On November 9th, 1965
New York State as well as portions of six neighboring states and eastern Canada
were plunged in to darkness for several hours.
Besides the loss of power, the blackout triggered sensors that placed the Mt. Weather facility (to house the president in time of nuclear attack) on red alert.
There were also a number of reports of anomalous lights, and speculation that the blackout may have been the related to UFO activity in some way.
Prior to and coincident with the blackout, there were a number of reports of unusual lights and one report from NYC of communication with alien beings:
Tidioute, PA. Two UFOs pace men in a light plane until jets pursue. Then they shoot away some forth-five minutes prior to the blackout.
Larry Hatch's 'U' database
At 5:20 P.M., enroute between Syracuse and Rochester, Renato Pacibi, conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra sees a bright light in the west rapidly descend then head towards Syracuse. Moments later, word comes on the radio that the blackout had occurred.
Ufo the secret history pg 145
Camillus (Near Syracuse) A housewife and three of her children reported a 'huge dome-shaped' fireball just prior to the blackout. It was seen for five minutes and as it rose over the moon and moved forward, the lights began to dim. It then moved back, disappeared in a flash, when the electricity went off.Subsequent related testimony by Dr. James E. MacDonald:
Syracuse Herald-Journal 11-13-65
Reporting on a subsequent sighting over the Sir Adam Beck Power Plant, a newspaper reported:
"The sighting of four strange lights over the Sir Adam Beck power plant of the Ontario Hydro Electric Power commission early today revived memories of the big power blackout that hit the northeast Nov. 9, 1965.
"Moments before the lights flickered and failed all the way to New York City, people reported seeing a strange red ball hanging over the Beck plant. A pilot landing at Niagara Falls International Airport saw a weird object hovering 'over the Niagara Falls power station." (UFO's had also been reported in the area some six weeks prior.)"
At the end of the article it mentions: "After the big blackout, spokesmen for the power firms denied a strange light was spotted over the power plant on the night of Nov. 9. Since then, however, they have admitted that sightings were reported by hundreds of people."
Niagara Gazette 4-2-68
During the blackout there were numerous 'fireballs' reported around the Syracuse area, originally attributed to dump fires, barns burning and other such explanations. Some of the reports that made the papers included:
Cicero Swamp (Near Syracuse). Pilot and passenger in a small plane report seeing a huge fireball where high voltage lines cross the Mohawk river. They had been approaching Hancock field when the lights went out and saw a 10 second flash they thought may be a barn full of hay.
Syracuse. The Deputy City Aviation Commissioner was also airborne when the blackout began. After landing he was looking down the runway and saw a ball of light towards Tompson road that appeared 100 in the air and 50 feet wide.
Along with several more reports of 'fireball' like displays, one person reported seeing a kite-shaped object with a 'giant white light' over Port Leyden, near Lowville (to the far north of Syracuse near Canada.)
Numerous additional reports of anomalous lights near the Syracuse area during the blackout were subsequently reported in the paper, along with speculation that some thought they may be UFO related.
Syracuse Herald-American 11-14-65
As mentioned in the excerpts below, there were also reported sightings in Manhattan and Sea Cliff (Nassau County, L.I) during the black out.
Finally, there was the odd testimony of actor Stu Whitman. Mr. Whitman claimed that a glowing UFO had hovered outside his hotel room and communicated to him telepathically, warning that the blackout had been a demonstration of their power.
The Philadelphia Daily News 12-20-65
Text located by Francis Ridge, NICAP Site Coordinator. He has the more complete comments by Dr. McDonald.
On July 29th
, 1968 Dr. James E. McDonald testified in part before the House Committee on Science:
Let me ask a further question: In the course of your investigation and your study of UFO sightings, have you found any cases where contemporaneously with the sighting of UFO's allegedly, there were any other events which took place, which might or might not be related to the UFO's?
Yes. Certainly there are many physical effects. For instance, in Mr. Pettis' district, several people found the fillings in their mouth hurting while this object was nearby, but there are car ignition failure. One famous case was at Levelland, Tex., in 1957. Ten vehicles were stopped within a short area, all independently in a 2-hour period, near Levelland, Tex. There was no lightning or thunder storm, and only a trace of rain.
There is another which I don't know whether to bring to the committee's attention or not. The evidence is not as conclusive as the car stopping phenomenon, hut there are too many instances for me to ignore. UFO's have often been seen hovering near power facilities. There are a small number but still a little too many to seem pure fortuitous chance, of system outages, coincident with the UFO sighting. One of the cases was Tamaroa, Ill. Another was a case in Shelbyville, Ky., early last year.
(here goes N.Y.)
Even the famous one, the New York blackout, involved UFO sightings. Dr. Hynek probably would be the most appropriate man to describe the Manhattan sighting, since he interviewed several witnesses involved. I interviewed a woman in Seacliff, N.Y. She saw a disk hovering and going up and down. And then shooting away from New York just after the power failure. I went to the FPC for data, they didn't take them seriously although they had many dozens of sighting reports for that famous evening. There were reports all over New England in the midst of that blackout, and five witnesses near Syracuse, N.Y., saw a glowing object ascending within about a minute of the blackout. First they thought it was a dump burning right at the moment the lights went out. It is rather puzzling that the pulse of current that tripped the relay at the Ontario Hydro Commission plant has never been identified, but initially the tentative suspicion was centered on the Clay Substation of the Niagara Mohawk network right there in the Syracuse area, where unidentified aerial phenomenon has been seen by some of the witnesses.
This extends down to the limit of single houses losing their power when a UFO is near. The hypothesis in the case of car stopping is that there might be high magnetic fields, d.c. fields, which saturate the core and thus prevent the pulses going through the system to the other side. Just how a UFO could trigger an outage on a large power network is however not yet clear. But this is a disturbing series of coincidences that I think warrant much more attention than they have so far received.
As far as you know, has any agency investigated the New York blackout in relation to UFO?
None at all. when I spoke to the FPC people, I was dissatisfied with the amount of information I could gain. I am saying there is a puzzling and slightly disturbing coincidence here. I'm not going on record as saying,
yes, these are clear-cut cause and effect relations. I'm saying it ought to be looked at. There is no one looking at this relation between UFO's and outages.
Our time is really running short, Mr. Ryan.
One final question. Do you think it is imperative that the Federal Power Commission, or Federal Communications Commission, investigate the relation if any between the sightings and the blackout?
My position would call for a somewhat weaker adjective. I'd say extremely desirable.
Thank you. Thank you, Dr. McDonald.
testimony is noteworthy because of its directness and
force. He considers the extraterrestrial hypothesis the most likely
explanation of the phenomena. On examining the best UFO evidence, it is
certainly possible to rule out practically every other hypothesis, and it
is on this basis that Dr. McDonald and others lean toward the theory that
we are undergoing surveillance from intelligently guided craft from
In The Literature:
(provided by Errol Bruce-Knapp of UFO UPDATES - TORONTO firstname.lastname@example.org
File Name: BLKOUT65.TXT Excerpted from:
Landings and Abductions - The Documented Evidence
From Chapter 9 - The E.M. Effect and Power Blackouts (pages 130 - 137)
The Great Northeast Blackout November 9, 1965
On November 9, 1995 the northeastern region of the United States and Canada was abruptly plunged into blackness. The worst blackout on record came to be known as the 'Big Blackout'.
The facts are
well known. At 5:16 pm, at the height of the evening rush hour, electrical
power to one-sixth of the continent's population was suddenly cut off, trapping
millions of people on expressways, in
the blackout was confined to the eastern portion of the province - from Timmins
in the north, across to Cornwall in the east and south toward Sarnia. Windsor,
Ottawa and Sudbury were the only
Mass media coverage naturally focused on the human aspect of the blackout and to a lesser extent, on the delay in determining the cause of the breakdown.
There was, however, an even more dramatic story.
UFOs had been reported in the vicinity of strategic hydro installations at the time of the blackout. The impressive number of credible sightings led many researchers to consider the possible role these craft may have played in the power collapse.
included the late Dr. James E. MacDonald,(3) a physicist at the University
of Arizona; former NICAP director Major Donald E. Keyhoe; and astronomer Dr.
J. Allen Hynek, the current
Immediately following the breakdown, the U.S. Federal Power Commission and the Ontario Hydro-Electric Power Commission launched a full-scale investigation into the cause. At first, it was reported that the trouble originated with a mechanical breakdown in a high voltage line between Buffalo and Niagara Falls.
According to the [Toronto] 'Globe and Mail':
The report turned out to be false. Then a sub-station near Syracuse was reported to be the cause of the failure, but repairmen found it in perfect condition. (4)
Finally, six days after the blackout, Ontario Hydro engineers traced the trouble to the mammoth Sir Adam Beck No.2 Generating Station at Queenston, Ontario north of Niagara Falls.
It seems that
just prior to the blackout, power was flowing from Sir Adam Beck No.2. into
Ontario, then across the border via Cornwall into New York State. In graphic
terms, power was flowing clockwise in a
At 5:16pm, a backup relay on one of the six lines linking Sir Adam Beck to the rest of the province mysteriously tripped the line's circuit breaker, which acts much like a household fuse.
In quick succession the cut-off power jumped to the other five lines, causing an overload that tripped the circuit breakers on these lines as well.
A veritable tidal wave of electricity - 1.1 million kilowatts - flowed in the opposite direction into New York State. (5) Inexplicably, the relays on the New York lines failed to isolate and contain the overload. Within seconds, the entire grid of thirty-one interconnected power utilities of CANUSE (Canada-United States Eastern Grid) had broken down.
Although experts could pinpoint the origin of the blackout, they were baffled by the cause of the relay malfunction and the failure of the protective systems to contain the overload.
In the words of Ontario Hydro's system supervising engineer, Jim Harris: "It's incredible! I would have said this was impossible if I hadn't seen the evidence." (6)
The mystery deepened when it was discovered that the relay had not in fact malfunctioned, but had merely reacted to a sudden surge of power from an unknown source.
As stated in the final report of the U.S. Federal Power Commission:
"The precise cause of the backup relay energization is now known." (7) Where did the unexplained surge of power come from? To this day that question has remained unanswered.
Or has it?
Although inconclusive, one answer might lie in the findings of the late Dr. James McDonald who contended that the magnetic fields accompanying UFOs can create sudden power surges in transmission lines as the craft flies overhead.(8) In theory, these power surges could produce blackouts of massive proportions.
Since the 'Big Blackout', McDonald's theory has gained considerable support in the light of strong evidence confirming widespread UFO activity on that fateful evening.
The Syracuse Herald-Journal was inundated with calls reporting more than one hundred sightings in the Syracuse area.
One of the
first came from Syracuse Deputy Aviation Commissioner, Robert C. Walsh, who
was flying over Syracuse at the time of the blackout.(9) Despite the darkness,
he managed to land safely at
Standing on the runway, with some airport officials he suddenly noticed an enormous circular ball of light, drifting overhead. "It appeared to be one hundred feet in the air and fifty feet in diameter.(10) It rose for several seconds, then suddenly disappeared. Moments later, a bewildered Walsh and his companions watched an identical device ascending over the airfield before mysteriously 'blinking out', as did its predecessor. Unlike the known high-speed plunges of fireballs, these craft moved upward at moderate speed clearly under some form of intelligent control.
At the same time, the mysterious craft were also being observed overhead. Veteran flight instructor Weldon Ross and his student, James Brooking, were approaching the darkened airport when they spotted a second fiery object below.
The Giant craft,
estimated at well over one hundred feet in diameter, appeared to be positioned
directly over the Clay sub-station, a strategic installation that channels
power from Niagara Falls to New
It was the same sub-station where hydro investigating teams had initially pinpointed the origin of the blackout.
In a relentless pursuit of a possible UFO-blackout relationship, Herald-Journal reporters succeeded in uncovering even more explosive evidence. In a front page story seven days after the blackout, the paper carried photographs of the mysterious red craft taken by Mr. William Stillwell, a sexton at St. Paul's Episcopal Church. He described what he had observed through a 117-power telescope:
The center was rotating, around and around and around. It came from the direction of DeWitt and shot off at an angle and then went back the way it came. (12)
He had watched the glowing object for as long as two hours before it streaked away.
While investigating teams continued to dig for the mysterious cause of the power failure, press coverage of a possible UFO connection gained momentum.
In a strongly worded editorial, the Indianapolis Star urged:
The answer is fairly obvious - unidentified flying objects! It is one angle the multi-pronged investigation should not overlook.(13)
the UFO possibility intensified as news of other sightings became known. In
New York City, twenty minutes into the blackout, witnesses in the Time-Life
Building spotted a peculiar glow in the sky
It appeared to come from a round object hovering over the city. This was twenty minutes after the lights began to go out. Several photographs were taken by a Time Magazine photographer, one of which appeared in the November 19th issue. (14)
Although clearly visible in the photograph reproduced here, Time editors failed to make any reference in their photo-caption to the spindle-shaped craft. Journalistic oversight or deliberate omission? The only hit of any unusual aerial activity came in a facetious reference to a Soviet satellite:
Some New Yorkers, claiming that they had seen a satellite pass over at the moment the lights failed, argued that the Russians had done it again. (15)
But UFO investigator and author, the late Frank Edwards disagrees with both the UFO and the Soviet satellite explanations:
The spindle-shaped thing could have been a UFO--but it certainly wasn't. It was nothing more than an optical ghost, the result of reflections between the elements of an air-spaced lens.(16)
the validity of the Time photo, Edwards strongly supported the contention
the UFOs were somehow involved in activating the blackout. In fact, while
conducting his own investigation into the
This startling disclosure came from two commercial pilots, Jerry Whitaker and George Croninger, who were flying over Tidioute, Pennsylvania, when they spotted two disc-shaped 'shiny objects' overhead.
Even more surprising was the sight of two military jets chasing the mysterious craft.
Moments later, one of the discs put on a 'burst of speed' and quickly outdistanced its pursuers. While watching the fast-disappearing UFO, the dazed pilots lost sight of the other object, which had presumably departed in the same manner.
The most spectacular UFO revelation, however, came one day prior to the release of the 'official' explanation when, speaking before a nationwide television audience, NBC commentator Frank McGee announced that a private pilot had spotted a "round, glowing object near the Niagara Falls power plant".(18)
Press picked up the story and numerous newspapers subsequently carried it.
The following morning, a well-documented article appeared in the New York
Journal American blaming UFOs for the
Any further media focus on the UFO connection was brought to an abrupt halt, however, with the release of the 'broken relay' explanation.
Despite mounting evidence, the Federal Power Commission had predictably chosen to side-step the possible UFO connection. This omission was eventually confirmed by Dr. James E. McDonald who, as a respected scientist, was allowed to interview certain FOCI officials.
They admitted they had the Syracuse and Niagara Falls reports, also most of the others on that night. But they wouldn't discuss the UFO possibility....No matter what they believed, I think they were convinced the facts shouldn't be given to the public, and that's why they agreed to the 'broken relay' story. At any rate,_it_was_obvious_they_were_covering_up_.(19)
Under the circumstances
there seems to be a strong possibility that Canadian authorities were also
involved in the cover-up. Ontario Hydro-Electric Power Commission investigators,
having become aware of
Furthermore, this explanation had apparently been pre-arranged and was released simultaneously in both countries.(21)
The Ontario Hydro press statement similarly neglected to include UFOs as the possible cause for the blackout.
One reputable American ufologist went so far as to point an accusing finger at the late Lester B. Pearson, then prime minister. Major Donald Keyhoe contends that:
To shift attention
from the UFO explanation, the 'broken relay' story was invented. Since this
It that was the case, then it represents one of the most shocking deceptions ever perpetrated - leaving the heads of thirty-one utility companies and thirty million people to grope around in the dark in more ways than one!
(1) Time Magazine (November 19, 1965) Canadian Edition, p.24.
(2) Ibid. p.23B.
(3) John G. Fuller, 'Aliens in the
Skies: The New UFO Battle of the
(4) Toronto Globe and Mail, November 16, 1965.
(6) Ontario Hydro, Hydroscope, Vol.
2. No. 40 (November 19, 1965)
(7) James M. McCampbell, 'Ufology:
New Insights from Science and
(8) James E. McDonald, Statement
prepared for the Hearings before A
(9) Frank Edwards, 'Flying Saucers:
Serious Business' (New York:
(11) Donald E, Keyhoe, 'Aliens From
Space' (Toronto: The New American
(12) Frank Edwards, op. cit., p. 148.
(13) Donald E. Keyhoe, op., cit. p. 176.
(14) Ibid. p. 172.
(15) Time Magazine, op. cit., p. 28A.
(16) Frank Edwards, op. cit., p. 149.
(18) Donald E. Keyhoe, op. cit., p. 177.
(19) Ibid., p. 182.
(20) Toronto Globe and Mail, op. cit.
(22) Donald E. Keyhoe, op. cit., p. 180.