Summary: On Dec. 9, 1965, a fiery orange object was observed streaking across the evening sky. Witnesses in Westmoreland County said the object appeared to bank and turn before gliding into a wooded ravine near Kecksburg, Mt. Pleasant Township. Nearly 37 years later, Kecksburg is once again in the national spotlight.
Wednesday, November 6, 2002 On Dec. 9, 1965, a fiery orange object was observed streaking across the evening sky. Witnesses in Westmoreland County said the object appeared to bank and turn before gliding into a wooded ravine near Kecksburg, Mt. Pleasant Township.
Military personnel arrived a short time later, purportedly keeping curious onlookers at bay while the area was searched. Several eyewitnesses stated they saw a large, acorn-shaped object being removed from the area on a tarp-covered flatbed truck. Yet the Air Force has never confirmed anything was found. The official explanation: A meteorite.
Nearly 37 years later, Kecksburg is once again in the national spotlight. During a recent news conference, the Sci Fi Channel challenged government secrecy, calling for declassification of records concerning unidentified aerial phenomena, commonly known as UFOs.
To help the cause, Sci Fi joined forces with John Podesta, former White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, and his public relations firm, PodestaMattoon. Together, they are backing a Freedom of Information Act initiative aimed at cases involving the retrieval of objects of unknown origin.
Sci Fi has obtained the services of Lobel, Novins and Lamont, a Washington, D.C., law firm, and has commissioned California- based investigative reporter Leslie Kean to document the Freedom of Information Act request. It has also formed the Coalition for Freedom of Information to generate public support.
The Kecksburg case is cited in the group's request for documents through the Freedom of Information Act, the 1966 law that grants the right to request access to federal agency records or information. According to Larry Landsman, Sci Fi's director of special projects, the cable channel is lending its resources in an effort to "figure out what's going on in our skies," and, more specifically, what happened that night in Kecksburg.
"It's a real mystery; a fascinating story," he said. "And we just want to know what's going on." On Sci Fi's behalf, Kean made the trip to western Pennsylvania Tuesday to interview witnesses, and tour the crash site area. "I know there have been other requests in the past that haven't gone anywhere," Kean said. "But, this is the first time an effort is being made which has some resources and legal power behind it. <#201> There is a consensus here to take this as far as we possibly can, and really demand and insist that people get this information because it's their right to have it. And, if that means going to court, or whatever it takes, we're really going to go for it."
According to Kean, the Kecksburg case is a "natural," in part because of a large number of witnesses and the reported recovery of a physical object. "Another reason we looked at this case is all the work done by Stan Gordon," she said. "We're not starting from ground zero here."
Gordon, a Greensburg resident who was 16 years old in 1965, has devoted "years and years" to solving the unsolved mystery. His efforts to obtain top-secret records, however, have failed. "Will these documents ever be declassified? I have my doubts," Gordon said with a smile, "But I am always hopeful. It's very important that anyone connected with this case come forward now and tell what they know."