath of the northern U.S. and southern Canada on Dec. 9, 1965. This tale includes two dozen aircraft reports and shockwaves picked up by seismographs. There were also claims of metal debris scattered across the area where the fireball had been seen.

Most chillingly, the woods outside of Kecksburg, Pa., were allegedly cordoned off by government agents, who drove away with a large, acorn-shaped object emblazoned with unknown symbols that resembled ancient Egyptian. Popular ideas among believers was that the craft had belonged to either aliens or Nazis. Or fascist Venusians for maximum effect.

Since then, other notions have been floated. Some suspect it might have been the Soviet Kosmos-96 Venus probe, which had failed during its launch about 15 days prior and which re-entered Earth’s atmosphere the day the fireball appeared. But declassified Soviet documents now show that Kosmos-96’s orbit would have never placed it anywhere near Kecksburg.

Paranormal author Leslie Kean field a Freedom of Information Act request with NASA to force the agency to release for files on the Kecksburg event. NASA officials responded that the requested items had been lost, which even to this hardboiled skeptic seems dubious.

However, a much more well-known skeptic, Brian Dunning, noted that NASA runs the country’s space program and does not delve into searches for aliens or enemy satellites. Those seeking information on UFOs or wayward Soviet spacecraft would be better served filing FOI requests with the military or intelligence services. If there was a cover-up, NASA wasn’t the agency responsible.

Furthermore, shows on the laughably-named History Channel and likeminded networks are about selling ads and increasing viewership, not finding out what happened. Dunning explained how the programming words: “Many of my colleagues and I have appeared on these shows as expert talking heads, and the directors are constantly prompting us to say certain phrases, to repeat what we just explained but using a specific term that they want, in order to give them just the snippet of dialog that they can isolate and give viewers the impression that scientists all believe some wild alien explanation is the true one.”

This also happens to eyewitnesses, who end up seeming to endorse what the producers want when that may not be the case at all or is only part of the story.

Meteorological reports confirm that on the day of the Kecksburg incident, a hypersonic bolide made its way across part of North America. All known observations by astronomers indicate it was a meteor.

50 Kecksburg residents, representing 10 percent of the town, asked producers not to air the program because it was so laden with errors.

Especially strident was Ed Myers, the fire chief in 1965 who was falsely accused of helping cordon off the woods.

As to the craft and its alien accouterments punitively whisked away, the only alleged eyewitness was 10 years old at the time and he made no mention of this until quarter of a century later when appearing on the sometimes-fascinating, sometimes-sensationalist Unsolved Mysteries. No accounts from 1965 made any mention of this Unidentified Nonflying Object.

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