The Easy Layup
December 9th 1965. I was 12 years old and we were getting some basketball in before our dirt court became an ice-skating rink. Every year the alternating ritual of basketball and ice-skating repeated itself like clockwork. I had the ball and had out-maneuvered my friend’s Dad for an easy lay-up that would surely result in two points for us and embarrassment for him in our ritual game of 2-on-1. Suddenly, my friend’s Dad began shouting and pointing his finger at the sky behind me, “Look! Look! A UFO!” No doubt a trick to steal the ball while my head was turned. I refused to fall for such an obvious ruse but he continued with gathering urgency to the point where I could resist no longer. I banked-in two points for us, turned, and saw a long multi-colored tail of light behind a beautiful glowing object streaking across the sky. The three of us stood there in stone-cold silence…chins-on-chests. Strange multi-colored lights, moving across the sky, silently…it fit the standard description of UFOs. But even as a 12 year old I knew that it was a meteor not a UFO (which indeed became the official story). My friend’s Dad was having none of that and as we headed up to the house pitching the ball back ‘n forth we could see how enthralled he was with having seen his first UFO. We let him have the moment…after all, we had just owned him for an easy layup.
Being There Now
For me, something happened during that event that was far stranger than a UFO. Standing under the basket looking silently at the sky the odd feeling that everything is now washed over me…as if time didn’t really exist. Stranger yet, I knew right then that I would never ever forget that moment. And I haven’t. It made me a sitting duck in adulthood for esoteric teachings, the Zen of trout fishing, quantum physics, the Tao of motorcycling, and Shipley’s hot glaze donuts. But I still do not believe in UFOs.
The Kecksburg Incident
Many years later the TV show Ancient Aliens devoted an episode to the “Kecksburg Incident,” an account of a UFO crash-landing in Western Pennsylvania outside the town of Kecksburg. The breathless account included all the usual suspects: a UFO witnessed by hundreds, a crash-landing in the forest, and military vehicles rushing in to retrieve the alien bodies and their craft. And then it happened – the flight path based on eye-witness accounts was put on the screen showing a line right over my old home in The Allegheny Forest. And then I noticed the date… December 9th 1965.
December 6, 2015, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. To my surprise, the “UFO” we saw when I was 12, had become second only to Roswell as the cause celebre for true believers in aliens from another planet. 50 years after the crash a theory was put forward that puts the matter to rest. It turns out the object was a General Electric Mark 2 Re-entry Vehicle launched by the U.S. Air Force with one of our spy satellites. Which explains the military vehicles that showed-up to retrieve it as well as the meteorite cover story. 1965 was the height of The Cold War.
The Tao of Now
Back in the day people said “UFO” in order to hide what they were really thinking: flying saucers…extra-terrestrials…girls from Rigel 7. Now people talk about aliens with no fear of ridicule at all. Fantasy is the new real and reality is becoming virtual. We see it everywhere: in politics, on social media, in music by The Flaming Lips (God bless ’em), and in the full length mirror on the closet door. I believe more than ever there are no such things as aliens…everyone is identified…everything is real…everything is now.
I’ll never forget the day I saw a UFO and how in that moment for some strange reason the way I see was changed forever. But most of all I’ll never forget owning my friend’s Dad for an easy layup.
August 14th 2016
The Post-Gazette article was so interesting to me for how the eyewitness accounts matched my own descriptions of the “meteor”
For anyone interested in the infamous Kecksburg Incident and the solution to the mystery you can read the story HERE
True believers will not be dissuaded…which is as it should be