For decades, UFO buffs have delighted themselves with tales of crashed saucers and government cover-ups of recovered aliens and ships. They have dedicated themselves to "digging out the truth" and exposing the government's deceptions." Now, in a delicious irony, a famous UFO case may actually involve a real U. S. government cover-up, but UFO buffs are on the wrong side. Instead of exposing the truth, they may be unwilling pawns in the deception.
The case in question involves the allged crash of the so-called "Kecksburg UFO," recently featured in magazines and even reenacted on TV. The acorn-shpaed object supposedly fell to the ground in western Pennsylvania on December 9, 1965. As the story goes, Air Force search teams cordoned off the wooded area and hauled a large object away. It was later reportedly seen at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.
One suggested identity for the mystery intruder was the Soviet Kosmos-96 satellite, which actually did fall back into the atmosphere that day. But according to Air Force spokesmen, that craft had plummeted 12 hours earlier over another part of the planet.
It was a shame, of course, because Kosmos-96, a failed Venus probe whose booster had blown up in parking orbit, would have been a wonderful UFO. The reentry capsule, incorporating the latest Soviet missile warhead technology, was shaped like a squashed spheroid with a sliced-off top--in other words, like an acorn.
That's why in May of 1991, the Pittsburgh Press decided to verify the Air Force claims on its own. Toward that end, reporters obtained official spacetracking data from the archives of North American Air Defense Command in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado. The decades-old data finally arrived in the form of eight "snapshots" of the satellite's orbital position. The last snapshot, when projected forward in space and time by a leading amateur satellite watcher who doesn't want his name revealed, seemed to confirm the official Air Force account.
But going on a hunch and tapping my own expertise in space operation and satellite sleuthing, I decided to check the data myself. The released tracking data couldn't be positively identified with specific pieces of the failed probe. It could have been the jettisoned rocket stage or a large piece of space junk. The probe itself could have been headed off toward Kecksburg.
But why in the world would our government lie? In the 1960s, U.S. military intelligence agencies interested in enemy technology were eagerly collecting all the Soviet missile and space debris they could find. International law required that debris be returned to the country of origin. But hardware from Kosmos-96, with its special missile-warhead shielding, would have been too valuable to give back.
Hard-line skeptics still doubt that anything at all landed in Pennsylvana. Robert Young, an investigator from Harrisburg, keeps finding new holes in the claims of alleged witnesses. "I'm now more convinced than ever that nothing came down in Kecksbrug," he says. And arch skeptic Philip J. Klass attributes the poort NORAD data "to foul-ups, not cover-ups,"
But those of us who've studied the relationship between U.S. military intelligence and the former Soviet Union still wonder. After all, what better camouflage than to let people think the fallen object was not a Soviet probe but rather a flying saucer? The Russians would never suspect, and the Air Force laboratories could examine the specimen at leisure. And if suspicion lingered, why UFO buffs could be counted on to maintain the phony cover story, protecting the real truth. Editor's note: James Oberg, a veteran space-secrets sleuth, is author of Uncovering Soviet Disasters.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Omni Publications International Ltd.
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