Evansville-Area Man Once Had a Chilling Close Encounter With a UFO
Article by Jon Webb December 27, 2019 (courierpress.com)
• In June 1923, when Norman Massie was 10 years old, he was leading his family’s horses to the pasture at their farm in Mount Erie, Illinois (near Evansville, Indiana). “As I was closing the gate,” related Massie, “I looked back down the field and there was an object with lights all around it.” “… The machine was metallic and stood on three legs. The top was a dome with holes in it. The best way I could describe the top was it looked like melted glass.”
• When young Massie got within 50 feet of the thing, he noticed men milling around inside the ship, taking orders from a seated fellow they called ‘The Commander’. “I didn’t know what was going on until the end,” said Massie. “Then, one of the crew members told the Commander that the repairs had been made.” With that, the ship shot off the ground and zapped across the sky, disappearing forever. Massie estimates that the encounter couldn’t have lasted more than five minutes.
• Massie insisted that this UFO existed. He had seen it “with (his) own two eyes.” But Massie’s parents begged him not to talk about his UFO experience. ‘Keep the metallic ship — and the Commander — to yourself’, they told their son.
• While the US Air Force’s ‘Project Bluebook’ investigated 12,618 reported UFO sightings in the US during the Cold War between 1947 and 1969, and “solved” all but 700 of them, they made it clear that none of the sightings represented a threat to national security, and none of them had anything to do with aliens. So anyone claiming otherwise was labeled as “crazy”. This stigma has persisted until only recently.
• Massie remained silent until 1990 when he told his story to his son, a former colonel in the Air Force. The story didn’t surprise his son at all. Massie’s son told him that Air Force files were ‘full of pictures of UFOs’. Massie’s son accepted his father’s story as the truth.
• In 1998, Massie related his story to Len Wells, a writer for the Evansville Courier & Press. But Wells waited to publish a column about the sighting until after Massie died in 2004 at the age of 91. Wells knew that some people would accuse Massie of being crazy or a liar, or just some poor naïve man who had convinced himself that this ludicrous story from a childhood fantasy was real. But Wells says that Massie wasn’t that kind of guy. Massie worked in Wayne County schools as a teacher and basketball coach for almost 40 years. He also sold World Book Encyclopedias all over the Tri-State area. Massie’s son says that he heard Massie tell his UFO story many times, and “it was always the same. Never embellished from one time to the next.”
That’s how many times the U.S. Air Force fielded sightings of unidentified flying objects between 1947 and 1969.
Back then, they were toiling through the infamous Project Blue Book — an effort to investigate the scores of UFO sightings that popped up all over America during the Cold War.
Military officials dismissed a huge chunk of them, sometimes conjuring ho-hum explanations such as the time-honored “weather balloon.” But by the end of the project, more than 700 reports of strange lights or shapes in the sky remained unexplained.
This month marks 50 years since the Air Force shuttered the project with a shrug. According to findings released on Dec. 18, 1969, the Air Force said none of the sightings represented a threat to national security. And, most importantly, none of them had anything to do with aliens.
That didn’t dissuade the true believers, of course — including the hundreds in the Evansville area who reported sightings of their own.
And it certainly didn’t change the mind of Norman Massie.
The long-time Southern Illinois teacher and basketball coach lived through a chilling close encounter decades before Project Blue Book was even a twinkle in the government’s eye.
Massie worked in Wayne County schools for almost 40 years.
He sold World Book Encyclopedias on the side, schlepping hardbound volumes to knowledge-hungry residents all over the Tri-State.
But if you punch his name into Google today, none of that will come up. Instead, he’s become infamous for something he saw when he was only 10 years old.
According to an old Courier & Press column by Len Wells that’s been pirated and shot into the weirdest corners of the Internet, Massie grew up in the tiny town of Mount Erie, Illinois, about 60 miles west of Oakland City.
And one morning in June 1923, he led the family horses into the pasture.
“As I was closing the gate, I looked back down the field and there was an object with lights all around it,” Massie told Wells in 1998.
“… The machine was metallic and stood on three legs,” he said. “The top was a dome with holes in it. The best way I could describe the top was it looked like melted glass.”
When he got within 50 feet of the thing, he realized he wasn’t alone. Men milled around inside the ship, taking orders from a seated fellow they called “The Commander.”
“I didn’t know what was going on until the end,” he told Wells. “Then, one of the crew members told the commander that the repairs had been made.”
With that, the ship shot off the ground and zapped across the sky, disappearing forever. Massie told Wells the encounter couldn’t have lasted more than five minutes — but it haunted him for the rest of his life.
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