The Crestview Elementary School UFO Incident

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
August 6, 2018
Last Updated
October 11, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
8 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Close Encounters

Although it generated some state media attention at the time, the UFO sighting over Crestview Elementary School in April 1967, an incident with hundreds of witnesses, was largely forgotten about until the Internet provided a platform for it in the early 2000s. Many of the witnesses were young children at the time. Now, in the twenty-first century and as adults, the event is still clear in many of their minds.

A depiction of a UFO over a school

A depiction of a UFO over a school

In fact, what perhaps makes this incident even more intriguing, is the very fact that the witnesses were so young at the time of the encounter. The vast majority are still alive today. And now, with an apparent desire among at least some of them to find an explanation for what they saw that spring morning over fifty years ago, maybe there is still more about this encounter to reach the public arena.

The sighting was, as we will look at a little later, part of an apparent wave of sightings over the South Florida area at the time. And, as we will also look at later, several other similar sightings with similar amounts of witnesses are on record around the world. Before we move on, however, check out the short video below. It is a UFO sighting from 2010 over Crestview, Florida.

Initial Sighting From The Schoolyard

On the morning of 6th April 1967, fourth-grade student, Jonathan, while standing in the schoolyard during recess, would notice a strange object hovering over the schoolyard in North Dade County, Miami, Florida. [1] The object was quite a way in the distance, but still close enough to see in detail. It was a round, disc-shaped craft which appeared to spin in the air, calmly and controlled.

It was at the end of the morning recess and most of the other children were already inside. Fourth-grade teacher, Mr. Robert Apfel, was busy calling the odd straggler in and to their next lesson. One of which was the now enthralled Jonathan. As Apfel walked over to the young boy, Jonathan turned to ask him while pointing upwards, “What is that?”

Both teacher and student could see the metallic craft overheard. Neither knew what it was and with all the other children now in the school, they were the only two witnesses remaining. As they both looked upwards the object vanished in a sudden white flash. Standing there for a moment to gather his thoughts, Apfel then ushered Jonathan inside. Although there were several military bases and airports in the vicinity, it wasn’t an aerial craft either had seen before. Not at all sure what they had seen, neither expected to see such a sight again. The next day, however, this mysterious craft would return. And it wouldn’t be alone.

Return Visit In Front Of Hundreds Of Witnesses!

The following day, on the 7th April, Jonathan along with the rest of his grade sat in their class awaiting the start of the lesson. Before Mr. Apfel could begin, however, the children noticed three strange objects hovering in the sky outside. One of them was the same craft as Jonathan witnessed the previous day. This time, though, there were two other, cigar-shaped objects and they were much closer to the school. Then, all three objects vanished once again.

The children, including Jonathan, would rush outside to get a closer look. As they ran outside, the circular object returned. They were soon joined by other students who had also noticed these apparently other-worldly visitors. In all, it is estimated anywhere between 100 and 200 people witnessed the strange crafts. Most of them elementary students, although several teachers were among them.

The growing mass of students pressed against the fence at the edge of the school perimeters. The rotating disc was now only yards away from the witnesses. Then, it began to move and would shoot forward into the trees which overlooked the schoolyard. However, instead of crashing into them and sending damaged branches into the air and to the ground, it simply vanished. As if an unseen portal or gateway had swallowed it. The children stared in disbelief. They would let out a collective gasp when the object returned in a flash. Again, it was as if it had appeared from out of the trees. And again, there was no damage to speak of. After several more seconds, the object vanishes from sight in another flash of light.

A TV reproduction of the Crestview UFO

A TV reproduction of the Crestview UFO

A “Military Presence” At The School

An official report was made to MUFON. Many of the children state to remembering a “military presence” in the school on the afternoon of the second sighting. Three of the teachers were apparently interviewed privately, and some spoke with the children themselves. The official result of this military presence was that “three low-hovering helicopters” were the mysterious objects. Furthermore, the children must “have been mistaken” in what they claimed they had seen.

Perhaps not surprisingly those present that morning reject the notion that what they saw was a “low-hovering helicopter”. Perhaps not least due to how familiar they all were with the abundance of aerial vehicles in the sky on the outskirts of Miami. Decades later, with the advent of the Internet, many of the students would speak of their encounter online, finding other witnesses who were there that morning.

For example, a sixth-grade student would write of their experience that morning at the National UFO Reporting Center [2] website. They would state of seeing “three oval-shaped objects coming through the clouds” on what was a “clear day”. According to the witness, the two smaller objects were “dancing around” the larger craft. The larger object appeared to be made from shiny metal and was around “the size of a cruise ship”. The witness would also state the object would land briefly in a nearby field. They would later ride their bikes to the area and find the ground “charred and smashed” into the shape of the object. They would also remember “men in uniforms” arriving at the school later that day.

Many Multiple-Witness School Sightings

We will come back to some of the other UFO sightings in southern Florida in early-1967 shortly. UFO sightings witnessed over schools by multiple students, though, is not quite as rare as one might think. One sighting on record we have looked at before, and happened almost exactly a year earlier, on the other side of the world in Australia at Westall School.

Several nights earlier on 21st March, back in the United States in Michigan at Hillsdale College, a student would report a large disc in the sky over the campus. [3] Around 100 students would witness the glowing object. It would move over the campus, hovering over nearby swampland before shooting directly upwards. This is one of the sightings where “swamp gas” was offered as an explanation.

A similar sighting occurred just over a year later, on 10th July 1967, this time over a school on the Isle of Wight in the UK. Two students of Whippingham Primary School were walking along the schoolyard at just before 9 am. Each noticed a strange “ash” falling on to them from above. As they looked upwards, they could see a large, “cloud-like” but very solid “milky-white” disc-shaped craft. [4] The object remained visible for most of the day before eventually moving away calmly. As a twist to this encounter, when the boys’ parents informed police of the sighting, they would discover a crop circle in a field underneath where it hovered.

We have written previously of Scotland having a higher-than-normal amount of UFO sightings for its size. Perhaps it makes sense then that a number of these sightings have taken place over schools in front of multiple witnesses.

Scotland’s Other-Worldly Schoolyard Encounters

One of the earliest such sightings occurred sometime in 1948. Nine-year-old, Linda, was returning home for lunch with her friend from their primary school in Greenock. As they walked a sudden buzzing noise confronted them. When they looked up a swarm of “flying saucers” [5] filled the sky. Each of the crafts was low and would periodically swoop lower. Each saucer contained a single occupant, although neither could see any details of the person inside. The strange crafts would suddenly disappear, and the two girls would run home.

An incident in the summer of 1952 was very similar. Joan Torrence and her friend were making their way home from Elder Park Primary School in Glasgow. At 4 pm the sun was still high in the sky and there was plenty of light. However, before the two young girls had left the schoolyard, everywhere suddenly went dark. [6] Jane turned to look up. Above and behind her, hovering over the school was a large UFO. She would later describe as looking like a “sombrero”. As Jane stood enthralled, a teacher and janitor emerged from inside the building and also witnessed this cosmic vehicle. Then, the shining craft began to rotate, faster and faster. An uncomfortable whistling sound pierced the air before the craft shot directly upwards in an instant. The following day, the local newspaper would report several similar sightings.

Another sighting over a Glasgow school took place in the summer of 1978 at St. Mark’s Primary School. As several students played in the schoolyard, a large silver UFO, which “glistened in the sun” hovered above them. One student would describe the object as “two fedora hats joined together”. As the children watched in amazement, the silver craft vanished from sight. Unfortunately, in this instance, no teachers witnessed the incident.

A depiction of a UFO over Florida

A depiction of a UFO over Florida

Miami’s Mini 1967 UFO Wave

The sightings at the Crestview Elementary School was one of many UFO sightings in the Miami area [7] during the opening months of 1967. 45-year-old, James Flynn, for example, was hunting in the Florida Everglades one evening when he suddenly noticed a glowing object hovering over the surface of the swamp. He would describe the object as “conical, twice as wide as it was high” and made from a metallic material. He would watch the craft for around forty minutes, eventually getting to within several feet of it. However, a “beam of light” would hit him in the face which caused him to lose consciousness. When he came to, it was daylight and he had no vision in his right eye. He would ultimately spend almost a week in Fort Myers Hospital.

A similar incident occurred when two unnamed men witness a bright “balloon” as they were walking through woodland. As it came closer, though, the brightness became so intense that they could no longer look at it. Suddenly, it vanished, as if it had “exploded”. There was, however, no trace of wreckage.

In the days that followed the Crestview incident, Sharon Burgess, Mr. and Mrs. McMullen, and two anonymous students witnessed a “mysterious object” heading over Lakeland. They had been alerted to something out-of-the-ordinary due to sudden interference with their television sets. The craft then hovered over woodland for several moments. It was a disc shape and contained a “transparent dome” on the top. Inside this dome, “two occupants” were clearly visible to the witnesses. Each occupant adorned a tight-fitting suit and wore strange headgear. The object would then vanish in a bright flash. Interestingly, all the witnesses would report a strong smell of ammonia following the incident.

“Eight Unidentified Targets” Over South Florida!

Whether or not there is a connection is uncertain, but a sighting by two US military defense radars around 31st March 1967 is certainly worth examining. According to reports, radar operators at Homestead, and Key West Air Force Bases would “track a total of eight unidentified targets over coastal areas of southern Florida”. [8] These incidents would last for over four hours. They also took two separate flight paths. One would head towards Key West, while the other would fly over Miami.

Fighter jets were scrambled in an attempt to intercept these two mysterious groups. According to the documents, each pilot would report seeing the UFO. However, it isn’t clear if this sighting was a radar sighting or a physical one. A sighting from the ground also came from one of the personnel at the bases. He would state he saw “something so fast” he at first believed it was a meteorite.

Furthermore, local radio stations were receiving calls from the public regarding the strange, fast-moving lights, who would, in turn, announce the sightings to the public. According to the report, the UFOs and their movements appeared “to be flying a search pattern”. The objects would eventually all head south towards the Cuban coast. Although it wasn’t confirmed, a report suggested that a Cuban MIG21 jet was lost in an interception mission the same evening. Just to add a further twist to this particular incident, some reports even suggest an American spy plane was operating in Cuban airspace around the same time.

The short video below goes over the basics of the Crestview Incident.


1 1967 Crestview Elementary School UFO Sighting Seen By Hundreds, Above Top Secret
2 1967 3 UFO’S above Crestview Elementary School, Opa-Locka Fla., several hundred witnesses, National UFO Reporting Center
3 Hillsdale should commemorate 1966 UFO sighting in Arb, Nic Rowan, The Collegian, September 7th, 2017
4 The A.T. Factor: Piece for a Jigsaw III, Leonard G. Cramp, ISBN 9780932 813923 (page 3)
5 UFO Scotland: The Secret History of Scotland’s UFO Phenomenon, Ron Halliday, ISBN 9781845 029289 (page 73-74)
6 UFO Scotland: The Secret History of Scotland’s UFO Phenomenon, Ron Halliday, ISBN 9781845 029289 (page 75-76)
7 Florida ‘Landing’ 1967-68?, UFO Updates
8 UFO Sighting Of The Month, March 1967, MUFON

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 of 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.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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  • R.gregory says:

    I interviewed a teacher that saw it ..I was. A nicap ufo member she said it was not a helicopter… children were very upset..she said it had no sound, markings or windows….I believe her..

    • ufo ufo 38946 says:

      hey do you still have any of you interview online ? could you link it please, thanks

  • Luz Maria Rodriguez says:

    Exceedingly interesting.
    Reminds me of the “Miracle at Fatima” in Portugal in the early years of the 20th century. It was a message for the very young.

  • Spencer Pearce says:

    My names spencer from the uk(born in 1968)I’ve watched this episode many times on Close Encounters as shown on the Quest clip above.Its a fascinating story which features way too many eye witnesses and although they are mostly children it is extremely believable due to the fact of how close the sightings were and the crafts ability to fly through trees at great speed without any damage to the trees or craft.Its probably one of my favourite episodes on Close Encounters which I watch on a regular basis and the fact that its still talked about today over fifty years later shows the enduring fascination that people who were there have and others like myself have aswell.

  • Karen Heimbold says:

    I was there too. I was in fourth grade sitting in my classroom. I saw kids screaming and yelling and running into the school. We did not have air conditioned back then and our windows were open. After School, we rode our bikes to a nearby field a distance from the stadium that would be built years later for the Dolphins. This the field that I’m talking about. I saw about three silver saucer like things in the sky. It was too high up in the sky to describe it. It did not move like an airplane or a helicopter across the sky. It seemed more like zigzag. I saw men in uniform. I think it was the Air Force. My brother and my dad saw burnt grass where it perhaps landed. Although, they did not see it land.

    • Tom Miller says:

      The Hill that was in that field (We called it the O.C’s) was an indian burial mound. They flattened it when they built the stadium. So UFO’s over a burial mound. Double weird.

    • E. Lam says:

      I considered you “lucky” to witness the phenomenon. Science needs evidence and obviously you plus hundreds of other children at the time had definitive proof that “they” exist. Whoever said they were helicopters were fools and lying thru their teeth. They should be ashamed of themselves. I wish to see one myself.

    • NOEL RAMOS says:

      This is an amazing story that was covered up by the local police and military. I want to write a new article about this event but not sure how best to contact the witnesses. Any idea how I can do this? I live in Fort Lauderdale
      Noel Ramos

  • Dave says:

    My sister was on the play ground that day. She said it is a vivid memory for her. Like it was yesterday.

    I think she was in the second grade.

    It really happened.

    I remember my mother taking me to the school to see the burnt oval markings on the ground.

  • Ivob says:

    Any witnesses willing to talk about it now? What happened to Johnathan?

  • Markanthony says:

    I was born in 1967. I grew up in Opa-Locka. I don’t remember any Crestview Elementary School in Opa-Locka, especially not one as big as in the picture. However the elementary school I did attend was Opa-Locka elementary. It is about as big as the school in the picture. My mother saw the same UFO reported in 1967, but she saw it hovering beside her house just above her roof. She said it was shaped like a cigar or a blimp and was chrome with lights shooting out from all around it. The lights were in sync with the humming sound music coming out of it. She was terrified that it was so close and thought it was going to suck her through the window. She ran in the bedroom and locked the door and hid under the sheets until it left. Other friends saw it that night as well. One witness from Opa-Locka that saw it that same night called into the Coast to Coast AM Art Bell show, and said it shows up in Opa-Locka about every ten years.

  • David bonfoey says:

    I was in 5th grade at crestview elm. When the UFOs came in 1967
    Our teacher only let us look for a moment I saw the oval shaped craft. We had to sit down so I did not see the cigar shaped ufos.when I got home my parents said they saw cigar shaped objects .when school let out all kid s ran into field but barracade stop us cold .
    We could see in the distance army usaf state troopers looking with binoculars where we could not see !

    • Martin Grayson says:

      Hello ma’am I would like to know more about your experience and talk to others who was there, I have a pic of a ufo over my house and messages from our brothers from the stars that I would like to share

  • BillinGa says:

    The school sighting is dramatized on the Science Channel show Close Encounters, episode War of The Worlds, season 2. It’s on the Sci Go app.

  • Marcus Lowth says:

    I would say the Crestview sighting is arguably genuine (in that it wasn’t a military test etc.) – why would they do so right in front of the school? As for the UFO phenomenon in general, I am, like everyone else, am still searching for what the truth to it all might be 🙂

  • Paup Pereira says:

    Hi Marcus, for starters so you know how you could help. This phenomenon at Crestview Elementary show’s how far beyond our knowledge these visitors are. 1st. No doubt they have extreme superb Telepathic Skills. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been so freewheeling considering the limited imagination of children. On the contrary, if they were adults. These visitors were extremely friendly for the same reason. Peace

  • Paup Pereira says:

    Hi Marcus, What do you take off the UFO’S phenomenon? What have you discovered of their behavior in general as a whole? I need to know before I’m able to comment. Thanks, Paup

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