Thursday, September 14, 2017

Another Nonsensical "Explanation" for the Kecksburg Incident

The so-called "UFO Crash" at Kecksburg, Pennsylvania on December 9, 1965 has become a UFO legend as a 'second Roswell.'  In reality, there is no mystery at all. The supposed "UFO" was simply the Great Lakes Fireball of December 9, 1965, reported by many observers over a wide area and written about by astronomers.


The train of the Great Lakes Fireball, seen across at least six states and Ontario, that started the Kecksburg 'UFO crash' story. Photo taken 9 December 1965 4:43 p.m. E.S.T. by Richard Champine of Royal Oak, Michigan. Location: 2 miles east of Pontiac, Michigan, approx. 45 seconds after event.

That hasn't stopped UFOlogists from proposing elaborate and unlikely alternate explanations, including a "UFO crash." In 2015, MUFON's Pennsylvania state director John Ventre, along with Owen Eichler, "explained" that  the Kecksburg incident was probably caused by a GE Mark 2 capsule from a Program 437 rocket launched from Johnson Island in the Pacific on 7 December 1965. Ventre already had a reputation for making dubious claims and frequently appeared on MUFON's sensation-mongering TV series Hangar 1. That reputation was enhanced by his claim that the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH-370 was probably abducted by extraterrestrials.  More recently, Ventre was at the center of a shit-storm in MUFON concerning some apparently racist comments he posted, and was (somewhat reluctantly) given the boot by MUFON's director Jan Harzan.

Canadian researcher Ted Molczan, perhaps the leading civilian expert on satellite orbits, quickly shot this claim down. He wrote that "Ventre and Eichler concluded that the Kecksburg UFO sightings were of a General Electric Mark II re-entry vehicle, launched on a variant of Program 437, called 437AP (Alternate Payload), which replaced the ASAT warhead with a satellite inspector. However, 437AP launches were sub-orbital," and hence could not possibly have orbited the earth for two days before allegedly coming down in Kecksburg. Molczan noted that "they omitted the conclusion of the experts that the flight ended with a destructive impact into the ocean... none of the key claims of Ventre and Eichler withstand scrutiny. The Program 437AP launch in question was sub-orbital and Kecksburg was far beyond the range of the Thor IRBM. That alone is fatal for their theory."
 
Now there is a brand new theory to explain Kecksburg, by Bob Wenzel Gross, a "semi-retired researcher and writer with a forthcoming non-fiction memoir entitled: In Pursuit of Anomalies: How Great Music and Real UFOs Can Save the Human Race. Dr. Gross has worked as a researcher, field investigator, scientist, writer, lecturer, educator, administrator, change agent, turnaround specialist, and professional musician." Published in Frank Warren's UFO Chronicles, Gross' account is very long-winded, and you can mostly ignore Part 1 - it's just Gross showing what a clever guy he is:
On or about June 1, 2016, I declared that the Kecksburg case would be my inaugural attempt at unraveling an established (fifty year old) UFO mystery. I gathered and analyzing new relevant data from the existing literature. Thus, I closed the Kecksburg case, once and for all, by applying scientific methodology to aggressive research. I strongly believe I solved the Kecksburg enigma—beyond the shadow of a doubt. (emphasis added)
Wow, what a guy!!!!


Gross' loopy "explanation" is in the second part, involving the once highly-classified Corona surveillance satellite, the earliest "spy satellite" that would fly over the Soviet Union to take pictures from orbit, then drop its film canisters back to earth for recovery.

Corona surveillance satellites were launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California...Corona satellites employed Satellite Recovery Vehicles (SRVs). These recovery vehicles were essentially space capsules with nosecone-like forebodies featuring heatshields made from a type of a composite metal that, to a degree, burned away during reentry. Enclosed within the SRV’s protective heat shielded forebody was perhaps the most valuable part of the SRV. It was a gold-plated capsule designed to be recovered by parachute. ...
A Corona Satellite was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on December 9, 1965. Due to an anomaly of sorts, its recovery vehicle separated from the satellite earlier than planned. Thus, this Corona recovery vehicle in conjunction with its film bucket is a highly viable candidate for the object that landed in Kecksburg, Pennsylvania on that same date.

The Corona KH-4A series consisted of "Film return with two reentry vehicles and two panoramic cameras."  KH-4A 1027 was launched  at 1:07 PM PST on 9 Dec 1965  from Vandenberg AFB aboard a Thor Agena D rocket. This was 35 minutes before the completely unrelated Great Lakes Fireball was widely seen across the eastern U.S. and Canada at 4:42 PM EST. The rocket was launched almost due south with an 80 degree inclination to the equator, which would allow it to fly over every part of the Soviet Union.

An Air Force JC-130B practices catching a satellite “bucket” with grappling gear and winch at Edwards AFB, Calif., 1969. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Gross speculates, based on nothing except his need for the rocket to be in Kecksburg, 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. This action was followed by placing the aft recovery vehicle (SRV-2) into a passive mode for the time being. Fortunately, jettisoning SRV-1 resolved the Corona satellite’s attitude problem for the time being.
According to NASA, "Erratic attitude necessitated recovery of this KH-4A (Key Hole 4A) type spacecraft after just two days of operation. All the cameras operated satisfactorily." But a satellite's "attitude" is not the same as its "orbital inclination," as Gross seems to think. The satellite could not control where its cameras were pointing (attitude), although it went into orbit exactly as planned. According to Remote Sensing from Air and Space by Richard C. Olsen (p. 239), KH-4A 1027 suffered a "control gas loss," and thus would not be able to keep its cameras pointed in the desired direction. But this means that the satellite achieved its desired orbit, and the reentry pods remained in orbit for at least two days - long after the sightings near Kecksburg. There is absolutely no evidence that one of its film recovery vehicles separated prematurely, as Gross speculates.

I sent Ted Molczan the links to Gross' articles to get his comments. Molczan consulted a 1966 document about the Corona program from the National Reconnaissance Office, originally classified "top secret," then declassified in 1997. From it he extracted the following information pertaining to mission KH-4A 1027 (emphasis added):
All launch, ascent and injection events occurred as programmed. Both Thor and Agena propulsion and guidance was normal and resulted in the desired orbit. After the Agena yaw around maneuver, the guidance pneumatics failed to switch to low gain. This condition resulted in gas supply depletion by orbit 9 and loss of stability by orbit 15.

Loss of vehicle stability necessitated first mission recovery on orbit 17 and second recovery on orbit 33. Both recoveries were executed using the lifeboat system and aircraft pickup
So, according to these once-secret documents, the Corona mission launched from Vandenberg on 9 December 1965 achieved its "desired orbit" by flying almost due south across the Pacific, and did not go careening wildly across the U.S., dropping its film payload over Kecksburg, as Gross imagines happened.

From that same NRO document:
MISSION 1027-1 RECOVERY SYSTEM

Recovery was enabled in the lifeboat mode on pass 16 [redaction] and executed on pass 17 on December 10, 1965. All events monitored occurred within their prescribed tolerances. Lifeboat gas pressure indicated an adequate supply for a second lifeboat recovery attempt.

Predicted Impact 22° 00'N, 152° 01'W

Actual Impact    22° 22'N, 151° 50'W

The condition of the air recovered capsule was normal.

MISSION 1027-2 RECOVERY SYSTEM

Recovery was enabled and executed in the lifeboat mode on pass 33. The capsule was air recovered on 11 December 1965, All events monitored occurred within the prescribed tolerances. See Table 5-1.

Predicted Impact  24° OO'N, 147° 03'W
Actual Impact     23° 3l'N, 146° 30'W

The condition of the recovered capsule was normal.

So, according to once-secret records, both of the film reentry capsules were recovered normally, over the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. Neither one fell into the woods near Kecksburg, Pennsylvania before the satellite achieved orbit. Molczan commented,
Gross and Ventre/Eichler claimed to find non-UFO explanations for Kecksburg, but failed because they relied on the methods of ufology, which tend to be unreliable.

The biggest error that both made was to ignore the scientific and journalistic evidence that the event was due to a meteoric fireball that disintegrated near Detroit, and accept the unsubstantiated claims that surfaced decades later, which are the foundation of the modern Kecksburg myth. That doomed them to try to fit a theory to what almost certainly is false data.... Gross attempted to solve some of the same problems as Ventre/Eichler. He tried to get a Corona SRV to Kecksburg by claiming that one launched that day went spectacularly off course, despite the contrary historical record. He needed a radiation danger, so he claimed one existed, without providing any evidence.

Gross and Ventre/Eichler have nicely demonstrated that the methods of ufology do not work, even when investigating non-ET solutions.
The launch in question did indeed contain an experiment:
Nuclear emulsion experiment, NSSDC ID: 1965-102A-01
Mission Name: KH-4A 1027
Principal Investigator: Mr. Robert C. Filz, Principal Investigator, Phillips Laboratory (nee USAF Geophysics Lab, nee Cambridge Labs)

Gross suggests, based on nothing more than his own misunderstanding of the term "nuclear emulsion," that there was something terribly dangerous about this Corona mission:
 It is reasonable to think that one of the SRVs had a potent nuclear experiment packed on board.

Documentation about this nuclear experiment has been lacking by design. However, it is clear that this experiment was intended to study Earth’s magnetosphere. The experiment was developed by the Phillips Laboratory in conjunction with the US Air Force. The experiment was enclosed inside a recovery capsule. Thus, the experiment would have been stowed carefully inside the film bucket of one of the satellite’s two SRV’s. For practicality and functionality, the front recovery vehicle (SRV-1) probably contained the nuclear test.

The National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) has not yet supplied sufficient details about the true nature of this nuclear emulsion experiment. From the onset, disinformation has been an integral part of the Corona program.. based on continual research, I can confidently surmise that the magnetosphere study may have encompassed at least three possible sorts of nuclear trials. I ranked these proposed experiments by danger levels. The danger levels take into account both physical and political safety considerations.

A rather low-danger-level nuclear experiment may have involved a cosmic ray study to detect radioactively charged particles trapped in an emulsion by energy generated through cosmic radiation. The radiation would interact with the emulsion. Such emulsions are made of gelatin and silver salt molecules that act when charged particles pass through. The molecules are excited by the passage for a period of time and can be converted to metallic silver. A satisfactory approach to this kind of test involves exposing the emulsion to high cosmic radiation long enough to capture particles (Stratopedia 2017).

A moderate-danger-level nuclear experiment may have involved studying organisms’ sensitivity to radiation in microgravity. As a result, such experiments may have involved placing by-products of nuclear fission in the recovery capsule along with a living animal. In this case, the animal may have been a primate (Popular Mechanics 2010).

An extremely high-danger-level nuclear experiment may have involved atmospheric tests of a nuclear explosive device. In the 1960s, the United States wanted to find out what happened when nuclear weapons are detonated in space. Regardless of the potentially great danger related to physical damage, the political damage associated with testing any nuclear device in space would have been astronomical.
Gross leaps from the first "low danger nuclear experiment" which is more or less correct (it should be described as a "no-danger cosmic ray experiment") to his speculations about an "extremely high-danger-level nuclear experiment" involving "a nuclear explosive device," which is totally absurd.

What is a "nuclear emulsion"? It sounds dangerous, but in fact it's not. According to the on-line Encyclopedia Brittanica
Nuclear photographic emulsion, also called Nuclear Emulsion, radiation detector generally in the form of a glass plate thinly coated with a transparent medium containing a silver halide compound. Passage of charged subatomic particles is recorded in the emulsion in the same way that ordinary black and white photographic film records a picture.
In other words, it's just a specially coated photographic plate, designed to detect radioactive particles. A "nuclear emulsion" is not itself radioactive! But Gross needs to stir up nuclear hysteria to justify a supposed military efforts to seal off the area and recover the supposedly hazardous "nuclear experiment."

Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for Gross to tell us "How Great Music and Real UFOs Can Save the Human Race." (From what?)



Robert Young's article debunking the Kecksburg claim was published as far back as the Spring, 1991 issue of The Skeptical Inquirer magazine (Vol. 15 no. 3): "Old-Solved Mysteries: The Kecksburg Incident." An updated version of "Old-Solved Mysteries" begins on p. 177 of the book The UFO Invasion, edited by Kendrick Frazier, Barry Karr, and Joe Nickell. (Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY, 1997). So the solution is well-known and has been for over twenty-five years, although many UFOlogists have determined to simply ignore it, and claim that a UFO crashed.

Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 61 No. 4, pp. 184-190.

In this article, the astronomers actually calculated the orbit around the sun of the meteor responsible for the Great Lakes Fireball before it entered the earth's atmosphere.

The green dot shows the location og Kecksburg, PA.

The people of Kecksburg have erected this monument to the supposed acorn-shaped space capsule that allegedly crashed nearby

We will let Zippy the Pinhead have the last word on Kecksburg:









32 comments:

  1. It looks like an upside down giant planter for an office building. Very basic....not a UFO. And they really need a much better "monument" or "memorial" before they will really bring in the tourist.

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  2. Just want to add that SUNlite 3-6 addresses much of the Kecksburg story. http://www.astronomyufo.com/UFO/SUNlite3_6.pdf

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    1. I was surpised, and not a little disappointed, that Roberto didn't refer to this in his main spiel. He's usually up to speed. Perhaps you should add him to your early-warning mailing list, Tim...

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  3. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Mr. Sheaffer’s Thursday, September 14, 2017 review of my article recently published by Frank Warren in The UFO Chronicles.com. Mr. Sheaffer’s review was titled: Another Nonsensical "Explanation" for the Kecksburg Incident. My article was entitled: Closing the Kecksburg UFO Case Opened Another Mystery. Most of Mr. Sheaffer’s critique targeted the second part of my so-called “loopy ‘explanation.’”

    During his critique, Mr. Sheaffer seems to have made an attempt to mislead his readers by failing to mention that the bulk of the material he critiqued was lifted out of context from my article’s “Prediction” section. The “Prediction” section was a subsection I included in my article under the heading: “Applying the Scientific Method to the Kecksburg UFO Riddle.”

    As many quality researchers understand, such predictions allow a scientist to be specific about how to demonstrate that a hypothesis is accurate. My stated hypothesis was: A Corona Satellite was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on December 9, 1965. Due to an anomaly of sorts, its recovery vehicle separated from the satellite earlier than planned. Thus, this Corona recovery vehicle in conjunction with its film bucket is a highly viable candidate for the object that landed in Kecksburg, Pennsylvania on that same date.

    Once a hypothesis and a prediction are developed, a true scientist does not change them even if the results of the experiment show that they are wrong. An incorrect prediction is not a failure. It merely indicates that the experiment demonstrated new facts that were previously unknown.
    Experimental information by nature is imperfect. Scientific results usually contain errors. One of my research goals has always involved minimizing errors. Thanks to Mr. Sheaffer’s own recent research, I now have even more information to possibly conduct an ancillary study related to the Kecksbrug UFO mystery.

    Although the Corona Satellite project was technically declassified around 1995, the contents of some satellites are currently classified—even as I write. Such contents may be classified because of the nature of the nuclear materials they enclosed. Furthermore, NASA has not yet provided a detailed description of the nuclear experiment on board Satellite KH-4A 1027 (NASA has provided detailed descriptions of nuclear experiments on board other Corona Satellites).

    A NASA document that I obtained in 2017 stated that: There were no data collections returned (for United States Air Force Photo Surveillance Satellite KH-4A 1027). That NASA statement seems to contradict the statement Mr. Sheaffer recently proved in his brilliant critique whereby one of his sources indicated: The condition of the air recovered capsule was normal. Thus, I will probably investigate the capsule condition issue more. Thanks to Mr. Shaeffer, I now have some potentially valuable bits of new information to help me ferret out the true answer.

    In closing, it seems as if Mr. Sheaffer may have missed or at least misread the sentence in my article that read: disinformation has been an integral part of the secret Corona program. Therefore, it is quite possible that even a witty gentleman such as Mr. Sheaffer may have been duped via disinformation. Since disinformation is a variable that figured heavily into my Kecksburg UFO research, I do not accept my recent findings as wrong—at least not yet. Disinformation is an area that must be investigated thoroughly in the Kecksburg UFO case. If it eventually turns out that Mr. Sheaffer was indeed hoodwinked by disinformation, it may help for him to remember that science is a process of becoming less wrong over time.

    The UFO Chronicles.com article (Closing the Kecksburg UFO Case Opened Another Mystery) was based upon a whitepaper report that I developed and wrote. The title of that report is: KECKSBURG UFO WHITEPAPER REPORT: Closing the Kecksburg UFO Case Opened a New Mystery. The full whitepaper report is available on my website at: bobwenzelgross.com.

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    1. Well Bob, there is an interesting quote from Mark Twain: "Its easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled". I would say that Mr Sheaffer's explanation is far more likely than a hysterical UFO hypothesis. I cannot understand why seemingly intelligent people stubbornly cling to their beliefs in UFO's when they have been given rational explanations and scientific proof that all so-called UFO sightings are easily debunked. Perhaps it is something deep within the general human psyche that makes people want to believe in ghosts, UFO's, unicorns, the chupacabra and the easter bunny. Scientific logic is beautiful - try it some time.

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    2. @ Encens Sacre,

      Thomas Gray wrote: “Where ignorance is bliss, Tis folly to be wise.”

      To employ another metaphor, in order to avoid "foot-in-mouth" disease it's always prudent to read the material you're critiquing, or for that matter, even the article you're adding commentary to. Moreover being insolent is unproductive, unflattering and illogical.

      Cheers,
      Frank

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    3. Frank,
      Thanks for sharing your opinion. Its always interesting to hear other's thoughts and the world would be a dull place if we all felt the same. I hope you have a great week!
      ES

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  4. Dr. Bob, you stated, "Due to an anomaly of sorts, its recovery vehicle separated from the satellite earlier than planned." Exactly where does it state this? All it states is that the satellite had an erratic attitude, which is something completely different. If you looked at the orbital elements listed for this satellite, they are what one would expect from a KH-4A satellite (examine the rest of the KH-4As launched in 1965 and you will see what I mean). In fact, the next KH-4A launched on December 27, 1965 had almost the same orbital elements (probably to accomplish the mission the December 9 launch was incapable of performing). Therefore, the satellite made the desired orbit, which means there could not have been an anomaly at launch that sent it towards the northeast. As for your "disinformation" angle, you can use that to negate any documentation that contradicts your theory. To me that is a cop out and a typical UFOlogical ploy used in describing grand conspiracies where people could foresee that UFO aficionados would, in later years, be busy going through various government records looking for the proof of this event. As a result, the government purposefully lied about everything in their documentation so nobody would ever know.

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    1. Mr. Printy: Corona/Discoverer satellites and their launches were rife with disinformation from the onset of that secret spy satellite program. Disinformation is false information spread deliberately to deceive. One example of relevant, documented disinformation that I uncovered involved the Corona/Discoverer 1 launch. The early Corona program experienced many failed launches. In addition, no dependable way to track launches existed. Discoverer 1 was a Corona program satellite that utilized a payload with no reconnaissance ability. Discoverer 1 was initially said to have reached orbit, but no signals were detected from the satellite. In reality, shortly after it launched, the Discoverer 1 satellite crashed into the ocean. Regardless, the Air Force announced that it had achieved orbit. Although the satellite never went into orbit, Colonel Frank Buzard, Corona’s Chief of Testing, disseminated disinformation by intentionally signing a false report that stated Discoverer 1 was in orbit—even though he knew it had crashed into the South Pacific Ocean. Thus, the Corona Chief of Testing knowingly provided misinformation. Moreover, he purposefully distributed it to the government—and in due course to the public.

      My 30+ years of research seems to indicate that the same sort of disinformation was used in relationship to the Kecksburg, Pennsylvania incident. . . Thank you in advance for your cooperation and understanding . . . Dr. Bob Wenzel Gross . . .

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    2. I am trying to figure out how your launch problem allowed the spacecraft to achieve the proper orbit. A rocket heading towards the northeast could not have achieved such an orbit even if it corrected itself. This is not "Star Wars" where spacecraft can turn on a dime or have an unlimited amount of fuel. A rocket is something that has to follow the laws of physics. For its path going northeast (there are no reports of the rocket heading in this direction, which the populace and media would notice), the rocket would have to perform a change in course towards the SSW. I am not a rocket scientist but I think that would be impossible based on what I do know about rockets. Unless you can demonstrate that the rocket could send your payload to Kecksburg and still reach the desired orbit, it is speculation not based on any facts. BTW, I have records of satellite observers tracking the early discoverer satellites on a regular basis between 1961 and 1962. They reported the magnitudes to be running between 2nd and 5th magnitude, which indicates observers could tell if any of these satellite were in orbit. Most of these were KH-3 satellites, which were smaller than the KH-4s. That means the KH-4s would have been a similar brightness and could be tracked as well.

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  5. Personally, I favour the 'sentient acorn' explanation.

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  6. Mornin' All,

    FYI: With the latest revival of Kecksburg and knowing a close friend was a witness to the event as a young lad, I asked him to recount what he saw. Important to note he wasn't alone; he was walking with a family friend, an adult.

    At the time of their sighting they were in a neighborhood of Mt Washington, about 40 miles from Kecksburg as the crow flies. A few things that stood out in his narritive was that the object was moving slowly and it made a distinct turn. Moreover, the adult accompanying him, in the aftermath of the event feared that it might have been a Nike missile and obviously was alarmed by what might have precipitated such a launch.

    The point being, is that at no time did either think they were observing a natural object. Of course as the day progressed their sighting would become the talk of the town ....

    Cheers,
    Frank

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  7. The witness story was not told in 1965 or a few years later. It was told long after the Kecksburg legend had been created and promoted in the media. The witness may have seen something (probably the daylight fireball - which is a rare event that few people get to see) but his memories of that event could very well have been contaminated by the legend told on TV, the radio, and in popular UFO literature.

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    1. Unfortunately, the ancient testimony of a friend (who was a child at the time, to boot), will always outscore the actual evidence. Cognitive dissonance is a 'wonderful' thing.

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    2. Regarding my statement about Spacecraft KH-4A 1027’s SRV separating from the satellite earlier than planned: My hypothesis, before testing and reviewing any new literature was: “A Corona Satellite was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on December 9, 1965. Due to an anomaly of sorts, its recovery vehicle separated from the satellite earlier than planned. Thus, this Corona recovery vehicle in conjunction with its film bucket is a highly viable candidate for the object that landed in Kecksburg, Pennsylvania on that same date.”

      As I recall, Mr. Shaeffer did not inform his readers that my statement was a hypothesis. Regardless, during my review of the literature, I obtained a recent document from NASA that stated: erratic attitude necessitated recovery of the KH-4A (Key Hole 4A) type spacecraft after just two days [48 hours] of operation. (Bracketed information added) The NASA document indicated that Spacecraft KH-4A 1027 was originally planned for a 17 day mission. Thus, at least one SRV separated from the satellite earlier than planned.

      Regarding erratic attitude: Discoverer 12, a Corona program satellite, failed to orbit due to an attitude control problem with the Agena. Moreover, early Corona/Discoverer satellites and their launches were rife with disinformation. Even the NASA statement above contains disinformation or sorts—or at least a gaffe. Technically, KH-4A type spacecraft are not recovered from space—their recovery vehicles are. . . .

      Regarding disinformation: Disinformation is false information spread deliberately to deceive. For example: the early Corona program experienced many failed launches. Too, no dependable way to track launches existed. Discoverer 1 was a Corona program satellite that had a payload with no reconnaissance ability. Discoverer 1 was initially said to have reached orbit, but no signals were detected from the satellite. In reality, shortly after it launched, the Discoverer 1 satellite crashed into the ocean. Regardless, the Air Force announced that it had achieved orbit. Although the satellite never went into orbit, Colonel Frank Buzard, Corona’s Chief of Testing, disseminated disinformation by intentionally signing a false report that stated Discoverer 1 was in orbit—even though he knew it had crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Thus, the Corona Chief of Testing knowingly provided misinformation. Moreover, he purposefully distributed it to the government—and in due course the public.

      In Mr. Sheaffer’s critique of my article he referenced a 1966 document he recently acquired. During 1966, the Corona program was classified top secret. In 1966, disinformation about the Corona program was integral to its success. The 1966 document Sheaffer referenced contains disinformation—or at least errors that were circulated. For example, Mr. Sheaffer wrote that erratic attitude necessitated recovery after two days of operation. He also wrote that the MISSION 1027-1 RECOVERY SYSTEM (the front SRV) was recovered during pass 17 on December 10, 1965 (it was launched on 12/09/1965). I assume that pass 17 refers to orbit 17. An orbit required 90.5 minutes. Therefore, once in orbit, it was recovered 25.64 hours later. Unfortunately, 25.64 hours does not equal two days!

      In closing, I find all the comments about my two-part article (published in Frank Warren's The UFO Chronicles.com) extremely educational and useful as I work on my book in progress. The published article and an allied whitepaper report will serve as resources for a Kecksburg chapter in my forthcoming nonfiction memoir: "In Pursuit of Anomalies: How Great Music and Real UFOs Can Save the Human Race." I am honored to have my article—"Closing the Kecksburg UFO Case Opened Another Mystery"— published on Mr. Warren’s TUFOC. My Kecksburg UFO whitepaper report is available at www.bobwenzelgross.com.

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    3. Above and beyond anything else, "...a highly viable candidate for the object that landed in Kecksburg, Pennsylvania on that same date" is open to the rather radical observation that nothing did land there. As contemporary accounts attest.

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  8. "Die Glocke läutete" I thought this was the re-entry of a Nazi "Bell"? Where did that theory go, it was everywhere for a while, down to the runes on the craft, and now it is a US spy mission off course. All kidding aside, has anyone ever demonstrated that the US Military actually responded to this incident??

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  9. Mornin' Tim,

    Not sure if you're addressing me, but just in case:

    If you're speaking of my close friend who was witness to the UFO (always used in the verbatim)– his account, along with the elder, family friend that witnessed same, as one might expect, was told shortly after it occurred to immediately family and then extended family, friends, etc. As this broke in the local news and given the amount of witnesses, it was the talk of the town for some time.

    Additionally, as stated above the adult who accompanied my friend feared that the object was a NIKE missile, and you can imagine the discussion around the respective dinner tables that night, something in my view that would not easily be forgotten.

    So, any “contaminated” memories would have occurred in mass. That said, and in playing devil's advocate: if we are to consider and or give credence to mass, contaminated memories, then it seems appropriate to do the same for "disinformation"; however, as you state above, one uses that angle to “negate any documentation that contradicts your theory,” which you feel is a cop out.

    Cheers,
    Frank

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    1. What proof do we have that it was "the talk of the town" or this information was shared with family members right after the incident. I spent a lot of time looking at old newspaper reports from the area and found nothing that indicates there were rumors of an "acorn" being found. Just a bunch of stories about people seeing lights in the woods and a search being conducted. There are also no reports of massive military involvement, where guards were posted and military vehicles were involved. If the story is true, something conclusive would have been reported. Instead, the "talk of the town" was not much talk at all. As long as there are no diaries that can be tested, letters to other family members that can be tested, recordings that can be tested, or films/photographs that can be tested, then it is just a story told many years later where contamination/fabrication/exaggeration is possible.

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    2. Mornin' Tim,

      No where in my commentary here did I mention an "acorn" being found or lights in the woods.

      What I related was an eyewitness account, by two people located on Mt Washington, (which offers a panoramic view of Pittsburgh), in this instance, of an airborne object, traversing the sky rather slowly and making a turn. The event was reported on local news stations that night and was all over the place–re newspapers, often times as a "headline," the following day. For example:

      • Uniontown Evening Standard

      • Titusville Herald

      • Bristol Daily Courier

      • Union Evening Standard

      • Connellsville Daily Courier

      • Kittanning Simpson Leader Times

      • Lebanon Daily News

      • Derrick

      • Uniontown Morning Herald

      • Tyrone Daily Herald

      Of course this was picked up by the newswires and became "national" news.

      Whether there were/are diaries, written letters between family members, in this instance–I don't know; however, there are surviving family members, along with the two witnesses.

      The notion that all eyewitness testimony or declarations is dead on its face without supporting or ancillary evidence is simply nonsensical.

      The very first step in scientific method is the observance of a phenomenon.

      Separately, as mentioned above, the former Royal Canadian Air Force pilot who witnessed the object WROTE his report the same day of his sighting and that exists on BB files for anyone's inspection. Moreover, aside from the "rapid changes in direction," he described, he also stated that the object was "pencil shaped."

      Cheers,
      Frank

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    3. I have quite an extensive collection of those newspapers as well (roughly 20-30 from the time period). I also have documents that you appear to be ignoring or are unaware (RASC journal article, Sky and telescope article, Proceedings of the Tenth Meeting of the Associate Committee on Meteorites, Meteorites of Michigan, etc). In 1965, a great amount of effort was expended by astronomers to determine the actual trajectory of the fireball that evening in order to see if there were any fragments that made it to earth (none were found). All the data (which included photographs, written report forms completed by 50-100 witnesses on the ground and in the air, and witness interviews by astronomers) indicate the fireball had a track that ended over southwest Ontario. Most of the oral accounts I can find in the 20-30 newspapers I read (including many from Pa) indicated a fireball that was seen terminating in the direction of Lake Erie. Very few, if any, indicated a track towards Kecksburg. If you are attempting to follow the scientific method, you are not going to select the data you want (aka cherry picking) to support your desired conclusion and ignore the bulk of what the reports state (which is why Sanderson went wrong with his analysis - See SUNlite 3-6). If you actually examine all of the data/observations, it becomes clear that the track produced by the astronomers, who did follow a scientific methodology) was pretty accurate and it did not go near Kecksburg. Either there were two objects in the sky at the same time, a fireball meteor and a crashing UFO, or these witness reports of a changing direction meteor are in error. Considering the short duration of the event (3-4 seconds by most reports), it is not surprising that a few witnesses might imaging the object shifting direction. I suggest you examine a number of the reports in the AMS database for specific fireball events involving a large number of witnesses. I did this in SUNlite 9-4 (The return of Chiles-Whitted?) and compared the data with the NUFORC witness reports. It clearly demonstrated that some witnesses to the bright fireball made mistakes (some stated the fireball changed direction and others said it became stationary). As I said, the scientific approach would be to look at the bulk of the data from the witness reports to get a clearer picture of what transpired. An unscientific approach would be to select a few reports that describe something unusual/exotic and ignore all the others which describe something that is more conventional/natural.

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    4. Mornin’ Tim,

      You wrote:

      I also have documents that you appear to be ignoring or are unaware (RASC journal article, Sky and telescope article, Proceedings of the Tenth Meeting of the Associate Committee on Meteorites, Meteorites of Michigan, etc).

      I’m not ignoring ANYTHING, which in fact is my point.

      Above you wrote:

      What proof do we have that it was "the talk of the town" or this information was shared with family members right after the incident.”

      I was merely responding to that question, and by your own admission the event(s) were widely reported locally, regionally and nationwide.

      You wrote:

      If you are attempting to follow the scientific method, you are not going to select the data you want (aka cherry picking) to support your desired conclusion and ignore the bulk of what the reports state …”

      Here we agree.

      You wrote:

      ” Either there were two objects in the sky at the same time, a fireball meteor and a crashing UFO, or these witness reports of a changing direction meteor are in error.”

      Now we’re getting somewhere.

      Cheers,
      Frank

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  10. Another witness, a former Royal Canadian Air Force pilot, who was on a passenger plane during the event, sent in a report, written on the same day (Dec. 9) to the (U.S.) Air Force which in part stated:

    "I have never seen anything like it [the object] before, especially the rapid changes in direction ..."

    Cheers,
    Frank

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  11. @ scherbenSeptember

    For the record: I have not done my own in-depth research of what is known as either The Kecksburg Incident, or The Great Lakes Fireball. I am however, more than familiar with the case. That said, I submit that both Bob’s and Tim are far more erudite re the elements of the case(s) then I.

    Furthermore, unlike Dr. Gross, Bob and Tim, I don’t have a hypothesis nor have come to a conclusion for the event(s) of December 9, 1965. I am open to the notion that it is/was an errant missile (the Corona Program), or perhaps nothing more than a meteor, or something else … or there was more than one (significant) event.

    All that said, it’s important to point out that—testimony from an eyewitness is evidence. It’s also important to point that he wasn’t alone and that he and the adult that accompanied him both witnessed the event with the latter fearing it was a Nike missile launch. Both discussed what they saw with family and friends. In other words it wasn’t something briefly seen, then forgotten and recalled decades later. Moreover, they’re in good company re witnesses who stated the object turned. Obviously, this conflicts with the meteor hypothesis and in my view, a blanket excuse of contaminated memories doesn’t wash.

    Finally, cognitive dissonance is as wonderful as confirmation bias ….

    Cheers,
    Frank

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  12. Project Blue Book was in existence in Dec. 1965. So what was their conclusion on the case? Or didn't they bother with it?

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  13. Has anyone tied Mothman into Kecksburg yet?

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    1. Not that I'm aware of. But you've given me an idea for a book. Want to share the royalties? ;)

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  14. Fireball meteor. There is an extensive list of memos for the record and a documented timeline on how BB responded to the events. I put a lot of this in SUNlite 3-6. The only documented military involvement are the small group of personnel from the Oakdale radar station. They reported finding nothing.

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  15. I really don't see the point of this kind of whack-a-mole skepticism. You're re-quoting for the umpteenth time material over half a century old to refute some totally obscure bloke whose entire contribution to ufology is one cranky, rambling guest post he made a few days ago on somebody else's UFO blog, which 99% of his target audience will probably ignore because there aren't any alien spaceships involved.

    And even if Dr. Bob Wenzel Gross was a big fish in the tiny, stagnant pond of ufology, doesn't the fact that your lot have been waving the same faded clippings and charts that prove you've won the argument hands down since 1966, and yet you're still having the argument, tell you something?

    I humbly submit that it's impossible to win a logical debate with people who either refuse to debate logically, or don't know how to even if they think they do. And right now, not only are you attempting to logically refute a whopping great coil of circular logic which includes an ongoing conspiracy with the ability to falsify any documents you can produce which seem to contradict Dr. Gross's belief-system, you're up against a man who repeatedly reminds us that he's a scientist, but defines the scientific method thus: "Once a hypothesis and a prediction are developed, a true scientist does not change them even if the results of the experiment show that they are wrong."

    After all this time, there's only question about The Strange Case Of The Alien Acorn that skeptics can usefully ask. Who was John Murphy?

    This local radio journalist is Witness Zero. Without Murphy there would be no acorn-shaped spaceship gaily festooned with hieroglyphics (by the way, was that a normal feature of Corona spy satellites?), no surreptitious midnight retrieval, no crash at all and therefore no conspiracy to cover it up, and no need to prove the fireball was a meteor because without the conspiracy there's no reason to think it might have been anything else.

    Do local newspaper archives from that time and place still exist, and does anyone here have access to them? If so, is there anything in them linking Murphy to prior journalistic hoaxes or tongue-in-cheek stories, or to imply that he was a bit of a joker?

    On a related note, if you have time to spare after chastising all the usual equine cadavers, you might usefully turn your attention to the small Scottish town of Bonnybridge, where, with a little help from the locals, the repercussions of a trivial UFO incident 25 years ago continue to this day, though sadly the proposed flying saucer theme-park fell through.

    By the way, the annual Kecksburg UFO Festival looks like a splendid day out, though it was in July so you'll have to wait until next year. I notice that anything resembling serious ufology is wisely kept to an absolute minimum in favour of fireworks, a fancy dress parade, a "UFO hot dog eating contest", and other things that might actually be fun.

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    1. Dear Count Otto,

      Thank you once again for sharing your droll erudition. You complain that I am "re-quoting for the umpteenth time material over half a century old to refute some totally obscure bloke whose entire contribution to ufology is one cranky, rambling guest post he made a few days ago on somebody else's UFO blog, which 99% of his target audience will probably ignore because there aren't any alien spaceships involved."

      That "totally obscure bloke" has now been announced to be a speaker at next year's International UFO Congress. As I suspected, his brand of UFO absurdity is headed for the Big Time.
      http://ufocongress.com/dr-bob-gross/

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