Tuesday, March 22, 2016

One of the Best Cases - Levelland, Texas

In the last few weeks I have been asked a couple of times about which UFO cases I believe have credibility. I have avoided these sorts of questions in the past because I know the pitfalls of providing a list like that. Debunkers (as opposed to skeptics) will then attempt to explain those cases in the mundane with little regard to the facts. A good example of that was Philip Klass’ explanation of the Coyne helicopter case as a meteor and ignoring the testimony of the pilots and crewmen. Rather than learn the procedures used by Army helicopter pilots, he talked to some unidentified guy who had flight time in helicopters never telling us if that flight time was at the controls or riding in the back.

Ignoring that, and my own trepidation, I will note that the best of the cases will have multiple chains of evidence, including multiple witnesses, interaction with the environment, measurements by instrumentality such as radar, landing traces, and photographs. You would think that after seventy years or so we’d have just such a case. Although we don’t there are a few that meet some of these requirements and one of the best is that from Levelland, Texas, in November 1957.

I have reported on this series of sightings in the past, including featuring it in several books, and in postings here that can be seen at:

Here’s the thing about the Levelland sightings. There is some evidence that investigations of that case from all points of view was less than stellar. According to the records I have reviewed and the documentation available from various
Levelland, Texas
Photo copyright by Kevin Randle
sources, there were witnesses at thirteen separate locations who reported engines that stalled, lights that dimmed and radios that filled with static. The Air Force claimed in press releases that only three people had seen the object, though they would eventually claim six observers, and to them, if they hadn’t interviewed the witnesses, they didn’t exist. Donald Keyhoe claimed nine but his estimate, as we now know, was low.

The number of witnesses around Levelland would fulfill one part of that chains of evidence argument. We can say that we have multiple, independent witnesses. Given the circumstances, most of them were unaware that others have made reports. They called the Levelland Sheriff’s Office to report what they had just seen. A few, after hearing the news reports the next day, called to say they had seen the same thing.

These witnesses also reported an interaction with the environment which, of course, is their stalled engines, dimmed lights and static filled radios. The witnesses at each of those thirteen locations reported the same things, though not necessarily all of them. Although this information is based on witness testimony it is fairly consistent among them and it suggests an interaction with the environment.

The Condon Committee study a decade later didn’t bother to research this case other than talk to a businessman who claimed his car had been stalled by a UFO in 1967 under somewhat similar circumstances. Although they did make an investigation of that report, they concluded that there were discrepancies in the witness’s statements, no evidence, according to them, of a strong magnetic field near the car based on their mapping of the magnetic points on the car, and because there were no other witnesses, there was no need to continue to investigate. Given what they said, I would be inclined to agree with their assessment of that particular case. However, they also suggested that because the Levelland case was ten years old and the cars involved were no longer available, they couldn’t conduct their magnetic mapping of those vehicles. They decided they weren’t going to follow up on it. Had anyone tried the magnetic mapping in 1957, that might have resulted in some interesting information that hadn’t been found at the time. It seemed that they used the results of their single investigation to reject the Levelland case and this is only place in their study (page 108 of the Bantam paperback) where it is mentioned… Or, in other words, a chance to gather some interesting scientific evidence in 1957 was lost because no one thought to attempt it and nothing new was learned by the Condon Committee because they thought the case too old so they didn’t bother.

Had the magnetic mapping as suggested by those at the Condon Committee been done in 1957 that would have also, to a lesser extent, fulfilled the requirement for instrumentality. This would have provided some additional indirect evidence that something had happened at Levelland or maybe shown that there was no good evidence of a strong magnetic field which might also be important information.

As I have mentioned in the past, there is a hint of a landing trace as well. Before the skeptics point it out, let me note that it comes not from Levelland sheriff Weir Clem, but members of his family and is a claim made nearly half a century after the fact. Family members said that a rancher north of Levelland had found a large burned area on his land. The sheriff had seen it, but then there are no reports from the time, no pictures of it, and no first-hand witnesses to it. If that indirect evidence had existed, it could have formed another chain of evidence if properly investigated, but then that just didn’t happen.

And, of course, no photographs of the object have ever been found. In today’s world everyone who had experienced a sighting like this probably would have had a cell phone to take a picture. In 1957 most people, on routine business, didn’t carry a camera. Pictures, especially if taken from multiple locations, would be powerful evidence.

In what is a somewhat hilarious conclusion, the Air Force wrote off the Levelland sightings as “ball lightning,” a phenomenon that in 1957 was still a subject of scientific debate. Today ball lightning is described as appearing almost simultaneously with cloud-to-ground lightning, have diameters that can reach about three feet and that lasts from a second to about a minute. This, of course, suggests that what was seen in Levelland was not ball lightning. This doesn’t mean it was an alien spacecraft, only that the Air Force explanation for the sightings was bogus and because of that should be listed as “unidentified.”

The point here, however, is that I see Levelland as a very good case given the evidence that was collected. I also see it as a missed opportunity. If Keyhoe and the Air Force hadn’t been so busy arguing about the number of witnesses and what the effects of the close approach of the UFO might be, or that some of it was caused by a cracked rotor in a car, we might have learned something very important. It was certainly a missed opportunity and while there are hints of what else might have been collected, we simply can’t verify it as proof of alien visitation in today’s world.


Brian Bell said...

Kevin -

I believe you referred to this case in one your recent podcast interviews. I agree there is more here than meets the eye.

While not relevant to your post, Socorro seems like a quality case of witness testimony and consistent facts. I don't presume to know what was seen but clearly something was.

Anthony Mugan said...

Yes, a missed opportunity, but then by this stage the Blue Book approach was very focused on avoiding Congressional hearings. In terms of what they were trying to achieve they were very effective.

It may be worth considering the range of possible naturally occurring phenomena associated with EM fields and plasma. If I understand it correctly weather conditions at the time were not suited to ball lightning. I then wondered about tectonic strain lights. Unfortunately there were no recorded earthquakes in Texas between March 1957 and March 1962 (A full list can be accessed at the following link)


As the relevant research suggests TSLs might occur during the build up of seismic strain prior to seismic activity (in time periods of weeks to a month or two) and with a best correlation with areas around 10,000sq miles that argues strongly against this being TSLs.

That exhausts my knowledge of possible natural explanations. Any others?

Is this case one that is suggestive of a technological effect therefore - and one consistent with a pulsed or alternating magnetic field?

cda said...

Wasn't Sputnik 2, with the dog on board, launched the same day, a few hours later? I assume this tended to push Levelland, and other UFO cases, out of the news, resulting in the USAF giving Levelland a low priority. I know Sputnik 2 sent the US military into quite a frenzy following so soon after the initial jolt caused by Sputnik 1.

What I am saying is that very likely Levelland was the last thing on the mind of the USAF at this period - hence the very superficial investigation.

KRandle said...


The launch of Sputnik 2 had nothing to do with the Levelland sightings. And while some of those in the Air Force would have been concerned about that, the majority of the Air Force was not. Their missions continued as if the Soviets had not launched an artificial satellite. The organization charged with the investigation of UFOs would not have had their mission altered, and their mission publicly was to investigation UFOs, not worry about launching an artificial satellite. Therefore, their superficial investigation was not caused by outside influences but was based on an internal desire to ignore UFOs, even though they were required to investigate them. Sending a single NCO who spent most of a day investigating the sightings could be considered a dereliction of duty because investigating the UFOs was exactly what they were supposed to do.

Brian Bell said...

Until recent years, Texas has been earthquake free with little to no seismic activity. Not until about 2008 were earthquakes felt. Their source is hotly debated as many believe the fraking in the Lubbock area is to be blamed, yet many disagree.


Given that Levelland is just west of Lubbock, I would speculate that witnesses observed something other than earth lights from seismic activity or ball lighting (which seems implausible).

While purely speculation on my part, one might theorize they saw something the military may have been flying (not testing) out of Reese Air Force Base just to the east. That doesn't necessarily mean the object was based out of there, but there could be some connection.

While no one here agrees with me on this point, as I have stated before there are some who believe WE developed this technology in the mid-1950's, and that being electro-gravitic propulsion. See McCandlish's story below:


If that were true, such a craft would produce the high EMF effects reported.

Of course we'll never know.

cda said...


OK. I was only trying to suggest the poor USAF guys might have had 'mitigating circumstances' in their investigation of this case. I agree that Blue Book ought to have concentrated on Levelland, but it is conceivable that Sputnik 2, with the dog on board, caused them to get a bit over-excited and to not give Levelland the attention it deserved. I am recalling the event(s) from memory from my youthful days.

Brian Bell said...

And perhaps the USAF chose not to thoroughly investigate since they already knew what it was (something of theirs) and doing so would just draw attention given the reasonably good witness information. It's not inconceivable that someone was given the order to do a cursory minimal investigation.

KRandle said...


There were, literally, tens of thousands of people serving in the Air Force and not everyone of them was worried about the Soviets and their artificial satellite. The vast majority of them had other things to do and that includes investigating UFO sightings. There was an organization publicly known with that mission and there was clearly other organizations such as the 4602d AISS which had it as an additional mission as well. So, they had the resources available in 1957 to properly investigate the Levelland sightings. They just didn't do that.

Brian -

Which allows us to point out the flaws in the Air Force investigation. Of course, if they already knew what it was, it could be suggested they didn't want a thorough investigation knowing that it would lead to the extraterrestrial. This seems to be a knife that cuts both ways.

Anthony Mugan said...

I've been digging into some of the background work on EM effects of cars from that period (James MacCampbell seems to have covered this fairly thoroughly).
I am now thinking this is a more important case than I had previously realised. As Kevin points out the number of independent reports to the police within a short time period of such a clear physical effect greatly reduces the risk of this being coincidence.
In terms of actually achieving the effect it does indeed look like an alternating or pulsed magnetic field would be required and I think I am right in suggesting that rules out natural phenomena ( at least any I'm aware of).

So we are either looking at an unknown natural phenomena of a technological device.

Is anyone aware of any way of getting this effect from a natural phenomena that I have missed?

Brian Bell said...

Kevin -

"This seems to be a knife that cuts both ways."

Yes, I agree.

Anthony -

Electrical power lines can cause (at times) high EMF radiation as referenced below. However that doesn't explain the "object" seen, and since there are no repeat occurrences it raises doubt about this being the explanation.


Geopathic stress lines can cause this effect as well as various human underground activity (mining, drilling and the like). But again are we to assume these witnesses all saw "lights" generated from a natural underground phenomenon? I don't know.


Recently I was driving through Marfa, Texas at 2:00 am. It was a clear cold night and I stopped at the viewing center. What I saw could not be described as "headlights" from highway 67, although clearly that may be one factor (at times) blended into real earth light activity.

But again, this phenomenon has repeatability. Not the case with Levelland.

Anthony Mugan said...

Hello Brian
On the subject of repeatability there are a significant number of EM effect cases in the literature.
What is particularly interesting is that if getting the effect on the cars requires an alternating or pulsed field then we can rule out natural phenomena ...we have to be looking at a technological effect if we can safely conclude the effect occurred at all (ie not hoaxes).
Levelland is therefore particularly interesting as the number of independent reports recorded by the police in a short time interval does indeed suggest beyond reasonable doubt that this was not a hoax.
If the above stands up to scrutiny then that is a significant conclusion and needs to be placed in the context of other EM cases and the evidence for EM effects on soil and plants in some ground effect cases, as well as the wider theoretical context for how these things may be operating.

At the moment I am very much looking for challenge back in terms of possible natural explanations, but this all seems very interesting at this point

zoamchomsky said...

Kevin; would you please excuse this off-topic comment?

Brian says, "While no one here agrees with me on this point, as I have stated before there are some who believe WE developed this technology in the mid-1950's, and that being electro-gravitic propulsion. See McCandlish's story below:"

MM is just some Hollywood guy telling a wild second or third-hand story much in the manner of Frank Scully and Donald Keyhoe or John Lear and Bob Lazar before. Concoct your very own version of the Grand Cosmic Conspiramyth loaded with wishful thinking about unheard-of high technology and forge ahead! Some fool will take it seriously.

Brian; you're too smart to take MM's baloney seriously. Not only does his story and MO not withstand even casual scrutiny, his story could not even begin to be true in the world in which we live.

The colossal cost and limits--yes, limits--to technology make his claims impossible.

The Valkyrie was cancelled, and the B2 was effectively cancelled after twenty-one of a proposed 120 were built. After the fantastic SR71 was retired at least twice, we returned to the U2. There is no replacement for the Space Shuttle, only the small robotic X-37B. The FAS list of "Mystery Aircraft" that seemed to hold the promise of a next generation of technological progress and prowess hasn't changed in TWENTY YEARS! Monstrous cost, a technological wall, and no mission, no need!

What ever happened to Aurora, the Spaceplane, Hyper-X, the Blimp and all those other ethereal high-desert dreams? They're exactly where all those old "flying saucers" from the 1950s are, in the mythical boneyard of wishful thinking.

Paul Young said...

Zoamchomsky... "The FAS list of "Mystery Aircraft" that seemed to hold the promise of a next generation of technological progress and prowess hasn't changed in TWENTY YEARS! Monstrous cost, a technological wall, and no mission, no need!"

Which rather neatly leads us back to the thinking that these ridiculously high performance flying thingamajigs, that so many sane and credible people are witnessing, might well be technologies from a different planet.

Brian Bell said...

Zoam -

To be certain I am not claiming such technology was acquired through reverse engineering crashed alien saucers.

Rather, that the DoD and US black budget spending (trillions of untraceable dollars) is going SOMEWHERE and it sure doesn't seem to be simple upgrades to conventional military weapons.

As for projects, we can say all those you listed aren't needed anymore, or have since gone nowhere, but why then did the USAF just release information on the new B-21 bomber with a total initial contract between $21 and $80 Billion? The military tends to declassify technology AFTER it is superseded by plans for something else, or something which covertly replaces it.


If you had trillions of dollars dedicated to developing such technology over many decades, is it not feasible that some radical advancements would be made in EMF propulsion drives? Of course we are talking about aerospace companies doing the development for the DoD.

After testing would it not be made operational on a clandestine basis to evaluate its strategic value?

Could reliability issues not require an occasion unexpected landing on home soil?

Would the USAF need to even acknowledge its existence when onlookers believe it to be alien, when it's really not?

Perhaps Levelland is a case just like that.

But I doubt we'll ever know for certain.

Brian Bell said...

Paul -

"Which rather neatly leads us back to the thinking that these ridiculously high performance flying thingamajigs, that so many sane and credible people are witnessing, might well be technologies from a different planet."

Sure, but why just from space? Maybe they come from the deep oceans, a hollow core earth, ancient underground villages in New Mexico, polar bases, the dark side of the moon, or Mars?

Your insistence that Levelland (or any other sighting) must be space ALIENS has no basis in factual reality. Pure conjecture and science fiction at best, equal to my humorous alternatives above.

You seem to believe human technological development is at a standstill, even stagnant, while you ignore historical facts that point to dramatic post-WW2 technological and aerospace advancements.

Why? Because Alien's seem more enchanting?

Paul Young said...

If the US have developed incredibly high performance aircraft and weapons at the cost of countless billions, then why aren't they using them?
If I had a McLaren F1, I'd be out on the road in it!

As I've mentioned elsewhere in this blog, as soon as your country developed A-bombs, they used them...when U2, SR-71 etc where developed, they were used.

What are they doing with these duper-duper things? Are they developing them, giving themselves a big round of applause then mothballing them in some hanger? Or do you believe there really is a secret space programme (Alternative 3-esque) that is soaking up the trillions.

KRandle said...

Paul -

On the flip side of that is that during WWI the Americans had developed the BAR but didn't deploy it to Europe for fear that the Germans would capture one and reverse engineer it.

Those things you mentioned were used but their existence was classified at the time. Once deployed, well then they were known, but they were still classified. If we had a new super duper thing, it might be that it is unnecessary at this time to reveal its existence. Why not save it until you can surprise your opponents?

Brian Bell said...

Paul -

"If the US have developed incredibly high performance aircraft and weapons at the cost of countless billions, then why aren't they using them?"

Who's to say they aren't? Just because you don't see them doesn't mean they aren't using them. It seems the real game is not necessarily tactical conventional weapons, but global surveillance and intelligence gathering. That activity, as we all know, is clandestine.

What better way to do it than with a device that can be flown into foreign airspace undetected, and if by chance seen by witnesses then described as "an alien spaceship".

Marcos Frank said...

Kevin, Brian and zoam,

Given this topic of our technology and whether it could explain reports like this one, what are your opinions of Paul hill? His book on "unconventional flying objects" suggests that this tech was not so far out of reach.

Brian Bell said...

Marcos -

I can't answer for the others, but will state (again) this type of propulsion engine is not out of reach for human minds to develop.

There are several different ways to create electrogravitic fields that can levitate solid objects and that is proven. While some clearly don't demonstrate the full functionality observed in some UFO's that's not to say what we haven't seen hasn't been worked out by someone (aerospace corporations).

For example, we know that technology has been applied to the wings of military aircraft that provide over unity drives at supersonic speed (B-2 bomber).

According to electrogravitic research carried out by physicist T. Townsend Brown, such a differential space charge would set up an artificial gravity field that would induce a reactionless force on the aircraft in the direction of the positive pole (less resistance, faster, less fuel consumed).

While in use by the military, this technology has not been given to commercial airlines and of course it's the same companies building both military and commercial aircraft. If it were, less fuel would be used and the cost of air travel could be reduced, but then you have people who prefer to make more money rather than reduce cost.

I'm aware of Paul's book, although he states he was taking UFO cases (alien?) and conjuring up proposed propulsion systems they were using to demonstrate feasibility to replicate it.

But what if these craft weren't alien but covert military projects that had already figured out what he was trying to decipher mostly alone? Throw billions of dollars at that problem and someone is bound to figure it out. And let's not forget that Tesla had patented a type of flying saucer prior to WW2.

Marcos Frank said...

Thanks Brian

That is interesting.. I was unaware of any anti-gravity drives or technology. Most of what seemed to be available were variations on 'mag-lev' technology. My physics are a bit rusty, and while I think there are links between magnetism and gravity, my impression was that as far as tech goes, all the lift techniques including those discussed in Hill's book (not counting the interstellar parts of his book) were based on electromagnetism.

And the other oddness, as many have pointed out, is that if this is our tech (probably military) what are they doing testing it outside of bases where air flight is restricted? Are there bases near this Texas incident? Could this be an experiment that drifted off course?