Not long ago I received my copy of the DVD that contains the entire run of the International UFO Reporter. It includes the Center Investigators Quarterly and an issue of Probe. In other words, there nearly everything from the Center that you could want on this disk and I have found it extremely valuable.
Today, I was looking for some information about Barney Barnett for a long term project and in the issue (Spring 2003) with the Barnett material, I found an article by Don Burleson about the Levelland, Texas sightings of November 1957. Yes, this is another old case, but Burleson did something that I advocate. He conducted his own on-site investigation. True, it was nearly fifty years after the fact, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t turn up some interesting stuff. And yes, I’m sure the skeptics will dismiss everything he found as being the result of fifty-year-old memories.
For those unfamiliar with the case, this started on the evening of November 2, 1957 as people in the southern panhandle area of Texas, around Lubbock, began reporting a UFO. Not only that, as the craft approached, their cars would stall out, the radios fade and the headlights dim.
During the official Air Force investigation the single investigator interviewed only three witnesses. Major Don Keyhoe, at the time the director of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena had said there were nine witnesses. The Air Force challenged this publicly, saying that Keyhoe was wrong and implying that he was overstating the case for the publicity he could gather... In te world of Air Force UFO investigations, if they didn’t talk to a witness, then that person, or persons, simply did not exist regardless of the information they might have or the documentation they could bring to the table.
The problem here is that Keyhoe was, in fact, wrong. There weren’t nine witnesses. When I looked into the case, I found witnesses at thirteen different locations who had reported the UFO interacted with the environment. This was a case that demanded serious, scientific investigation, but instead, found only two opposing camps arguing trivia with one another. One saying that this suggested an alien presence and the other arguing for misidentification of natural phenomena... I have no idea what nature phenomenon they thought might explain the case other than a bunch of liars and some kind of mass hysteria (which, by the way, I think they attempted to suggest at one point. At another point they attempted the old ball lightning argument.)
The Levelland sheriff in 1957 was a man named Weir Clem (seen here) who was described by those who knew him strong and fearless man who would enforce the law regardless of the consequences. A man of integrity and quiet intelligence and who was trustworthy and truthful. He had suggested that he had seen the object himself while out with a deputy Pat McCulloch. In those early descriptions it was a streak of red in the distance. Some researchers paid little attention to Clem’s sighting and the Air Force certainly thought nothing of it, though he was a sworn peace officer.
There were some who reported that Clem had said he was considerably closer. He described the object he saw as an oval "like a brilliant sunset." He said that it passed over the road about three hundred yards in front of his car. In other words, he wasn’t all that far from it.
Donald Burleson, a man living in Roswell, which is not all that far from Levelland, only about three hours over the modern roads, found the daughter of Sheriff Clem when he was doing some research into these sightings. Burleson had heard some interesting things about the case and he decided to follow up on it.
Burleson reported, "Aided by the Chamber of Commerce, we [meaning Burleson and his wife Mollie] were able to find one of the late sheriff’s daughters and I interviewed her twice."
According to Burleson, "She [Ginger (Clem) Sims] described her father having tried to drive close to an airborne object, and having his engine and lights die."
That, of course, put him much closer to the object than had been reported before or to the Air Force. If he was close enough to the object that it would stall his engine, he was close enough to get a good look at it.
Burleson also said that "She said that she remembers his being called out to a ranch northeast of town to see a ring-shaped spot burned into the ground. The ranch owners had called the sheriff about the burned area.
Burleson found and interviewed a witness named Carolyn Reno who said that she had been a child living in the area in 1957, and that her father had taken her out to see a burned spot in the prairie grass that was something over twenty feet in diameter. Burleson said that the description and the location he received independently from Reno matched that given by the sheriff’s daughter. He also pointed out that the two women didn’t know one another yet provided similar descriptions.
The real question is if Clem was so involved in this in 1957, why didn’t he say anything at the time. Again, according to Burleson and to Clem’s daughter, "The Air Force visited him after his sighting(s) and advised him to ‘drop it’ and forget that he had ever seen anything."
Skeptics will point out that the record in 1957 showed that Clem was only reported to have seen the object, or lights, in the distance, some 900 feet away and they’ll reject, out of hand this new information. It is, after all, from the sheriff’s daughter, a second-hand witness, and was told nearly fifty years after the fact. In today’s world, it is interesting, but there is no way to verify it. Clem’s daughter’s reports should be noted, but the weight given to these should be fairly light.
About the same time that Clem was out chasing the light, two highway patrol officers and Constable Lloyd Bollen saw the UFO in the distance. They were unable to get very close to it and reported the same sort of thing as Clem did officially, that is, a red glow in the distance. That meant there were five law enforcement officers who thought they had seen the object that night in 1957, though none reported they got very close to it and none saw much more than a streak of light in the distance. Remember, that was officially. Clem, remember had gotten closer and saw an oval-shaped object.
Remember too, that ball lightning, which has been suggested by the Air Force, is an extremely rare an short lived phenomenon. It wouldn’t have persisted for several hours, flitting from one location to another, and certainly wouldn’t have lasted long enough for the police officers, sheriff’s deputies and others who went in search of it to find it.
Besides, the thunderstorms that supposedly caused the hysteria that resulted in so many people believing they had seen a flying saucer, had ended before the sightings started. There seems to be no causal relation.
Also in that vicinity about that time was Ray Jones, the Levelland Fire Marshal. He was searching for an explanation for the many UFO reports that were being made that night. He saw a streak of light not far from him. His lights dimmed and the engine sputtered until the object was gone. Suggesting, once again that ball lightning was not the culprit here.
In the IUR article, Burleson lays out all his evidence and takes us through the entire sighting which I have abbreviated here to get to the meat of the story which is that the sheriff experienced the same sort of effects that so many others reported on that night. This is another case that deserves a longer examination.
For those interested, the DVD with the IUR on it is available from CUFOS and you can order it at their website http://www.cufos.org./ It one hundred dollars but it is well worth the money. I have found it to be an extremely valuable resource.