The 1981 Bethesda UFO Sighting – Black Budget? Or Extraterrestrial?

First Published: August 23, 2019 Written by: Marcus Lowth Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes Posted in: UFOs

Perhaps the fact that Martin Buxbaum was already relatively well known in Bethesda, Maryland as the editor of in-house publication Table Talk for Hot Shoppes – a position he had held for 25 years at the time of the incident – as well as the author of several poetry books and a freelance writer for various publications, made his claims of witnessing a strange object in the skies overhead while driving home with his wife one evening in early-spring 1981, rightly or wrongly, a little more palatable than had they come from an unknown member of the public.

Although he was adamant of seeing “something”, however, he was equally certain that what he had witnessed was a product of the human mind as opposed to an extraterrestrial intelligence. Whether or not it was a top-secret military project or not is open to debate. However, the sighting would definitely appear genuine and not a ploy for monetary gain or for purposes of notoriety.

Furthermore, this case and two others that share very similar details will force us to ask questions of just what is behind the UFO and alien phenomena. It might prove to be that the answers are more complex and far-reaching than we could, at this stage in our collective development and understanding, even begin to appreciate.

A Silent Craft With “Square Windows” And “Cherry Red Lights!”

On the evening of 15th March 1981, Martin Buxbaum was driving through the town of Bethesda in Maryland with his wife. As they turned on to Wilson Lane, they noticed a strange silhouette of an object in the skies overhead. The object at first appeared a similar size to a commercial jet airliner. However, Buxbaum would then notice how low to the ground it was. Furthermore, there was a strange row of “square windows” going in an arch along the top of the craft. On the underside, were two “cherry red” lights.

As the married couple continued to watch this object flying in a perfectly straight line through the dark blue sky of late evening, they both suddenly realized that it didn’t appear to make a sound. As it crossed over their car in a diagonal north-to-south direction, not the slightest noise was heard by either of the witnesses.

Buxbaum would pull their vehicle to the side of the road near the local high school. He would estimate the object was moving at least 100 miles per hour and at an altitude of 1,000 feet.

Furthermore, as it passed them, any notion that it might have been a plane disappeared. Not only were there no flashing lights that all planes had to utilize for night flights, it was a cross between a disc and spherical shape. Certainly not like a plane, helicopter, or any other conventional aircraft either of them was aware of.

What they both could agree on was that the object was something most definitely unknown.

An “Experimental Aircraft” Of Human Design?

Buxbaum, perhaps calculatingly perhaps not, would suggest that he believed the craft was of terrestrial origin and the product of human design. He would further state:

I think it’s an experimental aircraft and they’re trying it out at night. For some reason, they don’t want it seen!

Whether Buxbaum was preempting the potential ridicule and so tempered his report with the belief it was a military craft or whether this was a genuine assessment, only he will have known. There are, however, several United States military bases nearby. Which perhaps strengthens any argument in favor of an experimental military aircraft.

However, we should perhaps ask, if this is the case, given the vast amounts of land open to the military that would provide more discreet air space for secret testing, why would they choose to perform such tests over a (relatively) highly populated area?

For his part, Buxbaum would assure the police, to who he made his report, that both he and his wife had “good eyesight”. And that “neither of them drinks”. He would produce a sketch of the object from memory shortly after arriving home (which you can see above). He would further claim it was their hope that someone could come forward with an explanation for what the object was.

An incident almost exactly three years previously, however, especially given what we know today, might endorse Buxbaum’s notion of a secret military craft. At least in part.

The Patapsco State Park Incident – Further Evidence Of Secret Government Technology?

At around 11 pm on the 22nd March 1978 in Maryland’s Patapsco State Park, two brothers, Gary, and David Oickle, along with two of their friends, Barry Smith and Ken Cabot, were sat around their campfire where they planned to spend the evening. Their chosen spot was near to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Tunnel.

As the men were talking, Barry and David noticed a “flat-looking” object in the skies nearby. They watched it for several seconds as it vanished behind a ridge. After waiting several more seconds in case it returned, the two men then alerted the others to what they had witnessed. It was as they were doing so that the object, or one exactly like it, appeared once more. This time, it would hover right over them.

The witnesses would later describe the object as “triangular” with rows of windows at the side and “three white lights at the corners”. On the top side of the craft, they could also see a red light. They would estimate each side of the triangle was around 150-200 feet and was a metallic exterior of a blue-gray color. Furthermore, the object was extremely low to the ground, at an estimated altitude of no more than 250 feet.

Despite the size of the craft, it moved at a remarkably slow pace, even stopping and hovering at times. Although it was largely quiet, the witnesses did recall hearing a discreet sound similar to a “quiet wind”.

The object was within their sight for around 20 seconds before it vanished behind the trees of the park.

Evidence Of Telepathic Communication?

Perhaps of even more intrigue, however, was the black outline of a figure at one of the windows. At least according to three of the witnesses. Further still, when the object had vanished from view, these witnesses claimed to see another “bright star-like” object. And at much higher altitude overhead. This object would change colors, from blue to green to yellow and then to red, repeating this sequence.

This is perhaps an interesting detail. Particularly if the witnesses who claimed to see an occupant onboard the craft was correct. Might their attention have been somehow purposely drawn to the object above them by the occupant in the triangular craft? Perhaps through some kind of telepathic communication? Such details appear in many other UFO reports.

And what should we make of the description of the object itself? As well as the similarities to the Black Triangle UFOs, which many researchers increasingly believe are, in fact, black budget projects of the United States military? Was this sighting in 1978 one of an extraterrestrial origin or a top-secret military aircraft? And, despite the apparent discrepancies in their descriptions, does it share a connection to the sighting in Bethesda three years later?

An incident around a month before the Bethesda sighting in Greenburg in the nearby state of Pennsylvania is perhaps worth examining quickly here.

The Greenburg Sighting, February 1981

In the early hours of 14th February 1981, at around 1:45 am, a 17-year-old girl would see a strange object through the window of the house where she was babysitting in Greenburg, Pennsylvania. It was hovering just above the trees and was a definite triangular shape made from “dark-colored metal” and had three distinct white lights. Furthermore, the witness believed she could see separated windows along the sides of the craft.

As she continued to watch, amazed at the lack of sound for such a huge aerial craft, a sudden “beam of light” projected out from the underside. In a bizarrely slow fashion, it finally reached the ground below.

Even stranger, however, was the “two humanoid” occupants the young girl witnessed inside the craft itself. She would later describe these strange creatures as “having very large heads”. As well as “oriental eyes” and two holes where a nose should be. Similarly, where their ears should have been were something similar to gills.

She could clearly see that one of the creatures was in a sitting position. The other,  meanwhile the other stood at some kind of control panel. From where the craft was, she could also clearly see that the occupant was staring directly at her. She stared back as if feeling “compelled to do so”. Then, equally for reasons she wasn’t entirely sure of, after a quarter of an hour of this locking of stares, she simply came away from the window and sat down. She didn’t see the craft leave, but she knew it had gone.

A Moments, Albeit Wild, Speculation!

There are several questions that, after our brief examination of these three UFO cases, are crucial to eventually getting to the bottom of the UFO and alien question.

Are these sightings merely the result of (for the most part) United States black budget military projects? If so, is that technology and knowhow the result purely of human ingenuity? Or are claims of recovered and reverse-engineered alien technology more grounded in truth than many of us might think?

And what of the sightings of occupants that, while humanoid, are decisively unhuman? Does this dispel the idea of black budget projects altogether? Or does it endorse the theory of reverse-engineered alien technology? Does that mean that while some UFO sightings are indeed of alien origin, others are alien technology but in the hands of the United States military?

And, if we accept for a moment that at least a portion of the UFO sightings and encounters are genuine interactions and sightings of extraterrestrial vehicles, are they here against the desire of the world’s governments? Or might, as many researchers suggest, contact have already taken place with selective, shadowy world government officials.

If, for example, some kind of deal or arrangement has been made with these potential visitors from another world, for what purpose would there be such an arrangement? And where would it leave the rest of us, the vast majority of the human race? Are such speculative arrangements for the benefit of humanity? Or are we an insignificant pest-like species to whatever overall plan might be unfolding discreetly around us?

Of course, this is pure speculation. And wild speculation at that. However, it is speculation that we might, if there is any truth to such claims, need to address a little more head-on down the line.

A Tightly Packed “Ball Of String” Of Possibilities

Whether or not there is a connection between these three incidents is open to debate. The shape of the craft aside, all three of the sightings share the same characteristics to each other. All were seemingly calmly moving across the sky, seemingly much too slow for their size. And each was apparently uninterested in the events below them.

But what of the discrepancy in the shape of the crafts? Might it be that Buxbaum was mistaken as to the shape? His sighting, after all, was from the furthest distance and his sketch from memory several hours later.

And above all, was Buxbaum correct that the object he witnessed was a secret government or military project? After all, the very distinct triangular sightings have uncanny similarities to the alleged TR-3B triangular craft. What, then, however, should we make of the apparent sightings of “humanoid creatures” who were most definitely not human onboard these crafts?

Once more, such questions lead us into uncertain territory. With the answers tied up tightly within a ball-like string of what-ifs, maybes, and seemingly outlandish possibilities. As we collectively examine and reexamine such cases, that ball of string will become unraveled. So much so, that we might one day make sense of these seemingly random and bizarre encounters. And then, we might begin to understand the truth behind the UFO phenomena. As well as how it fits into the wider world around us. And indeed the universe in which we are all a part.

Check out the video below. It looks at such notions a little further.


The stories, accounts, and discussion in this article are not always based on proven facts and may go against currently accepted science and common beliefs. The details included in the article are based on the reports and accounts available to us as provided by witnesses and documentation.

By publishing these accounts, UFO Insight does not take responsibility for the integrity of them.  You should read this article with an open mind and come to a conclusion yourself.

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About Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years experience. Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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