The Levelland UFO Incident

Posted by Whitmore, November 2, 2007 09:03pm | Post a Comment

Fifty years ago tonight on November 2, 1957 - and coincidentally about an hour after the Russians launched Sputnik 2 carrying the first passenger ever lifted into orbit, Laika the dog - one of the best known and well documented cases of UFO close encounters took place on the outskirts of Levelland, Texas, population 10,000.

Patrolman A. J. Fowler, on duty that night, received the first call at about 11pm and would receive another 14 different calls over the next two and a half hours. Among the witnesses were Levelland's sheriff and the town's fire chief who confirmed they too observed something pass across the highway in front of them. Most of the reports depicted the object as a brightly lit torpedo or cigar-shaped flat-bottomed object, eyewitnesses pretty consistently described the UFO as a glowing, pulsating bluish-green. The first call came from Pedro Saucedo, traveling with a co-worker named Joe Salaz. While driving down Route 116, about 4 miles west of Levelland, an object suddenly rose into the air from a nearby field. Saucedo estimated that it was 200 feet in length, and soon was flying at speeds around 800 miles per hour. While passing over their truck there was a sound of “thunder” and a “rush of wind.” The truck rocked from the blast, and both passengers felt “a lot of heat." As the object flew over the truck, the headlights went out and the engine stalled, but as the UFO vanished into the distance the engine restarted easily and the lights worked normally. In total, there were at least seven separate UFO incidents that night reporting either a car or a truck becoming disabled, but recovering each time the UFO departed.  

Head of the Air Force’s Project Blue Book, Captain G. T. Gregory, quickly suggested that the UFO’s sightings were merely ball lightning; there had been reports of an electrical storm in the area earlier in the day. However, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, a physicist at the University of Arizona, who initially agreed with Captain Gregory, later dismissed the possibility of ball lightning when he learned that though the night was overcast and misty, there were no reports of thunder or lightning near Levelland.  Later Dr Hynek also offered the view that there has never been any evidence suggesting ball lightning could temporarily kill a vehicles engine and lights in such a manner. Some conspiracy theorists have suggested that perhaps some sort of “weapon or device” was being “tested” on automobiles during the late 50’s, accounting for the unexplained UFO activity, and the flurry of similar events.  For a while, after the Levelland UFO Incident, such reports came in on almost a daily basis.

(In which Job extols the merits of the Great State of Tey-haas.)

Posted by Job O Brother, October 18, 2007 09:34am | Post a Comment

A map of Texas, courtesy of AAA... or maybe it was AA? Anyway, they were nice and had free maps.

I’ve recently returned from the Great State of Texas; more specifically, Houston and its surrounding communities. I’ve also just eaten a lemon-blueberry scone. What do these facts have in common? They both concern me, though only one of these things will be mentioned again in this blog.

I went to Houston to accompany my boyfriend to his 10-year high school reunion. It was my first time in Texas. It was also my first time at a high school reunion, having never been invited to mine. It’s not my alma mater’s fault, though – I was probably handed a form to fill out so they could reach me, and, knowing me, I ignored it in favor of flirting with Zach H’s girlfriend in the campus theatre lobby instead. Or maybe reading an Anne Rice novel while drinking screwdrivers from my thermos. High school was bleak.

"I hate Driver's Ed, too! Mr. Mancy sucks."

The trip was delightful. Corey gave me a tour that covered his life’s history up to his flight to the Sunshine State. One stop on the tour was Wes Anderson’s high school, where the film “Rushmore” was shot. Faced with this spectacle, I said:


It occurred to me that I should honor the State that so graciously fed me the greasiest* taquitos on God’s Earth, found at the epic Tex-Mex fast food chain, Whataburger (imagine McDonald’s breakfast menu wrapped in a steamed, flour tortilla). Here then, is a list of some proper nouns I love which I have Texas to thank for:

Tex Avery

This is the dude who gave us Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, which is good. (He also gave us Chilly Willy, which is bad. Very, very bad. I hate Chilly Willy. I hate his little round cheeks and knit cap. I hate his happily flapping wings and precocious, yellow beak. I want global warming to render him extinct.)

*Giggle!* "I just love to frollick in the snow! Also to chew babies' heads until the juice comes out."

Is it too late to tell you to ignore that last paragraph?

Mr. Avery’s influence on the world of animation was huge. He diverged from the more realistic style of Walt Disney, encouraging his illustrators to instead take imaginative advantage of the medium. “In a cartoon you can do anything,” he said.

It’s worth getting a laserdisc player just to be able to watch his complete, collected shorts (otherwise unavailable). I’ve seen it come in occasionally at Amoeba Music Hollywood (in the DVD depot). Not only is it chock full of cartoon brilliance, it’s heavy enough to strike and kill evil ninjas who might try to end your lineage.

But wait! There's so much more! I'll be continuing this testament in my next post, so stay tuned. Yeee-haw!
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