Virginia 1965 Flap
By Donald B. Hanlon


The following article from the Flying Saucer Reader (FSR66vNo02_65) was scanned and transcribed by Fran Ridge and Rich Vitello from a pdf file of the original article provided below.

Donald B. Hanlon:

In January 1965 the eastern States of the U.S.A. experienced a UFO wave, the significance of which has seemingly been eclipsed by the remarkable renewal of activity that took place only a few months later. The very peculiar character of the January observations appears clearly on Figure 1, where it will be seen that the number of unexplained reports has been plotted against time over a two-year period.


Fig. 1
Frequency of observations (unidentified sightings only) in 1984-5.
Details for this graph have been compiled from world-wide reports after stringent examinations

The January observations have already been the object of fragmentary . Studies. Some of the most interesting reports, however, have come to light only recently, A new examination of the events of that period is therefore in order. In this investigation, Virginia emerges as the area of highest concentration (figure 2). We must also turn to the State of Virginia for the most significant observations.

Significant Observations

I have compiled a list of reports which appear to be directly related to the phenomenon under study.

1. About November 20, 1964, Kenneth Norton saw a beehive-shape object at Staunton, Virginia.

2. On November 26, 1964, Mrs. F. Rosenberg saw a bright ball of light close to the ground near Grand Valley, Pennsylvania. Increase in radioactivity was allegedly noted. An independent witness reports seeing the tight, preceded by a dark object.

3. On December 14, 1964, a spinning silvery disc was seen maneuvering over Needham, Massachusetts, for five minutes.

4. On December 19, 1964, at 3:30 a.m. the Patuxent Naval Air Station in Maryland spotted three objects in rapid succession.

5. On December 21, 1964, at 5:00 p.m.. Mr. Burns saw a huge beehive-shaped object come very close to the ground without apparent reason, in the vicinity of Harrisburg, Virginia. Radioactivity was noted by Prof. Gehman of Eastern Menonite College.

6. Early in January, 1965, at dusk,. State Pathologist Dr. Richard Woodruff and a Vermont State trooper saw three objects cross the sky in succession. They were also seen by four persons living in Randolph.

7. On January 5, 1965, at 6,00 p.m., M. Dempsey Bruton, head of the Wallops Island (Virginia) tracking station, saw a bright, orange glowing object coming from the southwest. Several other witnesses.

8. On January 11, 1965, at 4.20 p.m., at least twelve persons, including six engineers of the Army Signal Corps, saw a dozen ova! objects cross the sky, apparently followed by jets from Andrews Air Force Base. Among the witnesses were Messrs. Paul M. Dickey, Jr., and Edward Shad, The Defense Department denied the incident. The witnesses have publicly maintained their story.

9. On January 12, a! 6.30 p.m., a bright yellow object was seen for two minutes by Mr. & Mrs. Milliner, NASA public relations employees, on Wallops Island, Virginia.

10. On January 14, 1965, at 4:45 p.m., an object was seen over Staunton, Virginia, by Carl Billings and Jody Smith.

11. The same day, a stationary light was seen over Dooms at 6.00 p.m. by seven students and a bus driver.

12. The same day, Mr. James Myers, Virginia, saw a circular object rise from the ground at 12.00 p.m.

13. On January 15, at10,00 p.m., Mr. Charles Knee, Jr. of Concord lost control of his car between Enfield and Wilmot (New Hampshire) as the engine


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stalled and light went off. Coming out of his car after it had stopped, the witness heard a high pitch sound and saw a bright light cross the sky.

14. On January 19, 1965 at 6:15 P. M. an industrial worker observed two circular flying objects hovering at low altitude over an archery range at Brands Flat, Virginia.  The smaller objects (diameter 20 feet) landed 15 to 18 yards from the witness. Three beings about 3 feet tall emerged, uttered unintelligible noises, and returned to the object, which then took off.

15. On January 20, 1965 at 9:40 AM a slow flying object was seen over Long Beach, Mississippi. Two figures, one of which seem to be operating a "camera like device", were allegedly visible from the ground.

16. On January 23, 1965 at 8:43 PM two businessmen driving on Highway US 60 in opposite directions were stopped in the vicinity of Toano as their cars approached a huge cone shaped object which was hovering over a nearby field. Two Army helicopters were allegedly dispatched from Fort Lee to investigate. 

17. On January 24, 1965 a radio news man and his wife saw an orange ball of light streak across the sky and "blink out" over Richmond.

18. On January 24, 1965 five college students reported that an oval object kept pace with their car on a darkened highway near Salem Virginia. The object, at an altitude of about 400 feet, was observed to have three yellow lights in one green.

19. Again on January 24, a couple in Verona, Virginia, reported seeing a bright yellow light that hovered overhead for about five minutes before heading for Staunton.

20. On January 25, 1965 a Marion, Virginia policeman and several other witnesses observed an object which took off from a wooded area on a hill. Traces were allegedly found.

21. The same night, approximately 20 minutes after observation No. 20, nine persons saw a top shaped object emitting sparks which moved up the Rappahannock Valley at a low altitude. This observation was witnessed from Fredericksburg, Virginia.

22. Also on the 25th, at 10:55 AM, a person situated 3 miles north of Bedford, Virginia saw an aluminum colored object of large dimensions fly slowly westward. Five minutes later, two persons at Moneta (10 miles southwest of Bedford) saw a bright cigar flying south to north.

23. Also on January 25, at 12:45 PM five Stoddart School students in the Glover Park near Washington D. C. saw an object resembling "an airplane without wings". First described as silver in color, it became luminous and changed from orange to red, then green.


Figure 2
(Based on author's sketch)

24. On January 26, 1965 at nightfall, seven young people were driving near Brands Flat, Virginia (see observation number 14) when they allegedly spotted a strange looking individual of small height. They pursued him, and two others that appeared, to a wooded area where all sight of beings was lost. Police investigators explored the area but could find no trace of the supposed "creatures". Later one of the witnesses and a photographer resumed the search and said they found an aluminum colored object, when the photographer received a mysterious blow on the head. The two men fled the scene after an attempt to photograph the object. This photo was reportedly "confiscated" by government agents who are also said to have "silenced" the witness.

25. On January 26, 1965 in the evening the Marion police received numerous telephone calls concerning a stationary object described by Rev. Preston H Robinson as circular and showing several lights. It flew away at high speed.

The value and reliability of the 25 accounts is, of course, extremely valuable. For some of them, a conventional explanation is clearly in order. It was established, for instance, that in case number six the witnesses had simply observed tracer bullets fired across the road from a nearby hill by a group of young people who had decided to scare the motorists. Other cases call for further investigation. Whatever their individual worth, these observations have unusual features in common and appear highly correlated geographically. But it is for the reader to decide how this correlation should be interpreted.

The list the list of observations contains two accounts


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of Type-1 sightings with operators. Some researchers have claimed that those reports deserve a comparatively large amount of our attention here, and therefore we have re-examined the circumstances of both incidents. At this point I must explain that I have worked in close collaboration with Jacques Vallee during the past year. Our investigation has led us to a conclusion concerning one of them (the second incident, No, 24) and we now feel that further interest should be focused exclusively on the first "landing" report (No. 14).

The similarities in the two accounts, which refer to almost identical events taking place at the same location, and separated by the short interval of seven days, have first to be noted. Further investigation of the original "landing" (No. 14) disclosed the following: According to Sheriff John E. Kent of Agusta County, who seems concerned with the County's image in the light of the wide publicity the flap received, the observer's account is not believed locally, despite the reports that the witness's reliability is vouched for by several prominent citizens. The witness could offer no evidence to back up his account, and it was reported that he was undergoing treatment for a nervous disorder at the time. He does state, however, that he is certain he was not the victim of an hallucination.

The second incident should be reviewed in the psychological atmosphere that prevailed as the number of reports reached a peak. (In Salem, for example, a model of a little green man' made of cardboard, and complete with flashing lights, was carefully approached by a force of armed men, arrested and taken to jail!) Both Sheriff Kent and Chief of Police Cline declared the second landing to be an admitted hoax, and apparently one of a rather sadistic type since it was designed to ridicule a retarded youth. The popular yet mythical "little green men" will be noted in the description given by the boys. Although some minor points remain to be clarified (whether the 'aluminum object' was also a fabrication or misinterpretation of some actual or ordinary construction) we feel that a conventional explanation is in order for this case and that many details (three little men,
'silencing by federal agents, etc.) have been borrowed from the first incident. The confiscation of the photograph (which Sheriff Kent declares to be non-existent) and silencing by federal agents seem to be no more than a convenient excuse to avoid further harassment to that party.

The January 19 incident (case No. 14) will now be seen to merit our serious attention if only because we believe it to be the source of the elaborations for the January 26 hoax. In our opinion there are three possible explanations of the original 'landing' claim:

1. That the whole account is merely a fabrication. This would indicate that the fabricator is thoroughly familiar with certain intimate characteristics of Type 1 observations which would be apparent only to a researcher who has spent some time in analyzing this category.

2. That the witness, his alleged ailment considered, either total or partial hallucination. If the hallucination was partial, it could be compared with the description of a Type-II observation made by an emotionally disturbed witness published by Vallee. If the hallucination is considered to be total, there would be implications that would apply to a large number of previously reported Type 1 observations.

3. That the observer witnessed an objective reality. This incident would then take its place among the ever-growing list of such cases.

For those readers who prefer explanation No. 3, the following incident may contribute to the significance of the January 19 account: On February 21, 1965 a very singular event in.the history of the UFO phenomenon is alleged to have occurred in the tiny village of Chalac, Argentina. Some fifty witnesses, including local police , saw three small beings emerge from an object which along with several other objects made low altitude passes over the village before landing. The beings were apparently repulsed by the effect of the flashbulbs which were being used by a photographer who is supposed to have obtained several pictures of the scene before the object took off. The similarities between these incidents is striking. We would certainly like to see the Chilac incident receive the investigation that it appears to merit, and we urge our South American counterparts to proceed accordingly

(See the original article and reference notes)