Steel Wheels

The Tao Of Motorcycling

Conspiracies, Mass Hysteria, The Kecksburg UFO, The Nazi Bell, The Russians, and Donald Trump

Easy Layup in the Allegheny Forest, Crash-Landing in Kecksburg

Kecksburg UFO sky view - PigeonDecember 9, 1965. Everything you read here is true. I was 12 years old. It was early evening. We were killing time in a game of 2-on-1 ’til dinner. Suddenly, I was looking at an easy layup and my friend’s Dad began shouting hysterically and pointing at the sky, “Look! A UFO!” The oldest trick in the book – if I turn around, he slaps the ball out of my hands then he gets the easy layup. So, I ignored him, made the easy layup and then I saw it: a green glowing object, with a long multicolored tail, drifting low, strange, and silent across the evening sky. The official explanation on the news was meteor. My friend’s father was adamant it was a UFO and within a few days, thousands of people stretching from Canada to Western Pennsylvania agreed with him. Especially the people in Kecksburg, Pennsylvania south of us where the damn thing crash-landed.

From Little Acorns Great Conspiracies Grow

Within an hour men in suits leading a small army of soldiers entered Kecksburg, commandeered a home, waved people off with dire warnings of radiation, dug-up the UFO, put it on a flatbed truck and left. People who got a glimpse of it said the alien craft was acorn-shaped and a couple people 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…I saw something in the sky…and yet, the evening ended without a shred of evidence, photo, or explanation. In spite of that, Kecksburg would become and remains the most famous UFO story next to Roswell. Google it. TV shows have been devoted to it on Unsolved Mysteries, and Ancient Aliens, along with DVD and YouTube documentaries. People see something, there’s no evidence, no explanation…and presto – conspiracies are born.

Time Travelers from Nazi Germany

the bellDecades after Kecksburg, the story got merged with the legend of “The Nazi Bell.” The Nazi Bell is said by conspiracy theorists to have been a spaceship engineered by Nazi Germany. It was propelled by anti-gravity, created wormholes, and traveled through time. The kicker? It was shaped like an acorn and disappeared without a trace in 1945. Which explains how it wound-up in Kecksburg in 1965. Every year now there’s an Acorn festival in Kecksburg where hundreds of conspiracy theorists, UFO investigators, and experts gather at the large foam Acorn left behind by Unsolved Mysteries to share research and conspiracy theories. Millions of people all over the world believe the Nazis had an anti-gravity time-traveling bell go missing in 1945 and re-appear in Pennsylvania in 1965 not far from where I grew up. You couldn’t make it up for all the tea in China.

The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming

the craftFor decades, a local researcher named Owen Eichler toiled-away to no avail seeking a rational explanation for the Kecksburg UFO. Eichler was 13 and playing baseball in a nearby town when he saw the same thing I saw while playing 2-on-1 basketball. The 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 – only in Canada. In any event, it wasn’t acorn-shaped. Enter the GE Mark 2 re-entry vehicle. Today, Eichler believes he finally solved the mystery. It turns out the re-entry vehicle carrying a U.S. spy satellite is actually acorn-shaped and operational at the time. 1965 was the height of the Cold War, so retrieving a spy satellite explains the rapid response team that descended upon the town of Kecksburg. While it looks like case-finally-closed, NASA and the Air Force refuse to confirm, deny, or even answer questions about it. Conspiracy theorists are now even more convinced than ever it’s the Nazi Bell, we’ve reversed-engineered it…and well…you know the rest.

There Is No Cure

May 11, 2017. Everything in this story is true. I really was playing 2-on-1 with my friend and his Dad when something flew over us on December 9th 1965. It crash-landed in Kecksburg. And 50 years later, millions of people really do believe it’s a time-traveling Nazi Bell from 1945 with an anti-gravity propulsion engine. Remember this story when you hear millions of people insist Russia colluded with an American reality television star in 2016, to make him President of the United States. And if you think after all the investigations, conventions, and expert research is complete, they’ll throw up their hands and say, “Okay, we were wrong…it wasn’t Cosmos 96…it was GE Mark 2 all along,” remember The Kecksburg UFO Incident…52 years-on, going stronger than ever. There is no cure.

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 of the sky where we saw the The Nazi Bell drifting silently over the forest on its way to Kecksburg
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
3. The photo of the GE Mark 2 re-entry vehicle was dug-up by Owen Eichler who toiled for decades searching for the explanation to the Kecksburg UFO…cased-closed…or is it?



Caisson and parade April 26th 2017

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.

VA Cemetary grounds

Requiesce In Pace, George McDowell
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

Crime Scene at Stude Park Diamond

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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