The Little Remembered 1962 UFO Crash In Las Vegas

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
October 22, 2018
Last Updated
October 13, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
8 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Cover-Ups

Not only is the apparent UFO crash in the desert sands just outside of Las Vegas in April 1962 little remembered, at least until relatively recently, it was practically overlooked by researchers at the time. And in the years that followed. It would seem, in retrospect, unlike such incidents as Roswell, for example, that events on the outskirts of Sin City were purposely kept as secret and as hidden as possible. For as long as possible. With this in mind, then, it begs the question, what was so important or significant about the “crash” in Vegas that evoked this response?

A superimposed UFO over Las Vegas

A superimposed UFO over Las Vegas

Perhaps, in part, it was sheer opportunism given that the otherworldly vehicle would crash to the ground within the confines of Nellis Air Force Base, allowing the US military instant access to the crippled craft before the vast majority of the outside world were even aware anything out of the ordinary had taken place. At least officially. For despite the relatively successful mission of maintaining the event’s low-key status for several decades, it is an event that boasts literally dozens of witnesses.

A “Glowing Red Ball” Over New York, Heading West!

On the evening of 18th April 1962, US military radar units began to track a strange and unknown object [1] which appeared in New York airspace in Oneida and was heading west. Reports would describe a “glowing red ball” [2] which moved at great speed yet made no sound. It would continue to “streak” across the skies of the United States. Sightings and further radar confirmation of the object would come from Kansas and Colorado. As the mysterious object approached Arizona, fighter jets were scrambled from Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix.

According to further reports, the glowing craft “came down” in Eureka, Utah. However, after several moments it would rise again and continue westward. During its temporary grounding, electrical service to a nearby power plant was lost.

Then, it disappeared over the state of Nevada, near Las Vegas. For those on the ground at Nellis Air Force Base just outside of Las Vegas, though, they knew exactly where the strange craft had disappeared to. The sudden explosion, whose timing coincided with the object’s disappearance, told them all they needed to know. Inside the air base, if such claims are accurate, there was a hive of sudden activity.

While military personnel rushed to their stations and units were sent to investigate the suddenly downed and mysterious object behind the perimeters of the base, residents and civilians of the towns in and around the Las Vegas area began to telephone authorities about the strange glowing light in the sky. As well as the sudden sound of the apparent explosion. The deputy sheriff, Walter Bun, would authorize a search unit to investigate. Heading out in jeeps suitable for the terrain, they made their way to the Spring Mountain area. They would search through the night. They would, however, find nothing of significance.

A “Tremendous Flaming Sword!”

The ‘Las Vegas Sun’ newspaper would carry a headline the following day stating that a “Brilliant Red Explosion Flares In Las Vegas Sky”. Furthermore, the account was relatively blunt and, it would appear, accurate, stating that a “weird unidentified object” was responsible for the incident and that it had “the air force on alert in several states”. They would describe the object as a “tremendous flaming sword”. Furthermore, according to staff photographer, Frank Maggio, a “series of bright explosions” soon followed the sighting as the strange craft broke and disappeared in the direction of Las Vegas.

It was when UFO researcher, Kevin Randle, was reexamining the case, that he came across entries in the recently declassified “Blue Book Files”. They would indeed record an “unidentified” radar sighting at Nellis Air Force Base. However, for unexplained reasons, this was later changed to “Insufficient Data for a Scientific Analysis”. Perhaps what would alert Randle most to some kind of cover-up, however, was the fact that despite the official reports from the Sheriff’s Office – including their all-night search of the area – the records would state that there was “no visual” confirmation of the incident. This was either a grossly misinformed entry. Or it was an outright and intentional falsehood.

Further investigation of the records over the states such as New York, Kansas, and even Utah, which was host to an apparent temporary landing, would claim the sightings to be “probably meteor” related. However, Randle would also discover several reports made by military personnel at Nellis Air Force Base on the night in question. They would make for interesting reading, to say the least.

A newspaper clipping of the incident

A newspaper clipping of the incident

The Declassified Military Reports

Perhaps one of the most intriguing of these military reports is that of Captain Herman Gordon Shields. He would state he was flying a C-119 aircraft two miles west of La Van, Utah. Despite the time of day (nearly midnight), the cockpit of the plane suddenly “began to get very bright”. Shields could tell the light source was coming from above him and “built up slowly”. Neither he, nor his co-pilot, Lieutenant Larson, could see the actual source of the light.

As they continued, attempting to turn and move away from the foreign object, the light continued to increase in brightness. So much so, they could each see distinct details illuminated on the ground. Shields would describe the surrounding scene as being “as bright as daylight”.

Suddenly, the brightness began to fade, quicker than it had taken to build in intensity. As it did so, Shields final caught a glimpse of the object. He would describe it as having a “long, slender appearance comparable to a cigarette” in shape. He would claim the lower part of the object was extremely bright “like a magnesium fire”, while the remaining section was a clear yellow color. Shields would, however, only see it for a matter of seconds before it disappeared. He would, though, remember “there was no exhaust. (And) no trail following after it”. He would further state that it was very much “clearly defined”. Essentially, it wasn’t a natural object such as a meteor. It was of intelligent design.

The “Eureka Files”

Further information was also available regarding the apparent landing at Eureka. In fact, the report, to say it was officially “a meteor” with no visual confirmation, would run to seven full pages. Numerous people would report witnessing a “ball of fire” as well as hearing a “series of explosions”. One particular sighting from a witness (with the name “blanked” out before release) in Silver City, Utah would claim the object to be “white with a yellowish tint” which was remarkably similar to the description given by the aforementioned Shields.

The chief of criminal investigation at Hill Air Force Base, Douglas Crouch, would interview many of the witnesses. Despite the ultimate official explanations, he would write in the conclusion of the report that “all observers interviewed were logical, mature persons”. Furthermore, each was “convinced” of having seen a “tangible object” and not an aircraft such as an airplane, balloon, or helicopter.

He would further state that “no unusual meteorological or astronomical conditions were present” that might explain the sightings. In short, it was Crouch’s belief it was not a meteor. Nor were there any military tests in the area at the time. And if there was any doubt as to Crouch’s initial findings, he would finish, “no explanation has been developed for the brilliant illumination of the area, the object itself, or the explosion” that would follow the sightings.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Friend, who would conduct a follow-up investigation in May 1962 would also express doubt as to the meteor theory, stating, in fact, that “it couldn’t have been a meteor” that was responsible for the sightings that evening. Not least because of the number of witnesses who claimed to see the object “reverse its course” while in the air.

A depiction of a UFO over Las Vegas

A depiction of a UFO over Las Vegas

Intriguing Sightings From Nephi

In fact, several of these “other” witnesses would reveal intriguing viewpoints and details of the evening’s events. All of which would dispute the notion that the incident was nothing more than a meteor. Nephi Sheriff Raymond Jackson, for example, would report hearing a “kind of a roar” as the object passed overhead. As he watched the object disappear he would recall several loud “booms” and flashing lights.

Nephi resident, Dan Johnson, would also recall the evening’s events. He was working in his field with his friend, Maurice Memmott. The area was completely dark when it suddenly lit up as the object passed overhead. He would distinctly remember it “landing somewhere in the distance”. Perhaps of even more interest was the “several military men” that were present in the area in the immediate aftermath. Several of which “interviewed” both he and Memmott. Interestingly another local newspaper would also state there was a military presence in the area on the night in question. They would claim they had arrived from Dugway Proving Grounds and were army personnel. Further investigation would indeed appear to show two separate military units in attendance that evening in April 1962.

Sergeant Sherwood of Utah Highway Patrol was also in Nephi during the sighting. He would claim to see the object, and that it “seemed to explode right over him”. As it did, a “cloud of white sparks” flew in all directions. His wife also heard the explosion and witnessed the bright light as she ran outside to make sure of no injuries to her husband.

More Evidence Of Intelligent Design?

Perhaps one of the best sightings, and certainly one that would suggest the object was nothing less than under intelligent control, was that of Bob Robinson, who along with Floyd Evans, was traveling towards the town of Eureka, around thirty miles away from the Nephi. Following an unrelated stop during which Robinson would exit the truck to stretch his legs for a moment, the two men noticed an approaching light in the sky up ahead. Evans would state to his friend it was a jet, but within moments it was practically overhead. Robinson could see the “flaming object” as well as a “series of windows” running along the side of it.

Both men equally frightened at just what this thing might be would take shelter under the truck on the roadside. As the object got even closer, the headlights dimmed, and the running engine began to sputter. Even more alarming, as it finally arrived in position directly over the top of them, it appeared to slow down and hover over them momentarily. After two minutes or so, it moved along, apparently uninterested in them or their vehicle. As it did so, the engine returned to a healthy “ticking over” sound and the headlights returned to full strength.

Robinson would arrive home, obviously in distress and visibly affected by the night’s events. He would be even more so when his wife, Betty, disclosed that she had seen the same object from their home. She would tell her husband that she suddenly heard a huge roar while sitting in the living room. The entire interior of the house would light up for several seconds in a “strobe effect”. Then it passed returning the room to normal.

A depiction of UFOs over Las Vegas

A depiction of UFOs over Las Vegas

A Craft Of Extraterrestrial Origin?

Another Eureka resident who witnessed the same object was police chief Joseph Bernini. Along with the other attendees of a city council meeting he would witness the sudden and urgent glow. As well as the roar “like an artillery shell” going overhead. At the same time, all the street lights would go out for several seconds. This suggests once again, that the object also brought with it some kind of electrical interference. Incidentally, this is a recurring detail in many such close contact sightings.

The military would later admit to the scrambling of jets, from two air force bases, no less (Nellis and Luke). This perhaps shows how extraordinary the events were as the 18th April passed its torch to the 19th. How were the military and authorities able to keep the sightings so disjointed and dismissed? In part, due to the “state by state” investigations as separate incidents.

Only upon the releasing of files, and as researchers began to examine such cases again were the events of 18th April 1962 pieced together and witnessed for what it was. An event that saw multiple people witness an anomalous craft fly almost the entire stretch of the United States. From New York, over the Midwest, and after making a temporary landing, crashing somewhere in the desert near Las Vegas.

Or, if the US military saw reason enough to keep the events hidden for so long, is it possible this case is not one of a crashed UFO. But one of a craft intentionally intercepted and brought down by force? Whatever did bring this mysterious object down to the desert sands of Nevada, one thing seems highly likely. It was, in fact, an intelligently-designed craft. Perhaps one of extraterrestrial origin.


1 April 18, 1962 UFO Incident Facts & Figures, Wassup In Las Vegas
2 The Las Vegas UFO Crash, Kevin Randle, August 1st 2008

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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  • Dennis M. Smith says:

    As a 9-year old boy living just off South Temple in Salt Lake City, riding my bicycle back and forth in the darkened courtyard, at night, I heard a tremendous deep rumble overhead. Then appeared a tumbling cylindrical object turning end over end, trailing what looked like flames and sparks, moving in a S.W. direction. It passed from view in 5 or 6 seconds. The noise and roaring was tremendous. The date was April 18, 1962. I have never forgotten the spectacle. My father worked for the F.A.A. and I was familiar with seeing aircraft. The object was NOT a flying saucer. From an eye-witness.

  • Dano says:

    Good to find info about this! I grew up in eureka UT and knew Bob Robinson! I as well have had UFO experiences maybe more… I recently have found an odd piece of metal that me and my wife extracted from my leg! I still have something in the same leg I have yet to determine what is! Any idea what episode of unsolved mysteries this aired in?

  • Yoram says:

    Good work.
    Keep it rolling.

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