Published: 5:55 PM 7/28/2015
See the UFO Casebook case file, The Kecksburg Crash.
Jim Ference | Trib Total Meida
The same week famed physicist Stephen Hawking announced he was teaming with investors — including a Russian billionaire — in a $100 million effort to scientifically prove alien life exists, the tiny Westmoreland County village of Kecksburg was celebrating it.
The Kecksburg Volunteer Fire Department on Sunday wrapped up its three-day UFO Festival, commemorating an incident in which a mysterious object fell out of the sky into a wooded area near the Mt. Pleasant Township village about 4:47 p.m. Dec. 9, 1965. Yesterday, in commemoration of the upcoming 50th anniversary, organizers hosted a roundtable witness discussion about the incident.
Stan Gordon, a Greensburg author and researcher of unidentified flying objects who is considered a leading expert on the incident, explained in recent years people are feeling more comfortable discussing it and are no longer fearful of being ridiculed.
In 1965, Gordon said the official explanation was that a meteor fell from the sky, “a search was conducted, but they found nothing.”
Many remain skeptical of the official report, Gordon told an audience of more than 200 people who attended the discussion.
Among the skeptics is John Hays, who lived nearby and used to play “in the hollow with his brother where the fireball landed.”
Hays, who was 10 at the time of the incident, was among nine witnesses who spoke.
“We played in those woods every day,” said Hays, who lives in the area.
Hays said the area where the object purportedly landed was quickly cordoned off by military and police personnel, some of whom used his family's telephone to direct others to the scene. Later that night, he recalled seeing an empty, military-like flatbed truck enter the area.
“I can say I personally saw that truck go in there empty, but it came back out hauling something with a tarp covering it. But I can't say what it was,” Hays said.
Hays said he and his older brother went into the area to explore the next day and were shooed off the property by men who were carrying Geiger counters.
“They told us we shouldn't play there because it may be contaminated by radiation,” Hays said.
Bill Weaver of Norvelt said he was 19 in 1965 and was cruising down nearby Snake Hill Road in his Oldsmobile convertible when he heard a radio news broadcast that a mysterious object landed in Kecksburg.
Weaver was curious and drove down the road where officials were gathering to see for himself.
“I looked down into the woods ... I saw the dirt around was all torn up, and it looked like some object with a blue light emanating off of it ... it was like a light from a welder,” Weaver said.
Weaver said “four men wearing their white moon suits” arrived, and he was ordered out of the area.
Gordon recalled he was 16 when he was watching Pittsburgh television stations report on the incident that evening and began taking notes. He has not stopped during the past 50 years.
“Even in recent years, I continue to receive new leads on the case with witnesses who are still coming forward with information,” Gordon said.
He said some witnesses who claimed to have seen the object described it as acorn-shaped and about 15 feet long, “with no windows, and no visible rivets, welds or seams.”
Festival event chairman Ron Struble recalled being a newlywed living in Greensburg when he heard media reports that a fireball had landed near his hometown of Weltytown, near Kecksburg. He drove out to check out the reports but was turned away from the scene by emergency personnel.