Sunday, December 21, 2008

Elk River UFO Crash

Although I had a hand in starting the tradition of listing UFO crashes, I have always been bothered by the sheer numbers of them. True, I believe there to be some very valid cases and Roswell leaps immediately to mind, as does Las Vegas in 1962, Kecksburg in 1965 and Shag Harbour in 1967. But the numbers are appallingly high when considering the engineering difficulties of creating an interstellar craft. If they can conquer that problem, I wouldn’t expect them to rain from the sky.

Given all this, James Clarkson (seen here), who appeared at the 6th Annual UFO Crash Retrieval Conference in Las Vegas, hosted by Ryan Wood, made a good case for adding another to the list.

According to Clarkson, on November 25, 1979, a number of people saw something fiery in the night sky and more than one of them thought of it as a craft without power. I use the term craft, though some of them described an airplane-like configuration with lighted windows and fire on one side.

Mrs. Ralph Case was riding in a car driven by her husband along State Route 12 and about four miles east of Aberdeen when she saw what she said was a plane with one side on fire. She reported this to the air traffic control tower at Bowerman Airfield, also near Aberdeen, Washington at about ten minutes to eleven.

Ernest Hayes, driving along the same highway as Case said that he had seen a very bright green flash overhead. He called the county sheriff at about eleven that same night or some ten minutes after Case had reported her sighting.

Estella Krussel, who Clarkson interviewed about eight years after the event, said that she’d seen an "unknown aircraft" fly over and thought of a passenger jet because of the illuminated windows. She thought it had a cigar shape, was narrower in front than the rear and had an intense blue-white light shining from each of the windows. She was one of those who had the impression that it was out of power.

Things got stranger, according to Clarkson. He interviewed a number of witnesses who had driven out into the rough country, a crazy pattern of logging roads and paved highways. Some of them in search of the object that others had seen.

Eight years after the crash, Clarkson interviewed Gordon Graham. Graham had heard about the crash from Donald Betts, and tried to drive out to find it. He was turned away by a military checkpoint.

Clarkson quoted Graham as saying, "I saw four military weapons carriers. There were at least ten soldiers there. They have the road blocked. They told us to get out of there. They didn’t say it very politely either."

Here we run into a problem and one that I should have mentioned to Clarkson. Posse Comitatus is a federal law that does not allow the use of active duty soldiers in a law enforcement function except in a very narrow range of situations. These soldiers, if active duty, had no authority to block the roads. If they were members of the National Guard on "maneuvers" in the area, they would probably have been in what is known as Title 10 or Title 32 status and would have been in violation of the law when manning these roadblocks. This means that had Graham driven on, the soldiers had no authority to stop or arrest him.

I know that National Guard soldiers, except in very limited cases, such as when called to State Active Duty can then be used for law enforcement. If these soldiers were from Georgia, as Clarkson suggests, based on his investigation and the interviews he conducted, then they couldn’t be in State Active Duty and they had no authority to enforce the road block. Of course, if they are standing there with loaded weapons, you might not want to challenge that authority.

I point this out only because it suggests something about the legality of the roadblocks and it might be something to investigate. Under normal circumstances, soldiers in this sort of duty would be paired with a sworn law enforcement officer who would have the authority to arrest those who refused to obey the instructions.

Maybe this point is a little esoteric, but it seems to me that we all need to know about the limits of authority. Challenging them might not be the smartest thing to do, but then, they have no real authority to order civilians away from an area and they have no arrest powers except in limited cases such as drug enforcement and by presidential direction.

This is not to say that those reporting this are inventing their tales, only that the soldiers, whoever they were probably had no authority to stop civilians from using the public roads. If this had been an aircraft accident, then the checkpoints and access control would have belonged to law enforcement and not the military.

But I digress...

Clarkson reported that Henry Harnden was another of the local residents who said he was threatened and chased from the area by troops. Harnden was the one who suggested they were from a "special division from Georgia."

An Elma, Washington police officer, Fred Bradshaw, said that two or three days after the crash, he saw an Army "low-boy truck with a boom... [and two] deuce and half [trucks]" and a couple of jeeps. The Army certainly has the authority to use the public roads to move stuff, whatever that stuff might be, so there is no problem here.

Clarkson (at the lecture at the conference) tells us that there were a number of witnesses to the "arrival of a fiery object" on November 25, 1979. He tells us that it hit the ground and might have exploded in the Elk River Drainage Area in a fairly inaccessible location that contains mud flats, marshes or a nearby thick forest.

The official explanation of "helicopter exhaust glow," offered later, is ridiculous. Even a quick look at the descriptions by the witnesses shows this to be untrue. I’ve flown in a lot of helicopter formations at night and the glow from the turbine just isn’t all that bright.

Clarkson never really says that the craft was extraterrestrial, though I take that as his meaning. He suggests the possibility that what fell might have been something lost by the military, specifically some sort of missile test that failed. He does note that no one lost an aircraft on that night. No reports of either a military or civilian crash and no reports of a missile gone astray.

As I say, there seem to be too many failures of alien craft. Some lists now top two hundred and a couple are closing in on 300. But still, there are some very intriguing UFO crash cases, many of which have no solid explanation... yet. This is another to add to the file. Until someone tells us what crashed, with the appropriate documentation, this is another well documented UFO crash.


starman said...

Yes, there are far too many crash reports. No doubt most are hoaxes or disinformation.

RRRGroup said...

Nice precis, Kevin...

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New UFO Year.


TestKev said...

If some of what we're dealing with involves one or more species that have spent a *lot* of time in interstellar space (e.g.generation ships), multiple crashes might be symptomatic of a lack of experience of operating in a planetary atmosphere (in which case we might expect the crashes to tail off over time).
I agree though that the numbers reported are beyond reason.

Sarge said...

I remember someone saying that the things were falling all over the place in the 50s and 60s.
In our own explorations we lost countless ships and thousands of lives to unknown shoals and reefs.
If we remember that the man who drives the airplane didn't invent or build it, we can see that the crew of the craft may not be able to make some repairs, or deal with some situations.
IF, and it is a big if, this mud ball had, or has, attracted attention from time to time, a "Ship wreck" or two would be expected. And IF, again a big if, there is, or was, some reason to keep comming back, there may have been several.
However the sheer numbers listed by many make a coverup all but impossible there by proving many as false leads.

starman said...

"..multiple crashes might be symptomatic of a lack of experience in operating in a planetary atmosphere."

Lol I don't buy that. I'd assume that advanced spacefarers are extremely sophisticated, and plan/anticipate everything well in advance.

Mike said...

Perhaps some of the crashes are not accidents, but the result of altercations between different species of aliens.

starman said...

I don't buy that either. Even assuming there may be disputes, of all the places in this big Universe or galaxy to fight it out, why here? And I'm not aware of anyone claiming to have seen one UFO shoot down another.

Mike said...

From starman: "I don't buy that either. Even assuming there may be disputes, of all the places in this big Universe or galaxy to fight it out, why here? And I'm not aware of anyone claiming to have seen one UFO shoot down another."

I'm not aware of anyone claiming to see such an event either. I'm pointing out that Kevin's blog posting and everyone's comments to date seem to assume that the only cause of UFO crashes are equipment failure or operator error, that is, accidents. No one here is addressing other possible causes for crashes: weather (wind shear, lightning, and so on) and aerial combat (either between opposing alien species or between the UFOs and Earth-based military units) to name a couple.

If we take the number of reported UFO sightings around the world (how many thousands over the past half-century?) as only a fraction of the actual number of UFO "sorties" around the globe, and we consider the number of Earth-based airplane crashes as a percentage of the total number of airplane flights over any given period of time, and throw in a few variables like unfamiliarity with Earth weather patterns, extreme atmospheric phenomena, and aerial combat, it might be that 300 or so UFO crashes isn't all that unreasonable. Just food for thought...


Bob Koford said...

Within the documents turned over to the archives, there are quite a few accounts of impacting, or assumed to be impacting unknowns. That's just the way it happens to be. They aren't all "hoaxes", as has been mentioned as a possibility. For example: in 1947 a reputable pilot sees a silver, very large domino-shaped air device of some kind go whizzing by, just missing his plane, leaving a trail of perfect, white balls (a type of "contrail?), and at a negative 60 degree angle. He could only assume it was headed for impact, because if it wasn't, it meant that it was definitely under control by "someone" opposed to an object entering our atmosphere, following a predictable path, and impacting like a meteor.

Even though there are several incidents (such as the Mexico incident October 12, 1947), the paper trail just abruptly stops. The paper trail begins, points to an actual mystery, but then it just stops, with no further hint at interest.
In the Mexico crash, for instance, the last memo is on the 24th, finishing with "further information to be forthcoming [parphrased]" but the further information never shows up. If it had been a meteor, there would have been no further interest, or very little. This trend makes it clear that there is more to it, in each case.

In another case, witnesses saw a strange object, and then saw it, or another object explode. Someone turned in evidence which seemed to indicate an early missile guidance system. In this and other UFO cases, there seems to be the UFO event, and then a possible missile event. Could this not point to the fact that people might have been seeing first an actual UFO, then "our" defensive response?

As an interested party, one thing became clear to me very early on in my reading: several sources of Air Defense history were actually just quoting each other. It wasn't until I read "The Closed World", by Paul N. Edwards, c.r. 1996 -MIT Press, that better follow-ups began to take shape, and until the meetings of Valley, Kaplan, and Forrester are taken note of, this military response theory doesn't seem as likely.

starman said...

I think the number of reported UFOs pretty well matches the number of sorties, or is a high percentage of it, inasmuch as a major purpose of the phenomenon appears to be "acclimatization." While it is true that crashes MIGHT result from a number of causes (incidentally any due to wind and lightning would be also be considered accidents)I doubt all or most of them. Any civilization sophisticated enough to traverse interstellar distances would thoroughly familiarize itself with Earthly conditions, and potential dangers, before committing large numbers of craft. Add to that the sophistication of the craft themselves. 300 is way too high. Not surprisingly, the vast bulk of alleged crashes have little if any corroboration.

cda said...

You say the 'crash' was well documented, but I cannot see anything in the narrative where anyone saw it hit the ground. Nor anything about debris having been found. So how come it was a crash? A fiery object maybe, but nothing apparently ever struck the earth, did it?

Mike said...

Starman said:
"I think the number of reported UFOs pretty well matches the number of sorties, or is a high percentage of it, inasmuch as a major purpose of the phenomenon appears to be 'acclimatization.'"

I don't believe any assumption about the "major purpose" of UFOs can be supported by data or logic. Without some sort of public statement on the part of any alien organization, how can we possibly assume that the major purpose of UFO sorties is "acclimatization?" Such a statement crosses over into the realm of Adamski and his ilk, I'm afraid.

Starman said: "Any civilization sophisticated enough to traverse interstellar distances would thoroughly familiarize itself with Earthly conditions, and potential dangers, before committing large numbers of craft. Add to that the sophistication of the craft themselves."

This statement has several flaws. First, it assumes that any alien operators of UFOs think the same way we do or have the same values that we do, which is again a huge anthropocentric assumption.

Second, it assumes that all UFO operators are fully functioning, reasoning biological entities, a fact that is not yet in evidence. Based on the testimony of some abductees, there is reason (though not proof, necessarily) to believe that some UFO operators, or crews, are subnormal entities, subservient to a higher class of being. They may be genetically engineered drones or even robots. This is only speculation, of course, but the possibility cannot be ignored.

Third, just because you have familiarity with Earthly conditions and potential dangers doesn't mean you are immune to accidents. And there's still the issue of aerial combat.

Fourth, the fact that there have been any crashes at all would seem to indicate that the craft are not necessarily all that sophisticated or immune from either mechanical failure or operator error, much less severe weather. Having highly advanced propulsion technology does not automatically imply that they also have highly sophisticated systems for coping with all possible boundary conditions of Earthly weather extremes. And again, we may actually be shooting or otherwise knocking some of these things down.

Still, all in all, none of this really directly addresses the issue at hand: Is 300 too high a number of UFO crashes? I don't think we have enough knowledge or data to say. And I think an argument can be made that 300 is not outside the realm of reason based on what we can surmise from the knowledge and data we do have.

Just for the record, I am not familiar enough with all of the crash-report data to assess or even speculate on how well corroborated or well founded the reports are. You may be right about the bulk of them. But assessments of how reasonable the 300 number is should be based on sound logic and good investigative work, not on unsupportable assumptions about strategy, motivations, sophistication of technology, or preparedness on the part of aliens.

starman said...

"Acclimatization" is almost certainly their objective. UFOs are often extremely conspicuous. They evidently WANT to be seen. Vallee long ago rejected suggestions that they're here for data collection. I think we can assume that ETs are rational thinking beings and very sophsticated ones. One doesn't get very far by being incompetent or careless; they've obviously gotten very far. I agree that many alien entities may be robots or "zombies." But that doesn't make them inept as crew members; they may be engineered to be superlative ones. Sure, SOME crashes have definitely occurred. But that does not necessarily mean the ETs are vulnerable. People generally assume the ETs want to avoid crashing, and generally they do. But it has occurred to some that the few actual crashes may not have been accidental but intentional. This idea was developed in a recent POD booklet and I understand the whole issue will be addressed at much greater length in a forthcoming work. Lastly, concerning the reliability of crash reports, the bulk of them seem to have come out of thin air. Nobody in the areas where they supposedly occurred knows anything about them--in stark contrast to Roswell.