Three F-94 Starfire fighter jets cruised at 644 miles per hour in the skies above Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Fighter pilots reported seeing a silver “large pear-shaped” object with no visible means of propulsion. Two smaller, darker objects also appeared to run circles around the larger craft for approximately 30 minutes.
The alleged encounter 40 miles northeast of Philadelphia was one of 12,618 incidents detailed and investigated by Project Blue Book, a government program to assess the credibility and potential threat of unidentified flying objects.
Six decades later, the U.S. military is once again publicly investigating UFOs, and is due to issue a report to Congress on what it now terms “unidentified aerial phenomenon.” In recent years, fighter pilots and stealth ships have reported strange objects off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Yet hundreds of other phenomena remain a mystery in the skies above Pennsylvania.
For those who have spent years examining such cases, recent disclosures by the military come with much apprehension. James Krug serves as a regional director for the Pennsylvania Mutual UFO Network, teaches astronomy, and runs the Neil Armstrong Planetarium at Altoona Area High School.
Krug suspects the government has released crumbs of information steadily about unexplained phenomena in order to brace the public for a future disclosure.
“I am cautious regarding the pending disclosure from the U.S. military regarding UFOs,” said Krug. “On one hand, it does seem like the public is in the midst of a multi-year disclosure to make us more comfortable with the idea of UFOs. Some believe this is intentional, designed to avert panic like that shown when many mistook Orson Welles’ 1938 Halloween radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds as a genuine alien invasion.”
Some of the most perplexing Pennsylvania cases came from U.S. military personnel, commercial airline pilots and police officers, and these incidents have attracted the attention of the U.S. military, according to declassified accounts.
An Air Force captain reported two objects in the skies above Elkins Park, Montgomery County, on July 19, 1952, as noted in one Project Blue Book case file. The captain said the objects appeared to fly “four times faster than a conventional aircraft.” The objects had a “faint tinge of red” and made no noise, according to the report.
Months later, an off-duty Air Force Reserve captain saw another object above Allentown.
He was flying at about 10,000 feet in a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza, according to Project Blue Book. The object appeared to be following him, he said. “If what I saw was a physical object, the rapidity with which it altered its course was astonishing.”
On Sept. 14, 1952, a commercial pilot flying near Olmsted Air Force Base said he witnessed a blue light with “tremendous horizontal speed.” According to Project Blue Book, others on the ground also said they witnessed an object that looked like a watermelon. The base closed in 1969 and is today a Pennsylvania Air National Guard facility located near Harrisburg International Airport.
Declassified records suggest that the U.S. military investigated 12,618 UFO incidents worldwide between 1947 and 1969 and were able to explain all but 701 reports.
The unexplained incidents from Pennsylvania occurred in the following locations:
— Allentown (Lehigh County) — Sept. 13, 1952
— Altoona (Blair County) — July 23, 1952
— Corsica (Jefferson County) — March 26, 1959
— Juniata County — Aug. 27, 1956
— Kutztown (Berks County) — July 9, 1952
— Neffsville (Lancaster County) — Aug. 20, 1952
— Pleasant View (Armstrong County) — May 26, 1964
— Pittsburgh (Allegheny County) — Feb. 11, 1952
— Stroudsburg (Monroe County) — October 2, 1958
— Union County — July 11, 1966
One incident — reported on March 2, 1954 — only lists the location as “Pennsylvania.” The July 1952 incident with F-94 Starfire fighter jets over Pottstown also was listed among Project Blue Book’s unsolved cases.
The bright flashing lights were reported in Canada, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.
But when a fire was reported in the woods outside a small town in southwest Pennsylvania, the U.S. military rushed to the scene, according to Associated Press reports from that night.
The incident on Dec. 9, 1965, has stoked dozens of conspiracy theories.
According to media reports, U.S. Air Force Maj. Hector Quintinella dispatched a team for investigating unidentified flying objects to Kecksburg, a small unincorporated town about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
For years, officials said nothing was recovered from the fire scene. Then in 2005, NASA issued a statement that it had studied fragments from Kecksburg, and that the incident might have been caused by a crashed Russian satellite.
The UFO group Coalition for Freedom of Information later filed a right-to-know request with NASA for the records. In response, NASA said it could not find the records. For believers, this was just more evidence of a cover-up.
The military is playing a shell game in changing the way it classifies UFOs now as unidentified aerial phenomena, said Krug.
“Their terminology was recently changed from “UFO” to “UAP,” largely to dissuade Freedom of Information Act requests for “UFOs.” The military could claim they have little to no information on “UFOs,” when in reality, they’ve simply changed the terminology to something new.”
Today, a model of the Kecksburg UFO stands outside the local firehouse.
Chase and wave over Pennsylvania skies
Outside of official government investigations, thousands of other incidents have been reported in Pennsylvania.
When a UFO makes local news headlines, area residents turn a curious eye to the sky and begin to report more strange objects. Novel skywatchers can see the mysterious in a shooting star, meteor shower or a planet reflecting the light of the Sun.
UFOs are reported somewhere in Pennsylvania at a rate of one every three days, according to a database maintained by the Mutual UFO Network.
Sometimes, they even invade from neighboring states.
On April 18, 1966, the New York Times reported on one incident in which sheriff deputies chased a UFO for 85 miles from Atwater, Ohio, to Freedom, Pennsylvania.
Deputy Dale Spaur, an Air Force veteran of the Korean War, described an “extremely bright object” that was about 1,000 feet in the air and traveling approximately 100 miles per hour.
Another police officer said the object seemed to understand it was being following. “It was a funny thing,” Patrolman Wayne Huston told the New York Times. “When the object got too far ahead of us, it appear to stop and wait.”
Bucks County experienced what some call a “wave” and others a “flap” of UFO sightings.
In her 2011 book, “UFOs in Pennsylvania,” writer Patty A. Wilson says it was “Bucks County Under Siege.” It began with four UFO incidents between January and April 25, 2008.
When local police responded to a UFO sighting above a shuttered Mexican restaurant in Middletown, the Bucks County Courier Times and local television news stations covered a series of sightings.
Reports collected by MUFON tend to come from the more populated areas of the state, with more than 2,100 incidents between May 2006 and May 2021.
The most incidents — 226 — were reported in Pittsburgh and surrounding Allegheny County during that time, records show. Bucks County came in second with 206 incidents reported to MUFON across 15 years.
More than 100 additional UFO incidents would be reported over the next eight months in Bucks County, and producers from the History and Discovery channels descended on the area to film UFO programs.
A Mutual UFO Bucks County Conference in January 2009 drew more than 700 people to the auditorium of the Bucks County Community College.
At that time, believers said they hoped that a newly elected President Barack Obama would reveal to the world America’s UFO secrets.
Others believe the government will use evidence of UFOs to spend more money on the military and take away personal freedoms, said Krug.
In that scenario, he explained, “governments of the world fake an alien invasion, essentially a galactic false flag to use as justification to remove more of our freedoms to keep us ‘safe’ from this threat from outer space.”
(c) 2021 Bucks County Courier Times
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