Steel Wheels

The Tao Of Motorcycling

The Kecksburg UFO & The Nazi Bell … Conspiracies and Mass Hysteria in Paradise

Easy Layup, Crash-Landing

December 9, 1965 – The Allegheny National Forest in Western Pennsylvania.
When I was 12, I saw a UFO. My friend Jeff, his father, and I were killing time before dinner in a game of 2-on-1. I was heading for an easy layup when Jeff’s dad suddenly began shouting and pointing at the sky behind me.

“Look! A UFO! There!”

The oldest trick in the book – if I look back, he steals the ball. So I ignored him, laid the ball up, turned, and saw a green glowing object with a long multicolored tail drifting low and quiet across the evening sky as the ball fell through the hoop and bounced away. In stunned silence we watched it sail slowly over the forest and disappear. The official explanation was meteor but even a twelve year old knows meteors don’t drift low and slow across the sky. I had a nagging suspicion it was something else. But what? Jeff’s father called it a UFO and thousands of people in Western Pennsylvania agreed – especially in Kecksburg where the damn thing crash-landed a few minutes later.

From Little Acorns Great Conspiracies Grow

Within an hour Men in Black leading a small army of soldiers entered the small community of Kecksburg, commandeered a resident’s home, warned-off curiosity seekers with dire warnings of radiation (radiation?), dug-up the UFO, put it on a flatbed truck, and left as quickly as they came. People who got a glimpse of it said the alien craft was acorn-shaped … some swore there was a dead three-fingered alien with lizard-like skin lying on the flatbed truck. Who the hell knows what they saw? But people saw something on that flatbed truck. Jeff, his father, and I saw something in the sky. When the evening ended in Kecksburg there were no photos, no alien autopsies, and no explanations – only mass hysteria. Kecksburg would become the most famous and enduring UFO incident next to Roswell. Entire episodes of Unsolved Mysteries, and Ancient Aliens have been devoted to it in recent years. People saw something … the official explanation was absurd … a conspiracy theory was born. And conspiracy theories never die.

A Time Traveler from Nazi Germany

the bellThe Kecksburg UFO Incident eventually got incorporated into the legend of “The Nazi Bell.” The Nazi Bell is said by conspiracy theorists to have been a spaceship engineered by Nazis in WWII. Using anti-gravity, it created wormholes, traveled through time, was shaped like an acorn, disappeared without a trace in 1945, then reappeared in the sky behind my house in 1965, minutes before crash-landing in Kecksburg. Every year there’s an Acorn Festival at the Firehall in Kecksburg where hundreds of conspiracy theorists and UFO investigators gather to share information at the large foam Acorn left behind by the set crew of Unsolved Mysteries. Today millions of people all over the world believe the Nazis had an anti-gravity-time-traveling bell go missing in 1945 and was recovered 20 years later in Pennsylvania by Men in Black. You couldn’t make it up for all the tea in China. Yet …

The Russians … ?

the craftFor decades, a local researcher named Owen Eichler has been toiling-away in obscurity seeking a rational explanation for the Kecksburg UFO Incident. Eichler was 13 and playing baseball in a nearby town when he saw the same thing I saw while playing basketball. For years his leading theory was Cosmos 96, a Russian spy satellite which was finally debunked in 2003. NASA determined that yes, a Russian satellite crashed “coincidentally” on the same day as Kecksburg, but due North – in Canada. In any event, it wasn’t acorn-shaped. Enter the GE Mark 2 re-entry vehicle. Today Eichler believes he’s finally solved the mystery. It turns out the Mark 2 carried U.S. spy satellites, was acorn-shaped, and was operational in 1965. It was the height of the Cold War, so retrieving a spy satellite explains the rapid response team that descended upon the town of Kecksburg. Case closed? Maybe, but NASA and the Air Force flatly refuse to confirm, deny, or answer questions about it. Why? Owen thinks he knows but conspiracy theorists are more convinced than ever it was the Nazi Bell, we’ve reversed-engineered it, and well, you know the rest.

No Cure

May 11, 2017 – Houston, Texas. My part in this story is true and so is most of the rest. The Nazi Bell? You decide. But I was playing 2-on-1 with Jeff and his dad when something flew over us on December 9th 1965. It crash-landed in Kecksburg. Men dressed in black suits actually rolled into town with soldiers, dug it up, and left. And today millions of people all over the world believe it was a time-traveling Nazi Bell from 1945 with an anti-gravity propulsion engine that makes wormholes. If you think after all the investigations, alien autopsies, and Acorn Festivals people are ready to throw-up their hands and admit, “Okay we were wrong – it wasn’t the Russians. It was us all along,” remember, half-a-century later the Kecksburg UFO Incident is more shrouded in conspiracy than ever. There is no cure.

Author Notes – Update January 7th 2018:
Recently, Owen Eichler saw this post and reached-out to me … we’ve talked at length on a few occasions and what a treat … at times he’ll go right into his interview protocol that help’s him gather accurate information about visual contacts with the object he’s identified as the GE Mark 2 … he’s persistent, nimble, thorough, and reminds me a little of Caroll’s Hatter who murdered time

A local reporter in Western Pennsylvania who covers Owen’s research has also contacted me … I warned him confirmation with NASA, the DoD, and MIBs requires an investment too large for a small publication … he admitted wryly that his publisher had already come to that conclusion … we went on to have a wonderful chat about Owen and that was that

For me, Owen Eichler is the real story here – a lone person devotes a lifetime pursuing the true story behind the Kecksburg UFO Incident … Owen told me what his latest research implies about the true purpose of the GE Mark 2 re-entry vehicle … I warned him that to go public may bring down the wrath of intel agencies in at least two countries so best to remain silent … after looking into Owen’s theory, I’ve concluded he is correct and am convinced more than ever we should remain silent … but Owen is on a mission … we shall see

Recounting my conversations with Owen to my father he let-out excitedly that he and my mother saw the object that evening while they were driving home from a visit with relatives … strangely, we hadn’t spoken about it until now … after all these years our description of the “Nazi Bell” and its flight path concurred … but why hadn’t we talk about it that night when they got home?! … why didn’t Jeff, his father, my parents, or I ever once talk about what we saw? … a mystery wrapped in an enigma

Jeff is the real name of my childhood friend … his father’s name was Jim … I have no idea where they are now … we lived in a tiny horseshoe-shaped community of 6 homes in the Allegheny Forest … the homes are long gone and the land today shows no signs that anyone lived there except for a faint indentation in the earth where our basketball court used to be … the court became our ice-skating rink every Winter when our dads laid a perimeter of forms, stretched vinyl across the court, and filled it with water … I’m pretty sure I grew-up in paradise but I have no evidence to prove it save for that indentation … it can actually be seen on Google Earth and for Owen Eichler, that was worth a thousand words

The following Spring, I turned 13 and by Summer we’d moved to Kentucky where I came of age on the banks of the Ohio River … I’ll never forget The Allegheny Forest and the rich experiences growing-up there … finding Owen after all these years triggered so many memories of my life in Paradiso, I can hardly keep-up

In the Sixties, adults could find a Russian behind every strange thing that happened – for kids, that kind of thing is weird and scary … it may be no accident a generation that marinated in Russia-phobia is acting-out the same bizarre drama today that we observed in our parents when we were kids … hopefully, our kids and grand-kids are paying no attention

There are just enough breadcrumbs in this post for you to figure out how to begin researching the truth behind the Kecksburg UFO Incident – I assure you, it’s astonishing … should you find it, I suggest you keep quiet

1. My childhood experience in The Allegheny Forest in Western Pennsylvania
2. Unsolved Mysteries – The Kecksburg UFO Incident
3. Ancient Aliens – The Kecksburg UFO (multiple episodes)
4. YouTube
5. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

1. In August 2016, I returned to The Allegheny Forest, found the exact location my childhood home once stood and shot this photo in the direction we saw the The Nazi Bell drifting silently over the forest on its way to Kecksburg … my sisters were with me and can be seen in the photo looking for their bedrooms … the giant tree on the left is just outside my bedroom window – the first thing I did every morning was peak through the blinds to make sure I was still in Paradiso
2. The giant foam acorn was created by the producers of Unsolved Mysteries who left it behind where it sits to this day outside the Fire Department Hall in Kecksburg, PA
3. The photo of the GE Mark 2 re-entry vehicle was dug-up by Owen Eichler – it’s from a trade show for DoD buyers



The Emergency

George was 77, going on 78 when we met. He owned a firm that rather suddenly had become my client due to an emergency failure in their IT network – an emergency that lasted 20 years. A protégé of George’s at the firm would end-up becoming one of my best friends – a relationship that will last forever.

George was remarkable: full-bird Colonel on General Patton’s staff, DoD project manager for the implementation of the world’s first mainframe computer, editor of a military journal for decades, college teacher, business owner, founder of the Pachyderms – a group of folks with thick skins, a sense of humor, and a keen interest in politics and bourbon. But the thing I remember most about George was his gentle humble laugh. We sat for many conversations over the years in his glass office on Kirby Drive – always quiet, private, and interesting. Until just a couple years ago, George came to the office every day…wearing a tie and a smile, with a pipe in one hand and a newspaper in the other. He was a classic gentleman, old school. Every time we talked I learned something about life, the military, history, WWII, women, politics, the original mainframes, bourbon, or pipe tobacco. We never once talked business – his or mine. He had other things on his mind and I was interested in hearing about them. Making George laugh was a special treat for me – I’ll always remember that gentle sound.

George's Caisson


In my life I’ve met a ridiculous number of remarkable people – there’s really no accounting for it. They make you say things about them long after they’re gone. George was one of the remarkables. He passed-away on Saturday and was laid to rest at Veterans Cemetery yesterday in a misty parade of friends walking behind his horse-drawn caisson through hallowed ground. He was 103. I hope all the remarkables will live to 103, continue to sit and converse with me, drink bourbon, and laugh. Requiesce In Pace, George McDowell.

VA Cemetary grounds
Veterans Cemetery in Houston, Texas – April 26th 2017

If you want to know more detail about George – the things he wouldn’t tell you – then you should read this entry in The Congressional Record of the U.S. Congress:

This piece is called “George” because he was known to his friends simply, as George

Military funerals with the horse-drawn caisson, the parade of mourners, the 18-gun-three-volley salute, the preparation and presentation of the flag are simply overwhelming. The ceremony leaves you with a strange mix of emotions: pride, sadness, emptiness, and gratitude

Cindi Ortiz and Me

Baseball Mysteries

The things I remember most about the game are the smell of leather, infield chatter, and the sweet taste of RED MAN chew. What I can’t remember is what happened after the pitcher released the ball – it just completely disappeared. I’d not see it again ’til it was bouncing in the outfield or sailing over the right-field fence. After hitting a baseball you can never recall how you did it. Everyone can tell you how it feels, no one can tell you the secret to doing it. One thing I can tell you for sure – I could never keep my eye on the ball. I didn’t even try.

Stude Park Diamond

The Secret

Later in life after taking up golf, I came upon a quote from Ben Hogan in which he may have actually revealed the secret to hitting a golf ball so well. Legend had it that Hogan had a secret in his swing and people never gave up asking him about it. The quote struck home with me and went something like this: “Well, at the top of my backswing the ball just completely disappears and that’s all I can remember.” Hogan was utterly humorless but as soon as I read it, I smiled.


The Glory of Baseball

I still love baseball. I love having it on the radio in the house. I love going to games, though I hardly pay attention – I just bask in the sounds of the ballpark. But the glory of baseball is anybody can play. You don’t have to be six foot ten, run the 40 in 4.4, or be thin, or great, or young, or old – none of that stuff is required in baseball. My Mom used to pitch to me. You don’t have to be a boy and you don’t have to be a girl. Even a blackbird with a broken wing can take the field and catch a fly. It’s America’s finest game. But the next time someone tells you to keep your eye on the ball, don’t listen. And if you see Cindi Ortiz, let her know her HOLDSTER is between pitchers mound and home plate at Stude Park – I’m sure she’s missing it. She’s a lefty, and in baseball that’s an advantage. Trust me.

Cindi Ortiz' Ball glove

April 19th 2017

Growing-up in rural Western Pennsylvania and Northern Kentucky, everybody played ball – in open pastures on makeshift diamonds with paper plates for bases…it was gender and generational neutral

I got to see the Pirates play once at the old Forbes Field – what a treat

In Pony League, High School, and American Legion ball in Greenup County, Kentucky in the late ’60s, we were fortunate to be coached by ex-professional ball players who lived in the area…and to have played in old minor league parks…learn to hit major league homers, and have lefty Don Gullet as one of our starting pitchers…we learned the fundamentals of baseball from real pros, our teams would go to post-season, and Gullet would go right to the majors, play on 6 World Series teams in 8 years – 4 of them in consecutive years on two different teams, ending-up with 3 Championship rings and all of it in the ’70s – never has anyone crammed so much glory into one decade…another of our teammates, Terry Craft, went on to a long career as a major league umpire…it was a golden age for young men and boys who loved baseball in Northern Kentucky – there’s never been a time like it before, or since…it was great luck to have been there and no accounting for any of it

“Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons” is short, ancient, and still the most influential book ever written on the art of hitting a golf ball and maybe any kind of ball…when I first read it, I was amazed how applicable it was to the art of hitting a baseball…in Five Lessons you can learn the fundamentals of the grip, the stance, the swing, and the follow-through and within 6 months that damn Hogan expects you to break par…but nobody ever does…people think he left something out and to this day Hogan is believed to have taken “the secret” to his grave in Fort Worth’s Greenwood Memorial Park

Anybody can play baseball – anybody can be taught the fundamentals of how to grip the bat and the ball, how to stand in the batter’s box, how to bend at the knees fielding a grounder…how to bunt, steal a base, and even throw a curve…but nobody can teach you how to make the ball disappear

In recent years it was discovered good hitters don’t keep their eye on the ball – somehow they divine where it’s going to be and swing there…I believe Ben Hogan, at the top of his backswing, visualized the ball going down the fairway and that’s why it disappeared

Once in awhile, I pull one of the homeruns from my sock drawer, grip it, smell the leather, and shake my head in disbelief…and smile

I’ve never met Cindi Ortiz but her HOLDSTER really is lying between pitchers mound and home plate at Stude Park in The Heights here in Houston

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