The Kecksburg UFO incident of 1965 is a well-known case of an alleged unidentified flying object (UFO) sighting and subsequent government involvement in the United States. It occurred on December 9, 1965, when numerous eyewitnesses reported seeing a fireball streaking across the sky over several U.S. states, including Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
The object crashed into a wooded area near the small town of Kecksburg, Pennsylvania. Many people reported seeing a bright, fiery object streaking across the sky. Some described it as a large, acorn-shaped object with distinctive hieroglyphic-like markings on its surface. Witnesses also reported hearing a sizzling or hissing sound as the object descended.
The object reportedly crashed in a wooded area just outside Kecksburg, creating a noticeable impact crater. Some locals claimed to have seen the object partially buried in the ground. Shortly after the crash, U.S. military personnel arrived at the scene. Witnesses reported that military trucks and personnel quickly cordoned off the area.
They allegedly retrieved the object, which was said to be placed onto a flatbed truck and covered with a tarp. The U.S. military initially denied any involvement and claimed that nothing unusual had occurred in Kecksburg that evening.
The area where the object landed was immediately sealed off on the order of U.S. Army and State Police officials, reportedly in anticipation of a ‘close inspection’ of whatever may have fallen … State Police officials there ordered the area roped off to await the expected arrival of both U.S. Army engineers and possibly, civilian scientistsGreensburg Tribune Review – December 10, 1965
They suggested that witnesses had likely seen a meteor or a satellite reentry. However, the explanations were inconsistent with eyewitness accounts. The incident has been shrouded in secrecy and controversy for decades. Some researchers and UFO enthusiasts have speculated that the object was extraterrestrial in nature and that the government was involved in a cover-up.
In the late 1960s, the University of Colorado conducted an official investigation of UFO sightings, known as the Condon Report. The report concluded that the Kecksburg incident was likely caused by a mid-sized meteor, despite conflicting witness statements. Despite various investigations and inquiries over the years, the Kecksburg UFO incident remains a subject of debate and intrigue. Some believe that the government did recover an unidentified object with potential extraterrestrial origins.
Today, researchers believe that what fell from the sky over Kecksburg was either an advanced man-made device with re-entry capabilities that failed or a probe that was knocked out of the sky somehow.
In 1990, the NBC television show Unsolved Mysteries aired an episode partially devoted to the incident. The episode suggested an extraterrestrial craft had crashed. It quoted local residents at the time who said they had found an object in the woods shaped like an acorn
and about as large as a Volkswagen Beetle bearing writing resembling Egyptian hieroglyphs which was subsequently removed in a secret military operation. A prop from that show remains on display in the village.
There is some speculation that the reentry of the Cosmos 96/Venera-type spacecraft was responsible for a fireball which was seen over southwestern Ontario, Canada and at least eight states from Michigan to New York at 4:43 p.m. EST (21:43 UT) on 9 December 1965. Investigations of photographs and sightings of the fireball indicated its path through the atmosphere was probably too steep to be consistent with a spacecraft re-entering from Earth orbit and was more likely a meteor in a prograde orbit from the vicinity of the asteroid belt, and probably ended its flight over western Lake Erie. U.S. Air Force tracking data on Cosmos 96 also indicate the spacecraft orbit decayed earlier than 21:43 UT on 9 December. Other analyses of the spacecraft orbit definitively indicate it could not have been the Cosmos 96 spacecraft. Some unconfirmed reports state the fireball subsequently landed in Pennsylvania southeast of Pittsburgh near the town of Kecksburg (40.2 N, 79.5 W) at 4:46 p.m. EST (although it should be noted that estimating the impact point of fireballs from eyewitness accounts is notoriously inaccurate).Comment by NASA
- Kecksburg is a small rural village located in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, USA. Nestled in the Laurel Highlands region, it is known for its picturesque countryside and rolling hills. Kecksburg gained worldwide attention due to the Kecksburg UFO incident of 1965, in which an unidentified object reportedly crashed in the nearby woods, sparking intrigue and controversy. Today, the village remains a quiet and peaceful community, drawing tourists and UFO enthusiasts interested in its historical connection to the mysterious event. [Back]
- The Condon Report, officially titled “Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects,” was a comprehensive investigation of UFO sightings conducted by the University of Colorado at the request of the United States Air Force in the late 1960s. Directed by Dr. Edward U. Condon, the study aimed to provide a scientific analysis of UFO reports and determine whether further government investigation was warranted. Published in 1969, the report concluded that UFOs did not pose a threat to national security and that there was no scientific evidence to support the existence of extraterrestrial visitors. While it acknowledged the existence of unexplained sightings, it attributed them primarily to misidentifications of conventional objects, atmospheric phenomena, or psychological factors. The Condon Report played a significant role in the U.S. government’s decision to reduce its official UFO investigations. [Back]
- Cosmos 96, also known as Venera-type spacecraft, was a Soviet space probe launched on November 23, 1965, as part of the Venera program with the goal of studying Venus, Earth’s neighboring planet. Unfortunately, Cosmos 96 experienced a failure during its launch and did not reach its intended destination. Instead, it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere on November 27, 1965, and crashed in Canada. The mission’s primary objective was to conduct scientific experiments and capture images of Venus. It was one of several early attempts by the Soviet Union to explore Venus, eventually leading to the successful Venera missions that provided valuable data about the planet’s atmosphere and surface. [Back]
- National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) Report on the Kecksburg UFO Incident. Retrieved from http://www.nicap.org/kecksburg-1965.pdf
- “Is Case Finally Closed on 1965 Pennsylvania ‘UFO Mystery’?” (November 24, 2009) https://www.space.com/7589-case-finally-closed-1965-pennsylvania-ufo-mystery.html
- “Kecksburg UFO incident” (updated August 22, 2023) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kecksburg_UFO_incident
- “10 Things You Never Knew About The Kecksburg Incident: The Most Mysterious UFO Crash Of The 1960s” (May 14, 2023) https://groovyhistory.com/10-things-you-never-knew-about-the-kecksburg-incident-the-most-mysterious-ufo-crash-of-the-1960s-copy-6/10
- Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westmoreland_County,_Pennsylvania
- “The Kecksburg Incident: ‘Acorn’ UFO fell to Earth after ‘moving like it was controlled'” (UPDATED JAN 6, 2022) https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/weird-news/kecksburg-incident-acorn-ufo-fell-25611092
- Condon, E. U. (1969). Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects (Condon Report). Retrieved from https://www.cufos.org/con_don.html