Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2012 15:11:57 -0700
From: "Peter Davenport" <>
Subject: Exeter "Explanation"

I vaguely remember hearing about the McGaha/Nickell article, when it was first published, but today was the first time I took the time to read it. I'm sorry I wasted the time necessary to do so!

The contents of the article make it, in my opinion, little more than a classic disinformation piece, hardly worth the time to read it, and certainly not worth the time to write a long, detailed analysis of the many flaws, oversights, and omissions the article exhibits. The notion that the lights seen by the three witnesses were some type of "marker lights" on a piston-driven military transport aircraft is the pinnacle of absurdity!! It seems clear from the article that neither of the two writers ever interviewed any of the witnesses to the event, or those who were involved in its investigation. McGaha may have been too young, at the time; Nickell may already have left for Canada, during his draft-dodging stint up north, at the time the incident occurred.

During the first week of September 1965, I conducted personal interviews of Officers Bertrand, Hunt, and Toland.  In addition, I interviewed Norman Muscarello, whom I never met, and who was on the verge of entering the U. S. Navy under a delayed-enlistment program.  I recall that he was within days of reporting for service, and we were unable to schedule a rendezvous. All of the above facts can be confirmed by reading my two articles, which were published in The Derry News, Derry, NH, on September 13 and September 16, 1965.

On Friday, September 10, 1965, I interviewed Lt. Alan B. Brandt at Pease AFB, who had conducted the investigation of the incident on behalf of the U. S. Air Force.  Lt. Brandt would not say what he thought was the cause of the incident, but he did admit to me that he found the case to be intriguing, and that it caused him to abandon his native skepticism about the UFO phenomenon. (I do not recall whether Lt. Brandt was a 2nd or 1st Lieutenant, although I believe he was a 1st Lieutenant. At that time, and at age 17, I believe I was not familiar with the distinction between rank insignia for a 1st and 2nd Lieutenant.) Hence, the contents of my September 1965 articles, as well as the contents of my article for the Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters, edited by Ronald D. Story, are based primarily on personal interviews with the principal witnesses and participants in the case.

There are many flaws and oversights in the McGaha/Nickell article, but let me address a few, which I hope will lay the issue to rest, once and for all:

When Muscarello burst into the office of the Exeter Police Department, Desk Officer Reginald Toland was concerned for Muscarello's welfare, given Muscarello's "disheveled appearance." Muscarello had mud-stained clothing, and I believe that he appeared to have mild laceration wounds to his arms, which may have been bleeding. It was, in part, predicated on Muscarello's appearance that caused Officer Toland to radio to the department's two patrol cars, at the time being driven by Officers Hunt and Bertrand, that there was an individual in the Exeter Police Station, who was claiming to have been followed, and approached, by a flying saucer.

The mud and lacerations were the result of Muscarello's having dived under a bush alongside the road he was walking on, in attempt to get away from, and conceal himself from, the object. Muscarello reported to me that when he hid under the bush, the object slowly moved above him, it seemed to tip forward, and it suddenly illuminated him brightly with what he said was the brightest light he had ever seen. He stated that it "seemed to hit its high beams." Hardly the result of "marker lights" on a transport aircraft at altitude!

Officers Bertrand and Hunt accompanied Muscarello into a triangular-shaped field, over which Muscarello had last seen the mysterious, disc-shaped object. As they were walking back to the two police cruisers, the three of them suddenly were illuminated from behind. They quickly whirled around to face the source of the light, and witnessed a craft that apparently had risen from behind a knoll, or from behind a row of trees, in the distant corner of the field. Officer Bertrand reported to me that during the first few moments that they were being illuminated from behind, he noticed that the shadows that were being cast ahead of the three witnesses were visibly getting shorter, so he knew that the object behind them was either rising, and/or getting closer to them. It was at that moment of panic that he whirled around to face the source of the light, during which time he moved to un-holster his sidearm. Seeing Bertrand act to draw his sidearm, Officer Hunt cautioned Bertrand not to brandish his weapon at the object, a recommendation that Bertrand consented to, and he returned the sidearm to its holster.

(NOTE: One contributor to the list has suggested that Bertrand had served in the U. S. Air Force, but my recollection of Bertrand's military service record is different. During my interview of Bertrand, he informed me that he had served with the U. S. Marines, and that he had served in Korea during the Korean conflict. Had he said that he had served in the U. S. Air Force, I believe I would have made a clear mental note of that fact, given that at ages 14 and 15 years (1962-63), I had lived with a U. S. Air Force family in Ethiopia.)

The three of the witnesses then proceeded to the two cruisers, where they stood for an estimated 8-10 minutes, while watching the object dart around the adjacent field, and over nearby houses.

During my interview of Bertrand, he commented that the object occasionally moved so rapidly and abruptly that the human eye could not track it. It would drift slowly and silently for a short period of time, and then suddenly jump across the field and appear almost spontaneously in another location.

The object hovered over a one of the houses nearby, exhibiting a peculiar pattern to its flashing lights. Officer Bertrand described to me in detail how four of the five lights on the near edge of the craft would be illuminated, while only one of the lights would be extinguished, and that the extinguished light would cycle back and forth along the near edge of the craft.

Hunt, Bertrand, and Muscarello were aware of nearby horses making a ruckus, and those horses, I was informed by Peter Geremia, ultimately broke through the corale fence. I did not know that the horses had escaped their corale at the time I interviewed the witnesses, and I did not interview the owners of the animals, as I recall. I seem to recall that they were not at home when I knocked on their door. I was never able to reach them for an interview, is my recollection.

I could cite a number of other significant diversions from known fact about this case, which appear in the article by McGaha and Nickell, but I believe the points I have made above should be sufficient to illustrate just how misdirected their article is. It is clear that they did not conduct any primary investigation of the incident, and that their representations in the article are little more than conjecture. Their approach to the case is to create a seemingly plausible scenario, which ignores the bulk of the facts that are known about the incident. God only knows what their motivation may be, but it is difficult for me to imagine that two people would write such a foolish piece, if there were not some concealed agenda to their actions.