The Discreetly Intriguing Carbondale Case – A Downed UFO In Pennsylvania

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
August 29, 2021
Last Updated
October 12, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
33 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Cover-Ups

Although Pennsylvania’s most famous UFO crash event is arguably the 1965 Kecksburg incident, an encounter that occurred in November 1974 in the city of Carbondale in the Lackawanna County region of the state is perhaps one of the most intriguing and quite often overlooked.

Not only did the encounter feature multiple witnesses, but there is, at least to some, apparent evidence of an orchestrated cover-up on part of the local police. Others, however, insist that the incident was nothing but a misidentified meteor, or even a hoax, including some UFO investigators.

A superimposed fireball over a lake

The Carbondale case is one of the most controversial in history

As we shall see later, whatever the truth of the alleged Carbondale UFO crash, the Keystone State is awash with UFO sightings, and has been for decades. The 1970s, however, was perhaps a particularly heavy period, with multiple encounters and sightings reported having taken place there. And while we will examine some of these sightings a little later, we will keep our attention first on the Carbondale incident.

The account has appeared in numerous books and online websites in the decades since it unfolded and is still very much of interest to UFO researchers today almost half a century after it took place.

Something Strange Streaking Across The Pennsylvania Sky

At around 7 pm on the evening of 9th November 1974, the teenage boys – brothers Bill and John Lloyd, and their friend Bob Gillette – were stood on the street talking and passing the time when they saw something strange zip across the skies overhead. According to an account relayed in the book UFOs in Pennsylvania: Encounters with Extraterrestrials in the Keystone State by Patty A. Wilson, the three boys later described the object as “golden white” [1] and claimed it came from the direction of the Salem Mountain.

They watched the streaking object, guessing from its route that it crashed to the ground somewhere close to Russell Park, near a lake in the city and the cemetery. They immediately headed in that direction eager to see what had become of the strange craft.

Although they didn’t see the object hit the water, they did see a light that appeared to be coming from beneath the surface. And, according to Matt Graeber – one of the initial investigators [2] of the case – they could also hear a “fizz or sizzling sound” that one of the teenagers would claim sounded like “someone had thrown a cigarette in the water”. Another of them claimed that there was an aroma that was like “gas from a gas stove”. The water itself now had a green-yellow glow to it from the seemingly crippled craft under the surface.

A superimposed fireball over a lake

Just what came down over Carbondale?

The three young men immediately realized they had been witness to something truly out of the ordinary and made the collective decision to go and get help. They quickly happened upon three other friends and immediately told them of the incident. Now double in number, the group returned to the lake near Russell Park. When they arrived back at the location, it appeared that whatever had crashed into the water, it was now around 20 feet further out from where it had been only minutes earlier.

They would further describe the light as appearing disc-like on the surface of the water, possibly revealing its dimensions.

When the boys returned to their respective homes, they immediately informed their parents of what they had witnessed. And they informed the local police.

Police Gather At The Scene

The police actually had to be called twice before they responded. Eventually, Officer Barbero and Officer Jacobina agreed to meet the witnesses at the location of the incident. By the time the two parties met up, it was around 10 pm – nearly three hours later. The object, however, still appeared to be under the water, at the same spot as it was when the three teenagers had rushed home.

Perhaps bizarrely – especially considering that despite the witnesses testifying to the sheer speed of the object that it hadn’t been ruled out the crashed vehicle was not a small passenger plane or a helicopter – the officers discharged their weapons into the water in the direction of the light. As a result, the object moved away from the barrage of bullets suggesting a definite intelligence. This made the officers realize they were dealing with some very real, and very strange. They immediately radioed for backup. A short time later, Officer Eltrilla arrived at the lake.

A superimposed fireball over trees

Multiple people witnessed the attempted recovery

An emergency truck from the Mitchell Hose Company – complete with a boat – also arrived and portable lights were quickly arranged and directed at the part of the lake where the object resided. A short time later, Eltrilla took to the waters in the boat, and attempted to make contact with the strange object, even attempting to scoop it up in a large net (he was ultimately unsuccessful).

It was while this was happening that the three boys perhaps were witnesses to one of the most important details of the entire incident. With all three having been told to remain away from the water’s edge and near the police car, they suddenly heard a communication come over the patrol car’s radio system. The order was to “hold off the news media” regarding the case.

The three boys had already noticed the presence of a photographer who was busy capturing pictures of the scene, although it is not clear if this photographer was a journalist or a police photographer. Incidentally, the police would later state it was their belief that what the three teenagers had witnessed was nothing more than a meteorite.

It was well after midnight (about 1 am) when the three teenagers finally returned to their respective homes.

Activity Continues The Following Day

The following morning, as we might imagine, the incident was forefront in each of the teenagers’ minds. So much so that upon waking they immediately met up and headed back to the lake once more. However, much to their surprise, police chief Francis Dottle was on guard at the site and would not let the boys or anyone else pass.

Although they couldn’t gain access to the water’s edge as they had the previous evening, they remained near the location and later witnessed a crane making its way to the area. Perhaps strangely, despite remaining in the area for the majority of the day, they didn’t see the crane return. Even more bizarre, they witnessed a large delivery truck make its way to the lake. Eventually, with curiosity getting the better of them, the three teenagers found their way to a point nearby where they could observe just what was going on. Much to their surprise, there were several other local residents in the same place who had also taken an interest in the unfolding events.

A superimposed fireball over a lake

Was the UFO over Carbondale nothing more than a meteorite?

From this vantage point, the three teenagers even saw a scuba diver enter the water. When the diver surfaced, even from the distance that the boys watched the events, he appeared visibly shaken and was “gesturing wildly with his arms”. Whatever he had seen under the water, it took the efforts of several police officers to calm him down.

Whatever had taken place, all three of the boys – and the other curious onlookers who had gathered there – realized that something truly strange had landed in the water.

Accusations Of A Police Cover-Up

The following day, the three teenagers once more ventured to the lake. Much to their surprise, unlike the previous day there was no police preventing entry to the site. In fact, people were encouraged to visit the water.

When they arrived there, they were witnesses to another dive attempt. This time, when the diver emerged from the water, he carried with him a railroader’s lantern. According to this suspisciously manufactured display, the mystery was now solved. It was, the police offered, nothing but a silly hoax. However, those who had an interest in the incident, including the three teenagers claimed they knew better.

In fact, the teenagers soon fell under suspicion as being perpetrators of the hoax. So much so, that the three young men made the decision to make themselves available for interviews with the local media so as to give their side of the story. And when they did, they didn’t pull any punches.

They would assert that the police themselves had likely placed the rail worker’s lantern in the lake and then recovered it in front of a prearranged crowd so as to offer an explanation for the incident as opposed to leveling with the public about what really happened. And furthermore, they claimed that the police likely recovered what had really landed in the lake in secret.

The incident remains one of the most debated incidents to ever unfold in the United States. And consequently, this fascination meant that repeated investigations were carried out by a number of researchers in the years that followed the incident. However, it is to the initial investigation of Matt Graeber where we will turn our attention to next.

The Investigation Of Matt Graeber

Matt Graeber, who founded the UFO Report and Information Center (based in Philadelphia) in 1972, arrived in Carbondale at around 5 am on the 11th of November after being made aware of the incident. He would immediately make his way to the police station where he spoke with Sergeant Francis Dottle, who himself had been in contact with Dr. Allen Hynek who had agreed to send one of his UFO investigators to assist the authorities. In the meantime, though, Graeber was asked if would assist the police. He agreed, and he was subsequently taken to the alleged crash site.

Graeber had heard of the incident while listening to the radio several hours earlier (around midnight the previous evening). After contacting the station to check on their source of information (they had taken the account from the Associated Press) he contacted the police department in Carbondale, speaking with Dottle before ultimately setting off to the city.

As he had made the journey to Carbondale, he contemplated what the object might have been. The police had stated the object was moving too fast to be a meteorite, and while he suspected it could have been a case of falling space junk, he recalled how there were claims of the light pulsating and even rushing toward the boat launched by police.

A superimposed fireball in a night sky

There were many suggestions as to what the Carbondale UFO might have been

When he arrived at the location, although there was a presence of police officers and Civil Air Patrol (CAP) cadets, there was no military presence, at least that he could see. However, the decision to allow people to visit the site quickly appeared to be a questionable one. Graeber would recall that by “first light” there were several members of the press as well as “scores of the general public”, which would actually begin to hamper the retrieval attempts. He would estimate there were between 1500 to 3000 people at the location at one point, as well as many others “jamming the roads” in an attempt to reach it.

Graeber would elaborate that the area “looked just like the scene from a science-fiction movie” and it wasn’t long before rumors and claims began to circulate around the gathered crowd. At this stage, according to Graeber, he and the retrieval team didn’t “have a ghost of an idea of what was actually in the water”.

It wasn’t just rumors of what might have crashed in the water that was swirling around the crowd. There were some rumblings questioning the efforts and competency of the search units, with some even suggesting that Graeber was actually there as a plant from the US military (although he had once served with the military that was over a decade previously).

The potential that the situation could turn nasty very quickly if something happened to spark the seemingly agitated crowd was clear to both Graeber and Dottle. Ultimately, after much interest from the crowd, all that was recovered from the lake was the railroad worker’s lamp.

A Surge Of Activity Around The Same Time

Before summing up what may or may not have happened in Carbondale, it is perhaps worth our time examining some of the UFO sightings that occurred in the months following the incident.

On the 15th of February, for example, in the town of Simpson, a local resident witnessed [3] a strange red and green light over one of the mountains in the area while driving along Route 171. They watched it for several moments until it suddenly moved and headed toward the highway. They continued along the road, noticing that a number of cars had been pulled to the side of the road, their drivers stood outside of them also viewing the strange object.

The witness brought their own car to a stop and exited the vehicle in order to get a better view. The red and green lights remained hovering for several minutes before they went out and bright white light appeared in their place. A moment later, it sped off into the distance at an alarming pace.

Several months later on the 15th of June, two friends were sitting at Red Bank [4] near the Allegheny Reservoir on a fishing trip when they noticed a strange light coming out of the west and moving across the sky. However, rather than merely moving in a straight and consistent line, it would stop dead several times meaning that the two witnesses could discount that it was a plane or a satellite.

A superimposed UFO over Philadelphia

There were many UFO sightings through Pennsylvani at the time

They would watch the object for around an hour before it disappeared. They remained at the site for some time, eventually heading back toward Pittsburgh just before dawn. As they drove, they listened to the KDKA radio station. At 6:30 am, they claimed there was a report of a UFO that had crashed in a lake somewhere in the eastern part of the state. They heard two subsequent reports at 7 am and 7:30 am, with the last one claiming the National Guard had surrounded the area and cordoned it off. Amazingly, though, the story then disappeared from the news updates. What’s more, there was no coverage in the newspapers or on local television.

What is interesting is that around the same time [5] in the countryside of Eire, a disc-shaped object was witnessed by two people at the roadside at an altitude of around 1000 feet while driving down the lonely road. The witness would estimate the craft was around 80 feet across and was approximately 130 feet away from him. He further recalled that around the edge of the object, lights of red, yellow, blue, and green flashed. What’s more, it didn’t make a sound. The driver and his passenger watched the object for several minutes after bringing the car to a stop. However, they then decided to get back inside and go on their way. Perhaps bizarrely, they didn’t speak of the incident again.

At around 9 pm on the 1st November in Oil City, a high school student [6] and his brothers were listening in to CB radio, as they did often. On this night, though, the chatter was very different than usual. The witness recalled hearing people say things such as “there goes another one” as they were directing people to the Vocational Technical Center near Oil City High School. The siblings decided something strange was taking place and quickly went to the family car and made their way to the location.

Upon arrival, they witnessed “three to four bright lights” in the night sky that were “separated by many miles (and) moving in odd geometric directions”. The witness would even describe them as “dancing” overhead. Furthermore, the witness claimed there were hundreds of people present, all watching the strange aerial display, which lasted for around two hours.

An Intriguing But Likely Non-Genuine Case

If we turn our attention back to the Carbondale case, then, especially when we consider the many other UFO reports around the same time, what should we make of the intriguing events? Did an extraterrestrial vehicle crash into the lake and was then discreetly recovered? Does that suggest that the attempts to recover the object in full view of the public was nothing but a smokescreen? And if that is the case, were the officers and even Graeber used unwittingly without their knowledge?

Ultimately, it would appear, at least officially, that nothing more than a battery-powered lantern – the object recovered by the diver – was the “UFO” of the Carbondale incident, and that what the young men witnessed was nothing but a meteor.

As Graeber wrote years later for the Roswell Files website, the case was very much suspected to be a hoax of sorts at the time, and that one of the individuals had apparently come forward several years after the incident to admit so. It was also his opinion that there had been several “aggressive” attempts to “turn the hoax into a genuine UFO incident”.

A superimposed UFO over a field

Was the Carbondale incident nothing but a hoax?

It is worth noting that Graeber was, according to some in the crowd, of being “in on the cover-up” – something which is highly unlikely. As we mentioned above, if there was a cover-up over the Carbondale UFO crash, then it is more likely that Graeber and the local authorities were used without their knowledge.

It would appear, however, that in this case, the Carbondale UFO crash was, at best, a case of a misidentified meteor, or, at worst, an outright hoax. And while it is indeed important to keep an open mind, without any new information or evidence to attempt to, as Graeber says, turn it into a genuine UFO case for the sake of it will, ultimately, only do more harm than good to the UFO community.

As we mentioned in the opening, though, the state of Pennsylvania has many UFO sightings to its name, particularly so in the 1970s. And it is to some of these other sightings where we will turn our attention to next.

Many Other UFO Incidents Around Pennsylvania

Strange goings-on, whether they be apparent encounters with UFOs and aliens, Bigfoot creatures, or other entities from the paranormal world have a long history in the state of Pennsylvania. And while these continue today, there are multiple accounts just from the 1970s and the decades before that. And while we can’t go over every single one of them here, there are many that stand out.

Oval-Shaped UFO Over Downtown Philadelphia

At around 8 pm on 1st July 1976, a little over two years after the alleged UFO crash at Carbondale, a married couple were driving with their 3-year-old son in Philadelphia when they noticed a strange, oval object in the sky overhead. They stopped the car at the corner of the road so the witness’s husband could jump out and run to tell his father of the bizarre object overhead. His father returned with him to the street corner and all of them watched the object for several minutes until it disappeared over the horizon.

A superimposed UFO over Philadelphia

Pennsylvania has a long history of UFO sightings

They remained where they were, talking about the incident between themselves for around 20 minutes before they continued on with their journey. However, several minutes later, they witnessed what appeared to be the same object once more. Only this time, it was a lot closer. As opposed to moving, it now simply remained hovering overhead. From where they were stood it appeared as though the exterior was from a silver metallic material and that there were lights around the middle of it as well what resembles windows. Even stranger, despite the size of the craft, and the fact that it was at a relatively low altitude, no noise whatsoever.

They watched the object for around 10 minutes before deciding they had to continue with their journey. The following day, however, they picked out an article in one of the Philadelphia newspapers that claimed there had been a UFO sighting over the Baltimore Pike, which was approximately 20 miles from where they had witnessed the craft.

Triangular Object Over Mountain Top

According to an account made to the National UFO Reporting Center, on the evening of 30th May 1975, a little over a year after earlier, a middle school student was in their front yard when they suddenly noticed a “large, dark object with rotating lights” descending slowly over their home. It was a triangular-shaped object that the witness claimed was around the size of a baseball field. It eventually stopped its descent and hovered over the treetops near their home.

Also in the yard with the witness was their mother and their two sisters. After several moments, while the parent remained in the yard, the three children ran inside the house and into the basement out of sheer fear, although they could still see the glow from the rotating lights through the basement windows.

A superimposed triangular UFO over Pennsylvania

All kinds of UFOs are spotted throughout Pennsylvania

Eventually, after hovering for several minutes, remaining completely silent as it did so, the triangular craft began to ascend once more. As it did so, the three children ran to a larger window and could clearly see it rising into the night sky before blending in with the many stars.

Although the three children each drew pictures of what they had seen – all of which were remarkably similar to each other – they were instructed by their mother to remain silent about the incident as “no one would believe them”. The incident was finally reported in 2014.

The Saylor’s Lake Incident

In the book UFOs in Pennsylvania: Encounters with Extraterrestrials in the Keystone State, Patty A. Wilson recalls several strange incidents in Pennsylvania.

Only the year before the apparent Carbondale crash, for example, on the evening of 1st March 1973 at Saylor’s Lake – a privately owned lake in Monroe County – another bizarre incident unfolded. As several residents walked or chatted along the lakeside, at around 7:30 pm, they suddenly noticed strange lights appearing over the water.

The lights would move over the surface for approximately 15 minutes, appearing to “dance” as they did so. The colors of the lights varied, with some being a bright white, while others were red, and even blue. Witnesses would estimate they were around 1500 feet above the surface of the water. Eventually, one of the residents of the houses around the lake contacted the authorities which resulted in the arrival of State Trooper, Jeffrey Hontz.

Hontz would see the lights for himself, later stating to the press that they appeared like “Christmas trees flying in the air”. In total, from the various reports of the witnesses, there were likely just short of 40 lights over the water, none of which made a sound. They remained in sight until just before 11 pm.

While many skeptics would dismiss the alleged sighting as nothing more than weather balloons or even airplanes, the witnesses were all certain that the glowing objects were like nothing they had seen before.

War Of The World Type Encounter Over Erie

At around midnight on 1st July 1973, after having made the decision to sleep in the tent [7] due to the intense heat of the summer, a local teenager in Erie, experienced what they would describe in their report as a “war of the world” type of sighting.

After having crawled out of their tent in order to watch the stars – something they often did – the witness suddenly noticed a strange, red star-like object that was moving with alarming speed in the sky. They immediately ran inside to alert their grandmother. By the time both were back in the yard, the object had already made it to the sky that overlooked the other side of the house.

A superimposed UFO over a city

Why is Pennsylvania so active with UFO encounters?

Then, the night sky suddenly became awash with multiple different colored star-like objects. All of them moved through the sky at a rate that was much faster than an airplane, with some of them appearing to only just miss colliding with another as if they were in some kind of battle.

This bizarre aerial display continued for around half an hour before they suddenly disappeared. Although both the witness and their grandmother witnessed the sighting, she would refuse to speak of it afterward, as if it had never happened.

The witness would claim that an article did appear in one of the local newspapers in the days that followed claiming that there had been multiple people who had witnessed the incident. However, after that, they heard nothing more about it.

The Wolfman UFO Encounter

Another account relayed by Wilson occurred a little over a month later on 27th August, husband, and wife, Alan and Elsie Wainwright were sitting on their back porch at their home in the town of Bensalem. Each was enjoying the view of the stars on this particularly clear night when Alan let out a sudden cry of shock. When Elsie turned to see what the matter was, she looked up to where Alan was looking and saw a “large, boomerang-shaped craft” moving overhead.

If there was any doubt that the object might be an airplane they were dismissed when it stopped suddenly and hovered over them. The pair stood watching the scene unfold before them. Then, with no warning whatsoever, the object sped off into the distance before coming to a stopover Beech Hill and descended behind the trees.

Alan immediately went inside in order to retrieve his flashlight and shotgun. While Elsie watched events unfold from her kitchen window, Alan set out (on foot) toward the Beech Hill area. Eventually, he saw the light that had fallen to the ground in the distance. As he did so, for reasons unknown to him, he felt a sudden surge of fear run through him. He sensed that someone was watching him.

Then, he heard the sound of someone – or something – stepping on one of the branches on the ground nearby, its “snap” echoing out in the night. He turned his attention to the direction the sound had come from. There in front of him was a large, dark figure, about the size of tall man, with black eyes that Alan could clearly see blinking. When he turned the flashlight toward the figure, though, he could clearly see that the entity’s face was like that of a dog.

A superimposed UFO over a quiet road

What might be of interest to alleged aliens in Pennsylvania?

As the figure stepped toward him, Alan raised the gun and fired. The beastly entity appeared to move out of the way, but Alan had already started out back down the road, now running as fast as he could.

By the time he reached home, the front door was wide open, and Elsie stood there eagerly waiting for him. She had heard the shotgun blast and had watched the light from her husband’s flashlight as he ran back toward the house. He immediately slammed the door shut behind him and secured all the locks instructing his wife to lock the other door to the property. For the next 30 minutes, he simply sat at the kitchen table facing the back door of the house, as if waiting for something to begin attempting to break it down. Nothing, however, did so, and he eventually told his wife of the encounter on the pathway.

They would eventually report the incident to UFO investigators, and despite the outlandish nature of the claims, they would each stick to their story in the years that followed. It is important to note that they didn’t seek any form of financial compensation for the claims, and largely wished their identities to be kept out of reports of the incident.

UFO In Distress Over The Schuylkill Expressway?

Perhaps one of the most intriguing, and little-known, UFO cases to come out of Pennsylvania unfolded on the evening of 5th February 1971. At around 8:30 pm on the night in question, the witness was driving from Philadelphia [8] on the Schuylkill Expressway when they suddenly noticed “multiple orange flames” that appeared to be falling from the sky. They would describe them as looking like a “wobbling leaf” as they descended to the ground.

At first, they believed they were witnessed a plane about to crash. That was until the falling object appeared to stabilize somewhat. A few moments later, the orange flames appeared to disappear and in their place was a magnificent display of “pulsating” blue-white color. The witness continued to watch as once more, the flames emerged from what appeared rectangular windows in the object’s side before again disappearing and the blue-white pulsating colors took over again. This happened several times over the next few minutes.

They had continued to drive on the highway as they watched this fascinating display, eventually realizing that they were driving toward it. As they got closer, they could see that the flames were actually coming from the underside of the rounded, disc-shaped object, with the glowing lights appeared to come from some kind of windows.

Then, out of nowhere, the object suddenly disappeared into the distance with lightning speed, appearing to go from “standstill to perhaps 500 miles per hour”. Even more amazing, though, without turning around, the object raced back to where it had been hovering only seconds earlier, described by the witness as looking “like a yo-yo returning to one’s finger”.

A superimposed UFO over Pennsylvania

Many people in Pennsylvania witness UFOs

At this stage, the witness was almost directly underneath the bizarre futuristic craft, which they estimated to be around 400 feet above the ground. At this point, they pulled their car to the side of the road so they could get a clearer view.

As they exited the vehicle and looked up, all they could see was plain black and at first thought the object had disappeared in the time it had taken them to stop the car, kill the engine, and getting out of the vehicle. Then, though, they noticed outside of this pure black “sky” – a diameter of around 400 feet – he could see the stars, realizing that the pure black was the mammoth underside of the otherworldly vehicle. From this perspective, he could not see the flames or the glowing light, suggesting to them that they were higher up the craft and that the bottom was larger than these upper sections.

The witness got back in their car and headed to a nearby gas station in order to report the sighting. However, for reasons they couldn’t explain, they felt physically unable to do so and instead simply drove home. Once at home, though, the witness made calls to the Norristone newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Willow Grove Naval Air Station in an effort to have the incident recorded. None, however, were interested in taking his report seriously.

Although the witness has never received an explanation for what they saw that evening on the Schuylkill Expressway, they do have their own theories. They believe the object was in some kind of distress and was essentially testing their propulsion systems after seemingly having remedied whatever the problem was. Given the claims of crashed objects in the state of Pennsylvania, this assessment might not be far wrong.

The Bizarre And Unsettling Jessup Incident

After spending the evening watching a local Friday night high school football game, according to the files of Patty Wilson, at around 9;30 pm in early September 1970, “Frank” was about to set out for home in the small town of Jessup. The walk home was largely uneventful. That was until he was around three blocks away. There, as he happened to look up to the sky, he witnessed a bizarre object approaching him. The craft was silver and decidedly disc-shaped. It glowed a blindingly bright color, was approximately 1000 feet wide, and appeared to move across the sky in complete silence.

Frank remained where he was, truly captivated for several minutes by the futuristic vehicle before he came to his senses and ran the final distance to his home. As soon as he rushed through the door he blurted out what had happened to his shocked parents. He would attempt to convince them to call the police and report the encounter, but his parents were keen that he should take a moment to think about the possible consequence of such a brash claim.

Later that night, things turned even stranger.

A superimposed UFO over a city at dusk

UFO sightings have taken place in Pennsylvania for decades

As he looked out of his bedroom window, he caught sight of a strange black limousine parked almost directly opposite his house. Inside the vehicle, Frank could see four men, each dressed in dark suits and each wearing fedoras. It appeared very much to Frank that their attire looked as though it was from the 1940s. They appeared decidedly ominous, sitting almost motionless and looking straight ahead. Although he didn’t know why, he believed the men were somehow connected to the bizarre craft he had seen only hours earlier. Much to his relief, when he awoke the following morning, the car was gone.

By the time he arrived at school, it was clear to him that he wasn’t the only person who witnessed the bizarre craft. Several of his friends informed him that they too had seen the object from the football field, as had many others in attendance. The bizarre craft, it appeared, had traveled directly over them.

With this in mind, Frank decided he would contact the police, discreetly, and without his parents being away. However, when he was at home later that evening, he noticed the black car with the four strange men was back outside his home once more. In fact, their appearance continued for several consecutive days before their presence finally ceased.

He would eventually make a report, both to the United States Air Force and to NICAP. However, he was not provided with any satisfactory explanation as to what he witnessed.

Interestingly, around the same time as the sighting in Jessup, in Russellton, on the 20th September, a local resident reported to NUFORC that they witnessed a “4-sided UFO” while they were watching television at home. According to the report, after noticing the picture on the screen becoming suddenly “fuzzy” they ventured outside to check the antenna. As they stepped outside, though, they noticed a strange object hovering over a nearby telephone pole. He would describe the object as being very quiet and made of some kind of metal. It was approximately the size of two cars back-to-back and had different colored lights around its middle. After several minutes, the object shot into the air with great speed and disappeared out of sight.

The Willow Grove Incident

Just short of a decade before the Carbondale incident, at a little after 3 pm on 21st May 1966, according to the NICAP files, a pilot and his passenger witnessed a disc-shaped object while flying over Willow Grove. The pilot, William Powell, had over 18,000 hours of flying experience and had flown for both the United States Air Force and as a commercial pilot for the Dutch KLM Airlines. To say that he was more than familiar with all aspects of aviation would be an understatement.

At the time of the incident, Powell was flying his Luscombe aircraft at an altitude of around 4500 feet. He had just seen several Navy jets ascending into the sky several miles in front of him after they had taken off from Willow Grove Naval Air Station. However, as he watched the jets climb, he noticed a strange object that appeared to be trailing them. Then, it made a sharp turn, unlike anything he had seen before, and headed straight for his plane.

He continued to watch the object, noting that it appeared to have no wings or signs of propulsion and was a distinct disc shape. He guessed it was around 40 feet across and had a domed structure on the top and a bright red underside. As the craft approached his plane, he and his passenger – Muriel McClave – each saw it up close before it continued on and into the distance once more.

Powell would make a report of the incident to the Willow Grove Naval Air Station before he continued on with his planned journey. The incident remains unexplained.

The New Kensington Alien Encounter

The year 1965 for most Pennsylvanians, at least in terms of UFOs, is perhaps most well-known for the alleged Kecksburg crash. However, there were several other sightings of strange aerial objects, two of which perhaps stand more than the others.

On the 15th June 1965, according to a report submitted to the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) at around 7 pm in New Kensington, a teenager and two of his friends not only witnessed a UFO but were possibly involved in an alien abduction. On this particular evening, the three friends had been skateboarding and were walking down an alleyway near the main witness’s house that led them to a field. Once there, something in the sky captured their attention.

There above them was a large metallic object, a blue-gray in color and with a pulsating red light on its underside. The craft appeared to be completely smooth with no obvious seams or joins, with no portholes, and was completely silent. Amazingly, there appeared to be a window area that allowed the witness to see inside. What was strange about the window was there were no hard areas or even a frame – it was almost as if that part of the craft was simply transparent.

Behind this transparent part of the craft, the witnesses could clearly see two humanoid figures. He began waving his arm excitedly in an attempt to get the occupants’ attention. Although he could only see the figures from the head to the waist, they appeared very much to be human, although their skin seemed to be a dark gray color.

Then, the situation turned even stranger. He had a sudden feeling that the entities knew he was there and were even reading his mind. He was now waving both his arms and turned to his friends to speak to them. However, they each failed to respond and appeared to be “paralyzed”. This is an interesting detail as it not only surfaces in other reports but suggests that the witness’s friends were “frozen” as it was he who was of specific interest to the occupants of the UFO.

Several superimposed UFOs over a lake

Many UFO sightings feature multiple objects

The witness remained where he was, looking up at the object with great interest and awe. His two friends continued to look at the craft with a vacant look in their eye, as if they were in a trance of some kind.

Then, after what the witness was around a minute, the UFO was suddenly ascending and moving away, although he couldn’t remember it beginning to move – just that it went from being motionless to it being a considerable distance away and moving upward. Even stranger, his two friends were suddenly reanimated, confused as to what had happened. When they realized the time was 8 pm (meaning they were over an hour late home) they began to suspect that something truly strange had taken place. They quickly made their way home, each silently contemplating what they had just experienced.

A month or so would pass, during which time the witness began to remember further details of that strange night. He would recall of being inside the craft sat on a strange silver bench. There were two men on the bench with him, but they simply stared ahead, much like his friends had done when the UFO was overhead.

He also saw what he presumed were the two occupants he had seen through the transparent part of the craft. One appeared to be a man and the other was a woman. Each was dressed in tight-fitting silver-gray bodysuits which went from the necks right down to their feet and even forming their shoes. At this point, he got up from the bench and walked toward them.

He found himself under a domed section, out of which he could see through what appeared to be a window, noticing the “millions of stars” on the other side. Like from the outside, the window had no frame and appeared to blend into the structure of the craft, as if it were a transparent wall. The next thing he could recall, he was stood on the ground watching the object rise into the air.

The Route 70 Pennsylvania Turnpike Incident

Several months later, early one morning in October 1965, according to an online reporting site, a local resident witnessed a disc-shaped object while driving along Route 70 toward the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

The morning sky was only just starting to lighten but the object was distinctly clear to the witness, so much so he could make out a domed section on the top. It was a metallic silver-yellow color and was approximately 30 feet wide and at an altitude of between 500 to 800 feet. As he watched, it climbed slightly higher to around 1000 feet before it took an extremely sharp turn and disappearing into the distance at a lightning pace. Within two or three seconds, it was no longer in sight. All the while, the object remained completely silent.

As the witness scanned the sky they were completely clear except for a single white cloud. Although he didn’t know why, he had the feeling that the object could very be using this cloud for cover, perhaps even having “made” it itself.

UFO Witnessed By Family In The Farmer’s Valley

One night in August 1964, in the Farmer’s Valley region of Pennsylvania an anonymous witness (who reported the incident online) saw a “reddish-orange” saucer-shaped object moving relatively low to the ground at a speed of around 75 miles per hour.

It was moving across the sky from west to east eventually flying over the witness and their house and did so while remaining completely silent.

A superimposed UFO over a river

UFO sightings increased in Pennsylvania just before the Roswell crash

What is also interesting is that the witness was around 1000 feet from the home they lived at with their parents. However, at almost the exact same time as they were viewing the object, they noticed their parents had come out of the house to view it also.

It would be several years, however, before they finally admitted what they had seen, refusing to speak about the sighting at first. The witness didn’t hear anything else about the sighting, either in the newspapers or on the radio, and remains uncertain of what it was they saw, other than it was something truly extraordinary.

Sightings Of The Early 1950s

There are also several intriguing UFO encounters in Pennsylvania from the 1950s that are worthy of our time here. For example, on the 1st June 1950, in Pittsburgh at a little after 8 pm, [9] a local resident witnessed a large, white “elongated oval-shaped object” that hovered motionless above the city. Even more amazing, emerging from this object were two smaller round objects, also white in color. He continued to watch as these two smaller objects moved around the sky on a zig-zag pattern.

Amazed at what he was seeing, the witness called over to his mother. She came to the window and after watching the display for several moments, she went to the phone to report it. Intriguingly, according to the witness, several moments later a plane came right over their house and in the direction of the strange objects. The two smaller craft promptly reentered the larger one which then disappeared from sight, as if a light had been switched off.

Just over a year later, on the 30th of June 1951, a similar round disc-shaped object was witnessed over Johnstown. The main witness was a former World War Two veteran who was working as a laborer [10] on the Conemaugh-Blacklick Railroad. At around noon on the day in question while working on the track, he suddenly heard one of the other workers cry out “look!”, to which he automatically looked upward. When he did, he saw a “gigantic silver disc” moving across the sky at “incredible speed”. It continued to move for several seconds before it came to a sudden stop. It hovered for several seconds and then dropped a distance of around a mile with fantastic speed once more. What is perhaps interesting about this detail is some of the recently leaked footage shows unknown craft doing exactly the same thing.

A superimposed UFO over a city at night

Many UFO reports feature multiple witnesses

After remaining still for several more seconds, the object shot across the sky once more, this time disappearing from sight. The witness recalled throughout the sighting – which lasted around 10 minutes – the object remained completely silent, and when it moved it left no vapor trail and showed no obvious signs of propulsion. He would also estimate that it was “the size of four football fields”. Although he didn’t report the sighting, he did speak with another worker about it. Whether coincidentally or not, the following day, the witness arrived at work and was told his services were no longer needed.

Another report from the files of NUFORC, at around 1 pm on 15th July 1952 in Litchfield, an 8-year-old boy and his brother had ventured to a rocky field on the top of a hill near their home as they had spotted two objects overheard that they thought were jets.

Inside these jets, the two young boys believed they could see pilots, each wearing a strange helmet and some kind of oxygen mask. After watching these jets for several minutes, they ran back home to tell their father. However, he dismissed their claims stating that the field was too small for jets to land on – which at the time, it was. While it is only speculation, the two jets could actually have been UFOs, either mistaken for jets by the boys or simply “camouflaged” as one.

Just over a month later, at around 7:30 pm on 25th August just outside Maxatawny, according to the research files of Richard Hall, a local resident, Herbert Long, witnessed a shiny metallic dome-shaped object, approximately 25 feet across, hovering a short distance above the ground in a field. The witness was barely 30 feet away from the craft and could clearly see portholes through which he could see some kind of movement. It remained there for just over five minutes before it suddenly rose into the air and disappeared at an alarming speed.

Long returned to the field on several occasions after the incident, claiming to have had several further encounters with the strange discs – discs he claimed were “observation” vehicles from the Jupiter system (it is not clear if this was the planet or one of its moons, which modern scientists do suggest could support life).

A Men In Black Alien Abduction Encounter

In the book Alien Meetings, Brad Steiger recalled a possible abduction that occurred somewhere in Pennsylvania in the summer of 1959. According to Steiger, the witness was enjoying the summer evening sat in his lounge, reading a book. Suddenly, however, he began to get an uncomfortable feeling that something was wrong, and he became increasingly restless. Eventually, he felt a compulsion to look toward the door.

He put down the book and got up from the chair, making his cautiously to the door. Once there, he opened it ever so slightly and peered through the small opening. To his shock, outside were two strange men, each dressed completely in black. They looked almost identical as if they were twins and had a strange shape to their eyes.

He remained quiet, noting that the two men did likewise. However, a sudden voice appeared in his mind asking, “Are you ready?”. Without knowing why he was about to leave his home and go with him. He suddenly realized, however, that he was naked, having removed his clothes due to the particularly hot night and because he had not been intending to go anywhere. He was about to reach for a pair of shorts nearby before the voice appeared in his mind once more. It informed him that his clothes “will not be necessary” because “no one will see you”.

Once more, he didn’t question this and simply walked out and went with the two men. However, almost immediately they appeared to have been transported to a field nearby the apartments where he lived. He had no memory of the journey and was perplexed as to how they had arrived there so quickly.

A superimposed UFO over a lake

Some UFO incidents even involve the Men In Black

The next thing he realized, he could see the headlights of an approaching car. Much to his surprise, despite him being stood, clearly visible at the side of the road, the car’s occupants appeared not to notice him and simply drove by.

As the car went by, he realized that a strange aerial vehicle was hovering over the top of where they stood. As he looked up he noticed a blue light emerge from a gap in the middle of the object. Then, a strange feeling enveloped him and he suddenly, and quickly, rose from the ground toward the object.

As the gap on the underside came closer, he suddenly blacked out. The next thing he knew he was inside the craft, lying on a strange slab in an “oddly shaped room”. This is an intriguing point of interest as this detail of blacking out before entering the object and then waking inside it comes up repeatedly in many, many such cases. As Budd Hopkins pointed out, people almost never recall actually entering the crafts, only approaching it and then waking inside it. He would suggest this might be some kind of intentional incapacitation on the aliens’ part.

As he looked around the room he realized that it was completely empty aside from what he was lying on. Another extremely interesting detail he recalled was that while the room was well lit, there was no obvious source of the lighting (such as a light strip or bulb, for example). This is another detail that surfaces a lot in similar encounters. And it is perhaps so trivial and random that it might suggest a credibility in such accounts.

Then, as he was taking in his surroundings, he heard a voice appear in his head – this time what appeared to be a female one – saying, “He’s awake now”. As he was looking around the room to see where the voice had come from, a doorway opened in one of the walls. Beyond the doorway, he could see a tunnel or hallway that was bathed in a blue-white glow and appeared to stretch away for some distance. He also noticed two shadow-like entities seemingly enter the room, but their movement was so fast he couldn’t see them clearly.

At this stage, his memory became hazy. He could recall two other people who, like him, had seemingly been brought there. He also had blurred memories of surgical instruments and procedures. His next clear memory, though, was waking up in his chair in his apartment.

Even Earlier Encounters

UFO sightings in the Keystone State go back much further than many might think. According to a report sent to the National UFO Reporting Center, for example, as far back as 1st October 1917, a strange disc-shaped object was witnessed over Baldwin. The witness would recall that they were sitting in their home looking out of the sliding kitchen doors when they saw the object headed in the direction of Pittsburgh. They recalled the object as being “two-toned white” with an “opaque” interior that appeared “covered with crystal white”. A “band of pale purple bluish-gray” lights stretched around the middle of the craft, which may have been windows.

Thirty years later, at the start of the Modern UFO era in 1947, several other encounters are on record. It is to some of those where we will turn our attention to next.

Unknown Object Hovers Over Dirt Road In Oakmont

On the 13th of June, for example, in Oakmont, a wife and her husband [11] were walking down a dirt road on their way to visit her parents who lived near the Allegheny River. On either side of the road were vast fields of produce that were owned by a local husband and wife. Halfway down the dirt road was a small building where the elderly couple would wash and prepare their crop. Knowing them well, they stopped there to speak with them. It was during this conversation that the group noticed a “small bright light” heading in their direction. And what’s more, it was descending.

The closer the object got, the brighter it appeared, glowing a “very brilliant blue-white”. At this point, the old woman began to make the sign of the cross on her upper body, obviously beyond frightened as to what this strange object was.

Two superimposed UFOs over a lake

Are aliens behind the many sightings of strange objects?

Then, it suddenly came to a stop and hovered over the group, remaining completely silent as it did so. After a few moments, it began to move in small circles before it “shot straight up into the sky and disappeared”. Immediately after, leaving the elderly couple to return home, the pair ran to the witness’s parents’ home so they could report the sighting to the Pittsburgh Observatory. The witness would recall that whatever the object was, “it could not have been a plane or weather balloon, nor any invention existing at that time”.

The couple never received an explanation for what they witnessed that day. However, as they noticed reports of “flying saucers” appear in the newspapers from around the country over the following years and months, they maintained a keen interest in what might be moving around in the skies above.

Sightings From The Start Of The Modern UFO Era

On the evening of 1st July, at around 8 pm in Wexford, a young witness was at his uncle’s junkyard when he noticed a “shiny light” moving across the sky in the distance. He watched it for around 10 seconds, noting how it appeared to increase dramatically in speed before it disappeared from his sight. The witness recalled that from their vantage point, it appeared to move directly over Highway 19. As someone who had a keen interest in planes, he realized that this object – whatever it was – was “far faster than anything I had seen before”.

Only four days later on the morning of 5th July in Philadelphia, a 13-year-old boy was playing in the street [12] with friends when he noticed “something flash in the sky”. He stopped what he was doing in focused on the flash. He quickly made out a “round, flat, very shiny” disc that had an exterior like “polished aluminum”. When he called out to the rest of the children, they all looked upward and saw the bizarre craft also. In fact, not just one. As they studied the sky overhead they noticed six different objects moving silently overhead.

Eventually, due to the excitement of the group, several people came out onto the street and witnessed the aerial display also. In total, the objects were visible for around five minutes before they disappeared from sight.

Pennsylvania Is A Discreetly Important Part Of Big UFO Picture

It is clear, then, that Pennsylvania more than holds its own in terms of UFO and alien encounters. And those we have examined here are only a small number. We have already mentioned the Kecksburg incident but we might also recall the Portage County UFO Chase or the Presque Isle Park incident, or even the Pittsburgh Highland Reservoir sighting or more recently the 2008 UFO wave that saw numerous UFO sightings around Buck County.

What makes the Keystone State be so active in terms of UFOs and strange entities is very much open to debate. If we examine its geographic location, it is only separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the states of New Jersey and New York on its eastern side, and in the northwest sits Lake Erie. Might these vast stretches of water be the reasons for the number of sightings in Pennsylvania? Especially when we take into account the fact that over half of UFO sightings occur over or near oceans or vast lakes.

It is perhaps also interesting to note that the sightings of strange objects and encounters with even stranger entities associated with them began almost immediately around the start of the Modern UFO era – before many of the incidents that defined the era and made national newspaper headlines had happened.

Not only does this mean that the state of Pennsylvania might be of some importance to the UFO and alien question, but the fact these sightings began to surge in the months prior to the explosion of national headlines on the matter perhaps suggests this apparent alien presence did begin in the years that followed the Second World War. This might further suggest that the reason for this sudden open presence just might have been the nuclear weapons used to end that conflict. Essentially, that we have drawn this extraterrestrial attention to ourselves.

That, however, is perhaps a discussion for another time. Returning to the Carbondale case, while there is a good chance that it was not one of the many UFO encounters from the Keystone state and was nothing more than a railroad worker’s lamp, it remains an important incident, if only to demonstrate the need for balance and open-minded in both directions for UFO researchers and enthusiasts alike.

The video below features Rick Fisher talking further about the Carbondale UFO.


1 UFOs in Pennsylvania: Encounters with Extraterrestrials in the Keystone State, Patty A. Wilson, ISBN 9780811 706483
2 The Carbondale UFO Crash, 11-11-1974, The Reality, the Hoaxes and the Legend, M.J. Graeber
3 Hovered- Colored lights went out- sped away -left trail, National UFO Reporting Center
4 UFO Over Westline, National UFO Reporting Center
5 UFO Over Erie, National UFO Reporting Center
6 Bright lights in the sky seperated by several miles, National UFO Reporting Center
7 War of the Worlds Sighting, National UFO Reporting Center
8 Very large circular craft with engine problem, descends, stabilizes, restores engines and tests them, National UFO Reporting Center
9 One larger white object & 2 smaller round white objects, National UFO Reporting Center
10 UFO Sighting Johnstown 1951, National UFO Reporting Center
11 Bright Blue Object Sighting, National UFO Reporting Center
12 Six craft observed that brought people out of their homes to look up, National UFO Reporting Center

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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