The 1967 Indiana “Beanpot” UFO Encounter

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
September 27, 2019
Last Updated
October 22, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
8 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Sightings

An incident in January 1967 in the Midwest of the United States, sometimes referred to as the Beanpot sighting, was just one incident among a wave of sightings that would swarm America throughout the year. What is perhaps interesting about the account, and certainly what initial reports would suggest was a sign of the authenticity of the incident, was the shape of the craft.

A depiction of a UFO over an Indiana skyline

The “Beanpot” encounter is one of the most intriguing UFO incidents in history

In an era when the vast majority of sightings were disc-shaped, with some cigar or spherical objects also reported, an object the shape of a beanpot was certainly against the norm. A person looking to engage in a hoax would, according to investigators be much more likely to produce something more in line with the social norm of the era.

As we will also see, a sighting several years earlier in the Hoosier State contains remarkable similarities in terms of the shape and description of the craft. An initial report would appear in the January-February 1967 edition of the APRO Bulletin.

Incidentally, we will examine the 1967 UFO wave in-depth in a future case study article. A wave that perhaps ushered in the end of the “first” modern UFO era, before the alien abduction cases of the subsequent decades began in full force, which we will also look at in a future case study piece.

A Sudden Disturbance While Watching Afternoon Television

On the afternoon of 19th January 1967, in Milan, Indiana, at around 3 pm, 14-year-old Reed Thompson was sat in the family home watching television after having just returned home from school. However, the calm of the living room was suddenly disturbed by a sound similar to a train engine outside the property.

He turned to face the living room window, expecting to see a train passing on the nearby tracks in that direction. Instead, he saw a strange light that he first mistook for a streetlight until it began to move around the late-afternoon sky. He would later estimate the object was around 200 yards away as it made its way behind nearby woodland toward a small valley and ultimately out of sight.

A newspaper clipping of the incident

A newspaper clipping of the incident

Reed would later [1] recall that he “knew something was odd” about the situation. When the strange object returned, though, despite the shock running through him, he quickly went to retrieve his camera. As he returned to the window, the bizarre object still clearly in view, he stopped around five feet from the glass and snapped a picture.

He would then pause several seconds before pressing down on the shutter once again. The object would once again begin to move. It was, Reed would recall, moving at “walking speed”. He would continue watching the object as it calmly cut through the sky. Still feeling unnerved but not as scared as before. However, in the moment, he had forgotten to wind the camera. This meant the second shot overrode the first and was “double-exposed”.

As the object moved past the living room window and out of sight once more, the young Reed would rush upstairs to the bedroom. Once there, he could see the beanpot-shaped object once again.

Intriguing Differences Between The Reality And The Photograph

By the time he rushed to the bedroom window, remembering this time to wind on the film, he raised the camera toward the glass and snapped the only picture that clearly showed the object. Seconds later, it would once again move out of Reed’s line of sight and into the woodland nearby. You can see that shot below.

Picture captured by the witness

Picture captured by the witness

Reed ran back downstairs and pulled on his outer clothing, coat, and shoes and rushed outside. After scanning the surrounding area for several moments, he managed to pick out the craft approximately 100 yards from his location. It was moving along the top of a group of fir trees. Then, in no more than a second, it vanished from sight completely. It was only when it disappeared that Reed noticed the diesel engine-like sound had stopped also.

Perhaps interesting were the descriptions Reed would later give regarding the strange object. Particularly when compared to what was the same object in the picture. He would claim that rather than a dark, gray color, the object was actually a bright, silver. Furthermore, it appeared to be much more rounded when he viewed it that it did in the picture, which clearly shows a bell-shaped craft.

Many witnesses to UFOs have claimed to have seen them change shape, for example. And while the witness certainly didn’t recall seeing any type of physical change happen with his own eyes, the notion that his eyes perceived the object differently to how the camera captured it is worth noting.

The Time Of Day Meant Fewer Witnesses

Perhaps also of interest is the detail that the volume of the object – the diesel engine-like noise – remained the same throughout the encounter, regardless of how close or far the object was. Might this suggest some kind of portal opening in the vicinity? One that allowed this apparently otherworldly craft entrance into our world, as opposed to a device on the craft itself?

UFO investigator, Don Worley, would investigate the sighting initially. He would discover that after the incident Reed had telephoned the state police. They would speak with the witness for 15 minutes over the telephone. They would then send out an officer who would interview him in person for around three-quarters of an hour.

A depiction of a UFO over Indiana at night

A depiction of a UFO over Indiana at night

Due to the time the incident would unfold – the middle of the afternoon – most of the adults were at work. And consequently not in the neighborhood. And those that were appeared to have not noticed or heard anything untoward. Even Reed’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Thompson were amazed at the quality of the photograph their son had managed to capture.

In fact, Reed’s father would even go as far as to say they were “greatly relieved” when they viewed the photograph for the first time as it “proved there was nothing wrong with his (Reed’s) head”.

As we might imagine, the photograph in question was subject to much scrutiny in the years that would follow. Not least by Worley himself.

No Real Suspicion Of A Hoax

For example, Worley would note that there were clear reflections on the object’s left side of the branches and trees. This showed, according to him, that the object was in the air where Reed said it was. And not simply pressed against the window to create an illusion and hoax.

The “poor handling” of the camera and forgetting to wind on the film were both indications of his genuineness. Even Reed’s assertions that the object was silver in reality yet a dark gray in the photograph rang true for Worley.

The shape of the object itself is another example of the credibility of Reed. It would make more sense, had a hoax been the objective, to create an object similar to a disc or a cigar-shaped. Basically the same as the hundreds of sightings that were on record even then. However, the shape of the object captured by Reed – a “beanpot” – was new. And not something often, if ever, reported previously in the modern UFO era. Interestingly, there are reports on record in Roman times of a wine-jar shaped object landing out of the sky which would be a similar shape to a modern beanpot.

Artist's impression of the "beanpot" UFO

Artist’s impression of the “beanpot” UFO

A local photographic expert would also lend his opinion and ultimate corroboration to the credibility of the pictures.

Interestingly, and perhaps unintentionally hurting his son’s credibility in the eyes of the wider public, when APRO asked if they could keep the photograph on their records, Reed’s father refused claiming he was hoping to sell it to a national publication such as Time-Life for a large sum of money. Incidentally, no major publication would purchase the pictures.

Interestingly, an incident involving a similar shaped UFO in (relative) nearby Homer had occurred four years earlier.

A Connection To The 1963 Homer Sighting?

On the 15th June 1963 in Homer, Indiana an anonymous witness (a young girl at the time) and several members of her family would watch in amazement as an “acorn-shaped” craft descended out of the sky and “landed in the barn lot”. [2]

The witness claimed she, her sister and brother, as well as their cousin went outside to play on the afternoon in question. As they left the house, though, they were each “mesmerized” by the bizarre sight of the strange craft. As they continued to watch, the witness recalls “catching a glimpse” of her mother. She was watching events unfold from “inside the screen door”. Of the object itself, the witness would recall:

The craft reminded me of a satellite made up of metal panels. With a different type of indentations on each panel!

This is an interesting detail. And one that differs from the often-reported lack of seams or joins that come with similar sightings.

Witness of a sketch of the incident

Witness of a sketch of the incident

Perhaps even more interesting, though, and another statement that possibly suggests UFOs either physically change their form or appear differently to different people. Two of the witnesses, for example, would state the object was “more of a disc shape”.

Just as the witnesses wondered if “anything (was) going to get out” of the craft, it suddenly rose upwards. Within “a second (it) was a black dot in the sky”.

Before the main witness went back inside they walked over to the barn area. She looked to where the object had only moments before stood. On the ground was a “yellow ring of dead grass”.

Tentative Signs Of Alien Abduction?

Perhaps of more concern to the witnesses of this particular case, however, were the words of the cousin decades after the incident. She would mention that she had mysterious “scoop-like marks” on her body. And while they had been there for some time, she had no idea how she had gotten them. Interestingly, the main witness would describe similar scoop marks on her own body.

Of even more interest was when the two witnesses would compare the locations of these strange markings. They would discover that they were in exactly the same place in their bodies. Even stranger, the sister of the main witness also has similar markings.

Depiction of a UFO over a city in Indiana at night

Might the incident have been a case of alien abduction

None of the witnesses has any memory of having been abducted. Either at the time of the strange sighting or since. However, the markings are extremely coincidental. And given what we know of alien abduction and some of the possible signs, they are more than suspicious.

Unlike the sighting in January 1967 no sound accompanied the object’s landing or sudden ascent. It would remain completely silent throughout. What’s more, there were no doors, windows, or lights that any of them could see.

The Answers Could Be In Our Own Behavior

The two sightings in Indiana in the early-to-mid sixties that we have looked at here, as we mentioned in our opening, but a minuscule percentage of the sightings and encounters that would unfold across the United States, and indeed across the world in 1967. Were these experimental aircraft of the United States military?

Or was there real and genuine activity taking place behind the scenes of the American, and possibly the world’s governments regarding an apparent extraterrestrial presence on our planet? Are these waves of UFO sightings the result of the alleged meeting between President Eisenhower with at least two different alien races at a secret location in February 1954? Is it perhaps further coincidence that one of the most active years and waves of UFO activity occurred that same year?

We have asked before if these types of sightings, with no effort to communicate seemingly occurring, were part of some kind of extraterrestrial reconnaissance mission. Perhaps, given the relatively smaller size of the respective crafts – at least by comparison to other sightings on record – this suggests some kind of remote surveillance craft?

If we think about this last proposal for a moment, it isn’t as bizarre as it sounds. After all, we send such remote-controlled surveillance aircraft over all manner of territories today and have done for some time. And we should also perhaps note the Rover on Mars. If we had the capabilities and/or funding to send a remote-controlled aerial device to the red planet, it is a certainty that we would do so. Perhaps one day, we just might. It shouldn’t come as such a surprise, then, that a space-faring race would send similar probes to discover what might await them should they decide to land.

Check out the video below.


1 APRO Bulletin, January-February 1967
2 Indiana family recalls UFO landing near barn, Roger Marsh, Open Minds TV, 9th November 2015

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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  • William Granger says:

    Marcus, I forgot to mention that this happened in Milan, IN, not Connersville. Don’t know where you heard it was Connersville, but it wasn’t. Trust me.

    • Marcus Lowth says:

      That’s what is in the APRO Bulletin magazine report so that is what we have gone with. However, if you have alternative information I would certainly be interested in looking at it? 🙂

      • William J Granger says:

        Both reports by Don Worley who I believe is from Connersville. I realize the title says Connersville, IN for the location but if you read the body text, it says Milan, IN. You can also Google “beanpot ufo milan reed thompson” and get there quicker.

      • Marcus Lowth says:

        Thanks for the heads up! We have updated this accordingly 🙂

  • William Granger says:

    Gee, Marcus, I was disappointed you did not tell the rest of the story of the MIB encounter with Reed
    Thompson. Or his possible abduction and recurring health issues.

    • Marcus Lowth says:

      Hi William, rest assured we are going to touch on this aspect of the incident in a future case study article in several weeks. We have mentioned there are signs of abduction above, but as you say the MiB encounters are particularly interesting 🙂

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