by Keith Roysdon January 1, 2018 (thestarpress.com)
• In October, 1973, The Muncie Star, in Muncie, Indiana ran a UPI story about three UFOs over Tennessee reported by twenty witnesses including a county sheriff. In Chester County, Tennessee, two UFO’s reportedly buzzed two young brothers who hid in a chicken coop. Police blamed the misidentified objects as merely weather balloons.
• On October 9th, The Muncie Star reported, several hundred people saw mysterious multi-colored lights in the skies over Muncie. Police blamed it on weather balloons.
• On October 13th, the UPI reported that two shipyard workers in Pascagoula, Mississippi claimed to have been abducted and taken aboard a UFO by “silvery-skinned creatures with big eyes and pointed ears.” The shipyard workers’ stories were verified under hypnosis.
• Other reports began coming in from Muncie and Delaware County, Indiana of a rash of UFO sightings. The Star’s newspaper article headline read “[UFO] Reports Rampant in the South.” Indiana National Guard helicopters were blamed for these UFO sightings.
• On October 14th, a Dayton, Ohio woman told police that “an oblong object with blinking lights killed two cows when it landed in a field.”
• On October 17th, The Muncie Evening Press reported an encounter of a Muncie woman who claimed that a UFO had landed behind her home. The patrolman at the scene said, “That lady did see something because she was terrified”. “There are people out there that are not people,” one caller to police said about an incident near the town of Wheeling, north of Muncie.
• On October 19th, The Muncie Evening Press reported a Blackford County Sheriff’s Deputy seeing a “strange looking” object with arm-like extensions over a manufacturing plant.
• On October 20th, The Muncie Star reported UFO sightings near Portland, IN.
• Throughout October 1973, UFO sightings were reported every day from Texas to southern Indiana. But by November, the local UFO craze was over.
• Northwestern University researcher J. Allen Hynek said there was no doubt Earth was being visited by aliens. Steven Spielberg’s movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” was set largely in Muncie, though not filmed there, and partially based on Hynek’s accounts.
• [Editor’s Note] I certainly hope that the guy responsible for losing all of those weather balloons was sacked.
With recent news reports of a secret Pentagon investigation of flying saucers and Unidentified Flying Objects going back over a period of several years, it’s important to note that Muncie, IN — all of East Central Indiana, really — got there first.
Muncie’s dramatic 1973 brush with UFO mania was recently cited in a magazine article and, of course, 2017 saw the 40th anniversary of the release of Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” which was set largely in Muncie (although it was not filmed here).
Before any of that happened, however, in October 1973, Muncie newspapers ran daily stories about sightings of UFOs around the country.
And then the flying saucer sightings began in earnest right in our own backyard.
October 1973 began with a United Press International story, played on page 16 of The Muncie Star, about UFO reports in Tennessee, where a county sheriff said he had personally seen three UFOs. Twenty people called police down there, noting they had made similar sightings.
The next day, another UPI story appeared, this time on the front page of The Star, expanding on the Tennessee sightings. Two brothers, 13 and 9, took refuge in a chicken coop when they were buzzed by a UFO in Chester County, Tennessee.
Two days later, according to a story published in The Muncie Star, police found a weather balloon that was likely responsible for UFO sightings north of Indianapolis.
For several days in a row, Muncie newspaper readers saw account after account of UFO sightings elsewhere. “Reports rampant in the south,” read one headline.
Then, on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 1973, the UFO craze came to Muncie. The evening before, The Muncie Star reported, “mysterious multi-colored lights” were seen by “several hundred” people. About 100 people called police, sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Cranor said, over the course of two hours. Another 50 to 60 people called Muncie police.
Police theorized that weather balloons were to blame. Newton Sprague, director of Ball State University’s observatory, offered the balloon theory too.
Then on Oct. 13, local newspapers carried a UPI story about two shipyard workers in Pascagoula, Mississippi, who said they were abducted and taken aboard a UFO by “silvery-skinned creatures with big eyes and pointed ears.” The reported encounter became one of the most famous of the UFO era.
The floodgates were opened for UFO sightings in the Muncie area.
On Saturday, Oct. 13, 1973, “four or five” Indiana National Guard helicopters were blamed for a rash of UFO reports over Muncie and Delaware County. The choppers prompted 40 calls to police.
The next day, in Dayton, Ohio, a woman told police that “an oblong object with blinking lights killed two cows when it landed in a field.”
In the meantime, UPI reported that hypnosis supported the stories of the two Mississippi men who said they were abducted. Northwestern University researcher J. Allen Hynek, upon whose cases Spielberg’s movie was partially based, said there was no doubt Earth was being visited by aliens.
On Oct. 17, The Muncie Evening Press reported on a few days of Muncie UFO encounters. “More UFOs reported in Muncie,” read the headline.
“A Mrs. Pierce at 226 N. Davis called police at 8:54 p.m. Tuesday to report that a UFO had landed behind her home. Patrolman William Kirby, who was at the scene, said, ‘That lady did see something because she was terrified.’” A neighbor had heard clicking sounds at about the same time.
“There are people out there that are not people,” one caller to police said about an incident near the town of Wheeling, north of Muncie.
“I’ll believe in one when it flies through my living room,” Muncie’s Deputy Police Chief, Jack Turner, told The Evening Press.
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