Tuesday, April 30, 2013

GLASSBORO, NJ UFO Event {?} 9/4/1964: What a Mess!

How to fall into a morass: I'm sitting here with low energy, low incentive to really "get at" anything, but don't want to completely "old man" the day and just take a nap. Solution? I think that I'll just do something semi-mindless, not quite the boredom of simple filing, but close. Why not grab a bunch of case files, go through them sort-of-rapidly, and log whether they're any good or not? Great plan. I gather up 50 or so of the "CE2-everything else" files [my designator for CE2s which are not primarily landing marks/traces, nor electromagnetic affects, not physiological effects, but have something pretty physical about them nevertheless --- most of these are claimed crashes, leftover debris, angelhair et al, mass displacement like the lifting of something, etc.]

So, I'm merrily about 25-30 cases into it when up comes a file with an FSR article claiming "little white spheroids" left in piles in two cases. Really? One case is the famous Mother-of-All-Solid-Light-Cases from Trancas, Argentina, and the other is Glassboro, NJ September 4, 1964. Trancas I know a great deal about and it has become controversial. I knew really nothing about Glassboro. That, for good or ill, has changed. The Glassboro part of the FSR article was written by a Frenchman, Jean Bastide, about whom I know little. Bastide describes a meeting of two kids with hippie-like "Nordic-style" persons who lead them to a landing site {no craft there} where golfball sized powder balls are found. These balls "shrunk" over time, but were so cold to the touch that a policeman had to drop the thing immediately upon his investigation the following day. Hmmmm..... sounds pretty unlikely, but what's this all about?

So I made the mistake of reading the available source material {It took about four hours to beat the bushes to accumulate it}. At first reading, the case looks like this:

a]. kids report meeting with two guys who show them a landing site claim;
b]. kids tell Dad, who is a NICAP member, and he and they go out there the next day;
c]. Dad's fired up; gets local police out there by afternoon;
d]. Police are interested; get group out there in evening to measure site, which turns out to be a centerhole, three podmarks at distance, and eleven diskmarks surrounding the centerhole; some claims regarding metal fragments, fused sand, burnt surface, broken treelimbs are made.

e]. word gets out and tourists pour in trampling most of area;
f]. local USAF notified after trampling; they send six persons down; NICAP investigator and other UFO-interested people arrive within day of Air Force;
g]. USAF debunks; UFOlogists don't; samples allegedly being tested; two other sightings in area reported;
h]. high school kids get on the case and do a science project on it; declare it anomalous;
i].young college kid tries to sell local paper a story of how he hoaxed whole thing;
j]. police not amused; kid taken to court; pleads guilty; fined; case closed;
k]. civilian study comes in, claiming kid could not have produced tree damages;
l]. UFOlogists split on case: negative to lukewarm to positive;
m]. long time later Berthold Schwarz interviews Dad of kids; writes it up with new divergent details;
n]. Bastide reads Schwarz and buys new details and thus the FSR article;
o]. confusion reigns as to what really is documented etc.

Ouch!! What the heck is going on? Well, ready or not, I'm going to pound at this thing a little.

  The above picture is of the three local patrolmen assigned to measure "the scene of the crime" on the evening of the 5th, almost exactly 24 hours after the two kids were shown the site by the mysterious never-identified two older guys. These policemen might be the three names we know: Chief Everett Watson, Patrolman Robert Toughill, and Patrolman John Schulde of Glassboro PD. Watson came out to the site earlier with Ward Campbell, the father of the two kids, and after his initial inspection got his team to survey the situation. Their information, measurements, mapping are the only {literally} untrampled data that we have as to the ground effects. You can see the size of the center hole pretty clearly in this photo. Although NOT clear enough for US to be sure, this hole was described as a perfect circle of about 28" in diameter with relatively smooth conical sides extending 18' deep to a floor slightly less in diameter. Around this hole is a raised donut of earth about 5" high and also quite regular.  Some blackening of the sandy/clay soil can be seen scattered over the light surface, as if ejected from the middle.

Above: two slightly closer-in photos of the center hole. {I darkened the top one to try to get the detail a little clearer}. The police felt that there was evidence that sand had been fused inside the "crater", and that there were puzzling fragments of metal in there as well. Some samples of both substances were collected, both by the police and Mr. Campbell.

Patrolman Schulde made this map of his survey of the area. As you can see, situated around the center hole were eleven disk-like marks [Schulde says that these are "in the raised mound"] which stand out due to having a burnt appearance. Further away are the three "podmarks" These are at distances not quite regular, as you can read [of course, functional pod=landing devices would rarely encounter the ground at precision linear distances as their adjustment to the terrain is precisely why they are used]. Schulde says that the pod holes are about eight inches deep and formed by "depressing" the grassy area beneath. That thought needs some reflection when evaluating the hoax hypothesis.

All of that was done without any interference from public, civilian ufo, or military intrusion, since no one else knew yet. It was subsequently found that a nearby resident, Mrs. Freda DuFala, had seen a red glowing "moon" in that area on the evening of the fourth, and upon hearing of the case reported her sighting. There was another sighting in the area on the 5th, by a Mrs. Trautz. A third report was made by two girls about a sighting on the 7th. And, the press published the incident on the 6th, and spectators began, literally, trampling in on the evening of the 6th. By the 8th, about an estimated 4000 persons had visited the area.

On the 9th, the Associated Press calls McGuire AFB to inform them what's happening. McGuire sends six men down to Glassboro, a major, a captain, three sergeants, and a geology professor from Southern Connecticut College, Dr. Robert L. Brown. This is the same Robert L. Brown who was involved in that strange business of the odd spacefall in Hartford, CT, which passed through Fred Whipple's hands into the possession of T Townsend Brown, and somehow involved the NSA and anti-gravity theories. {we posted several entries on this strange affair much earlier on the blog}. Who knows what conspiracies one may wish to spin out of that. The military from McGuire were out of the base's Ground, Air Safety, and Disaster Control Office.

Once there, they went out to the site with police escort twice on the 10th. They took samples and copies of the police report. Samples were sent to Wright-Patterson for analysis, as was the report, parts of which ended up in the BlueBook microfilm. They also "discovered" bubblegum wrappers and the remains of firecrackers at the site, along with footprints of people in sneakers. Now why they thought these things significant after four days of thousands of sightseers, I'll leave for readers to speculate upon. We can only say that Robert L. Brown returned to the police station the following day to assert that "unofficially" the case was a hoax for precisely these reasons. Stranger yet, the Air Force spokesperson said that they had sent samples including "fused sand" to Wright-Patterson, apparently seeing no disconnect between supposed teen hoaxers and generating temperature to fuse the sand to a glass. Patrolman Robert Toughill, upon hearing the hoax claim, skeptically asked how then did "they" do it?

NICAP got wind of the case on the 10th and their local guy, chiropractic doctor John Pagano, went to the site on the 11th. Pagano is the same NICAP investigator who did the work on phase two of the Wanaque phenomenon as we've blogged earlier. Pagano interviewed Chief Watson, land owner Frank Sergi [who had accompanied Watson and Ward Campbell on the second earliest site visit], and Campbell himself. Sergi said that he was greatly impressed with the "perfect formation of the conical crater, AND ITS GLAZED APPEARANCE". [caps are mine]. This seemed to ensure the "fused sand" aspect of this. As Campbell was a NICAP member himself, he and Pagano went to the site for a hands-on investigation --- it's possible that that is who the people are pictured above. Chief Watson supplied Pagano/NICAP with copies of the photos of the police report, and Pagano learned of Mrs. DuFala's sighting of a red glowing object that same evening. Damages to some surrounding tree limbs were noted, and Pagano's report to NICAP was highly positive about the case.

Coincidental with the NICAP investigation was that of Alphonse Zulli. Also hearing of the case on the 10th, Zulli was very interested. And he had an unusual skill. Zulli was an expert on trees and the health and damages sustained by vegetation. He and two other people got in their car and drove to Glassboro on the 11th. They spent the whole day "in the field". Upon arriving at the scene, the three tree experts took a few ground photos {such as that at top}, but realized that the ground trampling made most investigation there fruitless. The standing trees however were above that tourist action and spoke their own story.

One of the first things that they noticed was that leaves hung charred off limbs 40 feet off the ground. A climber harvested some of these specimens and two things were found, either by immediate inspection [selective charring of some leaves rather than others] or labwork [no signs of tree disease nor insect damage]. In places tree bark was selectively charred and occasionally looked to have been blown off. No drying nor other exposure in the lab made healthy leaves turn the way these charred leaves appeared. One small pine seedling seemed to have been forcefully uprooted and the soil blown from the roots. The most damaged tree, a sassafras, had been forced partially out of the ground, its roots "sprung" from the soil. Inspecting these roots, these men estimated that about the strength of ten men [or machine equivalent] would have been necessary to haul away at this tree to spring the roots.

All of these discoveries were in their area of expertise. Getting away from that, they blew it by thinking that they'd perhaps found a fourth podmark --- this mark was later found to be an error or a hoaxed addition by someone. Back in their wheelhouse, however, they were able to measure the canopy area of the charred leaves, and estimate that it was about 30 feet in circular diameter. Zulli and associates of course hypothesized that a heated object of about 30-foot diameter had risen through this canopy causing the burn marks. NICAP saw their report ultimately, and, of course, liked it. Doubtless the Air Force did not.

Then something really unusual: high school science kids got involved ... and impressively. They, being local highschoolers, had heard about the brouhaha early in the game, but decided to wait until the crowds cleared to do their own investigation. This, they admitted, upon getting to the site on the 12th and seeing the crowd damage, was a mistake. Still, their effort was beyond admirable.

To begin with, there were lots of indications upon close unhurried inspection, to do disciplined measurements, and their survey seems to be the best that anyone took. Even the Air Force wanted a copy of their report and included the map above in their file. The kids had no hang-ups, calling the numbers as they saw them, even if they showed that there were no absolute symmetries in the array. But the most impressive thing about these kids is that they refused to stop thinking until the thinking trail dried up. They got the local soil records and compared the observations of the holes with the expected known pattern. They sampled the site in relationship with this known soil geology. They got expert geological opinion upon what they were seeing. They stated uncontrovertibly that their soil tests and observations conflicted directly with the statements by the USAF consultant Robert L. Brown. They were polite, but it amounted to: Brown was wrong. {Brown had stated that the hole contained Potassium Nitrate, a constituent of gunpowder, and therefore some hoaxer had just blown it open. The kids' nitrate tests were negative at several layers of the hole, and the only nitrate which showed was surface soil elsewhere}.

They also went at the tree phenomenon. They researched the Sassafras tree {The Air Force didn't even know what the tree was, stating it was an oak}. They consulted an expert botanist in the species and he gave them specific data for the forces needed to break such a tree in the manner it was. The estimation was a 1500 pound concentrated force load. They also noticed something no others had: one foot from the main hole's edge was a patch of moss. This moss has NO SINGED AREAS at all. Thus, whatever caused the other charring in the case was highly controlled and directional.

When they had finished their report, everyone else, Air Force, NICAP, Zulli even, should have bowed their heads in shame. THIS WAS REALLY APPLYING SCIENCE TO A CASE. Oh, and one last thing: the kids noticed that the podmarks were pressed downwards into the soil by a smooth powerful force which had a slightly rounded bottom. Roots of the surface plants had not been sheared off, but were pressed against the sides of the inner walls as the pressure came down. "Digging" these holes DID NOT happen.

Well, BRAVO --- every adult should have been kicked off the planet for their lack of performance.

So all seems going well, you say? Wrong again.....

The Air Force put out its opinion "officially" on September 30th. It said that the hole was crudely dug [false], that nitrate had been found in the center hole showing gunpowder was used [false], and that the metal fragments sent to them were nothing more than tinfoil folded up [who knows? but one wonders how Chief Watson et al were so thrilled by folded up tinfoil to suggest the USAF look into that]. The top record card shows the Air Force official conclusion of "HOAX".

All those reasons were wrong, but then the USAF lucked out. ... and the case takes a ridiculous right angle turn. Some young college clown, pictured above middle at his trial, now tried to sell a story [anonymously] to a local newspaper as to how he'd fooled everybody and faked the whole affair. He and one or two buddies had been the men who told the two kids of the UFO landing and showed them the site. They'd dug out the holes, placed a burning gob of gunpowder hanging over the center hole to produce charring and blackening of the soil, and then scattered Radium Dioxide around to make the site radioactive to clinch the UFO deal. .... great. Nothing like a complete jerk to sully a case.

Lloyd Mallan heard about this character [the local police pressured the newspaper into giving his name up and he was prosecuted for a misdemeanor], and immediately bailed on the case, writing it up as a caution to UFOlogists about clever hoaxing. Moseley and Saucer News, of course, bailed. NICAP didn't bail, but didn't peep too loudly as you can see from their mini-protest above. Dick Hall became scared of the case and didn't use it in his publications. Gordon Lore did, but barely mentions it.

IF the UFO community would have taken the original policework, the work of Zulli, and particularly that of the highschool kids into serious consideration, they would easily see that our young college idiot has A LOT of explaining to do. MUCH of his claim is obviously at odds with the facts [as another aspect: no radioactivity was measured by anybody including the Air Force]. The plant science stuff particularly gives his tale real troubles. But if HE is the hoax himself, then why would he do it?

He told the judge that he saw an opportunity to make some money the easy way for college. Well, interesting. I actually buy that. But with two add-ons: having a "plan" which includes a faked landing site, and a hope that it would grow into a local sensation allowing publication-for-profit a month or more later, is quite the stretch of my imagination. Secondly, his two anonymous friends were going to share this windfall profit? BIG BUCKS, I guess, from the local newspaper. AND --- his profit motive works just as well for a guy sitting around listening to a hullaballoo that he had nothing to do with, presenting the same opportunity.

It's tough for me to get behind this character without a lot more convincing of how he could pull it off.

So... just when I'm getting slightly comfortable with a possible understanding of this case, along comes the too-often incredible Dr. Berthold Schwarz. He rolls into a MUFON symposium in 1974 and says some pretty weird things. He says that in all the publications about Glassboro "to my knowledge some odd features were omitted". Really? And he goes on to say that the young kids didn't meet regular young men but long-haired, blonde, tall, thin, beautifully-faced men {we're in Adamski Nordic ET land here} who walked barefoot on surfaces containing gravel and broken glass. ... sheez, really?

And, there at the landing site were piles of whitish powder rolled up into golfball sized spheres. When these spheres were picked up 24 hours later by a policeman, they had to be dropped quickly for they were too cold to hold. ... good grief, I wonder how the oft-interviewed patrolmen forgot to mention THAT?

AND... it gets worse ... Schwarz knows these things because several years after the events, he, for reasons unstated, decided to look up Mr. Ward Campbell, the father of the original kids, and have a heart-to-heart about this case. Campbell then told him of blonde men and persistently cold golfballs. And one more thing: Campbell said that he had been stalked by someone. Someone would call him in his hotel rooms when he was on business travels, and quizzed about his "interests" in UFOs. This stranger would know things about him that no one should have known. Campbell was "flabbergasted and frightened". John Keel's MIBs strike again {Schwarz was, by the way a friendly associate of Keel}.

Good grief!! NOW what have I got?

Is this case a college goon's hoax? Is it a semi-normal landing trace case? Is it a Keelian Disneyland-of-the-gods case? I lean where you already know I lean. The college goon's thing doesn't match facts. The USAF's beliefs even worse. The Schwarz thing isn't in good contact with anything else in the resources. Can I subscribe it to Schwarz just being nuts?, or the Campbell guy gradually going nuts with too many UFOs to cope with?

And, on the good ole landing trace theory.... well, I don't even have a UFO.

Yeh... YOU did it, didn't you?

Peace, my friends.


  1. i assume you mean this trancas case ?


    1. yes. that is a repeat of the fsr article.

    2. i would like to see your opinion on the trancas case. iirc they have to close encounter with entities and the multiple witnesses in different area are interesting.. the solid light that slowly advances, the calcified ground below the UFO, the massive UFO flyby and the sulfuric smell.

  2. Hello Prof, it'd be interesting to see where those intrepid high-schoolers finished their careers. The level of intelligence and education in participants and witnesses back then often surprises me. As reports go, it appears we have a finely balanced case whereby, whatever happened, certainties have counter-points and we're left with a tantalising gift of what-ifs? What if the official investigation had been as diligent as the students? What if the photographs allowed us a clearer view? The hole looks, to me, quite rough (scraped out?) for a 'smooth powerful force' and yet there does appear to be some form of ashy ejecta around it. I guess the examination of these old images can only take us so far. The lab tests on the leaves are fascinating and lend strength to the case that something more than a hoax might have occurred.

    What I found more interesting was your comment, '(...)along comes the too-often incredible Dr. Berthold Schwarz.'

    The Gary Wilcox encounter report is one of my favourites. We had an apparently reputable, intelligent dairy farmer making the one-off claim that he'd encountered two beings on his farm and had a long conversation. You'll know it very well. All the way through his recollection, he presented as a wry, dubious and intelligent man; he later went on to be a manager for IBM and never spoke publicly about it again. What he did say involved questions about farming and that *they* had told him they were 'from a planet you call Mars.' He was circumspect about the rest.

    Then Schwarz appeared with details allegedly from the police report recounting dire warnings not to go into space and predicting the deaths of four astro/cosmonauts in the following year - Gus Grissom and John Glenn no less. All of which sent an already strange report 'Out Proctor.' Having not seen the original police report, the Schwarz claims intrigued me and spurred scepticism too. The irony isn't lost considering Wilcox' claims are unusual all by themselves. Earlier this year, an American acquaintance described to me how a colleague of his had been told by the Newark PD that their old files are routinely destroyed and thus that statement is probably no longer. Hearsay, but a likely scenario.

    I've read more about Schwarz and his published papers too. Nevertheless, I couldn't escape the nagging doubts and I see you got there first.

  3. I was one of those "intrepid high-schoolers." I, Stephen Kendorski, and my brother, Frank Kendorski, were two of the kids at Frankford High School Science Club who went to Glassboro to see the "UFO Landing Site." You can see our profiles on LinkedIn. I ended up with dual simultaneous B.S.'s in Computer Science and Psychology and had a career as a Software Engineer (now retired). My brother Frank passed away four years ago.

    1. What do you think of the case today? I mean YOU WERE PART OF THE STORY --- you should give others your insider views.

    2. Hi, I lived across from the academy, rt 322, richwood aura rd. I think I saw the alien.

  4. I was 3o something years old, when I found a book, in Barnes and Noble and read about this. I lived at the intersection of rt 322, and 1/4 mile away. I opened the book to this chapter. I asked my mother who was with me in the store. do you remember this? She said yes, they proved it was college kids. She reminded me of going there. Yes. But I remember something COMPLETELY, different.



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