The Strange Case of the Las Vegas UFO Crash
There are perhaps more UFO crash reports than some people might realize. Far from being merely the realm of the famous Roswell, New Mexico crash there have been a plethora of such incidents reported throughout history, and these are not always recorded out in the middle of nowhere, either. One rather obscure supposed UFO crash, considering its location, it the time one apparently exploded and crashed right on the fringes of the neon studded gambling capital of the world, Las Vegas.
The whole odd affair actually began all the way across the country over in Oneida, New York, where on April 18, 1962 military radar stations began picking up an anomalous object that seemed to be moving west rapidly. As it did so, there began a series of reports marking its progress, as panicked witnesses from across the country saw what looked like a glowing red ball or “flaming sword” that was at times bright enough to make night seem like day. These reports came on from several states along its trajectory, including Colorado, Kansas, Arizona, and most remarkably of all in Eureka, Utah, where there would be a report that it had actually landed and caused massive electrical disruptions before taking to the sky again. Throughout all of this the object was reportedly as largely completely silent, and there was such a deluge of calls to authorities that fighter jets were even scrambled and put on alert at Luke Air Force Base, in Arizona. The object headed towards Nevada, where it continued to be seen by hundreds of people as it approached Reno, then was witnessed to make a turn to head in the direction of Las Vegas, and this is where things would get even stranger. There was reportedly heard an enormous rumbling and then a thunderous boom and blinding flash of light, after which the object vanished both visually and off of radar somewhere over Nellis Air Force Base, right out in the badlands just past the lights of Las Vegas.
The sheriff’s office for Clark County, Nevada, was apparently so flooded by calls from terrified residents who had heard the boom that it was thought that there had been an explosion and that perhaps an aircraft had gone down. A sheriff’s search party was sent out to the area that the object was last seen, yet there could be found no sign of a downed aircraft and there were furthermore no reports of a missing aircraft from any airports in the region. Considering this, it was assumed that what had been seen was a meteor that had exploded in midair, and the military was quick to use this explanation as well. There was only a single newspaper article related to the odd incident at the time, which appeared the next day in The Las Vegas Sun with the headline “Brilliant Red Explosion Flares In Las Vegas Sky,” and for the most part everyone just sort of forgot about it. Despite the fact that thousands of people across the country had seen the mysterious object and several hundreds had heard the massive explosion, it seemed the meteor explanation was good enough. Case closed. Or so it seemed.
It would not be until decades later that anyone would blow the dust off the case, when UFO researcher Kevin Randle began snooping around for more information in military reports and declassified reports from the Air Force’s Project Blue Book UFO investigation, and he also went about interviewing numerous witnesses to the events in order to shed more light on what happened on that evening, which would all be covered in his book A History of UFO Crashes. What Randle would manage to uncover would begin to paint a picture of something perhaps quite a bit stranger than a meteor, and which the military quite possibly knows more about than it is letting on.
Even a casual look into the old reports began pointing out oddities. One declassified military report that was completely free to read by anyone who cared came from a Captain Herman Gordon Shields, who on the evening of the incident had been flying a C-119 aircraft near La Van, Utah. He would report that both he and his co-pilot had witnessed a very bright light, that continued to get brighter even as they maneuvered their plane to get away from it. Whatever it was, it was apparently “as bright as daylight,” completely illuminating the landscape, and as they tried to further evade and avoid what they felt might be an incoming collision they were able to get a clear look at the source of the light. According to pilot Shields, it was a long, cigar shaped object with a yellow top surface and the bottom of which was an extremely bright light. Shields would say in his report of the object:
And this object which I saw was illuminated. It had a long slender appearance comparable to a cigarette in size, that is, the diameter with respect to the length of the object. The fore part, or the lower part of the object was very bright, intense white such as a magnesium fire. The second half, the aft section, was a clearly distinguishable yellowish color. I would say the object was just about divided in half, the fore part being intensely white, the aft section having a more yellow color to it. There was no exhaust, no trail following after it. It was clearly defined. I saw it for a period of maybe one to two seconds.
Both the pilot and co-pilot were certain that this was no meteor. Another very curious report uncovered by Randle was that of witnesses Bob Robinson and Floyd Evans, who saw it fly low as they were driving along a highway near Eureka, Utah. The witnesses said it was clearly some sort of flaming cylinder with a “series of windows” along its side, and that its approach caused their vehicle to stall. They also claimed that it slowed to a stop to hover momentarily over them before continuing on its way, after which their engine promptly started up again. Other witness reports seemed to point towards something under intelligent control as well, including reports of the object making turns, speeding up or slowing down, reversing its course, and even landing, all things that you might realize meteors do not do. Another interesting eyewitness report uncovered by Randle comes from the declassified Blue Book files from a witness whose name had been redacted, and which reads:
As the object passed over Robinson [Utah), it slowed down in [the] air, and after, [a] gasping sound was heard, the object spurted ahead again. After this procedure was repeated three or four times, the object arched over and began descending to earth after which the object turned bluish color and then burned out or went dark. After the object began to slow down it began to wobble or “flshtail” in its path.
Military reports also showed some other intriguing details surrounding the case. It would turn out that not only had there been significant military activity in the area of Nellis Air Force Base after the explosion, icluding the scrambling of jets, but an investigator Douglas Crouch, from Hill Air Force base, would interview many witnesses and officially state that he did not believe the object seen to be a meteor. Crouch would also confirm that there had been no military tests in the area at the time, nor any unusual atmospheric phenomena on the night in question, and additionally no aircraft in the area that could have caused the disturbances. Far from the official government stance that this was a meteor, Crouch would clearly state that “no explanation has been developed for the brilliant illumination of the area, the object itself, or the explosion.”
Another detail that seems to not fully line up is that Air Force investigation reports state that an orange, glowing object in Eureka, Utah, was so low and bright that it actually knocked out photoelectric cells in the area. There was plenty of other evidence offered up by Randle that did not fit into the meteor theory either, such as that the directions of the various reports across states often described it going in a different direction, the speed was too slow to be that of a meteor, and on many occasions it was far too low to be a meteor, often wildly changing altitude in mid-course. Also, the official reports show that fighter jets had indeed been scrambled in response to the event, so would they do that for a simple meteor? Regardless, a follow-up investigation made by a J. Allen Hynek and Lieutenant Colonel Robert Friend would come to the conclusion that the object had been a rare type of bright meteor called a “bolide,” and Friend would say of this:
This investigation was completed in one full day and it was concluded that the object was a bolide. An attempt was made to locate the object but this effort failed due to the general nature of the data. Further study of this sighting indicates that the meteor probably struck in the area of the Wasatch National Forest; however, the Air Force has made no further at tempts to recover it.
One day to come up with that, and that seemed to be the end of it as far as the Air Force was concerned, but there were also some ominous hints of a cover-up found speckled throughout these files that did not add up. Randle noticed that Nellis air Force Base first labeled the object as “Unidentified,” but it was later changed to “Insufficient Data for a Scientific Analysis” without further explanation. Perhaps even weirder is the assertion in the report that “no visual” was made of the object captured on radar, despite the fact that there were literally thousands of reports made to police of people seeing this thing. It was also found that the Air Force reports were intentionally and deceptively dated to make it seem as if the Utah accounts and Nevada accounts had happened on different days, possibly to make them seem like two separate events and throw off anyone snooping around. Randle says of this:
The reports, as filed in Project Blue Book, were deceptively dated. The Utah case had the time logged in “Zulu,” or Greenwich Mean Time, which means it was advanced at that time of the year by six hours. Add six hours to the 8:15 time, and you advance it to early morning the next day. A quick glance at the file shows the Utah case dated April 19, and the Las Vegas case logged in local time as April 18. On paper it looks as if they take place on separate days when, in reality, they happened within minutes of each other on the same day.
There were also inconsistencies throughout, such as the files at differing points claiming that the object was a weather balloon or a U-2 spy plane, before coming back to meteors again, almost as if they couldn’t decide which explanation to go with. It must also be remembered that at the time U-2s and balloons were tracked very carefully and there were none scheduled to be in the area at the time of the events. Much of this suggested to Randle that the military was being misleading at best, and downright lying at worst in an effort to muddy the waters and promote a mundane, palatable explanation. Randle believes that this was no meteor or balloon or conventional aircraft, and that somewhere out there in the desert outside of Las Vegas an alien craft of some sort crashed and is being covered up. He says of this in his book:
It is a case that demonstrates the air force’s policy of explaining UFO sightings, even if they have to change dates to make the explanations work. It shows that the air force would lie to the public about the UFO situation. And it shows that air force investigators, when handed a solution, wouldn’t ask the basic questions. They accepted the solution quickly. This also reveals that the air force was not interested in investigation or solving riddles. They were interested in clearing cases, slapping a label on them and letting it go at that. They ignored the information that didn’t fit with the bolide theory. Something extremely extraordinary happened on the night of April 18, 1962. The air force offered a series of explanations ignoring the facts. But the witnesses who were there know the truth. They saw something from outer space, and it was not a meteor. It was a craft from another world.
We are ultimately left to wonder just what happened out there on that night back in 1962. Was this just a meteor or was something more mysterious going on? If so what could it have been? Did a UFO actually crash right outside of Las Vegas, perhaps, as some conspiracies say, because it was actually engaged and shot down by the fighter jets that had been scrambled? Did the government willingly cover it all up? In the end there is no evidence at all to fall back on either way, and that time a UFO supposedly exploded out into the Las Vegas desert will likely remain for some time to come.
Source: Mysterious Universe